Identity crisis

I'd quite like to consolidate all of my online accounts/posts/content etc all into one place.

I want that one place I put it all to then tell everywhere else about the content - so if I blog, or upload a picture blah blah it all ends up being pushed elsewhere.

I thought tumblr could do that for me, but it's a faff trying to theme it, I just gave up on that.

I like my blog, but there's no iPhone app for it so I can post stuff on the move.

Then there's also Willshaw Media.

All across the land of the internet I'm posting as Skeater (from Skeater.co.uk and SkeaterMedia.co.uk) and Pete (from WillshawMedia.com)

I thought Skeater would be all my nonsense stuff and Pete would be me being serious and professional.

I never pretended one wouldn't be easily found from the other, but I thought I should keep stuff separate. Now I think that's a pointless idea, and I should have one website, one online profile.

Whether I'm reminiscing about tearing large teddies in half by tying it to 2 cars, or pointing out the difficulties of installing Railo on a Ubuntu VM, or explaining how I've taught my 3 year old daughter to appreciate toilet humour, I may as well put it all in the same place.

So I could just stick with WM (Willshaw Media) and ditch the Skeater alias, but that seems wrong.

I could keep Skeater.co.uk as it is and better integrate it with other social services, and keep WM as just a label for my tax returns... but I like using the pete@willshawmedia.com email address.

Or I could build a new website that integrates everything I do better... but what would I call it, would it be a blog? I suck at blogging. I don't upload enough pictures to use a decent photoblog like twitter, I don't tweet very often and I use Facebook intermittently. I do post on Stackoverflow quite a bit.

So I need a system that grabs all of my activity across the web, and houses it underneath one URL so people can come to that URL and see what I've been up to.

I've got no idea where to begin.

More fun with Orange online chat

Woooooo another fun online chat with Orange!

Mainly this is me being silly.

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1Hello, you're chatting to Sofia. I am part of the dedicated Orange Online Sales Team. How can I help you with your new order?
2Sofia: Hello Porter.
3porter tanner: I want the simplest Orange PAy and Go sim
4Sofia: I will certainly help you with that.
5Sofia: Do you mainly talk, text or surf?
6porter tanner: no bonuses or any of that, just a card I can add credit to
7porter tanner: text I guess
8Sofia: The best plan I can offer you is Dolphin plan which includes 400 free texts and 100 MB data on top up of £10.00 plus credit of £10.00.
9Sofia: This credit can be used to buy a bundles such as more minutes, data , unlimited texts etc.
10Sofia: We have unlimited text bundle for £7.50 a month
11porter tanner: so when I add £10 to my dolphin sim, I get 400 texts and 100mb of data?
12porter tanner: that sounds good
13Sofia: Yes
14porter tanner: do I have to do it monthly?
15porter tanner: I don't want to do it monthly
16porter tanner: I want to do it when my credit gets too low
17Sofia: You will get 400 free texts and 100 MB data + £10 credit when you top up with £10.
18Sofia: And you will get £5 free credit when you top up with £10 now
19porter tanner: can i do that every 3 months?
20Sofia: No, you need to top up your sim once in a 6 months to keep it active
21porter tanner: ok
22Sofia: Yes, any time with in 6 months
23porter tanner: deal
24porter tanner: How do I get one of them
25Sofia: Because your credit is last for 6 months
26porter tanner: Oh and can I use it for orange wednesdays?
27Sofia: And you will also get magi numbers and orange wednesday offer
28Sofia: Yes, you can
29porter tanner: woooooot, let's get it on
30Sofia: Great1
31Sofia: Shall I send you the link to place the order?
32porter tanner: yes please
33Sofia: Please click here
34Sofia: Did that link open for you?
35porter tanner: yup
36Sofia: Shall I stay online while you ordering?
37porter tanner: How do you got offline?
38Sofia: You can end the chat
39porter tanner: Does that disconnect you from the internet?
40porter tanner: Because I don't want to do that
41Sofia: Shall I stay online?
42porter tanner: Will that help?
43Sofia: I'll be happy to assist you if you have any questions or problems while ordering
44porter tanner: Thanks, but I'm finished now
45Sofia: Alright
46Sofia: Thank you for chatting with us today. You can rate my services at the end of this chat by simply clicking the 'End Chat' button.
47Sofia: Porter, bye have a great day ahead
48Sofia: :)
49porter tanner: But will that disconnect you?
50Sofia: Yes, it will
51porter tanner: Sorry to hear that
52porter tanner: But I need to end the chat
53porter tanner: Good luck reconnecting
54porter tanner: Bye
55Sofia: Alright
56Sofia: Bye

