My First Attempt at Open-Source Contribution

21 May 2017

I've always wanted to contribute to an open source project, so I thought it was time to finally start.  I've been investigating different CSS frameworks, and came across Bulma.  I saw the contribute link and figured I'd see what issues there were in Github for it, and there was an issue about some typos.  I figured that was a good place to start; check if any more remained.  I forked and clones the repo to my machine and blasted it through "Inspect Code" option in PhpStorm, b...

Automating the simple stuff

23 September 2016

We all use computers for one thing or another, and in most cases we'll do the same things on them over and over.  Part of being a developer is realising the things which need doing a lot, and automating them to increase productivity.  Doesn't matter what it is, there's generally a way to automate things. As part of builting my (other) website, I came to realise that there's a lot of things which would need to be set up as repetitive tasks, and thought about these from the start.  ...

Encrypting the site

21 September 2016

I've just moved my site from HTTP over to HTTPS.  It's not a huge deal for something like this, but it's something which I've really needed to do for a while, and something which is becoming more and more popular.  For most people this won't mean much, and for this site it doesn't amke much difference, but given that encrypting web pages is a simple process, there's no real reason not to be doing it. I chose to use Let's Encrypt for setting up the SSL certificate as I've always had tr...

Introducing Charon File Uploader

26 April 2016

I've wanted to build a useful javascript library for a while, but never found any of the ones out there lacking.  I've been workong on a new project recently and one of the things I needed to do for that was be able to upload an image via AJAX, along with the alt-text and other information for the image.  There's libraries out there for uploading files and images, but I've not found one which lets you add other information to the post easily.  That's when I figured I could build i...

Database Connection Mis-information

25 April 2016

Whilst on my usual rounds on StackOverflow to help spred useful knowledge of computing and web development I came across the following comments on a thread: Um... mysql doesn't connect over http... nor to a directory Neither should it be an url. Usually it's localhost or the IP adress of the remote mysql server The first of these is, to my knowledge, correct.  However the second is absolutely wrong.  A connection to a database, or at least MySQL, does not have to be via IP addre...

Check, test and check again

13 April 2016

I noticed today as I was about to start a different article that my website was looking a bit, well, funny.  The layout was wrong, some of the colours were off, the whole thing was a mess.  Don't get me wrong, it's not at the forefront of design, and won't win any beauty awards, but it looked awful! The reason, I found, was because a lot of the assets for the styles and functionality just weren't being loaded.  Couldn't be found.  Vanished.  I worried about the state of...

Joomla 3.5.1 released

06 April 2016

Joomla has announced the release of their open source CMS system, version v3.5.1.  The latest version fixes the following issues which were found in v3.5: Fix root url sometimes returning empty in canonical URLs Fix having to log in twice when user session expires Some SMTP emails could no longer be sent due to a bug in the SMTP email server setup Session restarts caused PHP Errors Fix insertid() returning 0 for the PDO MySQL driver Fix the Empty trash and unarchive button not exist...

Joomla 3.5 Released

28 March 2016

A little over a week ago, the Joomla! Project anounced the release of Joomla 3.5.  The major advantage this has is that the widely used CMS has PHP7 support, allowing webmasters to upgrade their server installations and take advantage of the performance improvements that PHP7 brings. The new version comes with an e-mail update plugin to allow site admins to know when there are patches and bug fixes; hopefully they will then patch their sites to the benefit of everyone. A run down of the l...

NEVER trust user input

16 March 2016

I've had the joys recently of being part of a code autit for a potential client for a change or re-build of a system.  The code in itself was complete textbook...of how not to code a system.  It looked like it had been built long long ago when OO principles didn't exist, and when no-one knew about security unless they were in that field.  Certainly developers knew nothing about security. It started like any audit I've been involved in, get it set up and then log in.  Usually...

Drupal 8.0.5 Released

09 March 2016

Open source and widely popular CMS Drupal released a maintenance fix to their 8.x branch a little under a week ago.  This release fixes some bugs in the branch, but there's no security fixes as part of it.  The list of changes is available here.  The change log also lists April 20th as the release date for Drupal 8.1.0 which should have further fixes and new features. For those people running a CMS site, keeping up to date with the security and bug fix patches is good practi...

