MobilePress

FireShot Pro capture #43 - 'MobilePress - Enable The Mobile Web' - mobilepress co za

Following my other mobile blogging related posts, both my colleagues @AfriGadget – Frerieke & Erik – adviced me to take a closer look at a wonderful (new) WordPress plugin called MobilePress.

“MobilePress is a WordPress plugin that will render your WordPress blog on mobile handsets, with the ability to use customized themes.” – We’ve seen this feature with others before, but – as the author correctly points out: “Plugins exist, but, at best, contain sneaky ads and backlinks and are not all together well written.” I do share those feelings regarding the WordPress Mobile Plugin as mentioned earlier.

Despite of MobilePress being just the right choice for the mobile accessibility of your WordPress-based blog, I am still using the out-dated WPhone Admin Plugin because MobilePress (currently) lacks one important part: it automatically chooses the right rendering option based on the browser.

Now – I would like to choose that myself! WPhone does that by providing a “use mobile admin interface” checkbox on the WP login screen.

Mzeecedric and I recently had to look for a solution to a low-bandwidth blog-access issue and ended up using WPhone. I would, however, prefer to use MobilePress (also because it’s from SA, yay! :-) once such a “use mobile admin interface” functionality is integrated so that blog editors can actively choose a low-bandwidth login to the WP backend while using a normal browser.

(It’s btw interesting to see how a plugin is used for another purpose – something else than what it had been designed for. See M-Pesa in Kenya and how it is used these days.)

Desktop 2.0

Wow, I’ve eventually upgraded my tech-nomade life by switching to an improved home office setup.

From a single (1280 x 800 px) notebook + cabled mouse…

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…to a (1680 x 1050) 22″ wide-screen monitor and a cordless Logitech keyboard & laser mouse:

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You know I actually didn’t want to go this far and attach another screen to my system as I was afraid it would compromise my freedom (~ uhuru! :-). But it is SO much better to work on a bigger screen – which btw also has a much more vibrant colour contrast and provides more reliable results when it comes to photo editing & co.

Saw this setup (notebook + ext monitor) in use somewhere else and realized that I should upgrade my own desktop. Besides, being able to move a browser window from one screen to the other is just very, very convenient. Yes, I know, I am a bit late at adopting such “new” technologies.

The 22″ LG Flatron W2242T-PF is one of the cheaper screens and even though it comes with both VGA and DVI-D ports (this is a requirement to me), it does of course only feature a cheaper TN display (which will never be as efficient for decent colour works as MVA/PVAs, for instance). The monitor stand also is a bit shaky – it’s just a piece of ligh plastic with no real balance for the 4,7kg screen (manufacturers obviously trying to cash-in on selling extra VESA wall & desktop stands). However, my funds do not provide enough room for a much better monitor, so I’ll stick to this one for now. Am a bit curious to know what kind of screen type those 13,3 MacBooks come with.

Oh, and if you happen to own one of those new LGs: just make sure you reduce screen brightness and remove blue colour to a value of 23 (23 …there you have it). I don’t know why LG came up with such stupid factory settings in the first place.

The keyboard is a Logitech Cordless Desktop S520, kind of new model but it also has a nasty software bug: Logitech’s SetPoint software doesn’t like the Synaptics touchpad drivers as found on a laptop like my HP nx8220. Which means that about 50% of all extra (programmable) keys do not work (until Logitech comes up with a working solution, that is).

Compared to many other wireless keyboard-mouse dekstop solutions, the keys have a relatively low drop and it almost feels as if you’re typing on a notebook. Nice! The laser mouse is average but still better than my older + cabled 9,- EUR optical Logitech mouse.

I also managed to buy a used docking station for the notebook, so unplugging the machine for mobile use is much easier + the docking bay also has a DVI-D port. This really is the setup for me: a business laptop + docking station, hooked up to an external screen and keyboard once I am at home (thus avoiding the difficult scenario of keeping two different computers at sync…unless of course I’d be using a Mac machine, but that’s another story).

