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Serendipity Screencasts

If you (plan to) use the Serendipity blog software and understand German, then there is a great new resource for you. Serendipity Help is a small but hopefully fast growing collection of screencasts put together by Reinhard Linnemann. Right now, you can find tutorials on the installation process, on the first time you log in, and on Spartacus, the mighty plugin management tool. Reinhard has done a great job in creating these tutorials. Even if don't know German, you might find the screencasts useful.

If you're interested in contributing screencasts, please do so and read this forum discussion for more information. I will also try to produce some screencasts with the help of the wonderful Istanbul. Or maybe I give xvidcap or Wink a try.

Prism, Air, or Web Apps on the Desktop

After playing around with Adobe's AIR during the last few weeks - and having installed a couple of neat applications running on AIR: Snitter, Tweetr, Analytics Reporting Suite - I today came upon an interesting project by the clever people at the Mozilla Labs. It had been known as Webrunner, but they call it Prism now. In short, Prism provides a complete XUL based GUI that uses Gecko for running pseuo-standalone web applications. Imagine a single Firefox window minus all controls and menus that display only one web site per window. Sounds like a step back into long forgotten times of tab-less browsers? It somehow feels like it - and then again, it doesn't.

Prism allows you to save shortcuts to web sites (, for example) to a shortcut on your desktop. You can then open a Google Mail browser window that in a way looks like a single application. It's not, of course, but the developers want to make it possible to create those application links from within Firefox. The more I think about Prism, the more I classify it as an alternative way to store your bookmarks, nothing more. Yet, it feels different and could eventually bring forth a handling similar to AIR applications. You probably figured out that I'm still undecided on how to judge Prism. I like what can be achieved by AIR, but what extra value does Prism give us?

In other news, version 0.7 of both Sunbird and Lightning was released yesterday, and my first impression is that it's quite stable. I installed the Provider for Google Calendar 0.3 and now am happily reading from and writing to GCal. As with Google Mail, I like their web interface, but a desktop app has its advantages. Not that I mention it: Everybody's talking about moving from desktop to the web. But AIR, Prism, and a couple of other architectures bring the web to the desktop. Now how does that fit in?

Today Is Blog Action Day

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action DayTo tell you what Blog Action Day is all about, I quote from the offical web site:

On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic.

So, it's about the environment, baby. As a user and promoter of Linux, especially Ubuntu, I'd like to share with you some thoughts about how environmentally friendly Linux is and/or could be. Let's start by pointing at the incredible amount of discarded electronics often containing dangerous toxic waste. No matter what brand of computers, our aim must be greener computers and entertainment electronics.

Power consumption increases with each new generation of desktop computers. Oftentimes, older hardware can still be used for fileserver or router work; a number of Linux distros are small, yet advanced enough to run on old machines. Thus, we need to produce less new hardware, which is also a power-consuming process. If you want to reduce power consumption of your high end Linux desktop system, you can try to install PowerTOP, a tool to measure power usage developed by Intel. Also check out all the tipps and tricks at, a site dedicated to saving power with Linux.

Having said this, it is kinda sad that the next Ubuntu release Gutsy Gibbon that is due on October 18 will consume more energy than any of the older releases, despite the fact that it comes with a tickless kernel.

Conclusion: There is still a long way to go, but at least hardware as well as software developers are increasingly aware of the problem; and many are working to resolve it.

Disable logging of IP addresses

At the moment, a movement gains momentum in Germany that promotes extended user privacy, amongst other things by disabling the logging of IP addresses. This is partly due to a recent judgement pronounced by the Amtsgericht in Berlin that denies the German Federal Ministry of Justice the right to protocol any individual-related data about the visitors of their web site. Add to that the proposal of Minister of the Interior, Wolfgang Schäuble, to introduce a massive data retention legislation, and you know why, two weeks ago, about 15.000 people came together in Berlin to protest against the plans of politicians who, themselves, can hardly use a computer, but try to spread fear amongst the German population. Fear of a terrorist attack, that is.

Many individuals, groups, and parties are fighting back. One of them is the initiative Wir speichern nicht (We do not store) that asks webmasters and providers to abandon IP logging and/or anonymize their log files. They posted some tutorials on how to anonymize apache mod_removeip, WordPress, or MediaWiki (all in German, more here). While there are no instructions for Serendipity, Jens Ferner kindly provides us with directions of how to disable the logging of IP addresses of your visitors: Simply add

to the top of your Although I'm not sure if this covers all possible locations in the code (think of plugins e.g.), this is a first step. I disabled logging your IP for this blog, but I don't have access to the apache log files. Maybe this can be added to Serendipity either directly into the core or by way of a plugin.

Additional info in German (if anyone knows of good English tutorials or sites, please post those in the comments):Wiki des AK Vorrat, Infoseite, Wiki der Piraten-Partei, Pressemitteilung