Mambo patching – a brief interlude

So one of my many hats involves helping out running the Arisia website. We changed the site over to being managed by Mambo several months ago, and have been ‘mostly’ happy with it, though it has its quirks.
One quirk raised its head today. We couldn’t upload files via the media manager other than graphics and pdfs. One of the users wanted to punch up a preformatted HTML page, and the system was not allowing it.
After digging around the code, I found the culprit. The system was hardcoded to only accept certain extensions, and I have to admit, the code that did it was… er… painful:

if ((strcasecmp(substr($file['name'],-4),".gif")) && (strcasecmp(substr($file['name'],-4),".jpg")) && (strcasecmp(substr($file['name'],-4),".png")) && (strcasecmp(substr($file['name'],-4),".bmp")) &&(strcasecmp(substr($file['name'],-4),".doc")) && (strcasecmp(substr($file['name'],-4),".xls")) && (strcasecmp(substr($file['name'],-4),".ppt")) && (strcasecmp(substr($file['name'],-4),".swf")) && (strcasecmp(substr($file['name'],-4),".pdf"))) {

Ew. Just. Ew. Bleah. Ick. In the immortal words of Tim Allen… “So I rewired it!” :

# The valid file extension list is:
$fileInfo = pathinfo($file['name']);
if (! strpos($validList,$fileInfo['extension'] . '|')) {

Muuuuch better. This patch goes around line 139 of, if folks are looking for an update.

The Fake Dr. Pepper Collection

This is just too funny. A fellow has, in full and complete detail, documented all the Dr. Pepper clones he could find. Sample cans and pictures and taste-tests and everything.
As a long time Dr Pepper fan, I was shocked to hear that he ranked Mr. Pibb (the most popular Dr Pepper clone) only 2 out of 5 pepper points. It’s one of the few that is regularly on tap around here in the northeast.
Anyway, check out

Carl and Phil – Monkey Ninjas!

Okay, okay, I admit it. I like going to Chuck E. Cheeses with Zach on occasion. It helps that there’s an open access point nearby. I get to geek on the laptop, Zach gets to play skee ball and run around in the hamster tubes.
I chanced to catch site of a video on their ubiquitous monitors. A very silly and somehwat simplistic animated piece called “Carl and Phil – Monkey Ninjas!. It was silly enough for me to remember to look it up when I got home.
Well worth watching a couple of these.

Firefox trick du jour: Blocking popups from plugins

Here’s a neat trick. Firefox has outstanding popup blocking in by default. I’m always amazed watching IE users as they close popup after popup, and take it in stride as ‘normal’.
Recently Firefox has started showing popups. The clever (?) ad writers are now writing their annoying functions in plugin-based languages, such as shockwave and flash. The page runs a flash program, which generates a popup. A popup blocker in HTML misses this, and you suddenly have a blinking bouncing button on your screen. Ew.
To tell Firefox not to allow popups from plugins, do the following:

  1. Type ‘about:config’ in your tool bar
  2. Right click anywhere, and select “New->Integer”
  3. Type in: privacy.popups.disable_from_plugins
  4. Set the value to ‘2’

Voila! The fellow who showed me this simply said “Hey, not my trick.” 🙂

Day 1 with an iPod Nano

For my birthday, my sister bought me a 2gig iPod Nano, the latest offering in the iPod line from Apple. I’ve never owned an iPod, and in fact haven’t really purchased anything directly from Apple for myself in perhaps 10 years. I’ve avoided them because I disagree with many of their business practices, but you can’t argue with the sexiness of their products.
At any rate, I found myself stuck with an Apple product in a Linux world. Of course Apple wouldn’t consider supporting Linux directly, so the question was, how was I to use my new little iPod with my Debian Linux laptop?

Continue reading “Day 1 with an iPod Nano”

Content Managers for generic websites?

I’ve sort of fallen into a task where I need to set up a website for a small group of people. The site will be used for general marketing, schedule information, and as a resource the group will use to pick up materials and information to share between themselves.

As someone who has been pretty active in the Content Management arena, I’m finding myself stymied at how difficult it is to find a simple web-based content management solution that will allow other users in the group (a limited number – onlye 1-2 other technical folks) to maintain the site.

We already know we’ll use a Wiki for the ‘internal community’ aspects – we’re doing this now – it’s allowing uploading, downloading, content editing, etc. But using a wiki to drive the main site seems… out of sorts. Wikis are not made for general-consumption-by-the-public websites.

