DeeEmm

Pragmatism in code

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

PhpBB Blog Mod

With the recent update of a site I help manage and some discussions about a new direction for DMCMS towards the social networking side of town I stumbled across a mod for phpBB that allows users to create thier very own blog. The mod, known as 'The Blog Mod' seems to have a very chequered history and is difficult to find somewhere that currently supports it. Trawling through the phpBB mods forums I found out that the original author (Hyperion) seemed to simply dissappear, A deluge of posting then raised the concern that the mod would simply die without some kind of rescue attempt - so another topic was started to discuss the relevent merits of saving the mod. The outcome of that discussion was that yet another topic was started to support the newly ressurrected 'Blog Mod' - after the topic was blasted for not being in the specific phpBB mod style, and the original auther gracefully backed out of thier offer of support yet another thread was started and the mod lived on...That was until about February when the official development thread on phpBB was locked. In addition the official website at http://www.theblogmod.com seems to have died about August time last year.It seems a shame that there is so much beurocracy over at phpBB that what appears to have been quite a well respected mod has now had the plug pulled on it by the closure of the thread, as for what happened to the official site, who knows?A little digging has found a few links to sites still hosting 'The Blog Mod' - http://forum.khurram.ca/viewtopic.php?p=1248

http://www.outshine.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=3438#3438

If anyonw knows what happened to this mod shoot me a message via the forums.

DM.

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MD Webhosting

Regular visitors will have noticed that the site has been out of action for a number of weeks now - this is due to my web hosting providers poor service. I have been plagued by bad service from this provider since I started hosting with them last year - access to the email server would stop, as would access to the site, then it would start, then stop again... this seemed to be hourly. 

No amount of service calls seemed to bring about a resolution - the tech team's standard response seems to be clear your browsers cookies and then restart your browser... mmmmmnnn... ok? Well, a recent security breach left me pretty pissed - my site was hacked, filled with phishing software and then used as a launchpad for a spam assault - it would appear that the security breach was server wide - no doubt someone gaining access as root. I lost my site when they deleted it - with no warning and then had all my service requests ignored. All I can say is it is a good job that this site is not for profit - if I relied on it for an income I would be bankrupt by now. Well enough was enough - I've now changed providers - hopefully the service should be a lot better. Mind you, I had the last laugh yesterday when MD Webhosting's site was down again - they're probably still getting hacked. My advice to anyone thinking of using MD Webhosting - DONT! They're not the cheapest and they're far from the best. Anyhows - that's enough ranting from me - Just thought I'd add to the plethora of Google results that say MD Webhosting suck - guess I should have read a bit deeper before deciding to go with them. Please be patient whilst I get the site back up and running, hopefully it shouldn't take too long. I'm limited for time at the moment so you may have to wait a while before I get the forum and Wiki back up. DM.

 

UPDATE: 13:54:55  2008-02-22 - The Wiki and Forum are now back online. However I have not been able to restore the Wiki backup - I may use this as an excuse to rewrite it.

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One Week Later...

I've now been using Eclipse for the past 5 days and must admit I think I've found a serious contender for replacing Ultraedit. I've set up the CVS client plugin - which incidentally doesn't have the annoying problem found with crossvc and tortoise that requires you to input your password multiple times (I added it once and haven't needed to add it in again!!!) - the CVS client is as good as any others I've used - it integrates nicely into the main editor so you only really need to go into the plugin to set it up. Some of the terminology differs from what you might expect (instead of 'CVS' on the context menu it says 'team') but once you're used to it it really isn't a problem.

