DeeEmm

Pragmatism in code

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

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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Allow guests to view JomSocial activity stream comments

I have recently migrated a site from Dolphin to JomSocial and needed to modify the way that the activity stream was displayed to visitors. By default the replies and likes of activity stream posts are only displayed to friends of the original poster. This means that the comments are very limited in their reach.

The overall effect of hiding activity stream comments and likes from guests is that this valuable activity is wasted. I wanted to show this activity to guest visitors so that they could see how active the site is. This in turn encourages them to join and hopefully encourages them to comment. 

Of course, this may not be suitable for all sites, but in the case of this site, there was no activity that is 'secret' or 'private'; the activity stream is public viewable, and so should be the comments.

The modification you need to do this is pretty straightforward, it simply involves removing or commenting out two lines of code. 

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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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Nautilus: Dolphin to JomSocial migration script - Latest progress.

After restarting work on the migration script a few weeks back I have made great progress on getting it finished. I have gone through a few revisions and am now on version 0.10. The bugs are slowly getting addressed and the end is nearing.

The current version 0.10 is still in progress. I'm currently working on migrating the group forum posts into the discussion section of each group, but this is proving to be harder than originally anticipated. Still to go before I release the next version are to migrate articles, navigation structure and IBDW Spywall entries. I finally decided to migrate Spywall posts as the user profile pages look very bare. Plus the transition from old to new will be a lot smoother for members.

One major change is that I decided to flip the way that the migration is carried out. Originally I opted to install JomSocial and copy the Boonex files into a sub directory. However, after some thought I decided that it would be better to do the opposite. Now the migration is carried out by installing JomSocial into a sub directory. This means that you can get the whole migration up and running before going live. It also allows you to easily retain or switch between both sites by using htaccess rules.

The other major change is to move away from the corePHP Wordpress plugin and use EasyBlog. EasyBlog is much more user friendly and comparable with Wordpress on a basic level. OK so it doesn't have the plethora of plugins available to Wordpress, but on a community site this is probably a good thing. I do Have one JomSocial site that uses the corePHP Wordpress plugin, and whilst it works well, it is generally too complex for most users to get their heads around. If anyone really wants / needs a specific blogging platform I would be happy to write a custom script, although I would not do this for free.

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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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Server migration

To address some issues with the current hosting we are moving the site to another server, in fact, if you are reading this message, that means the migration has already been a success!

The move is to address some configuration issues and help improve access speed.

There is also an update in the pipeline - watch this space...

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EasyBlog - Display list of blog titles using the Latest Blogs module

When recently migrating the DeeEm.com site I needed a way to be able to organise the tutorials section so that each tutorial was easily accessible. This meant creating an index of blog posts so that visitors could browse through each category so see if there were any mods that applied to their site. Whilst EasyBlog makes provision for listing category titles, there is no way to list the blog posts without additionally showing an intro portion from the post itself. This is achieved using the 'Latest Blogs' module, and whilst there is a setting to control the length of text displayed, even setting this to the minimum possible value, you will still display a couple of newlines in the output.

Whilst digging though the code to see if there was a way that I could modify the CSS or core code to force the list to display as I wanted, I discovered that there is a hidden value within the administration settings for the module that hides the intro text. The solution is to manually apply this value by directly editing the database table.

The value in question is for the 'introtext' variable: (Content be taken from). This will only allow you to select between 'introtext' or 'main content'. What you cannot see is there is a third value 'Hidden'. I assume that this does not display, due to it having the value '-1', or at least it does not display in the browsers that I am using.

The solution is therefore very simple. 

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Jcomment to EasyBlog comment migration

The recent migration from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 1.7 left me without a comments system for the tutorials section of the site. Previously this was handled by Jcomment, a great component that allows you to easily add commenting to standard Joomla articles, its only drawback, is that the Joomla 1.7 version is still some way from release.

After having taken a look at various options, including several other commenting systems, I decided that the best solution would be to import the tutorial articles into EasyBlog, mostly as this would help keep some continuity on the site. The migration of the posts went flawlessly, as expected, but this still left me with the actual comments to migrate. I briefly considered a manual migration, but then discovered that there are actually quite a few comments on the site.

After a bit of digging around I discovered that EasyBlog creates a table that cross references the old article ID's to the new ID's. This is created during the migration process and the values are stored in the '#__easyblog_migrate_content' table. Perfect for migrating the missing comments across.

Using this table I was able to change the object_id in the original jcomments table to match the new post_id for EasyBlog. I simply ran the following SQL statement from within phpMyAdmin. (You will notice that I've made a copy of the original table into the table h0ahq_oldjcomments, just in case.)

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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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Beta Migrator now available for testing

Good news for all those waiting for migrate to JomSocial, you can now download a beta version for testing.

Instructions are included in the file simply view the source code. IMPORTANT - MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS !! Please note that this is a beta, and still has a few issues. Also not all modules are migrated. The following have been tested and are working Users Profiles Avatars Friends Photos Videos Forums Events Support is also included for Modzzz Points totals Still to finish are... Blogs Sites Groups Other Content Known issues are as follows... Video migration throws error message for embedded videos Events avatar migration throws error message when moving files Forum migration needs to be updated for latest version - it's partially working (was working okay on 1.6) No doubt there are other issues too. Please, please, please, report back your findings HERE so that I can improve this and hone out the issues for RC1. There is still a way to go, but things are moving in the right direction.

Download nautilus version 0.7 (updated 21.09.11)

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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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Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day

It's very nearly here. The Dolphin 'Fish Script' to JomSocial migration script is just around the corner.

To continue on with the theme so affectionately adopted by Boonex, I have decided to give the script a nautical name. So with respect to Jules Vernes Twenty thousand leagues under the sea I have named it the Nautilus.

For those of you who have been patiently awaiting me to pull my finger out and get the script written, you will be happy to learn that I only have a few more tables to migrate and it will be finished (after testing of course).

So, just to raise the tension a little, and build the anticipation (in the best Boonex style - LOL)

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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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