February 2006

I needed to access a private newsgroup the other day to get help with a software product. Newgroups are getting rarer every day as more companies move to bulletin board systems instead, but in this case I needed a newsreader, and I didn’t have one installed on my machine. Sure, Outlook Express and Thunderbird have newgroup functionality, but I was looking for something a little more full featured.

Several years ago when newsgroups were more common, I used the FreeAgent reader, but I decided not to use it now for two main reasons. First, it hasn’t been updated in several years, and second, it doesn’t support multiple servers. Since some of the newsgroups I need to access are on a private news server, using FreeAgent would make it difficult to access news on another server.

So I started looking around for a new newsreader. There are several commercial applications out there and they look very good, but considering how infrequently I need to access newsgroups, I was looking for something free. I downloaded a wide variety of possibilities and eventually found Gravity.

Apparently Gravity used to be a commercial product, but it has since moved to open source. I have to say, the product is great. It has everything I was looking for, including options for multiple servers, and more configuration and customization options that I know what to do with. So now I’m a convert to Gravity and I’m very happy with it.

I find it kind of interesting that in selecting my web browser (Firefox), email client (Thunderbird), ftp client (FileZilla), and now newsreader (Gravity), in every choice I ended up picking something from the open source community. And that’s not because I limited myself only to open source alternatives, it’s because those programs turned out to be the very best products that met my needs.

UPDATE: Version 0.4.6 has been released. Please see this entry or my CoppermineSC page for the latest information.

Now that I have all of my Coppermine galleries converted to the new 1.4.3 release, I can safely say that the CoppermineSC plugin should work properly without any changes. The most recent 0.4.3 version of the plugin (originally released for WordPress 1.5.x and Coppermine 1.3.x) also works just fine with WordPress 2.0.1. If you have any problems with the plugin under the new versions of WordPress or Coppermine, please feel free to post a description of your issue in the comments.

Please also note that I still intend to release an updated version of the plugin incorporating various requests I have received from users. However, until that release comes, the current version should work just fine.

I finally have all four of my image galleries updated to the latest version of Coppermine (1.4.3). It took longer than I initially anticipated because only two of the four themes that I use had already been moved to the new format. That meant that I had to manually convert the other two themes myself. Thanks to the great instructions provided at the Coppermine website, it really wasn’t too hard. However, it was quite time consuming to correct all of the errors and get the themes to validate as XHTML 1.0 Transitional.

With the Coppermine transition complete, I now have all blogs and image galleries running the latest versions of their respective platforms. Futhermore, every page on my entire site now validates as either XHTML 1.0 Transitional, XHTML 1.0 Strict, or HTML 4.0 Transitional, which is great. I was thrilled to discover that Coppermine 1.4.3 now generates standards compliant code, because Coppermine had been the missing link in getting everything squared away.

After installing baby gates last weekend, today my dad helped me install locks on some of the cabinets in our kitchen. Charis just started figuring out how to pull open drawers, and she’s definitely drawn to the silver drawer pulls and cabinet handles that we have in the kitchen, so the time had come. The locks create a little bit of a hassle for Joy and I, but the added peace of mind is nice.

I ended up choosing some cool magnetic locks. You mount them inside the cabinet and they are completely invisible with the doors closed. There is a small magnetic “key” that you just hold over the door at the spot where the lock is mounted behind the door and, voila, the door is unlocked. I think they are pretty nifty.

Click “more” to see a list of all of the interesting web sites I found this week. I keep track of my favorite sites using del.icio.us, a free web site where you can access your favorite links from any computer and share them with friends. You can also see all of my favorite links (not just the ones from this week).


For the first time this week, part of the homework assignment for my Greek class involved translating a complete verse directly from the New Testament (1 John 5:11). It took me a little while to figure everything out, but I eventually finished my translation. I went to check it against an English Bible and I was thrilled to discover that my translation matched the ESV almost exactly. The only difference was one of the verbs. I had “has given” instead of “gave”, but the NASB also has “has given” just like my translation, so I perhaps there is some flexibility on that word. Anyway, it was such a blessing after the effort I have put into the class. Praise the Lord!

I finally got around to installing Visual Studio Express on my machine at home. It’s been out for quite some time, but I just never managed to get it installed until now. I have a few personal projects that I want to work on in the near future, so instead of doing the Citrix to VNC jump to access my machine at work, I thought it would probably be easier just to write them locally on my home machine.

The install went fine and it didn’t even require a reboot (I already had .Net Framework 2.0 installed, which might be why the reboot was unnecessary). The product is, of course, limited in various ways compared to the full blown version of Visual Studio, but it looks like enough of the basic options are there to let me do what I need to do for the smaller projects I have in mind. The one thing that really surprised me is how fast the program launches. I have a pretty old machine at home (pushing four years old now) and my machine at work is only a little over a year old, yet Visual Studio Express launches significantly faster at home than the full-blown Visual Studio does on my machine at work. I think that’s kind of weird. Maybe the Express version has so many features taken out that there just isn’t as much to load, but it seems weird to me that the free version launches almost immediately, while the expensive version takes its sweet time to get going.

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