Tag Archives: computers-development

Fresh coat of paint for the Bia Creations website

I updated the core framework and theme for Bia Creations, today.  Truthfully, I updated the framework last week, and pushed the new theme today.  I ditched rails & typo for a straight php/mysql/apache solution.  It’s not that I don’t like rails or typo, I just wanted something all around more mature for that site.  I have to admit, installing WordPress was like christmas morning.  It still excites me to think about that platform.  The guys behind WordPress really did a solid job with that blogging framework.  As a bonus, it has a ton of themes and addons.  Oh… speaking of themes, the Telligent guys could take a few notes from WordPress.  Designing a custom theme is straightforward and easy.  I am seriously considering moving this blog to that platform as well…

Now, I have to also acknowledge the Apache Friends project.  Finally someone has come up with a simple way for the latest versions of php, mysql, apache, and various utilities to install/run on Windows (and many other platforms as a bonus).  I looked at how they do updates, and they even have that figured out.  Everything is simple and easy.  If they could plug Rails in on top of that, xampp would be a home run.  It’s really worth checking out if you want to use alternate technologies on windows.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the update to the Bia Creations site… let me know what you think

Auto label incoming mail with gmail

There is a really nifty trick with gmail that allows you to auto label incoming emails.  Say you subscribe to a mailing list.  When they ask for your email address, you would enter something like:

someone+mailinglist@gmail.com

You can then apply a filter to apply a label, mark the message as spam, etc.  Basically gmail ignores everything after the plus sign, and still considers the email as yours.  Talk about thinking outside the box.  Way to go gmail :)

The only downside is that some regular expression email validators do not allow plus signs in email addresses :(

Via this tip

Reflection and a new start

I needed some alone time yesterday, so I went for a little motorcycle ride.  It was a good chance for me to reflect on what has transpired since February and where things are going.  I drove from Milwaukee to Port Washington without hitting any major freeways.  I had no map no real directions, but things worked out just fine… I drove all along the shore of Lake Michigan and managed to stop at and explore 3 parks along the way.  One park in particular, Virmond, stood out as a pretty cool one.  It has some spectacular views of Lake Michigan from bluffs that tower above a nice sandy beach.  So if you’re looking to get away and live in Milwaukee, I can definitely recommend this ride… I could definitely see myself riding along the lake shore like this, from Milwaukee to Green Bay, on a future trip up north.

On another note, I just finished a project that I had been working on for the last two months or so… it feels good to get that out of the door, and today I start on a new project.  This new project has nothing to do with .net, which is a refreshing change. 

Talks with Telligent

I had some interesting talks with a couple guys from Telligent, recently.  Among things, we talked about Community Server and how I thought it could be a better product.  These were my top 3 points that I brought up:

Themes suck.  It pisses me off to the point of not upgrading, the fact that I have to redo my custom theme every time I upgrade.  Thankfully, they’re aware of this and are tackling it for version 3.0.  Their goal is to redesign the themes so that future upgrades of the CS core do not break old themes.

It would be really nice if there was a set of unit tests that a user could run on Community Server.  Take this site for instance… it started as a .Text install with nGallery.  Those programs where merged into Community Server and that framework has been updated a few times.  I know certain things are broken with the site (trackbacks, getting emails for new comments, picture stats, etc).  I would like to have a set of unit tests (like the script.aculo.us tests) so that I can run through the site after an upgrade and verify that everything is working properly.

Image gallery needs some love… it amazes me that they still do not have support for multiple file uploads.  To support uploading a zip file containing multiple images would be trivial.  To write an active-x plugin would be a little more difficult.  Having support for both would be nice for the time being while they try to figure out the ultimate way.  Alas, I feel this is one area where the roots w/ Microsoft show.  People spend hours talking about the ultimate approach and actually doing nothing, when they could implement something, that just works, today and perfect it at a later point if needed.  Incremental updates are just as valuable as large releases.  But from our talks, it seems that the CS team has sort of given up on galleries anyway.  It sounded like they would rather add support for the major image hosting sites (ie. Flickr) than fix their implementation.  We’ll see where the future leads though…. I personally would be happy using flickr, as long as I could save and transfer all of my existing images.

