linux n00b

The Google Docs KB

Posted in Knowledge Base by downforce on June 28, 2007

I posted a while ago about a web-based personal knowledge base. The few applications I did find I was never really happy with as I wanted a “tagging” based classification system. I’ve been using Google Docs to meet this aim and so far I have to say it’s been fairly successful.

Google Docs does have some idiosyncrasies but I’m managing to work around them. At first each document opening as a new tab was irritating, but when I started working on 2 or 3 it became apparent why.

A couple of features that appeal to me that I hadn’t seen in other KBApps are the ability to sorts by last edited and the ability to publish a document, but doesn’t by default.

I haven’t used it for a few days as I’ve been pre-occupied with other things and today logged in and saw that’s it had a interface overhaul.

This new interface is NICE! One of my beefs with Google Docs was the inability to rename/delete tags. You had to remove the tag from each document then the tag was deleted. They have renamed the tags to folders, however as far as I can tell, they work the same way.

All in all Google Docs is proving to be an adequate for of KB for me. The biggest requirement missing now is the ability to host it on my server instead of gmail. Hey Google, don’t suppose you want to release the code to me? No? Didn’t think so 🙂

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My Current Projects

Posted in General, Projects by downforce on May 9, 2007

I’ve been a bit quite on the blog postings lately. There are a few reasons ….

  1. I found another ‘linux noob’ blog by a guy who sounds vaguely like me. Got into Linux and started blogging about it. (Sorry I’ve lost the link, it was a week ago!) and got to the point where is was almost an addiction. I could tell I was starting to head the same way and it made me realise and I’ve slowed down a bit!
  2. Learning PHP. It’s something that’s been on the back of my mind for a while now. My programming experience is pretty minimal, just writing huge-ass VBA scripts in Excel and Access ‘apps’ connecting to various datasets (itself, MS SQL and previously Oracle). I took the plunge last week and so far I’ve almost got a working webapp, it’s pretty simple but it does what I wanted it to do and got some (I think) fancy features, like charts!
  3. Other projects …
    • UPS: I’m currently trying to get my Power Shield Defender 650vA UPS to communicate with my Linux server (Ubuntu 6.10 server). It’s causing great grief at the moment. The support emails I’ve received replies too have been less than helpful, the documentation doesn’t relate to the product (it wants RS232 and it’s a USB interface!) plus the whole thing of USB under Linux is something I haven’t got my head around yet. I’m sure I’ll write something about it another time.
    • Mail server: I broke my mail server trying to get virtual accounts setup. It became too hard with the time I had available so I left it broke for a couple weeks. I’ve just got it back working using howtoforge.com’s Perfect Server setup.
    • VPN server: Looking into setting up a VPN server on my linux box. Seeing if it’s possible to access my home network from work. So far hit a snag with my router not passing on GRE messages to the linux box. I spent two nights on it and that’s it. Still a WIP (work-in-progress!)
  4. Most importantly, I’ve been spending time with my baby boy and wife. Believe it or not I’ve spent about 1-2 hrs per weeknight and 2-4hr per weekend day doing the above. When you look at it like that it’s pretty productive!

On that, I have a few other projects I’m going to start looking into. These are

  • Using lighttpd over apache2. I’ve been reading good things about it and given the extremely small scale of my server it might work. Just want to make sure the things I run (gallery/wordpress/phpmyadmin/torrentvolve/mediawiki) all work under lighttpd. I’m hoping the setup and config is easier than apache2. I’ve been having serious problems gettings SSL to work under apache and virtual servers/sub-domains are problematic, it keeps dieing when the reloads for the logs to rotate … grrrrr
  • Test out openSUSE on my desktop a bit more
  • Figure out why my PC keeps freezing … stupid white blocks. I suspect hardware, in particular video card, at this stage, but not ruling out some graphical config. It’s a XFX 6600GT which I’ve had just over a year. Need to see what the warranty is on it. Different regions have different warranties, Asia is 2 years, Europe doesn’t say and US is lifetime. I’m not sure what Australia would come under, I would assume Asia but who knows these days!
  • I have about 3 drafts I started and never finished. I just posted one about Google Docs as a Knowledge Base, although I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks and I’ll post some follow up.

    My possible knowledge base solution … Google Docs

    Posted in Applications, Knowledge Base by downforce on May 9, 2007

    Another follow-up to my online knowledge base ….

    After my previous post about “GKnow“, I checked out Google Docs ….

    Amazingly (or maybe not so amazingly but logically?) Google Docs actually does a lot of what I want. Here’s a summary:

    • By nature it’s in edit mode, I can still click [most] links in edit mode with Ctrl-LMouse.
    • Every document is private unless I mark it public. I actually like this idea, more than my original proposal.
    • There is an option “Edit HTML”. I can effectively import all my previous documents from Knowledgebasepublisher to Google Docs via C&P’ing the HTML source!
    • There is an extensive list of export options, HTML, PDF, OO.
    • Of course there are negatives otherwise I’d be raving on like a mad man saying I’ve solved the worlds [which is my] problems!

