DeeEmm

Pragmatism in code

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

Go Yabba Daddy

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.WTF!?!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.My GainTheir 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./DM

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Evernote 5.... Epic Fail!

:(

I've been a proponent of Evernote for quite some time now, I use it on my Mac, my iPhone and iPad as well as using the online version when accessing from my clients windows machines. Being able to instantly share data between all of my machines has been an excellent boon to my productivity, and being able to find information fast means that I am never caught short in meetings or whilst out in the field. Well at least that's how it used to be before the latest Evernote 5 update.

The new version of Evernote has been vastly prettyfied, so much so in fact, that instead of being the leading GTD app (GTD = getting things done), it has now entered to realms of bloatware. The new update is visually very different, and a considerable amount of time would have appear to have been spent on creating new fancy graphics and swipe actions. Unfortunately this is at the expense of usability. 

Heres my lowdown on why you should NOT update...

 

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Macbook dies in freak plane accident

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.

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Mobile Joomla Mobile Template

http://www.mobilejoomla.com/

Another multi platform mobile template, Mobile Joomla. Works great with joomla and kunena and is configurable with seperate templates for different platforms. This is currently active on the site.

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JTouch Joomla Mobile Template

http://www.mobilemews.com/

View your Joomla based site on a mobile device. Just installed this on DeeEmm.com. Needs some tweaking but works reasonably well.

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Airflick & Airplayer

http://ericasadun.com/ftp/AirPlay/

Turn your Mac into an airplay device or serve files and URLs to Apple TV

Tried this out last night to watch a file I had on my macbook on our TV. Works like a dream. Whilst it does not have the prettiest UI, it's an app I will definitely keep hold of for future use.
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iPad 3 months on

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.

Mouseless

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iPad versus MacBook experiment

The first in a series of articles documenting an experiment with an iPad, a consultant and a sense of adventure, If you are considering usig an iPad as a replacement for your laptop then read on...

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Black Wednesday

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...

 

 

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Busmans Holiday

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.

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New OHS Community

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.

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First steps

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...

http://www.deeemm.com/resources/tutorials/60-dolphin-to-joomla-migration.html

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Finish What You Started...

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.

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Free Stock Icons

http://icons.mysitemyway.com/icon-banners/black-ink-grunge-stamps-textures-icons.jpg

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.

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Last post for LastPass?

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.

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iJoomer JomSocial iPhone app trumps Dolphin oo

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.

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Dolphin to Joomla (JomSocial) migration

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.

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Migrating from Geeklog to Joomla

[UPDATED!]

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.

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of our customers and visitors, and best wishes for the new year.

/DM

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WD 10TPVT 1TB Macbook Upgrade.

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.

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