Not being a very heavy traffic type of site DeeEmm.com has always been quite happy residing on a shared server along side the other similar sites that I run. My two heavy traffic sites reside on a dedicated server but there has never been a need for such extravagances here. That is, until just recently.
Go Yabba Yabba!
I have a habit of bouncing between hosting plans so that i can get a better deal and have moved between several hosts before settling on GoDaddy. They offered the cheapest unlimited hosting and as I had domains and online storage registered there it seemed like a no-brainer. Before I moved I gave them a call to make sure that they supported Joomla and a few specific hosting requirements that I needed. The support guy was very helpful and reassured me that there were no account restrictions and the hosting could be configured as I required. Cool.
So nearly a year goes by, with no major dramas. The support has been excellent when I have needed it and the sites are running much better then they did on my previous host (who had a habit of continually reconfiguring the servers in the name of 'security' which usually ended up breaking my site).
Out of the blue just before Christmas I get an email from 'network violations' telling me that my account is in contravention of their hosting policy and will be taken down unless I immediately fix it. On digging a little further it transpires that as a couple of the sites I had hosted there have over 1024 files within a directory it was seen as being in contravention with their terms and conditions. They advised me to immediately change the site so that it did not have greater then 1024 files or folders in a single directory and then send them an email stating that I had removed the offending items, was in agreement to their rule of 1024 and would not do it again.
I smell a rat!
I was majorly pissed off as one of the issues I asked about before committing was hosting limitations on their 'unlimited' plans. Well after doing some digging I found out that there is no such clause in their T&C, hence the request to cut and paste a specific statement into an email. Obviously I refused.
After some debate and moving up the food chain a few levels I ended up in a stalemate conversation with one of their managers who was not going to budge on their newly created 1024 rule and whilst I managed to get the deadline extended a little they were adamant that I had to address the file issue.
There was no compromise on their behalf and I was fed a bullshite story about how my sites were affecting other domains on the shared hosting (quite amazing considering that neither site was actually live, the DNS records were still pointing at my previous registrar meaning that there was zero traffic to their servers).
With lies and a complete lack of cooperation on behalf of GoDaddy I decided to vote with my feet and take my (considerable) business elsewhere. Their loss! I did however manage to get a parting shot by getting them to refund me for the three hosting plans that they miss-sold me. The ironic thing was that in the course of the discussions I had with them I asked if they would upgrade me to a VPS plan for free - which they declined. Not sure why as it was a fraction of the price of the three plans. Idiots.
Their loss has literally turned into my gain as I discovered Digital Ocean who offer basic VPS hosting from as little as $5 / month. I have now migrated all of my hosted sites over to a single VPS instance which is working absolutely flawlessly. The best thing is that should I need I can easily and instantly upgrade to a higher spec VPS with the click of a button.
I'm going to carry on testing things out for a while and will probably move my two large sites across as it is much better value than I am currently getting.
Pragmatism in Code
Michael Percy AKA DeeEmm - Waxing lyrical about life the universe and everything software related...
Not being a very heavy traffic type of site DeeEmm.com has always been quite happy residing on a shared server along side the other similar sites that I run. My two heavy traffic sites reside on a dedicated server but there has never been a need for such extravagances here. That is, until just recently.
The past week has been pretty painful as I have been without my trusty macbook. Unfortunately it died in what I can only call freak accident.
Last week whilst I was flying to visit a clients site the plane hit some turbulence. Now when I say some turbulence, you could probably translate that as the worst turbulence I have ever experienced. Not wanting to sound too blasé about such things; I fly quite a lot and being originally based in London I've experienced quite a bit of extreme weather whilst flying. Anyhow, before departing i did what I always do; put my mac into sleep mode, loaded it up in my trusty pull along samsonite laptop case and headed off to the airport. After going through check-in, stopping off for the obligatory coffee at the qantas lounge and boarding the plane I settled in to reading my book. (This week it is 'Existence' by David Brin).
Takeoff was pretty bumpy and the ride did not improve as we rose above cloud level, then about 15 minutes into the flight we hit some turbulence. I can only liken the turbulence to what it must feel like to be trapped inside an industrial washing machine, stuck inside of a cement mixer that is bouncing on the worlds biggest bungee. In fact, I'm not really sure if that is an adequate analogy, but I'm sure you get the gist.
Whilst such a ride is no issue for a skateboarding petrol head (I did at one point think of throwing my hands in the air and giving a 'whoop' or two), I've got to admit that the sound of the engines straining and the wings creaking was making the engineer side of my brain ask questions.
