Future Web Platforms: From LAMP to where?

Tongfamily.com kind of missed a generation. I can’t believe it is 20 years since the first post on the site (1994!). And I still somehow have the 5,000 posts done over the years. There have been several major iterations of the site and while the text has survived not much else has:

1994. FrontPage Extensions

Wow, remember how cool it was to have a WYSIWYG editor that posted to a site. So the stack back then if you could call it then was:

  • Hoster. I actually forgot the name, but they let you put a few web pages up.
  • Server Side. Really there wasn’t anything, you generated HTML and it lived in files
  • Client Side. Just write generic HTML (back then!)
  • Content Management. Manual linking and that seemed to work pretty well

2004. MoveableType

Remember that era. I sure do, with Mina and Ben. This was a big move to a real database and having something that today would be called a content management system. I can almost remember Tqhosting.com really well. I used, but it was this really nice guy in North Carolina who was one of the first who did MovableType installations.

  • Hoster. TQHoster
  • Server Side. I seem to recall it was LAMP, but don’t remember
  • Client Side. HTML and Javascript, but no frameworks
  • Content Management: MovableType. The big change in many ways

2008. WordPress

This was the first time that we had a formal system and it was (at the time!) really quite modern, using WordPress for CMS, LAMP as the platform and pretty much becoming a php hacker trying to get things to work.

  • Hoster. Bluehost
  • Server Side. LAMP and I got good at editing PHP and CSS
  • Client Side. Nothing at first and now Bootstrap
  • Content Management. WordPress as it has evolved to a full CMS, PHP Gallery for photos and Docuwiki for structure content (I don’t use that much anymore).

2014. Where to now? Experiment!

Well of course, the lost generation for me was the Ruby on Rails era. Worked on plenty of companies that used it but never wrote Ruby myself or understood Rails. So the question now is, to stay with something trusted or embark on something that is at the cutting edge. We talk about that plenty in the various projects I work on. Right now, the site uses:

  • Hoster. Bluehost has been a faithful hoster for me for years. It is decently expensive at $10/month but provide unlimited storage (well a 1GB per file limit and they are not happy if you use a lot of the server). But they are relatively stable. Wonder if it is time to trade up to a true VPS somewhere else. Site5, Siteground or maybe upgrade to their VPS/Wordpress optimized plans get mentioned, but perhaps a dedicated Node.js hoster might make the most sense like nodejitsu, modulus, joyent or others. When I look back, I sure seem to have picked the hoster based on their friendliness to the middleware.
  • Server side stack. Ruby on Rails is neat, but some of the cool kids have jumped into node.js (and we’ve been using it quite a bit ourselves). It is nice to have Javascript on both client and server in many ways for a small site like this. This has basically replaced LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and Php/Perl) with a new stack sometimes called mean.io (Mongo, Express.js, Angula.js and Node.js) which you can install.
  • Client side. There has been so much evolution here, but Twitter’s Bootstrap and the Responsive layout idea (the client changes layout depending on device) is pretty cool.
  • Content Management System. Sometimes called the blogging tool. The node.js seems to be Ghost. I need to figure out how to handle 40K photos in a private gallery too!

So what does it all mean, well I’m going to build a parallel site to tongfamily, maybe call it http://tongfamily.com:8080 and see how it goes, so stay tuned!


iChat IM

We’ve been experimenting with this at our office. IM has not been a big thing before, but with a small new office, its a good way to learn. “iChat”:http://mactips.info/tips/2007/02/set-up-ichat is the builtin IM system in Mac OS X. It is a little confusing, because the default is to use mac.com addresses and connect into an AOL server. So the first thing you see is an AOL window and you wonder, what spyware brought this up. Also althought .mac addresses are free for this purpose few folks have them because they do such a heavy upsell of the $99 service and most folks (like me think that the .mac address is useless without the service).

Anyway, there are two other modes. One is with Jabber which is an open interface. Again this is confusing because when you add an account, they have something that says enter your gmail account and then you get a Jabber screen, so again doesn’t make too much sense and everyone needs to have a gmail account.

The best mode is Bonjour mode. This means that anyone in your LAN can IM you. You don’t need to sign on ahead of time. The big thing you need to do is to go into Setting and make sure that Security/Firewall is set to allow all incoming connections. Some folks turn it to allow only essential connections and then you can start Bonjour sessions, but no one can IM you.

