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Comment Been using Joomla for 8 years (Score 1) 222

I've been Using Joomla since the pre-Joomla 1.5 days, so have seen the arc of development. The current 3.5 version is light years ahead of the 1.5 era, especially in terms of the user experience and upgrades. I am a retired computer database admin, but do not have MySQL or PHP skills. If I was well experienced in those two languages, I might be a lover of Drupal. But without PHP background, Drupal is daunting. So that took it off my plate. I rarely get into the PHP code, though I've dabbled in replacing a line now and then. Mostly, I use and revel in the menuing system, which like Wordpress, lets the entire edifice be managed.

It is worth mentioning that Wordpress is the most popular CMS in the world, at 26.4% of the entire Internet (gazillions of sites), that Joomla is second at 2.6% of the entire Internet (millions of sites), that Drupal is third at 2.2% of the entire Internet (millions of sites),and the rest come in at or under 1%. Wordpress is a blog-specific CMS, while Joomla and Drupal are general purpose CMS's.

If I were upgrading a 1.5 site to a current 3.5 site, it depends on how complex the site is, specifically how many articles. If less than 100, I would do it manually, and copy each article by hand. Larger than that, and I would use a migration tool. Look here: That being said, I have wasted a lot of time on migration tools, and I usually opt for a manual rebuild. Ultimately, it is faster and much cleaner. Think of a Windows "upgrade" vs a Windows "clean install". Similar experience. Easier but clunkier :).

What I love about Joomla 3.5, over 1.5 is that the upgrade process has gone from ugly to good. In Joomla 3.5, you simply look in two places, the "Joomla Component" to upgrade the Joomla Core, and the "Extensions/Update" manager to upgrade all extensions. To upgrade, simply click the "Upgrade now" button, and "Voila", the upgrades are completed within a few seconds. Light years ahead of the manual processes needed in Joomla 1.5. This means ongoing administration is quick and simple. It is worth mentioning too, that Joomla 3.5 is completely designed to be automatically scalable from Smartphones to Tablets to PC's, where Joomla 1.5 was strictly PC's.

Manually, I would first create an empty 3.5 site. I would then install a current template and try to configure it to look as much like the original as I could. This actually will be the hardest step, and the most artistic. Then I would first create and copy over all the articles and categories as needed, then later the menues. The BEST way to copy articles is to switch to the HTML view, and copy the pure HTML code. Trying to copy the wysiwyg view is never satisfactory. Articles can be copied at the speed of CTRL-C, CTRL-V, which is pretty fast. Then I would create the menu structure and assign the articles and categories, as in the original. Finally, I would examine all the addons, the components, modules and plugins that were added to the original. It will be necessary to find the 3.5 equivalents. Install each one, and configure it as close as you can to the original.

I usually copy the images for the "image" folder lock stock and barrel to the "images" folder on the new site. While Joomla 3.5 does away from the need for the "stories" folder (it was required in Joomla 1.5, not needed but ok in Joomla 3.5), it will still be true that the copied over articles all point to the "images/stories" folder. So unless you want to modify every image link in every article, you can just leave them as they are.

I might add that the two extensions that I always insist on are the JCE editor component and the Akeeba backup component. Both are free, and superb. Good luck however you go.

Comment Good for the Blind (Score 2) 35

It came as a great surprise to me when a friend who had become totally blind was using an iPhone. The smooth featureless surface seemed the last thing that would be useful to a blind person. But there is a whole subculture of apps for the blind for the iPhone, which, "surprise", were voice activated. He could use the phone to navigate the streets in his neighborhood when going for walks. He could order books for the blind over the phone, delivered to the phone, and listened to over the phone (using Bluetooth headphones). An amazing app is called "taptapsee", to identify objects. He just pointed the phone's camera at an object, double tapped the phone, and it spoke the name of the object!! Another app lets the blind person leave "notes" for himself. There are apps that will tell him what color an object is, using the camera of course. With one amazing app, he can point the phone at paper money, and it will tell him the denomination! I don't know if Android has all these capabilities, but why not? (A funny thing happened with my friend. His iPhone went completely blank, ie, the surface display refused to come up. This didn't bother him, but his wife couldn't see what was what. Turned out that it is a "feature" of an iPhone that if you triple-tap the surface, it will turn the surface display off! Took two trips to the Apple store to discover that one.) Bottom line, there are ten times as many apps for the blind for the iPhone than for the Android. (I counted 125 apps for the blind for the iPhone on one site, and could only find a dozen or so listed for the Android - a quick and non-scientific search :)). I seriously hope this will be the beginning of a surge so that Android can catch up. I am a very happy Android user, myself.

