Category Archives: Technology

Htaccess tip for hosting WordPress on 1and1.

I don’t write much about hands on tech tips. There is so much “how-to” information out there that I just don’t feel the need or the desire to add content…But this was a bit of information that I just had to pass along. I hope you find it helpful.

Let’s get right to the point…I’ve been hosting my WordPress blog at 1and1.com for many years, and the service has been great. However, ever since I recently upgraded to the latest version of WordPress, I have not been able to use any of the update/upgrade and install features of WordPress. It turns out that a config change to the hosting server via .htaccess file must be made in order to fix this problem. Here’s what fixed it for me…

  • Try adding the following lines to your .htaccess file, which should be located in the root of you WordPress installation. Before you do that…Please note the following…
    • .htaccess files are usually considered to be hidden files. You may have to turn on an attribute in your File browser/FTP manager to show hidden files before viewing.
    • If you plan on editing the .htaccess files locally, I recommend caution when downloading the file as it might be viewed as a hidden file to your local OS. For this reason I recommend that you copy and rename the .htaccess file to something like htaccess.txt before downloading.
  • Now you can download the file and open it with a your editor of choice, adding the following lines to the top of the file you renamed from .htaccess to htaccess.txt.

AddHandler x-mapp-php5 .php
AddType x-mapp-php5 .php

– When you are done editing your file contents should look like this….

# BEGIN WordPress
AddHandler x-mapp-php5 .php
AddType x-mapp-php5 .php
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index.php$ – [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>

# END WordPress

  • Once you edit and save the file you can upload it back to your WordPress site’s root directory. I would recommend renaming the existing .htaccess file to something else like htaccess.deletemesoon before uploading.
  • Finally…you can now rename the htaccess.txt file back to .htaccess.
  • Test your site…
  • If everything works be sure to delete the old file… htaccess.deletemesoon and you are done.

As I understand it, the 2 additional lines direct your code to use PHP5 on a platform where both PHP4 and PHP5 are enabled options. After I added the lines, the automatic install, update and upgrade services all started working properly.

Here’s an additional info on the this issue…

I would appreciate your vote…

I recently entered a video contest sponsored by Smart Technologies. http://www.smarttech.com. Smart Technologies provide cool educational technology like the SmartBoard.  They were calling for people to make a promo video for them highlighting our use of Smart Board without actually mentioning the name of our school.

Every day, starting today, through Friday, please VOTE for our VIDEO! Smarttech has some pretty cool prizes for the winners of this contest. Items that my childrens’ school could really use. Here’s what we could win:

  • SMART Response system (32 pack)
  • SMART Audio system
  • SMART Document Camera

Here’s what you need to do to vote…:

  • You can watch the video below…

  • After you watch the video… click on the following link. You will be required to register. It’s a site for teachers so I think it’s pretty safe.
    http://www.teachertube.com/members/viewVideo.php?video_id=145514&title=A_Serious_Look_at_Smart_Technologies
  • Once you register it should take you to the video…If it doesn’t click on the link above again.
  • Now you can VOTE! You can vote by clicking on the stars at the upper right of the video page. Please give us 5 STARS!
  • Feel free to click on the favorite button at the bottom as well.
  • Finally…You can vote once daily…

Thank you in advance to those willing to help us out.

Leadership Summit Live,2009 | Internet Broadcast – Behind the Scenes vlog

I was excited to try out a relatively new technology at the Summit this year called Xstream, produced by Kulabyte, http://www.kulabyte.com. I must say I was very impressed. But I am getting ahead of myself here. Check out the following video which documents the tools, tech and methods we used to broadcast video over the internet at the Leadership Summit sponsored by the Willow Creek Association.

Background Notes

As in many years past, the Leadership Summit, 2009 was broadcast via satellite to several sites across North America. The remote site count this year was north of 140. Even though the satellite feed is very stable, with over 140 remote sites to broadcast to, there are bound to be interruptions in service. Anything from bad weather to malfunctioning receivers can cause problems with the satellite feed. In an effort to minimize distractions during this live event, we broadcast a live internet feed to each of our remote Leadership Summit locations.

I believe that this technology could be used to replace satellite broadcasting. The fact is, many organizations have already started using similar technologies to broadcast High Definition video to remote venues and locations. I myself have had to privilege to get my hands on several of these platforms over the years.

