Newsletter migration from Drupal to WordPress completed

For the past few days, I was working really hard to make sure that the “new face lift” of our newsletter is running fine. I dumped my Drupal CMS through the Fantastico package on my webhost and install a new WordPress engine to take responsibility on running the newsletter. Now, I have 2 WordPress running in the same server (this blog and the newsletter). Fantastico package can only help you on installing one WordPress copy (by default) but you can install another copy – by getting your hand a bit dirty on the installation.

After downloading the WordPress package, the installation runs fine with my second copy of WordPress in a new subdirectory /news, but I did found some glitches on the .htacess issue. I get it solved in about an hour -after referring the file with my existing .htacess copy in my /blog subdirectory. After a successful installation, the migration process of the data is easy. I just “View>Page Source” of my Drupal /newsletter page, copy the necessary text and paste it on my WordPress. It is easier and you don’t have to fiddle around with database migration. Last but not least, the link URL for the existing Newsletter (/newsletter) must be change, but changing without taking a proper precaution can end your page up at 404 corner. Luckily for me, the webhosting services have a redirect service. I redirect the old /newsletter link to /news page.

Currently, the new Newsletter works fine. You can check the new link here:

http://mount-kinabalu-borneo.com/news

In my opinion, there are a lot of advantages on using WordPress compared to Drupal. For me, they are:

  1. Easier to install and upgrade.
  2. Small php scripts file.
  3. Good support team.
  4. A lot of themes.
  5. A lot of plugins, especially Adsense plugins. Although Drupal have Adsense plugin themselves, the script administration is bloated, difficult to install and configure and I don’t think it worked with my previous newsletter.
  6. Nice back end. You can distinguish the back end and the front end of the CMS. Not like Drupal, it ‘looks’ the same. Make me confuse all the time.
  7. Easier to upload images to the post.
  8. The main thing is that I got complains from the visitors saying that they could not Register themselves through Drupal to leave comments. I have no difficulty with WordPress.
  9. WordPress just ROCKS!

Want your own WordPress website and blog? I get mine from Exabytes:

My baby girl – 5 months old

I have “thought block” today. Don’t know what and don’t have time to write a good post. Was very busy at the clinic and the WIFI router in my office broke down. So, I am posting this entry from home.

Just would like to share with you the latest photo of my angel…

Syahzanani Izzati

My Newsletter (with Drupal back-end) broke down…

It’s just my regular update of my website. I have been seeing Fantastico update service offering me to update my Drupal from version 4.7 to 5.1. I am not that keen initially to update it, as I have a very bad experience with similar update with Drupal before. The last time I update my Drupal, I need to reconfigure almost all my templates and themes and my Adsense module is not working. It took me another 2 days to figure it out.

This morning, I felt that it’s good to update, but I still feel ambivalent. And, to my horror, my prediction is right. My Drupal broke when I click the update button. The only thing that came out from my Newsletter directory of Mount Kinabalu Borneo.com (that is run by Drupal CMS) is the content, without any theme and css styles. Worse still, I saw 2 lines of Error Message coming up on the first page of the Newsletter. What a disappointment with Drupal! It’s the thing that every webmaster do not like to see! I did not have any problem when I update/upgrade my WordPress with Fantastico.

Drupal - Not so good CMS. Not recommended…

I was really disappointed with Drupal, as this is not my first experience. I called Exabytes network for technical support and they are still trying to fix the mess up.

So, if you are looking for CMS (content management system), don’t use Drupal, especially if you are a newbie. Get WordPress instead. It’s easier to maintain and idiot proof.

For you who have been following my Mount Kinabalu Newsletter, do not worry. If I have time, I will try to migrate all the database on my Drupal to other “less-give-headache” CMS.

Tanjung Simpang Mengayau photos

Oopsss! I notice that I have not post any Tanjung Simpang Mengayau (aka The Tip Of Borneo) photos here in my blog. Anyway, these are the some of the photos that I found interesting to share with you…

Tanjung Simpang Mengayau

Looks familiar to you?

Tanjung Simpang Mengayau

The big globe at the Tip of Borneo.

