Playing With Wire » internet The Internet Startup Blog Wed, 20 Jul 2011 18:45:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Thin clients is the new black Tue, 14 Jul 2009 23:54:53 +0000 In the past six years or so, I’ve been arguing that thin clients is the next big thing. About two and a half years ago, I wrote an article named The Future of Mobile Computing, that argued just this. Nobody really believed me back then, claiming that thin clients with and mainframes was something of the past. Today, we are pretty much there. Maybe you didn’t think of it, but a Netbook with a 3G card makes the perfect thin client and the cloud is the new mainframe.

The most solid evidence of this is how Google is investing vast resources on becoming the biggest player in this game. About a week ago, Google introduced Chrome OS, which is basically a stripped Linux distribution with a browser. The very same day, they also announced that they have begun working on their own version of NoMachine’s FreeNX, named Neatx.

So what does this mean? Think about it. A Netbook makes a perfect thin client. It does not consume a whole lot of energy (great battery life) and it is built to be connected to the internet. Hence, it is the perfect candidate for Chrome OS. Now, since all applications cannot run inside a browser, we need something to bridge the gap. That’s where Neatx comes into play. With a FreeNX installed on the Netbook, the machine becomes can connect to a full-scaled desktop where normal applications can live. This server can be either hosted in Google’s cloud or in a private cloud.

This is is huge! Imagine a life where your computer is completely disposable. It’s just a dumb terminal. All your data lives in the cloud. Yet, the most amazing thing is that it is available today, and we are yet to realize it.

Ps. I also wrote a few other article on the topic of thin clients here and here Ds.

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45 Years of Email – From Military Tool to Mass Market Communication Fri, 05 Jun 2009 03:15:19 +0000 New Playing With Wire writer Lore Dionne Candelaria takes a look at the history of email and what led to its enormous impact on our modern lives.

Old meets new: early version of Hotmail displayed in Safari 3

Old meets new: early version of Hotmail displayed in Safari 3

Ever since the dawn of human existence, it has been an instinct of man to try to find ways to reach out and to be able to be heard. Speech and language proved to be the most important tools of the ancient human. Humankind has used these tools to survive and to exchange thoughts; which later evolved into other forms that made use of written symbols, drawings, runes and many other variations. The natural next step in this desire to innovate was the attempts to conquer distance — man wanted to still be in touch besides being apart. Carrier pigeons and smoke signals paved the way for a line of development aiming for an infinite means of communication. Thus came the discovery and birth of technologies like the telegraph, telephone, and ultimately, the e-mail system.

Before we can talk about the creation of electronic mail, we should first understand the beginnings of the internet itself. Many people have probably heard that the Internet began in some military computers in the famous Pentagon, that it was called Arpanet, and that the year was 1969. The theory goes on to suggest that the network was designed to survive a nuclear attack. True enough, the Internet was designed in part to provide a communications network that would work even if some of the sites were destroyed by nuclear attack. In 1969, the US Department of Defense wanted a communication system that could not be destroyed in the event of an emergency. They linked computers over telephone lines so that if one computer failed to work, the others could still communicate with each other. This system was called then as ARPANET.

ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Networks) was the network that became the basis for the development of the INTERNET. It was developed under the direction of the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). In 1969, the idea became a modest reality with the interconnection of four university computers. The initial purpose was to communicate with and share computer resources among mainly scientific users at the connected institutions. ARPANET took advantage of the new idea of sending information in small units called packets that could be routed on different paths and reconstructed at their destination. The main concept in packet switching was the idea of making use of circuits that are switched like in the old type of typical telephone circuit, where a dedicated circuit is tied up for the duration of the call and communication is only possible with the single party on the other end of the circuit.

