Oct 232006

Italian VersionLa versione italiana è qui: YouOS, il sistema operativo web

youos_logo.gifDear friends and readers, today I’ll spend longer time than usual to
write down this article, because I wanto to show you something
extraordinary. And believe me, extraordinary is the exact adjective
when four Big Brains (one coming from Caltech, one from Stanford and
two from the MIT) unite their efforts and create something innovative
with this impact.
I am talking about YouOS, the web operating system.

Click on each image to magnify

YouOS 01

What is YouOS?
Well, believe or not it’s really an operating system.
Which works entirely via web, realized only in javascript and AJAX.

For "operating system" I am referring to the fact you can find
everything you’re accustome to find in a *NIX like OS: a file system, a
shell terminal, the possibility to install some applications (which
have to be realized in javascript) and so on.
So .. let’s go on order, since I have the goal to illustrate you in detail some of those aspects 😉

YouOS 02

After having gone to the "default" procedure of registration &
log-in into the YouOS site, you’ll have access to your default desktop,
which look pretty and very very similar to a modern Linux one 😉
can see the icons for Recycle Bin, the shell, the file manager etc. In
a few words nothing different than the regular dektop you’re using each
and every day, woth the main difference that now all it’s happening in
a window of your web browser.
Double clicking on the shell icon
we’ll see an actual terminal window opening (something that you Linux
people are used to) and we can make a series of things form the Command
Line Interface.

YouOS 03

Double clicking the RichTextEditor icons opens the text editor, which
includes the ortographic control, the PDF exporting and the disccussion
of what’s been writed!
Naturally each application window is resizeable at will (in the web browser window).

YouOS 04

The integrated file manager (accessible from the icon File Explorer)
lets you manage your files in the file system of "virtual" OS.
can upload files from our actual working station, and they will remain
available on your YouOS machine, ready to be processed from any other
machine you’ll use to re-login. Into the image below we can see an
image of mine uploaded intop the YouOS system.

YouOS 05

YouOS, like any respectable OS out there, has a web browser available, which goes under the name of Bitty Browser.
the screenshot below we can see it in action visiting this blog. It
gives a unique "feeling", since if we stop and reflect we can
acknoledge that my web browser (Firefox) is being used to see/launch
another web browser (Bitty Browser) to visualize my blog. Sort of a
mirror’s play ot the infinite loop of an handycam recording a tv which
is showing the image from the cam 😛
The HTML rendering of Bitty
Browser is optimal, my blog is viewed perfectly (I can suppose that it’s
using the Gecko engine from the Mozilla foundation).

YouOS 060

Before I’ve said that it’s possible to install (and uninstall, clearly) some applications, remember ?
Well, I’ve lied to you 😛
is that the applications available for installation are not "some" but
– at the moment – 208 (yes two hundreds and eight), covering the most
various needs (RSS feed readers, various Instan Messaging applications,
personal productivity apps, office apps and so on) 😉

YouOS 07

Really interesting, isn’t it? 😉
Just think at the possibility to
have your desktop, alongside your files, always at hand, on any pc
connected to the Internet, everywhere in the world, whitout having to
carry around your laptop 🙂
Howerever, from the list of available
applications shown up here, I’ve decided to install the one called
"Google Spreadsheets" (ok, Google-twisted mindeset at work here). 😀
have just to click on the "install" button near the app name and in a
few seconds, voila … here’s the installed and working application! 😉

YouOS 08

Well, what do you think? Isn’t extraordinary?
And what are the system requirements? – you may ask – Simply a browser, better if Mozilla Firefox!
think at the potential of this idea: to make "productive" the oldest of
computers, just having to be able to connect to the Internet and run a
web browser.

Don’t know about you, but i am enthusiast of this
and i do say "Kudos" to Jeff Mellen, Joe Wong, Sam Hsiung e Srini
Panguluri (the 4 big brains behind this project).

Translation by Nicola "kOoLiNuS" Losito.

Jun 102006

Italian VersionLa versione italiana è qui: Combattere lo spam in WordPress

Hello everyone !
Often, for some of us, coming back to work means also coming back to each own’s blog, probably leaved “unsurveilled” in those vacations days.
… and an “unsurveilled” blog means, in many cases, a blog “spammed” with some (if you’re lucky) or hundreds (if you’re unlucky) spam-comments.
How can we stop this? Easy. We will use some plug-ins made for WordPress that have been build exactly to help in these spam management situations, and which I’ll introduce you (with some personal comments on them) in this post. As usual the plugins listed in the following list have been personally tested by me, so …. trust me 😉

1) Akismet (www.akismet.com): this plugin is THE FIRST absolute one that you should install (and activate) on every WordPress based blog.
For it’s correct work you need to get a WordPress API Key, which you can get opening a (free as in beer) blog on WordPress.com.
It’s an easy plugin and its work is absolutely trasparent to the user: when you have it installed and activated with your own API Key, it will mind to intercept and compare every single comment coming in with a database of spam comments hosted on Akismet’s server.
If the comment is “good”, it will regularly appear on the blog. If the comment is (or seems) “spam” it will be stored in a “quarantine zone” called “Akismet spam”, that will be availble in your WordPress management backend, where you can recover it if it has been marked as spam by error or definitevely cancel it.
“False positives” are really few, as are the spam comments not correctly marked.
Giovy’s take: to install, absolutely

2) Trencaspammers (http://coffeliuswiki.bloggear.net/trencaspammers): this great anti-spam plugin is really effective, but it needs some “hacks” to a fully working experience.
The working principle on which is based to is different from Akismet’s one, it needs the insertion (by your commentes) of an alfanumeric code in a box, code showed to the users as an image, manipulated so to be not easily interpreted by an OCR software.
Pro: It is really effective on fighting spam.
Cons: it need a “difficoult” installation (expecially if you’re a novice user, but then there are really some good guides on the Internet) and it adds a sometime annoying step to people commenting your post, which have to “decode” the code generated by the plugin.
Giovy’s take: install it, if you don’t mind to introduce this little “obstacle” to your readers, but you want to put spam near to zero.

