How people perceive Plone outside Plone community

Our company does business with multiple CMS systems, like Joomla, Plone and Drupal.  They all have their advantages, they all have their disadvantages. We do not want to make CMS a religion. It’s a tool. You can argue with the client which tool is a right job for a task. Joomla is lightweight solution for non-critical systems, Plone is good with lots of content, editors and workflows flying around. etc. etc.

I had this curious piece on conversation on #joomla channel on freenode. Though it is an individual case, I hope it will bring some light to the fact how people perceive Plone outside Plone community and what Plone should to do fix it.

I think it would be beneficial for Plone to finally close mailman for the site administration / user support and move to real web forums / Google Groups / whatever which would be usable.

Also, there is an example how unprofessionalism is not good for the community.

[20:23:29] x: Biggest problem so far is finding competent ("I will deliver on this schedule) joomla consulting experts. Second biggest problem is security, our site has been hacked 3 times in the past 6 months
[20:25:18] me: have you considered any alternative CMS with better security track record?
[20:25:50] x: moo: we moved from Plone to Joomla. 3 years on Plone with no hacks.
[20:26:04] x: Problem with plone is no forums with email support
[20:26:21] me: you pay for support
[20:26:30] z: did you do basic joomla security guidelines?
[20:26:39] me: also check
[20:26:40]  Title: Support options for Plone — Plone CMS: Open Source Content Management (at
[20:26:51] x: moo: I'm fine with paying for support. We're paying SiteGround $200-$300/month on average when you add the support costs.
[20:26:58] z: ie using a key to access admin, changing default sql prefix
[20:27:01] AngryPerson: who cares about plone
[20:27:10] AngryPerson: its an ancient cms thats clearly past its time
[20:27:20] AngryPerson: its only privately supported with little community support
[20:28:34] AngryPerson: Moo^_^: why are you even in here?
[20:28:40] AngryPerson: you just want to piss on joomla?
[20:28:43] me: we do business on drupal, joomla and plone
[20:28:48] me: different tool for different job
[20:28:51] -*- y shrugs
[20:29:01] AngryPerson: just seems to me like you want to push ppl away from joomla
[20:29:11] x: z: After 6 months I'm still a Joomla noob. I need a consulting services company that will do the security patching, maintenance, service on the site, and host it.
[20:29:25] me: not true
[20:29:36] AngryPerson: Moo^_^: well regardless of what you say, tahts how it seems to me
[20:29:54] z: actually I've had good luck just following a few blog posts
[20:30:10] me: I don't defend myself, as I don't want to engage such a conversation with you
[20:30:22] AngryPerson: thats good, why dont you fuck off too
[20:30:22] <-* jools has kicked y from #joomla (Please watch your language) [20:30:22] --> y (dgdf@unaffiliated/anti-mttr/x-9384728) has joined #joomla
[20:30:27] z: nothing is impervious, but you drastically reduce your attractiveness to hackers by a few simple steps
[20:30:32] AngryPerson: stop giving ppl your shitty advice

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Why people hate Adobe (and have now headache with was a GPS based sports tracking service for Nokia phones. Around a year ago it spun off as independent company, which was a good move if you really want to develop your service business. Now has launched a new website. You can upload your runs and photos there and share your sports results through social media.

It was delightful to see the new site opened and having the features been missing so long time ago. However, I was not totally happy with what I saw.

The whole new site is built on top of Adobe Flash run-time technologies. There are no traditional web pages per se.

The problem is that full page Flash is resource hog. In the picture above you see that opening this web site in my Safari web browser spikes CPU to 100% usage – and it actually stays there indefinitely (note: on front page, see remarks below). This means that my computer is working to barely survive under the stress caused by this one web site – and my computer is powerful iMac. This means that if I have this site open background in my web browser my laptop battery would die very very fast. This means that all programs I try to simultaneously use on my computer become sluggish.

I assume that when was spun off from Nokia they contracted some digital advertisiment agency to built the new site for them. Digital advertisement agencies are often, not always, companies focused on the brand and visual appearance. They love to work with Flash because it gives good authoring tools to build nice looking, bling bling filled, animations.  Flash is a great tool for animations. Flash is a great tool for building browser based games. However, it is not good for building the whole web site where the user experience criteria could include 1) the site actually to responds to clicks 2) the site does not bring down to the whole computer. The decision makers probably drink cool-aid “hey let’s built the site with the Adobe’s latest tools – have you seen the demos how coooooool they look like”.

The thing is, I want to just see my sports tracking results. I don’t care whether the diagrams have blurred drop shadows with state of the art Web 3.0 mouse over effects. Now I can enjoy the effects, points for the artistic leader for that, but doing the actual task, accessing my sports results, have become irritating task to do. Things respond sloooow – that’s the main reason. In-flash scrolls bars have noticeable lag.

There exists an uncanny valley how normal web sites behave and how 100% Flash site behave. My right click does not work. I cannot right click a link and open it in new tab. I cannot right click a link to copy it to my friend. I cannot access the site on my N900 web browser (which even has Flash). I coudn’t even send feedback to team without first installing a desktop email client, as the email address cannot be copied from Flash to web mail. Text boxes are little different.

I cannot hold my horses to see Adobe conquering mobile phones with Flash and doing the same thing for mobile browsing experience it has now done for

The site is not bad. Usability guidelines have been followed carefully when building the site. The developers seem to have gone into great details to make the operations smooth as possible. For example, URL fragment identifies are used to make sure bookmarking works even though Flash is present on the site. Social media features, not present in old sport tracker, are finally there. The results of design decision to built the whole site on Flash, instead of using Flash for some components only, might not have been seen by the time this decision was taken.