Eclipse as an editor has some nice productivity features - for instance - it searches all the code in the project and lists all instances of the text 'TODO' (and some other tags) and provides you with a task list in a window at the bottom the screen - these tasks link directly with the code in which they were found - clicking on them open the relevent file at the appropriate place. You can update / expand the text to make it more useable or readable, plus you can set priorities and mark them as finished too. What a great tool!!Code checking was one feature that I loved about using Ultraedit for writing PHP, well Eclipse not only includes code checking - it handles it in a very different way. Along side the task window you will find the 'Problems' window - this is a live list of all errors and warnings found in all files in the project - No need to syntax check each file - simple browse through the window content - again clicking on the error will take you directly to the relevent part of the code. Warnings and errors are also highlighted by a warning or error icon in the margin of the codepage.Another nifty feature that I love is the full page editing - if you double click on the tab for the page you want to edit all of the docked menus are automatically hidden and the page is shown full size within the editor - menus can still be accessed by the use of small icons around the edge of the screen. Double clicking the tab or selecting one of the restore icons returns the layout back to normal. This feature also works with any of the tabbed docked tool windows as well.I must admit however, I haven't found a column edit mode, which I use quite a lot in Ultraedit. In summary - I actually like this editor quite a lot, whether it is extensible enough to use for other non supported languages remains to be seen but as a PHP editing envoiroment it certainly cuts the mustard, I'm quite happy to adopt this as my primary PHP editor within the Linux envoironment.One thing of note is the way in which you choose to install it. I am running Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy) and found that if you wanted to install Eclipse via synaptics and then installl the plugin using the built in feature manager in Eclipse the PDT plugin will not install - this is because the version of Eclipse in the Gutsy repository is too old. this means that you can either manually install a later version of Eclipse, or install the PDT 'all in one'. There is also another alternative - you can use Eclipse 'Pulse' - this is an online plugin management service - it is free to use and currently in beta - Pulse provides PDT as a package as well.Anyhows...Enough talking for the moment - I actually have work to be getting on with. Currently I am working on getting the user group functionality sorted out for DMCMS - this will provide the possibility of many additional features - one of which will be user comments. (Hopefully some of you who read this might also contribute to the discussion) I just thoght I'd take the time to share my findings with Eclipse.L8RSDM.

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Eclipse

Last Friday I decided to throw a curve ball at my editing practices and try something that didn't involve Ultraedit. Somehow I ended up on the Eclipse IRC network and had a chat about the relevent merits of Eclipse, it's useability, scalability etc. I had briefly tried Eclipse before but had not really tried to use it in earnest, plus I think that I probably had the wrong version installed. Eclipse is basically an editor platform on which plugins are added to flavour it to your requirements - if you want to edit and compile C++ you simply install the relevent plugins to turn it into a C++ IDE. Likewise for PHP / Web editing you add in the relevent PHP plugins - this is the part I didn't do last time! Armed with new information - and a link to the PDT package download page (the PDT package is the PHP Development Tools plugin) I installed a copy of Eclipse. It's worth noting at this point that if you don't have the Java Runtime installed on your machine you will need to install it as the program will not function correctly - the installer will alert you if you need to install it (you can install it easily via synaptics).My first impressions of the PDT package are that it seems to be pretty impressive - I like the way that it lists included files in a hand to use menu, the syntax highlighting is as good as most - generally the layout is well presented. Projects are easily generated and it has a built in CVS client although I havent set it up yet.I'm going to try using it for the next week or so and see how I get on. Watch this space...

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CVS Linux Or Windows???

With my new Ubuntu installation taking shape there are only a few things left to sort out to make it 100% functional as my primary web developing machine. So far I have not regretted making the change, especially as I can now run my beloved Ultraedit Studio within VMware on a virtual XP machine. The transition has been pretty seamless, the interface is intuitive and a pleasure to use. I have made a few minor customisations to help increase productivity and changed the theme to add a little eye candy.

The main change was adding in the Compiz manager so that I could enable a few additional desktop effects - specifically I added a 'hot corner' to the 'Scale' effect so that I could use it as an entourage type screen switcher - this also works great with VMware. Normally you need to press the 'ctrl' + 'alt' key combo to release the mouse focus from the VM - setting a hot corner to the top right of the screen means that the Scale effect is called regardless - no need to press the key combo - simply moving the mouse to the top right not only releases the mouse focus but also calls the scale effect. Checkout the screenshot on the left - The VMware screen integrates seamlessly with the rest of the applications. For the best effect you should turn off the tabs, toolbar and summary so that the VM looks like any other Application window. Click on the image to open up a larger version.

Using VMware this way has allowed me to retain the use of Ultraedit (which is good as bought a lifetime subscription - lol), but it does leave me with another small dilema - what cvs program do I use?????

Up until now I have used Tortoise CVS - an excellent program that integrated nicely into the windows shell. For a while I also used the CVS built into Ultraedit but found Tortoise to be far superior.

