Details of my Windows/LAMP Environment

I posted something recently talking about how I am using my laptop as a test bed for various Web 2.0 ideas ( Experimenting with Web 2.0 on my laptop ). Several people have asked for more details on that environment.

Here is what I am running today:

Hardware: IBM T41 with 1GB of memory and a 30 GB harddrive


  • Windows XP Pro (SP1 plus selected elements of SP2 as determined by our IS
  • Apache 2.0.53
  • MySQL 4.0.24
  • PHP 4.3.11
  • Active Perl
  • Python 2.3.5
    • mod_python 3.1.3
    • pywin32-204

I also have a variety of other libraries and utilities installed as part of larger applications I am using or experimenting with. Installing these in a Windows environment such as that above is generally pretty straightforward and well-described in the installation documentation I have used so far.

I configure my various Web 2.0 applications to use localhost as their host. Apache is configured to listen only to requests that are local. Recently I have begun to set up virtual hosts using Apache and entries in my hosts file (in windows\system32\drivers\etc) to map the virtual hosts to localhost.

I have had to learn a bit about how to configure Apache and tweak the configurations of the packages above. Most of that has involved backups that you trust and a willingness to read through installation documents and notes that

Designing for Experience – Rettig and Goel

Marc has always done superb work and this is no exception. Full of
ideas you can adapt to all kinds of design problems. It is also an
excellent example of what you can do with presentation materials if you
are willing and able to take the time (and are as talented as Marc).

This presentation
made by Marc Rettig and Aradhana Goel is one of the finest examples of
using down-to-earth methods and practices to create engaging user
experiences. [PDF file: 7.5MB]]

How low can you go?

Some interesting point-counterpoint on the relative merits of
organizational scale, but I can’t help but smile at the notion the 80+
employees constitutes “big.” To me the more interesting question here
is how low we’ve been able to drive the scale of micro-businesses such
as 37Signals who are able to have impact and presence far beyond their
size because they are able to operate within the largely open ecosystem
that is the internet.

Clearly annoyed by all the attention on small teams, Mena Trott goes on the record to defend big
(relatively speaking). I especially enjoyed her comments because she

How to Create a Better Checklist

While on the subject of lists, this is a nice introduction into what
makes for a good checklist coupled with good arguments about why you
would want to make more frequent use of them to begin with.

How to Create a Better Checklist.
Checklists are great to develop consistency and realiability in
accomplishing routine as well as emergency procedures. But, you ask,
how do I make one? Here it is! [Open Loops]

Merlin Mann on crafting good to-do lists

Merlin Mann offer two excellent posts on the unexpected subtleties of crafting a good to-do list (Part 1, Part 2).
While for many people (like my wife), this is a completely natural
process, I frequently struggle with it. Mann is full of good advice and
understands how our bad habits interfere. This will certainly help me
in crafting to-dos that are much more concrete and actionable.

Building a Smarter To-Do List, Part I.
Planning your work means more than just collecting the detritus of an
occasional “brain dump.” Learn to create an actionable, unintimidating
task list that helps you maintain focus on the outcomes that are
important to you. Part 1 of a 2-part series (new post Tuesday morning).
[43 Folders]

John Seely Brown and New Learning Environments for 21st Century.

Good insights, as always, from John Seely Brown about learning.

New Learning Environments for 21st Century(.pdf)
– I really enjoyed reviewing this presentation. John Seely Brown's view
of learning in today's society is very similar to what I've been
advocating about connectivism.
In particular, he presents the urgent need to rethink how we provide
learning in an effort to compete at a global level. Stephen Downes also
links to an audio file of the presentation.

Experimenting with Web 2.0 on my laptop

Who knew I was so avant garde? As I understand Kottke's proposal, the
next step on the way to the WebOS is to run a web server on your
desktop so that you can get access to data on your local machine by way
of your browser and effectively erase the distinction between data out
on the web and data locally.

