OpenSource MicroBlogging

I have been given a book to read about Social Media and one called Twitter Power. I am beginning to think that Twitter is not something I can ignore any more.
I am not yet convinced that I need an account but I think I should be informed about how it works and how the system of communication can be used.

I was wondering today what our office communication might look like if we were to use a twitter like tool to announce office news or meetings and tasks completed. So I took a look at OpenSource options. Because in an office environment we already have the community created but we don’t want the world to follow our office “tweets”. Here is what I found:

Automattic Came up with a solution for their office in 2008 and released it as a theme for wordpress. They call it P2. http://p2theme.com/

The only other thing I could find in the OpenSource community was http://status.net/. I have not looked into either of theses to see how they work or compare with twitter.

Making your WordPress site iPhone friendly

What are the crucial questions to ask when I think: “I want to make my site mobile friendly.”

How do I do it?

What tools do I use?

Useful links:
http://speckyboy.com/2008/06/29/7-amazing-plugins-to-view-your-wordpress-blog-on-any-mobile-device-iphone-pda/
http://freepressblog.org/2007/09/25/wordpress-mobile-admin-ui-for-iphone/

WordPress Mobile Pack

http://mobiforge.com/running/story/the-dotmobi-wordpress-mobile-pack
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-mobile-pack/

WordPress Mobile Edition
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-mobile-edition/

A mobile/phone/PDA friendly interface for your blog with progressive enhancement for advanced mobile browsers. You can see it in action by visiting this site in a mobile browser.

I have tried this on this thejourneyler.org. The plugin only works with Carrington Mobile theme 1.0.2. However, the Carrington mobile theme is currently at version 1.1, which is not compatible with this plugin (as far as I can tell). CMT 1.0.2 is not compatible with PostTabs, a plugin I use extensively to display multiple layers of content on a single page.

A nice feature of this plugin is that the user of an iPod Touch can “opt out” of the CMT. And once they have opted out they can “opt in” again with a link on the bottom of the post or page.

WordPress Mobile Admin
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-mobile-admin/

It uses Wapple’s advanced web services to produce perfect markup whilst at the same time maintaining the familiar look and feel of WordPress. You can write and edit posts, moderate and reply to comments as well as updating and managing pages.

I have also tried this. It is not compatible with Block-Spam-By-Math. That is not in and of itself a deal breaker. But to use this I would have to find a bot blocking plugin that does work with WordPress Mobile Admin. This plugin is great for managing the commenting process or adding new text content. There is a lack of support for controlling WP settings through the mobile interface.

iPhone Control Panel
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/iphone-control-panel/
The iPhone Control Panel Plugin allows you to easily configure how iPhones and iPod touches “see” your site. It gives you the ability to add custom css, a home screen bookmark icon, change the viewport, or even redirect iPhones and iPod touches to a different url.

WordPress PDA & iPhone
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-pda/

This plugin helps the users to view your blog in a pda and iPhone browser. iPhone is still in beta testing state. Soon more updates will follow.

http://www.bravenewcode.com/wptouch/

iWPhone WordPress Plugin and Theme
http://iwphone.contentrobot.com/

Wapple Architect Mobile Plugin for WordPress

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wapple-architect/

Wapple Architect Mobile Plugin for WordPress is a plugin that allows you to mobilize your blog in minutes.
Every single mobile device is detected and all aspects of your blog are tailored to the visiting handset. Sites aren’t dumbed down to the lowest common denominator but instead use the features and functionality that advanced phones offer.
Devices are detected by using Wapple’s advanced web services instead of relying on inferior 3rd party tools. If you view your blog with a brand new, never before seen handset, it’ll still work perfectly!
Any theme you’ve installed and have styled for web will be carried across to mobile giving you a consistent look and feel for each and every one of your visitors.

iPhone / Mobile Admin
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/mobileadmin/screenshots/

Mobile Admin adapts the WordPress admin UI to be more friendly to mobile devices, specifically phones.
The iPhone / iPod Touch browser was the first target, but most other mobile browsers are supported at a basic level, and plugins can be used to customize for specific browsers where desired.
A plugin for the iPhone/iPod Touch devices is included, as well as a more basic plugin for Windows Mobile browsers. (Consider the latter a “beta”, but it’s mostly intended to be another sample for how to write a plugin.)

Open source HR tools / Office forms

In the company I work for, it is common practice for them to send me .doc files to use as forms for administrative functions. They are often created as templates and then when when the purpose of the form is triggered then a .doc is sent as an attachment in an email. In today’s modern age this process seems relatively inefficient in terms of man hours involved for several reasons:

  1. Some admin person has to create the form.
  2. I have to fill it out and send it back.
  3. In order for the information to be used more than once the information has to be taken out of the form and inserted into a database of some kind.

It also seems irresponsible use of bandwidth and harddrive space when one considers:

  • The email sent the first time takes up bandwidth, and harddrive space in the sent box and received box.
  • The form is likely to be saved in a folder related to the project it is needed for, and then possibly saved again after it is completed.
  • The Completed form is likely to be sent back to the first person sending the request form and then possibly several other people.

It seems a lot more efficient to create a web based application on a company LAN/WAN and then have the employee fill out the application there and give the (all) admin personnel needing the info access to the completed info and have the data displayed as a form. – simple. Except in our industry there are two obvious difficulties which need to be overcome:

  • How does the admin person create the web based form?
  • How does the company supply off-line access to employees for filling out the form?

