Archive for the 'web' Category

Boycott Experts Exchange

February 21st, 2009 | Category: programming,search,web

Have you ever done a search for a problem you’ve had only to see tantalizingly something that looks like exactly the answer you wanted before painfully realising that it’s on Experts Exchange and the page you have just clicked on says it has the answer but you don’t have an account. Sure you could sign up for their free trial for 30 days and you might even find the answer if you are lucky but what happens next time? It’s like a drug dealer: the first hit is free, but you pay for everything from then on.

Now the original design of Experts Exchange wasn’t too bad. You could ask questions if you had enough points. You could also assign points to different questions increasing in value for importance I guess. You acquired points by either paying or by successfully answering questions. The thing that annoyed me was that if you weren’t the person that was nominated as the one who answered it you got no tangible credit for your contribution even if it helps or even if the correct answer was actually wrong or perhaps not the best response.

But obviously at this point they feel that they have enough knowledge to justify not only spamming their pages with tonnes of ads but also starting to force people to pay for even more. And be aide they’ve been around for a while and have had a good reputation they’re using this plus close keyword matches on the question to continue to drive traffic.

So now with Google’s Search Wiki, we can fight back against Experts Exchange and it’s pointless entries in Google’s index. All you need to do is be logged in and when you see an Experts Exchange result in your Google search make sure you delete it from your results. My belief is that if we get enough people to blacklist and delete those entries, Google will take note and eventually lower the rank of the entries and we’ll stop seeing their results.


Slashdot fun

February 17th, 2009 | Category: technology,web

I’ve been noticing a bit today that Slashdot appears to be going down reporting 500 Internal Server Errors. I noticed it first last night and a few times throughout today and then again just now. Not sure what is going on but they were having issues earlier self DOS’ing themselves, so perhaps something similar is occurring. Most times it comes back after a refresh or two which is good but still worrying that its happening a few times too regularly, I hope they get it fixed 🙂

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Highfields Cultural Centre

February 09th, 2009 | Category: web

So today I got an email from an old friend about the Highfields Cultural Centre to fix up their website and after this weekend I have been looking for stuff to experiment with in relation to SEO. Jim Stewart has in part restored my faith in SEO people in a simple and I was wondering, how hard would it be to rank number one for “Highfields Cultural Centre” with just a simple a blog post, so here it is.

The Highfields Cultural Centre and Me

The first experience I had with the cultural centre was through a high school team building exercise. The Highfields Cultural Centre was probably chosen for the simple fact it was cheap and not attached to the school directly. In the past we did stuff at the St. Mary’s Hall but that never really got you away from the school. So we ended up trooping off in buses to the Highfields Cultural Centre multiple times to “get away from it all” making use of the full area with the auditorium. We had special speakers come in and teach us all sorts of useful stuff that I thought never got through to the people who should be listening most. But such is life.

Disco Inferno

Disco Inferno was St. Mary’s musical in my final year which was predictably held at the Highfields Cultural Centre. The Centre staff at times could be decidedly crabby but were usually right when they were doing it. As the Cultural Centre had most of the features that we required it worked well and the staff typically didn’t have an issue with the Stage Manager “Steve Loxley” who I note now works at the Centre. He must have made a decent impression on Rod after all.


I finished high school and continued my studies at USQ whilst still working at Council. In 2008, Toowoomba merged with seven other local government authorities to form Toowoomba Regional Council. One of the authorities that was amalgamated together was Crows Nest Shire Council which contained the township of “Highfields” and thus the “Highfields Cultural Centre”. At this point in time I ran into a fine chap called “Brent Moore” who informed me of the crazy stuff the Centre had running out of it from time to time and the esoteric promises made by Councillors relating to IT around the Highfields Cultural Centre. Suffice to say, I’m amazed that the place wasn’t mobbed by angry people more often – perhaps that is why the staff weren’t the happiest.