Tanjung Simpang Mengayau

Looks small eh? But compare it with the photo below.

Tanjung Simpang Mengayau

See how small the person that I shoot compared to the stone?

Tanjung Simpang Mengayau

The walkway to the tip, where the globe is…

Tanjung Simpang Mengayau

The beach of Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, taken from the Tip of Borneo.

Tanjung Simpang Mengayau

The geology of the Tip of Borneo, which influenced by the water and the wind.

Native Rungus accessories

I went for a medical camp last Sunday in Kampung Muhang. Situated in the district of Kudat, the place is populated by Rungus people. Yes, they are the same native race group as my wife, but unfortunately, she do not know all the accessories that I shoot here.

Just would like to share with you the things that you wont find it anywhere else – except Borneo…

Rungus people

Tinohian – the one that is put on the head of male elderly Rungus people.

Rungus people

Togkol – the one that is put on the neck.

Rungus people

Barefoot is common here…

Rungus people

Sadang – Earings.

Rungus people

Linongkitan – fabric material that is worn by Rungus women.
Saring, Batakan, Olitang, Satu – A group of bracelet, worn by Rungus women, made with brass.

Rungus people

A Rungus elderly men with Sigal (on the head).

Tune Hotels – “No Frills” Hotel, means…

I came across a news today about Tune Hotels, a “no frills” hotel, which operates similar like Malaysian “no frills” airline, Airasia. I was really surprise with the fare (from RM9.90 per night). You may think that it’s really cheap, but it came with a price. With that price, you won’t get any towels, soap, shampoo, no room service available, no telephones, television, radio, safe, mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities in the rooms and no wardrobes in any of the rooms but you can hang your clothes with the ready available clothing hooks. So you better think twice before you go an book a room in the hotel.

Tune Hotels - Image taken from their websiteHowever, you will get a nice 5-star King Coil bed, hot shower and internet access. That will be the price you pay for.

And make sure you ask for a room with windows (as some room are without windows) and air-conditioned room (as some rooms only have ceiling fan).

(Make sure you read their FAQ page properly before you make a booking)

Currently, there is one in Kuala Lumpur, and soon there will be one in Kota Kinabalu, Penang and Johor Bahru.

In my opinion, if you are coming to Kota Kinabalu, better for you to choose the backpacker and travelers lodges in the city. They are even more convenient, with more friendly environment and some of them provides shuttle buses to and fro the airport.

Mount Kinabalu Clipvideo (.flv)

Oh, if you have not seen the clipvideo that I made from Ganesh’s photos, here it is. At last, I managed to upload it here with a dedicated WordPress plugin for .flv files.

[flv:http://www.mount-kinabalu-borneo.com/mount-kinabalu-clipvideo.flv 320 260]

If you want this clipvideo, drop me an email.

PHP Form Generator for webmasters – which one is the best?

I have tested 3 prominent free/open source PHP form generator for the past few months, trying to figure out which one is the best form generator for my website. I was looking for a form generator that is easy to install, very minimal script editing, can run in my local computer through XAMPP, customizable, able to send an automatic email with the form, fairly good support and updated. It took me few weeks to try all 3 and find the best solution for my Mount Kinabalu Borneo.com reservation form.

The reason why I am looking for this solution is that the traffic to the website is increasing monthly, and most of the visitors would like us to help on their trip to Mount Kinabalu. I did try with normal email, but as there is no standard format, I sometimes have to email the same person 4 times to get the information right. It delays our reservation process with Sutera Sanctuary Lodges.

By having a standard form for the reservation, I am creating a system that can speed up our work. It will also be fast and and easy for the visitors. As my mentor said before, “If you work with a system, the result will be more predictable”. This “form systems” has increase my daily webmastering productivity.

