Friday, April 20, 2007

Sun Solaris

We're currently upgrading one of our customers from SAP 4.6c to ECC6. This will require a complete set of new hardware and so, apparently, the old ones are redundant. Clearly, 4 year old servers are no good for NetWeaver but anything that currently supports hundreds of users on SAP R/3 should be Ok for a few dozen Liferay users. The kit runs Sun Solaris - i'm going to put in a request for the boxes and we'll see if there's any chance of getting some free hosting too. Unlikely but if you don't ask, you don't get, eh?

Histio Net

Things are getting more interesting with the Histio Net project: I now have some volunteers to help with the translation of stuff and consequently the portal now has a number of communities including parent/patient communities for English, French, Italian and Spanish languages. Once you get the basic idea of how Liferay handles communities it's quite simple although trying to keep things consistent in multiple languages whilst setting them up is a bit like 3d chess. All the parent/patient communities are "Open" i.e. anyone who's a member can join them to see document libraries, message boards, Wikis and directories associated with each community. My next trick is to create another community for the DG Sanco team that I control to keep some things out of the public domain.

I did find one interesting new thing about the Message boards, you can subscribe to them and receive email updates when a new item is added - the emails are sent from Joe Bloggs though, so I now have find out how to change that...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Well, I finally got around to putting something reasonably useful on my lovely domain, When I say useful, I mean its better than the Italian stuff that came as default with the new registrar and that it has some AdSense (NB I've now earned over $2.47 from this Blogger site even though I've done nothing for a couple of months) and more interestingly perhaps, Google Analytics. I'm very interested to know who hits the site - and where they all come from...

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Liferay Email Portlet

It was a long shot and it didn't quite work.

I should know better but I was sort of hoping that getting the email hosting on the VPS to work would miraculously make the email portlet work too. It didn't. Having read some stuff on how to do it:

a) I can see why Liferay didn't have time in the day they spent installing 4.2
b) I can see that I'm not yet the kind of person I want trying to make it work

...because we need the portal user base to syncronise with the email user base which appears to require integration at the database level, etc. etc. etc. and getting a novice like me to do it is likely to prove dangerous and expensive.

Oh well. Must check the budget...

The EU and the DG SANCO

Well I now have the honour of being the parent/patient co-ordinator for a proposal to win new money for "Histio Net" from the EU for rare disease projects under the DG SANCO initiative. This is being lead by some cancer specialists in France who are looking to create a portal to facilitate international collaboration amongst Doctors, scientists and patient/parents and have asked me to help with the conceptualisation of the project. This is quite encouraging because, co-incidentally, "Mediblog" would deliver almost everything they want (such a shame it doesn't exist yet.)

I have only been asked to help with just the patient/parent aspects of the portal and I think the the existing hrtrust site will already do most of it. I'm not sure if all the languages are supported though - which might make it tricky. The HRTrust site will certainly be Ok for a pilot study though.

If you (are sad enough to) read the stuff on the DG SANCO site you will see that the potential market for Liferay (and any other portals of course) in this area could be very large. I did look into the idea of using the SAP Portal (which I know much more about) but the cost would be prohibitive and the benefits of the SAP Portal are only really realised when you use it to integrate with the other SAP applications. Pity, I really like the NetWeaver technology...

I now have loads of crap from the EU to read through, as if I didn't have enough to do.

DNS changes at last

I finally got around to switching the DNS servers for with my registrar last night. Hurrah!

This was a pain because I forgot that I needed the site to open up at the Liferay portal (D'oh!) and also didn't appreciate that the mail (MX) settings would switch too. Hence I surprised myself three times:

1. It all worked, almost instantly, as proved by
2. ..but it directed to the Apache standard pages
3. ..and all my email accounts stopped working

So, as is my usual practice now, I read as much as I could find in the "How-to s" on the Rimu site, tried a couple of things then logged a support ticket with them and waiting for them to fix it. As usual, I get a response very quickly, the work had been done (some minor config as described at and now resolves to the portal without the ports appearing in the URL.

With the emails, I managed to fix that myself by re-re-re-reading stuff about Postfix and Dovecot on the Rimu site. I had in fact set everything up correctly the first time but missed one essential re-start command and caused myself an hour or two's heartache. Anyway, the portal and the pop email works fine now although the mail client packages (Outlook/Express/Thunderbird) all needed some minor adjustments to cope with the new host.

I'm sure I will have missed something else but we'll see what happens over the next few days.

Back to Life(ray) - 01

I really can't believe its been so long since I put something here!!! Anyway the charity is still getting over the loss of Jon Pritchard, we are still getting over the loss of our cats, and I am still puzzling about how & when to bring MediBlog to life. And I got loads more management responsibilities at work; all of which makes it tough to get the time & motivation to do anything.

I may be repeating myself here but just in case I haven't already mentioned it: getting the installation/upgrade of liferay 4.2 was painful. In the end I had to admit defeat and get the experts in and paid Liferay for one day's consultancy to install it. There is an important lesson here for anyone who just wants a portal but doesn't know how to do it! Essentially, the excellent people at Rimu Hosting do offer a great Liferay hosting service (no really, its great) but they are not Liferay consultants. Hence when the basic installation doesn't work you really can't expect them to fix everything so:

Open Source Portals:

1. If you want the best open source portal, choose Liferay
2. ...but its Java so its not easy or cheap to host it (compared to PHP platforms)
3. If you can't host it yourself use Rimuhosting, as advertised on the Liferay site
4. Buy as much resource as you can afford on the Rimu VPS
5. If you're not a java/opensource guru, forget trying to install it yourself; expect to pay a Liferay consultant at least ONE DAY to do it for you

Then you will have the basic installation of Liferay and have established some kind of relationship with the nice people who work there.