Perils of a shared hosting platform

09 March 2016

Once again I've been inspired by a stack overflow question, and it made me think about issues of a shared hosting platform.  You know the ones; the "host your site for £2.99 a month" sites.  There's nothing inherently wrong with it (I was using them for a long time until I decided I wanted my own server to play with, and still using one for a different project for the moment), but it brings its own risks.  Some of those risks are to do with the infrastructure, others ar...

The importance of meaningful variable names

08 March 2016

I was having my usual browse around Stack Overflow today (I really want that Fanatic badge) when I came across this question about fatal errors.  The coder in question was getting the following fatal error: Fatal error: Call to a member function Createuser() on string The code section in question was $u = $_POST['username']; $p = $_POST['password']; $e = $_POST['email']; // attempt to create user $reg = $u->Createuser($u, $p, $e); They went on to comment that the variable...

Developers still lack security know-how

05 March 2016

Earlier this week I was looking into RESTFUL web services and how to create them, so I set myself a small project.  The idea was to do something very basic, but that could be useful for someone rather than just a proof of concept.  i had no real direction.  With the news recently being about Apple locked in a battle with the FBI about whether or not they should be breaking their security for the FBI to access data on a particular iPhone, I started thinking about how much bad secur...

Under Construction

26 February 2016

I've left this site languish a little too long with no posts or improvement.  It's time for that to change, so I've started some development on the back-end, which will hopefully lead to a better working front end.  Here's a breakdown of what is in development: Splitting "versions" of the site out into individual posts rather than one large post normalising the database to introduce performance improvements re-writing the gallery section completely from the mess it currently is A...

Developers are the destroyers of hardware

22 November 2015

I've had a few discussions with some of my colleagues and friends in software development, and one of the things we all agree on is that there is nothing worse than a slow development environment.  A lot of us work with IDEs, some need to compile their code, some just have a lot of things open at once.  Either way, when a machine grinds to a halt, we want to throw it out of the window and get a new one.  Ok, we will accept that sometimes it's our fault.  A typo somewhere can ...

Fun with Firewalls

26 September 2015

Firewalls are not fun.  I've got to open with that statement as I've been doing a lot of work with firewalls in the past coupel of weeks.  It's not been the most enjoyable of experiences, but I can see why it is needed. I've been working with some during my dat job in order to tighten security around our servers, basic stuff really as there's some important stuff on there.  But my most recent experience was this week when I got an e-mail from from my hosting company to inform me ...

A reminder about backups

03 September 2015

I'm a huge advocate of taking backups of things.  So much so, I've got my own home server backing up to "the cloud" with all of my files on it.  It needs a bit of an organisational shuffle I think, but the idea is there. One place I don't have a proper backup strategy (and I really need to put one in place) is here, my website.  As a result, I've been playing around with things (in a live environment, bad I know!) and have lost most of the images in my gallery.  Fortunately ...

Sensible SVN Structuring

26 August 2015

SVN, or any other version control system for that matter, should always be used when developing code.  It doesn't matter if it's for a single person project, or a huge project involving hundreds of different developers.  Version control is essential. Recently I've been involved in changing the version control process for some of our projects.  It's taken two attempts because as a team we made some assumptions on how everything would fit together, but the first stage made goo...

So you think you're in control of your website?

03 August 2015

I've recently been approached about a project for me to work on, part-time and on the side.  This itself isn't unusual, but it's one of a very small minority which I think is a good ida and has some promise.  I'll not go into details about it, as I don't know the full details of what role I would be involved in, and to what extent, but I had a look into it over the weekend and discovered something which probably affects many small businesses initially, and something which could be disa...

Coding basics: DRY programming

27 July 2015

I’ve been working on an old codebase recently, a one which I have inherited, and looking through it I was frustrated at a lot of the code involved.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s normal for most programmers when they inherit an old project, but I’m not sure this followed good programming practices from when it was built (about 7 years ago). Looking at this made me go back and look at some of my old code, and look at how it could have been made better.  As part of ...

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