Eventually, after what seemed like half an hour or so the turbulence subsided and we landed safely. Unfortunately when I went to get my laptop bag from the overhead locker I found that it was open and that most of the contents had spilled out. I thought little of it until I got into work and discovered that my macbook would not boot back up.
Fortunately I use an online cloud storage solution to sync work between my macbook, iPad, the mac at my office and the mac at home so I had a relatively recent backup of my work which was just as well as no matter what I did I could not get the macbook to boot up. Eventually I did manage to get the system to boot and recovered the additional data but both the hard drive and hard drive controller are now cactus.
I would guess that putting the macbook into sleep mode rather than shutting it down completely may have been a contributing factor, and it is also possible that the hard drive may not have survived regardless, but it still remained a complete PITA that needed resolution.
After some consideration I decided that it was a good excuse to buy a new laptop. The macbook was a mid 2009 model and nearing the end of its useful life, it was already on it's second keyboard and third hard drive. As I travel a lot and have the use of a 27" iMac at work I decided to go small and have ordered an 11" macbook air with i7 2Ghz / 8Gig RAM and 512Gig SSD. Now I just have to wait for it to arrive, it's the longest 5-8 days of my life.
So I guess the moral of this story is remember to completely shut down your laptop before you fly.
Been a while since I started using the iPad so thought I'd best post some progress.
If you have read the iPad versus MacBook experiment post you would know that one of the objectives of the whole experiment was to see if I could use the iPad as a replacement for my laptop. Well, in short, I did actually manage it, albeit with a few restrictions.
I will start off by saying that whilst you can use your iPad for most things, there are a few things that are much easier on a proper computer. The biggest issue with the iPad for me was simply the user interface. It's great for most things but when you want to type there is nothing like a real keyboard. This is no big issue as you can use the standard apple bluetooth keyboard which works flawlessly. However, this leads not to another issue. There is no mouse.
To me not having a mouse is generally not an issue as I tend to use the keyboard wherever possible. I'm a staunch believer that as far as efficiency is concerned it's much quicker to hit a few keys than it is to reach over and use the mouse. The only issue is, that on the iPad, the common keyboard shortcuts do not exist. There's no 'cmd-tab', no 'home', no way to easily navigate between apps. This means that the only way to navigate is to use the touchscreen, which quite frankly sucks big-time as far as efficiency is concerned. This isn't a massive issue if you do not need to frequently change between applications, for example using a word processor but is a massive PITA if you are trying to code a website. If Apple can address the keyboard shortcut issue it would be a lot more useable.
In the cloud
As the iPad has limited storage, some kind of 'Cloud' or centralised file sharing is absolutely necessary for getting the most out of it, this is especially true if you are using the iPad for business. I have been a user of iDisk for quite a while. It was working really good for document storage and allowed me to easily share docs between all of my machines.
...Enter stage left iCloud.
Apple decided to replace it's iDisc service with iCloud, this has been rolled out over the past 9 months or so, with the end of life for iDisc happening next month. I've got to say as a cloud service iCloud sucks big time. Mostly as there is no webdav or FTP access, no way to manually organise the stuff that is stored there, no way to store files other then from inside an app that supports it. This is a big fail as far as I am concerned, okay for the home user using the apple suite of products but absolutely crap for business users such as myself.
So now that iDisk is basically at its life end I needed to find a way of sharing docs between all of my machines. After looking around for a suitable cloud storage solution I decided to give GoDaddy Online Storage a try. They offered by far the cheapest solution, with a 100 gigs of storage weighing in at just under $30 per year, which is pretty much what most other hosts are charging monthly. Of course, with a price that cheap there had to be a catch: I found that the supplied sync tool was not very reliable and ended up resorting to manually synching my data using FTP. Not a massive issue, and for $30 a year not one that I am complaining about. I decide that as this was a bit of an experiment I would go with the cheap option and upgrade providers later on if I needed to.
It was actually good to reorganise my storage. Pretty much everything was stored on my laptop and backed up to a time machine. Using the iPad has forced me to move my storage online and change my workflow a little suit. Storing everything in online storage means that I can access it from any machine anywhere at any time, plus I get an extra level of redundancy as not only are my files backed up to my time machine, they are also now backed up online as well.
Basic Apps - Accessing your stuff.
To access your online storage you will need to have a suitable WebDAV / FTP client. I tried a few before I settled on using Air Sharing which had the cleanest interface and also included mail server integration which allows you to connect to your mail server and download message attachments directly to the iPad, a really handy feature. Air Sharing also allows direct access to your iPad from other devices on the network via a web based interface making it easy to quickly share files. You may also want to consider access to other services such as drop box, MobileMe or Google Docs, Air Sharing has support for a variety of providers but it's worth checking that it supports the ones that you use.
