DeeEmm

Pragmatism in code

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

Ubuntu

A recent hard drive crash ended up in me treating myself to a new laptop. Somehow the hard drive on my old Dell decided to just... well... stop working. A bit strange to say the least - the hard drive was less than a year old and hadn't really seen any rough use. But anyhows - I used the whole fiasco to talk myself into replacing the whole laptop with a new one (but of course bought a replacement H/D to revive the Dell)With my new machine pretty much installed and up and running, with the exception of a webserver to my taste (I've been playing with Ulimate Server - a slim php/sql distro that runs from a USB stick but it doesn't work with my syntax checker) I decided to get the Dell up and running with linux.After looking into the current range of Linux distro's I decided to give Ubuntu a go as it seemed like the least painfull route to getting it up and running. I have previously used Fedora but had a lot of trouble with wireless drivers.So far I must say that I am very impressed with ubuntu and the ease of installation. (I'm typing this from Firefox in ubuntu right now ;) ). everything has worked pretty much right out of the box. I've enabled Beryl (the expose style task switcher) and am currently setting up the avant window manager (a mac icon dock clone).Other software will get installed in time - I'm already happy using open office and gimp the only program I need to sort out is a decent text editor...I'll keep you posted of the progress.

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Hold The Front Page

Regular visitors to the site will notice the sudden shift in editorial content on the front page. This used to be the space where info and download links for my open source CMS project was displayed, that is until now...I originally registered the site for the CMS and have used it as both a testbed for new CMS code and as a platform from which it is aupported and served. The change in focus is largely due to other developments now taking a larger protion of my time away from the CMS, and a descision to free up the DeeEmm name association from being solely associated with the CMS.The name DeeEmm is the phonetic spelling for DM, which is in turn an acronym for an old nickname of mine. I used to use the name (and still do of course) as a psuedonym under which I program. Nowdays my identity is much less of a secret than it was way back when I first assumed the DeeEmm nickname but old habits die hard.Hopefully this page will develop into my personal blog and include news about tech stuff that I'm working on. (Yup - I know - just what the world needs is another blog) In a sense it is also a massive advertisement for myself to the rest of the world and can potentially be used as a platform from which to offer my services - for that reason alone it needs to be at least jazzed up a little as it is just a little dull :)Work on the CMS is still continuing, the bugfix for the SQL injection vulnerability has been implimented in a number of test sites and will be rolled out soon. Version 8 is still on the horizon, there are still a number of items to fix up but it is basically operational. I have a live version 8 site up and running at the moment and all appears to be well. The site was successfully updated from version 7 using the update function and will be used to test out the remaining bux fixes and features before the next release.My main focus with the CMS at the moment is to get the user management system completely up and running - at present it is functional but wholely untested. The addition of the user management system was a decision made some time back, it has meant that the final release has been delayed quite considerably but it has also proven to be a sound decision due to the demand from a number of current projects to have user management functionality.One such project requires a subscription based access restriction system to be employed - hence my current focus on getting stuff to a point where it is functional. The same project also requires ecommerce functionality, but I doubt that this will make it's way into the open source release.Anyways....This is more than enough rambling from me, I have real work to do - specifically getting the commenting system tested - that way some of you folks reading this can comment.DM.

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Open Source

A recent hard drive failure has forced me to purchase myself a long overdue new laptop. I ended up purchasing a nice Asus F3. The machine is a lot better than my old Dell 505 which has served me well for the past four years but unfortunately came installed with vista. A long time user of Dell products, I decided on the F3 as it has a very similar feel to the 505, which after struggling with my Toshiba Tecra at work was very important to me (the tecra has a number of really annoying features / non-features such as no right hand control button, windows button at top of keyboard, lack of bluetooth etc etc...)The spec of the machine is much better than my dell and should see me ok for the next few years.Originally I had considered changing to macs but the extortionate price of the macbook pro gave me trouble justifying it. My next choice was very obviously Dell, but as I really needed to pick something up this weekend I was left with little choice than to change manufacturer.Being a writer of open source code I decided that it was also long overdue to replace my aging office suite with a better and open source version - especially as I dont think my old version is compatible with vista.I've tried open office before - it came bundled with a fedora installation that I installed and I also installed / uninstalled it from my old laptop. this time though - I've decided that I will not give in to the pressure of installing office instead.Browsing duties go exclusively to Firefox of course, but with the addition of Internet Exploder / Opera and now Safari for testing purposes. Unfortunately the ieolas standalone version of IE6 no longer works :((deja vu)Another product that I've downloaded is netbeans - an open source and cross platform IDE supporting multiple languages. I've yet to use it and so cannot tell if it can replace visual studio express for me - I will keep you all posted.I previously used sharpsoft but ended up replacing it with visual studio express as it was a little too buggy.I'm embarking on a project to develop a desktop app - its a basic data handling and reporting app - I'm tempted to use the java portion of netbeans to write this - both as a test of the IDE and also to end up with a x-platform app.Another change for me is the adoption of Thunderbird as my email client - this coupled with the lighting calendar plugin has me pretty much set. This combo allows meeting requests to be sent to outlook clients with no porblems.All I need to do now is get push working with my windows mobile PDA when it gets back from the repairers and I can finally junk using the works SBS :)

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Pocket PHP

I recently discovered a Pocket PC PHP server called PocketHPH. PocketHPH is available from MobileLeap and runs on various platforms including the WM5 that my JasJam runs. Also included is SQLite3 support to allow you to run dabase based php developments.You might wonder what use running a server on your Mobile phone would be, from my point of view it could allow me to work on DeeEmm CMS development whilst on the road without needing to take a laptop with me, although I'm not sure that it would run in it's current configuration. Currently I have it loaded up and am using it so that I can test the output of DeeEmm CMS on a mobile device whilst configuring the mobile css file.Pocket HPH is free for non commercial use.You can download it from http://mobileleap.net/hph/

Whilst on the subject of programs for Windows Mobile 5 I should also mention a few other apps that I find invaluable.