Additional notes about Kulabyte…
Kulabyte Xtream is a software based H264 encoder. I would have to say that it is doesn’t have a slick consumer based user interface. Most of it’s pro configuration options like audio bitrate, H264 profile selection and H264 encoder level require you to edit an XML profile file. But…don’t let that scare you, what this video system lacks in pretty dial and buttons, it more that than makes up for in shear quality. First off… the system can encode, and send video to 4 outputs simultaneously. It will even handle HD. I could broadcast a live HD feed out to a CDN, record that same HD feed to disk to playback later. I could also send 2 addtional lower bitrate feeds to other CDNs for broadcasting. For example, let’s say I send a primary feed to Akamai to be broadcast to other venues globally. I could then send a secondary feed to a Wowza server hosted on Amazon EC2 to support our website. I could then send a 3rd stream to an Adobe Media or a Wowza server located inside our firewall for local support. All the while the 4th stream is being recorded to disk in full HD to be edited and distributed later. The recorded video file is H264. However, Kulabyte wraps the file with an .mp4 extension so it can be played back with Windows Media, VLC Player, Quick Time and Pro Video Player.

The software itself sells for around $6,500 or so. Add around $2,500 to $3,500 for additional hardware and you are in business. I recommend at least 8 cores if you want to send video out to all outputs. However, I used a Dual Core, single socket PC with a basic Blackmagic SDI capture card for the Leadership Summit sending 1.5 mbit of video up and recording 768k of video locally and it worked great.

All said…Kulabyte seems to have done well with their Xstream product. It will be interesting to see what they do next. At this point, I am planning on using this technology to broadcast Germany’s leadership Summit to their remote site in Switzerland this January. The difference here…at this event internet broadcasting will be the primary broadcast method saving WCA Germany thousands of Euros over satellite.

For more informaton on Kulabyte technology…Visit http://www.kulabyte.com.

I would also like to thank Ben Mankin of Mankin Media for introducing us to the Kulabyte Xstream system, and for renting us a system to support our Leadership Summit. http://www.mankinmedia.com

Motorola Mobile Devices Business Goes Google

A good friend of mine at Willow worked on this video shoot recently. I was very bummed that I was out that day, It would have been very cool to be at Motorola to ask some firsthand questions about Google Apps. Alright…Here’s the deal. I actually think Google’s Cloud Computing approach to messaging and collaboration is a very good idea. I have been following the progress of Google Apps for years. I even have my own account and domain on the platform… Why do I have such a hard time trusting them? Still, I am finding it hard not to consider this platform as an alternative to Exchange. Motorola is expecting to save a considerable amount of money moving to this platform. Check out the video my friend worked on…I would love to hear others thoughts on this.

All I ask is that you spare me the hype and the web 2.0 buzzwords…been there…done that…I would love to hear some sober analysis…pros and cons of this platform…Thanks in advance for your feedback…

Moved to WordPress

Alright so I’m a little slow…

Over the past several years I have used a few different blogging platforms. I am not a huge blogger. However, when I do get thoughts or ideas, and I want to write them down, I do like to have something that is flexible. A platform that allows me to be creative. After using Blogger and even Microsoft, I became a Typepad user for a number of years. Typepad was very easy to set up and it allowed me to easily add videos and images. My first exposure to WordPress was not very positive. It was not very flexible and it was cumbersome to add images.

wpresssmallSome colleagues of mine were singing the praises of WordPress to me recently. So I thought I would give it another try. I knew that there we many organizations offering hosted WordPress solutions. However, since I already had an account with 1and1.com I thought I would download a copy and try my luck installing my own hosted version.

The results were great. WordPress is very easy to install. 1and1.com even had a simple step by step FAQ for installing it on one of their servers. There are countless themes, widgets and plugins out there for free so it was very easy for me to be creative with the platform. I also really like that WordPress has a built in code editor so I can edit PHP and CSS files on the actual site templates right in the admin screen.

After I installed the platform a security update came out forcing me to upgrade after only a week of up time. Even the architecture and the way the system handles upgrades is very well thought through. I was able to upgrade with almost zero downtime.

All in all, I was always happy with Typepad. They have a very nice, supported platform. I also liked Blogger. It was very easy to use. I even liked my little Microsoft Sharepoint blog…lots of flexibility. WordPress seems to have all of this in a nicely matured open source platform that continues to grow in popularity and support.

I am not sure if I recommend that everyone downloads and installs their own copy of this platform. For me, a $10/month 1and1.com hosting subscription did the trick. For some, it might be easier to check out http://www.wordpress.org or http://www.wordpress.com and take a look at their hosted solutions. Either way, WordPress is the platform I recommend for blogging and more.