Basic Apps - Editing office files
Unless you are happy with the apple suite of office type products you will need an app that is compatible with Microsoft office. Whilst Pages is okay, it does miss out some very basic formatting which makes it more or less completely incompatible with office docs. This is okay if you simple need to be able to open and read the document, but no good if you need to modify it as it will screw the document up. Fortunately help is at hand in the form of Quickoffice which does a much better job.
Quickoffice also incorporates the ability to download docs directly from your preferred cloud service provider and also provides direct access via a web client if you are connected to the same network. Unfortunately at this time it does not allow you to add custom WebDAV clients which means that you cannot add a client if it is not in the pre-defined list, unfortunately GoDaddy is not in the list.
Overall having the ability to access files remotely and edit them will enable many to be able to use their iPad as a day to day office tool. Sure it might be a bit more clunky to use than a laptop but with the keyboard you can easily (and comfortably) use it to create and edit documents as you need. I find that being able to access my email and calendar is of greatest importance, and being able to take notes and refer back to them in meetings is the next most frequent thing that I do on a day to day basis, whilst I actually use another app for taking notes (more about that in a later post) it is easily achievable by using either the native notes application or Quickoffice.
The most important thing for me in being able to use the iPad on a day to day basis instead of the laptop was finding a suitable online storage provider so that I could easily share files between my computers and my iPad. Being a consultant, my work also allows me to be able to use the iPad for taking notes that I can then later type up when I am back in the office. In short I do not really need access to massive processing power on the road which has been a big factor in the success of using the iPad on a day to day basis.
Of course, it is no good for things like app development or PHP coding, for activities like these you will simply need to use a desktop or a laptop, but it is possible to use your iPad for making mods to sites, especially if you have got the correct apps, but more about that in another post.
After 3 months of using my iPad instead of my laptop, I can say wholeheartedly it is indeed possible. It will take a change in the way that you work, and a bit of reorganisation to your workflow, but when you are set up it is refreshing to be able to travel light and work simply. It was initially a bit hard for me to get my head around, and it wasn't until I had reorganised my complete storage to be online based that I could really take advantage of the iPad as a productivity tool.
The outcome of my three months trial is that instead of buying a new laptop I opted to buy a new iMac for my office instead.
If you are a regular internet user, or even a regular user of other more traditional media, you probably couldn't fail to be aware of the blackout of several well known websites. Amongst the most reported was the blackout of Wikipedia. It's actions receiving a lot of media coverage here in Australia on the radio and television, coverage that was no doubt echoed around the rest of the globe...
The black out of Wikipedia, and several other high traffic sites such as O'Rielly, WordPress Reddit and Cheezburger, is in response to the proposed SOPA (Stop Online Piracy) / PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property) Acts. These Acts have respectively been proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and are considered by most to be ill conceived and not needed.
Although the intent of SOPA / PIPA is to prevent online piracy and sites such as The Pirate Bay from operating, the crux of the issue with the proposed acts is the apparent lack of due process laid down in their enforcement, resulting in the ability to be able to misuse the acts for purposes other than their original intent. This is of course very bad news.
The Digital Millenium Copyright Act
Application of the existing DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) has already seen many instances of the existing law being liberally applied without following any formal due process, resulting in unfounded Cease and Desist notices being issued and major inconvenience to those on the receiving end. The proposed SOPA / PIPA acts far exceed the scope of the existing DMCA Act, and without a formal process for their application have every chance of eventually morphing into a set of laws that bear no relevance to the original intent of the acts.
If like me, you do not live in America, you may think that the proposed SOPA / PIPA acts do not affect you. Well think again. There are several precedents where those falling foul of the DMCA in Australia have been extradited to America to face charges, resulting in custodial sentences. Admittedly, in each case the sentence was befitting of the crime, but it goes to show that the proposals do in fact have a very far reaching nature, and that operating a warez or torrent site in Australia, on Australian servers does not exclude you from might of American law.
Whilst stories of extradition of individuals under the DMCA are relatively uncommon, action against service providers is not. The easy target for enforcers of the DMCA is to target the hosts of infringing sites or the service providers of those guilty of dealing in the infringing data, the results of this are usually very effective, resulting in stopped services and almost instant solutions. The big issue with the application of the existing DMCA (act) is of course that the effected users have no participation in the process at all, it is a case of guilty until proven innocent. Basically if your site is taken down, it is up to you to engage lawyers, or enter into lengthy debates with your ISP to reverse the process.
So why is there a need for the new acts?