So I’m looking around. I haven’t found what I’m looking for yet, but I’d like to hear from other folks what they’d recommend.

What I’ve looked at so far, and my feelings on each, follows…

Continue reading “Content Managers for generic websites?”

Found while doing some googling…

Found this quote in a thread on the MFC Professional site. The topic is “Will Java replace C++?” – the conversation is from 1996:

No way. Java is far to simplistic to compare with C++. Also, Java is too complex to be a threat to Visual Basic. I don’t really have much hope for the continued existence of Java over the long term. It will probably last a while, but eventually, it will be replaced by something better (easier to use) for common programming. Professional programmers will continue to use C++ (or some future COMPILED language) to do the heavy duty work. Java will go the way of SmallTalk, a niche product that won’t every really go anywhere.

For a second I was worried.

I really do enjoy working in the Mail / Calendar / Groupware application, ‘Evolution‘. It originated as a Gnome project, then went on to be taken on as the core of Ximian‘s operations. It continues now as a product from Novell, and is still free, clean, and rather a pleasure to use.
Every once in a while though, it throws out some very… strange things. Such as this ‘error dialog’ I just got while moving my laptop. I’m glad I wasn’t doing anything important. Success is apparently a problem!

Java vs Linux.

I need to slap in Java 1.5 aka Java5 aka… well, whatever the marketing weenies are using today on our colocated box. Because it’s… well… colocated, I naturally don’t have an console there. So I decide to run the installer anyway…

root@boomer:~/storage# ./jdk-1_5_0_04-nb-4_1-linux.bin
InstallShield Wizard
Initializing InstallShield Wizard...
Preparing Java(tm) Virtual Machine...
The installer is unable to run in graphical mode.
Try running the installer with the -console or -silent flag.

Okay, that’s fair. So…

root@boomer:~/storage# ./jdk-1_5_0_04-nb-4_1-linux.bin -console
InstallShield Wizard
Initializing InstallShield Wizard...
Preparing Java(tm) Virtual Machine...
The wizard cannot continue because of the following error:
Invalid command line option: console is not supported (1001) (403)

Just gonna be one of those days.

iPod nano. 2/4gig. LCD color screen. $199

Oh this is not good. Apple has announced the iPod Nano, a flash based successor to the iPod mini. Physically smaller, more memory, and with a SCREEN. $199 gets you 2gig, $250 gets you the 4gig version.

Some of the relevant specs:

  • Holds up to 1,000 songs and full-color album art
  • Only 3.5 x 1.6 x 0.27 inches and 1.5 ounces
  • Bright 1.5-inch color LCD display
  • Up to 14 hours of battery life(1)
  • Apple Click Wheel

Shields… weakening… hull breach imminent…
Tip o the hat to Dr. Memory for the pointer. The rat bastard.

Katrina Peoplefinder Project

Many folks have seen this elsewhere, but just in case.
I spent an hour or two last night doing data entry on the Katrina Peoplefinder Project. If you have some spare time, this is a great way (beyond financial donations), to help out people trying to find relatives and friends in the area.
The nutshell description – there are zillions of resources on the net where folks are posting messages asking about loved ones. The Peoplefinder Project is pulling all those requests and calls together into one database that will be available as a ‘one-stop’ resource.

Nifty tool

I was hunting around for a tool that would let me do hierarchial diagrams, and auto-arrange them for me, doing path analysis along the way. I had used GraphViz before, and while the end result was okay, it was totally a batch-driven application. Build the data file, feed it into the tool, it generated a graphic.

Enter yEd, a Java application that is fully interactive, and allows dataset editing, node and edge property modification, save/load styles and graphic exports. The blurb on the website says:

yEd is a very powerful graph editor that is written entirely in the Java programming language. It can be used to quickly and effectively generate drawings and to apply automatic layouts to a range of different diagrams and networks. yEd is available as a free download with unrestricted functionality!

The best part about it is it’s a pure Java Swing application, and it’s set up via WebStart, so to install and run it just takes a single click on the Webstart logo, no matter if you’re on a Mac, Windows, or Linux platform.

The program does has it’s faults. It crashes on a fairly regular basis (just plain quits without an error message). I’ve become fond of the ‘save’ button in the toolbar – I click it regularly to make sure my work is up to date. Other than that, this is an OUTSTANDING demonstration of a thin, portable, webstart-enabled, WORA application.