Minimo is a miniture version of Mozilla that is far better than the Internet Explorer that came with my JasJam. Amongst other things it includes tabbed browsing.

Minimo is available free for downbload from http://www.mozilla.org/projects/minimo

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X10 Kit Arrived

I took delivery of my Active Home X10 starter kit yesterday. The kit is the 7 peice version that includes the Computer interface, appliance outlet, lamp outlets, bayonet fitting, radio receiver and remote control. As I already have the mControl demo installed on my laptop I decided to try and get control of at least one light. I fitted the bayonet adaptor into my hallway light and then plugged the radio receiver into a socket outlet. Using the remote I could easily trigger the appliance adaptor built into the radio receiver; by pressing '1' and then 'on' I heard a satisfactory click as the relay clicked on and off, however pressing '2' and then 'on' did not switch the light on as expected - that is until I realised I needed to obviously leave the light switch in the on position - D'OH!In less that 5 minutes I had a working system - I could now turn the hall light on and off from anywhere in the house and garden (for what pupose I'm not really sure). The range on the remote control seems very good - I now have it plugged in at one one of the house and can use the remote from the other with no problems.So now for the tricky part - getting it to work from my PC. I put the batteries in the pc adaptor and plugged it in, I then run the comms cable from the adapator to the comm port on my laptop (the unit I received is the serial version - a USB version is also available).With the connections done I opened up the mControl demo. I created a zone for the Hallway and added an LM14 device as it did not have an LM15 calling it Hall Light. After I saved it I clicked on the button to turn the lamp on and hey presto - the light went on!!! So far so good - this only leaves one thing left to test - My JasJam smart phone. I have a static IP address as I host some web sites on a home server which is great for accessing computers whilst i'm away from home. Its also possible to use some kind of service if you have a dynamically assigned address that allows you connect to your home server, but I haven't used this before. Before I could use the remote interface I created a rule on my firewall to pass port 29990 through to the IP address of my laptop, I then navigated my JasJam's broswser to http://myipaddress:29990/mobile.aspx I was pleasantly surprised to see the zone I had created with the hallway light in my browser, I could easily turn the light on and off with a surpringly quick reaction time of only a second or two.mControl rocks!!! - it worked right 'out of the box' with no fancy configuration required, the mobile remote access is also great - not only is it included with the package its easy to use and has well thought out controls for the small mobile screen.I am more than happy with the whole system (well - based on installing one light I am - lol) its easy to setup, use and the mControl software is worth every penny. I must admit I didn't even load up the software that came with the product - perhaps this is all you may require but if your're a Media Centre user I definately reccomend mControl for the integration into the MCE interface. The browser based access is also great - I tried this on a small 8" touchscreen which will be the permanent access point for the whole home automation system, the layout of the mControl interface works great at this size.All I now need is for the rest of my X10 parts and the Micro PC to turn up

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Home Automation Part Duex

Regular visitors may remember me mentioning that I had been looking into home automation. My 'research' has lead me to invest in an x10 Active Home starter kit which includes a whole bunch of lamp and appliance controllers and most importantly a PC interface.

This and a bunch of other 'projects' have made me stop work on DMCMS for a while. Work on DMCMS will resume when I've finished the other more important stuff. Anyhows - back to my ramblings...

The PC interface comes with the Active Home software allowing you to program scheduled programs to control the modeules.

The modules themselves are controlled by signals carried through the pre existing power cables of the building, meaning that I dont need to run in a trillion new cables into my 80 year old house.

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A New Project Is Born

Regular visitors to the site will recal that a few weeks back I mentioned that I was working on a new project. The new project is a software package aimed at making risk assessment easier and more precise. I have decided to split the development of this package away from this site and host it on it's own site. The main reason for this is that it is intended that the package will be a commercial product and for the time being I want to keep DeeEmm as an open source site. The other reason is simply one of branding.For the time being I intend to keep everything under wraps but as usual - watch this space!!!

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Suggestions Please

Interest in DMCMS has slowly been building over the past few months. This increased interest has been reflected in the number of downloads that we have been seeing. Last month saw a total of 142 downloads, bringing the all time total to 405.The 0.7.0.beta release has now been bug free for the past month, with no user submitted bugs or developer bugs being reported within this time.Progress on 0.8.0.beta has been made, with improvements added for the search engine and the translation functions. The things to do page shows the current outstanding tasks needed to be acheived before 0.8.0.beta hits the streets.0.7.0.beta upgrade

I have been considering upgrading the 0.7.0.beta release to Release Candidate 1. It is stable with no known bugs, but obviouosly lacks the additional functionality offered with the upcoming 0.8.0.beta release - namely the user management / commenting system.

Suggestions Please

With version 0.8.0.beta fastly approaching or perhaps even 0.7.0.beta being promoted to version 1, it is time to make your suggestions and feature requests known. There has been very little input from users so far and so we would like to encourage users to get involved and join the forum, to make suggestions and to post critisiscms that you have with the software.

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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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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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