ARPANET logic map, March 1977

ARPANET logic map, March 1977 (From Computer Science Museum)

The starting point for host-to-host communication on the ARPANET was the 1822 protocol which defined the way that a host sent messages to an ARPANET IMP. The message format was designed to work unambiguously with a broad range of computer architectures. Essentially, an 1822—message consisted of a message type, a numeric host address, and a data field. To send a data message to another host, the sending host would format a data message containing the destination host’s address and the data to be sent, and transmit the message through the 1822 hardware interface. The IMP would see that the message was delivered to its destination, either by delivering it to a locally-connected host or by delivering it to another IMP. When the message was ultimately delivered to the destination host, the IMP would send an acknowledgment message (called Ready for Next Message or RFNM) to the sending host.

So, how exactly did email evolve from the classic ARPANET? The answer comes from the name of Raymond Tomlinson. Tomlinson, born in 1941, is a programmer who implemented an email system in 1971 on the ARPANet. Email had been previously sent on other networks. Before internetworking began, email could only be used to send messages to various users of the same computer. Once computers began talking to each other over networks, however, the problem became a little more complex—they needed to be able to put a message in an envelope and address it. To do this, they needed a means to indicate which mails go to whom in a way that the electronic posts understood. This is the same as the conventional postal system: they need a way to indicate an address for a particular mail. The AUDOTIN was the first system able to send mail between users on different hosts connected to the Arpanet. To achieve this, Tomlinson used the @ sign to separate the user from their machine, the “commercial at” symbol to combine the user and host names, providing the naturally meaningful notation “user@host”—that is the standard for email addressing today. This has been used in email addresses ever since. These early programs had simple functionality and were command line-driven, but established the basic transactional model that still defines the technology: email gets sent to someone’s mailbox.

The first important email standard was called SMTP, or simple message transfer protocol. SMTP was very simple and is still in use – however, as we will hear later in this series, SMTP was a fairly naïve protocol, and made no attempt to find out whether the person claiming to send a message was the person they purported to be. Forgery was (and still is) very easy in email addresses. These basic flaws in the protocol were later exploited by viruses and worms, and by security frauds and spammers forging identities. But as it developed, email started to take on some pretty neat features. One of the first good commercial systems was Eudora, developed by Steve Dorner in 1988. When Internet standards for email began to mature the POP (or Post Office Protocol) servers began to appear as a standard; before that, each server was a little different. POP was an important standard which allowed users to develop mail systems. These were the days of per-minute charges for email of individual dialup users. For most people on the Internet in those days, email and email discussion groups were its main uses. There were many hundreds of these on a wide variety of topics, and as a body of newsgroups, they became known as USENET.

Raymond Tomlinson

Raymond Tomlinson

With the World Wide Web, email started to be made available with friendly web interfaces by providers such as Yahoo and Hotmail. Usually this was without charge. Now that email was affordable, everyone wanted at least one email address, and the medium was adopted by not just millions, but hundreds of millions of people. This only proves how emailing has reached new horizons in helping people to connect with the virtual world.

Though it is undeniable that emailing has gone a long way since it was first conceptualized, conceived and born, it now faces more problems than ever. While one cannot question the importance of email and instant messaging nowadays, one question remains: what is in store for electronic mailing in the future? In this age when everyone is aware of the emergence of so many communication options, does email still makes sense? What’s worse, e-mail has become a tool for criminal hackers ready to show off their technical skills. Recently, organized crime has become more of a force in the spam arena. They developed a series of get-rich-quick schemes and have also leveraged spam as an entry point into collecting and then misusing individuals’ personal financial information. As a result, it is estimated that spam represents 80% to more than 90% of all e-mail messages. Consequently, some businesspeople are flocking to these new communications options to rid themselves of the tedious task of constantly hitting the delete button. Can one still trust the reliability of emailing in connecting and communicating with other people?

The answer lies on the platform that emailing has founded. The flaw that makes email so easy to abuse for spam and other nefarious activities is also it’s strength: it’s easy to get an e-mail address and nearly everyone has one. E-mail will continue to be a popular communication option precisely because it is so popular. Emailing continues to be a communications option that generates billions of messages each year.