I have tested 3 PHP form generator:

  1. phpformgen 2.08 by Musawir Ali
  2. Form Generator PHP by SiteHelpCenter.com
  3. PHP FormMail Generator by Xue Wen Liang

Three of the above named PHP script are FREE and probably meets the criteria that I was looking for. However, after much trial and error, I found out that there is only one that suits my taste.

phpformgen 2.08 by Musawir Ali

This script is included with my Fantastico package in my webhosting account. The installation is really easy. 2 clicks and it’s done. I was impressed. However, when I tried to create my first ever form, I found out it’s quite difficult. It is difficult to customize the variables and the size of the field. I don’t think it has enough “user guide”. You really need to try more than once to get your from presentation right. After few days of trying, you can easily get frustrated as most of the time, the result that its produce is not what you’ve expected. When you’ve finished, the form will be somewhere deep inside some sub-sub-sub directory of your phpformgen. If you are not careful on typing out the url for your visitors, it can easily get them to page 404.

The other thing that struck me was that the code has not been updated since Jan 18, 2003. It’s really long time ago. Somebody might need to improvise the script so that it’s “idiot webmaster” friendly (like me).

The only good thing about this script is that you can store your form in a database table (MySQL). For webmaster who is familiar with MySQL, it may be an advantage as you can manage your from more systematically.

Form Generator PHP by SiteHelpCenter.com

SiteHelpCenterI don’t think this script is released under GPL licence, as I could see a lot of advertisement from the hosting website all over the places (including the form that is generated). If you are very particular with “link out” from your website, then this would not be a good choice for you. The banner can easily distract your visitors to their site. Installation is easy, but the administration configuration is difficult. You have to predefine almost all the fields and variables, and it will take a lot of your time. It has a lot of things for you to figure out, and find it a little bit “annoying”. But, I must say that the user guide that comes with the script is the best – it’s in PDF form, and not just a simple README files that the others have.

I did not even make a single form with this script.

PHP FormMail Generator by Xue Wen Liang

This is the best script among the list. And, I have been using it for the past 1 month and really impress with the results. I first discovered the script as a free web service to generate forms, Free Form Maker. I use it to generate our first Mount Kinabalu reservation form. It’s idiot proof and really easy to use You just have to fill in the fields and variables in the column that it provides, click few buttons and the form is ready.

I later found out that the mail that I received from this form did not show the sender’s email in my inbox. It showed NO_REPLY as the sender for all the mail. There are senders email in the form that they filled, but it’s not possible to send an automated reply email to the sender (because of the NO_REPLY email comes from my webhosting mail server).

This script is capabale of saving the email that your visitor sent in text form, not a database form like phpformgen. You can then easily convert the file to .csv and uplaod it in OO Calc to view it. It can then be imported to your favourite email manager.

I used it for about two weeks, until I accidently found out that the script is actually an open source software/script, and hosted in Sourceforge. I was wondering around Hotscripts when I stumble upon the script. I downloaded the script, installed it in my XAMPP localhost and start working on my new version of reservation form. By using this script, I found out that the form that it generates behave slightly different from the one that I used previously.

This version of script let the sender email appear in my inbox, and the automated reply message is functioning very well. I made a form with more than 30 fields and the scripts generates it flawlessly.

Want to see the result? Check out our Mount Kinabalu Reservation form here.

Not a wondeful anniversary…

It’s Mount Kinabalu Borneo.com first year anniversary today. Unfortunately, it’s not a good day to celebrate. At this moment of writing, my babysitter is in the Emergency Department, Queen Elizabeth Hospital. She accidentally cut her finger while preparing my children’s meal at home this morning. I called my old friend, a medical assistant in the department to take care of her.

Well, at the same time, nobody is looking after my two kids. So, she has to bring them to the hospital with her – and deliver it to my wife – who is still working in the jam packed Female Medical Ward. Luckily, she asked help from my brother in-law to fetch her to the hospital. Now, my wife is still looking for him whom temporarily babysitting my two kids – probably at the hospital car park. From what I get, there were no serious injury, no tendon cut, but the bleeding seems does not stop with just a simple pressure.

Me? I knocked a 4WD backside this morning – also at the hospital. The guy who drove the vehicle is my wife’s Nursing Sister’s son. Well, we both would like to get out from a busy junction, when suddenly he stopped in front of me. Brrraaannnggg! I crashed my hood, bumper, mudguard, right headlight and I don’t know what else, on to his bumper. Luckily, the radiator was not involved.

