DeeEmm

Pragmatism in code

Waxing lyrical about life the universe and everything software related since lunchtime 2006.

Test Drive

I've been getting the framework of the safety analysis / risk assessment software laid out to get a better idea of how to put it all together. The basic underlying usability is simply to identify, score and then reduce safety related hazards. The risk assessment process is pretty straight forward, in fact I have been successfully using a risk assessment model that I previously developed within excel. Along with some different reporting options, these will both be carried over to the software futher down the track.After doing a google I stumbled across a rival peice of software. Marketed at up to $3300 per floating user license I decided to take a look to see what the opposition had to offer (mostly as it offered a free trial).The software was pretty much as expected, and lacked ease of use for both the hazard scoring and the reporting functions and nether aided the assessor or provided any reccomendations based on the results. These are the main areas where I feel this type of software should be of benefit.The hazard identification aspect was relatively straight forward with pick lists to pick from that also incorporated the ability to be able to add user defined entries. Generally there appeared to be a lot of additional 'value added' aspects but when the extra options were scrutinised they were no more than gloss and padding. In my mind, not worth the stated $3300.

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Home Automation

This week I've been delving a little into home automation. Home automation is a topic that I have been meaning to have a look into for quite some time. Being an industrial automation specialist, the home automation sector is a very interesting topic for me as it is something that should be relatively easy to someone of my background to do.Prior to looking into home automation I had a few pre-conceived ideas of usefull facets including modulated signals using domestic AC supply as a carrier wave. It was no surprise to see that this has been adpoted as part of the X10 standard.My personal view of home automation was to utilise a home PC, equipped as a master controller with inputs and outputs to control functions within the house such as lighting and access control. Modern Home Automation system can be much more sophisticated also including audio and video streams throughout the house.Home Automation is a relatively new sector, with relatively few companies providing off the shelf systems that can be catered to suit end user needs. With the utilisation of a development medium such as Visual Basic and a simple I/O interface or perhaps interfacing to the already available X10 standard it may be possible to greatly reduce Home Automation costs.

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Risk Assessment Software

It has been nice to have some time away from the computer this week, perhaps it is something I should do more often. The 'holiday' has given me time to think about stuff like the development that goes on with DMCMS and the amount of time that it takes up. Whilst my current goal is to get it finished off to a standard where it can be realeased as a full and final version I may shift my focus a little and spend some time developing a couple of other ideas I have, ideas that potentially can bring in some revenue.One of the ideas that I would like to spend some time to develop is a risk management package for performing, scoring and recording risk analysis. Risk analysis is the procedure through which hazards are identified, prioritsed and then actions developed to minimise or eliminate the hazard. These hazards may be many and varied and can range from general workplace safety right up to the exotic - like perhaps space exploration. In fact, wherever there is human activity, there exists the possibility of a hazardous situation potentially being able to cause injury or harm. One of the hardest things for most companies / individuals involved in risk assessment is the ability to easily score or 'rate' the hazard. There are several techniques available to achieve this but all of them leave something open to interperetation.My idea is to develop a software package to make this task easier, and provide less room for error. By removing the 'grey' from the descision making process, the task of identifiying the hazards and providing a method of risk control becomes much easer and the need for expensive consultancy can be negated.My ultimate goal is to develop the software into a saleable item, to be sold right here from this site, as after all, the site is intended to be a platform for all my works, not just DMCMS. The software would initially be available on the PC platform, with a later development for mobile devices such as handheld PC's, allowing field operatives to easily carry out risk assessments in the field without having the need for even a laptop. Collected data can then be imported into the main application back at the office when it is more convenient.The coming weeks may see little change for DMCMS as I intend to spend at least a little time developing the initial idea / structure for the application.DM.

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Risk Assessment Software

It has been nice to have some time away from the computer this week, perhaps it is something I should do more often. The 'holiday' has given me time to think about stuff like the development that goes on with DMCMS and the amount of time that it takes up. Whilst my current goal is to get it finished off to a standard where it can be realeased as a full and final version I may shift my focus a little and spend some time developing a couple of other ideas I have, ideas that potentially can bring in some revenue.One of the ideas that I would like to spend some time to develop is a risk management package for performing, scoring and recording risk analysis. Risk analysis is the procedure through which hazards are identified, prioritsed and then actions developed to minimise or eliminate the hazard. These hazards may be many and varied and can range from general workplace safety right up to the exotic - like perhaps space exploration. In fact, wherever there is human activity, there exists the possibility of a hazardous situation potentially being able to cause injury or harm. One of the hardest things for most companies / individuals involved in risk assessment is the ability to easily score or 'rate' the hazard. There are several techniques available to achieve this but all of them leave something open to interperetation.My idea is to develop a software package to make this task easier, and provide less room for error. By removing the 'grey' from the descision making process, the task of identifiying the hazards and providing a method of risk control becomes much easer and the need for expensive consultancy can be negated.My ultimate goal is to develop the software into a saleable item, to be sold right here from this site, as after all, the site is intended to be a platform for all my works, not just DMCMS. The software would initially be available on the PC platform, with a later development for mobile devices such as handheld PC's, allowing field operatives to easily carry out risk assessments in the field without having the need for even a laptop. Collected data can then be imported into the main application back at the office when it is more convenient.The coming weeks may see little change for DMCMS as I intend to spend at least a little time developing the initial idea / structure for the application.DM.

