Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Cool Tools 17: WordPress 3

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Blogs and Wikis, Wikis and Blogs.  We’ve been hearing it from Plumtree, then from BEA, and now from Oracle for the Plumtree/ALUI/WCI stack.  Remember PEP (Pages, Ensemble, Pathways), and how it promised wiki and blog functionality?  And how ’bout this semi-official Oracle WCI blog that … well, you be the judge.

It’s true:  Plumtree has a checkered past in delivering us to the promised land of user-generated content in the early noughties – to say nothing of the Enterprise 2.0 (Social Networking) trend of the past couple of years.  The WebCenter Suite promises to start getting us there, and there are unconfirmed rumors of WebCenter Collaboration Server getting this much-needed functionality, but for now user-generated content remains largely a pipe dream for those clients still on the WebCenter Interaction stack.

We all have blogs and wikis, so why haven’t we seen a serious contender for one of these products to work well in the WebCenter Interaction stack?  The answer is maybe that we’re looking for too tight of a coupling from Oracle:  the reality is that if you follow the Four Tenets of Portal Integration, you can provide a pretty compelling and integrated experience for your users, which is exactly what we’re doing with this blog and demonstration site:  notice how the URLs of this site change as you click through the tabs at the top?  That’s because some pages come from WebCenter Interaction, and some from WordPress – but the user (that’s you!) is none the wiser.  Administrators (that’s me!) love it:  in addition to the insanely easy setup and configuration and the vast library of third party plugins that can do pretty much anything and everything you might need, there’s also an almost comically easy upgrade process:

That’s right, WordPress knows when it’s out of date, and prompts you to update. Seven seconds after clicking “upgrade Automatically”, we’re all done:


Try upgrading WCI in 7 seconds!

Oh, and while this blog isn’t demonstrating integrated search or authentication, we’ve got that too

R.I.P. BlogLines

Friday, October 1st, 2010

I admit, I am a bit old-school.  I have a Twitter account, but I don’t get the fascination of people reporting on their latest bowel movements or how they try to sum up the new iPhone in 140 characters or less.  I still prefer Outlook over Gmail’s wonky tagging approach (where are my folders!?), and while I once described a new technology thusly: “I have seen the future, and it is Google Wave” (it’s now dead), I still like my old-school, tried-and-true methods of consuming content.

For over a half-decade, I’ve used as my home page and primary RSS reader, and as of November 1, it is no more.  Quoting from (the owners of BlogLines):

A little perspective: when we originally acquired Bloglines in 2005, RSS was in its infancy. The concept of “push” versus “search” around information consumption had become very real, and we were bullish about the opportunity Bloglines presented for our users. 
Flash forward to 2010. The Internet has undergone a major evolution. The real-time information RSS was so astute at delivering (primarily, blog feeds) is now gained through conversations, and consuming this information has become a social experience. As Steve Gillmor pointed out in TechCrunch last year , being locked in an RSS reader makes less and less sense to people as Twitter and Facebook dominate real-time information flow. Today RSS is the enabling technology – the infrastructure, the delivery system. RSS is a means to an end, not a consumer experience in and of itself. As a result, RSS aggregator usage has slowed significantly, and Bloglines isn’t the only service to feel the impact.. The writing is on the wall.

Good points, indeed, and certainly not ones I haven’t made myself in the past.  But as a consultant from the Plumtree world, then the AquaLogic User Interface (ALUI) world, and now the WebCenter Interaction (WCI) world, I’m faced with a lot of questions like “should I migrate to WebCenter Spaces?”.  My answer has universally been something along the lines of:

WebCenter Spaces is still a reasonably new technology, there are still quite a few rough edges, and it’s not for everyone (like .NET shops).  And since as of this writing there’s no official migration path yet from WebCenter Interaction, I suggest either playing ‘wait and see’, or starting over with an evaluation of ALL products (Sharepoint, Confluence, Alfresco, you name it!) from scratch, based on your business needs NOW, not what they were 5 years ago when you bought Plumtree.  It’s going to hurt going from WCI to WebCenter Spaces, so why not accept that pain and consider alternatives that have emerged since then?  (Oracle: Don’t get me wrong – you may still have the best solution for legacy Plumtree customers, I’m just suggesting you need to still work for them!)

Which brings me back to my original point about BlogLines:  sure, it was old-school, and RSS Reader technology has progressed rapidly in the past 5 years, but what about those of us that actually prefer the “original” way of consuming RSS content (one feed at a time)?  I’ve tried Google Reader, but frankly I prefer this (individual feeds with full :

… over this:

So my questions to you, friends, are:

  1. How do you embrace new technology?  Out with the old, in with the new at any cost (see: What would email look like if it were invented today?)?  Or do you prefer incremental changes that expand on an existing platform to maintain the old way of doing things (see: Google Wave is Dead)?
  2. Do you have any suggestions for a great RSS reader that can consolidate content as well as Bloglines?  While I knocked Google Reader above, it really does a great job of handling feeds and making them searchable, but it almost feels like “too much” (given many of my feeds in the screen shots above generate hundreds of articles/day, and aggregate feed reader is the least of my requirements; I prefer reading my daily Dilbert cartoon separately from today’s CNN’s news articles).

Bug Blog 1: WordPress Commenting with Large User-Agent headers

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

I love blogging to help others out with Plumtree / ALUI / WCI issues, and to contribute to the “The WebCenter Interaction” portal ecosystem. But I have a confession to make: A big reason I blog is to create my own reference tool. I find myself always forgetting the syntax for Remotely Rebooting Windows Servers just when I need it, or the console command to use when the number of Remote Desktop Connections are maxed out in Windows.

I know I’ve overcome challenges like these in the past, but can’t remember the command syntax or how I did it. So I do a Google search for something like wordpress rather than a general search where I have to dig through thousands of responses.

My first WebCenter-related tip for this post is to use “” or “” in your Google queries for WebCenter tips you know you’ve seen before but can’t quite remember where they are.

Secondly, I’ve been looking at integrating the WordPress blog into the WCI portal.  As of this writing, I’ve basically been getting acquainted with the technology and have gotten the UI pretty much down by simply mirroring the portal UI in WordPress.  This blog is a good example of that, as is the Health Buzz Blog (check out the blog, which is running WordPress, and click the nav links on the left, which link to the portal).  Next up for WordPress blog integration is Authentication, Authorization, and Search.

But that’s not the real reason I started this post. The real reason was that I found myself debugging a WordPress (2.8.6) bug knowing in the back of my mind that I’ve seen this before but forgetting how I fixed it. The bug is that when a user submits a comment to a blog post, the page that comes back is a 404 error and the comment isn’t recorded. Turns out – after a crash course in PHP and way too long doing diagnostics and printing debug statements – my browser has a User-Agent header that’s larger than 255 characters. This causes WordPress to fail deep in its core, and it improperly redirects the browser after a comment is posted without showing or logging any error messages.

The solution (and maybe I’ll remember this the next time I run into it without spending another hour looking for my own bug report): increase the size of the comment_agent column in wp_comments:
ALTER TABLE wp.wp_comments MODIFY COLUMN comment_agent VARCHAR(512) CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_general_ci NOT NULL;

Astute readers will notice that I’m a little behind in my WordPress versions; the latest as of this writing is 2.9.1.  However, as this is as much of a test/demo environment as a “real” web site, I’m testing out WordPress MU, which is a couple of revs back due to the additional functionality: WordPress MU (multi-user) is what would allow us to provide each portal user and community with their own blogs.

Interested in getting an industry-leading blog integrated with your WCI portal?  Drop a comment here, contact me, and/or stay tuned!