JOSSA 2012

Well only a few months late again, at least I made it this year. Who knew a new puppy could be so much work.

So a little late but here are the 10 projects that received my JOSSA (Jamas Open Source Software Award) for 2012.

KeePass – Dominik Reichl – With the sheer number of logins I need on a daily basis it is easy to get lazy by using the same password on most sites. This of course is a really bad idea. To help keep track of all those passwords I went hunting for a password manager. KeePass is a free open source project that packs a lot of features. It also has an iOS app so combined with Dropbox you can keep your password list with you while on the go.

DisplayFusionBinary Fortress Software – I love my dual monitor setup! I was a little shocked at the lack of support in Windows for this setup. DisplayFusion comes in free and paid versions, the free version is great. It allows for many options for dual displays, even working with Rainmeter setups.

Firebug Fire Bug Working Group – When doing any sort of web development having a browser debugger is a must. Firebug is a Firefox Add-on that provides every tool you will need to debug webpages.

Duplicator – Cory Lamle – Creating a copy of a WordPress site for testing requires a significant amount of effort. It also requires some mucking in the WordPress database to change URLs so the test site functions properly. With Duplicator this is amazingly easy. Everything is automated by the plugin, what used to take hours is now only a few minutes. You can add a test site, move a site to a new host and even use it to create a full site backup.

WP Super CacheDonncha O Caoimh – I have never really paid much attention to how quickly web pages load until we started running our own VPS. In my quest to reduce load on the server and speed up page load times I found WP Super Cache. This plugin will create static html pages that will be shown to visitors instead of creating the pages dynamically. While there are a lot of config options to go through the end result is worth the effort. For this site load times went from 9 seconds down to 1 second.

AkismetAutomattic – I hate spam! It is bad enough to have in your inbox, but it now shows up on website comments. Akismet provides spam filtering for your WordPress comments.

BackUpWordPressHuman Made – Having backups on your desktop is important. The same thing goes for your website. This plugin for WordPress makes keeping backups of you site a snap. It supports scheduling and will send you emails with your DB attached. Very easy to use.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine – When visitors come to your site you want them to stick around. YARPP provides the ability to include a list of related content the user might like. A recent update added a thumbnail display option which makes links just begging to be clicked.

WPtouch BraveNewCode Inc. – With everything going mobile these days many websites need a mobile version. Doing a whole separate site can be too much work for most site owners. WPtouch is a plugin that creates a mobile version of your site with next to no effort. It has lots of options if you want to really control your mobile look.

WP to TwitterJoe Dolson – Promoting your site on social media is a great way to increase traffic. WP to Twitter makes the promoting of new links automatic. Very easy to setup and allows you the ability to customize tweets sent for each post.

Well that is it for this year.  I hope 2013 JOSSAs won’t be so late, I already have a pretty full list.  I encourage you to start your own JOSSA style award.  It isn’t a lot of money but it will hopefully make a developers day, which will make your year better.


JOSSA 2011

Well JOSSA 2010 was a few months late, but that is nothing compared to my JOSSA 2011, which is now an embarrassingly 11 months late. I had a pretty good start on my list of software to reward but life seems to have gotten in the way of handing out the money and thank yous. I have decided due to the lateness to skip JOSSA for this year. I have moved my list of great open source software over to my JOSSA 2012 list, which I will make an effort to announce in mid-December.

I have a fair number of people/organizations that I help with website work. This year my plan is to convince each of them to contribute towards the money part of the awards,sweeten the pot for the 2012 winners.

JOSSA 2010

Well, only a few months late.  I could list many excuses, including a last-minute ski trip to Whistler, but I won’t bore you with that (future post on that ski trip coming soon!).

So a little late but here are the 10 projects that received my JOSSA (Jamas Open Source Software Award) for 2010.

Firefox/ThunderbirdMozilla – I have been a long-time user of both Firefox and Thunderbird, both at home and the office. Looking forward to seeing what the next major revision will bring.

LightningMozilla – OK another one to Mozilla but this project deserved its own special mention.  It has allowed me at work to continue to fight our IT department in moving to Outlook.  It still has some issues but with the ability to talk to exchange servers and Google calendars it is easy to overlook these.  Looking forward to the future of this project.

Tab Mix Plus – onemen and Gary Reyes – On a typical day I have 15+ tabs open in FireFox.  Managing these can get a little bit frustrating.  Thankfully the Tab Mix Plus has some helpful options to keep me sane.  For example, you can choose where a new tab will open, my favourite is beside the current tab I am working on, saves me having to go to the last tab and pull it back to where I wanted it.

WP-Stats-DashboardDave Lighthart – Keep track of all your social media accounts tied to your website can be a lot of work.  Dave has created this great WordPress plugin to provide you with a list of quick stats for a very wide range of social media and other community sites (some I only found out about through the plugin).  It has been great to see the progress this plugin has made over the past year.

NextGEN GalleryAlex Rabe – Most plugins for WordPress are fairly small, which tweak or add a small piece of functionality.  Then there are the plugins in the category that NextGEN Gallery are in, which are massive.  This plugin turns WordPress into a CMS for photos.  Uploading in batches, organizing into galleries and albums, slide shows, thumbnails and watermarking.  I have yet to think of a feature it is missing.

Google Analyticator – Ronald Heft (SumoMe) – Google Analytics is a great tool for gathering information about visitors to your website. This plugin for WordPress makes adding the tracking code a snap.  Extra features include the ability to exclude logged in users, based on permission levels.  It also adds access to stats right in your admin dashboard.

Google XML SitemapsArne Brachhold – Don’t let the name fool you, this plugin does XML sitemap submission for a wide range of search engines, all with a few clicks.  Submitting sitemaps is an important part of SEO for any site.  The fact this tool does it with so little effort is a great time saver.

All in One SEO PackMichael Torbert – SEO takes work, there is no silver bullet that will just do it for you.  This plugin, however, makes it very easy to correct some SEO issues on any WordPress website.  It can be used to change the home page title, description and keywords.  It can also automatically rewrite page and post titles for you.  A great tool when getting people started on a new WordPress site.

Contact Form 7Takayuki Miyoshi – I tried many contact forms for WordPress until I found this one.  Clean simple interface, with no extra fluff features (like Ajax pop-ups) that would randomly break.  You want your contact form to make it easy for visitors to your website to reach you, look no further than this plugin.

Notepad++ – Don Ho and Team – I do most of my programming in a cygwin or linux environment.  But every so often I have to do things on a Windows machine, which Notepad++ has made less painful. Quick and feature-rich it makes a great C, C++, HTML and PHP editor.  I wish I could same the same thing for most other Windows programs.

Well, that is it for this year.  I hope 2011 JOSSAs won’t be so late, but last-minute ski trips can happen any time.  I encourage you to start your own JOSSA style award.  It isn’t a lot of money but it will hopefully make a developers day, which will make your year better.

HTML5 + Java = WOW!

A co-worker showed me this very cool site, 20 Things I Learned About Browsers and The Web. The content is good, worth checking out if you curios about the topic. The amazing part is the delivery method.  The book and everything you see on the page is done using HTML5, with some Java scripting. The outcome is pretty unbelievable. This was the sort of thing that used to require flash, which has a lot of detractors on the web (resources, Apple vs Adobe battle, lack of SEO).  I look forward to seeing what other great content will be created using this new standard, if this site is any indication the future of the web is looking good.