Anam Cara House Colac website now live

The Anam Cara House Geelong website went live earlier in the year, and now the Anam Cara House Colac site has gone live. The designs of the two sites vary somewhat to give a distinctive feel, however both sites use WordPress with a variety of plugins so that the administration and documentation is similar between both sites.

The site does not use WordPress widgets – a deliberate choice until such time as there is additional content on the site and the volunteers who will be updating the site become more familiar with the administration interface.

As with the Geelong site, one of the stumbling blocks was again the choice of Events Calendar. At first, the trusted EC was used, but it does not handle custom permalinks very well. I’ve settled instead on Events Calendar by Luke Howell, which is more basic but as is often the case, more reliable.

Software Freedom Day – Free and open source tools in education

Further to this post, the presentation I gave at Software Freedom Day in Melbourne is now available. It is a brief presentation, as most of it was demonstrating WordPress and Alice. Unfortunately I had a few hiccups on the day, and it was only with the much appreciated assistance of Ben Balbo and others that the presentation could go ahead. You see, Sakai runs on a Tomcat installation and I had it set up ready to go, but had to reboot, then had Java issues so I couldn’t get it to work. The other hampering factor was that external internet access was not available, and most of my demo used online websites. Never mind, there’s always next year.

It was great to see so many presenters and participants, however numbers were down compared to last year. The Hub, while being a great venue, is a little bit out of the way for most – not as central as the Town Hall.

Free and open source tools in education (Powerpoint, 107kb)

Links for the tools referenced are given below;

Questions and comments are warmly welcomed.

Bonnie Babes website now live

Deakin Uni was approached by Bonnie Babes a couple of months ago to assist with their web presence, which was quite dated. I’ve been working on a redesign using free and open source software. The key features are;

  • An easily updateable website using the WordPress personal publishing system
  • A custom theme for WordPress based on Bonnie Babes’ organisational colours
  • A number of freely available WordPress plugins including WP e-Commerce, SEO Tools, ShareThis and pageMash

It wasn’t all plain sailing however. The hosting platform (which is freely provided with thanks to Apex Hosting in Melbourne) is based on Windows and IIS. My use of WordPress has centred on a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) based platform, and I’ve certainly not used PHP much under IIS. The fact that this platform is in use has limited a number of the features of WordPress, so much so that it is likely that the site will be moved to an alternative hosting arrangement. They include;

  • Inability to use nice permalinks: Because IIS has no inbuilt mod_rewrite (one of the Apache modules that most hosting providers have installed), the pretty permalinks don’t work in IIS without a lot of kludging. While it is possible to get them to work using mod_rewrite alternatives for IIS, most hosting providers don’t have these installed by default – and they’re unlikely to install on request. WordPress have obviously come across difficulties with IIS and permalinks before – hence this article.
  • Inability to use cURL libraries: The cURL libraries in PHP are incredibly useful. They are also used by the WP e-Commerce plugin (which I was aiming to use to facilitate an online shop) as part of the checkout functionality. It wasn’t until I got to testing the checkout that PHP threw a fatal error 🙁
  • Inability to have WordPress in one directory, and make your blog another: This is related to the permalink issue, largely due to the fact that IIS does not support mod_rewrite or .htaccess without third party tools
  • Difficulty making certain files and directories writable: On a Linux system, you can easily use filesystem permissions to make a file or directory (to Linux they are the same thing) writable. Writable files and directories are used all throughout WordPress, for things like;
  • Sitemap generation
  • Storing of uploaded media such as images, word documents and pdfs
  • The ability to edit CSS and other design elements through the administration interface

So, where to from here? It’s likely that we’ll go with another hosting provider who provides a LAMP architecture..