Archive for September, 2006

Photo Experiment

This is an experiment on how people respond to photos. To participate, simply click the most interesting point in each photograph (this will open up an enlarged view, at flickr).

Note: The experiment is now over - click the photos to view results! Before you click, see if you can guess where people clicked?

Tip: These results were generated using CrazyEgg (www.crazyegg.com) - this site allows you to see where people click in your website, and generate heatmaps.

Its all about the legs I

It’s all about the legs I, by Cheeky Needle

Lane..

Lane in town center by Jusez

On phone..

On the phone… on the motorcycle by malingering

Note: All photos are creative commons licence, property of original photographer.

Add comment September 30th, 2006

????? WordPress: Bilingual Blogging

[si]??????????!

??? ??????? WordPress ????? ???????? ???? ??[/si]

[en]Ayubowan!

This message is written in English, via WordPress[/en]

The above is written in both ????? and English. To view the different versions, click the links at the top of this post: The Union Jack (British Flag) corresponds to English, clicking ‘Sinhala’ will show you the Sinhala version (note: JavaScript must be enabled).

If the Sinhala message does not display correctly (you see boxes or something else), please download the font located here: Kandy Unicode and copy it to your fonts folder.

HELP: Please let me know the following:

  1. Does the text display correctly in Sinhala or not?
  2. What web browser are you using (name/version)
  3. What operating system are you using (name/verson)

If you are interested in blogging in Sinhala using WordPress, please await my detailed guide on how to do this.

Note: The above message should probably say ‘This post..’ but it says ‘This message..’ That’s because I could not find a ????? equivalent for ‘Post’. AFAIK, ??????? is the closest word (lit: message). Also, special thanks to my good friend Yo [link coming soon] for suggesting this topic.

Disclaimer: My knowledge of Sinhala is rudimentary at best, also, I apologise for not giving a Tamil translation, as, I don’t know any Tamil whatsoever.

12 comments September 28th, 2006

DIY Web Site: Installing WordPress

wpblog.jpg
Installing wordpress is reasonably simple, but requires some basic web related knowledge. This detailed article covers the whole installation process (downloading WP / uploading / installing / setting up a mysql database), on a FREE web host.

Tip: If you are not interested in all of this and just want a wordpress blog preinstalled or free, see the end of this article.

Installing WP: Technical knowledge required
You should know how to…

  1. Sign up for a web host. 
  2. Use FTP to upload files and directories.
  3. Edit a file using notepad.

Step 1: Download Wordpress:

  1. Go to the WordPress download page, and download the latest version (zip file).
  2. UnZip that zip file to your desktop. (In Windows XP, just doubleclick the file you downloaded, and click Extract All Files). You will now have a folder called WordPress.

Step 2: Pre install checklist: Before installing WP, Make sure you have the following:

  1. Host who supports PHP and MySql: Your host will need to support PHP and offer MySql databases. For this example, I will signup for a free account at Tripod UK. 
  2. FTP Login info to your hosting account: this consists of a host, username, and password. See uploading content via FTP for more information. Test the FTP Login and make sure it works, and you are able to upload files.
  3. MySql database information: This information includes:
    a. MySql username.
    b. MySql database name.
    c. MySql password.
    d. MySql host (depending on where you host, this may be something.db or localhost)
  4. An FTP Client: I recommend FileZilla which is easy to use and free/open source. See my guide on uploading content via FTP for instructions on downloading/using FileZilla.

After signing up at tripod UK, I got the following Information:

FTP Info:
FTP Username: nsharp28
FTP Password: ######
FTP Host: ftp://ftp.members.lycos.co.uk/

MySql Info:
DB Name: nsharp28_uk_db
Username: nsharp28
Password: (none reqd*)
Host: localhost

*Tripod does not require a MySql password, but your host usually will. Please have that password ready. Note - the MySql password is not the FTP password.