I didn’t talk with them about these next points, but I feel that I should make them regardless…

Take a simple thing as saving a rough draft with the blog post editor.  Microsoft would do something like, forcing you to post the article and checking a checkbox to keep it private.  Google and others would do something like adding a “save draft” button (with optional ctrl-s keyboard shortcut).  Additionally, the non-MS companies would add a drafts folder so that you can quickly see which posts are still in draft form.  While both would technically do the same thing, the “save draft” (think gmail) is so much more user friendly.  I don’t have to think about it…

It would be cool if Community Server had a missing updates feature.  By that I mean an admin page that queries a feed at Telligent and determines which updates are needed to make the site current.  To just simply list the updates, each updates severity level, provide a link to a page describing what the update is, and provide a link to download the update.  To make it more powerful, if more than one update is required, roll them into one single update that applies each one in the correct order.  That way, only one download and install would be necessary.  Obviously making it somewhat smart would be preferred.  If CS 3.0 update came out, but you were missing some updates for CS 2.x, it would provide both as options.

401.3 Access denied by ACL on resource in Firefox

I was working on a project and kept getting a 401.3 error: Access denied by ACL on resource.  I would only get this error in firefox, and IE performed as expected.  Touted as a “security feature” I’m sure… Anyway, after hunting around a little and tweaking the ACL for the specific directory, I finally got it resolved.  I needed to add the Users group with default permissions to the directory.  Just having the aspnet user account and admin user didn’t resolve it, which makes sense since IIS would need it’s own permissions to access the folder.  Anyway, hopefully this bit of info helps someone in the same situation.

A theory for how to get Firefox to beyond 50% market share…

I have a theory for how to get Firefox to 50% market share and beyond.  I would like to challenge anyone with the time and resources to do this…

Write a program that does two things:

  1. Checks for Firefox and if it’s not there, install the latest version of Firefox and optionally Adblock and Filterset.G extensions
  2. Replace all Internet Explorer icons with shortcuts to Firefox.  The catch is to use the internet explorer icon for the shortcut

I really don’t think that most people know what a browser is… they just know that if they click the little blue e icon, it’ll bring them “the internet.”  I have personally installed firefox on people’s computers and told them that it is better, more secure, and wont bring them near the number of viruses that IE will.  When I come back a month later, they’re using IE purely out of habit of clicking that specific icon.  They could care less if the program that is brought up is IE or Firefox.  They just want to surf the web in the most comfortable way possible.  Clicking the Firefox icon rather than the IE icon is something that needs to be learned, therefor it’s not immediately as comfortable as just defaulting back to using IE.

My thoughts on linq

I was talking with an ex-coworker the other day about web technologies.  I like to think that we stay pretty close to or sometimes ahead of the curve, as far as being informed about new technologies.  We went through various discussions ranging from how the postback model is a horrible user experience, to how ajax is just really a stepping stone, to c# and some of the new features that are being planned for v3.  I’m sure the stepping stone portion would make for a better blog, but fuck it, I’m going with what I originally titled this post. 

Linq… what a useless addition, imo.  Sweet…you can use raw sql in the language now… I’m so excited I can barely type…  How about doing something useful for developers and integrating an ORM tool into the language.  Object Spaces anyone?  Since I’ve used ORM tools, I haven’t wanted to look back to raw sql.  Sure, I occasionally have to craft some sort of hql to get the data that I need, but 90% of cases are handled by the tool.  Using an ORM tool has freed me from designing around relational tables, and rather I design my apps like they should be, based off the objects within the app.

So I say thank you MS… when .net v3 is released in 2010, I’m sure a handful of people will be real happy with your linq addition…

Property Center Launches!

I am extremely happy to announce Property Center, an online real estate management service.  To compliment the Property Center site, there is a blog setup at Bia Creations.  I began working on Property Center shortly after leaving Edstrom and couldn’t be happier.  The Property Center service uses prototype and script.aculo.us to enrich the user experience throughout many parts of the site.  So please, have a look and let me know what you think!

Also, I want to thank Aeron Glemann for getting me started with portions of the site theme.