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If you’ve followed us for a while, you might remember our article ‘Selecting an Accounting System’. Not too many things have changed since then. The developers over at Quickbooks are still not competent enough to write an OS independent web-app, and no other major events have occurred. The most interesting thing that have happened since we wrote the article was that SQL-Ledger silently changed license from GPLv2 to SQL-Ledger Open Source License. Although we would rather have seen SQL-Ledger staying GPLv2, we don’t really blame them. The company needs to make some money in order to survive. So, despite the change of license, we still decided to use SQL-Ledger as our accounting system. At least for now.

Enough about that, let’s get started. First time I installed SQL-Ledger I ran into a couple of problems. Even though I spent a fair amount of time doing research on how to set everything up, I still hit a couple of speed bumps. Since I’m quite new to PostgreSQL, some of my problems were related to this. Some other problems were related to the fact that the manuals did not really match what I saw on the screen.

Now, let’s get started. First we start with updating the ports to make sure we’re getting the latest version.

# portsnap fetch; portsnap update

After updating our ports-tree, we need to install PostgrsSQL. When writing this post, the 8.2-series is the latest stable series.

# cd /usr/ports/database/postgres82-server/
# make config

Select the flags you prefer. The only flag I changed from the default was the optimization flag. Not that I know if it makes much of a different, but if you’re compiling it you might as well try to build more optimized binaries.

# make install

Now Postgres is installed. However, in the normal FreeBSDish manner, we need to enable it in rc.conf before we can fire it up.
Edit /etc/rc.conf and add postgresql_enable=”YES”

When you’ve activated Postgres, we first need to initiate the database, and then start the service.

# /usr/local/etc/rc.d/ initdb
# /usr/local/etc/rc.d/ start

Voila, now we have Postgres initiated and up running.

Let’s take a look at the package we’re actually interested in installing: SQL-Ledger.

We’re just going to use a simple ports-installation of SQL-Ledger.

# cd /usr/ports/finance/sql-ledger
# make install

After installing the package, we need to make changes to Apache in order to enable SQL-Ledger. Simply add the following line at the appropriate location in your httpd.conf or ssl.conf:

Include /usr/local/etc/sql-ledger-httpd.conf

To make sure our Apache-file is intact, we run:

# apachectl -t

And if that went well, we run:

# apachectl restart

The only step remaining now is some database-related stuff.
Since I’m not an expert at Postgres, I might not be explaining this in the best way. Anyways, I’m just trying to share my experience, since this was the step where I ran into some speed bumps when first setting up SQL-Ledger. The problems I was facing was that the prompts I received differed quite a bit from the ones found in the various manuals I read before installing.

First, log into the Postgres user

# su - pgsql

When you’re logged in, we need to create a user for SQL-Ledger:

# createuser -d -P sql-ledger
Enter password for new role:
Enter it again:
Shall the new role be a superuser? (y/n) n
Shall the new role be allowed to create more new roles? (y/n) y

Note that if you remove the -P, you won’t be prompted for password. However, I personally prefer setting a password here.

Lastly, we need to copy the template.

#createlang plpgsql template1

Hopefully that went without any problems. Now it’s time to surf into SQL-Ledger to make the final configurations. Open your browser and surf into http:///sql-ledger/ Log in without any password.

SQL-Ledger Login

Note that I’ve already set up a password when taking this screenshot.

SQL-Ledger - PG database
Select the “Database Administration” link.

Use the user ‘sql-ledger’ and the password you assigned when creating it. For ‘connect to,’ use ‘template1.’ When you’re done filling that out, hit ‘create dataset.’

SQL-Ledger - DB admin

The next screen that will pop up is the Create Dataset-screen. Here you need to set the name of your dataset. Use only lower-case letters. I’d suggest the name ‘sql-ledger’ to keep things from being complicated later on. For ‘encoding,’ select UTF8. As for the ‘chart of accounts,’ it really depends on what business you’re setting up SQL-Ledger for.

SQL-Ledger - Create Dataset

You’re done! All you need to do now is to set up the users. Since this is quite straight forward, I’m not going to cover that.

For more information, please visit You might also want to take a look at this ‘unofficial’ manual (the official one costs $190).

Edit 1: Dieter Simader, the founder of SQL-Ledger, e-mailed me to point out that the only non-GPL’d version of SQL-Ledger is the 2.8-series. The 2.6-series used by FreeBSD ports is still under GPL.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

My recent post about Wikipedia’s Wikia linking brought on some emotional responses. Since there seems to be some misunderstandings about what I’m arguing, I’ll in this post lay out what is hopefully a more succinct description of why Wikipedia’s actions are both unfortunate, and ironically enough promotes spam rather than combats it on a large scale.

First of all, please be mindful that nowhere am I making the argument that ‘spam is good’, nor that Wikipedia should be a platform for spam. You will notice that Playing With Wire is not linked to by Wikipedia, and that we have no direct self interest in the use or lack of ‘no-follow’ tags on Wikipedia. What I do have an interest in is the health of the internet as a whole, and I believe that there is a risk that Wikipedia is causing harm to this health with its recent actions.

At the crux of the matter is the way modern search engines separates spam from useful content. Google and other search engines separate valid content from spam by inspecting the way the world wide web is interlinked. A site is considered ‘trusted’ if it has many inbound links from other trusted sites. The theory is that since humans make most links, sites that are useful for actual people get plenty of human links over their life span, while spam sites only get links from other spam sites. If you score sites based on the quality of their incoming links, you will then over time see some sites rise above the general noise. As far as Google is concerned these are the ‘non spam’ sites – other trusted websites have confirmed their validity.