Like many others, I think that the new acts are mostly in response to the corporate giants feeling sore for the loss of sales to online piracy, the acts do not really protect the intellectual property of the 'little man' at all. Being a software provider I have been the victim of piracy myself, where others have taken my work and passed it off as their own. My attempts at trying to get the data removed from the offending sites by issuing a formal request was met with disdain, and short of employing expensive lawyers to act on my behalf (not really feasible for a $20 CMS extension) there was very little I could do. Generally under the DMCA, a representative of the copyright owner will contact the provider and make a similar request, this is long before a ceast and desist notice is raised, but with the weight of a large company behind such requests, most ofter this request is executed unchallenged.
Ironically enough, I have also been on the receiving end of such a situation. i designed some t-shirts for vdubber.com (a VW enthusiasts website that I run), and offered them for sale on the site through zazzle. The t-shirts contained the site's logo and a slogan which included the name of the auto manufacturer - 'www.vdubber.com - Next generation VW community'. One day whilst browsing through the site I noticed that the t-shirts were no longer available in store. There was no notification from Zazzle, no opportunity to put forward a contrary argument, they were simply removed. I then subsequently found out that an independent representative acting on behalf of VW had contacted them and asked for the t-shirts to be removed, which Zazzle had done without argument. Such is the perceived power of the DMCA. Needless to say, I no longer use Zazzle.
So what is the solution?
Hack, the current affairs program hosted by Triple-J radio here in Australia, had a reportage on the new acts and invited comment from the public. The general consensus seemed to be that the corporate giants were the main driving force behind the acts, and that they were in response to lost sales. Interestingly, many agreed that the solution was simply for these companies to change their business models to suit the new digital marketplace. If products were made more accessible, easier to buy and at more reasonable prices, the effect would be that many would favour purchasing these instead of pirated versions. A point in case raised by one listener was Adobe's products. In America one product retailed in their online store for $699, whereas in Australia the same product was Over $1000. Adobe had also taken great measures to ensure that Australian customers could not purchase the product through the american online store. (I know, as I've previously tried).
Digital music is probably the biggest culprit for piracy. But the shift from tangible goods towards digital goods has not really seen an accompanying shift on the business models of music providers. Steve Jobs has done a lot towards this transition with the iTunes store, but the prices are still too high for many, and the lure of free music from torrent sites is simply too great.
Online music today has no physical aspect, there are no manufacturing costs, no distribution costs, virtually no retail overheads (online hosting excepted) and more importantly it has exposure to a much wider audience. Many argue that online music should be much more affordable, and that reducing the cost and making it easier to download would see a rise in sales. But this requires a change in business philosophy, a change that still appears to be some way off. Is it greed? is it simply that corporate executives simply do not 'get' the internet? Who knows. One thing is for certain, and that is that the new SOPA / PIPA acts are not the way to go.
The stance taken by many in the blackout campaign, is that the new SOPA / PIPA acts will enforce its wielders with the power to censor, a direct contravention of the first amendment, and something that most patriotic Americans feel very strongly about. The introduction of similar censorship measures in countries such as Thailand has been met with a lot of discussion relating to the rights of website owners to freedom of speech.
Interestingly, censorship in Thailand often relates to items that directly contravene Thai law, for example certain content relating to their King. Similarly to America, both ISP's and individual's can be held accountable. So considering that Thailand does indeed have extradition treaties in place with both America and the UK, and the magnitude of offences in relation to insulting the King. Is it therefore reasonable for Thailand to expect extradition of any American citizens found to be in contravention of Thai law for posting something that offends their King? If you are American you will no doubt say a great big emphatic NO!
So why should there be one law for Americans, and a different one for everyone else? In short, there should not. Stop the SOPA / PIPA acts now by showing your support.
Here’s what else you can do:
1) Learn if your U.S. Representative or Senators support SOPA or PROTECT IP through SOPAOpera.org
3) Participate in Better Activism Day, a free livestream of experts discussing ways to "improve your power in Washington from people who’ve been successful at moving it."
4) Call or meet with your representatives in Congress. The single most effective action any concerned citizen who wants to talk to Congress can take is to see your Senator or Representative in person. Failing that, call them. Write them a letter. Make sure your voice is heard.
(credit to O'Rielly for above links)
You would think that working on websites all the time i would have an up to date site myself, the problem is, that by the time I've finished working on everyone else's stuff, i don't really feel like working on my own. Contrary to popular belief, there is actually a life outside of the internet (it's true :D ), and whilst it can be really hard to drag myself away from the monitor, I make a point of doing other (real and tangible) stuff wherever I can. This is especially true since having children. The upshot of this is that time is at a premium and my own sites suffer, nothing gets updated.