Back in 2001about when I started this blog, Scoble helped
me become a beta user of what shortly morphed into “Radio”. One thing
that attracted me to the product was that was precisely its
architecture. Browser access to an app that was a web server and data
store running locally. I'm writing this post in that environment right
now as I ride the train home from work. Since I've been living and
working off laptops and in various modes of mass transit since the
early 1990s this is an essential requirement. Think clients work. So
did Lotus Notes. But the architecture Dave Winer
dreamed up did too, although it's not always intuitively obvious,
especially to non-technical users. Watching the problems that many
users encountered (and still encounter) with Radio should be
instructive to anyone who wants to follow this path. At least in
today's environment, it pays to understand where your data is and how
it flows from place to place. Maybe someday it won't, but we aren't
there yet.

Since then, I've pursued a strategy of using open source tools to
replicate Winer's architecture for much of my routine knowledge work
efforts. I've put together a LAMP environment on my laptop running
Apache, MySQL, PHP, and Python. I can, and do, run a variety of open
source applications on top of this environment. I run WordPress,
several wikis, dotProject, trac, textpattern,
and others all locally.
Some of these are tools and products I am evaluating. More importantly
they host the primary tools I use for much of my knowledge work and
form the nucleus of my effort to explore and understand personal knowledge management.

For now, this is a mix of learning experiment and developing new
habits. One thing that it gives me is a degree of platform independence
coupled with an ability to work both connected and disconnected. For
now, the technology is a bit of a lash-up, but it allows me to explore
the behavioral issues. And those are what will ultimately drive
adoption of the technologies as they mature.

Jason Kottke has a lengthy and detailed proposal
for the platform builders to realize that the Web is the ultimate
platform, and to get on with building for that, rather than just for
their own private silos. When that's done, he says we'll have Web 3.0

Rich collection of idea generation methods

While I wouldn't be so bold as to label it a “definitive collection,”
it is nonetheless very rich. The techniques I am familiar with are very
effective and effectively described, which gives me confidence that
those new to me are worth investigating as well.

The definitive collection of idea generation methods. Martin Leith gifts us with a page full of idea generation methods, a treasure trove for facilitators and team leaders. The definitive collection of idea generation methods

“This website lists and
explains every idea generation method I've encountered during the past
15 years. It is the result of extensive research; my many sources
include books, management journals, websites, academics, consultants
and colleagues.

The methods have been drawn not just from the worlds of creative
problem solving and innovation, but also from other worlds such as
organisational change, strategic planning, psychotherapy, the new
sciences and the creative arts.

The methods are listed below. Each is linked to a description, and
in some cases you will find full instructions for using the method to
generate ideas.”

Thanks, Martin!

[via eLearningpost]


By (Nancy White). [Full Circle Online Interaction Blog]

Places to Intervene in a System

A nice reminder from Jack Vinson about an excellent resource on ways to
poke on complex systems that are more likely to be effective than our
typical efforts. I’ve pointed to this before in several incarnations (here and here).
We’ve certainly seen more than our share recently of ineffective ways
to intervene. Perhaps we can hope that some of these lessons will find
their way into broader practice.

A 1997 article by Donella Meadows has been reprinted in a software developer magazine, Places to Intervene in a System. (Here’s a fuller version from 1998.)

Folks who do systems analysis have a great belief in “leverage
points.” These are places within a complex system (a corporation, an
economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in
one thing can produce big changes in everything.

The systems community has a lot of lore about leverage points. Those
of us who were trained by the great Jay Forrester at MIT have absorbed
one of his favorite stories. “People know intuitively where leverage
points are. Time after time I’ve done an analysis of a company, and
I’ve figured out a leverage point. Then I’ve gone to the company and
discovered that everyone is pushing it in the wrong direction!”

[via Johanna Rothman]

jackvinson ( [Knowledge Jolt with Jack]

WordPress Theme Toolkit

WordPress Theme Toolkit.
Here’s a nice little toolkit. If you’re not the best PHP programmer in
the world, then this might be for you. It simplifies some things that
might be hard for a PHP novice. From the author’s mouth: Adding an
admin menu in your theme ensures that end users can customise things
without editing source […] [Blogging Pro]