Exploring the option of mobile broadband

Last week, I decided to buy and experiment with a Vodafone PAYG mobile broadband dongle (the actual device is a ZTE K3570-Z)) partly as a backup for my usual broadband (it has had its moments recently) and partly to allow me to stay more connected while on the move. Thoughts of blogging and checking up on email or the realtime web while travelling to and from different places must have swayed me.

Hearing that the use of Windows or OS X with the device had me attempting to hook up the device to Windows 7 running within a VirtualBox virtual machine on my main home computer. When that proved too big a request of the software setup, I went googling out of curiosity and found that there was a way to get the thing going with Linux. While I am not so sure that it works with Ubuntu without any further changes, my downloading of a copy of the Sakis3G script was enough to do the needful and I was online from my main OS after all. So much for what is said on the box…

More success was had with Windows 7 as loaded on my Toshiba Equum notebook with setting up and connections being as near to effortless as these things can be. Ubuntu is available on there too, courtesy of Wubi, and the Sakis3G trick didn’t fail for that either.

That’s not to say that mobile broadband doesn’t have its limitations as I found. For instance, Subversion protocols and Wubi installations aren’t supported but that may be a result of non-support of IPv6 than anything else. nevertheless, connection speeds are good as far as I can see though I yet have to test out the persistence of Vodafone’s network while constantly on the move. Having seen how flaky T-Mobile’s network can be in the U.K. as I travel around using my BlackBerry, that is something that needs doing but all seems painless enough so far. However, the fact that Vodafone uses the more usual mobile phone frequency may be a help.

Download Sakis3G

DePo Masthead

There is a place on WordPress.com where I share various odds and ends about public transport in the U.K. It’s called On Trains and Buses and I try not to go tinkering with the design side of things too much. You only have the ability to change the CSS and my previous experience of doing that with this edifice while it lived on there taught me not to expect too much even if there are sandbox themes for anyone to turn into something presentable, not that I really would want to go doing that in full view of everyone (doing if offline first and copying the CSS afterwards when it’s done is my preferred way of going about it). Besides, I wanted to see how WordPress.com fares these days anyway.

While my public transport blog just been around for a little over a year, it’s worn a few themes over that time, ranging from the minimalist The Journalist v1.9 and Vigilance through to Spring Reloaded. After the last of these, I am back to minimalist again with DePo Masthead, albeit with a spot of my own colouring to soften its feel a little. I must admit growing to like it but it came to my attention that it was a bespoke design from Derek Powazek that Automattic’s Noel Jackson turned into reality. The result would appear that you cannot get it anywhere but from the WordPress.com Subversion theme repository. For those not versed in the little bit of Subversion action that is needed to get it, I did it for you and put it all into a zip file without making any changes to the original, hoping that it might make life easier for someone.

Download DePo Masthead

Keeping an eye on WordPress development II

I don’t know if this might become a series but a sequel to an earlier post might be a sign of things to come. I was pulling another version of WordPress from Subversion and noted a lot of updated files coming through, more than usual. Curiosity led to my having a look and there have been a few obvious tweaks. The most noticeable of these is that the Plugins portlet was now active, making its role clearer. The role? Apparently, it feeds a random selection of WordPress plugins from those included in WordPress.org’s own listings. It might be useful or an annoying diversion but we’ll see what comes; it is unconfigurable for now. Otherwise, the admin screens look a little sharper, especially to the ones for editing and managing content. I’ll continue to await the arrival of the ability to apply admin screen themes: its a "TODO" on the dashboard screen and could be interesting if it were to come about. We’ll see…

Keeping an eye on future WordPress releases

I haven’t mentioned WordPress in a while but it’s now heading for version 2.5 after 2.4 was skipped. Because I want to ensure that upgrading doesn’t cause problems for my blogs, I have been picking up nightly builds with Subversion from WordPress.org. The following is the command to be used and it works fine on my Ubuntu system in the folder where I want the WordPress installation directory to live. If you want to find out more about Subversion, there is a free book on the web.

svn co http://svn.automattic.com/wordpress/trunk/

The main event is the new dashboard and that seems to be taking cues from Movable Type (I gave that a whirl recently so I may say something here about it yet). Everything is still there along with tantalising hints of prospects for customisation. In the interim, you can change the front page feeds so that they originate from other than the world of WordPress, not a bad thing given that I found WordPress Planet feeds were annoying often. Alternate theme support for the dashboard seems to be on the to do list as is something for plugins; we’ll see what comes of the latter. Otherwise, nothing seems to be changed or, more importantly, broken and I am able to get a mirror of my outdoors blog up and running with the only problems of any note coming from the new web address, not at all major. I’ll continue to tabs on what’s happening and being forewarned of any future problems is a big bonus.

Update: I found a good summary of what to expect on Blog Herald. This is one for a return visit, methinks.