How YouTube and the Social Web Saved Winter

My Snow Blower

My back hurts. As with the rest of the United States, my neck of the woods has received more snow and cold weather than one could possibly want for the winter season. Due to the constant snowfall, I have spent a number of my days clearing my driveway from snow with the help of my 15 year old snow blower. Several days ago, the snow blower's auger died on me leaving me with a useless rusting piece of machinery.

Auger Belts

1. Remove the plastic belt cover on the front of the engine by removing two self-tapping screws. See figure 23.

2. Drain the gasoline from the snow thrower or place a piece of plastic under the gas cap.

The death of my snow blower couldn't have come at a worse time. Most stores in my area have already sold out their snow blowers for the season. The waiting list is long for seeing a small-machine mechanic to fix this heap of metal. I didn't even bother calling knowing full well I likely wouldn't even hear from the mechanic until March whether this snow blower was fixable or not.

3. Tip the snow thrower up and foward so that it rests on the housing.

4. Remove six self tapping screws from the frame cover underneath the snow thrower.

There was only one option left, I needed to fix the MTD 22 inch 5HP Snow Blower myself. I would need to start with a replacement part, Auger Belt OEM-754-0430.

5. Roll the front and rear auger belts off the engine pulley. See figure 24.

6. Unhook the idler spring from the hex bolt on the auger housing. See figure 25.

7. Unhook the support bracket spring from the frame.

The problem is that I'm not a mechanic but an information technologist. Not a single computer processor can be found on this snow blower. No keyboard, no user interface, and no scripting language came supplied with this equipment. They say manuals for computers can be confusing, but have you ever tried to decipher an owner's manual from Cleveland, Ohio for a 1996 snow blower?

Note: it may be necessary to loosen the six nuts that connect the frame to the auger housing to aid in belt removal.

8. Lift the rear auger belt from the auger pulley and slip belt between the support bracket and auger pulley. See Figure 24. Repeat this step for the front auger.

9. Replace both auger drive belts by following instructions in reverse order.

Before there was YouTube and before there was Web 2.0, I would have resigned myself to spending the rest of this winter shoveling my driveway without the aid of a snow blower. But this isn't 1991, this is 2011. I can't think of a better moment in time to show positive proof the impact the modern Internet has for improving our daily lives. For if you ever find yourself in need to fix your snow blower, you can thank the social web as well as YouTube's Donyboy73 for reminding me once again that there is purpose in Web 2.0, social media, and information systems.

Without a doubt, my snow blower would have landed in the junk yard and my back ruined if it hadn't been for that video. Instead, I spent my Super Bowl Sunday knowing that the next time it snowed, I had a snow blower fixed and ready to be called back to duty. I am tech geek, hear me roar.

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Contegro v4.0 Changing the Face of Website CMS

The face will be familiar to millions, but in the world of Website CMS this trusted global innovation is yet to be seen until now. With the release of Contegro Version 4, comes a Window’s style desktop that will make even first-time Website CMS users feel like experts.

It’s yet another step towards Contegro’s continuing advancement in completely removing the developer from the website life-cycle, and empowering designers with the sole power to create and manage functionally-rich websites. “Contegro Version 4’s interface brings simplicity and usability in Web CMS to a whole new level,” says Contegro founder Vaughan Reed. “The Window’s Desktop interface is already familiar, so for users every action is intuitive.”

Contegro Version 4’s new Interface and multi-tasking workspace concept is set to revolutionise Web CMS. Take a look at the following key feature releases.

A completely transformed CMS interface

Contegro v4 removes the need to open up multiple browser tabs to manage many different areas of a website or even independent sites; everything can be managed from the new interface. “It makes multi-tasking so simple,” says Reed. “The increase in productivity that can be achieved when setting-up and managing sites by using the new interface, is really exciting.”

Contegro Interface

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TYPO3 goes for long term support with TYPO3 Version 4.5 LTS

I received an email from someone that wanted me to talk about TYPO3 Version 4.5 LTS. The suffix “LTS” stands for “Long Term Support”. For the first time a TYPO3 version will be maintained by the TYPO3 Core Team significantly longer than the usual release cycle would suggest. In 2010 TYPO3 has switched to a fixed 6-month release cycle which means up to now support for a version was only provided for 18 months (only three of the latest three versions actively maintained). The LTS versions will be supported for at least 3 years thus offering a good option for users that don’t need or don’t want to update every 6 months.