My car at Tip of Borneo

We went to Kota Kinabalu Police station, make a police report. I met with some familiar faces in the station – a Sargent and two inspector – whom very helpful on dealing with my case (We worked together before on handling dead bodies from motor vehicle accident, while I was in the Emergency Department). They even treat me with “teh tarik” while waiting for the report to be ready. As I am the guilt party, I have to pay the compound – RM250, but have not. After making few calls, I contacted my insurance company, Takaful Nasional and asked my agent on what to do next. The Sargent have a contact with a Takaful Nasional panel workshop and help me to contact them. In about half an hour, the guy from the workshop came and take some photos of my damaged car. I spend almost two hours in the police station.

I drove home, picked my insurance cover note and pink slip of my car, get it photostated and drove slowly to the workshop. I noticed that my car lost it’s “power” when I drive it. Later on, when I arrived there, the mechanic found out that one of my spark plug cable was cut. That is why the car losses its power, as it only use 3 out of 4 available spark plugs. After submitting all my documents, I head back to clinic in a mini bus.

Phew… I don’t know what will happen later of the day, but I pray to God, let it end here and now. Hopefully no more unfortunate events happen today. From what I’ve been told, the car will have to remain in the workshop – for at least 10 days…

As I don’t have a camera phone, I could not share with you my damaged car. Maybe in the next few days, after my visit to the workshop to see my car undergoing ‘operation”.

3D2N stay in Bavanggazo Longhouse package

I received an email requesting for a 3D2N package to Rungus Longhouse in Kudat. After discussing with Aiden on how to write a good itinerary, I came out with this package. If you decided to choose the package as one of your travel get away, just drop me an email. I was told by Aiden not to put the price of the package in this blog, but I can assure you that you will get a very good deal if you book with us. The longhouse is run by my in laws family, Mr. Maranjak Milaad as the head of the longhouse.

Rungus LonghouseDay 1 – Depart from Kota Kinabalu city center up to the north of Borneo, Kudat. the journey will take about 2 and half hours through villages and padi fields. Depends on the day of departure, Sundays will be a bonus on the journey as you can drop by in Tamu Kota Belud, one of the famous weekends open market in Sabah. It is good to also buy some raw material or some souvenirs (although not compulsory) for your stay in the longhouse.

Afternoon – should arrive in the longhouse, and will be greeted by my in-laws family. Mr Maranjak is the head of Maranjak Homestay and from that point of time, you will be the guest of the longhouse. After having welcoming drinks, (coconut juice and some locally brewed liquor), you will be introduce to the lifestyle of the Rungus Longhouse and the activities. You will be shown on how to make beads (Beads making) and other handicraft, so called “Inavol”.

Evening – Dinner will be served with lots of local delicacies, and most of the vegetables are home grown. After dinner, there will be a traditional dance show for you, so called “Mongigol” and you are invited to join the show. You will also be served with local drinks, called “montoku”. But I must remind you that this drinks, if take excessively can lead you to be drunk. The night will end with you sleeping in one of the rooms in the longhouse.

Rungus LonghouseDay 2 – The day will start with breakfast by the host, and after the breakfast, you will be going for a jungle trekking. The trekking will take about an hour, climbing up the Gomantong Hill, the highest peak in the Kudat district. You will be shown the natural habitat of flora (herbs) and fauna that are endemic to the place. You only have to tell Mr. Maranjak about the intention to do the trekking, and he will organize it. After that, traditional games takes place. You can try the blowpipe and solve some IQ quenching games that is traditionally made by the Rungus people.

Afternoon – After lunch, you can book a trip for Kudat district sightseeing. Mr Maranjak can provide you with a transport to visit the beautiful beaches at the Tip of Borneo, have a sightseeing session in Kudat town, and head to Kampung Sumangkap for Gong making and Honey Bee farm in Matunggong.

Evening – After dinner, you will be shown another type of traditional dance, “Mongunatip” and of course, you can join the dance.

Day 3 – After breakfast, have some time for your leisure, pack your luggage and head back to Kota Kinabalu.