As for having a native 1680×1050 screen resolution directly on the notebook: I tested this a few months ago with another display panel, but 1680×1050 at something above 128dpi is just too tiny for my old eyes.

p.s.: Logitech stole 5h of my life with their f******** “SetPoint” software that’s supposed to power the extra buttons on the keyboard. What the…..??! Also, considering that this software just has to power some extra buttons and the mouse, you’re probably wondering about the 50+ mb download that comes along with using SetPoint.? Logitech hardware is nice, but their software really pissed me off big times.

[update: Logitech support wrote in (at least!), telling me to deinstall the driver for Synaptics touchpad. WTF? Sorry guys, your driver software is either certified, or not. I won’t install any shitty SetPoint crap on my system until that issue is solved.]

6:06 minutes

…or why I would sometimes like to place my colleagues at work in front of a few selected videos that will help them understand why we urgently need to rethink our knowledge management strategy (or even better: develope a strategy!):

[via]

Do you have any idea how hard it is to explain the future of the web (and how we can actively contribute to it by positioning our ideas/products) to non-techies?

This may be due to my bad rhetorics (e.g. speaking too fast), but still – another colleague told me the other day: “Oh, I think we shouldn’t put too much energy in knowledge management, but instead implement more projects”. – “No!”, I immediately replied, “I believe that a better distribution of our knowledge and approaches will also contribute to the dissemination of the basic idea we’re already giving out for free” (here: sustainable sanitation concepts).

I mean, they are still only relying on Google to search for interesting information (and are consequently overhelmed by the following information overload) while I am already relying on social bookmarking services (e.g. delicious.com), (CC)-by-sa licenced photo sharing websites (e.g. flickr.com) and blogs to find qualified (= pre-selected by human beings) materials we can use for our mission.

A lot of ppl out there constantly create great content without really thinking about how they could actually share it with the rest of the world. If you want your works to be found online, you’ll have to do something about it and not just put it somewhere on the internet and hope that Google will index it one day.

The world would be so much better if all scientist who publish their works online could just index it somewhere on delicious & co. The other day, someone even asked me if Google could come up with a dedicated service for his special topic…. WTH? – “Go and tag your works at delicious.com”, I replied, “and your files may remain on your server and thus generate even more traffic for you”.

Give them more semantic value!

LEDNA

LEDNA – the Local Economic Development Network of Africa.

ledna

My friend, former colleague and fellow blogger Christian created this lovely site with Drupal on behalf of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC (& UNCDF, gtz, ILO + USAID).

Christian actually tested his design on me and others some time ago, using Silverback and directly implemented our feedback to improve this site (Silverback & Evernote are some of those reasons why I am sometimes longing for a combination of a MacBookPro and an iPhone…).

The LEDNA website aims to pool “local economic development knowledge” and “engage in community-networks to build the knowledge hub”. In other words: the LEDNA website shall provide a community of networked activists who are active in the field of local economic development and want to exchange experiences and opportunities with each other. I see it as an independent online resources that helps pooling different experiences from and for Africa by Africans. Hence the name “Network OF Africa” (instead of for).

Given the unstable internet connectivity in many African countries and a missing incentive for stakeholders (= How can I benefit of this network as a local planer?), the website itself isn’t the best solution for gathering knowledge – but it sure provides a step in the right direction and it now only depends on how it will be marketed and sold to those knowledge providers who are supposed to contribute content. After all, what really matters (I think) aren’t studies and political papers only, but real experience from the ground that provides a clear picture of what worked and what didn’t.

I really hope that this site takes off and turns into a vivid network of real-life experiences – and doesn’t only cover positive news (= what donors want to hear). As for the website itself – kudos to Christian for this wonderful setup so far!

JKE is GTD, part 1

Working as an external consultant, I really needed to reorganize my personal organiser and put it in a much more effective combination.

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my old personal organiser

Imagine I’ve been using this traditional filofax (“file of facts”) system for the last 10 years and often didn’t have enough space to keep my notes. Plus, I am one of those folks who write down every little idea and try to keep the rest in my head.
Computers? PDAs? Mobile Phones? Well…as long as there’s no perfect solution that will synchronise any mobile phone with any adress book & notes and any corporate-restricted MS-Exchange Server and other services (= no common standard, sigh), I’ll keep on using paper – and besides: it’s faster and will never run out of batteries.

