boogdesign links

Links contains a big list of links, with a little bit of commentary

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02:23:22 am Permalink Smart Package Manager - Error Updating Cache

Categories: Linux

Had a bit of trouble with Smart on my laptop this week. After I had to cancel out of an update the whole thing kept hanging when updating the cache at the start, the GUI would sit there doing nothing. I tried running it direct from the shell and got this error:

# smart update
Loading cache...
Traceback (most recent call last):#####################################  ( 98%)
  File "/usr/bin/smart", line 194, in ?

I found the answer in the link above:

# rm /var/lib/smart/channels/*
# rm /var/lib/smart/cache
# smart update

And everything is working fine again :)

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09:14:39 pm Permalink New Boog Design Home Page Features

Categories: Programming, Content Management, Web

I've just been updating the boogdesign home page so that it displays recent updates from the rest of the site. I used Magpie RSS rather than hacking around with databases, as I figured it would be easier to extend later and less code in the short term. Here's the code:

$rss1 = fetch_rss("");
echo "<ul>";
for ($i=0; $i<=3; $i++) {
	$href = $rss1->items[$i]['link'];
	$title = $rss1->items[$i]['title'];
	$date_timestamp = $rss1->items[$i]['date_timestamp'];
	echo "<li><a href=\"$href\">$title</a> <span style=\"font-size: small\">(".strftime("%c", $date_timestamp).")</span></li>";
echo "</ul>";

It displays the most recent four posts, the post titles linked to the posts, with a timestamp. Since my existing index page was already linked directly from several places I added a redirect directive to index.html:

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0;index.php"/>

And I edited my .htaccess page to force index.php to be the default page:

DirectoryIndex index.php

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08:38:56 pm Permalink Google goes after Exchange

Categories: Technology News, Web, Project Management

Remember when Google signed a deal with Sun and everyone was talking about them trying to team up and steal the office software market from Microsoft? A year later, that's not yet happened, what has happened is that Google has launched an initiative to steal the office collaboration market from Microsoft - and, of course, when 'office collaboration' and 'Microsoft' appear in the same sentence, what we're really talking about is Exchange, perhaps with a little SharePoint thrown in.

Feature for feature 'Google Apps for Your Domain' has everything important you get from Exchange and SharePoint (or it would do if the Page Creator thing ever worked) except it's easier to use and cheaper. Big corporates are going to blanche at having a load of key data stored outside their own network, but I expect Google probably have better infrastructure expertise than 90% of them. Small businesses are going to have to seriously consider this as an option over Small Business Server and startups can get all the networked business systems they ever need if they combine Google Apps with Basecamp, one of the many web CRM solutions and perhaps Amazon Compute for their application hosting.

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07:52:57 pm Permalink Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2)

Categories: Programming, Technology News, Web

This looks way cool - the internet service platform of the future, IBM and their 'utility computing' can eat their hearts out. Get around the cost of dedicated hosting by renting machines, dynamically, as needed. It also seems to be really cheap compared to other hosting options. I looked up VPS hosting plans at one of my ISPs for comparison purposes, the cheapest package is $24.95pcm. This includes 40Gb monthly transfer and 4Gb of storage, costing that up on EC2 gives $0.60 for the storage and $8.00 for the transfer. What's not clear to me is how the '$0.10 per instance-hour consumed' is calculated - does this mean actual processing time your instance takes up or that you pay for all the time your instance is loaded even if it's doing no actual computation? (Hopefully, Jeff Barr will explain it &amp;#59;&amp;#41; ) In the latter case you'd be looking at a VPS-equivalent solution, except using a higher spec machine, for less than $10pcm. Even if you're paying for every hour that the instance is running for a whole month that's still only $74.40 (in a 31 day month), giving a total cost somewhere in the region of $85, which is still very competitive. If you just wanted a server for testing and development in this scenario you could probably end up paying less than $20pcm, I think it could be an ideal solution for the burgeoning cadre of Ruby on Rails or even Erlang web developers - cheaper than VPS or Dedicated Servers during the development period but with practically infinite scalability.

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07:12:49 pm Permalink IE7 RC1 now available for download

Categories: Technology News, Web

Just in case you missed the announcement elsewhere (I did &amp;#58;&amp;#41; ) - IE7 RC1 was released last week. I've been playing around with the last two beta releases for testing purposes and it's a big improvement on IE6. Most of the hacks I've used with IE6 are not necessary for IE7, I can usually get away with using just the standard stylesheet without an extra IE one.

From the IE Blog:

I think we will make a lot of progress against that in IE7 through our goal of removing the worst painful bugs that make our platform difficult to use for web developers.

The things I like are:

What I don't like so far is the performance, but running beta software on a VMWare image is never going to be an accurate way to gauge release performance - usually software products get optimised for performance during the beta phase so things will improve there.

If you are a committed Internet Explorer user, please, please upgrade as soon as possible. If you don't want to use beta software then consider switching to a good browser instead &amp;#59;&amp;#41;

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07:07:09 pm Permalink A Guide to Semantic Markup

Categories: Web

A very useful blog post, explaining semantic markup from a technical point of view. From a non-technical viewpoint it doesn't dwell overly on the key advantage - but if you don't read or understand (or care about) the rest of the article you should read the section under the heading 'Computers understanding the content'.

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06:58:44 pm Permalink Privacy flaw in IE and Firefox

Categories: Web

If you're worried about websites knowing where else you've gone, then you need to make yourself aware of this. The technique is to put a bunch of links on your web page and then use a script to see if they trigger the specific style you've inserted for :visited. If coupled with some Ajax type stuff, it could be set up to keep sending and testing links for as long as the visitor has the page loaded. Even though this whole weakness has been known for some time, apparently only Opera has any built in defenses. See some more discussion about this issue on reddit.

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07:06:54 pm Permalink 5 HTML elements you probably never use (but perhaps should)

Categories: Web

A very useful blog post, I'd never heard of the address tag or the q tag before.

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06:48:01 pm Permalink Browser Re-size Bookmarklets

Categories: Web

Was doing some layout stuff today and needed to check a page in IE at 800x600. I know there's a developer toolbar add in for IE but I generally try to avoid installing too much extra cruft in that browser, so I created some bookmarklets to resize for me. They'll also work in Firefox, but not if you've disallowed scripts from resizing your browser window, but don't appear to work in Opera or Konqueror.

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10:23:32 pm Permalink Can Your Programming Language Do This?

Categories: Programming, Web

Joel is usually quite entertaining and today he posted on a subject I've been devoting some research time to recently, Functional Programming:

If your programming language requires you to use functors, you're not getting all the benefits of a modern programming environment. See if you can get some of your money back.

His examples are in Javascript, which ought to be easy enough for most webheads to follow.

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06:49:06 pm Permalink IE PNG Degradability

Categories: Web

Found this today, tried it and it seems to work just fine. Not much good if you want to render the PNG on a patterned background (or on a variety of different background colours), but OK if you are just using PNG as generic GIF replacements. The additional technique, described in brief at the bottom of the article will work better if you want to retain the transparency, but overall it seems more work than just saving the image from Photoshop as a GIF and then using an IE specific stylesheet.

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