When Nokia Sports Tracker was first introduced 3-4 years ago with the first Series 60 GPS phones it was ahead of the competition. Wow effect had no limits – can you really do that with your mobile phone – in real-time and live?

It is funny how time passes.

It is definitely possible to build a sports tracking site, which looks cool, but does not have issues mentioned here.

Note: With little more research it seems that CPU usage stays 100% is specific to front page only and it has issues of not winding down action when you move away from your browser. However, rendering of other pages still uses vast amount of CPU, causing lag you do not see when opening web pages. The background CPU consumption on page is aroud 8% per tab when should be 0%.

Note 2: I am using the latest 10.1  Flash Player.

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Setting Google Apps hosted email as your browser’s default email client for mailto protocol

Would it be nice that when you click email link (maito) in your browser you could directly send email from your organizations’s Google Apps hosted service? (Google Apps is GMail + Google Docs for corporate/organizations with own domain name).

Here are instructions how to achieve it.

1. Firefox

Follow instructions by Steve Novoselac.

2. Opera

Here are instructions for Opera 10:

  • You have file webmailproviders.ini where web mail backends are lsited
  • This file is located in Applications/Opera (you need to right click and choose Show package contents) and Resources/defaults/webmailproviders.ini (on OSX, for Windows Linux follow the instruction links below)
  • Add the email provider description as below. Note that you need to change Google Apps domain name to your link. After saving the file you need to restart opera. You don’t need icon if you don’t have one.
  • Then restart Opera, choose Preferences -> Advanced -> Programs -> mailto -> your email account.

Web mailto in OperaWiki

More HTTP links to trigger email send for various email providers

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Python 2.3, Python for Series 60 1.4.5 still in use… and insight into Symbian deployment process and user experience

Nokia’s Python for Series 60 has a long history. It is a Python interpreter, originally escaped from Nokia prototype labs, running in your phone. It is said to been awesome to show mobile/embedded developers, who were love with their static C compilers and 4 hours built times, opening a Python prompt in your phone and typing import audio; audio.say(“your phone loves Python”) by keypad (Nokia Series 60 phones come with a speech synthetizer). Python for Series 60 is the best tool of building a simple proof of concept mobile applications. The lack of speed, lack of good UI libraries and difficult deployment problems makes it challenging to use it in production grade environments.

PyS60 has also a history of staying in archaid Python version – namely Python 2.3. It was not until this February when stable PyS60 2.0.0 with Python 2.5 was released (1.9.x was considered experimental according to the release notes). Luckily looks like new winds are blowing (Qt acquisition, Meego/Maemo) and Python is getting higher priority. For example, PySide Qt bindings is very high profile project. Based on this, we hope to expect Python to the first class citizen in the future Meego and Symbian devices.

My company had a little side venture with PyS60 Community Edition when we were still betting that Symbian and Python would rock the world – the era before iPhone changed the game.  PyS60 community edition was effectively a revamped PyS60 1.4.x with Python 2.3 toolchain which actually made PyS60 application production deployment possible. Possible…? -you ask. Madness… no. It is Symbian. It is certification and signing and obscure error messages. Basically vanilla PyS60 is being shipped as an external SIS (Symbian package format) and Symbian platform security makes it impossible to deploy two production signed applications using vanilla PyS60 on the same device. The only cure was statically building Python for both apps from the scratch, which is exactly what PyS60 Community Edition was doing.

But this all was long long time ago. Aeons in mobile time. So I was today surprised when I got email from a person (David) using PyS60 Community Edition. We never upgraded PyS60 Community Edition to Python 2.5 . In fact we haven’t touched the project about two years. David was effectively using Python 2.3 and asked questions about the tool chain internals.

My first answer was a question Why on Earth you are still using Python 2.3? I thought maybe the guy had somehow missed the last two years or was a stuck with an old phone.

However… this was not the case and the answer was very insigtful.

Yes, I’m aware of PyS60 2.0.0, but I prefer PythonCommunity, at least for the moment: no OpenC neither Platform Services dependencies; smaller .SIS size and memory footprint. I think that the final .SIS produced with PythonCommunity, with everything necessary to run contained in it and with a clean installation without multiple dependencies, is a better fit for a mass-market than the files produced by PyS60 2.0.0, above all taking into account that people don’t know what S60 or Symbian are.

Also, the runtime deployment on the new PyS60 isn’t automatic for S60_3rd and S60_FP1 devices, so in the worst case scenario, users may end having to learn to install the different files (pips.sis, ssl.sis, stdioserver.sis, Python_2.0.0.sis, PythonScriptShell_2.0.0.sis) in the correct order, which is a big no-no for a mass-market deployment.

So…. I hope someone in Nokia is reading this blog entry carefully. Do it like Apple does. Make your application deployment static. Make OpenC static. Make every freaking library which is not shipped with the device statically buildable. It should be possible now when everything is open source. It will consume precious device RAM, but at least it will make mass market application development possible. SIS hell is worse hell than deb hell, or DLL hell, as the end user cannot fix it due to device security.

In the related news SIS smart installer was announced few weeks ago. Personally I wouldn’t bet it can deal with all the problems of versioning and Symbian platform security. Forum reports aren’t promising and looks like very Symbianish user experience can be expected. In positive light, it seems that Python is being considered for this process.

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