TYPO3 LogoTYPO3 is used for a great variety of websites ranging from the smallest private homepage up to large multi-server, multi-language enterprise portals. Upgrading for everyone is reported to be easy, since the development team focused on maximum backwards compatibility with older releases. This provides a very easy and stable migration path to TYPO3 Version 4.5 LTS.

Older features are still supported and the use of deprecated features can be easily tracked in a log file. If you're still stuck in the dark ages of the browser war, you'll also want to note that TYPO3 Version 4.5 LTS is the last release to support Internet Explorer 6 for the Backend.

New features and improvements found in TYPO3 Version 4.5 include:

  • A fast and flexible pagetree based on, configurable Backend layout and rearranged editing forms for pages and content elements.
  • The new LiveSearch box providing instant auto-completion. A similar technology empowers input fields to find connected records in a snap.
  • The whole Backend gets an optical facelift. Icons, colors and the general arrangement of elements were streamlined. Many details were fixed to provide a more consistent appearance and workflow.

Another new term: Social Content Management

I like to keep things simple and prefer to use content management system (CMS) as the term used to describe the information system we use to manage all content. However, I will acknowledge that it is sometimes good to categorize a CMS by purpose. This differentiation of a CMS by purpose has given us subcategories of the CMS which include the enterprise content management system (ECM), the web content management system (WCM), and the social publishing system (social business system). In a press release this week, Alfresco introduced me to social content management, another new marketing term to describe a CMS with the purpose of managing social media.

Alfresco is tying to evolve the social content management system higher than the social publishing system within the information system food chain. If you ask them, a social content management system would do something much more than a social publishing system. I'm not convinced of that, but they do make a good argument.

Alfresco Enterprise 3.4 is purpose-built for managing content in a social world. Enterprises are increasingly deploying social business systems like Jive, Salesforce.com’s Chatter, Lotus Quickr, Drupal and Liferay, among others, in the hopes of making employees more effective. According to Alfresco, these social business systems are creating volumes of unmanaged content if left un-checked. Using open standards like CMIS & JSR-168, Alfresco Enterprise 3.4 is a content platform with a goal to co-exist with social business systems to help manage and retain the content created by social business systems.

The marketing team over at Alfresco are pure geniuses. In this case Alfresco is using the social business systems as another catch phrase to describe what I know to be social publishing systems. Alfresco on the other hand identifies their product as as a social content management system that co-exist to manage the social content created by all these other systems. A CMS that is needed to clean up after the mess created by all these other social publishing systems.  I'm not sure I buy the argument that there is much difference between a social content management system and a social publishing system. But I will bite that social content management has a much better ring to it than social publishing system or any other term we use to describe the management of social content.

From now on when I describe a CMS for the purpose of managing social content, I'll likely use the term social content management instead of social publishing system. It seems to be a more fitting term for describing the direction the CMS is currently evolving toward. So hats off to Alfresco for pushing this term in their marketing. In a CMS world where ECM and WCM can exist, I see no reason why there can't be a SCM. On face value, there is nothing wrong with this logic. Except, of course, I like to keep things simple and prefer to simply call all these information systems a content management system. However, who am I to argue with progress.

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Alfresco Enterprise 3.4 delivers social content management

This week, Alfresco announced the availability of Alfresco Enterprise 3.4 for download. This new release delivers on Alfresco’s vision of providing the open platform for social content management by delivering both a more robust content platform for building any kind of content-rich application, along with a more social user-interface for collaboration and document management. This platform is expected to be used by developers and companies to build applications where enterprise content is “social-ready” -- or shared, collaborated on and syndicated across the web – and captured for compliance, retention and control.

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XOOPS rewritten using Zend Framework: Alpha 1 released

The XOOPS Project is proud to present Alpha release of its next generation Web Application Development platform – the Xoops Engine.

It is definitely the most daring and innovative development in the almost 10 year history of XOOPS! 