    • Google services do not support Opera [Which leads me to two new articles, My love/hate relationship with Opera and How to get Google Services working with Opera, neither are written yet, but will add links when I do]
    • I’m at the mercy of the Google servers. I did want to host it on my own machine, therefore I know who and what is being accessed when. I have a innate scepticism for Google since they went public. Call it paranoia, but it’s there.

    Well, I’m going to give it a go and see how it pans out until I find exactly what I want.

    How to get Google Services working with Opera

    Posted in Desktop, Howto, Knowledge Base by downforce on April 23, 2007

    I found this on the Opera forums whilst looking how to report bad sites.

    There is in Opera the ability to create UserJS or userjavascript. I haven’t fully researched how it works, but taken from their Opera UserJS Tutorial:

    User JavaScript allows you to specify local JavaScript files for Opera to include on every page that you visit.

    User JavaScript can be used for many purposes, including:

  • Fixing broken scripts on Web pages
  • Enhancing Web pages by changing or adding your own content to the page
  • Controlling what scripts are allowed to run on a page, and what they are allowed to do
  • Simplifying bookmarklets by adding functions they depend on to the User JavaScript
  • So with that a nice guy called xErath wrote a UserJS which fixes Opera with UserJS! There forum thread is here.

    Basically, here is what to do:

  • Download his script and save it somewhere where your Opera can access it. I created a new directory ~/.opera/userjs/.
  • In Opera go to Preferences or press CTRL-F12.
  • Go to Content -> JavaScript Options
  • In User JavaScript files enter /home/user/.opera/userjs/ (where user is your username)
  • Goto docs.google.com and it’ll work!
  • All credit goes to xErath. Thanks for the script!

    GKnow – A possible knowledge base solution

    Posted in Desktop, General, Knowledge Base by downforce on April 17, 2007

    I was thinking about my problem finding a personal knowledge base app that I can host on my web server.

    I did a stint doing software documentation and thinking in the shower the other day (1 of 2 places where I tend to do some good thinking not in front of a computer screen) of exactly what do I want from a personal knowledge base solution.

    Here’s a brief summary:

  • Easily viewed and edited
  • Easy to reference and cross-reference
  • Easy to navigate between references
  • A search function which searches both titles and content (context-based search – right?)
  • Can be easily printed/pdf’ed
  • Can be marked private or public
  • Whilst running through it, an brainwave hit me … what I wanted is form of GMail, hence the name GKnow. Other just as googley names included Google-Know or GKBase. Knock yourself out thinking of others.

    Anyway, it has pretty much all the features I wanted, the ‘tag’ emails, a great search engine, it’s *very* easy to use, can groups items with the same title and can be controlled with key presses to navigate around. It even has the ability archive old items. Attaching files can be done the same way I used to transport files home from work by saving attachments to drafts but never sending them.

    There are a couple of missing features from GMail which would apply here:

  • Ability to sort columns
  • Ability to sub-group tags into categories
  • Now, if only Google would read this and fulfill my wish!

    A web knowledge base?

    Posted in Administration, Knowledge Base by downforce on April 14, 2007

    I’m currently in the process of trying to find a piece of software that I can use as a web-based knowledge base.

    To date, I’ve been using MediaWiki, but I find the navigation of wiki’s painful. If you want everything in one page, it’s great, but once you start getting sub-pages, often cross-referencing, I find it becomes cumbersome to navigate around.

    Here’s what I want

    • Ability to search the entire knowledge base for a word/string/phrase contained within a document.
    • Easy to view and then edit the data.
    • Ability to reference and cross-reference documents in a tree structure.
    • Ability to enter information as easy as it is to in either the WordPress WYSIWYG editor or code editor.
    • Is compatible with Opera! (You’ll see why in a sec)
    • Is web-based and runs on apache2 and if necessary, php5 and mysql. No postgresql.
    • GPL (or equally ‘free’) software.

    The one I like most at the moment and have been entering data into is KnowledgebasePublisher, but it’s not quite working out how I hoped.

    The structure of the information is exactly what I want, and the search feature is good too, but viewing then editing information is painful. There is a public and admin view which are different parts of the site. In public view, you can’t edit in admin view you can’t view! There is a WYSIWYG editor but is just plain bad. Switching between (using WP definitions) Code and Visual adds all it’s own formatting, often overwriting what I’ve put in! I have to manually type out all the HTML tags to get the formatting I want. This is where MediaWiki excelled. The last annoying aspect is that by default in admin mode, you only see the last ten posts by order of original date!

    I used to send my self “Daily” emails with various links and stuff I found on the web during my lunch breaks, often researching my next ‘pet’ project but work monitors emails so I wanted to stop this so now I can just stick all the links in a text document and then stick em on my site at the end, with minimal hits on my web-server through work’s proxy. Instead I wanted to create a loooong thread which I can edit/add/del links as I find them and deal with them. If they are good, stick them in another topic related thread, e.g. I am building one for debugging my current Postfix issues.

    Anyway, so now KBP is starting to bug me (after 3 days and building up 35 articles), I want to find something else. I’ve been scouring freshmeat.net, under document storage and information management. Haven’t found anything that crash hot, except one which then I realised was proprietary for something like $200USD pa! No way Jose! I’m I want GPL! If I really like it then I’ll donate. But the search continues.

    I’m now contemplating expanding my search into a CMS type system. I’ll let you know how it goes.