So with new abandon, I'm setting out to update DeeEmm.com. It's been long overdue, but the time has come to give the site a bit of a spruce up. i did take a bit of a look at this some time back, but as the site is still running from the old 1.5 version, the main reason for wanting to update was to upgrade to the newer 1.7 code. Unfortunately the jUpgrade code prescribed by Joomla for migrating to 1.7 did not seem to want to work, however, there is now a new version, and the test migration I performed last night worked flawlessly.
At this time I'm planning to migrate the info over, spruce up the template a little, and maybe (maybe), add a few new features in.
One component that I've been using quite a bit on other sites is EasyBlog from StackIdeas. This will probably see it's way into the update as it's much easier to use than publishing these posts via the Joomla interface. Plus, it comes with all of the bells and whistles that you would expect from an up to date blogging platform.
In the past i've advocated the use of Wordpress for Joomla by corephp for blogging needs on the Joomla patform. I even used this in my Dolphin to Joomla migrator. But whilst WordPress for Joomla is a great way to integrate the familiar blogging platform into your site, EasyBlog is actually more feature rich and believe it or not, much easier for a novice to use, which in my opinion is the right thing to have when trying to get your non tech savvy site members to start blogging.
StackIdeas also have a couple of other great products, namely SectionX - a great (free) component for organising articles - perfect for the tutorials section here ;) and EasyDiscuss, a Yahoo answers type of Q&A plugin, which may, or may not make an appearance. I'm keen to replace the forums with it, but at the moment I'm not 100% decided.
So as you can see, there's things afoot here at the DeeEmm office, things that you will hopefully be seeing on the very near future.
Watch this space.
I'm just about to embark on the start of a new project to build an occupational health and safety web portal for engineering professionals. The new site, ohs.eng.pro will provide community tools for OH&S professionals and engineers engaged in safety related roles. The goal of the project is to provide a think space where safety professionals can collaborate on safety related projects, get peer advice and share in discussions realting to all aspects of safety, safety management and safety related products.
The portal will be open to all who wish to join and contribute and aims to provide a central repository of safety information for all to share in. With a focus on improving current safety knowledge and sharing best safety practices, the portal aims to be a truly global endeavour.
Dedicated discussion forums will be provided for a variety of safety related subjects and industries, and each forum is available to be sponsored by comercial entities.
We are currently looking for content contributors. If you are interested in contributing editorial articles relating to any aspect of safety for inclusion in the new site, please contact us using the contact form below. Contributors will be allowed to promote their own product or company by way of a short 'bio' included at the end of each article.
For more info, or to sign up visit - http://ohs.eng.pro
If you are one of those visitors who is expectantly waiting for the release of the Dolphin to Joomla migration script, you will be happy to know that things are moving along nicely and the script will be released before the end of the month. In preparation for this imminent release I have started to prepare the documentation for the installation, including the scope of operation and the requirements for getting it up and running.
The documentation will be provided in a series of articles in the tutorials section which will walk you through the whole process in a step by step manner. It will also cover the setting up of Joomla and Jomsocial, as well as providing installation help for the required third party modules.
The first of these articles is now available to view and is an introduction that covers what you can expect from the migration. To view the article visit...
Long time dolphin frustratee's will be pleased to learn that the migration utilises the excellent Wordpress script for the blogging component, and includes the world class forum script 'Kunena'. Photo's videos, events, messaging, profile customisation including widgets and the mandatory activity wall are all standard core components in JomSocial. Mix this up with a few free modules from the Joomla Extensions Directory and you have a site to be reckoned with.
So if are getting impatient, why not take a read through the first article, and maybe even install a test installation of Joomla and Jomsocial to have a play about and familiarise yourself with how it works.
I had to laugh to myself when I took a look at the Boonex website earlier today. True to form, and as predicted by me many months ago. It would seem that Boonex are preparing to move on from their Dolphin 7 script and replace it with... you guessed it... Dolphin 8.
As predicted, Dolphin 8 will not share functionality with the earlier version rendering all purchased modifications, templates etc useless. Those choosing to update to the new version will be at the mercy of the vendors when it comes to updating and it is likely that many vendors will use this to force users into purchasing products again. This was certainly my experience when I upgraded from Dolphin 6 to Dolphin 7.
Another issue that I faced when I upgraded was that the URL schema was changed between D6 and D7, this was a major headache as it had a huge effect on my sites SEO rankings, and was something that was not fixable. It would not surprise me to find that Boonex will change the URL schema again on the new update.
The dolphin community are anxious with the news of the upgrade, especially those members that have been around long enough to have experienced this before. Amusingly Boonex seem to be using similar excuses about D8 being the next best thing, and so much better than the last best thing. Quite rightfully there is a lot of frustration amongst the older community members.