Give it a try sometime though. Its the way all the 25 and under folks are doing it. It is way faster than email. Right now we are experimenting with Bonjour inside the firewall and gmail outside. Other nice thing is they have text-to-speech for when someone signs on and not, so you get presence. Not great if you have 100 people in your office, but great for the 5 person office.

IM on the Mac

Now that things are reasonably stable, time to get IM working again. It is super useful to have IM. Need to get all our Macs connected to it. With Bonjour, it is easy to do local IM, so just need the folks to start using iChat. Also iChat allows you to connect to “Google Talk”:http://www.google.com/support/talk/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=24076. The instructions are slightly out of the date, the latest iChat connects to Google directly.

The other client to use is Microsoft Messenger so you can talk with all the Chinese folks who use MSN as their instant messenger and then of course I have Skype up for international calls.

ISPs like Shaw block port 25 and break your email

Argh, why do internet providers act so smart! Sometimes I can’t seem to send email and right now I’m discovering that this is because certain ISPs will block the SMTP port 25 (send mail) and 465 (secure send mail), so mysteriously at some access points, you can send mail and at others you can’t. Some great hosters like “TQ Hosting”:http://tqhosting.com allow SMTP on port 25 and 26, so if you find that you can’t send, check with your hoster and see if they can’t open up an alternative port for you for folks like this.

So those of you using Shaw as an ISP in Canada, beware, they are likely blocking port 25 which is why you can’t send email via your hosting site or corporate site. AS “hardathosting.com”:http://help.hardhathosting.com/question.php/147 points out they are trying to prevet direct o MX spmming and open proxies and relays from “zombies” in their network. To get aroudn this you either have to have a nice hoster like that listed above, or you ahve to know the network you are on and thus the SMTP mail server you need to use. I’m sure another reason is that you have to have an email name to authenticate to an ISPs SMTP outbound mail server, so they feel like they have more control.

Also have heard that Comcast is blocking Bittorrent and some ISPs block skype. What an amazing pain. Like someone who sells gasoline telling you what kind of car to buy or someone who builds a highway what you can drive. Live free or die!

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Yahoo Finance

This is an awesome tool, particularly the section called key statistics. I’ve never been able to figure out what all the measures mean, but “Yahoo”:http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/finance/tools/research-12.html actually defines them:

Enterprise Value
Formula: Market Cap + Total Debt – Total Cash & Short Term Investments
EV is a measure of theoretical takeover price, and is useful in comparisons against income statement line items above the interest expense/income lines such as revenue and EBITDA.

PEG Ratio
Formula: P/E Ratio / 5-Yr Expected EPS Growth
Forward-looking measure rather than typical earnings growth measures, which look back in time (historical). Used to measure a stock’s valuation against its projected 5-yr growth rate.

Operating Cash Flow
Formula: Net Income + Depreciation and Amortization, Total + Other Amortization + Other Non-Cash Items, Total + Change in Working Capital
Net cash used or generated in operating activities during the stated period of time. It reflects net impact of all operating activity transactions on the cash flow of the entity. This GAAP figure is taken directly from the company’s Cash Flow Statement and might include significant non-recurring items.

Levered Free Cash Flow
Formula: (EBIT + Interest Expense) * (1 – Tax Rate) + Depreciation & Amort., Total + Other Amortization + Capital Expenditure + Sale (Purchase) of Intangible assets – Change in Net Working Capital + Pref. Dividends Paid + Total Debt Repaid + Total Debt Issued + Repurchase of Preferred + Issuance of Preferred Stock
Where: Tax Rate = 0.375
This figure is a normalized item that excludes non-recurring items and also takes into consideration cash inflows from financing activities such as debt or preferred stock issuances.

Forward P/E Ratio
Formula: Current Market Price / Projected Earnings Per Share
A valuation ratio calculated by dividing the current market price by projected 12-month Earnings Per Share.

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mpire widget

Hey Matt and Greg have done some cool Web 2.0 work, so you can see what folks are buying on eBay and Amazon. Here’s a sample of watching digital cameras being sold:

Here is the mover and shaker list on ebay: