Friday, October 30, 2009

Introducing Harley Hahn's Internet Usenet Center

Harley Hahn is a best-selling author, and one of the world's leading authorities about the Internet. Hahn is an extraordinary teacher; his books are models of how non-fiction computer books should be written: even when the concepts are difficult, Hahn's words are clear and easy to understand. Harley Hahn's new webiste is called Harley Hahn's Usenet Center, and it explains everything you need to know about the multifarious and information-rich worlds of Usenet.

Until I read some pages on Hahn's new web site, I never realized that Internet "Groups" consist of much more than Google Groups and Yahoo Groups. When that light bulb suddenly went on, I began reading Hahn's Usenet Glossary and Usenet Tutorial.

Hahn writes:

Usenet was started in 1979, which makes it a lot older than the Web. In fact, when the first primitive ancestor of the Web came along in 1991, Usenet was already a robust, worldwide communication system.

Even today, Usenet is, in some ways, far more important than the Web as a vehicle for communicating with other people. Usenet is where people from many different countries and cultures come together to talk, argue, pose questions, help one another, and share information, including all kinds of files.

Exploring Harley Hahn's website, you'll find many other interesting pages. I found some things about ebooks and the future of reading:

Harley deserves our warm appreciation for demystifying that beautiful electronic labyrinth known as "the Net."

Michael Pastore

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ebook Readers on the Cover of the New Yorker

cover of the New Yorker

New Yorker covers, the best of them, are funny and timely, and often point to an uncomfortable truth about the way we live now. The November 2 issue of the The New Yorker magazine, which arrived at my house three days before Halloween, is another memorable one. Here we see a line of trick-or-treating children, waiting for candy, while the accompanying adults stand back, all reading ebooks on their new ebook reading devices.

Instead of interacting with their children, or with each other, these adults are mesmerized by the latest new thing: a classic case of right technology in the wrong situation. Now that we can use technology 24 hours every day, does not mean that we should.

What this New Yorker cover does prove, to me at least, is that ebooks are here, and that this is the begining of the digital reading revolution. Let's hope that we can all work together — readers, authors, and publishers — and this time make it work.

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Does Your Web Host Offer Unlimited Bandwith ?

image unlimited 1 and 1

How important is unlimited bandwidth when you buy web hosting? ... This feature is very important. I imagine that most website owners use far below their quotas. But you always wonder about a spike in traffic, and how much it could cost you if, suddenly, tens of thousands of readers flock to your blog or web site to read an article, or to view a video.

Many web hosting companies have put that fear to rest, by offering unlimited bandwidth. I have been recommending as a web host for many years; now that they are offering this feature, I can continue to recommend 1and1 wholeheartedly, without any reservations at all.

When buying web hosting space, some important features to consider are:

  • Tech support and customer service
  • Cost per month
  • Uptime
  • Bandwidth allotment (unlimited is best)
  • Hosting Space allotment
  • Backup
  • Control Panel (ease of use)
  • Domain Name Registration (should be ten dollars or less per year)
  • Company (how long in business?)
  • Contact Information (do they have a physical location and a phone number?)

Before you buy, read a lot, compare features, talk with colleagues and friends.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

How to Upgrade WordPress (.org) Blogs

ZPZorba Press is moving from the hand-coded website, to a WordPress blog, at The website is expanding, and we are keeping the best of the old site, and adding many new features to the new one. Why use WordPress? ... WordPress allows the publishing of "pages", rather than blog posts only. WP has has many useful plug-ins that make the site easier to manage, and add features for your blog readers. Best of all: there is an active community of very intelligent WordPress users, who will cheerfully answer your questions whenever you need technical help.

The inevitable happens when you least expect it: Soon after we added tons of content to the new website, a new version of WordPress arrived, version 2.85.

Do you let things be? or Do you upgrade to the latest, and risk losing your data?

First you backup everything (WordPress files and Database files) — and then you upgrade.

There are many ways to do this: here's mine.

1. Contact the creator of your WordPress Theme, and ask if it is compatible with the latest version of WordPress (at the time of this writing, that is WordPress 2.85).

2. Back up your WordPress files, using an an FTP program, such as FileZilla. Copy the files from your web host to your computer desktop.

It would be nice if that backed up everything: but it doesn't. Lots of important stuff is stored in your MySQL database.

3. Log in to your web hosting company's Control Panel. Access the database section. Find the database that is associated with your WordPress Blog. Now, using PHPadmin, download a zipped copy of your database files.

Details about that process, from better geeks than me, are here:

4. Confirm that everything has been backed up. Look inside your WordPress folder; and peek into the zipped file with a zip preview program, such as Zipeg.

5. Now go to your WordPress blog Dashboard. You will see that near the top is a convenient reminder to Upgrade.

I tried "Automatic Upgrade" but nothing happened.

6. Download the zipped version of the latest WordPress. Unzip it, and you get a folder that says "WordPress".

7. Open FileZilla, and copy this latest version to the same directory on your web server as your current version of WordPress.

When FileZilla asks "Should it overwrite ... "

I changed the settings to Yes, if newer; only during this queue.

Files begin to upload before your eyes.

8. Now, before the test to see if you've just ruined the entire blog you've worked on for three weeks, leave your computer, and then make a strong cup of tea.

9. When all the files have been uploaded via FileZilla, look at your blog's Dashboard.

Does it say: You are using version 2.85 ? (latest version number).

Good! ... Something happened.

10. Now check your blog, starting with the home page.

All the pages, posts, images in the right place? ... Nothing disappeared without a trace, like money invested on Wall Street?

Congratulations! ... You have successfully upgraded your blog.

Here's a suggestion for WordPress 3.0:
A successful upgrade should be celebrated with an animated screen containing fireworks and stirring music.

Thanks, WordPress, for making upgrading relatively simple -- and without a problem.

What is the key step in this process? ... Back up all your files and database data before you begin to upgrade.

Michael Pastore

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