random…here and there.

Some random things to point out…

  • Amanda Congdon is no longer the RocketBoom anchor…and just when I finally got Amy slightly hooked to this awesome vblog. Wherever she goes, I will be sure to follow. She is very talented!
  • Diet/lifestyle update…I weighed in yesterday and actually lost a few pounds last week! That is from all the moving (I moved my home office to a different part of my home to further separate home stuff and work stuff) and IKEA assembly coupled with yardwork over the weekend. Now I just need to keep that up!
  • I am putting the finishing touches on a re-write of my company web site that I have been working on for the last several weeks now. I still need to do some final QA as well as to validate everything…and fill the sitemap, but it is pretty complete so I thought I would put it. There will always be something to do. I have a few HOWTO blog postings coming up on how I did some of the things I did.
  • What is the deal with gas prices?? The low-grade by me is now at $3.24 and climbing. Come on Volvo/LandRover…let’s get on the alternate fuel bandwagon.
  • Speaking of Volvo…I got a letter in the mail from Volvo…I have to take my S80 in for a software upgrade. I love it!
  • The upgrade to XOOPS 2.0.14 has been rocky. I am having some major problems with a few of my main modules (SmartSection, Protector) which produce blank pages. This is why I use a development server for testing before updating any of my production sites.

[tags]Amanda Congdon, IKEA, diet, Volvo, Land Rover, XOOPS[/tags]

command line to the rescue…again.

While upgrading a client’s web site to XOOPS 2.0.14 I ran into some issues with the XOOPS 2.0.14 package file (a tar.gz file). Stuffit Expander would only extract a few folders, then report an error and quit. After a few attempts, and all failures, I had to chose to turn to the command line and bingo, no problems! So, if you ever have any issues with Stuffit Expander and need to uncompress a .tar.gz file, the following commands will come in handy:

  • To uncompress a gz file: gunzip file.gz
  • To uncompress a tar file:
    tar [tar options (usually xvf)] file.tar
  • To uncompress a .tar.gz file: tar xzvf file.tar.gz

Questions? Check out the man pages for tar and gunzip.
[tags]XOOPS, gunzip, tar[/tags]

wordpress development.

I have been using open source solutions for over seven years now. (my first open source experience was with mailman and then ht://dig and squirrelmail soon after – all of which I still use today) I made it a priority to get involved with at least one open source project this year, and to start out I have chosen to get involved with WordPress. I signed up to help with browser testing and to look at ways WordPress can offer more CMS features. I have extensive browser testing experience and have plenty of CMS and WordPress as a CMS experience that I look forward helping with the WordPress project and giving something back to a great community. If you would also like to help, check out the WordPress Development page.
[tags]mailman, ht://dig, squirrelmail, CMS, WordPress, open source[/tags]

jappler's wordpress.

Well after over six months using WordPress to drive jappler.com, I thought I would report for anyone out there that might be interested, what plugins and modifications I have put in place to create jappler.com what it is today.
User Interface

  • Admin User Interface Enhancemnt: Tiger Style Administration Plugin. If you know me, you know I am very particular with user interfaces, and this one passes the test.
  • Page Navigation: WP-PageNavi Plugin. This creates page number links at the bottom of my blog.
  • Search Term Highlighter: Search Hilite Plugin (this is now built-in). When someone searches for information on your WordPress site/blog, the search term will be higlighted in the found posts/pages

Utilites

  • Anti-Spam: Spam Karma Plugin. Help ward off comment spam by using this awesome spam stopping plugin.
  • Email This Post: WP-EMail Plugin. This plugin allows visitors to email a post to themselves or anyone who might find something interesting.
  • Click Counter: Click Couter Plugin. This plugin tracks how many times all the links on jappler.com have been clicked.
  • Search: Search Pages Plugin. Since I use WordPress for more than a blog, I needed to have a way to search through all my content and pages, not just my blog. This plugin searches everything on jappler.com
  • Sitemap: Google Sitemaps Plugin. This plugin creates a Google compliant sitemap (which helps with your Google rank).
  • Counter: WP-OnlineCounter Plugin. I never had a counter back in the late 1990s when I first put up my first web pages…so here it is.
  • RSS Aggregator: aggrss, an rss aggregator Plugin. This plugin drives my <a href="/news/" section.
  • PHP: Run PHP Plugin. This allows me to use PHP into any of my posts/pages
  • Modification Date: Last Modified Plugin. This plugin puts the “last modified” next to my posts/pages.

Fun

  • SNL Fun: Deep Thoughts Plugin. We all need some deep thoughts. This plugin is used in my randomness section.
  • Weather: WeatherIcon Plugin. This plugin displays the weather on my home page.
  • Jappler History: One year ago Plugin. Jappler.com is random…it is sometimes fun to see what I was thinking/posting about a year ago. Soon I will have to add “Two years ago” too.
  • Polls: WP-Polls Plugin. I have started playing around with this plugin…watch for some exciting Jappler polls soon 😉

Let me know if you have questions! I will be happy to help any beginner or intermediate bloggers get started!
[tags]WordPress, WordPress Plugins, jappler.com[/tags]

wordpress 2.0

I finally had a few minutes to download the latest Release Candidate of WordPress 2.0 yesterday and install it. Like usual, I created a full backup of my current site files and database, then installed the new version of WordPress and ran the super easy “upgrade” script. I was extrememly surprised when I did not encounter any real issues…especially since I hacked together so much with WordPress 1.5. My plugins worked and this I am able to post! I have not had a lot of time to play around with all the new features (most which are behind the scenes), but I look forward to checking them out soon.