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Lamp Not Wamp

As regular readers would know, I have recently changed my primary operating system over to Ubuntu. This computer is mostly used for web development so running a Linux based system makes sense as the end platorm I write for is Linux based.On Windows I usually use WampServer to host and test PHP code on my local machine, this is basically an AMP stack (Apache2 + PHP5 + MySQL) bundled with phpMyAdmin and a nice task bar 'applet' where you can change settings, start / stop the server etc.. All of this is installed from a sinle installer file - things don't get much more convenient than that.To make my Ubuntu (Desktop version) installation more useable I needed to install the LAMP stack but this involved installing the components seperately. This isn't really that hard but it does require using the terminal and typing some commands in. Incidently, you can use Ubuntu server version which already has this set up, but being aimed at use as a server it is void of other programs.Installation of the AMP stack is best carried out in order - this is basically Apache > PHP > SQL.To install Apache2 you will need to use the following command - sudo apt-get install apache2You may get an error as follows - "apache2: Could not determine the server’s fully qualified domain name, using 127.0.0.1" this is easily remedied by adding the following line to your httpd.conf file

ServerName localhost

You can call the file up in the text editor by using the following command

gksudo gedit /etc/apache2/httpd.conf

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Dual Boot Linux And Windows

As some of you may recall, after a recent hard drive crash I invested in a new laptop and then installed Ubuntu on the old laptop. This was a great idea as I found that all of the previous issues I had encountered whilst using Linux seem to have been addressed with Ubuntu (I have previously used Fedora). The only problem I found was that I was neglecting the new laptop and using the old machine with Ubuntu on it a little tto much.With renewed enthusiasm in Lunux I would love to make the jump from Windows but try as hard as I can - I cant seem to take the plunge and replace Vista on the new laptop with Linux. This is mostly due to not being to find a decent replacement for Ultraedit - I've tried the alternatives - none of which really cut the mustard, I've even installed Ultraedit running under WINE but nothing quite matches up to my expectations (Ultraedit is just too sluggish running under wine to be really useable for me)Well....Although I haven't one the whole hog - I HAVE taken the plunge and set up the new laptop as dual boot Linux / Vista.This is actually very easy to do with Ubuntu Gutsy - basically you'll need to have Vista already installed and then boot up with the Ubuntu CD. Once booted, click on the 'Install' icon on the desktop and the installation process will start - it will ask you a few questions and then launch into the partitioning tool. The partitioning tool will present you with 3 options - assisted partition / use whole disk / manual partition. Choose the first option (assisted partition). The tool will then ask you what size you want to adjust the partition to - choose a suitable size and then the installer will do the rest.When the installation is finished it will ask you to remove the disk from the drive and hit enter - the machine will then reboot and start with a boot menu allowing you to select what os you want - the bottom option will be windows.Anyhows.....With Ubuntu installed on my machine I have opted to install VMware under Linux so that I can run Windows as a Virtual Machine - this will allow me to run Ultraedit and the other applications that I need that I can't find Linux alternatives for (mostly work related applications such as robot programming clients). Setting it up in this way I can use Ubuntu as my primary ooperating system :)I have also taken the plunge and done the same for my company laptop - evolution works flawlessly as an exchange client and I seem to have less network problems with Ubuntu than I did with Windows. (plus I can't wait to see the look on the IT managers face - lol).The coming weeks will be a real test to see if I can live without windows - it shouldn't be a problem with the company laptop as I don't do any programming with that machine - just manager stuff involving the office suite (open office that is ;) ) and project based stuff for which I already use open workbench.If I can happily live without booting into Vista on the other machine I will remove it :DOne annoyance has come out of this - my new laptop came with a recovery disk - the disk is an Asus branded disk that will only allow installation onto an Asus machine - This however means that it won't allow me to install Vista into VMware as it does not see the virtual machine as an Asus machine - phah!!! - looks like I will have to revert back to XP for the time being.

DMCMS Latest

With renewed vigour I have been ploughing into getting the next release of DMCMS ready. At the moment I've been working on groups and group membership - I'm trying to set it up so that there can be any number of groups and users can be members of multiple groups - this level of flexibility when coupled with access permissions granted to group members should make DMCMS very flexible in terms of managing content access.

At the moment I'm thinking of access restrictions in terms of categories -

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An E-Mail Server For Your WAMP Setup

For all of my development work I use an AMP stack running on my windows machine (commonly referred to as a WAMP server). This allows me to run Apache / PHP / MySQL on my windows box without the need for a Linux machine - very handy if you are developing something like DMCMS and don't have a linux box on which to test your work. Over the years I have tried many different WAMP distro's - I've even installed the seperate components myself.

