DeeEmm

Pragmatism in code

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Waxing lyrical about life the universe and everything software related since lunchtime 2006.

DIY Cheato Reactor

IMG_8108

 I've had a marine aquarium for the past 12 years. Over this time I have battled with water quality parameters and algae issues. Most of these issues have been related to poor or inadequate husbandry as to be frank, whilst I love my aquarium, it can be a massive time hog and I'm always very time poor. So just recently I've been having another crack at getting my water parameters in check and trying to keep them there

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Rumba Board - Dead atmega16u2 (USB) fix

Rumba

Way back in 2013 I bought a Rumba board for my 3DR printer build. Unfortunately it had a bit if an issue with the USB chip and so the unreliable USB connectivity made it practically unusable. As far as I recall I could never even get a program loaded up, so it's been sitting in the original box that it shipped in ever since. Cue 2019 and I've been putting together an MPCNC for a project and decided that I'd really like to get the Rumba board up and running so that I can take advantage of the six stepper drivers it has.

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CNC Plasma Upgrade

New Setup

I built my Plasma CNC about 5 years ago. I had originally intended to use it to cut out component parts for a product that I make, however I found that the output quality was not 100% reliable and so with the cost of laser cutting being very cheap locally, it was simply not cost effective to run. So for the most part it has sat in the workshop taking up space. I've recently decided to update it to hopefully improve its reliability.

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Faster IO on the Arduino

https://skpang.co.uk/blog/archives/323
This article will show you how to control the Arduino IO pins faster, a lot faster.
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NC Viewer // GCode Viewer and Machine Simulator

https://ncviewer.com/
Online NC / GCode Viewer.
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DIY Extruder screw making machine Part 2 - Mounting the grinder

IMG_792_20190727-113924_1

Last week I wrote about the extruder screw that I'm making and shared the initial build of a machine to make my own screw. In that post I created the basic table using an auger as a lead screw. This proved the concept of using an auger as the transport mechanism but when I started to build the second part, the mechanism that holds the grinder, I found that the auger was mounted too low in the frame and so the grinding wheel would not be able to reach the workpiece. So before I could get stuck into mounting the grinder I needed to move the 'lead screw' up on top of the frame.


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Our war on plastic education

Reduce-reuse-recycle

Regular readers will remember that earlier this year I embarked on a project to help my son with a climate control school initiative, I discussed this a bit in the post on Precious Plastics. The basic idea was that I wanted to make an extruder and shredder so that we could recycle plastic waste and create 3D printing filament that the kids could then use to print things from.

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DIY Extruder screw making machine Part 1 - The table

IMG_7775

In my last post Improvements to a wood auger based plastics extruder I discussed an idea to make a simple machine using hand tools from which an extruder screw could be made. The basic premise of the machine is that it can be built using easily obtainable parts using methods that are accessible to everyone.

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Improvements to a wood auger based plastics extruder

bc2be62dce1109f3075593b334f5788c

After some discussions on the Precious Plastics forums about adding compression to a wood screw auger based plastics extruder by various means, I had a bit of a eureka moment. Why modify the wood auger? Why not simply use this as a pattern to construct a brand new extruder screw of the correct characteristics?

 

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Political reform now.

Another election, another term of broken promises.

The two party system is broken and it is the same the world over. There is a lack of confidence in all parties, in all countries. We've had mutiny here in Australia (Gillard / Rudd) and similar issues with the UK leadership. The public in France have zero confidence in their PM and we all know how things are going in the US.

The recent Brexit fiasco in the UK has empirically proven that the entire political system is completely self-serving, and whilst the idea of a publicly elected representative is democratic in nature, in practice it is anything but. Regardless of your views on Brexit, it should be a wake up call to all, and not just in the UK, but anywhere that a two party system is employed. The 'us and them' philosophy serves only those in a higher power - to divide and conquer, a political philosophy that is perfectly implemented with a two party system.

So we are now at the point where political reform is needed. The system is broken, politicians are now no longer actually representative of the people, not that they were of course, but now we have proof. That reform is needed now. 

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South Australian (Aquaponics) planting guide

A bit of a departure from my usual tech posting, but I needed to keep this somewhere and here seemed as good a place as any (there's SOME tech involved). I'm reinstating my aquaponics setup after moving it and so found a local general planting calendar that will help me know what to plant in what month. My plan is to keep this updated with additional info as I come across it / figure it out. It's not specifically an aquaponics planting guide at the moment, but I'll notate it as the months come.

We've had an aquaponics setup for about 5 or 6 years and had varied success with it. Some stuff has grown very well, but other stuff that generally seems to thrive in everyone else's setup, has not done so well for us. I did put a lot of effort into things like seasonal planting, succession planting and companion planting, but it is very hard to get right, especially in such a small space. One of the issues was probably the planting guide I was using as it was not tailored for South Australia, so I've started to put together a tailored guide, as below. It's a mix of several sources; both books and web, and my plan is to notate it with information specific to aquaponics husbandry that will provide a reference for me each season.

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Set up EXTROOT on Iduino / Dragon YUN shield

Iduino Yun Iduino YUN

The Arduino YUN shield is a shield that combines an additional stand alone processor and WIFI. It runs a cut down Linux distro called OpenWRT. This WIFI / OpenWRT setup is most often found in things like Wifi routers. Arduino originally combined this with a Duemilanove on a single board to make the Arduino YUN, but the good folks at Geeetech and Dragon split the YUN interface out onto a seperate Arduino shield so that it could be used with a variety of different Arduino boards. The cool thing about these setups is that the Linux side of the package can talk to the Arduino side, which not only means that you have effectively given your Arduino WIFI capabilities but also makes it very easy to make IOT devices that need things like WIFI / Web interface / External Logging / Network Logging, well you get the idea, the list goes on. It's truly a very powerful tool.