The same question relating to fixing the existing bugs is also being asked, and the same answer is being given that was given to Dolphin 6 users, namely that D7 will continue to be supported in parallel to D8. Well sorry Boonex. I'm going to have to call B$ on that one. I was one of those frustrated D6 users. Boonex's reply thread's title say's it all... 'Finish What We Started or Move On' I will leave it up to you to decide on what will happen there.
Interestingly, I did a Google for 'Dolphin' to see what the discussions were out in the web community, and still there, in the top search rankings are the words 'Boonex is a Scam!!'. It seems some things will never be forgotten, and the more I look at the way that Boonex operate, the harder it is to ignore such sentiments. Those newer Dolphin users should take heed to some of the bad press that Dolphin gets, there is actually some credence in those words.
Whilst I was poking around the Dolphin site I couldn't help but notice that it bared an uncanny resemblance to the old expertzzz site, it made me wonder if there had been some role changing over at the Boonex camp and they had reinstated someone from a past era. If my memory serves me correct, this would be the same person who was responsible for the bad coding of previous dolphin versions which in turn was one of the big selling points for upgrading to D7.
Ironically the same selling point is being applied to D8 - an improved codebase, with newer features, replacing the old (outdated / bad / in need of repair) codebase of D7. LOL. It seems to me (and I have stated this before) there is a severe lack of project management over at Boonex. The goal posts constantly change, and the code gets changed for no reason other than someone wants to change it. Admittedly, D7 is far from being a great piece of coding, and to be truly competitive needs a complete rewrite, but the way that they fail to manage their business is laughable. That is of course, unless such moves are part of their business strategy.
The lastest post A More Modular Dolphin. Dolphin Studio Screenshot! shows some of the groundbreaking new development thinking that has gone into D8. (LOL) But this itself has already caused some conjecture about whether it is an actual screenshot of the new code in action, or simply a created image. The answer is very telling indeed. The comment made abut D8 that Boonex could possibly a competitive product to Drupal literally made me ROFLMFAO. The biggest change is the same change that Boonex always seem to sell; a change in the base philosophy of how the web works. Well, suffice to say. Whilst Boonex try to reinvent the wheel, the rest of the web will move on at it's normal pace leaving Boonex lagging some paces behind.
Looking back, it's not too far off of a year ago that I made this post about revisiting Boonex two years from the date that I decided I'd had enough with Dolphin, it's bugs, the bad support and the lack of integrity displayed by their developers. And whilst it's pretty amusing that a year down the track it's contents are still holding true. it is of no real surprise to read the posts about D8, and how it's being handled. I still feel sorry for those sucked in by the hype, but there is some hope. Migrate to Joomla. LOL
Occasionally I need to use icons in an application or website, generally I favour the 'standard' stock icon sets like the fantastic and widely used FamFam Silk icon set or Bitcons by Somerandomdude which I utilised in earlier versions of DMCMS. but recently I needed a larger icon set to create buttons for an admin panel that I was putting together for a web based application.
After the usual google search I stumbled across http://icons.mysitemyway.com/ which offer 66 different themed icon sets each based on the same basic pictographs. Each icon set is divided into several categories, such as business or social media and can be downloaded separately. In total there are 128,743 royalty free icons and clipart images available.
The quality and variety of each icon set is fantastic and diverse enough that there is a style available to suit pretty much most application and website designs. I managed to find a 'safety' themed icon set called yellow road signs that perfectly suited the application I am working on. But what was even more impressive was that the icons set included enough of a variety of icons, that I managed to cover every single icon type that I required, without having to create additional icons myself.
A big thumbs up to mysitemyway for their generosity in giving these icons away, if you need an icon set in the near future, be sure to go check them out. I will definitely be considering them for future apps that I write. A big 10/10 from me.
Xmarks is a great cross browser bookmark and password sync tool. I've been using it for years to sync my bookmarks between the variety of browsers that I use, which is a boon for those of us who develop for the web.
In January I received an email that Xmarks had decided to discontinue their service. This was also posted to the xmarks blog The reason given was that charging for the service was not part of their original strategy, but their business model was not working for them, and the service was costing too much to maintain.
Fortunately, in steps LastPass an established password management tool, and save xmarks from their planned demise. They take xmarks over, and continue the service. Great. Except for one thing. Xmarks also syncs passwords, and this conflicts with LastPass. So they decide to phase out password backups from xmarks.
I recently lost all of my passwords and had to retrieve them from my xmarks account - something that I have had to do a few times in the past (computer fails, all info is lost, thank goodness for backups). This is where xmarks really comes into it's own, and before we had time machine, was the only way to successfully retrieve browser based settings.