Yes, new communication channels have emerged, they appeal to different sort of users, and they will be in use at times instead of e-mail. However, e-mail still has the broadest range of supporters and will continue to be the primary communications media for most businesspersons for the foreseeable future; especially now that there is a boom in the online business industry. Email has proven to be an efficient marketing and advertising medium. The increase in electronic commerce or e-commerce has once again pressured the mail developers to improve and better the functionalities of email systems.

For sure things will change and just like all else, e-mail will surely evolve, but its use as a communication medium is still unparalleled. It was after all created on top of technology built to survive.

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How to Upgrade to WordPress 2.7 and Fix Database Encoding Mon, 25 May 2009 04:22:24 +0000 As you guys have noticed by now we have done a little refresh of Playing With Wire. At the same time we choose to upgrade to WordPress 2.7 from WordPress 2.2.3.

Unfortunately early versions of WordPress did not specify UTF-8 encoding for the tables created in the database. After the upgrade, UTF-8 was in WordPress but our tables were still in Latin 1 and we got quite a collection of funny characters in some of our postings. Examples include “’” instead of a quotation mark, or  in the middle of some whitespace.

After searching for a while we found the solution at bawdo2001’s blog:

mysqldump -u root -p --opt --default-character-set=latin1 --skip-set-charset DBNAME > DBNAME.sql
sed -e 's/latin1/utf8/g' -i ./DBNAME.sql
mysql -p --default-character-set=utf8 DBNAME < DBNAME.sql

In other words, just dump the database in latin1, swap out latin1 for utf8 in the output SQL and then reimport in utf8. Just make sure you get a good backup of your database in a separate file before you start reimporting.

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Unleashing YippieMove ’09 Wed, 08 Apr 2009 03:31:28 +0000 Today we are very excited to announce YippieMove ’09, our largest update ever to our user friendly online email transfer solution. YippieMove ’09 breaks down email barriers by unlocking transfers from anywhere to anywhere; you can now take your email from almost any IMAP account and shuttle it over to any other account. All this YippieMove does faster while shining with gorgeous new graphs and visuals.

The idea of YippieMove is to unlock email and let the user make the switch to another email. When the original YippieMove was released we did just that – as long as you wanted to switch to Gmail. That’s all changed. In YippieMove ’09 any of our pre-configured email providers can now be the destination of your email transfer. You set up a new Zimbra mail account? No problem, we’ll get your old email in there. HyperOffice? Sure, if that’s what you want. Just like usual you can enter your own providers too if you’re a little handy.

Speed is up in the new version: through better caching and smart point optimizations in the mover we cut many transfer times in half. Most of you will hardly notice since the previous version of YippieMove routinely chewed through even huge jobs in just a few hours. But for the few of you who carry your whole life memoirs and then some in your inbox, the new version will really race to the finish. To reflect our confidence in the new speedy transfer engine we bumped up all the limits. Transfer twice as many emails and twice as many bytes with this new version: 20,000 emails and 20 GB respectively.

The new status page is the coolest new feature. You now get running updates on your transfer job with much more detail than before. What folders have been transferred and which ones are still in queue, what sizes your folders are, how many emails you have. It’s all in there. And since there’s so much data we have distilled it into line charts and bar charts, giving you an easy overview.

And it’s still all online. There is no bulky Windows-only resource hogging program to download. Nothing to install. Everything happens in our servers, and with our internet connections. Just fill in your details and you’re good to go.

We are really happy with the new version. It’s available today at

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OFC WireLoad Edition 0.2 Fri, 03 Apr 2009 21:50:08 +0000 In preparation for our YippieMove ’09 unveiling next week (you can get a pre-announcement sneak peek now) WireLoad is today releasing version 0.2 of OFC WireLoad Edition.

When we began work on the new Status page of YippieMove ’09 we searched high and low for good charting software, both server based and dynamic. OFC 2 came out on top. OFC is an excellent Flash charts program written primarily by John Glazebrook. It supports several different chart types including line graphs, bar graphs and pie charts. It dynamically reads its data using JSON.