I am including a screenshot of the admin area to show anyone who has not used a CMS or a blog just how easy it is to post content on a web site. If you can type and click a mouse button, you can have your own web site 😉 If you have never played with AJAX, there are lot of little AJAX goodies in this latest release!  Good job WordPress developers on the new release!
WordPress 2.0
[tags]WordPress, AJAX, CMS, blog[/tags]

content management systems and java applications.

I have been tasked with implementing a heavy duty content management system within the next year. I have played around with many CMSes over the past year (Drupal, TikiWiki, and Plone) as well as implemented a few web sites using XOOPS and my own homebrew of WordPress. While I would not hesitate to continue using XOOPS, Plone, or try Joomla!, I have to also be considerate of some other factors that are out of my control. I have to figure out some system that will play nicely with java applications. (access control, template system, etc)

So, my task…to find, research, and play around with some Java CMSes. If anyone has any experience with this, please email me or leave a comment. Any help/pointers would be appreciated.
[tags]CMSes[/tags]

web site optimization.

The last few days I became obsessed with optimizing jappler.com. It was loading slower and slower with what seemed to be every passing day. Since I had originally designed my web site for an earlier version of WordPress, I figured it was about time for a tune up. I went to the ever-so-helpful codex, to help me figure out what was going on. I went through a number of different steps to troubleshoot the problem and I thought the steps I took might be helpful to others.

  • Is it my host or my site? At first I thought it was a slow host. I had friends from around the country access my web site, and confirm the problem existed for everyone. From all the feedback, I confirmed something was going on. Now it was time to take it to the next step. Was my host slow or was my web site slow? To check this, I grabbed a recent backup and restored it to my desktop to check it out. Once I had everything in place, I hit my web site and it still seemed slow, so I asked Ken to give it a try. He confirmed it was still slow. It was not the host that was slow.
  • Is it my template/XHTML/CSS/graphics that is slow?
    Now it was time to revalidate my XHTML and CSS via W3C. I caught a few errors, but nothing major. I also took a look at my graphics’ sizes…nothing too hideous. I even had a few graphics (Get FireFox, etc) that were being pulled from a remote location…I put an end to that. I then reconfirmed that the site was still slow so I decided to turn to my favorite part about FireFox the Web Developer extension. Under the tools menu, I viewed my site’s speed report via http://www.websiteoptimization.com. I was able to look at everything that was loading from my site, make sure CSS decisions (break up my CSS into a few different files, and then do some minor changes to reduce my HTTP requests from 63 to 36. How? This is where I started getting into some database optimization.
  • MySQL issues? Since everything is page is created dynamically, it was time to shift the focus on the database.
    • Table optimization.
    • I first read about the option to optimize tables, so I logged into phpMyAdmin and optimized all my WordPress tables. I once again did some more performance testing on my site and yet again, no luck…it was still slow. Time for my next hypothesis.

    • Slow queries. I found out that MySQL has the ability to log slow queries by adding log-slow-queries=/var/log/mysql/mysql-slow.log and then defining the slow query variable set-variable = long_query_time=2 in the /etc/my.conf file. (This is not created by default.) Once you have made changes to the my.conf file, you will need to stop/start MySQL. Now to look at the slow queries…simply tail -f your log. (for me: tail -f /var/log/mysql/slow-queries.log) Once again, with some testing (browsing) of my web site, I did not find any queries that stood out.
  • Back to the jappler template: One div at a time. Back to the codex I went searching for tips, examples, etc. What else could be the problem? Time to go through what I know.
    • I have ruled out a slow host.
    • My XHTML and CSS validate (or have only a minor issue with one of my IE tricks, but when I use the default WP theme my pages load fine.
    • I have stripped out the right hand column and the footer to localize the problem to the main part of the page so those parts of the pages are fine.
    • I have disabled and then re-enabled all the WP plugins one at a time (and deleted a number of them)
    • I have optimized my MySQL tables. I have looked at slow queries coming from my theme.

    At this point I did not see too many options other than recreating my templates over one div at a time. Div by div I recreated and tested my web site. (header loads ok…time to add the menu….menu loads ok with header…time to add content. Eventually through enough testing (and some wild plugins) I tracked down the problem…more like problems and started testing multiple templates.

  • What’s left as of today? I still need to work on my index.php to make it load a little quicker. Something is still not happy there. I also need to figure out what is not happy with the news page. Other than that…even though it was a stressful few weeks, I can walk away happy because I learned a lot.
  • Summary.

  • When issues arise, try to pinpoint the problem as much as possible by asking yourself questions.
  • Validate your HTML/XHTML/CSS. Clean code is a good thing.
  • If you are using themes/templates, try a default template.
  • Make use of the Web Developer extension for FireFox.
  • Take a look at your site’s speed report via http://www.websiteoptimization.com.
  • Back up often!! (I just had to slip this in)
  • Be on the lookout for rogue plugins and watch your queries.
  • Don’t give up!

[tags]optimization[/tags]

another cms arrives.

Well, just when you think you have decided on the content management system that is right for you…something else pops up. After having a talking with Ken as he expressed interest in installing Mambo, I wanted to make sure he was aware of the recent turmoil with Mambo, and pointed him to the “new” CMS the once Mambo developers decided to create: Joomla. After looking at it (version 1.0.0 came out Sept 15, 2005), I am interested in seeing what is capable of. The deleopers seem very professional, committed, and knowledgable. I look forward to seeing great things from this CMS and Ken (hopefully at pesanka.com). Once I get some free time, I will play with it. I have a few other pressing projects right now that need all my attention ;).