If you want to use the YUN to install additional programs or datalog you will need to expand the existing memory as it is woefully small. You can do this using an external USB drive

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XBOX DIY VR Headset

I was looking at this DIY VR headset the other week - https://github.com/relativty/Relativ

It uses a gyro and arduino to create controller movements on your PC so that you can map the head movements to your games and display the screen in the headset. It's not a full VR experience but would be cool as a DIY project.

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Precious Plastics

hero-machines

About 6 years ago I invested a bunch of time and energy into creating a 3D printing startup called Fabribles. It was basically an online web community that included a marketplace where community members could share 3D models for free or a fee. Part of the content creation included undertaking experiments with various techniques and equipment. One piece of equipment that I really wanted to build was a plastics granulator and extruder to make printer filament from recycled plastics.

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DMCMS - As featured in Wikipedia

Been undertaking a bit of spring cleaning and updating some of my websites so decided to clean things up a bit here. I've fixed the broken downloads page and added all of the premium website mods that I used to sell in the webstore.

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More suspension software...

Screen-Shot-2018-08-16-at-1.05.41-am

http://www.vsusp.com

 

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Online suspension design app

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Here's a really cool online suspension design simulator. They also have a bunch of other cool simulators too

https://www.racingaspirations.com/apps/suspension-geometry-calculator/

Just leaving it here for future reference (project intel / planning ;) )

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Arduino and stepper controlled dividing head

IMG_7119 Arduino dividing head

Some time ago I converted my rotary table into a dividing head using a stepper motor, Arduino nano and a stepper motor driver. The setup incorporated a basic two line LCD display and rotary encoder as the GUI and user input device respectively.

Operation was very basic, with a basic menu driven system to set number of steps / turns per degree and choose the mode of operation (degrees or divisions per increment).

Someone asked me about this the other day so I posted the files up on GitHub along with some photos of the set up. There should be enough detail in the photos and code comments to allow you to replicate this. It is pretty basic.

Feel free to use / modify as you wish.

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Sparkduino - Arduino based automotive ignition system.

I've been a long time supporter / user of open source EFI systems and have been playing with Speeduino for the past year or so. Speeduino is an Arduino based EFI system that uses a custom shield to provide the necessary signal processing to interface the Arduino to the engine sensors, coils and injectors allowing it to control the engine.

It is also possible to use Speeduino without the injectors (ie spark-only), turning it into a well featured ignition system, which is very useful for those of us who want to run a distributor-less ignition system without paying a heap of cash.

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Bluetooth Modules | Martyn Currey

http://www.martyncurrey.com/bluetooth-modules/
Just gonna leave this here for later reference.Handy info for connecting bluetooth serial modules to your Arduino / whatever projects
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boxedcnc: EMBROIDERY CNC: first completed work

http://boxedcnc.blogspot.com.au/2018/02/embroidery-cnc-first-completed-work.html
Cool project to make a CNC embroidery machine from a regular sewing machine
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DIY CNC Milling machine 2

IMG_3759

I previously waxed lyrical about the Sienci DIY milling machine in DIY CNC Milling machine. Well since that particular post I have received pretty much all of the parts I need to build my own (improved) version.

The biggest diversion away from the original Sienci machine is that I have decided to use a standalone dedicated controller instead of the Arduino Uno used by the original Sienci. I have coupled this with some 3.5amp stepper drivers and some 2.8amp Nema 24 motors. Unfortunately the motors were lost in transit and the vendor refunded my my money. So having to re-order motors I managed to find a set of slightly larger Nema 24s that ran at 3.5amps (and 3.1nm) which are the maximum that I can run on the stepper drivers that I purchased. (The stepper drivers will peak at 4amp but we should be looking at working to a max duty cycle.) At any rate the larger Nema 24 motors are much bigger than the previous Nema 14s used by Sienci and offer obvious advantages when milling aluminium an other harder materials.

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Un-bricking a Sonoff S20

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A while ago I invested in a bunch of home automation stuff to augment my Google home. I opted on the Sonoff devices as they are by far the best value and also come with Aussie compatible plugs and sockets. Unfortunately one of the units was DOA.

In a bid to try and resuscitate the device I decided to have a go at re-flashing the firmware with the updated Tasmota firmware. The Tasmota firmware is a third party developed firmware that adds a bunch of features to Sonoff devices, including removing some communications limitations. This last feature is one that I'm particularly interested in installing into some other 4.22mhz transmitters so that they become more usable (communications are very limited in the Ewelink app), so this initial experiment to see if the firmware upgrade works is a bit of a test. If all goes well I'll look to update my other Sonoff devices.

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Relativ - Build Your Own VR Headset for $100 - Arduino Project Hub

https://create.arduino.cc/projecthub/relativty/relativ-build-your-own-vr-headset-for-100-57adba?ref=platform&ref_id=424_recent___&offset=0
Now this is a cool project. I have one of those VR headsets that you can put your iPhone into, but the main issue is that there is no easy pathway to using it as a monitor unless you jailbreak the phone. I tried in vain for a while to set it up so that we could play minecraft but had limited success. Other options seemed to be get an android device or a Samsung Galaxy. This on the other hand looks like it will do the job nicely
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Home Automation Sonoff-Tasmota Sensors, LEDs Development Board, ESP12: 10 Steps (with Pictures)

http://www.instructables.com/id/Home-Automation-Sonoff-Tasmota-Sensors-LEDs-Develo/
Some home automation stuff for later digestion...I have been blown away by the capability of the Sonoff-Tasmota firmware for the Sonoff devices. These, combined with a Raspberry Pi loaded with Node-Red and a MQTT...
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Build your own Google Home using a Raspberry Pi

https://mybroadband.co.za/news/software/241794-build-your-own-google-home-using-a-raspberry-pi.html
If you need a project for the Raspberry Pi you have lying around, you could always turn it into a DIY Google Home.
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P38 Touch screen media player - Part 2

IMG_3391

Following on from P38 Touch screen media player - Part 1 the Raspi touch screen arrived a week or so ago and I've been itching to see if it fits. I did a quick offer-up when it arrived and it looked as though it might be a bit small, so I've been keen to find out.