Having said that, what I am actually looking for is a system that a) provides enough room for my extra notes (e.g. a clamp somewhere where I can just attach them) and b) provides the maximum space without keeping me from writing on the left page because of a stupid six-ring loose-leaf binder system as seen on my old filofax above.

Proper time management certainly does not only depend on the perfect personal organiser, but for me, it starts with it.

And fancy Moleskine notebooks?
No. They just don’t do it for me even though they are quiet sexy, slim and have enough followers who love them. Moleskine notebooks are a 1-year solution to me. And yes, I know that some ppl just like it that way and keep their Moleskin archives on their shelves or hidden in drawers.

As far as I am informed, there are currently three different products available on the German market that offer a solution to my problem:

1. Fellow blogger Christian already recommended a very nice product from Germany which is sold under the brand name “Roter Faden” (~ red line) and which uses aluminium clamps on both sides to fix up to three special books inside:

roterfaden

Their website is unfortunately only available in German and with around 50,- EUR for an empty planer (special booklets containing a weekly calendar, address book & empty paper is sold seperately), it’s one of those solutions you’ll only go for once you’re sure it works for you.

There are only two official dealers for this system in Frankfurt and I am yet to see it in live action. I already like the mechanism that allows a quick removal of the content and – the biggest and most important advantage over to the traditional filofax solution: you can actually use all space as there’s no stupid ring binder in the middle. Sweet!

Another advantage is that you have an extra pouch for important papers, although rather rudimentary. Any disadvantages? Well…the more you stick inside it, the bigger it grows. Do I want my organiser to look like Dan Eldon’s sketchbooks? Well…. :-)

2. Then there’s the X47 system developed by another German who initially built his first prototype way back in the 1980s as a student and some years later on recycled his idea and improved it.

x47

If I had enough money, I’d probably go for one of the X47 solutions as they are the most beautiful planers I’ve ever seen.

This so-called book-by-book system also uses a special spring mechanism (“spring loaded spine rail”) that holds these extra booklets in place and replaces the usual ring mechanism. While there are different sizes available (even some inside a wallet!), I’ve figured that I should switch to an A5 format which provides enough room for my extra notes that I still want to clip into this planer. Contrary to conventional filofax systems or even the RoterFaden solution above, these timers will not grow in size. Nice! The name X47 actually comes from the fact that the missing ring mechanism provides 47% more paper space.

If you’re seriously interested in getting a perfect GTD-solution, this could be your personal organiser (albeit prices are somewhere between 100,- – 300,- EUR!).

3. The same guy who invented the X47 system knew that his system is a bit too expensive for the average customer (heck, I could even get a Netbook for that price!), so he tried to look for another, cheaper solution based on…. rubbers!

x17

Instead of an expensive spring loaded mechanism, these rather simple organisers are held together by a set of rubbers. The inventor actually patented the system and got a patent on “a half hole” – which are required at the side of the organisers to keep everything in place. Check out their website for more info on this simple setup. Obviously, this is one sweet Eurogadget :-) solution I’ll like!

So I bought it.

I actually just bought the papers inside and these special rubbers (which are normally used as gaskets in the automobile sector, so they are quite durable) because they didn’t have the cheap cover edition I was actually longing for and because I had already made up plans on how to modify this solution according to my needs. Since there doesn’t seem to be *the* perfect solution, I’ll have to create my own.

Welcome to my first prototype!

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use some stronger paper from a calendar and cut out the desired size

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(in case you’re wondering: that’s an image of natural Liquorice on the cover – as mentioned, I’d taken a page from an office calendar :-)

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Yeah ok, this is what I want it to feature. Left: a clip for extra notes in A5 format, in the middle the four booklets (empty notes, address book, calendar 2009, 1st & 2nd part), and to the right: a small pouch for loose content and some business/credit/customer cards + a pen holder.

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last page on the papered prototype (./. pen holder)

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And look, even a CD fits in there!

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old vs. new

I’ve actually ordered a cover from X17 (which is yet to arrive) because my next step is to modify it according to the papered prototype above and add these little extras using the fabric I normally use (green canvas material from Kenya + some leftover parts from my grandmothers ball gown – aii, sijui about the latter one…).

Is there any other system you can recommend that fits into this scheme? Comments, please!

Thengiu muno.

[UPDATE] In part two of this post, I talk about the modifications I did to my X17 timer.