Nowdays I tend to favour Wampserver - http://www.wampserver.com/ as it is compact, easy to install and has a nice, easy to use interface. I have also used UniServer (http://www.uniformserver.com/ ) as it has a very small footprint and can be installed on a memory stick so it can be used an any PC. However, it didn't integrate correctly with the syntax checking function in Ultraedit so for the time being Wampserver is my tool of choice (although I must admin I have no use for SqlLiteManager).

The only problem I found with Wampserver is that it does not include a mail server - this makes it impossible to test any mail functions within your software.

With my current focus on getting DMCMS Version 080 ready, it didn't take long for me to get bored with uploading changed files to a test site, so that I could test out changes involving sending mail, so I decided to install a mail server on my Windoze machine.

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Start As You Mean To Go On...

With the first working week of the year at an end I am very pleased with myself - not only have I managed to release two DMCMS updates but I have also managed to keep my other resolutions too. The long long overdue security update was rolled out in Version 0.7.1 closely followed by another version to address a couple of small issues that were missed with the first release. Whilst only up for few hours the Version 0.7.1 release had 20 downloads - thats a lot of interest in such a short period of time - hopefully this is an indication of things to come.Work has continued on the Version 0.8.0 release with a number of items being crossed off of the To Do list. In a bid to keep visitors more informed I have added a 'Current Task' to the To Do page to indicate what I'm currently working on, I also split out the list into items scheduled for the next release (To Do List) and items for later releases (Wish List) - this has allowed me to review and remove a few items from the 0.8.0 release to speed up it's release. Hopefully this should provide an accurate status for future project development.Have you visited ohloh.net?

Also worthy of mention is http://www.ohloh.net - Ohloh was started up in 2004 as a way of providing more visitbility into software development. Utilising a number of aids ohloh provides analytical data and project overviews in an easy to read format. Statistics can be viewed for both projects and contributors alike. In addition Kudos points can be awarded between members. Members can also add projects to 'Stacks' (a personal colletions of projects) allowing projects to be suggested to them based on common choices.

Naturally I added DMCMS as a project. The project page proides entries for RSS feeds, descriptions and after adding CVS information a breakdown of the content of the project is displayed.

Amusingly the breakdown indicates that it would cost you approximately $844,130 if you wanted to hire a team to replicate DMCMS - And to think I gave it away for free - surely THAT should give me some kudos points.

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Resolutions

Once again it is that time of year where most of us will make the resolve to change something for the New Year. Usually this ends up with failed attempts and frustrations with only some being lucky enough to follow through.Well - it is coming up to one whole year since I gave up smoking :) I guess this time round I was one of the lucky ones - although I didn't give up on New Years Eve - it was more like mid January. Maybe this is why I was successfull? Who knows? (If I did I would have spent the past year marketing my 'how to give up smoking' book).But now it's time for me to make some more promises to myself - this year my biggest goal is to get a little fitter (I managed to put a few pounds on in the process of giving up smoking), a hard task for most - hopefully I can apply the same determination to this as I did to giving up smoking last year (In a way I almost feel that now I've managed to give up smoking I can achieve anything).A much harder task to acheive will be getting DMCMS V0.8 into a state where it is ready to release - this is however one of my New Years Resolutions.Looking back over the past year a lot of progress was made on the development of DMCMS in the first 6 months - the whole project was made public on Sourceforge (there have been nearly 600 downloads to date from the Sourceforge site), it has been targetted by various hackers exploiting vulnerabilities in the code (which I see almost as an honour - lol), it has been promoted on various websites and it has continued to provide the basis for most of the websites that I create / manage. Unfortunately the latter part of the year provided no further releases due to other commitments.My commitment for 2008 is to get the Version 0.8 release finished so that it can be made public - The biggest part of the V0.8 release is the user management features. The decision to integrate user management into DMCMS was taken earlier in the year and it has proven to be quite a bit more work than originally anticipated. The current test releases have a functioning user management system that provides user registration and user commenting for registered users. The plan for the final V0.8 release is to also include a permissions system so that access can be restricted to created pages.Currently the permissions system allows users to be split into three different categories -

Users (this category is for registered users) Administrators (these users have access to all site features) Moderators (these users can modify / delete / add content).