Tonight I removed the old screen and installed the new one. Unfortunately my suspicions were correct - the new screen is not tall enough and so leaves a gap at the top / bottom. The issue is simply that screen aspect ratios have changed since the P38 was a current model. The old 4:3 aspect ratio has now been superceded by 16:9, or wide screen / letterbox aspect. The result is that it is like looking at a widescreen movie on an old TV - you get a black stripe at the top and bottom of the screen - or in this case a gap.

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DIY CNC Milling machine

Mill-One-V2_min

For a while now I've been thinking of building a small CNC mill so that I can mill aluminium stuff. For the most part I want to build it so that I can mill cylinder heads and pistons for aircooled VWs, which is another passion of mine (after software). I already have a large manual mill which replaced a small mill which I was consequently considering converting to CNC, but then stumbled across a kick-starter project called the Sienci Mill. https://sienci.com/product/sienci-mill-one-kit/ 

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Geekism versus Narcissism

Traditionally I've always blogged about software related stuff here at DeeEmm.com and left blogging about my other hobbies for one of the many other sites that I have (or used to have).

As time has gone on I've found that I have less time to run a multitude of sites, especially as in general none of the sites are what you would consider successful. This in part is my own doing as I have always refused to try and leverage the sites popularity to earn money from advertising, instead preferring the nice clean look of an ad-free site. And so over time, my available time to contribute to keeping sites updated had dwindled and so many of the sites have simply faded out, to be no more.

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Sierra OSX media button issue

For some reason the devs responsible for the latest OSX update have decided that the media buttons should control whatever media player last had focus. This means that they now seem to have a mind of their own and do not solely control iTunes, which is a great big PITA if you ask me. It's evidently not a bug, but a feature - lol

Fortunately Milan Toth has written an app that reverses this annoying 'improvement', which you can download from the link below.

http://milgra.com/high-sierra-media-key-enabler.html

If, like me this 'improvement' has stuffed up your work-flow, please feel free to do as I did and let Apple know using their feedback form ;)

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P38 Touch screen media player - Part 1

P38 Sat Nav

I always wanted the sat nav unit for my P38, but being an optional extra that wasn't originally supplied with my car I had to make do with a cubby hole instead. I did consider installing one a few times, but the cost of the unit and the fact that it is now 20 year old tech with outdated maps and bitmapped graphics just wasn't worth the effort, even if it did mean I could hack in a reversing camera. So a recent stumble across a cheap sat nav head unit whilst looking for a new drivers door lock seemed like an opportunity not to be missed. The sat nav unit is missing the box of tricks that contains the actual brains of the unit, but as I am not planning to set it up in its original configuration, that is unimportant.

My plans for this unit are to junk the internals and replace the screen with a small colour touch screen that interfaces to a RaspberryPi running some form of media player. I currently use my iPhone to play tunes via a bluetooth-FM adaptor. Previous to this I used the blackbox CD - iPod adaptor but now that the connectors have changed that's not an option any more. If the media player can also provide some additional functions such as Sat-Nav, Phone controls and maybe even a reversing camera, that'd be great, but they're not essential.

So the next steps are to wait for the unit to get here so that I can determine what size touch screen will work. Touch screens are cheap and plentiful from aliexpress just need to know what size. The touchscreen will need a HDMI input or adaptor to be able to interface with the Raspi, some also come with a dedicated composite input for a camera that is automatically selected when the input is detected. I already have a Raspi unit and from a quick google it seems like Xbian is a common choice for the operating software so will take a look at that too. The tricky part will be figuring out how to get it to interface with the audio system. I suspect that the easiest way to do this is to hack the black box iPod adaptor.

More to follow...

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Fusion 360 and OSX magic mouse

prefpane

If, like me you are a die-hard Apple fan you have no doubt embraced all of Apples products including the sometimes not so magic, Magic Mouse. Whilst it's a great piece of design, the touch sensitive top is not for everyone (my wife hates it). It also has another annoying limitation when used with products like Autodesk's Fusion 360 - it has no middle button.

Not having a middle button makes navigating with Fusion 360 and absolute PITA, panning and orbiting require several clicks to enable, use and then disable the pan and orbit functions which does not make for a particularly smooth workflow, in fact it is downright annoying. Unlike Fusion 360's predecessor, 123Design, there is no orbit on the right click as this action has been replaced by a shortcut menu, there is also no keyboard shortcuts available to enable pan and orbit functions.

All is not lost however as there is a great little system tray app that solves this problem (and probably a few other problems that I have yet to discover). MagicPrefs is an app that extends the magic mouse's functionality by allow you to assign gestures and taps to trigger custom functions, including, yes you guessed it - a middle click. With the middle click option enabled Fusion 360 all of a sudden becomes much more usable, whats more it is absolutely free.

You can download it from the magicprefs website - http://magicprefs.com 

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DIY Reflow oven


I need to make up some SMD boards and have been looking for a low cost reflow oven.

Came across this today, made from a halogen lamp. So thought I'd save it here for later reference.