STEP 3: Configure WordPress 
Before you upload WordPress, you should edit the WP Config file in your WP folder on your desktop. You can edit the file as follows:

  1. Open the WordPress folder on your desktop.
  2. Find a file called wp-config-sample.php.
  3. Rename that file to wp-config.php.
  4. Open that file using Windows Notepad (Or any text editor)
  5. At the top of the file, you will see something like this:
    define(’DB_NAME’, ‘wordpress’);    // The name of the database
    define(’DB_USER’, ‘username’);     // Your MySQL username
    define(’DB_PASSWORD’, ‘password’); // …and password
    define(’DB_HOST’, ‘localhost’);    // 99% chance you…
  6. Carefully edit the second item in quotes, for each sentence. For example, the DB name is listed as ‘wordpress’ - change that to your db name - be careful not to delete the quotation marks. In my case, the configuration looks like this:
    define(’DB_NAME’, ‘nsharp28_uk_db’);   
    define(’DB_USER’, ‘nsharp28′);    
    define(’DB_PASSWORD’, ”);
    define(’DB_HOST’, ‘localhost’);
    Note: my password is blank, but you need to put the MySql password there. 
  7. Save the file, and exit notepad.

OK, You are now ready to upload WordPress

Step 4: Upload Wordpress 

  1. Connect to your site via FTP: Using FileZilla, log into the web site.
  2. Navigate to the WordPress folder in the LOCAL window in FileZilla.
  3. Select all the files in the WP folder (Click a file, and press Ctrl+a)
  4. Right click, and click add to Queue
  5. In the menu click Queue->Process Queue.
  6. FileZilla will start uploading files.

Cool! You are now almost there! Uploading files may take a while. Depending on your connection speed, you can now step out and have a cup of Coffee.

Step 5: Installing Wordpress

Using your browser, navigate to the front page of your web site, In my case, that is:
http://members.lycos.co.uk/nsharp28/index.php
(Warning, lycos has popups)

If everything was OK so far, you will get a message saying the following:

It doesn’t look like you’ve installed WP yet. Try running install.php.

Tip: If you DON’T get above message, see the error checklist below, otherwise click install, and follow the simple process to install WordPress. Note down your username and password somewhere safe. 

Next, click install.php, follow the procedure. WP will generate an Admin Username and password. Save these both for future use.

That’s It! Check out the sample site
http://members.lycos.co.uk/nsharp28/

Error Checklist

  1. I still see the default page of the website: Try deleting any page called index.htm or index.html in your ftp window. Don’t delete index.php as that is WP’s index page.
  2. I get an error message “Can’t connect to DB: open the config file again and make sure the settings are correct. If you find any problems, fix and upload again.
  3. I get an error message “Missing file”: Make sure you have uploaded all files.

Not interested in learning WP, just want a blog?
If you are not interested in learning how to install WordPress, and just want a WordPress blog, you have two options:

  1. Get a free WP blog at http://www.wordpress.com/ (it will have an address like: http://something.wordpress.com/)
  2. Paid (preinstalled) Blog: see WordPress web hosting for a list of companies who offer hosted wordpress blogs with domain names, set up for you - most offer wordpress as a free addon if you buy a hosting account and domain.

Tip: GoDaddy offers WordPress installed domains with hosting for about $10/$4 per month.

Got any questions? Ask me! (post them as comments below)

PS: I bet a friend 10 bucks that nobody would bother to read this article or try setting up a wordpress site. Prove me wrong :)

3 comments September 26th, 2006

DIY web site: Uploading content via FTP

filezilla.jpg

Earlier, I showed you how to sign up for a web host. Now I want to show you how to upload content, via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to your web site.

You need the following information first: (Usually this information will be in the email your web host sends you when you sign up)

  1. ftp host name (usually ftp.something.com/), sometimes it might be just something.com)
    In my earlier example, ProHosting gave me the following FTP address: ftp://nsharp.odin.prohosting.com/. (you can drop the ftp:// bit)
  2. Your username - (in my case, nsharp)
  3. Your password.

STEP 1: Testing your FTP login.

Before uploading files, you might want to test if FTP is working. If you got a new domain, it might take a while for FTP to work on that domain. If it does not work, wait about 24 hours and try again. Anyway, lets try out that login.