You will notice that there is something circular about this system – a catch 22 if you will. To know the trusted sites on the internet, you have to already know what sites can be trusted so that they may vote. To solve this apparent paradox, Google will seed the system so that every site has some kind of base trust. From there on Google starts to count: outgoing links ‘give’ trust to other sites, and incoming likes conversely ‘receive’ trust from other sites. A mathematical formula balances the total amount of ‘trust’ so that eventually a stable structure crystalizes.

You may think of this trusted structure as the sea with little trusted islands rising out of it. Google gives you good search results because most of the time it can find you an island rather than having to dive into the sea floor mud of spam and noise that is the general internet.

It is this structure and balance that makes Wikipedia’s choice of anti-spam technique so unfortunate. Since a lot of trusted sites have given their vote for Wikipedia, they have essentially lowered themselves a little bit into the sea in the process. Normally, this would be fine because when a trusted sites lowers itself in this way, it will cause other islands to rise. These other islands in turn give away some of their buoyancy to yet other islands, and so forth. In the greater scheme of things the mud stays on the bottom and the islands stay on top.

Wikipedia has over time built a very strong position within this system. Wikipedia is one of the most trusted sites on the web as far as Google is concerned. It still amazes me how often Wikipedia comes up right on top in search queries. Wikipedia is essentially one of very few mountains in our sea analogy. But by not voting on other valid sites, Wikipedia is pushing every other island back into the mud by its own sheer weight. Google can no longer give us as many valid search results because the islands are closer to the mud as compared to Wikipedia. These sites gave away their trust in the greater balance to a site that doesn’t give anything back.

In a system where you measure importance as the relative difference between the average and the peaks, having an enormous peak will reduce the effectivity of the system. What’s worse, Wikipedia is setting a very distressing example. Imagine for a moment that every site on the internet decided to do what Wikipedia is doing now, and only use no-follow tags for external links. This is in the individual interest of every site, as they no longer give away their votes. But in doing so, the whole system is ruined as every site would be reduced to the level of the mud.

Ironically, Wikipedia is promoting spam on the internet in the process of trying to rid itself of it.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

A while back I wrote about Wikipedia’s selfish ‘nofollow’ linking. I made the argument that by tacking on the nofollow tag on external sites, Wikipedia is tricking Google and other search engines to think Wikipedia is even more important than it already is. Intentional or not, the policy causes some significant skew in search engine results due to how many people like to Wikipedia.

Turns out that Wikipedia didn’t focus the skew purely on itself. Techcrunch has noticed that Wikipedia gives Wikia preferential treatment. Wikia is a commercial project, in part founded by Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales.

Again this is not necessarily intentional but the skew is yet worse now. Wikipedia collects massive numbers of inbound links without giving anything back to the web community. Instead Wikipedia channels its importance into promoting a commercial project of the founder’s choosing. This is very unfortunate.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

The articles here at PWW tend to be a bit more in depth than this, but I thought this might be a good tips that many would benefit from. As you’ve probably figured out by now, both Alex and I are Mac users, and just adore the design of Apple’s products. As a result of this, both Alex and I bought the Wireless Mighty Mouse to use with our laptops. A couple of days ago my Mighty Mouse stopped scrolling up. It was weird, because I could still scroll down and horizontally. Since this was very annoying, it became the first thing on my priority list to fix.

After some googlin’ and reading on a couple of Mac forums, I found the solution. Press down the ‘scroll ball’ hard. This sounds like a weird thing to do, but after checking some other sites that said the same thing, I tried it. After pressing the ‘scroll ball’ down quite hard the scroll feature started working again.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.
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Category: Technology

Ok, so we’re not really there yet, but it really looks like many big players are aiming towards this within the next few years. The list of softwares moved to the web can be made long. Although Google received a lot of press for their Google Docs and Google Spreadsheet, there are other at least a handful of equally interesting products. A company named GravityZoo aims to bring the entire desktop online. In their attempt, among many things they’re working on porting OpenOffice to the Internet. What makes this more interesting than Google Docs is that instead being a commercial product, they must release the source code of their product. What this means is that companies might be able to use this solution for their intranets, which means sensitive information never needs to leave the companies network. Although many might argue that if one uses Google’s commercial service, the data is still safe, even if it’s online. However, since many larger corporations IT policies strictly states that internal information is not allowed to leave local network, utilizing a web-based OpenOffice or their intranet will enable them to get the benefit of the web app, without sensitive information ever leaving the corporate network. Moreover, with a simple VPN solution, even road warriors will be able to take advantage of this solution.

No, lets look at the ups and downs of using web-apps instead of traditional softwares. When I think of web-apps, the first thing that comes to mind is the administrative aspects. One of the largest benefits of administrating web-apps rather than traditional apps is that you don’t need to configure each and every one of you desktop machines with the particular software. Although you probably want to install a more secure browser than Internet Explorer if they’re running Windows, this is really all you need to do on the clients. Another quite obvious benefit is the platform independence. If you’re web-app is well written, it should work in any browser on any platform, witch is a great thing, since you don’t have to spend money on porting your software to a variety of platforms. Moreover, if you have a variety of platforms, file sharing tend to be a hassle. If you’re running a web-port of OpenOffice, with built-in file-management, you don’t need to worry about this anymore.

So what’s the downside? I spent quite some time thinking of drawbacks of using web-apps, but could only really come up with one; that it might be less responsive. If you’re on a slow connection, lets say over the internet, it might be very annoying with the delay it causes. However, if you’re running the web-app on a local 100Mbit network, they delay of a well-written AJAX web-app should be quite small. I think that the largest obstacle to overcome is the mindset of the users.

Talking about web-apps, we at WireLoad are planning to make a web-port of FireFox. We also talked about porting this blog to the web…

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