 

 

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Order of magnitudes

So many of you will be familiar with the site as a result of the plugins and modules that I used to offer. Whilst I have restored the sites main content, at this point I have not yet restored the web-store. 

Whilst selling plugins and modules may seem a lucrative endeavour, the amount of resources required to develop and maintain the code is not trivial. The support request expectations for $3 plugins is often surprisingly unreasonable. The support ticket system takes a lot to maintain, especially when it is only me providing the support, and there are subscriptions to maintain, often costing orders of magnitudes more than the plugins actually bring in. All of this was okay when I had time to spare, but being relatively time poor (I work a LOT), there simply is not enough time in the day to do everything that I want to do.

So at this point I am not sure if I will reinstate the store. (I even toyed with the idea of not reinstating the site, but I came to the conclusion that I had too much of a soft spot for it and so it needed to live again). I have previously toyed with the idea of simply releasing all of the plugins for free, and this is probably the path that I will tread but for the time being I am happy to simply have the site back up and have somewhere to talk tech related garbage.

If you have interest in a particular module or plugin please let me know in the comments below.

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Recovering InnoDB tables from database files.

After a hiatus of several months the site is back up. The site was unfortunately victim to some script kiddies and fell under the scrutiny of my hosting provider. After a failed attempt to rewind to a previous backup, which turned out to be corrupt, I decided that rather than spend a bunch of time that I did not have spare trying to fix it, I would simply turn the server off and get back to it later. Of course I did not consider that 'later' may stretch to be several months but that's just the way it panned out to be.

So I finally got some free time and decided to take a look at getting the server back up and running. The original issue with the original server was that due to a kernal issue with the server itself, the backup service provided by my host generated corrupted backups, so reinstalling from a backup invariably led to a bricked server. I spent some time working with the host to get the server repaired and whilst I did get a server that I could SSL into I unfortunately did not get any further as the SQL service would not run due to toasted database files.

So with renewed enthusiasm to get the site back up the first thing I did was to create a new server instance. Might as well start afresh, especially with the kernel issue - a problem I did not want to walk back into. I then grabbed all of the database files from the original server which were located at /var/lib/mysql/"DB-Name"

MySql is great in that you can simply physically copy the files from one database to another and the database will become available, however there are some caveats to this. 

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Hiatus Haiku

A passage of time gone.

DeeEmm has been away from here.

Set to return soon.

 

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Automated dividing head

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This weeks project - to automate my dividing head for my Mill (to make it easier to use). Now I can elect number of divs or degrees to increment and don't have to count holes in the dividing plate. Much less risk of buggering up the workpiece This way 

All parts are straight from EvilBay. It uses an Arduino nano as the controller which drives a 5amp stepper amplifier. There's a 16x2 screen and a rotary encoder (click wheel) that acts as a user interface. I've programmed it to have a bunch of different menus so that you can select from divisions or degrees and then index forwards or backwards as necessary.

Arduino Nano. This is the brains and literally only the size of a USB stick. That's the rotary encoder next to it

 

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ZeroPi - RasPi 3D Printer Shield.

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Just backed the Zero Pi project on Kickstarter. Looks like a cheap and easy way to build a Raspberry Pi based 3D printer.

I like that this opens up the potential for WiFi access with an integrated onboard web-server. This is the perfect combination for the Fabribot 3D printer that I am developing where browser based printer control is something that I would like to achieve. Imagine: Just open up your browser, navigate to your printers IP address. Upload a file and print. There's even the possibility of integrating onboard slicing - where you can send the printer an STL instead of G-Code. It's all pretty easy to achieve with a Linux based controller and a simple web interface.

From what I understand there's a communications abstraction layer between the Arduino and RasPi aspects of the system, both of which also operate independently. This communications layer allows you to access Arduino I/O & variables from within the Linux core and vice versa. The actual details are a little unclear but for adding a simple web interface to an Arduino an leveraging the power of linux to take care of file handing it seems to have all that is required.

I'm pretty excited about this. Guess now I need to get my game together and finish off the Fabribot

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Plasma THC controller 1 : Me 0

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Plasma THC controller 1 : Me 0

Finally got the torch height controller working on the plasma CNC. Unfortunately it did not survive testing. Made a couple of cuts when I noticed smoke coming from the THC unit. Opened it up to find this... :'(

 

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Recycling plastic into 3D prints

filamaker-marcus-thymark-3d-printing-recycling-plastic-reprocessing-grinding-3-537x338

I've been thinking of making a shredder and extruder to recycle plastics for use in my 3D printer. 

I've found some pretty cool projects out there and it doesn't look too hard to put together, a bit of CAD work and laser cutting for the shredder and maybe a bit of turning to make an extruder but even that's probably not necessary.Marcus Thymarks Filamaker is probably the best example - https://www.facebook.com/FilaMaker and there's a few on the RepRap site. Marcus's shredder is basically a scaled down version of an industrial shredder coupled with an extruder which allows you to make filament from granules and shred failed prints to be reused.

I'm pretty sure that the extruders all use some form of auger bit to push the plastic through a hot-end - basically a modified wood auger running in a steel pipe with a heating element and nozzle at one end. This is not too dissimilar to an industrial plastic extruder like you would find on an injection moulding machine. Pretty agricultural really.

Best part is that you can make your own filament from pellets which are about a fifth of the cost of buying filament on the roll or you can use chopped up recycled plastic which is potentially free. If you are using pellets you can mix colours to make multi-coloured filament which gives some pretty cool effects. 

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Ticket system back up and running

Apologies to those of you who have trie to access the ticket system and were unable to lodge new support tickets. Unfortunately there was a bug in the latest version of the Ticket System software that powers the support section of the site which caused an issue on the 'New Ticket' page. This issue has now been remedied. 