To meet WireLoad’s specific design goals for YippieMove’s status page a number of modifications were made. We needed a particular look and feel, we wanted the fastest possible load times and there were a couple of glitches when using our particular data sets that needed fixing. Since many of these changes were very specific to our use case we opted to just branch the software and not disturb the ordinary development of OFC. This branch is what we are releasing today as OFC WireLoad Edition 0.2. We hope it will benefit the OFC community and perhaps interested parties will be able to find pieces and parts they can use elsewhere.

OFC 2 Hyperion was used as the base. An overview of the changes can be found below.

Visual Changes

  • Support for a gradient background.
  • Chart encompassing border.
  • Look of axises changed.
  • Pie chart drop shadow.
  • “Fuzzy” grid lines sharpened up.
  • New ‘spinner’ progress indicator.

OFC WireLoad Edition Graph

Functional Changes

  • Fast loading progress indicator which starts showing before the whole flash file has downloaded and remains until the graph data has been loaded.
  • New on the side legend for pie charts.
  • New build script for building without the Windows specific Flash Develop.

Size Reduction

  • Each chart type can be enabled or disabled at build time, which enables a site specific light-weight build. Many individual functions such as image saving can similarly be disabled.
  • Embedded fonts are no longer required for 0-90 degree rotated X axis labels or rotated Y axis labels.
  • Reduction of some redundant code.

The final version used on YippieMove’s status page is about 50KiB, down from 200KiB in the original.

If you want to set OFC WireLoad Edition 0.2 up for a test, be aware that when using IE7, SWFObject did not always properly detect the running Flash version in our testing. So you may see unexpected degradation to your non Flash content. Updating to the latest version of Flash seems to resolve the issue, regardless of your installed version – it’s the reinstalling itself that fixes the problem. Word on the net is that there is an installation corruption issue happening to some IE7 users.

Downloads and a complete change log can be found on WireLoad’s open source page.

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Bye Bye Postgrey. Welcome SpamAssassin Thu, 12 Mar 2009 17:11:53 +0000 About three years ago, when we first installed our mailserver, we decided to give Postgrey a shot. It worked pretty well for about two years. It did pretty much what we needed it to do — block SPAM. Since everyone here uses either a Mac or a Linux setup, we didn’t have a big need for scanning incoming emails for virus. Well, the situation didn’t change much, but the amount of emails going through our system did. We’ve started to see more and more SPAM going through the graylisting as spammers become more sophisticated. However, over the past few months, we’ve received a few complaints from customers about emails that did not go through (only a few, but that is serious enough). Hence we needed to take action.

Since our system is pretty straight forward (Postfix + DBmail), our conclusion was that it was the graylisting that caused us trouble. We took a fresh look on the market and realized that SpamAssassin probably was the best way to go. Thanks to FreeBSD’s ports, we were able to replace Postgray with SpamAssassin in less than an hour.

This morning when I woke up, I took a look at the maillogs. SpamAssassin seems to be doing it’s job pretty well, as it caught a bunch of SPAM. Bye Bye Postgrey. Welcome SpamAssassin.

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Some downtime Yesterday Thu, 05 Mar 2009 01:08:44 +0000 Yesterday we experienced a bit of downtime. The blog was down between 3:30 AM to approximately 5:30 AM PST. The reason for this is a bit higher volume of traffic than normal, as we got featured on Slashdot (again). The server we run this blog on is certainly capable of handling the load, it was just a misconfiguration in Apache (MaxClients set too high). We did tune Apache in the past, but the MaxClient-value probably got overwritten when we upgraded till Apache 2.2 last month. Hence, when the Slashdot traffic started to drop in around 3:00 AM PST, the server started to swap heavily and eventually became almost entirely inaccessible.

Again, we apologize for the inconvenience.

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Open Source and usability: Joomla vs. WordPress Sun, 01 Mar 2009 21:50:05 +0000 ‘If Joomla! is Linux, then WordPress is Mac OS X. WordPress might offer only 90% of the features of Joomla!, but in most cases WordPress is both easier to use and faster to get up and running.’

