Replacing my fixed home page with a private CMS and blog using IIS and WordPress on Vista

With the new job at Enigma Data Solutions, that I started a few months back, came a laptop. In the past – when I worked at Sussex Downs College – I had a laptop as I did a fair bit of working at home. Despite moving it between networks, I had the college’s intranet page as my home page on the various browsers that I used then (IE and Opera). It worked fine as Sussex Downs intranet can be accessed from off campus (it is password protected as a result). However, Enigma’s intranet isn’t accessible unless one is physically connected to the internal network. This is a minor irritation with IE, as it just gives a page not found error when starting up away from the company network. Firefox (which has replaced Opera as my main browser of choice) has an altogether more annoying habit though. It decides that since it can’t resolve the name “intranet”, I must have suffered temporary amnesia and really I meant “www.intranet.com”. This is a redirect domain for www.aciworldwide.com. I know of no reason to be anti ACI, but I don’t want their page as my home page.

As Enigma’s intranet has a number of handy links that I need access to when away from the office, my first thought was to simply create a static page local to the laptop and have that as my home page. I could then copy those links to this page. Then it occurred to me that, in this day and age, there are much better options: Wikis and content management systems (CMS). As I’m familiar with WordPress, and as it has good CMS features, it seemed the obvious choice.

As I’m running Vista, and as I have a number of years experience with using IIS and little experience of Apache, I figured I’d try to get WordPress running on Vista/ IIS 7. And so began a long and frustrating journey. By the end of it, I’d figured out that it is a relatively simple process – if you know what you are doing in advance. So I’ve written up details of how to install WordPress on IIS 7 and Vista here so that others can avoid the pain I went through. Continue reading “Replacing my fixed home page with a private CMS and blog using IIS and WordPress on Vista”

Microsoft admit anti-trust defeat and offer up APIs and IP to competitors & open source community

ms_peeps.jpgI listened to my my first “virtual press conference” today given by Microsoft. I certainly picked a big one as my first. I actually got to hear Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, say the words “open source” without spitting, swearing or making any negative remarks! What is the world coming to?

Well the world is coming to its senses and realises that it doesn’t have to be scared of Microsoft and Microsoft is coming to its senses and realising that it cannot own the world (and will just have to be happy with a significant chunk of it.) So the press release was the final fling in a long and probably very painful process of Microsoft opening itself up to its competitors and to the open source community. Today Microsoft announced the launch of its four new interoperability principles:

  1. Ensuring open connections
  2. Promoting data portability
  3. Enhancing support for industry standards
  4. Fostering more open engagement with customers and the industry, including open source communities.

So what does that all mean? Well translated it means:

  • Microsoft have promised to publish the APIs and communications protocols for all their high volume products (Vista, Office 2007, Sharepoint 2007, Exchange 2007, Server 2008). No license will be required to access this information.
  • Open source developers can freely use these communication protocols without having to pay royalties and without fear of being sued. Commercial use must be paid for.
  • Recent forays into open source with collaborations with the Mono, MySQL and PHP teams is due to continue and become part of how Microsoft works.
  • As a start, Microsoft will be adding some 3,000 extra pages of API information to MSDN so that everyone – not just those that have bought trade secret licenses – can access the information.

Why have they done this? Well clearly the EU can take a lot of the credit with its dogged pursuit of anti-trust cases against Microsoft. The bigger picture though is likely simply a realisation within Microsoft that open source isn’t going to go away. Having won the browser war, they have watched Firefox erode that dominant position for example. That they now own nearly the entire paid-for development tool market has meant that universities now routinely teach LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL & PHP) and Java as they are free development environments. Perhaps the weight of arguably the world’s most powerful political bloc, combined with the quiet determination of the open source community, has finally broken the Microsoft bronco?

Whatever the reasons though, this has certainly been a historic day for software developers, both within the Microsoft fold and without.

Read, watch and listen to full details of the press release here.

Microsoft to Take Over the (PHP) World

php-med-trans-light.gifA couple of days ago, I reported that Microsoft had produced a SQL Server library for PHP. This reminded me of a recent news story regarding Microsoft backing the FastCGI extension to IIS and set me thinking as to why the sudden interest in PHP from Microsoft?

The obvious answer is that Microsoft still want to grow their share of the server market and by making PHP under IIS a great experience, they hope to wean PHP users away from Apache and Linux and over to Windows and IIS. However this smacks a bit too much of conspiracy theory for me. I’m not a big fan of conspiracy theories, but try as I might, I can think of no other reason.

Anyway, paranoia aside, if you do web sites with back-end computation of just about any form, the FastCGI component is well worth investigating as it isn’t just for IIS and PHP.

Microsoft release a SQL Server driver for PHP

php-med-trans-light.gifMicrosoft recently released a SQL Server driver for PHP. Anyone who have ever attempted to connect PHP to SQL Server using php_mssql.dll will know how amazing it is to finally have a proper – Microsoft supported – driver. However being Microsoft, there are the usual caveats:

  1. It’s not open source (even though they make a big deal of it on the “open source” Channel 9) . This is unsurprising.
  2. It’s a Windows only driver. So no planning a “LASP” (Linux, Apache, Sql Server and PHP) box. This is annoying.
  3. It’s a PHP 5 only driver, yet it is a procedural-only driver with no OO support. This is just stupid.

So another “almost great news” announcement from Microsoft then.

If you want to keep up with news on this product, or give Microsoft feedback, they have a product specific blog and a forum that covers this driver along with other SQL Server connectivity options.