osCommerce 3.0 to deliver new features

For the first time, an alpha version of osCommerce 3.0, an e-commerce application written in PHP, was released to the public for testing. While this third alpha was made available to the general public, the first two alpha releases were made only available to osCommerce's community sponsors.

According to osCommerce, the "alpha releases are made to showcase the new features being worked on and to generalize a version specific for testing to help fix and improve subsequent alpha releases for a final, stable, secure, and production ready 3.0 release".

Some of the new features that are made available in this release include:

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ISEdb: Is your Website Search Engine Friendly?

We all have seen our share of articles on how to make your site friendly to search engines, but this article is probably one of the best I've seen online. The article is written by Ross Dunn and is titled, "Is Your Website Search Engine Friendly? Your Personal Checklist":

The following is checklist designed to help you gauge the search engine friendliness of your website and, if you are in the midst of planning a website this checklist will help you avoid the common pitfalls of unfriendly designs. Complete Story

The article is a must read for those hoping to improve their rankings on search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

Packt Publishing: The top five content management systems

Packt Publishing announced the top five content management systems (CMS) nominated for their Open Source Content Management System Award. The top CMS eligible for the award in alphabetical order (not in order by most nominations) are:

The names of the top five public nominations will now be reviewed and judged by three industrial leaders and "a final fourth vote will come from the results of a public vote on www.PacktPub.com." The first place winner will be awarded $5000, the second place winner will get $3000 and third place winner will receive $2000. The judges on the panel include Scott Goodwin from the Open Source Collective, Lenz Grimmer from MySQL, and Nathan Gervais, Eclipse Foundation.

Version control: The CVS or Subversion question

I have been keeping an eye lately on two version control systems, Subversion (SVN) and Concurrent Versions System (CVS). My sudden interest in version control is due to a project team I'm on for my organization. The team is in the early phases of project management and needing to pick either CVS or SVN. At this time we are leaning toward SVN.

I'll admit, I have some hesitancy to commit to SVN. The reasons for my hesitancy likely has more to do with personal reasons and likely less organizational needs. Some of my favorite open source project, including Drupal, are still using CVS. I'm not sure we'll be using Drupal for this project, but there are bound to be some open source applications we end up using where the code is still stored on CVS. If the developers of the open source applications are using CVS, perhaps there is some validity in choosing CVS over SVN.

Headaches from security updates for Firefox and Thunderbird

Sigh...another round of security updates coming from the folks at Mozilla. It looks like version 1.5.0.7 will be at our doorsteps soon.  Now at home, updating Firefox and Thunderbird on the Windows PC is a snap since it is all automatic. However, updating in a secure enterprise environment is a different matter.

In most enterprises, most users don't have administrative privileges and without those rights Firefox and Thunderbird in most cases will not auto install the new version. What would really help is if Mozilla would provide their software in a MSI package. Until MSI packages are provided by Mozilla, it is difficult for me to accept Firefox and Thunderbird as "enterprise software". In a Windows Server 2003 environment, MSI packages are a must for easy deployment, management, and auditing.

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Serendipity: Customizable Plugin Sidebar locations

Serendipity's own Garvin has some helpful hints. While only those using the blogging application Serendipity will likely only have interest in this post, I thought I would post it up front anyway. There have not been a huge amount of real news from the various blogging applications except for a couple exceptions. Regardless, I like to promote blogging applications as much as I can.

While blogs are really just a subset of content management systems (CMS), they have played a significant role in getting people comfortable to using a modern CMS to drive their Websites. Let's face it, many of us really would not have trusted a database to manage our Web sites and replace our trusty HTML files until we saw how blogs worked. We owe a lot to blogging applications such as Wordpress, Serendipity, and Nucleus.

So with no more delay here is an excerpt regarding one of our favorite blogging applications:

For ages, Serendipity has given users the flexibility to move around plugins in the left/right sidebar. Two sidebars were a usual concept for blogs in the days past, and for surely some more days to come.

Back in the IT world

As some of you may have noticed, I returned a few days ago from my low-tech week. It's taking me awhile to adjust being stuck at the computer so you'll have to bear with me. It's been tough enough to spend the PC time at work, so spending my "free time" on the PC is challenging. It's kind of like not eating fast food for a week and then suddenly having to ingest it for every meal. Drupal addict and Yoga for Geeks guru, Sarah Pullman, mentioned a similar experience in one of her posts. To add insult to injury, I blew up three sites on my VPS and had to put the pieces back together.

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phpBB 3.0 Beta2 released

As the title says, phpBB 3.0 (code name Olympus) is now out as a second beta. I see a lot of encouraging things about phpBB 3.0 and it will likely be seen as a big improvement over 2.x. The features and improvements to phpBB from version 2.x to 3.x are numerous and I'll probably chat about them as 3.0 near its actual actual release date.

The only comment I'll really make here is...I'm sure glad I didn't build a near production site on phpBB 3.0 Beta1. If you read the few lines below you'll see that no update path is offered between the first and second beta. Ouch!

From phpBB:

We are pleased to announce the availability of the phpBB3 Beta2 package. With this second beta release we are a great step forward.

There is no update path provided due to a number of extensive database schema changes. Everyone having the first beta installed need to re-install the software. If you do a new installation, please be sure to also remove any remaining files, especially those within the cache folder. Complete Story

Rails discloses security vulnerability to heroic users

Ruby on RailsThe past couple days has been a busy time for those involved in the Rails open source project. Just as busy as the Rails core developers were the users running Ruby on Rails applications (such the Radiant content management system). On Wednesday, the project's developers released Rails 1.1.5. In the announcement of the Rails release, David August called upgrading the new version "mandatory" since the security vulnerability was so severe. However, he didn't want to go into the details to the exact nature of the vulnerability and only stated that, "The issue is in fact of such a criticality that we’re not going to dig into the specifics. No need to arm would-be assailants."

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