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New JomSocial and Hikashop Plugins

New JomSocial and Hikashop Plugins

I've been busy tidying up and publishing some of the plugins and extensions that I use across my sites. Most of the plugins are simple extensions for JomSocial that add a bit of extra functionality that is not included within the core but there are also a few for Hikashop and Virtuemart as well.

I still have some other extensions and components planned for release over the coming weeks / months and will release these as they are finalised and tested. Most are simple but there are also one or two fairly complex components that I may also decide to publish.

So far the following plugins are available for purchase within the webstore:

 

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OSX Maverick stikes again? Exchange Sent Mail Dissapearing

OSX Maverick stikes again? Exchange Sent Mail Dissapearing

I've been a proponent of Mac and OSX for some time now having been attracted to its simplicity and the 'it just works' way that it operates but since the Mavericks update some things simply don't work. The biggest issue that I have found is that apples newly written USB drivers will not connect to my Arduino, a major PITA when it comes to uploading a new program. The solution is to disable the OSX drivers and install the OEM version which worked for me and seems to work in 95% of cases. Why Apple have decided to move away from the chipsets manufacturers drivers I will never know although I suspect that it may be due to an incompatibility that causes Kernel Panics as I have personally experienced these since moving to the OEM drivers. This is fairly repeatable - hold down the Arduino reset button whilst uploading the program and your machine will likely go into an involuntary and instant reboot. The solution is of course simply not to hold down the reset button but as this is a common hack to get the program to upload you may have to suffer a few missed uploads instead. Not a massive issue, at least I can now communicate with the arduino again.

The most recent issue to hit me as a potential result of Mavericks is that sent email messages seem to disappear into the ether instead of appearing in the sent box as they should. This issue only recently came to light when I needed to find some previous correspondence. For reliability and ease of management I use a hosted exchange server to handle my work emails and OSX Mail as my mail client. What I found was that the last sent message in my sent folder was dated December 2013, the previous correspondence I was looking for was nowhere to be seen. I also checked the exchange OWA browser client but after looking there I also found that there were no recent sent mail messages stored.

After a short call with the exchange tech who advised me to use a client that they supported - namely outlook 2010 - he advised that the issue appeared to be related to the Mavericks update. For some reason the outgoing server had been changed - there were now two exchange outgoing servers in the server list. I changed the outgoing server to the other exchange server listed and sent a test message. Viola! the message was saved in the sent messages folder.

I'm not sure why or how the second outgoing server was added, It's definitely nothing that I have consciously done as the exchange account has not been altered since it was setup in 2010, additionally no one else uses this machine. I can only assume that as the tech  suggested it is related to the mavericks update as the last email date roughly coincides with the date that I updated. Of course I am happy to concede that it could be due to some other unrelated reason but knowing that I did not create the second outgoing server makes me wonder how it got there.

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Detecting soft 404's in Paul Irish's Infinite Scroll

Detecting soft 404's in Paul Irish's Infinite Scroll

Ive used Paul Irish's excellent infinte scroll on a number of projects before but recently found that I was having issues with ending the scrolling after the last items was retrieved on Hikashop. The issue is due to Joomla's error handling - instead of  returning a 404 'page not found' error response it returns a normal page ok response (200) - it can do this intentionally when it provides a useful user defined 404 error page but can also do this unintentionally as in this case. This behavior is commonly known as a soft 404.

As infinite scroll relies on a 404 error being returned when there are no more pages to stop further processing, the net result is that the scrolling keeps on going. Not a massive issue but one that results in an annoying animated icon appearing when you scroll past the end of the page.

In my opinion this is not necessarily the best way of detecting the 'end of the internets' as it assumes that the 404 error means there are no more pages. I'm sure we all know what assumptions usually lead to. By far the best way to determine if there is no more data is to check the actual data itself.

I initially tried looking at the length of the data returned but found that this was not really suitable as it contained the entire page and was really hard to separate the parts that I required although this is possibly due to my lack of javascript skills more than anything else. After some testing I found that instead of looking at the data length looking at the length of the child elements returned was the way to go. I this way I could detect when no more data was present.

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Software, reputation and Virtuemart

Software, reputation and Virtuemart

It's been a while now since I last posted about my experience with VirtueMart, but a recent update caused me to have several issues with the PayPal payment gateway.

The recent official 2.0.26x releases included an 'improvement' to the PayPal payment gateway, an update that unfortunately was not sufficiently tested and resulted in normally successful PayPal transactions not being completed but being marked as pending instead. The issue relates to a check that was introduced for the merchant email address.

My investigations unearthed the root cause of the problem - a check that compares the merchant email against the paypal receiver email.

$paypal_data['receiver_email']!=$this->merchant_email

The problem arises when your PayPal account has several registered email addresses, the business email response returns the primary email that is registered with PayPal, if like me, you use several email addresses for several sites on the same PayPal account you will find that invariably the business address will differ from the email address stored as the merchant email address in the VirtueMart payment plugin and the transaction will appear to fail.

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Configuring Joomla to use Zoho mail with MSMTP on Ubuntu.

Configuring Joomla to use Zoho mail with MSMTP on Ubuntu.

A while ago I switched to using zohomail for the email handling on a number of sites that I run. Zohomail is a nice alternative to hotmail or gmail and is also free for a limited number of users which makes it perfect when you just need to add a contact method to a website or just need something to process user messages.