These user categories are mostly to deal with the commenting system - moderators can be made to carry out moderation functions but thier access to other admin functions is completely restricted, Administrators obviously have access to do anything and Users have to be logged in to be able to post (therefore they have to be registered).No Guest posting is allowed as this will most probably just event in a lot of unwanted spam. User registration involves confirmation by email for account activation. I have also added captcha integration using the reCaptcha API for added anti-spam security - this may or may not be bindled with the release - I'm not sure at the moment - I personally think it's great but I also have to consider the added complexity it presents to the user setting up a DMCMS installation.The [currently] limited user account types will have to be expanded to provide access control to created pages, it is most likely that this will be expanded to customizable user groups. This route is almost a definate as it fits in well with another project that I am currently undertaking where I need to provide a seperate area for each logged in (subscribed) user - the ability to be able to create unique groups will allow me to be able to assign a group to each user. I can then create a page specifically for each user where access is only granted for the group associated with the user. Fully customisable user groups also allows the end user to choose a name for the groups that best suit thier site.

This method of access restriction works well, as a user can be made a member of many groups, meaning that access can be infinately complex. I may also add a timed function so that users can be made a member of a particular group from / until a specific time, this is something that I will need to do for the other project I am working on as paid subscriptions will be required, it seems logical to also include the features develped for my other projects in DMCMS too.

My other New Years Resolutions relate to other projects that I need to finish - I currently have a web based project that is in the initial stages of development, a desktop application that is 25% of the way through, a WM5 application that needs rescuing (it was finished but then a hard drive failure has meant that I lost some files) and an idea for another web based project. All of these projects (with the exception of the last one) need to be finished within the next few months, fortunately the web based project largely depends on DMCMS V0.8 so it is likely that this will cause the next DMCMS release to be pushed along nicely.

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Wine At Christmas

Regular readers would remember my look into IDE's / Programming Editors for the Linux platform from the last post. My main reason for this was to try and find something to replace Ultraedit Studio which has been my weapon of choice for coding for the past 7 or 8 years. Well, I've possibly found a better alternative - running Ultraedit 'natively' on Linux!No, unfortunately IDM have not decided to port UE for Linux (although more on that below...), I have discovered Wine. Wine is an application layer that allows Windoze applications to run on Linux by allowing access to dll files.The Wine website has an application database that lists applications tested with Wine, this ranges from applications like UEdit to PC based games. There are several entries listed for Ultraedit - namely different versions. There are some reports that ftp functionality does not work or is limited but generally it appears that Ultraedit functions fine. The Database entry can be viewed HERE and the Wine Home page can be viewed HERE

Installation of Wine in Ubuntu is easy - simply choose Wine in the Synaptic Package Manager. Wine is also available for other flavours of linux, with installation options to suit each.

After installing Wine, you will now need to download a copy of Ultraedit to your linux box. I've chosen to download and install Ultraedit Studio. Installation involves setting the exe file to open with Wine - this can be easily done by right clicking on the file and choosing 'open with other application'.

A bit of a tip - I found that if I chose the custom installation it would fall over trying to register wodCertificate.dll - wheras choosing the typical installation had no problems.

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Linux Programming Editors

A week or so in and I am really digging my Ubuntu installation, so much so that I'm almost regretting spending the cash on the new laptop - Installing Ubuntu on my old Dell Latitude has speeded it up end - it's now a much more useable machine. So far I have only had one issue with the Ubuntu installation - I've not yet been able to get WEP authentication working on wireless - the wireless card connects to non-secured networks no problem - but doesn't connect to WEP secured networks. Anyways - it's not a major issue and I'm sure I will sort it out in time.

EDIT: I reconfigured my router to use WEP Open Authentication and now it works!

I've decided to transfer over my web development onto the Ubuntu machine - I figure that if I can manage to comfortably use ubuntu to write code then I will junk my copy of Windoze Vista on the new laptop and make the jump over to linux permanent. The few programs that I need to run in windows can be run inside of VXWorks.My biggest issue is finding a replacement of Ultraedit - I've been using Ultraedit (Studio) for about the past 7 years and have found it hard to move away from using it, it simply has too many usefull features that many other editors do not. In the past I have tried many different open source editors for the Windoze platform but none quite hit the mark (I use Notepad++ on my work machine as they are too tight to cough up for a copy of Ultraedit). Linux appears to be no different.The main 'advanced' features I use for editing are syntax highlighting, function lists, bracket matching, project management, cvs integration, column editing, find / replace in files and php syntax checking.

I mainly use Uedit Studio for my web development - PHP / HTML / CSS, however it does get used for more specialist programming endeavours such as robot programming and so things like compiler integration is very handy.

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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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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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