Apr 8, 2015

Mar - 26 2015 | By

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Both Glenn & Paul were in the studio today.


Paul posted some audio to test the podcasting system he put together for KVMR. He played a snippet of it on air. It’s open source music from a video game and it’s called Frozen Bubble. You can find it here.

Paul went on to say that the podcasts of KVMR programs you find at kvmr.org won’t contain music because the Digital Millenium Copyright Act prohibits it. The exception is music in the public domain, such as Frozen Bubble.

Paul changed the content management software that the Zen Tech website runs on.
– The site had been using Joomla 1.0 for about 9 years. At that time it was old software — it hasn’t been upgraded or otherwise supported since 1999.
– He found some software that allowed him to import all the old show notes into the new system called WordPress.
– Listeners can now post relevant comments, now that we’re using WordPress. The comments are moderated — someone checks them out before they’re made public.

Paul talked about TechSoup that makes popular software available at a discount. The KVMR workstations needed Windows 7 and Microsoft Office products that would have cost over $100 per station. TechSoup made them available at about $20 per copy. KVMR needed compatibility with Microsoft Office because that’s what’s used by much of the rest of the world — their underwriters, listeners, etc.

Initially, LibreOffice and OpenOffice were installed at KVMR, and they generally worked fine. But apparently, Microsoft Office has fewer compatibility issues. For instance, one of the staff uses Peach Tree accounting software, which expects Microsoft Excel when its data is transferred by the object link interface.

Glenn said he uses Microsoft Word and Excel for much of his work. He noted that the KVMR studio computer has LibreOffice and it looks similar to Word, but he hasn’t been able to find how to ‘Set Print Area’ as in Word, to create PDF documents. Paul said these MS Office suite look-alikes tend to mimic some of the quirks of Office because people have gotten used to them. Another place people may see a difference is in the formatting — fonts, spacing, margins, line intervals, etc.

The guys talked about how automation isn’t always a good choice for solving a problem. For instance, setting up a mail merge in a word processor may take longer than it would to make individual changes for each printout, if there are, say, less than 100 pages to print.

This was not the case when Paul tried to replicate in WordPress the SQL database Joomla uses. He wanted to use the same data but the layout was different for WordPress. He figured that many people have encountered this problem and that someone had found a solution. He did some searching and found a Frenchman had written the script <program> to do it. The result was that all the show notes are still available.

Paul said it’s easy to check a website, like Zen Tech, for links that don’t work anymore — because they’re old or the website was modified (e.g. converted to WordPress). After changing over to WordPress, he went here and generated a list of the bogus links.

You can also check the formatting of a webpage. This is to be sure the tags and style sheets are working the way they’re supposed to. Search engines don’t like invalid HTML code and will give your website a lower ranking because of it. Go here and enter the site you want to check. Be aware that it will aggressively access the website you’re testing and some webservers don’t like that. It’s like a stress test and you may want to limit it to your own site, assuming your host doesn’t mind.

You can also do a security check. Again, this check can be intense so limit it to your own website. Paul didn’t give any details.

If you want to see websites as they were in the past you can go to archive.org. It doesn’t always store an entire website, but usually a substantial portion. The first instance of zen.kvmr.org it has dates back to Dec 15, 2004.

Archive.org is not allowed to archive webpages if robots.txt forbids it. “It turned out to be a legal problem because individuals can have evidence used against them based on stuff their website said some time ago”.

Robots.txt is a text file telling search engines which parts of your website you don’t want scanned. Archive.org had to purge its archive (for each site) to comply with what robots.txt said when it first began to be used a few years ago, but much was retained. Paul said they’ve also archived a lot of audio, too.

Paul asked Glenn what he does for TV. Glenn said he’s still looking at his options. He has a smart Sony Blue Ray player that provides Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Crackle, etc. He’s been thinking about Apple TV.
– With your Apple ID, everything you’ve purchased will be available thru Apple TV.
– If the Apple TV is on the same network as a Mac, iPhone or iPad, the Apple TV can display what’s on the screen of those devices.
– It allows you to use your iPhone or iPad as a remote control.
– But then Glenn said when he was using a friends Apple TV, he couldn’t find Amazon Prime. Paul thought it might have something to do with competition, because Amazon tends to favor Google and Android.

Paul said he’s had a Roku 1000 for many years. It allows you to add apps. One of which is the TED app that allows you to browse and play TED talks. Several thousand apps are available for it.

Paul got a Chomecast unit for about $35. It’s a tiny unit about the size of large flash drive. It has an HDMI port on one end and a micro USB port on the other. You plug it into your TV’s HDMI port. All you need to do then is download the Chromecast app to your PC to be able to send your entertainment media to the Chromecast unit.

On the Mac you have to use the Chrome browser, download an app that runs on the Mac and provides the link to the Chromecast unit thru the local network, and then add a plugin to the Chrome browser. Having done that, you can then send to the Chromecast unit any tab you have open in the Chrome browser. You can also send Netflix content to the unit. If you’re watching a Youtube video, you can send that to Chromecast.

Glenn said he’s seen a Chromebook on a stick called Chromebit. It too is about the size of a large flash drive. It has 1 or 2 gig of RAM and 15 gig of storage. You just plug it into your TV. He said he doesn’t know how you attach a keyboard and mouse to it, but you end up with a computer using your TV screen.
<Google’s Chromebit turns any TV into a Chrome PC for under $100>
<Intel Compute Stick, a $150 HDMI dongle that does the same thing.
It has Window 8.1 with a 64bit quad core Atom Baytrail CPU and 2gig of RAM.>

Paul mentioned that Google is trying to converge the Chromebook operating system with Android. Chromebooks don’t have a lot of apps, just the basic stuff — email, browser and word processor. Android, on the other hand, has well over a million apps. Paul thinks this will be a “game changer”.

Paul mentioned that Microsoft might give away their next operating system, Windows 10. He thinks the value will not be in the operating system but the stuff they’ll be able to sell you thru the operating system. They plan to have their own app store.

Paul again mentioned Lubuntu as a replacement for older versions of Windows on older hardware.

Paul said Stan Freberg died yesterday at the age of 88. He played an excerpt from a CD of Stan doing a sketch about Alexander Graham Bell and the invention of the telephone.

Glenn thanked Zen Tech’s benefactor Quietech Associates. They’ve been providing local tech support since 1985. They’re at 465 South Auburn Street Grass Valley.

David called in from the Valley of the Moon near Sonoma, He has an old Acer Aspire 1 netbook with an Atom chip, a 10.5″ screen and Windows XP. The drivers need updating and he wonder if that was worth it.
– With XP it becoming significantly out of date and vulnerable to a virus.
– Some people have hacked the Android OS to run on netbooks.
– Glenn has seen a cut-down version of Windows 7 that runs on netbooks but it’s not sold retail.
– Try the Acer web to see if there’s a way of getting Android to work on it. <The forum section is often a great place to pick up tips>
– Keep using it as is. Just don’t keep information on it that you don’t want stolen.

Last Updated 10:40 PM 4/8/2015

– The site had been using

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