A Closer look at B2evolution Features

I wrote a review of B2evolution CMS, but I didn’t get into too much detail.  I’ve taken a closer look and here are some thoughts.

Blogs: you can have multiple blogs on one install. You can control who can see each blog.  This is handy if you want to keep a journal or diary something only logged in members can see.

Manual:  This is really neat.

  1. You can create a manual.
  2. You could use this for a diary or journal.
  3. You could outline a book with this.
  4. You could write a web book with chapters and/or sub chapters.
  5. Moreover the manual has wiki features.

Main features:

  • Similar to a Wiki but with added hierarchical structure
  • Unlimited nesting of Chapters & Sub-chapters
  • Easy linking between pages via WikiLink syntax – links stay valid even if you restructure the table of contents differently or if you rename the pages
  • Collaborative editing, including versioning of edits, history, diffs and rollback.
  • Multiple markup options making editing easier and more consistent than HTML editing
  • No frames, so each page has an URL and it’s easy to share links to individual pages
  • Allows user comments
  • Allows user rating of manual pages
  • and of course all the other b2evolution standard features (Analytics, Antispam, etc.)

B2 Demo Manual.

All said, that Manual feature is a very powerful thing to have at your beck and call.

Forums:  A full featured forum. See Forum Demo.

Tracker: For Issues or tasks.  See Tracker Demo.

There’s more!

You can manage your own email mailing list and newsletter.  Plus you have polls.

As far as I can tell these things are not half done.  They are tested and robust.  That’s a lot of stuff to have available with one install and for free.  The more I look at B2evolution the more impressed I get.

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Hardy Boys Book Collection Is In

The Hardy Boys 1 -58 collection I bought on eBay has arrived.

These are from the 1960’s to the early 1970’s which are the editions that were for sale when I was a boy.  Much to my chagrin these are now “vintage” editions.

These are not the original text versions.  Around about the late 1950’s the Hardy Boys books from the 1020 and 1930’s were edited to change some out dated language and technology references.  If I wait a few years I can start reading the original versions as they become public domain.  I’m keen to do that.

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Read: Deadly Secrets, Mapleton Mystery #1: By Terry Odell.

This was a good page turner with suspense, danger and mysteries piling up right from the start.  Kobo lists it as a police procedural which is probably the best fit, although it would be small town police.

Characters, setting and writing are all good and compelling.  Just enough romance so you know characters are not dead, but it never crosses that line to where is is really a romance novel with a mystery thrown in as an afterthought.  Good.

I liked this enough that I will definitely be buying more books in the series.

📚

 

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My Blog Migration Shortlist as of 20 January 2019

Sometime in 2019 I will move this blog to a different platform.  Here is my current shortlist.

  1. Micro.blog – if I migrate to MB I will probably consolidate this blog and Rantinggit.com, my current hosted MB blog into one.  At MB I’ll be trading lots of WP features for simplicity and focus on posting.  This is the most likely solution but I’m waiting for certain key elements to be implemented first.  I think I can replicate some WP sidebar widgets with pages on MB.
  2. B2evolution – the only thing keeping holding me back from moving to B2 is it lacks Indieweb capabilities.  I would have to rely on 3rd party services and old fashion trackbacks.  B2 is looking at adding webmention support but no time frame as to when that would be implemented.  I would be moving and then making do until B2 implements webmentions and stuff.  Other than that, B2 is ready to roll.
  3. Known – it’s impressive.  The big hurdle is there is no working way to migrate my posts from WordPress.  That makes it a non-starter.  There is the off chance that somebody will roll out a migration tool for non-coders but nothing is in sight for now.  My other worry is support and updates.  Still I’m keeping Known on the short list in case these things get fixed.

The whole CMS/blog script scene is frustrating, every single script has something I consider vital missing there are no 100% or even 95% choices.

The thing is, this is my main blog so whatever I move it to has to be solid, dependable, durable, and capable.

I also have to find a new blog for Indieseek.xyz, but the criteria are different there.  Micro.blog won’t work there.  It’s looking like B2 will be the choice there.

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Read: Involuntary Turnover Kat Voyzey Mysteries, #1 by Cheri Baker

Straight up, I enjoyed this mystery novel.  I’m glad I chose it as the first book I read on my snarfie new Kobo ereader.

The characters and setting are extremely well drawn. The writing is clean, crisp and clear.  Plot is pretty good and believable.  Everything about this novel is competent and it all comes together into an enjoyable read.

The first half of the book establishes setting, characters and the mystery.  That might seem long but all in all I think that is fair, this is the first book in a series so these elements need to be setup properly right from the start.

I don’t know exactly how to categorize this as a mystery these days: contemporary traditional mystery?  I won’t call it an American cozy, because that has become a realm of insipid cats, recipes, cloying cuteness and romance drama.  No, this is better than that: just the right dash of cat, a bit of awareness in the opposite gender, take out food, lots of coffee and not a single doily anywhere.   Solid Like.

You get a double bonus with Involuntary Turnover: it’s free, not just on Kobo but also on Barnes and Noble and Amazon as well.

Recommended.

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Is Internet Retail and Amazon Really That Different?

I keep hearing people flip out about Internet retail in general and Amazon specifically, killing Big Box and department store retail, like nobody had ever heard of it before.  But if you look at it historically, in pre automobile days, the whole idea of retail-coming-to-you is nothing new.  If you look at a reprint of the Sears catalog from the late 1800’s you could buy anything from cement mixers that made cement blocks, watches, furniture, pens to whole house kits delivered to your door.  The only difference was you ordered through the mail.  Most of America was still rural and travel was not easy.  Ordering “city quality” goods by mail order made sense.