Unfortunately, now, with LastPass, I have to manage two tools to do the job that xmarks alone did before, that's two tools for every browser I use, on each machine that I use. That's up to 26 software installations to manage. Aaaarrrrgh.
xmarks is a great tool, but having to run two tools to do what I used to be able to do with xmarks alone is not a preference for me. Additionally, using xmarks was very transparent and non-intrusive, whereas using last pass, is not intuitive, the popups are very annoying and the app is generally very bloated.
I am sure you have heard of the expression "if it's not broke - don't fix it". Well, in my opinion this applies to xmarks.
With the advent of Firefox sync, the only reason I am using xmarks and last pass is to sync between the many browsers that I use for web development, but in all honesty, it is easier to change my usage habits, than maintain multiple programs.
My opinion - they should integrate the last pass technologies into xmarks (or vice versa), but just end up with ONE app.
I'm grateful for being able to restore my recently lost passwords, but have now made use of Firefox sync to ensure that it does not happen again. As for cross browser bookmark backups, at last look I had several hundred bookmarks that I rarely use, most of the useful ones are already referenced in blog posts that I have written, so it's probably easier to search the blog instead.
But whilst I have adopted Firefox sync, I have not uninstalled xmarks or LastPass. I like others, have given them feedback on the new merger, and will wait to see what transpires.
Whilst surfing the other day I stumbled across iJoomer an iPhone that connects to the joomla platform. Being a recent iPhone convert, and an avocate for Joomla / JomSocial I decided to check it out.
To work with your site, there is both a plugin to install and also a small code modification that needs to be made to two files. The code mod is relatively straightforward, and just involves adding a line of code to each file. With the plugin installed, and the mod done, you can test the application out by downloading it from the app store. Simply search for iJoomer.
Out of the box, the app is configured to connect to the iJoomer demo site. You can easily join the site and test out it's abilities all from the app. I initially did this, whilst checking what was happening on the site from my laptop browser before installing it on my own site. To connect to your own site simply choose settings from the log in screen and add the url of your site.
First impressions are that the app is very well thought out, and much more intuitive and functional than it's nearest rival, the 'oo' app offered by Boonex. The biggest difference between the two apps, is that the iJoomer app reports all wall activity, and with the latest JomSocial update, this even includes comments and 'likes'. It is also possible to add comments or like wall posts right from within the app itself. This is one massive failing of the Dolphin platform, decent wall functionality has to be added as a third party application, and so there is no support for it from within the iPhone app, but even so, the Boonex version does not even report the basic wall stream that is included by default, an epic fail in my opinion. Especially when you consider that it is this activity stream that has become the cornerstone for all social sites.
Other areas where the iJoomer app shines is the ability to upload video - something that appears to be missing in the Boonex offering, likewise there is no way to create photo galleries in the Dolphin app, a massive flaw when you want to add images whilst out and about - pretty much the main reason for having an iPhone app in the first place.
The one thing that the Dolphin iPhone app has in it's favour is that the main screen looks a little more polished and has a better layout, with iPhone style finger sized icons. But as usual, this is just the usual Boonex offering with something that looks very good, but lacks functionality.
Apart from functionality, the other main difference is price. To rebrand the iJoomer app is a one time payment of $199, whereas the oo app from Boonex requires a 'Prime' subscription of $998, and whilst this does include other aspects such as an unlimited license and one months worth of support, im my opinion is not worth the money, especially when you consider that an unlimited license is only $99.
My personal verdict. Yet another reason to favour Joomla / JomSocial over Boonex Dolphin.
It's been a while since I've finished the Geeklog to Joomla (JomSocial) migration, and with a new update released by Boonex, I've decided that it is about time to look at migrating my sites away from the Dolphin platform.
With even a mildly modified site, Dolphin updates are usually a nightmare. It is rare that something does not break, or mess up in some manner, so I've decided that instead of wasting time updating third party addons to work with the new Dolphin core, it is much more cost and time effective to write a migration script.
The target platform will be Joomla, running the JomSocial component. This is a comparative product for those who are using Dolphin as a community site, and pretty much, all standard modules have an equivalent Joomla component.
At the moment the project is at the drawing board stage, but the basic outline is complete.
The migration script will be available as either a stand alone component that you upload to your WSP, or potentially as a Dolphin module. In either case it will be driven via a web interface, allowing you to tailor it to suit your own needs.
Migration will be provided for standard Dolphin modules, and also some of the major third party modules, such as the IBDW Wall module.