Note - I am "porter tanner" in this conversation

Helpful Orange live chat

I'm getting an iPhone 5, so I've been comparing the tariffs of the various mobile service providers that offer the fancy new fondle slab*.

I thought I'd ask the Orange online sales chat if they can do me an offer to beat the Three offer, as Three.co.uk seem to have the best price about.

Here's how it went:

Welcome to Orange online chat. One of our advisors will be with you as soon as possible.
You're now chatting to Daisy.
Daisy: Hello, you're chatting to Daisy. I am part of the dedicated Orange Online Sales Team. How can I help you with your new order?
Daisy: Hello Pete
Pete: Three do the iPhone 5 for £34 and a one off cost of 79.99
Pete: can you beat that?
Daisy: As much as I would love to I'm afraid I cannot price match, I can only offer you what is shown online which represents a great deal.
Daisy: The best offer on Iphone 5 is on £36 you get unlimited minutes,text and 1gb data, you need to pay an upfront cost for the phone that is £109.99
Pete: That's a shame, what's the advantage of going with Orange and paying more money then?
Daisy: I can offer you whatever is on the website
Pete: I meant, what is it that Orange give me that Three don't, what justifies the extra cost?
Daisy: I can't match with their deals
Daisy: To be honest you can go with them
Pete: Thanks, will do. Just so you know, these conversations will be recorded and made available publically.

So thanks to Orange, they've helpfully confirmed that I'm better off buying a new iPhone contract from Three.

Well done them.


* fondle slab - I stole that phrase from Greg "Thunk" Stewart

Installing Coldfusion 10 on Ubuntu!

This keeps tripping me up, it's caused me problems when upgrading production servers... you need to export the installation directory when installing Coldfusion on a Redhat or Ubuntu server.

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1mkdir /root/cf_install
2 export IATEMPDIR=/root/cf_install

Otherwise the installer completes but fails silently on loads of stuff and Coldfusion don't work proper!

Here's an Adobe Forum post about the last time I made this mistake: http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1006488

Professional errors

I am a professional web developer. I get paid to make websites and this has been the case for the last 5 years.

As each year goes by I get better and better at my job, my skill set expands, I get better at debugging and fixing broken code, I produce code that needs less debugging and less fixing, code takes less time to write and it can do a whole lot more than the older stuff.

But I do of course still make some mistakes. Take these 2 little gems from today.

I'd written html like this:

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1<div class="#idName">
2bla bla
3</div>

Then I couldn't work out why this rule wasn't being applied:

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1#idName {
2 color: red;
3}

For my next mistake, I did something like this:

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1<div class="ting fade tingBigger">
2bla bla
3</div>

And again failed to understand the problems with this CSS:

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1#tingBigger {
2 width: 100%
3}

Luckily, I'd also done lots of awesome excellent CFScript and Javascript to make up for it throughout the day.

Uservoice and Harvest online tools

Everything's going to end up being a website. HTML was a little old fashioned, DIV, P, H1, SPAN etc are great, but were getting misused and abused.

Then HTML5 arrived and brought back up in the shape of HEADER, ARTICLE, VIDEO and CANVAS.

CSS stepped up to destroy the abuse of PNGs and Javascript is taking over from back end servers, and taking over back end servers directly with things like Node, as well as just getting better for front end stuff - JSON.parse() and JSON.stringify() are amazing.

So with websites getting better and more capable, it makes sense that people will stop using desktop software as much.

2 websites I've been using a lot recently, which are wonderful and make my life much easier are UserVoice.com and Harvestapp.com.

Both of these utilities are lovely examples of websites, showing great design and usability, as well as being incredibly useful.