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve been in charge of putting up a number of websites for various companies, often as favors for friends. In most cases, I’ve ended up using one out of two solutions: Joomla! and WordPress. While both of these projects have evolved greatly over the last few years, they are vastly different. Joomla! has always been intended as a ‘fit-all-your-possible-needs’-kind of CMS solution, while WordPress was developed as a blog with CMS capabilities. Recently WordPress has opened up to allow its users to set up a site with static-only material (with the option of a blog-page), without having to hack the code. Hence it’s one step closer to being a direct competitor to Joomla!.

Joomla!’s Control Panel
WordPress’ Dashboard

I will probably step on a few peoples feelings here, but I will argue that Joomla! is an example of a poorly managed open source project and that WordPress is a very successfully managed one. Certainly I don’t mean that Joomla! is a useless piece of junk, but that the lead developers have quite a bit to learn from WordPress. The main thing that Joomla! is vastly behind on is usability. While it is true that Joomla! 1.5 is a step in the right direction, it is still light years behind WordPress. Let me illustrate with two examples of common tasks.

Example 1: Create a blog-post with an image


  1. From the ‘Control Panel,’ click ‘Add New Article.’
  2. There are two image buttons. If you use the wrong one, you won’t be able to upload an image (as you will only browse the existing images). You must use the one below the text field.
  3. Select a ‘Title,’ the right ‘Section’, and then the right ‘Category.’
  4. Write the content and save.


  1. Select QuickPress in the Dashboard.
  2. Click on the image icon and upload the image.
  3. Select title, write your content and press publish.
‘Add New Article’ in Joomla!
‘QuickPress’ in WordPress

Example 2: Create a static page accessible from the menu


  1. From the ‘Control Panel,’ click ‘Add New Article.’
  2. Select a ‘Title,’ the right ‘Section’, and then the right ‘Category.’
  3. Write the content and save it.
  4. From the top-menu, select ‘Menu’ and ‘Main Menu’ (assuming you want to add it to the main menu.)
  5. Click ‘New.’
  6. Select ‘Internal link,’ and ‘Articles,’ and then finally ‘Article Layout.’
  7. Fill in the title of the object as well as the parent item.
  8. In the column to the right, you now need to browse your list of articles and select the desired article.
  9. Press ‘Save.’


  1. From the Dashboard, click ‘Pages.’
  2. Select ‘Add New.’
  3. Fill in the title and contents.
  4. Select the parent item (if other than root.)
  5. Click ‘Publish.’
‘Add New Article’ in Joomla!
‘Add New Page’ in WordPress

Let’s step back for a minute and imagine the following scenario: you’re in charge of putting up a website for a company. They might want to put up about 10 or so pages with various information. According to my experience this is a pretty common situation. You can do this with either Joomla! or WordPress – both are fully capable of delivering this. Assuming you’re going to buy a template to solve the design issue, it will probably take you about an hour with either of the software to get to the first draft (assuming you’ve been working with them in the past.) So far so good. This is where they start to differ. With WordPress you’re pretty much done by now. However, with Joomla!, you’ll probably have to spend another hour or two just trying to re-organize the different modules to fit the template you bought (in many cases, just to get the basics to work.) Next you will end up spending even more time trying to figure out how to re-organize the different menus. You need to link up a particular document to a particular menu-entry (as illustrated above.) If you want a blog-feed, you need to set up a dedicated section or category (I still don’t really know the difference between the two.) Moreover, you need to select the ‘style’ of blog you want.

‘New menu item’
in Joomla!
‘Modules’ in Joomla!

Let’s say you managed to figure all of that out and that you got the site ready. Now it’s time to hand over the site to the customer. There will obviously be some training involved, and here’s another crucial difference between Joomla! and WordPress. Training someone to learn WordPress takes (in my experience) less than 30 minutes, and they truly understand it. Training someone to use Joomla! takes at least an hour, and they still don’t really understand it.