I had previously been running zohomail under the SMTP service on my Joomla installs as I do not have sendmail installed. I find that it's simply too much to maintain and that SMTP is much simpler. Unfortunately for some reason whilst updating one of my sites the SMTP function simply stopped working and no amount of googling could give me an answer. So unperturbed I decided to engineer an alternative to the native Joomla SMTP functionality. After a bit of research and stumbling across Emanuel Tessores excellent article I decided to give MSMTP a shot

MSMTP is a very simple and easy to use smtp client with excellent sendmail compatibility. It can be used to in place of sendmail to allow you to send emails via a third party SMTP server such as zoho, gmail or hotmail. Installation and setup is relatively straightforward being installable via apt-get via the following command

sudo apt-get install msmtp

Once installed you need to create two files; a configuration file for the email server details that you wish to connect to and a log file to record each mail transaction. You can do this by using the commands below

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3DR Printer Build. It lives!


Inspired by the recent receipt of my hot end I decided that it really was time I strung up the spectra line and got the printer a little more finished. Well it's finally finished and up and running. 

After running some test prints there' few issues I need to address...

The first thing I need to 'fix' was my hobbed bolt. There were definite repeating patterns in the layers that seemed to correspond with the rotation of the extruder. I marked the extruder wheel and then watched the pattern repeat as the wheel rotated a full revolution. The pattern was little more then visible difference in the 'transparency' of the filament as it printed but I wanted to be sure to eliminate all issues, after all print quality is the name of the game.My previous attempt at making the hobbed bolt was a very Heath Robinnson affair. I did not use a 3D printed guide but instead used a couple of 608 bearings in the vice along with my hand held battery drill. Whilst it did look quite good I will accept the possibility that it could be to blame for my poor print quality. So wanting to get things right this time around I decided to download a suitable 3D printed tool to assist.Most of the hobbed bolt tools that I had seen simply consisted of a square block with two holes through it at right angles - one for the bolt and one for the tap. (the serrated groove is made with a 6mm tap). The blocks have recesses for bearings - 608s in the case of the bolt and a 624 for the tap. There are also some that use a dremel with a cut off wheel and a mini dividing head type of arrangement to cut gives around the circumference of the bolt. Neither really appealed to me. I had no 624 bearings and the slots made with the dremel seemed very course.In the end I found a tool to use with a lathe. It looks a bit like a knurling tool except that it holds the bolt in two 608 bearings and the tap fits into the chuck. The best part was that I did not need the small bearing. I downloaded it and printed it out (good job I've got the makerbot here at the moment). If you want to download it yourself it is thing 3780

Most of the tutorials that I have seen and the info that I found recommend to use an M6 tap. I used this for the first bolt but then got to thinking about the diameter of the groove in relation to the filament size and decided to make an M4 bolt too. Making the hobbed bolt is simply a case of mounting the bolt holder in the tool post and the tap into the chuck. I then set the lathe to the slowest speed and slowly set the bolt to the tap using the cross slide. The bolt slowly spins as the tap acts like a worm drive; cutting the serrations as it turns. I let the bolt rotate a few times before finishing it. The important thing here is to make sure that you cut the groove at the right height I did this by putting the bolt into the extruder and marking it with a marker pen. You can then set the bolt correctly by shimming it with washers.With the new bolt made I set everything up and tested the extruder. It ran and fed filament okay so I proceeded to do some more test prints. The prints were the same. Last night I noticed that the temperature did not appear to be accurate. I measured the hot end with my laser thermometer and it gave a wildly different result to what was being displayed on the readout. It was far too hot. The thermistor in the J-Type hotend is a 100k type but as there are several different types of 100k thermistor I wondered if I might have got the settings wrong. Reading up on RepRap and the Repetier software it is possible to create your own thermistor tables based on some simply readings.

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DIY Hand Held 3D Printing 'Pen'

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Make your own DIY 3Doodler style 'Filament Gun' from a hot glue gun and downloadable 3D printable filament sticks. 

If you are a bit of a 3D printing fan you probably could not help but notice some of the hand held 3d printing devices starting to emerge. The 3doodlerwas the first device on the market but this has already been followed by a very similar looking pen type printer and will no doubt be followed by many others.

If you cannot wait until the 3doodler starts shipping in early 2014, or just don't fancy splashing out $99 you could always make your own, its not as hard as you might think. (To be fair to the 3doodler I doubt that the following device is as easy to use but at a cost of $10 what did you really expect). All you need is a very easy to find hot glue gun and some filament.

inspired by the 3Doodler I decided to see if I could get a hot-glue gun to melt filament. Being an engineer I decided that the best thing to do was to measure the temperature of the glue gun to see if it was hot enough to melt filament. (I had already considered that it would not be too good for the WAFif I jammed filament into her hot glue gun). So I fetched the laser temperature gun from the workshop instead.

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3DR Build Update

:side:

Just ordered the stepper motors.As I am such a cheapskate I ordered four of these...ausxmods.com.au/index.php?main_page=prod...ath=2&products;_id=74These are a 35 ounce / inch Nema 17 form factor steppers (2kg/cm). The best thing is the price ($10) and they are Australian stock so postage will be fast.Most steppers are in the range of 3 - 4 kg/cm but after doing a few calculations I decided to give these a go as I'm pretty confident that these will be fine.Coincidentally I had been weighing the parts that made up my rods to try and figure out how much of an effect the larger ball ends would have. The complete rod weighs in at 7 grams including a 3mm nut and bolt at each end. What I had figured out was that by using this setup and crimping the ends as outlined in my earlier post you could get rid of the backlash springs (about 2 grams per axis) . Also as the rod connectors we not used in this design there was an additional saving there (4 grams per axis). I figured out that the additional weight of the larger rods was a non-issue when considering the weight that had been removed by the design change.Anyhow, back to the stepper motors....So to calculate the torque requirements for the motors you can use the following formula (vertical linear motion). It is a simple formula based on the weight being suspended from a pulley attached to the motor - exactly the same as the 3DR. It does not take into account transmission losses but for the sake of this exercise I chose to ignore them.The formula is as follows:T = 1/2 D x WWhere:T = Torque in Kg / cmD = Diameter of pulley in MetresW = Weight of load in KgFirst off you need to calculate the load. I did this as follows.50g - Weight of extruder and fixings7g - weight of centre plate12g - weight of extruder mount with fixings69g - TotalThis has to be divided by three as this load is shared between the three axis....so 69 / 3 = 23g per axisNext i added the weight for the bearing carriage, bearings and rods. As I had weighed my rods knew that they were 7 grams each14g - two rods7g - bearing carriage including zip ties20g - two bearings (this is an estimate as I do not have my bearings yet)41g - TotalAdd this to our carriage weight to get the total load per axis41 + 23 = 64g(I chose to ignore the weight of the spectra line.) So putting these figures into our formula we get the followingT(^ -3) = 1/2 18 x 64ThereforeT(^ -3) = 1/2 1152ThereforeT(^ -3) = 576ThereforeT = 0.576 kg/cmSo as the motors have a rated torque of 2kg/cm I do not think that they will have an issue.I havent calculated the torque requirements for the extruder as there are some forces that I do not currently know but given that it has a very low gear ratio I don't expect this to be an issue either.

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The 'G' test

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If you create your own 3D models for 3D printing you might have wondered which of the current free mainstream 3D modellers gives the best results. To find out we decided to do some benchmarking by testing the current offerings from Google, Autodesk and FreeCAD.

I've been an avid Sketchup user since it's initial free release by Google in 2006. I've used it to design many real-life projects and also had great success using it as a tool to illustrate design concepts to clients. Using Sketchup to design parts for 3D printing seemed like a natural transition, especially with the STL import / export plugin allowing me to be able to create files that I could directly import into my slicing program. The STL plugin really empowered me to create things for my printer that otherwise I might not have been able to. Without it I might have just had to make do with downloading things from Thingiverse.

One thing I noticed with the things I printed from Sketchup was that many of the curved faces had signs of faceting. Evidence that my curves were in fact made of many straight lines was readily apparent in some models. This led me to thinking about why this was happening. I decided that I needed to do some investigation

Phil, a friend of mine, who I also run this site with is a mechanical engineer who just so happens to maintain a copy of Inventor for his work. We decided that what was needed was to compare a model created by Inventor against the same model created in Sketchup. After a bit of discussion we decided that we would use the letter 'G' from the Times New Roman truetype font as both programs could easily utilize this to create a 3D letter to print and it was full of curves of varying size and so would be a good test. The Google / G connection was purely unitentional.

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My 3DR Delta Printer Build

:lol:

After a lot of indecision of what type of printer to build I found the this thread for RichRaps 3DR delta format printer and was instantly hooked.I like the elegance of the 3DR compared to the normal XYZ cartesian style printers. Its hidden drives and concealed workings make for a much more visually appealing printer. It's something that I would be happy to have sit on my desk at home, although I think I might not choose the harlequin color scheme that RichRap has  .I also like the fact that the printer is designed to be easily expandable in size by simply adding some spacers to the existing base and top parts, the design is really ingenious and well thought outMy plan is to order the electronic parts that I need to build the printer and whilst I am waiting for these to arrive print out the 3D printed parts that I need. Fortunately I have access to a 3D printer so I will be making good use of this over the next week or so.I might deviate a little from the original design as I do not really like the 3D printed connectors that connect the end joints to the arms. I will likely make these from non 3D-printed parts - Threaded plastic or aluminum tube seems like a better solution. I know that this is not really in the spirit of RepRap but that's just my personal preference.My first step is to review the Bill of Materials and get together a list of parts that I need to order.

 

Here's list of links to relevant build files and materials I will update this as things progress.RichRap build Part 1 - http://richrap.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/3dr-reprap-delta-printer-part-1-release.htmlRichRap build part 2 - http://richrap.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/3dr-reprap-delta-printer-part-2.htmlGithub repository - https://github.com/RichRap/3DR-Delta-PrinterGithub direct download link (master zipball) - https://github.com/richrap/3DR-Delta-Printer/zipball/masterBill of MaterialsThis is a work in progress. I will try to piece together a more detailed BOM with sources as I go. This will likely list that stuff that I choose to use and may / may not be suitable for your build due to availability / etc. Rich Raps original BOM can be found at end of postHardware3 x Bosch Rexroth 20mm extrusion (length 480mm) NOTE See this post RE alternative profiles.3 x 2m spectra line or similar (I'm using KMART 'sport fisher' brand of braided line which is 50lb)6 x LM6UU linear bearings - www.bilbycnc.com.au/DispCat.asp?CatID=9&SubCatID;=896 x 6mm smooth rods - www.bilbycnc.com.au/DispCat.asp?CatID=9&SubCatID;=896 x 624ZZ bearings (also have 6 x 12mm bearing from R/C shop that look like they may work) - www.bilbycnc.com.au/DispCat.asp?CatID=9&SubCatID;=891 x 170mm diameter borosilicate glass x 3mm - www.glasslite.com.auElectronics3 x Nema 17 Stepper Motor - Wantai 42BYGHW811 is visible in photo.1 x Extruder stepper motor - TBD (RichRap recommends - Always try to use a 1.7A or 2.5A motor for your extruder - DRV8825 will handle up to 2A)1 x RUMBA board - www.reprapdiscount.com/electronics/55-rumba-basic-board.html (including DRV 8825 drivers + fan + SD adaptor + wiring)1 x Smart XXL Display - www.reprapdiscount.com/home/35-smart-lcd-controller-xxl.html3 x Hall effect end stops inc magnets - www.reprapdiscount.com/electronics/18-se...dstops3-pieces.html#BOM from richrap.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/3dr-repra...-part-1-release.html

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DIY Acetone Vapor Chamber

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We have been having a bit of a play around with acetone vapor today. 