One small issue relates to password migration. As previously discussed in THIS THREAD the password handling in Dolphin is a little different to Joomla, and due to the encryption used, it is not possible to perform a direct migration of password fields. This is something that can be handled in several ways...
Mass password reset.
Forced account reactiviation
Modification of Joomla core to use Dolphin encryption
Auto password creation based on existing Dolphin data.
Of the above methods, the last method is something that I am currently looking into. In essence, when the user logs in, the password is checked against the values stored in the Dolphin database, if it matches, then the password is added to the Joomla database in the correct format. This process is transparent to the user, who simply uses the logon process as normal.
To adopt this method correctly I need to create a Joomla authentication module, so that the passwords can be verified. However, this means that the module needs to be installed for it to work, and additionally the Dolphin database needs to be available.
Ultimately, whatever method is used for password migration or re-creation, there will be a compromise to be made.
The project will be developed in stages, this is simply due to time availability. The results will then be released in one package, allowing migration to be carried out in one step.
Now that the New Year is under way, I've turned my focus back to the Joomla project that i have been working on. This is the migration of an existing Geeklog site over to the Joomla (JomSocial) platform. The basic site design and functionality has now been finalised, and the next stage is to start migrating the existing data across.
The migration away from Geeklog is due to the lack of development on both the Geeklog and GLFusion platforms. Although there have been releases in recent times, these have been little more than security updates. GLFusion promised to take Geeklog into the current Web 2 age, but after over a year, it has failed to really pick up any momentum, plus, with many features missing from the core and requiring non-existant third party plugins, the decision was made to migrate away from Geeklog, to the better supported Joomla.
Unfortunately, it does not appear that many (any) have trodden this path before, and so i was not able to turn up any suitable info from the usual Google, search. This meant a bit of DIY hacking to get the data migrated. I did manage to find enough info on user authentication to be able to figure out how to migrate the users across without needing to get users to change passwords, which is a boon for a site like this one, which has some 1600 odd members.
I've now completed the migration process, and decided to document what I have done, to assist those who may want to do the same. I will release this in several tutorials, each dealing with a separate aspect of the migration, which is basically how I have tackled the job.
User migration (Geeklog to Joomla / JomSocial)
Forums migration (Geeklog to Kunena)
Gallery migration (MediaGallery to JomSocial)
Blog migration (GL Journal to MyBlog)
Stories migration (Geeklog to Joomla)
The Geeklog site is version 1.5.2, but I believe the process will work the same for the current 1.7 version and also the spin off GLFusion port. The Geeklog set up uses the MediaGallery plugin (MG), which is now an integrated part of GLFusion. We had previously migrated from 4Images to MediaGallery, so the same upgrade path is available for those wishing to migrate image info. Other plugins that we are running are GL Journal, a blogging plugin, and the standard GL forums, which have been migrated to Kunena.
First tutorial, is migration of the user data. Once performed, your users will be able to log into the Joomla / JomSocial site with their existing Geeklog credentials. You can find the article in the tutorials section or by clicking the following link
Second tutorial is migration of the Geeklog forums into Kunena.
Third tutorial is migration of media gallery
The final tutorial covers how to convert Geeklog stories into Joomla articles
A short time ago I upgraded the drive in my macbook pro as I had filled up the stock 250GB drive that came with it. After a little research I opted for the WD scorpio blue WD10TPVT 1 TB, as I had found out that even with it's increased height, it would still fit the macbook. But, after only a few months of use the drive has failed.
Fortunately the inbuilt S.M.A.R.T. check threw up an error message informing me of the impending doom, and advised me to back up my data pronto. As I could not get to a store until the weekend, I carried on using the drive for the rest of the week with no issues except running a tad slow.
One interesting thing that I noticed, is that, even though using OSX's 'Disk Utility', showed a S.M.A.R.T. failure (S.M.A.R.T. is a hardware check carried out by onboard diagnostics within the drive unit), Tech Tool's S.M.A.R.T. test passed as okay.
So, I went out at the weekend to buy a replacement drive, and to post the failed unit off for warrantee repair, as it is covered for 3 years. Unfortunately the store did not have a 1TB unit, so I purchased a WD 500GB black unit instead. Interestingly the store owner commented that they had stopped stocking the larger drive due to the high failure rate. It seems that this is one of those cases where bigger is most definitely not better.
My guess is that the larger drive is more fragile than its smaller counterparts and had failed as a result. I travel quite a lot, and so I quite often pack up my macbook whilst it is in standby / sleep mode, normally this is no issue, but I think in this case, with the more fragile drive, it simply did not fare too well.
So if you're thinking of upgrading to a 1TB drive, consider how your laptop will be treated, as it might mean your drive fails sooner than expected.