Again, I’m not saying that Joomla! is useless, it’s that WordPress is a more intuitive piece of software. Let me throw an analogy out there that will probably help you better understand my point. If Joomla! is Linux, then WordPress is Mac OS X. WordPress might offer only 90% of the features of Joomla!, but in most cases WordPress is both easier to use and faster to get up and running. I use and love Linux, it just doesn’t have that elegant touch to Mac OS X does.

To Joomla!’s defense, there are at least two scenarios I can think of where Joomla! is a better fit than WordPress. The first one would be eCommerce. If you install VirtueMart on Joomla! you can be up running with an eCommerce site pretty quickly. However, the problem is that it does not feel like it is a part of Joomla!, but rather as a 3rd party module that works in Joomla! (which is pretty much what it is.) The second one would be a site where you need to have multiple levels of permissions (ie. an extranet). WordPress only offers three levels of permission (public, private, and password protected), while Joomla! is much more flexible.

‘Global Configuration’
in Joomla!
‘General Settings’
in WordPress

Joomla! is not doomed. It just has a long way to go when it comes to usability. WordPress has really been developed by the KISS-principle, while Joomla! appears to have been developed to solve every problem on Earth (by engineers, for engineers). Going back to the two problems I mentioned above, where Joomla! beats WordPress. I think it would actually be less of a challenge to add support for eCommerce and more permission levels to WordPress, than it would be to improve the usability in Joomla! to reach WordPress’ level.

Just as a side note, a quick line-count on the latest versions of both software reveals that Joomla 1.5.9 has 350,975 lines of codes, while WordPress 2.7.1 has a mere 159,682 (might not be completely accurate, but that’s what ‘wc -l’ said). Hence, even if WordPress only offers 70% of the features of Joomla!, which I am pretty sure it does, their code is written much more efficiently.

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Introducing YippieMove Complete Thu, 26 Feb 2009 01:46:27 +0000 WireLoad is proud to today introduce YippieMove Complete, the latest addition to YippieMove, which adds the missing piece of the puzzle for many small and mid-size companies (SMB) that are considering switching email provider. YippieMove Complete is a package that includes everything needed for a smooth transition, including:

  • Unbiased technical consulting. What is really the best email solution/provider for your needs?
  • Creation of user accounts on the destination server according to your needs
  • Redirecting the email from your old server to the new
  • Transfer of your old emails from the old server to the new server

Since we launched YippieMove, we’ve been contacted by many SMBs that are planning to change email provider for various reasons. Whatever your reason for switching is, YippieMove Complete can help you. We will do all the work for you and let you focus on what’s important to you – your business.

What does email downtime cost you per hour? If you’re an SMB, it’s likely that it costs you thousands of dollars an hour in lost productivity. YippieMove Complete can make sure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible, and in most cases, without any email downtime at all.

YippieMove Complete is starting at only $499.95 with 10 transfers included. If you ened more transfer than that our normal rate applies (including volume discount).


The requirements are simple; we need access to your old email server and your DNS records. If you don’t know anything about this, our sales team can provide you with further details. We can even contact your provider directly as a last resort. The second requirement is related to the transfer of the old emails. In order for us to successfully transfer your old emails, the old email server needs to support IMAP.

More info

For more information about YippieMove Complete, visit the product page.

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YippieMove now features an affiliate program Fri, 23 Jan 2009 23:33:12 +0000 What’s better than having a job that you love? How about not having to work, and still make money? We want to give you this opportunity. Ok, we might not be able to make you a millionaire, but if you are successful, you will be able to make decent money while literally doing nothing.

The way you would be able to do this is though our brand new affiliate program. It’s dead simple. You link to us on your website using your own custom link that we will provide you with. Then, every time a customer comes to us from your site and we make a sale, we will give you 10% of the sale. Are we great or what? Other affiliates programs, such as Amazon’s only gives you 4%.

Affiliate status page

The Affiliate Program status page.

Convinced yet? If so, just head over and sign up right away.

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