Nov 6

Today: 6-Nov-2008: Barcodes and Backups!

As it seems a few of my mornings are starting I played a quick albeit one sided game of Dawn of War with my house mate to test that the network play was working between my Mac (using CrossOver Games) and his PC (Windows XP). Suffice to say everything worked fine network wise, my Mac stil has some visual issues but I’m not too phased about that at the moment. So that was an interesting start to the day and when he returns from work it’ll be an interesting end as well.

Work again is fun as always. We’re working on solving various election problems and getting envelopes. Our printers came back stating that they didn’t want to do Code 128 for the barcodes because its too hard preferring Code 39 instead. As the day progressed it turned out that we’re going to use Code 128 more for space issues because we’ve got that much junk going out on the envelopes. This saga has been occurring over a few days, I really want to get a few proofs done before we actually get the batch done from them first to ensure that everything is good but we’ll see. Testing on the system we’re going to be using to track the election on has also begun to ensure that the system can in fact handle items properly, we had a word of warning from one of the newer guys from the regions that it had issues and that was with nowhere near the same workload. So we’re hoping we can test the system out with a few VM’s emulating the system for multiple data entry. There have been issues with the system in question in the past (in fact the system is being replaced)  so hopefully this won’t be a time when it does have issues otherwise we’re going to have large numbers of problems.

The bulk of my day was spent working on the restore framework for Joomla! 1.6, or more accurately the new JDataLoad system and the JLoaderSql adapter. The data load system, as its name suggests, loads data into the Joomla! database from a data source. In this case I’m looking at the SQL files which in my sample data is actually one of the 1.5 sites that I’m an administrator over at work. Its relatively small in the grand scheme of things with only a few meg and around 9000 queries. So far its been sufficient to find a few issues, one being dropping a table before a task yield which caused a missing table error from J! (put in a simple patch for that, if the last query was a drop, go to the next query in the hope that its a create) and another was a minor typo error which caused some multiline strings to be processed incorrectly when they were on a yield boundary again as well. But all in all its working well even importing data faster than MySQL Query Browser was (to its fairness it highlights each query as it goes) in my test runs. Its now committed to trunk and when I get a chance I’ll write up something about it and put it somewhere

Extra fun today came from trying to write up business cases for the projects I want to work on in the next year or so until I have to write it up again (fun, yeah!). Initially my boss (who is great) thought of me and tried to convert the files from Excel into a more Open format so that I can get at it on my Mac and Linux box. Somewhere during the conversion however the fields got trimmed and data lost, so I offered to edit the document in Excel directly using our Windows only document management system logging in via our Citrix services. The system, OpenText’s DM, isn’t too bad for the most part and does the job well and today I found no fault with it. Today was the day when Microsoft’s tools decided they wanted to misbehave.

Earlier in the week my boss had emailed me a doclink to the document stored in DM. A doclink is a small text file with the document number in it which basically triggers the system to load the specified document, something that usually works quite well. However Outlook, due to various configuration changes, decided that it didn’t want to start for some reason even though earlier in the week it was working perfectly fine. After Outlook repeatedly informing me it wanted to recreate my profile and then informing me that it couldn’t contact my Exchange server and offering to allow me to work offline which consequently failed due to a lack of a profile, I ended up using Mac OS X’s built in “Mail” application (yes, the email application is called “Mail”) to get at my email to find the document number and open it. Usefully enough this is done through the IMAP interface on Exchange and worked well and doesn’t suffer from some of the other issues that the Outlook clients have, such as the address book caching which caches the old Lotus Notes addresses instead of their newer Exchange ones resulting in emails going to the wrong place. Yay Outlook! Suffice to say I found the file and made the changes that I needed to before accosting our Exchange administrator who had returned to see if he could fix the issue – which he did mind you after some trial and error.

The last little item I looked into was building a system to version the content from Joomla! back into our document management system. The new document management officer assures me that we can do it and has even proposed a nifty way of importing the data into the system. It looks like one of the products we have, KoFax, will help us by allow us to generate XML files which specify the documents that we’re creating and the different versions. If we can get this to work it will be really awesome as it’ll mean that our website is in part integrating back into our document management system without hacking into the database! I’ve still got to build it and work out where we want to target the extension, but suffice to say its on my project list for next year.

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