Comment Re:Contradiction (Score 1) 62

A built in ad blocker would be the ONLY reason I would ever try Edge. It seems designed to sell MS products and ads. I will remain forever wedded to Firefox, and if it goes away, then Chrome. With good strong protection from tracking and ads of course. I am of the belief that ads try to replace my own reasoning with the reasoning of the ad. I find it intrusive and offensive, unless I have sought out the ad.

Comment BART Engineer Anecdote (Score 0, Offtopic) 474

My uncle (Willard Matthews) was one of the design engineers during construction of the BART system. This is a completely non-BART related anecdote, but as a young man I spent the day the US landed on the moon (July 16, 1969) at my uncle's house in Oakland, California, and we were mesmerized watching the moon landing. It seemed such a magical event. For folks who weren't fortunate to watch that, one of the great uncertainties was whether the astronauts would simply disappear under countless feet of regolith fluff. They didn't, but it was a great unknown until they actually landed. He was very proud of his work on BART, and remained with the system as an engineer for his entire life.

Comment Don't want ads doing "reasonable thinking" for me (Score 1) 317

The best definition I've heard of ads is that they are the advertiser trying to substitute "their version" of reasonable thinking about a product (Wow, it's so incredible I have to have, like any reasonable person would!) for my own reasonable thinking. Most modern folks are so used to having their thinking hijacked by ads that they don't even realize what is going on. But when it sinks it, it is disgusting and immoral. I can do my own thinking, thank you. And I am good enough at Internet searches to find what I want when I want. So ad blockers are just preventing advertising from hijacking your thinking to their way of thinking. Good riddance! The personal cost to me of having my precious attention hijacked by advertisers is not factored into their thinking, but morally, it should be. I ought to be able to spend my attention where I choose, not where they choose.

Comment Re:Somewhere... (Score 2) 231

PJ!!!! Live in Peace, and I worship the ground you walk on. You were such a light in the darkness, a blazing beacon, showing us the way, a rallying cry for sanity and clarity against the FUD from every evil corner of the world (SCO, Microsoft, etc, etc). You were the center of our world for years, and we miss you, but glad you are in the world! Thank you forever, and we all drink a giant toast to you, hear hear!!! :).

Comment Re:Hire some new coders...EVERYDAY READER ALSO (Score 1) 1310

Just wanted to add that I also have been an everyday reader since the late 1990's. My deepest regret is that I couldn't remember my login from then, so I had to make a new one about 10 years ago. Darn :). I haven't made many posts, but love this site!!!! I agree with almost all the comments here on what makes this site so compelling. I like posts about FOSS, Linux, etc, and issues surrounding them. (Glad SCO died the terrible death it deserved!!). I enjoy articles about cutting edge issues and tech, and hope Slashdot lives long and prospers.

Submission + - SPAM: Ancestry to Retire Family Tree Maker

C0L0PH0N writes: After more than 20 years growing an avid genealogy customer base, is abruptly discontinuing their flagship desktop product, "Family Tree Maker". Arguably, this product and its integration with has been one of the most powerful engines of the growth in popularity of genealogy in recent years. Here is their startling announcement, giving users very little time to come to terms with this (announced Dec 8th, takes effect Dec 31st), and offering virtually no advice or guidance on how to cope:

"As we strive to provide our customers with the best experience possible, we are constantly evaluating our services and product offerings. True to this focus, we’ve taken a hard look at the declining desktop software market and the impact this has on being able to continue to provide new content, product enhancements and support that our users need. With that, we’ve made the tough decision to stop selling Family Tree Maker as of December 31, 2015 ."