3) WordPress Hashcash 3.0 beta (http://elliottback.com/wp/archives/2005/10/23/wordpress-hashcash-30-beta/): this plugin belongs to the “zero configuration” category (as Akismet), and to have it fully working you have just to download, install and then enable it.
The principle it’s based on is a bit “obscure” and not interesting to the not-introduced (in short: if the javascript created by the plugin matches a series of conditions the “enter your comment” button is enabled, else not) but is completely trasparent to the user commenting.
It’s effectiveness is in the medium range, sometimes we can see also legal comments refused by the system and sometime some spam comment manage to “get-in”. In some cases, as i’ve read, it can disable at all the comments insertion, so you will have to disable (and remove) it.
Giovy’s take: install it only if really needed. Then you will have to keep an eye on it’s work, and probably insert an advisory note fot your readers which are approaching commenting your post.

4) Spam Karma 2.2 (http://unknowngenius.com/blog/wordpress/spam-karma/): a really effective plugin, belonging to the “configure if needed” category (or: the plugin works at its best even with no personal configuration, but you are given the opportunity to make some customizations).
The principle it’s based on is really particular: to each comment is given a “karma” score, following a series of parameters. When karma becomes negative the comments goes into moderation (automatically generated comments, peculiar to most spam-bots are the best category in which negative karma is applied). The nice thing, instead, is that your “regulars”, the people which comments usually on your blog are given bonus positive karma points, so – normally – anything posted by them will pass the control. Spam Karma shows a “plugin behaviour”, and so it’s possible to expand it’s working range (for example i can indicate the plugin that integrates it with Akismet).
Giovy’s take: really nice plugin, install it now and integrate it with the Akismet plugin.

Final Notes: after having tested many of this plugins (naturally in addiction to the ones listed today) I came to the conclusion that the best results (both on spam prevention and ease of use for my readers) is given by Akismet & Spam Karma + Askimet plugin.
False positives ammounts pratically to zero, as zero are the spam comments that manage to pass the various controls.
If you notice that both of them “just works” with a simple download & install procedure, requiring no code editing, and so are at range of the novice WordPress users, so we have clearly a winner.
Try them … you will not regret it! 😉

Translation by Nicola “kOoLiNuS” Losito.

May 182006

Italian VersionLa versione italiana è qui: Feedrinse

Feed RinseSometime I still get surprised by the “web 2.0” services that continues to be launched every single day.
Feed Rinse is one of them… 😛

Many of you are using RSS feeds (of which I have talked about many times in this blog) to read blogs, follow information sites/portals and similar.
When you follow just a bunch of them there’s no problem, all it’s easy and fine …. BUT … if the number of feed you follow begin to grow, keeping up becomes hard and complicated, mainly because the signal to noise factor get polluted by “rumors”.
This happens because we, of course, maybe not be interested in every single post of a blog as we can not be interested in every single news provided by a news agency. So keeping away this “unwanted” information to someone becomes a prority to someone.
But, how do we achieve this?
Feed Rinse comes in help, giving us the chance to “filter” the RSS feeds of the information sourcers we follow, showing us only the type of articles that meets our criteria.

How does Feed Rinse work?
The concept behind it is really simple: we set up Feed Rinse with the RSS we usually follow (yes, we can import the eventual OPML file we have from exporting the feeds from another client), then we can go on and set the “filters” on the feeds we want to “lighten up”.
We, first of all, can decide if ALLOW or BLOCK the posts thet match our rules; rules that can be applied to:

  • post
  • title
  • body
  • author
  • tag

to permit an effective filtering of the contents. For example it’s possible, for a certain feed, only the posts that contains the word “giovy” and not show the posts that have a “politics” tag. And so on.
Once we have set out the filters for each feed we can export back all of them in a new OPML file (that we will import back in our default feed reader) and this time we will have a list “filtered” to our tastes. Obviously the filtering rules can be modified in teal time, following the needs of the moment. If your feed reader supports the function you can also generate an OPML Reading List.

How much does Feed Rinse costs?
Several “plans” are availables, each one with it’s limits and set of functionalities, trying to cope with the various profile of users.
There is a FREE (as in beer) plan that allow you to filter up to five feeds, a CHEAP one that allows the filtering of 50 feeds maximum and costs 1$/month, a PLUS one up to 100 filters and costs 3$/month and an UNLIMITED one which permits up to 500 filtersand costs 5$/month.
From the CHEAP plan on, is also active the possibility to filter the feeds using Regular Expression and it’s availble a filter on “trivial” content.

To test the service I’ve activated the FREE plan and I must admit I am satisfied with the functionalities and effectiveness: I’ve made disappear from the ANSA and Repubblica feed every article with the words “prodi” and “berlusconi” in the bodies and title… 😀

Translation by Nicola “kOoLiNuS” Losito.