Wannabe-coder

The First PHP Thang

We recently switched ISPs from one that I've been with for ~10is years to a new one, TV service and all.  What didn't come along with it was allowing incoming traffic on port 80, so I was left trying to find a new place for an old web app I made for my family.

In mucking around trying to get it working, I found this little gem.

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Yep, possibly the biggest no-no

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Nom nom, Cookies.

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These are cookies.  They taste good.  They usually have chocolate chips, sometimes raisins, sometimes other tasty stuff.  Usually they also have a lot of fat, sugar, calories and other stuff that make inactive people like me get fat.

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This is also a cookie, as seen by Firefox.  This cookie is for a local website I am working on, called "PC Pump". This particular cookie helps the website remember who you are when you look at it.  Maybe you read some posts on the forum, and when you come back the website tells you "Hey, these posts are new since your last visit".  Or maybe you logged in, and you filled out a survey, and I need to try to make sure you won't fill out the survey twice.

Now, I know as a wanna-be web developer guy, I need to be making my stuff to work with the lowest common denominator - should work without flash, java, video, etc etc.  But cookies?  Come on.  Cookies are set by websites that don't even need you to log in or anything.  They are not malicious, when used correctly.  They are a critical tool for interactive web based tools.

So turn on your damn cookies.

Firefox Versus IE

While not really a rant about which one is better than the other...  That's a topic for another day, because no one has covered it before...  This is more about the perception of one browser to another. I spend some time working with Drupal.  I'm not a big contributor (as in, I don't at all – maybe a bug report here or there, but that's about it) – All of my experience comes from writing custom code for various websites, or being a user.

For all the bad rap

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For all the bad rap the BB Storm gets, I'm beginning to really see its potential.  It recently replaced my BB Pearl as my work-given cell phone, and since we're a blackberry shop, goodies like the iPhone and Android phones are out of the picture.

Keep in mind, I've never owned an iPhone, and I probably won't – My other cell phone is used "exclusively" by Holly (and in quotes because, more often than not, it sits on the kitchen counter on the charger), and try as I might, she knows she doesn't need an iPhone :)

A few of the nifty features I enjoy:

  • The touch-sensitive screen.  It's been touted as one of the key features of the Storm, and once you get used it, it's easy to see what it brings to the table.  You can drag your finger over the screen to highlight or select things, but until you actually PRESS the screen (and it does press – like clicking a mouse button).  This is handy for cases where the keyguard isn't on, and it switches to the phone mode – you're not dialing numbers.
  • Keyguard – this has its own button, instead of having to assign one.  Conveniently located on the top of the handset, so you can hit it with your thumb while holstering it, this keeps little hands and fingers from doing bad things.
  • Bad things aren't possible – No more dialing 911, CMB.  No more.  The "Emergency Call" feature isn't there anymore, so little fingers don't press buttons they're not supposed to.
  • Full keyboard – need I say more?  The hybrid keyboard on the Pearl, combined with the smart type or whatever it was called was retarded and frustrating all at the same time.
  • Larger capacity mini SD card support.  The phone shipped with an 8gb mini card, which is making it totally awesome for listening to podcasts.  I also look forward to using it when I'm back on the bike in the warmer months.
  • GSM support – Not that I use this, but the fact that its EVDO/1X/GSM gives me flexibility of using other services when I'm not in town.  Because that happens often.

Of course, it has its issues – the camera is clumsy, even though the resolution is considerably better, the auto-focus thing is slow, which makes taking the pictures slow.  The "flash" is ..  well..  not really.  It's an ultra bright LED.  E for effort, but that's about it.

Google Sync installed flawlessly, and started complaining about appointments added from another source.  Tells me it doesn't like me running Sync on my desktop as well, but events and contacts still seem to come across.

Google Maps (and Latitude) seems to have really crappy GPS resolution, and when it can get a location, it's ~700m out.  A bit of searching and I find out I'm not the only one with an issue.

There's an MSN client, which is a nice addition to the software library.  I never did find a "good" MSN client, and the Jabber clients I found for the Pearl either sucked or were incomplete.  Having an MSN client, along with the defacto Google Chat client completes the whole thing.

So, I'll see how it does in the long term, as long as I can keep it away from little baby hands :)

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WMIC

Wow.  Er, I really wish I had known about this little gem some time ago.

WARNING: High levels of nerd in this post.

WMIC, for the un-initiated (like I was up until a few minutes ago) lets you issue WMI commands in a Windows environment via the command line.

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Mozilla Weave

Some time ago, I downloaded and setup Mozilla Weave on a few computers that use Firefox.  The idea is pretty nice: Synchronize settings across multiple browsers (like bookmarks, form fields, etc) using already-available technologies, like SVN.

But then, for a while, Weave became slow and unusable.  Things wouldn’t synch up, or down, and I would see a server busy message more often than not.

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Some more website tools

Digital Inspirations had a little blurb a while ago on how to make your website a bit more accessible.  The original article can be found at http://www.labnol.org/internet/blogging/useful-blog-addons-for-blogger-wordpress/4171/, which also links to 2 other good reads: The best online tools to help you know everything about web sites and How to completely test your web site.

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