What is obviously up to is trying to abandon the desktop for the cloud. This decision has brought a firestorm of criticism on the company's "blog" comment platform, with nearly 4,000 negative comments in the first 7 hours! The "blog" is here: [spam URL stripped].... Competitors are wasting no time, the (seriously quite remarkable) family tree software by Legacy, for example, is already courting Family Tree Maker's abandoned customers, and this has all happened today (Dec 8): [spam URL stripped]....

Comment Find a Retired Computer Guy in the Neighborhood (Score 5, Interesting) 193

I'm a retired computer guy (71), and I do a ton of work for my senior citizen neighbors. I suggest a $20/hr "donation" to the R&R fund for me and my wife, for an hour or two of services that would cost them $80-$150 at any computer shop. If the person is really poor, or doesn't tumble that I accept "donations", then I just do the work for free. I go to their homes, and fix their problems (all over the map :). I am viewed as a local treasure by all the old folks I know, as most of them haven't a clue how to fix their problems. I don't advertise because I get enough by word-of-mouth to keep me as busy as I care to be, as I do other things too :). But if your parents have a retired computer guy in their neighborhood, perhaps they can establish a relationship with him/her. I would work for free, as I don't really need the money, but on the other hand, it gets old, and the $20 helps pay for a dinner out or a movie for me and my wife. She used to complain about my being gone, so I came up with the brilliant idea, I split the money with her. So if I'm gone for a 2 hour computer call, and I come home with $40, she gets half. Now when someone calls for help, she smiles and says, "off you go". Bottom line, a little bit of money makes everyone happy :).

Comment Re:I'm going to put a GUN on mine!!!! (Score 1) 235

You've made the point! The US gubmint realizes it can't do a thing about guns, that horse has left the barn. They don't want to repeat that mistake with drones, so if they get "registration" in place quickly, then they will be able to solve drone-related crimes in the future. I've been flying radio controlled hobby planes for years, and get that it is a widely spread hobby. But I also have a dread feeling that these fun toys, especially the newer expensive quadracopters, are simple to fly, very accurate, can be fitted with FPV (first point of view) cameras, and so can be sent on missions far out of sight with significant payloads. Witness the beginnings of crime with drones, where they are being used to drop payloads into prisons. We haven't had an incident yet where a terrorist has delivered a significant payload (ten pounds of C4 explosive?!), but technically it isn't all that hard. So maybe getting the ball rolling on registration will nip that in the bud. The BIG HUGE thing, is to do it without destroying a magnificent hobby. And the new ability to use drones for aerial videos is stunning, and countries all over the world will be encouraging this burgeoning new industry. I think a GoPro flying camera that tracks you as you mountainbike around or run a wild river is stunning! Or aerial views of our neighborhoods can make us feel like birds in the air. Wonderful. The US has to walk a fine line, not to destroy a goose that lays golden eggs, and yet be sure that goose won't be used to deliver weapons.

Comment Intrusive Advertising is Immoral (Score 1) 241

I think it is backwards to say "blocking ads is stealing". It is quite the other way around. When I want to watch a video online, or read an article, it is stealing from me to divert my attention to something I did not choose to see and which I have no interest in. That act of theft of my precious attention (I only have so much of it in my life, and it is MY attention that I have the right to direct as I choose) is an immoral act. We are so used to this immoral stealing of our attention that we have gotten numb to it. But that does not make it right. The immorality of advertising was a wake up call to me. I had never thought of it that way until I read a Slashdot article recently pointing this out: From that article: "Advertising is a natural resource extraction industry, like a fishery. Its business is the harvest and sale of human attention. We are the fish and we are not consulted." Touche, advertisers!!! You can pry my adblocker from my cold dead fingers!

Comment I'm taking a "museum" approach to family archiving (Score 1) 174

I am an old retired computer guy with a dozen Rubbermaid tubs of old photos, documents and film/video inherited from my parents that go back generations and are priceless to my family. My goal is to have a method of preserving both physical and digital resources in such a way that they are accessible in 50 years. I have photos that are over 100 years old, so that is a reasonable goal.