They both have a free trial, and Uservoice has a free tier, but to get the most out of them you'll probably want to upgrade to at least the bottom tier.

They both handle multiple users so if you work in teams you can divvy the bugs up in Uservoice and keep track of the different members of the team in Harvest.

Here's a bit more info on each tool.

Uservoice

Uservoice allows you to set up a feedback and support ticket site, so you can keep track of bug reports and feature suggestions for your site. Users can add them and they get logged in a neat control panel for you to look at, reply to, add notes to and send responses back to your users.

You can get email notifications, users can get in touch via the website, a Javascript widget on your site, or using an email address, which you can mask to something like support@yoursite.com.

It makes it much easier to keep track of bugs, problems, feature requests and also gives you a nice way of receiving feedback from your users.

http://www.uservoice.com/

Harvest

Harvest makes it very easy to keep track of hours when working on multiple jobs. You can categorize your tasks by projects and clients, add hourly rates and expenses, and use all this info to generate estimates and invoices, which can be turned into PDFs and sent to your clients and contacts stored in your profile.

I've been using it constantly for the last 2 weeks, I can't see how I managed before it. Well actually I didn't, I really struggled to keep track of what I was working on but not any more!

http://www.getharvest.com/

Mac OSX Ubuntu 12 lts VirtualBox with DropBox DocumentRoot

I've just switched from MAMP to VirtualBox for local development. I found Railo was clashing with Apache too much, so I'm going to run 2 different VMs for Coldfusion and PHP development separately.

Installing VirtualBox is easy enough, and creating a Ubuntu VDI (Virtual Disk Image) is easy enough following the wizard.

I downloaded the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS .iso from the Ubuntu website, then mounted that (all pretty easy stuff with VirtualBox) and booted the VM.

This launched the Ubuntu installer, again easy wizard you just run through - at the point where you choose additional software though, I picked LAMP, SAMBA and OpenSSH.

This installs Apache, PHP and MySQL, as well as the SAMBA file sharing server and an OpenSSH server.

When the installer has finished, you need to stop the virtual machine, go into the settings and under "Network" select "Bridged adapter", this makes sure the VirtualBox gets an IP on your network so you can visit the dev IP and set up your local hosts file to see your dev servers.

So if your new VirtuaBox IP is 192.168.1.7, on your MAC you'll need to do this:

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1sudo vi /etc/hosts
2# add this line: 192.168.1.7 localtestserver

Then the awkward part started... I needed to install "Guest Additions". I don't really know what this stuff does but I know you need it to get file sharing working.

Under the "Devices" menu from the VirtualBox that's running, you need to select "Install Guest Additions...". This mounts an .iso, but I couldn't find it anywhere in my VirtualBox. Turns out I needed to manually mount the image. Once it was mounted, I could then install the guest additions:

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1sudo mount /dev/sr0 /media
2cd /media
3sudo ./VBoxLinusAdditions.run

And that installed my Guest Additions! Whatever they are...?

Next, under the settings for the VirtualBox, in the Shared Folders section you can pick a folder on your actual host hard drive (including a folder from DropBox!), and give that a name that Ubuntu system will see. Choose "Auto-mount" to make sure Ubuntu mounts it on startup.

If you restart your VM you should see in the /media/ directory, a new directory that matches the name you chose in the previous step. The problem now, is this is owned by root, belongs to the folder vboxsf and has the permissions 700

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1pete@wm-lamp/media$ ls -la
2total 12
3drwxr-xr-x 4 root root 4096 Sep 28 08:30 .
4drwxr-xr-x 23 root root 4096 Sep 27 20:31 ..
5drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Sep 27 20:30 cdrom
6drwxrwx--- 1 4 root vboxsf 646 Sep 22 10:22 my_new_share

This means I can't actually use the folder without being root, which is fairly useless. To solve this, I needed to add "pete" and also "www-data" (the user apache runs as) to the group vboxsf. Then there was one more thing to do to get access to that folder... reboot the machine.

Infact, if any of these steps don't work, reboot the machine between steps... always try turning it off and on again!

One more thing to do then - I wanted to make this new share (which is fixed to the /media directory) my site root.

