What Is A Wiki?

I’ve heard of wikis, and always thought they were systems for developers to track bugs, but it looks like it’s much more than that. In fact, it’s pretty exciting. Sitepoint has an article online today that explains what a Wiki is, the history, the uses of it, and why it’s both simple, yet powerful at the same time. You’ll definitely want to read up if you’re not familiar with Wikis.

If you just want to jump right into the world of a wiki, then definitely check out Notebook. It’s pretty easy to use, and useful for many purposes. In fact, I’ve found many uses for it; a personal journal, a to-do list, an address book, note-taking, a grocery list, a database, writing a story/poem, or all of the above combined. Very nice! All of this in a single, small, 1.69MB file that doesn’t require you to install anything, set up any complex code, or anything. Just start it up, choose New Notebook, name it, and check out the interactive tour for information on how to use Notebook.

A Journal Entry, Expelled

There’s a story on CNN with details of a 14-year old girl being expelled from her school for writing a fictional account of a student falling asleep in class and dreaming of killing her teacher in her journal. While this isn’t an online blog, it is still the same thing, in many ways. I think this is a knee-jerk reaction with no merit, other than publicity and confusion over students having abilities to unleash their creative energies at such a young age.

After all, do we stifle kids from writing fiction? Imagine what would’ve happened had teachers tried to block Stephen King from his desire to write horror novels. He wouldn’t have become famous and rich, and millions of people wouldn’t have had the opportunity to enjoy his fictional worlds. Same with Anne Rice, and millions of other writers out there that write about killing, robbing, flying through space, saving damsels in distress, finding the cure for AIDs, and so on.

Which brings me to these schools having “no tolerance policies”, where they don’t give students second chances. Life is full of second chances, making amends, learning from your mistakes, and moving on. Yet that kind of policy does not reinforce the real-world notion of those qualities about how the world works. It teaches students that if they mess up, that’s it. That’s entirely wrong, and not a good way to introduce a kid to the world.

“[She was removed] from her second-period biology class — with an armed officer,” Boim said. “They had the option of calling us, of asking us to come in with Rachel to talk about the situation, but instead they had an armed guard take her out of class.”

And parents wonder what’s wrong with our school system? That should be the highlight of the day, on the pathetic choices some people make for our children.

The Beauty Of Speed

While perusing the excellent Website Analyzer tool to check loading speeds, and filesizes of certain elements, I saw that this site could use some optimization, even though I tried to keep everything to a minimum (images, CSS, etc.) Then I remember you can gzip pages server-side, and serve it to visitors compressed, thus increasing speeds by up to 2 times.

To which this useful tool come into play. It lets you know if your site is compressed using gzip, and if not, what benefits you’ll receive if enabled. So I went looking around, and found that if I put this at the top of my documents, it’ll enable the PHP module, zlib, for compression of that particular page:

<?php ob_start("ob_gzhandler"); ?>

Which is a good idea if you have a php-based script that already has it’s own compression technique (phpBB comes to mind), or if you want to compress individual pages of your choosing.

Additionally if you just want to globally compress your whole site, then you can use a .htaccess file and put in this command to force a switch on the server everytime your site is accessed:

php_flag zlib.output_compression On

The above code I put on my other site, 3DGPU, since it’s a lot bigger, and for some reason the CMS we’re using, Xoops 2, doesn’t enable gzip support when we tell it to. I had just assumed it worked, and found out yesterday it doesn’t, so I put in the .htaccess file with the command above, and voila; 65kb HTML compressed to 17.5kb. A 99% compression ratio! GB! went from 40kb to 8kb, a 77% compression ratio. Now both GoodBlimey.com and 3DGPU.com loads up in a jiffy.

Blogosphere.us Reworked

Over at blogosphere.us, the site has been updated with word on a new reworking of the site, with new features, and trends. It also allows quick access to what the collective voice of bloggers have to say each day. From blogosphere.us:

Have you ever wondered what the collective voices of a few hundred thousand people might say? This Web site collects links from weblogs all over the world to discover just what it is people everywhere are talking about.

A great resource to find what’s interesting out there in the blogosphere. I also enjoy Blizg as well.