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Time Out

I will be taking some time out this week to get some stuff done around the house, this means it is likely that I won't be sitting in front of my computer too much. I've been spending too much time trying to get everything finished off and neglecting my chores (which doesn't bode too well with the better half).After a quick tot-up I estimate that there are approximately 80 hours work left until the next (and hoipefully final) release is ready. There are a lot of new features planned including a full user based commenting / subscription system, reinstatement of the translation function (obviously working this time round) as well as a completely redesigned administration interface.A lot of the work has already been carried out and tested but will require further testing to make sure that it is reliable enough for release. The remaining items are either still in development or have yet to be started.The current release is hopefully stable enough that it will not cause any problems and so will likely remain as it is until the final release is ready.Some minor bug fixes have already been released and the packages updated to reflect the bugs found. As usual, if you find any errors / problems / bugs then don't hesitate to bring them to our attention, either as a Bug Tracker entry or in the forums.DM.

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Insensitivity

In my haste to get the last version released it would appear that I wasn't thorough enough with testing it to make sure everything was okay - That's Right!!!! (We've hit another bug). This one is a relatively simple one to fix and is a by-product of developing for the Linux envoironment on a Windoze machine.

The bug is simply one that it caused due to case sensitivity on some linux installations - the offending files are the language files - the ones supplied with the old package have 'capitalised' names - ie the first letter is a capital. The filenames stored in the database start with a lower case letter. Simply renaming the files will clear up the issue.

As usual the downloadable packages have been updated (a big sorry to all those who have already had a problem with them).

DM.

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Only Buggin

You may have noticed from the news flash that the DMCMS.0.7.0.BETA release has a bug in the SQL database file. This has hopefully now been sorted out - the files in the download area have been updated and an updated file is available to download should you require.The bug, whilst only a minor thing (I say this only because we are still in BETA) goes to show how difficult it is to cater for every platform and server software version. The bug didn't appear on any of my test installations that I carried out before uploading the code for public consumption but, was still there, none the less.The bug partly originated from a relic of a past version stuck in the database and partly from an error in the database backup function, I guess I need to be more careful in future.DM.

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Hate Is A Strong Word

{jcomments off}Trying to get the latest incarnation of DMCMS ready for release seems to be a never ending battle. Just when I thought that I had it licked something else crops up - and guess what!! - it's yet another IE flaw / bug / idiosynchracy. After redesigning the admin interface into a nice tabbed affair that put everything on one page in an easy to digest format I then find that it doesn't work in explorer. Phah - seems to be about par for the course recently.

Now whilst this is really frustrating I wont declare to hate IE and it's odd renderings, after all, being a Firefox protagonist I am in the minority. IE is also the browser that I first discovered the internet on, so I must at least owe it something.

My day today is being spent at home, which is great as I get to spend some time trying to finish the 0.8.0.beta release off whilst heating is being installed in the house. It's also great as I am now within swearing distance of an internet connection so I can try out some of the stuff that requires connectivity to the world wide wobble (such as user registration verification).

I've decided to load the latest offerings onto my webserver at home and test everything out, first thing I wanted to do was create a new CVS branch for my source repository - pretty easy stuff. Then I check out the latest branch as a release so that I can load it onto the server and update the existing DMCMS test installation.

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Admin Style

{jcomments off}This weekend I've been taking a look at the administration interface and how it is presented to the user. The admin interface is probably the biggest part of any CMS, even though it may actually be the least used. The age old addage is in full effect here - 'first impressions last', new users trying a CMS for the first time will be more impressed with how something looks rather than how it functions and will probably mistake an average interface for a good one if it looks the part. If the interface doesn't at least look capable, then chances are that the user will not give it more than a cursory glance before moving on to the next demo.

Part of my thinking whilst developing DMCMS was to keep everything very simple - to try and only use basic, compliant HTML / CSS and as little fancy effects and javascript as possible. Javascript has unfortunately been employed for a few functions, which I don't think is too bad, and for the most part there are no frills with the basic template supplied with DMCMS.

To try and create some kind of image to the Admin interface I have changed the way that it is presented. Some functions have been fused together and are now presented in a tabbed navigation structure. Javascript will be required to be enabled, but not absolutely necessary as the interface will still function without it - it will simply not look as good.