  1. In windows XP, click START, then RUN, and type the following:
    ftp domain.com
    (replace domain with your domain name, and change the extension as necessary) and click OK.
    (In my case, I will type “ftp nsharp.odin.prohosting.com”)
  2. A new black colored DOS window will open up, showing a message
    similar to the following:
    Connected to rproxy.free.prohosting.com.
    220 server ready - login please
    User (rproxy.free.prohosting.com:(none)): _
  3. The cursor will be blinking right after none. Type your username there and press enter.
  4. Next, you will be asked for your password. Type that also and press enter - as you type your password, you might not see anything on the screen (as the password is hidden). After you type your password, just press enter.
  5. If you are logged in successfully, you will see a message similar to the following:
      Connected to rproxy.free.prohosting.com.
    220 server ready - login please
    User (rproxy.free.prohosting.com:(none)): nsharp
    331 password required
    Password:
    230 login accepted
    ftp>_

Well done! your ftp login works fine. If you like, you can type dir and press enter, this will list any files present. Usually, depending on the host, you may see some files such as index.htm. To EXIT ftp and close the window, type bye and press enter.

If your ftp login does not work, check with your web hosting company. Note that if it is a new domain, it may take up to 48 hours for ftp logins to work.

Assuming your FTP login worked, you can now continue to step 2…

STEP 2: DOWNLOAD AN FTP CLIENT.

Windows includes basic FTP support, however it is useful to have your own ftp client (software), to help you upload and manage content on your new site. I will now show you how to use a free software called filezilla (Why filezilla? Because it’s free and open source)

  1. Go to http://sourceforge.net/projects/filezilla/
  2. Click download.
  3. Select windows 32bit version.
  4. Select a mirror, and click download.

TIP: Download Filezilla installer to your desktop…

STEP 3: Installing the FTP Client (FileZilla)

  1. Double click the file you downloaded to open it.
  2. Select language (English)
  3. Click I Agree for the licence.
  4. Select the type of install (Standard is OK).
  5. Select the destination folder (You can use the suggested default)
  6. Choose start menu folder (or accept default)
  7. Set mode and settings option (default is OK)
  8. An installation window will show, wait for it to finish and press close.

STEP 4: Using FTP Client (FileZilla)

  1. Find the link to FileZilla in your start menu, and click it to load FileZilla. You will get a screen which shows a view of your computer on the left, and remote site on the right. Remote site will be blank, as you have not connected to any site yet.
  2. In the address bar, enter your ftp address (nsharp.odin.prohosting.com, in my example)
  3. Enter your username/login in the User box.
  4. Enter your password in the password box.
  5. Click connect.

Now, the remote site window on your right will show a list of files on your web server.

Congrats! You are now ready to upload to your web server!

STEP 5: Uploading content to your webserver

First, you must make a file to upload. For this, we can use Notepad.

  1. Open Notepad (Under Programs/accessories)
  2. Visit this page: (and copy the html code for the file Hi.html)
  3. Save that code in a file to your desktop, as test.htm
  4. In FileZilla, browse to find the file you made (on the left Local Site window)
  5. Select the file with your mouse, and drag it to the right side (Remote site) window. At the bottom of FileZilla, you will see a message as the file is transferred.
  6. If all worked out, you can now access the file you uploaded, on your web site: In my case, I called the file test.htm, and I uploaded it to my sample website http://nsharp.odin.prohosting.com/, so my file should be: http://nsharp.odin.prohosting.com/test.htm.

That’s all for now! In my next article, I will tackle the tricky subject of installing  WordPress!

Add comment September 25th, 2006

DIY web site: Signing up for a web host

In my previous post, I discussed starting your own blog/site (registering a domain, and getting hosting).

In this article, I want to show you how to sign up for a web hosting account (From a FREE web host)

Preface:

A web host is a company who gives you space to host your content on their web servers (computers which are always connected to the internet).

Aside from hosting your content, some webhosts offer domain name registration. They also connect domains to hosting accounts (such that yourdomain.com points to the web hosting space you purchased).

OK, Let’s get started… 

Step 1: Signing up for a hosting account

Regardless of which web host you choose, you usually have to sign up. This involves visiting their web site, and following a sign up procedure and paying something. You will need an international credit card, and an email address (where they can send you login information.

For this example, I will demonstrate how to sign up for a FREE web host (ProHosting).