Calling for Someone to Write Open DAM

For some time now I have had a growing passion for Digital Asset Management…or DAM for short. Now before I continue on with this post, I feel the need to promise you that I will spare you any junior high level jokes about the D.A.M. acronym like DAM systems are coming to the church…or…I finally get to say DAM in church and feel good about it. During the start of our DAM project at Willow I have said them and heard them all.

As boring as the topic sounds, the fact is, the subject of Digital Asset Management is a pretty big deal for organizations these days. In the days of what I would call, "analogue" media asset creation, few organizations could afford to create high quality media content. Now the same professional quality assets that used to require high priced equipment, rare specialized skill and expensive distribution channels can be created at a fraction of the price…thank You Apple and thank you Mr. Gore :).

Lower cost pro level tools for creating digital media assets along with exponential growth in internet and social media distribution platforms has lead to more people gaining pro level skills which has lead to greater accessibility for organizations to create and distribute these assets through various digital content channels.

Organizations seem to be taking advantage of this greater access to media asset creation. Video, audio, still images and documents are being created and distributed at record pace. High quality digital media asset creation is no-longer reserved for large media organizations. What used to be reserved for a high-end media companies can be produced by an indivdual and distributed on Vimeo or YouTube at a fraction of the cost and cost.

However, please note, the term fraction is a relative term. Lower cost has increased access to media asset creation and distribution. However, doing media access creation well still requires quite an investment, in time, talent and money. For example, it might have taken several million dollars for an organization to produce 5 promotional videos a few years ago. The same several million dollars might produce 100 promotional videos today and have a greater impact.

In my wanders with digital asset consultants and providers over the past few years it has been interesting for me to hear stories of how organizations are making investments in media asset creation. My question about all of this activity is this…What are organizations doing to manage their growing investments in the digital media assets they create?

This question started to haunt me at Willow Creek several years ago now. I observed that we were investing a tremendous amount of resources in packaging highly valuable and relevant Biblical truths into audio and visual media assets. While we were placing a tremendous value on these assets we were doing very little to protect, manage and ultimately position them so they could be strategically leveraged and maximized. Furthermore, I thought it was interesting how we along with many other organizations would invest significant resources in tools to manage finances and other assets that were valuable to our organization, but we were investing very little to manage and maximize our digital assets even though they were some of the most valuable and strategic assets we possessed.

It was at that time I started to look for a solution to help us in this area. For a long time I had a difficulty getting buy-in from leadership on the subject. But I knew that if we didn't get moving on a plan for DAM we would eventual be overwhelmed by a demand for content and be poorly prepared to deliver. Eventually, our leadership responded by investing in a Digital Asset Management Platform and a full-time staff member to help us manage and pull a process together.

Looking back over the past 9 months we now have over 14764 assets in our DAM. Before we had this system most of these assets were scattered through out our organization on various tapes, firewire drives and servers. We have a long way to go, however, I am excited to see that we are still committed to this DAM concept. The system and process for Digital Asset Management is securely in the hands of Greg Sanderson, our Digital Asset Manager. Greg has a great vision for the potential of DAM and I credit him for the success of our DAM initiative.

Now as I reflect on all of this…I thought it might be fun to share one of the presentations I prepared in early 2007 as a way to cast a vision for DAM to Willow Leadership and summarize requirements for vendors (See Below). If you can get through my cheesy opening, and 2 year old stats, my heart is simply to share this info in hopes that someone will take it and run with it as I strongly believe that the core of this vision is just as relevant today as it was in 2006-2007.

Digital asset management is expensive and proprietary. I believe that it would absolutely rock the industry to see someone rise up to create an Open Source Digital Asset Management Platform on the scale as what Digium accomplished in the telecom world with Asterisk.

The demand for this couldn't be greater and the time is absolutely right for this idea…We need talent and energy.

ANY ONE UP TO IT?

Click Here to View DAM Concepts Presentation.


Moved to TypePad

I would like to send an apology out to those of you who added comments to my blog. I so much appreciate your input and encouragement. I recently moved to TypePad. My previous service provider, who did serve me well, just didn’t offer some of the functions I needed. Unfortunately, I was not able to retain the comments.

I like the way that TypePad allows me a post recent comments upfront. That way if someone posts a response on an older blog entry it is sure to get noticed. With that in mind, please feel free to repost your comments and I will get them on the site ASAP.

Who says YouTube is just for the young?

With regard to technology, One of the biggest concerns that comes my way has to do with figuring out how to keep from alienating groups of people as we strive to leverage technology to facilitate ministry.

A 23 year grandson had a creative way to capture the legacy and wisdom of his grandma. The following link takes you to an interesting video with key examples of this growing trend.

It was encouraging for me to see how family members connected accross generations using technology.

http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=3459908