And whilst lately I haven’t travelled out there I’m reliably informed that the Highfields Cultural Centre has been transformed with demountable buildings housing extra staff that have been dumped in there. The mezzanine level is now someone’s office which I must admit is quite crazy. To be blunt: the place has been transformed.

Leaving Council

So last week I left Council, but as I was leaving Mr. Loxley emails me from my personal website asking if I want to do some work on the Highfields Cultural Centre website. He’s emailed me through some information on it with the name of the centre all in lower case (seems to be the present style) and some links to what are decidedly ugly websites (including one with a flash splash page and iframes that seem to serve no purpose, really that bad). Their existing site looks a bit timid but beyond not being regularly updated (probably because its just a HTML page) it seems to be alright. It gets a page rank of three which whilst not spectacular (it should be doing much better than that) means it at least has been looked at by Google. The new design lacks content dramatically so I think they’ll some issues.

Why write about the Highfields Cultural Centre

Well I was thinking about the history and what the place has meant for me. Its interesting to be potentially given the task to redesign the site and I must admit I think it’ll be an interesting challenge. They’ve got a good start on the site style wise but they’re going to need to a lot of work to get it up to scratch for what they need. I was also interested in seeing how hard it would be to get a blog post ranked by Google on their list. I’m not sure how I’ll go but I’m hoping to use it as an example of how easy it is to write some good content and get Google to index it. Hopefully I both get the job and get this blog post to rank to demonstrate my point, I’ll be disappointed otherwise.

Happy coding!

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Today: 01-Nov-2008: Less dialup pain

December 01st, 2008 | Category: today,web

Most of today was spent doing nothing much interesting. I watched a PC that I was working just randomly reboot (yay for Windows, what a wonderful operating system), I did manage to get some extra documentation written on my SSO plugins but most interestingly we’ve now got our ADSL connection back so we’re not trying to share a dialup internet connection with three people. It was very painful. Its nice to have pings that aren’t in the 10 to 14 second range (I kid you not). I’ve spent most of this evening writing an OJS plugin for my girlfriend  – she keeps changing the goal posts each time she asks me which has now lead to a minor redesign of the way I’m approaching things, I’m going to have to spend a lot more time digging through OJS to find the code that I need to do to get the system to behave properly but sooner or later she wants me to hack apart the system to change it anyway.

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Dial up internet

November 29th, 2008 | Category: web

I realise now how Internet Explorer reigns supreme still even without tabs for the majority of the population of various countries that don’t have broadband: using tabs on dial up is just frustration. Even in the basic HTML view of GMail in my two tabs (my normal GMail and my Joomla one) are timing out and dropping connections. If I’m lucky I’ll get the email I wanted to read. If I’m not lucky I’ll get either a white screen or Firefox’s “Data Transfer Interrupted”. My WordPress blog doesn’t seem to be impacted that detrimentally, perhaps because I have already loaded Turbo on it earlier so downloading all of WP’s crap is actually local (yay!) and getting to the page is relatively easy. Which leads me to post this whilst I watch spinning loading symbols spin almost endlessly. Yay for dialup!

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I hate (poor) web designers

February 24th, 2008 | Category: web

Web design is a skill I don’t have. I admit this freely that is why I write code. But what I hate more are the Photoshop crowd of web page designers that make my life well and truly hell because whilst it looks pretty at the fixed resolution in Photoshop it looks like absolute crap because they rely on Photoshop to build the HTML for them which produces tables with insane spans in them, I’m looking at one with a rowspan of 12. That means tha one cell is supposed to span 12 rows. There is another with 14 and one with a colspan of 9. What I’m realy complaining about here is the lack of decent web designers who can make a decent web page template, something that will work across browsers properly. I know they exist but they are well and truly not the majority of designers out here or at least not the ones I have to deal with. What is worst still is that I have to deal with situations where they have decided to hire the designer separately and get the design done and then I end up having to clean up the mess of a design to get it to render properly. It just makes my life hell when I could be doing better things. Next on my list are the horrible hosting companies that I end up having to deal with as well.