He observed that rural customers often wanted “city” goods, but their only access to them was through rural retailers who had little competition and did not offer any guarantee of quality. Ward also believed that by eliminating intermediaries, he could cut costs and make a wide variety of goods available to rural customers, who could purchase goods by mail and pick them up at the nearest train station.

Wikipedia Montgomery Ward

See also: Wikipedia Sears.

Note in that Sears article, that Sears didn’t seriously start opening department stores until the 1920’s when the automobiles were really taking off and because of automobiles roads were starting to be paved for the first time.

In addition, in pre automobile and early automobile days, delivery of goods by local merchants was a common thing: Ice blocks for the Ice chest, groceries, dairy and produce, specialty retail like Fuller Brush salesmen.  Even services like knife sharpening came to you.  Remember, keeping house was hard physical labor, cooking alone was all from scratch with no convenience items or cooking shortcuts that we have today, so a housewife found it hard to get away and shop.  Moreover, shopping in cities meant walking to the nearest streetcar line in cities or making do at the small corner store, in the country, it meant hitching up a team of horses and journeying into town once a week.

Family story: My 4 times great-grandfather was blinded in an accident.    At some point he started making mustard and it caught on. Soon he was delivering pots of mustard to his many town and rural customers from a wagon drawn by ponies.  The story goes, the ponies knew the route and would stop at each customer’s home.

The point here is that at one time it was common for the merchant to come to you either in person, through a salesman or by catalog and postal mail.  Particularly with the catalog houses (which depended on rail service) all of this is just a short leap away from what Amazon is doing.  The technology has changed.

I’m not going to get into how bricks and mortar retail has changed other than: the suburban malls damaged High Street retail, later Big Box stores damaged suburban malls, department stores and what was left of High Street retail.  Now Internet retail has brought catalog retail shopping from the home and from your smartphone, back and it’s killing the Big Boxes.

There is more to it than that, I’m simplifying things.  But here we are, we have come…

Full circle.

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Kobo Clara HD eBook Reader 2019 a Review

I got my Kobo Clara HD ebook reader a couple of days ago.   I’m nearing the end of reading my first novel on it and here are my observations.

The reader shipped from Canada via UPS, signature required.  I’m not a big fan of signature required, but I understand it in this instance because I had no prior customer history with Kobo and suddenly I order a $130 reader.  I did like the Paypal option on checkout.

You can order these from Walmart if you prefer, and Walmart has 2 day shipping.

Hardware

The Clara HD came with a USB charging cord but no transformer wall plug adapter.  This seems to be common practice now.  The reader is ultra thin, small and light weight.  It’s smaller than a mass market paperback roughly the size of a prayer book.  Small enough so it fits nicely in my large hands.  The whole thing seemed well built.  Setup was a breeze: just turn it on, connect to your Wifi network, sign in to your Kobo account.  Done.

The screen is much higher resolution than my old Kindle Touch yet the have the same size screens.  The typography is very sharp and clear.

The Clara comes with ComfortLight Pro which is a front lighting system that adjusts automatically to the light conditions around you.  You can set your usual bedtime and the blue light filter kicks in an hour or so before bedtime automatically.  This turns the front lighting sort of an amber color as it filters out the blue light.  Blue light spectrum is what can keep you awake in bed.  I’ve used this the last two nights and had no trouble reading even in a dark room.  I found the front lighting to be very uniform across the screen.  I like this ComfortLight Pro.

Using the default font and type size I am very comfortable reading this at the same distance I would hold a paperback.  The white on the e-Ink display is pretty white so reading is comfortable.

The case from Kobo looks very nice but I thought it a little expensive.  I ordered a Finite case for the Clara on Amazon for a lot less and I like it.  The case has a magnet in the cover which awakens the reader when opened.

One nice touch: when the Kobo is sleeping the screen shows the book cover artwork of the book you are reading.

There are no advertisements on the Kobo readers.

Software

The software is straight forward and easy to use.  Kobo starts you out with a quick tutorial.  You can either swipe or tap to turn a page.  Tap in the center brings up your menus.  Everything worked smoothly.

You don’t have to buy a reader if you don’t want to.  Kobo has free apps for smartphones running Android, iOS or Blackberry 10, plus apps for Anroid and iOS tablets and free reader software for Windows 10 and macOS.  Plus the Kobo ebook store has a bunch of free ebooks so you can try Kobo for free and read free ebooks.  I tried the app for Android phone and it works just fine.

Conclusion

I like the Clara HD.  I really like the front lighting.  I have no complaints.  The Clara is the perfect size for somebody that always carries a book with them.  The advantage of an e-ink reader is long battery life and you can read well outdoors in direct sunlight.  It’s easier on the eyes than a LCD screen and lighter than any tablet.

I would buy this again.

Review of the Kobo store coming.

 

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Read: Death of a Maid by M. C. Beaton, A Hamish Macbeth Mystery Book 22.

I never really tire of the Hamish Macbeth mysteries.  I’ll read 2 or 3 and then try something different, but I keep coming back.  This series is reliable.  You really don’t need to read the series in any order as each book stands alone fairly well but it’s probably wise to read the first 5 or so books first to get the character and setting development down.

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