After months of research, I have become most impressed by a "museum" approach. That means, cataloging the media resources with a defined vocabulary--I chose the Dublin Core ( It means developing a way to link the physical media to any digitized versions, by assigning a numbering system ("accessioning" in museum-speak). And the most important thing I learned was to plan to save a text file with each digitized item, that describes it and contains the stories about it. For example, a photo titled, "Grandma Kayaking the Missouri River.JPG" would have stored with it a file named "Grandma Kayaking the Missouri River.TXT". The reason for this is profound! The associated text file is MOST likely to survive 50 years. No matter how software changes, text files are likely to be readable in 50 years.

The plan would be to open and resave all the media, say every 10 years, and update as needed. For example, JPG files might need to be updated to JPG2000, etc, etc, as new software is developed. A slightly sophisticated wrinkle is to actually store the text in XML or HTML format. So instead of having a line in the text file that says, "Title: Grandma kayaking the Missouri River", it might read Grandma kayaking the Missouri River. The advantage of this is that it makes all the text files "machine readable".

If this level of approach is interesting to you, then the best site discussing these issues I have found BY FAR is "". This amazing site contains basically a 250 book on the subject that is amazing. It isn't immediately apparent how extensive this site is, but it is just wonderful. There is vanishingly little else of this quality out there, I've spent months looking. The Library of Congress has a "Personal Archiving" program, but it basically says just "scan well, organize folders well and backup well". That is good advice, but doesn't touch the bigger issues. For small museums there are cool sites like "". I adore the "ATOM" project ("", but it is just over my head in sophistication. Here is a website that discusses 29 "free and open source" solutions to digital archiving: "". I have gone through and examined each of them, but they are just a bit over my head. I have found several projects in Australia to be very interesting, but again, not an exact fit for us "family archivists".

I have finally decided to "roll my own" program. I am building a Microsoft Access database that will catalog my media resources, and which will then automatically generate my "text" file for each resource, putting the text file in the proper folder, and containing the correct XML depiction of my Dublin Core description of my photos, videos, documents, etc, including the locations of both the physical and digital media. I have made arrangements with some computer science folks in my family in the next generation (nephews), to "inherit" my "family museum" effort, and to carry it on to the next generation. My whole point with the "museum" approach is that it creates an intelligible system that can be left to the next generation! If my Microsoft Access program gets lost over the years, it won't matter, because all the database information about the digital media will be stored in those amazingly simple TEXT files!!! Good luck in your efforts.

Comment Repurposed Cold War Era Bomb Shelter in Seattle (Score 2) 122

There is a bomb shelter built under I-5 near Greenlake in Seattle, that was built in the early 60's (ok, fallout shelter). It was touted, I believe, during the 1962 world's fair in Seattle. Here's a King5 video about it: It is a circular room with bathrooms under the freeway, with a small entrance. Later, it was used to issue driver's licenses. I got one there myself in the early 70's. Now, it is a grown-over place used as a City of Seattle municipal records storage center for a few years, and then abandoned. A massive cement structure like a bomb shelter doesn't go away, nice they can be reused in peacetime. What could be more peaceful than marijuana :).

Comment I've Got a Win95 Toshiba T6600C Luggable Desktop (Score 1) 284

My 1993-1994 era Toshiba T6600C, a Win 95 486 machine, looks at first glance like a laptop, but it is a full desktop that looks like a compact little 20 lb suitcase. Here's a YouTube video of the computer: (In the video, the T6600C uses Win 3.1, but mine has Win 95.) I have been using PC's since the first DOS days, and Win 95 was the rock star of its era. I once traveled with the T6600C after 9/11 (I was still using this computer in the year 2000!), and the airport officials insisted I go to a wall outlet (it doesn't run on batteries), and fire it up. Then they were fine with it. I would have thrown it out long ago, but it is so unique and charming that I just couldn't. So it currently serves as a quirky and rugged platform for my flatscreen TV in my home office, where I can see it every day. The fun (and amazing) thing is, it still boots to Windows 95 :).

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