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JAuthTools Update

February 05th, 2008 | Category: development,jauthtools,joomla,opensource,web

Today I’ve been working on some new stuff for Joomla! to enable SSO between disparate Joomla! instances. I’ve tested it on Joomla! 1.0 and 1.5 in legacy mode. I’ll do some more work later to get it working with Joomla! 1.5 in native mode and to better integrate with JAuthTools for 1.5 (to utilise the SSO system that I’ve written for 1.5). If you’re interested, check out the JAuthTools SVN here: If you check it out you can use the install from directory feature to install it into your test sites. I’ll have packages up in the next few days.

I’m also looking at doing some work on the JAuthTools for 1.5 to improve support. There appears to be some issues so I want to get it back up and running as well as porting/merging some of the features from the LDAP SSI into 1.5 and the LDAP Authentication plugin. I’ll probably also do some update to docs on the wiki as well to reflect the new features.

Things on my todo list after I clean up my released JAuthTools plugins:

  • Backlink Manager
  • JAuthTools Manager
  • JDiagnostics for 1.5

Fun with Subversion and Apache

October 03rd, 2007 | Category: apache,linux,opensource,subversion,web

I’ve been having some issues with getting my Subversion repository to play nicely. For some reason it started to randomly attempt to point to a repository called “error” which puzzled me a bit. A mailing list entry has set me up with a solution  ( and it appears looking around a bit further and a few other people have had the issue as well. The basic problem is that somewhere the system is throwing an error, it appears a 500 which is an Internal Server Error. But this doesn’t seem to be the base cause since I feel this is actually being generated internally for some reason and bounced around. It happens that the reason why its bouncing here is because of an error directive somewhere is causing an error page to be looked for, and since by default we’re pointing to our errors being at /error, which Subversion tries to find a repository for because “SVNParentPath” is set with the Location set to the root (e.g. “”), we end up getting a strange error from Subversion. The vexing thing is that checkouts seem to have no issue, updates are fine but adding new files seems to have issues.

So the solution from the above as to add a redirect to another virtual host on the server:

RedirectMatch permanent ^/error

Another solution is to rewrite the ErrorDocument to make it return strings instead of page: 

ErrorDocument 400 "400 HTTP BAD REQUEST"
ErrorDocument 401 "401 HTTP UNAUTHORIZED"
ErrorDocument 403 "403 HTTP FORBIDDEN"
ErrorDocument 404 "404 HTTP NOT FOUND"
ErrorDocument 405 "405 HTTP METHOD NOT ALLOWED"
ErrorDocument 408 "408 HTTP REQUEST TIME OUT"
ErrorDocument 410 "410 HTTP GONE"
ErrorDocument 411 "411 HTTP LENGTH REQUIRED"
ErrorDocument 412 "412 HTTP PRECONDITION FAILED"
ErrorDocument 414 "414 HTTP REQUEST URI TOO LARGE"
ErrorDocument 415 "415 HTTP SERVICE UNAVAILABLE"
ErrorDocument 500 "500 HTTP INTERNAL SERVER ERROR"
ErrorDocument 501 "501 HTTP NOT IMPLEMENTED"
ErrorDocument 502 "502 HTTP BAD GATEWAY"
ErrorDocument 503 "503 HTTP SERVICE UNAVAILABLE"
ErrorDocument 506 "506 HTTP VARIANT ALSO VARIES" 

This also fixes the problems, though in a few more lines. This is perhaps the better solution as it wipes out the old ErrorDocument directives that were giving us some troubles and returns a straight string. The next simplest solution is of course to move the Subversion “SVNParentPath” from the root to its own path underneath the root, which is the solution that most people seem to go in for doing.

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mod_rewrite equivalent for IIS

September 06th, 2007 | Category: technology,web,windows

I was having a look around for a way to get bulk redirects for IIS. You can specify it one by one but there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to bulk redirect things. However I do seem to have found a page with some alternatives that provide mod_rewrite style solutions (some free, some paid): Looks interesting enough for those stuck with the limited web server. 


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