XOOPS is one of the most successful Open Source CMS solutions, constantly winning top places in various competitions, and receiving various awards. But it was slowly showing signs of aging that would require major rewrites of the Core. After much deliberation the team decided to rewrite it from the ground-up using a standard off-the-shelf PHP Framework. Following the same thinking as IBM or Apple did when they decided to use standard Intel chips, the XOOPS team believes that using standard components and libraries while focusing on unique value-add, will increase the “speed to market” for XOOPS. This way the team can take advantage of latest Web developments and vast resources provided by the respective Framework’s developers. It's like getting suddenly a whole new team of some of the best PHP programmers joining XOOPS!

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10 Most Popular Intranet Collaboration Features via Bitrix Survey

Bitrix, Inc., a technology trendsetter in business communications solutions, introduces a survey of the top-10 most popular intranet collaboration benefits that allow organizations to improve internal efficiency and raise workforce productivity.

Based on analysis of 1.000+ real-life installations of Bitrix Intranet among small and medium-sized businesses and many years of implementing social-enabled intranet solutions, Bitrix has shortlisted the most popular collaboration features.

Rank Intranet Collaboration Feature
1 Employee availability and presence tracking
2 Instant messaging and video conferencing
3 Meetings / conference room management
4 Virtual workgroups
5 Shared documents
6 Workflow management
7 Routine processes automation
8 Information and expert discovery
9 Idea management and social networking
10 Task management

The top ten list reflects the most-used intranet collaboration features and correspond to the most popular adoption patterns. Intriguingly, the priority of listings doesn’t match the wide-spread notion of the customer demand among SMBs. Indeed, task management, shared documents and content search are on the list but concede position to the seemingly less important features like presence tracking, instant messaging and meetings management. This is due to the fact that SMBs normally start the intranet implementation not with the most ‘famous’ features but rather those which are easy to adopt.

The survey confirms that SMBs are mainly interested in simple collaboration tools with the shortest adoption period. The organizations prefer step-by-step intranet adoption that starts from the most commonly used features and ends with heavy-weight functionality. In fact, this process may stretch over months depending on the organization’s readiness, internal governance and c-level support.

Considering the growing popularity of the intranet technology, Bitrix predicts that in the next year this list may undergo a major shift. Many organizations will be one step ahead in the intranet adoption and proceed with implementing more comprehensive collaboration features. At the same time, we believe the market will be notable for greater awareness of the benefits of intranets, as vendors provide better guidance to speed up the technology adoption.

To name names, Bitrix anticipates business processes and records management, social CRM and e-learning to become shortlisted. The leading intranet vendors have already integrated these features to let organizations ease the burden of third-party software acquisition, implementation and maintenance. At the same time, these are crucial tools for effective business management.

Create a Website Using Mosite CMS

Today the easiest way to create a website and take care of its management is using a CMS. Nowadays the challenge is extremely competitive for HTML CMS like Joomla, Drupal, WordPress etc... But if you want create something different, in graphics and behaviours, something that only Flash and its stunning graphical effects can do, the outlook is a desert landscape.

Many freelancers, artists, modern painters, musical groups etc, use Flash graphics with the aim of making web sites with a higher impact, in order to show better their professional activities (like info events, media contents like mp3, video and much more).

Images and sounds in some art's expressions are the best way of communication to got users involved.

All users starting web activity take care of an important issue: the costly price of doing works in Flash, with various media contents. For flash contents the best solution available at the moment is a free CMS that let you manage and create any works in a easy and intuitive way. Unfortunately in the world of Flash CMS there isn't a big window of opportunities but one of them is surely Mosite.

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Bitrix Unveils Multi-Platform Virtual Appliance for Social Collaboration and E-Commerce

Bitrix, Inc., a technology trendsetter in business communications solutions, introduces Bitrix® Virtual Appliance 2.0 – the world’s first dedicated ready-to-use solution designed to run social collaboration and e-commerce applications in the most popular virtual environments including VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Parallels Virtuozzo and Amazon EC2. As a result, SMBs can achieve cost savings up to 50% on deployment and management of applications and reach a new level of business continuity and agility.

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