Bringing the different admin functions together into a more condensed interface acheives the goal of improving the first impressions factor tenfold: Rather than having to scroll down the page to see all of the different functions, the user can instantly see scope of what is controlled from within the interface.

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Re-Integrated

{jcomments off}Latest offerings for the upcoming release is a better method of integration for 3rd party web applications (forums, wikis, etc. etc...). The current method using the phpBB integration file has been changed and will be known under a more generic name.

The basic method of useage is the same - the integration files is called from within the 3rd party application, the relevent DMCMS bits are created and then assigned to a local variable allowing the DMCMS parts (header and/or footer) to be seamlessly stitched into the 3rd party app.

It may be necessary to modify the 3rd party app so that the DMCMS header / footer replaces existing logos etc, but this is entirely down to you.

I revisited this a short time ago due to wanting to add the site footer onto the bottom of the forum, I've since revisited integration again as I have now included the DMWiki.

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No Sleep Until 1am

{jcomments off}The automated user registration is now up and running on my test server. There are still some things to iron out and a few features to add to make administration easier but the basic system is in place and working.

I'm currently working on the backup / alternate method of user account activation so that, if required, activation can be done by administrators - this is usefull in cases where there is no access to a mail server or where site admins like to personally check and manually enable all registrations.

DM.

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ReCAPTCHA

I just surfed across reCAPTCHA whilst researching some code for DMCMS. reCAPTCHA is a site developed to make better use of the 'Captcha' security devices utilised on most web sites. Captcha's are those pictures with distorted words that you need to type into a box to validate your submission when posting information on the web. They are used to prevent spam by trying to prevent automated scripts from posting information. The basic idea behind reCAPTCHA is that it uses Captchas to convert text scanned from books (the captcha picture) by validating and then storing the result - thus allowing books that cannot be recognised with OCR software to be converted into the digital format. A great idea!I am currently looking into integrating reCAPTCHA into DMCMS for user comment validation

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New Features On Their Way

{jcomments off}Work has been progressing towards the next release of DMCMS which will likely be another major revision due to the amount of changes that have happened. The template parsing methodology has completely changed, gone is the fixed layout and instead in it's place is a template based layout system that allow layouts to be configured within the template itself. configuration variables can also be set within a template configuration file allowing complete freedom to template writers.The user commenting system is also now up and running, in fact the only thing stopping the next version from being released is the incomplete user admin system which is currently being finished off.As usual I have discovered more IE related issues, this time relating to the layout, it's only a small bug and will be fixed by release time.I have also spent some time tidying up the code - although there is still a lot to do.DM.

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0.7.0.BETA

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{jcomments off}DMCMS.0.7.0.BETA is very nearly here. The files are finished and uploaded to SF.Net's servers but I just can't seem to add them to the download section. It might be my dodgy wireless internet card :cry: Hopefully I can finish the job when I get home later on.The 0.7.0.Beta update is a major update from the previous version (hence it's jump from version 0.6.X to 0.7.X) practically all of the files have been changed. The changes are mostly to address problems with how the site is rendered in Internet Explorer. which for the most part I have not taken care of due to mostly developing in Firefox.Hopefully now I have stopped alienating IE users by actually releasing something they can see/use the site traffic should go up and someone might actually join the forum.

All current bugs have been fixed in this version and some feature requests have also been incorporated. The main outstanding feature of user commenting has been postponed until a later release so that this release could be issued in a timely manner, work is already well underway on getting the next release finished.DM.

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IE6 Display Issues

{jcomments off}It's just come to my attention that there are a few issues for Internet Explorer 6 users. This is mainly that the drop down menus do not work. A fix is being worked on at the moment, it will hopefully be ready for the 0.6.5 release this week.DM.

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IE6 Display Issues Fixed

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{jcomments off}The IE6 display issued have been traced to a simple spelling mistake (actually incorrect case on one character in a javascript function). The site has been updated but the fix will not be available until the release of version 0.6.5.beta. Work on 0.6.5.beta is currently progressing at a very fast rate, it is anticipated that it will be ready by the end of this week. Both the site and the demo site have been updated to the latest development ;evel.The Demo site is now also using the DMCMS template. There are still some issues to sort out with the template (mostly relating to IE6 not being able to correctly display PNG transparency) these will be addressed before the 0.6.5.beta release.For those of you who cannot wait until then for the IE6 drop down menu bugfix - simply make sure the term 'sfhover' is all lower case in the following files - /templates/.../banner.tpl & /templates/.../css/default.cssAlso, for those who cannot wait for the rest of 0.6.5.beta - all current changes are commited to the CVS repository - so you can checkout your own version.DM.

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