|By Eron Cohen||
|March 11, 2002 12:00 AM EST||
One of the most common database-driven applications on the Internet is the discussion forum.
Internet forums are used for product support, organizational announcements, and corporate discussion areas, and as a place to talk about the theme of a given Web site. They're popular because they offer a convenient way to discuss interests and ideas while keeping a sense of history - something a typical e-mail list doesn't have. They also have the advantage of offering site administrators a high level of control over what's being talked about and how it's discussed.
If you've been considering adding a discussion forum to your Web site, you know there are many competitors. However, one of the best forums applications I've ever used is ColdFusion-based FuseTalk 3.0 from e-Zone Media. FuseTalk is excellent - it's inexpensive, feature-rich, easy to deploy, and a pleasure to maintain.
It took me about 20 minutes to install and configure FuseTalk. The installation comes as an executable .zip file. You get started by unzipping the software to an appropriate directory on your server and then setting up the preferences, such as the data source. I used ColdFusion 5 with SQL Server 2000 for the database back end. FuseTalk also supports MS Access, Oracle, and MySQL; however, if you use SQL Server, you'll have the option of using the full-text search feature.
After you run the ColdFusion-based DHTML installer, simply edit some ini files to finish the initial setup. After that you can use the administrator menus to get your forums going. You can also customize the look and feel of your forums by editing the header and footer files provided in the "\includes\Custom" directory. This is a great place to add your own logos or advertising.
FuseTalk is a secure application that generally requires users to have some kind of account. There are several ways to handle this. The easiest, of course, is the default account management that's built in, but documentation is provided that describes how to use your current site accounts or Windows NT authentication.
Once you have the product installed, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the administrative options.
The e-Zone Media people have really thought of everything. For instance, the moderation and censoring features are very advanced. Moderators can be set up on a per-category basis, and there are levels of moderators that have global privileges. Furthermore, all moderator actions are automatically logged. Administrators can choose which words they want to censor by adding them to a table using the admin screens. If all else fails, ill-behaved users can be banned by IP address, e-mail address, or username.
There are also a few bonus features that put this application over the top. For instance, the software supports clustering. You can even provide a clustering URL in the administrator so the forum cache can be cleared on the clustered server. There's also a chat server in which users can create their own chat rooms, which can be deleted automatically after a set period of inactivity. They even have a "buddy list" feature that lets you know when your friends are logged in to the forums.
Another terrific feature is the ability to post messages to the forums via e-mail. A reverse feature complements this one: users can choose to have all messages posted to the forum automatically e-mailed to them. There's even a survey engine (again, they've thought of everything). But if you feel the forums are missing something, don't worry: this version of FuseTalk takes plug-ins. For instance, e-Zone Media has one available for purchase that allows businesses to use forums for enhanced online support. Others are in the works.
The User Interface
As mentioned before, the user interface is sleek and well designed. Like the administrators, users will be pleased with the features. For instance, individual users can customize the environment colors and see only the categories of messages that interest them. Fun features like "author icons" let each author choose or upload an avatar to convey his or her personality, and insert "emotions" to convey a mood for a particular message posting. Users will also enjoy the ranking feature of FuseTalk - the more they post, the higher rank and credibility they obtain.
The only thing that I feel could be improved, on both the user and administrative sides, is the online help and documentation. It's not bad, but it could be better. To the credit of the FuseTalk developers, I would dub most of the application "self-explanatory"; I configured most of the application without ever needing the docs.
Pricing for FuseTalk is reasonable. If you need only one forum and don't mind encrypted source code, $249 gets you going with the Professional version. If you need to have more than one forum, you'll want to look into the Enterprise version; this allows you 25 forums on one server for $999. As you'd expect, it gets more expensive if you want the unencrypted source code. The Professional version is $369, and the Enterprise version is $1,999. The code is well written and neatly formatted, although somewhat underdocumented, so if you do decide to go with the unencrypted version, you'll be glad to know you won't have to dig through spaghetti code to make your modifications. Demo versions are available for download from the e-Zone Media Web site. You may have already seen this product from a user's perspective - Macromedia uses it to power the ColdFusion forums on their Web site.
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
May. 24, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,323
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The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
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In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
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May. 24, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,583
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
May. 24, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,113
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...
May. 24, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,182
The Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS) market will grow to $6.4B by 2018. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, will begin by walking the audience through the evolution of Workspace as-a-Service, where it is now vs. where it going. To look beyond the desktop we must understand exactly what WaaS is, who the users are, and where it is going in the future. IT departments, ISVs and service providers must look to workflow and automation capabilities to adapt to growing demand and the rapidly changing workspace model.
May. 24, 2015 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 3,054
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
May. 24, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,739
One of the biggest impacts of the Internet of Things is and will continue to be on data; specifically data volume, management and usage. Companies are scrambling to adapt to this new and unpredictable data reality with legacy infrastructure that cannot handle the speed and volume of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and president of Infobright, will discuss how companies need to rethink their data infrastructure to participate in the IoT, including: Data storage: Understanding the kinds of data: structured, unstructured, big/small? Analytics: What kinds and how responsiv...
May. 24, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,282
Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at home including open source hardware, the raw materials required and the options available to power s...
May. 24, 2015 03:30 AM EDT Reads: 3,817
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
May. 24, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,329
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.
May. 24, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,813
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
May. 24, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,620
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo – to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – is now accepting Hackathon proposals. Hackathon sponsorship benefits include general brand exposure and increasing engagement with the developer ecosystem. At Cloud Expo 2014 Silicon Valley, IBM held the Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held the DevOps Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of...
May. 24, 2015 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 4,186
We’re no longer looking to the future for the IoT wave. It’s no longer a distant dream but a reality that has arrived. It’s now time to make sure the industry is in alignment to meet the IoT growing pains – cooperate and collaborate as well as innovate. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine the key ingredients to IoT success and identify solutions to challenges the industry is facing. The deep industry expertise behind this presentation will provide attendees with a leading edge view of rapidly emerging IoT oppor...
May. 24, 2015 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 4,711
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
May. 24, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 6,035
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
May. 24, 2015 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 5,238
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
May. 24, 2015 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 6,038
For years, we’ve relied too heavily on individual network functions or simplistic cloud controllers. However, they are no longer enough for today’s modern cloud data center. Businesses need a comprehensive platform architecture in order to deliver a complete networking suite for IoT environment based on OpenStack. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dhiraj Sehgal from PLUMgrid will discuss what a holistic networking solution should really entail, and how to build a complete platform that is scalable, secure, agile and automated.
May. 24, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,099