First you need to make a symlink from your site root to the share:

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1cd /var/www/vhosts/my_new_site
2ln -s /media/my_new_share public_html

You need to make sure that the folders are accessible by www-data, I generally set everything under the vhosts folder to be owned by user, and in the group www-data.

Then create a new apache vhost file to use that share. You need to make sure you set the vhost to follow symlinks - :

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1cd /etc/apache2/sites-available
2sudo cp default my_new_site
3sudo vi my_new_site
4# set up site root - mine is pointing to /var/www/vhosts/my_new_site/public_html
5# make sure ServerName is set to your localtestserver
6sudo a2ensite my_new_site
7sudo service apache2 reload

Then if you open a web browser and visit http://localtestserver and you will hopefully see your sites in your DropBox folder being served via your Ubuntu virtual machine! Mega convoluted goodness.

I switched to this becuase I like Ubuntu, I use it on lots of other dev servers, it's a lot more similar to RedHat which I use in production, it's better than MAMP and I don't like trying to mix my dev machine with my dev server. It feels tidier once it's all setup.

And like I said before I can have multiple dev machines and switch between them. At this point I'll make a clone of the server and keep that as a fresh install so I don't have to go through this whole process again later.

One more thing, this entry has been a bit scatty, I've written it as I've gone along so if it's rubbish let me know and I'll change it. I'll probably add some pictures later on in life, but not until I need to use this for reference myself.

Anyway, now I've got a decent dev server, I need to go and do some devving.

Half marathon fundraiser

I'm running the Bristol Half marathon this weekend. I'm not likely to break my personal best of 1 hour 51 minutes, to be honest I'll be lucky to do it in under 2 hours, but I'm determined to finish!

I'm running with my work colleagues and lots of students and instructors from my Taekwondo school.

Those of us running for Taekwondo are raising money for our fund to build a community centre on donated land in a village in Ghana.

We've set up a blog to keep track of our fundraising efforts, which has a link to donate via Paypal:
http://puma-ghana.org.uk/

You can find out more information about the project at the following 2 links:
http://puma-ghana.org.uk/ghana/
Ghana PDF

If you'd like to sponsor me to run the 21km Bristol Half marathon this weekend, please get in touch with me or use the Paypal link found on the blog linked to above.

Some of the instructors are going out to Ghana over the next few weeks so they'll be lots of progress and updates on the project going up on the Puma Ghana blog soon.

Ford Eco Boost 1.0 hits the Nürburgring!

I blogged about this engine a while ago: http://skeater.co.uk/index.cfm/2011/11/15/Fords-10-100-bhp-green-engine

Ford have made a little 1.0 engine with a turbo, that can produce 123 hp. They're planning on putting it into the Fiesta and the Focus, and I think the Mondeo too, although they'll be making bigger versions as well, including versions to replace the big V6s that they make:

Image taken from: http://www.blogcdn.com/green.autoblog.com/media/2009/07/ecoboost-4-torque.jpg

Anyway, the most exciting thing to happen to that engine is it's been sent around the Nürburgring! They've tuned the engine to get 202hp out of it and stuck it in a Formula Ford race car, and it's managed to lap the 'ring in 7.22s!

That's a crazy fast speed, beating a Maserati MC12, Dodge Viper, Ferrari 458.

You can read more about it here: https://wot.motortrend.com/ecoboost-three-cylinder-formula-ford-race-car-laps-nurburgring-in-722-255947.html

Issy and the alphabet

Whilst I'm on the subject of Issy talking, she's starting to learn the alphabet. Back in july she used to sing this over and over again

"A b baby a b c, a b baby abc...", and then she'd finished with "a b baby, a b c, d".

Now, she's progressed to this...

"melamy poo, s o u" and "s u double, s u q, s u double..." and now "white a white a window, white a white a white"

"Melamy poo" is LMNOPQ I think. "s u q double" is STUVW almost...

and "white a white a window"... no idea which letters those are supposed to be.

Oh and just now "s o j, elemeny q, eye spy with my little eye", which she sang whilst putting pencils up her trousers.

Also, she sings loudly, very loudly.

And she's just thrown all her pens on the floor one by one whilst sitting at her desk, then said "Mummy, you pick them up."

She is cool.

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