As for the second point I am not sure that I have an answer. But concerning the first point, .doc files are probably used because that is what is easy to use and .doc / word processing is a tool which is familiar to the admin person.
The question I am asking is, is there an open source LAMP app which lets one create forms for office processes which lets users (admin personnel) quickly and easily create and deploy forms? It would also be nice for the fields to pull from the same database when practical. i.e. The office needs to create two forms. Both require the employee filling out the form to put their name in the form and the names of the people to whom they are sending the form. Because the employee logged into the LAN/WAN then the form should auto propagate with the name of the logged in user. However, if it didn’t then it should be prompted when the employee starts filling out the form “Autocomplete style” and the suggestions for names should come from the corporation central database of employee names. The end goal is that the admin person should be able to click button and activate a widget in the form and the widget should behave the someway, relating data or relating to data sources across different forms created for the office.

Some OpenSource Projects I found through a Google Search but have not tried:
http://www.orangehrm.com/download.php
http://www.openhris.com/
http://www.kineoopensource.com/index.php/role/hr/
http://www.joobsbox.com/
http://www.jobdigtracker.com/
http://www.webresourcesdepot.com/open-source-job-board-application-joobsbox/

http://www.toplev.com/OfficeForms.html

Zoho Office
http://labnol.blogspot.com/2007/07/create-web-forms-with-zoho-creator.html

Plugins not used…

In the early days of WordPress (2005) and WP-plugins there was usually only one plugin to do the job. Today there are many. So the task comes to sorting out which plugins are the right ones for the job and which ones are the best.

PDF viewing on site
I have been looking for a solution for giving my visitor the option to view PDFs I create on my site without having to download the PDF.

  • Third Party Services
    • iPaper
      There is a service for this called Scribd.com. They use a technology called iPaper to present your material. As best I can tell, you upload your document and then they convert it to flash and present your content as flash in a custom flash viewer. It works great. There is also a WordPress plugin to pull your hosted content to your WordPress website. Actually there are two plugins at the time of my writing iPaper and Simpler iPaper. I found that iPaper was the easier plugin to work with.
    • GoogleDocs
      If you are into using GoogleDocs then there is a plugin for presenting GoogleDocs in the same way as documents submitted to Scribd.com. It is called Google Doc Embedder.
    • embedit.in
      Embedit.in is another snazzy third party service. I have not tried it but it seems to work well and has some built in analytics for seeing who downloads your document.
    • docstoc.com
      Docstoc.com is yet anther third party service for serving documents.This review pits it and scribid.com against embedit.in
    • Zoho
      Zoho Apps is a rival service to Google Docs, they have a viewer for the files which users create with their online apps or add to their services. So if you are using an office document work flow which uses Zoho Apps you can embed these with ease with viewer. According to this review, Zoho Viewer lets users do three things:
      1. view documents
      2. share document as URLs
      3. embed documents
      4. .

  • Self-Hosted and Self-Contained
    • Self-Hosted SWF
      However, in general, I do not like using third party services, after a while I forget what content I have in “the cloud” and I like to keep as small a digital footprint as possible. So I found a third solution. There is a plugin called WordPressPDF. This one requires that you convert your PDF files to SWF files and then presents them on your site without requiring a third party service. It did require the installation of swftools to do the PDF to SWF conversion. However this seems a small price to pay for leaving a smaller digital foot print.
    • A second solution that I found in use was to use http://www.fpdf.org/ which is a PHP class to view PDFs the technical skill required to implement it was beyond my current time to develop. There was also another viewer mentioned here. with it’s code on Google Code but I could not figure out how to download the whole set of files out of Google Code.

Keeping track of “To Dos”
There are so many cool things you can do with web pages and with WordPress. I needed a way to track all the things that I wanted to do. I have tried three plugins for this.

  • Admin Notes ajax jquery
    The first, Admin Notes ajax jquery, added a blue box at the top of all my admin pages to which I could add “To Do” items however this increased the load time of my admin pages by at least 3 seconds under heavy use. So it had to go.
  • WordPress Admin Notepad Plugin
    The second, WordPress Admin Notepad Plugin, added a single “scratch paper” spot through the settings tab. This was not accessible enough. It seems more ideal for passing notes between users on a WordPress install.
  • Peter’s Post Notes
    The third, Peter’s Post Notes, Is the winner! is by far the best plugin for my uses because it keeps track of notes on a per page or per post basis. So I only see the notes which are relevant to the current post.
  • Note Pad
    A long time ago, I also used Chris Davis’s Note Pad plugin it allowed me to make a note in the admin area and then easily change it to a post draft. I could not get this plugin to work with a current version of WordPress.

Stats

Get people to view your site with a browser other than Internet Explorer.

Again there are several plugins. They take two different approaches one is Pro-FireFox (from spreadfirefox.com), the others are anti-IE6.

This is a really sensitive, but serious issue. As a web-developer I do not want people using a browser that is less secure than a modern browser like Firefox 3.5.3+. However, there is another reason to encourage a browser other than IE, and that is I don’t want to have to recode each page in an IE friendly manner. This is just too much work.

  • Spread Firefox
    The spreadfirefox plugin got annoying because it showed it’s logo all the time even when viewed in FireFox and it created a huge footer.. So I yanked it.
  • IE Warning
    The IE Warning plugin was a bit friendlier and had a really cool custom panel where I could customize the CSS applying to the warning.
  • Shockingly Big IE6 Warning
    But in the end I went with the Shockingly Big IE6 Warning because it had the best admin panel and the most customization options.
  • Anti IE6 Army
    Anti IE6 Army was not tested but appears to be a plugin of similar function.

How do you keep a page from showing up in the menu?

http://wordpress.org/support/topic/229889
http://wordpress.org/support/topic/220508
Plugins: