apache, mysql, php update.

Finally after two years of contemplating the updates to Apache 2.x, MySQL 5.x, and PHP 5.x, I finally updated my server to the latest version os Apache, MySQL, and PHP. I was not too concerned about custom work or any of my WordPress sites, but I was concerned XOOPS and/or XOOPS modules would have some problems, but it is now a week later and everything is running smoothly. Why finally? Well, as of the end of this month, support for PHP 4 will be discontinued. Better late than never. Time to update your servers too?

why wordpress?

I get a number of inquiries from people who want to know what content management system (CMS) or blog software I would recommend. After working with XOOPS, Plone, and of course WordPress my first thought is to make sure the CMS is a good fit. Although some people and companies benefit from more complicated systems, the majority of people can use the lightweight, highly configurable, and easy to maintain WordPress software. If you still are not convinced, take a look at the feature list.

I Am Back

After a few days of not posting here, I am back. Every time the new year approaches, I begin to re-assess what I want to do for the year like most people. Last year I wanted to establish myself and my consulting business, get involved in some big projects, and learn more about WordPress. Looking back now, I ended up working on a few big projects, the most visible (as soon as it launches) is Ookles. I had the opportunity to work with some outstanding talent and I learned quite a bit about CSS, Google Maps, project management, contracts, and the art of communication. I also had a great year with my consulting company. I have helped a number of people build their personal and company web sites, and I learned quite a bit by working behind graphic designers for the first time. Thanks to Alex King, I also built quite a few custom WordPress CMS web sites, blogs, and etc which pushed me to learn more about WordPress, AJAX, and PHP. In the next coming year, I hope to improve my time management (so I can spend as much time with my son as possible), release a few plugins for WordPress, and move my more technical posts to my company’s blog so I can begin offering a place of centralized WordPress and XOOPS CMS HOWTOs and tips to my current and future clients. I should have everything up and running in the next few days so I can begin posting blog items: http://www.sdacinc.com/blog/.

how to clone the SmartSection module for XOOPS.

I was recently asked how to clone the SmartSection module for XOOPS, so I thought I would document the process here on my blog. (XOOPS is another favorite CMS I use for my clients when they want a CMS)

  1. Download SmartSection (http://smartfactory.ca/
  2. Duplicate the smartsection module folder (this is the folder with all the module files in it – the folder you will put into the “modules” directory within your XOOPS install)
  3. Now it is time to do a few “find and replaces” with your favorite text editor. (I prefer TextWrangler) For the sake of an example, I am going to name my cloned version of the SmartSection module SmartJappler. Within the entire duplicated folder, find and replace every instance of the following with the name of your newly cloned module. **Make sure you are replacing every instance in all the files**
    1. Find: smartsection and replace it with smartjappler (your module name here)
    2. Find: SMARTSECTION and replace it with SMARTJAPPLER (your module name here)
    3. Find: SmartSection and replace it with SmartJappler (your module name here)
    4. Find: Smart Section and replace it with Smart Jappler (your module name here)
    5. Find: SSECTION and replace it with SJAPPLER (your module name here)
    6. Find: Smartsection and replace it with Smartjappler (your module name here)
  4. You also need to change the template file names in your duplicated folder to match your cloned module name. In the SmartJappler (or whatever you renamed the module) find the /templates/ folder and rename all files that have “smartsection” in the file name to “smartjappler” (or whatever you renamed the module). **Make sure all files in /templates/ and /templates/blocks/ have the new file names. (ex. smartsection_rss.html would be renamed to smartjappler.html)
  5. Last but not least, you will need to do one more find and replace within one file: /sql/mysql.sql. Again, with your favorite text editor, find all instances of: smartsection_ and replace it with the name of your module. In my case I would replace it with smartjappler_.

Once you have completed these steps, upload the duplicated folder (now your cloned module) and install it though the XOOPS Admin panel. Questions, comments? Let me know!
[tags]XOOPS, SmartSection, clone, XOOPS module, TextWrangler[/tags]

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]

random points of interest.

I have been completely swamped with work for the last week, but I wanted to share some random points of interest that I have stumbled upon over the last few days.

  • I sat down to relax after a long day of coding to watch a great show on the History Channel called: Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How They Got That Way Opium, Morphine, and Heroin. This was filled with awesome tidbits of information like:
    • The Chinese first got hooked on smoking tobacco, then they added some opium to the tobacco…then they got hooked on smoking opium. Before this, eating little bits of opium was the most popular way to feel the effects of opium
    • Morphine was used to treat alcoholism, and even though alcoholics then became morphine addicts, it was more socially acceptable at this time (around prohibition) than to be an alcoholic because morphine addicts were less likely to start fights or beat their spouses
    • The hypodermic needle was invented to get morphine to into people’s systems faster
  • Grant Lee Phillips, one of my favorite singers, released a new album this week and it is amazing. Anyone who is looking for a great summer album, be sure and check it out. (It is available on the iTunes music store.
  • I am slowly bust surely getting through my PHP and MySQL web development book. I already have learned so much. I just need time at this point.
  • I am getting ready to release two web sites in the next few days/weeks (content dependent). One is a “from scratch” web site, and another is a redesign.
  • So far, my XOOPS 2.0.14 testing is going well. I have tested a handful of modules and will hopefully finish up all my testing tonight then push the update over to the production web sites
  • Being swamped is one thing, but my goodness…Scott has his hands full.

[tags]History Channel, Grant Lee Phillips, 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]

big update weekend.

The big talk in our wonderful city today was about the “Sears Tower terror plot” that did not happen, thank goodness. I am about two blocks away from the Sears Tower four days a week.

In other news, XOOPS is going to release XOOPS version 2.0.14 on Monday which among several things, will bring LDAP Authentication support to XOOPS. Yeah! Time to get ready to play with the new update before I push it to my production sites.

If all goes well tomorrow on the golf course aka, I come back in a good mood ready to put in a few hours of work…I will also check out the newly released alpha of Tasks Pro 1.7. I have been longing for tagging for awhile now and I know Alex King will not disappoint.

[tags]Chicago, Sears Tower, XOOPS, Tasks Pro[/tags]

One of Those Days

Time for a beer! Nothing like waking up at 5am and putting in multiple hours of “work” before you actually start your day job. To begin the day…I could not sleep (because of the humidity) so I decide to get up early and check my consulting company’s email figuring I can do a few simple tasks before I start my day job. No new messages. I think to myself that I should have something…I should at least have my daily tasks email from Tasks Pro that is sent every morning at 430am. I then look into the problem and notice I cannot send mail either….everyone’s favorite 550 smtp error. I call my hosting company and have them look into it. I start to sweat because this is affecting my entire VPS…all my domain names, and all my clients. After getting disconnected four times from my hosting company but finally get a call back from the last person I talk to and he assures me he is looking into it. An hour goes by and no fix. I call back and talk to someone else who is now also looking into it. Meanwhile, a client calls me and tells me she is going to demo the XOOPS CMS I built and she cannot log in with the administrative account. I confirm the problem, and luckily I recognize this issue…and a simple database rebuild takes care of the problem. As I get off the phone with my client, I get an IM from another person I am doing work for and they are having some CSS issues. ID issues, the ever-so-lovely unclosed div tag issue – luckily this was not too bad of an issue and I like CSS so this was not too bad. Next thing I know I get a call back from my hosting company and my issue has finally been resolved. It is now time to stop my consulting work so I can start my day job…unfortunately I am already stressed out and it is not even 9am!

My work day officially begins…and finally ends. I take a conference call during my lunch break and get piles of more work to do this evening. I start to think my day looks up when my Vonage (sorry Jerry, I misplace your refer a friend email and was so lame I did not email you back about getting another copy – lunch is on me when you are in the city next time) equipment arrives (I am using it for my business) but to continue on with my wonderful day…I cannot get a dial tone. Whoops, I do not have a Vonage compatible router. Off to Best Buy to buy a new router. I then had to come home and reconfigure the router (I have quite a few custom port forwarding settings for PS2 and for my home servers). Finally, I am able to sit down, take a breath, and start some work for my consulting business….knowing I really should be out mowing the lawn. Serenity Now!
[tags]serenity now, tasks pro, VPS, CSS, XOOPS, Vonage, PS2[/tags]

real artists ship.

The perfectionist in me wants to wait to introduce a new design, etc until everything is perfectly in place. But recently, I was reminded that “real artists ship“.

I am starting to get more consulting business and I was unhappy with my business web site design. It was dark, uninviting, and just felt heavy. I needed something lighter, brighter, and in typical Jen factor…minimal. Enter the latest design: SDAC Inc. I still have a lot to do…a lot of rewriting of text, adding more graphics to bring more interest in, and to convert my Photoshoped header into bits and pieces controlled completely by CSS, but I had to take a good look at my priorities.

Usually when people procrastinate, they surf the web, clean, etc, but me…when I get really busy, I redesign. When I have a big design project coming up, I instantly look at my web sites and look to see what I can redo. Once I got several hours into this redesign, I realized I had to cut back on some of the things I wanted to implement because it was more important that I get a new design out there than have the same design with 4x the time put in to make everything perfect.

When I go out, I go all out. Not only did I redo the entire design, I also moved my site from XOOPS to WordPress. XOOPS was overkill, and let’s face it…I love WordPress.

I learned a good lesson from this whole experience…put something out there, then improve on it later instead of holding out for days/weeks.
[tags]real artists ship, SDAC Inc, XOOPS, WordPress[/tags]