So let’s take a look at prohosting’s sign up procedure:

  1. Visit the web site (http://free.prohosting.com/): ProHosting has a convenient sign up button on the top left. Click that [a]fph.jpg
    Next, you will see a page that shows their various packages. Select the FREE package [b]. 
    freep.jpg
  2. ProHosting will ask you to enter domain name: Select “free vanity name” - this will give us a chance to get an address like http://something.prohosting.com/. For this example, I will enter “nsharp” as the name (so my site will be http://nsharp.prohosting.com/).
  3. Next, prohosting will ask you which ‘package’ you want: This is a question specific to prohosting (they offer web builder packages at an added cost. We DONT want this, since we intend to use FTP. At this point, please select NONE
    fph-probuilder.jpg
  4. Personal information: you will then be asked to fill a form with your personal detains. Please make sure you fill in all the required details (in red) correctly, in particular, pay attention to the account login, password, and your email address - when you have finished filling the form, click get an account
  5. Confirmation: If all went OK, you will see a page that lists all your details. In my case, I get the following info:
    Web Site Address: http://nsharp.odin.prohosting.com/.
    Account User Name: nsharp
    Account Password: ********
    Account Control Panel: http://freeadmin.prohosting.com/       
  6. FTP INFO: Scroll down a bit further, to find the FTP Information. This is what we need to log in. In particular, you are looking for the FTP url, which, in my case, is ftp://nsharp.odin.prohosting.com/.
  7. Summary: note down the basic information you need for FTP. This information includes: [a] The FTP server name. In this case, as shown above, it is ftp://nsharp.odin.prohosting.com/ [b] The login (nsharp) and [c] the password.

That concludes the first step of setting up the hosting account. In my next article, I will show you how to upload content using FTP

As always, if you have any questions, please post them here as comments..

Add comment September 25th, 2006

Starting your own blog/site..

This mini guide briefly shows you how to get started with your own blog/dot com site. The process is a lot easier than most people think! As always, you are welcome to post any questions you have, here, and I will try to answer them.

STEP 1: get a domain

WHAT?
A domain is your identity on the internet. It’s how other people find your website. For example, this site’s domain is www.nsharp.org.

WHY?
Having your own domain makes finding your site simpler, and makes it appear more professional. Your site can be personal, business related, or a mix of both. In fact, it can be whatever you want it to be!

HOW?
To get started, you need to decide the name you want for your site. It could contain your name, for example, if your name is John Doe, you might want to have www.johndoe.com

Next, you need to register that domain at a domain registrar. I recommend GoDaddy* (www.godaddy.com) as their rates are reasonable. To register your domain, go there, and type in the name you chose, and see if it is available. If not, they will offer you lots of suggestions/recommendations.

You will need an international credit card to pay for the domain. Fees range from under $10 for a dot com domain upwards. This is less than Rs 1000, at current rates.

Step 2: Hosting

WHAT?
Now that you have your very own domain, you have to ‘host’ your website somewhere. i.e. your website has to be stored in a computer that is always connected to the internet, and ‘linked’ to your domain. Also known as a webserver.

There are thousands of companies around the world who can host your site. Two popular hosts are www.godaddy.com and www.dreamhost.com.

GoDaddy’s rates are reasonable - around $4 a month (approx 400 rupees).

GoDaddy also offers the option to host your domain for free, with a few text advertiesments above.

Step 3: Content

CMS vs HTML
OK, you have now registered your web site domain and found a host. What’s the next step? Generating content of course. There are currently two main ways to add your content to your new web site:

  1. Using a web design software: you can write individual pages, using a software such as Frontpage, which converts them into HTML/XHTML (languages your web browser can read) and upload them to your hosting account. The advantage of this method is it is relatively simple, however it can be messy/troublesome over the long run, as maintaining content you upload is not very easy.
  2. Using a content management system (CMS): A content management system is a software, like wordpress (which powers this web site). You install it in your hosting account, and it presents a system whereby you can publish content (text, images, etc) easily. Wordpress manages the whole site, and generates HTML or whatever, so that you don’t have to worry about this. Setting up wordpress is a fairly simple task. Many web hosts (godaddy for example) allow you to accomplish this via a control panel, so you don’t have to do it manually.

I will try to write a separate post on getting started with Wordpress, soon.

Note: If you just need a blog, and don’t mind not having your own domain, www.wordpress.com offers free blogs. The blogs would have an address like (yoursite.wordpress.com) as opposed to www.yoursite.com. To get started, just visit www.wordpress.com.

Further reading (at Wikipedia)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. I don’t want to pay for the domain: If you want a free domain, you have two options: (a) A subdomain: Wordpress, for example, will offer you a free subdomain, so your site will be yoursite.wordpress.com, or (b) a domain from www.tk (Dot TK), who offer free domains (your site will be yoursite.tk)
  2. How complex is Wordpress? Wordpress is an extremely simple content management system. Aside from installation which requires some technical knowledge, usage is about as easy as using Hotmail or Yahoo email.
  3. I don’t want a blog: If you don’t want a blog, and prefer a more business oriented site, you can look to a content management system such as Mambo (http://www.mamboserver.com/)
  4. I want free hosting: If you don’t want to pay for hosting, you can get free ad supported hosting. Many companies offer this service. Note that wordpress.com offers free hosting without ads, however you have to use their url (yoursite.wordpress.com), and you may not be able to directly use your domain with them.
  5. What are COM, NET, ORG, etc I see at the end of all URL’s (Web addresses)? The last few characters in a domain after the dot are what are refered to as TLD’s (Top Level Domains). These TLD’s can be country based (e.g. Sri Lanka’s TLD is .lk so if you registered a domain in Sri Lanka you can get www.yourname.lk perhaps. TLD’s can also be generic (for a particular industry - e.g. aero for aviation, com for commercial).
  6. So.. I can have either COM, NET, ORG, LK, or whatever? Say, what do those stand for anyway?
    Yes, as long as nobody else has registered the domain you want, you should usually be able to purchase it. COM stands for Commercial, Net stands for network, and ORG stands for organization (ORG Originally denoted non profits but now generally anyone can use this suffix, and lk is Sri Lanka)
  7. What’s with the WWW at the front of a domain? www is an acronym for world wide web. You can access some domains without the www, however that prefix is usually recommended for domains (the idea of a prefix is to denote the particular service: for example email.domain.com might lead to an email interface, ftp.domain.com might lead to file transfer protocol, and lastly, www leads to the basic browser viewable domain we know).
  8. Have another question? Post it below as a comment and I will try to answer..

*Godaddy is an excellent company, and I do recommend them. You can learn more about Godaddy at their main site, or at the CEO’s blog (www.bobparsons.com) which has many excellent articles such as this one on Starting a new business

9 comments September 25th, 2006

Fun with coworkers 1: URL Mayhem

cnn.jpg

Hack:
Messing with the hosts file

Why:
Give your coworker hours of confusion, and (if you are lucky) confuse the tech support guy too.

Requirements:
Windows OS, Internet Explorer as browser (may not work in Firefox/etc)

What:
Windows Hosts file specifies where URL’s will take you - using it you can bypass your dns server..

In English, please
You can redirect yahoo.com visitors to hotmail, or somewhere worse*. Not just Yahoo but any site really.

How

  1. Open the windows Hosts file, using notepad: In windows XP installations, it is usually at C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\HOSTS
    (Open that file using notepad). e.g click START, then RUN, and type
    NOTEPAD C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\HOSTS and press enter
  2. The host file contains IP addresses followed by URL’s. You must know the destination IP of the site you want to redirect TO. For example, lets say you want to redirect all visitors to NBC.COM to CNN.com (64.236.16.84 is cnn.com), you might type something like:
    64.236.16.84                 http://www.nbc.com/ 
  3. Save the file
  4. Voila! Coworker types nbc.com, and ends up at CNN.com! Try this to send yahoo users to hotmail, hotmail users to google and so on.
  5. To reverse the process, re-open the file and remove the edits you made, and save.

TIP 1: To find the IP of a website, you can try going to dos (click run, type CMD) and typing tracert sitename.com
TIP 2: To ‘kill’ a site, put the IP to 127.0.0.1 (Localhost)

Bonus: This method can be used to block annoying ad sites/popup sites you don’t like, quickly and easily (point them to localhost).

Disclaimer: *Above info for informational purposes only. Please do not irritate your cow-orkers, unless you are really bored (and have a good insurance policy). I will not be held responsible for any damage you suffer from following this or other pointless pranks. Please remember to re-edit the hosts file at end of day and REMOVE any changes you made.

Add comment September 22nd, 2006

Welcome to N#

This is my personal blog. I intend to use this to talk about my various interests and hobbies. I’ll be posting some articles in the next few days

//stay tuned!

Add comment September 20th, 2006


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