Inspired by the attempts of others, and wanting to achieve a better finish for some parts that we are looking to produce for sale, we decided to put together a vapor bath. Before we got stuck in we watched a few YouTube videos and read a few blogs and decided to come up with a shortlist of considerations that we could use to drive our design. Here's what we came up with.Temperature requirements

Acetone boils at about 56 degrees so a relatively low heat source is required. Acetone will not actually ignite until it gets to 465 °C so we decided that there was little danger of it combusting with any heat that we were planning to throw at it.

Size

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EasySocial, raising the bar for Joomla social extensions

EasySocial, raising the bar for Joomla social extensions

If you are familiar with Stack Ideas products, such as the blogging component that you are reading from right now EasyBlog, you might have noticed that on their site they have been promoting a soon to be released social networking component called EasySocial. I first noticed this a few weeks back and I must admit I got a bit excited. Not one to usually get emotional over such things, the idea of a social networking component written by the excellent Stack Ideas team definitely has appeal.

I have a love / hate relationship with most extension vendors and products but my experience with Stack Ideas has been great, the support is excellent, the products are intuitive and of the best quality, and what's more they just work. No fuss, no hacking, no convoluted setup, they work with the minimum of fuss and continue to do so. So when I received an email that there would be a webcast on the upcoming EasySocial, I signed up right away. 

Watching the webcast last night I was blown away by the quality of component. There has been a years worth of development so far and there are still features that are being held back for the next release (Boonex please take note). The component includes many ideas and suggestions from the Stack Ideas user base and whilst it was said that the component was not designed to specifically compete against JomSocial, it certainly raises the bar. 

In many respects it is similar in functionality to JomSocial, it follows the standard format for social networking components - that of a facebookesque type of site with an activity wall, profile pages, messaging capabilities, etc. Where it differs is how these components have been executed, it's the fine details that really set it apart. There is a liberal use of AJAX for all functions resulting in what appears to be a very nice user experience, the interface also appears to be very intuitive, although this is obviously hard to really get a feel for from just watching on a webcast.

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JomSocial CSS Maxification - less is actually more

JomSocial CSS Maxification - less is actually more

Just been putting a site together on the new JomSocial version 3. One of the first things I always do (as you should) is create a new template - a clone of the original one. This way I can hack away at creating the site and develop the template as I go along without changing the default.

Changing the style of elements by CSS is a pretty normal act and one that I prefer to do with the original CSS and not by overrides as is always suggested by vendors. Normally I use Coda to de-minify any minified CSS and then re-minify it once I have finished. For some reason I was hitting a few issues when de-minifying the standard templates style.css file, it seemed to be replacing any reference to images with an ASCII reference instead of the path and filename data. Guessing that this must be due to the method used to compress the file (something other than the normal whitespace stripper) I went on a hunt to find out what was up with the new CSS file format.

Not finding too much I stumbled across This Post which simply suggests that the CSS files should not be modified but does not say how they were compressed and how to de-minify them. It does however give a clue - 'use less compiler'.

So I goggled 'useless compiler' and came across the http://lesscss.org/ website. I say 'useless' with my tongue in my cheek, for on the first page there is a bit of a breakdown showing some examples, one is the use of variables.

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You cannot access the private section of this site.

You cannot access the private section of this site.

This was the error I was recently faced with when I re-enabled user registrations here on the DeeEmm site.

You may recall from my last blog post Virtuemart Revisited that I have recently re-installed Virtuemart so that I can sell some extensions via a store front right here on the site. As part of my testing I run through the usual user experience to check that things work as they should and found that after registering a user, confirming the account and then being enabled by an administrator the 'You cannot access the private section of this site.' message was displayed and the new user could not log in.

Hmmnnn, not good. 

So I check the ACL to ensure that the 'registered' user level has login access to the site. All good there so that isn't the issue. I then turn to Google to see what that turns up and find that most of the solutions given relate to the ACL permissions.

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Virtuemart Revisited

Virtuemart Revisited

Over time I have gone through various stages of selling mods and extensions and somehow every time have ended up vowing never to do it again. I think in retrospect this has mostly this has been due to the piracy that seems to go hand in hand with the web extension community and the frustration that you get when you get your hard work ripped off by some snotty little script kiddy. In every case, the mods and extensions that I have written have ended up being released open source and for free. In fact these same mods and extensions are still available on the downloads page. 

As you can see by the date on most of those items, it has been a few years since I have actively developed stuff for a wider audience. Most of the stuff I wrote was for the Boonex Dolphin platform, and whilst I ended up moving away from Dolphin to Joomla and JomSocial I never bothered to release any of the modifications, plugins and extensions that I had written for my sites on the Joomla / JomSocial platform.

Recently I have been developing some interesting things and have been toying with the idea of releasing them for sale, I also have the Dolphin to JomSocial migrator that I have up until now not made available to the public. So with a renewed interest in once again selling mods and extensions but this time for the Joomla / JomSocial platform I decided to put a recent plugin that I wrote up for sale.

The plugin is a simple extension for JomSocial that automatically adds new members to a JomSocial group. I wrote this simply because the only available version that I could find to purchase required an expensive 3 month subscription purchase to download. Something as simple as this is not worth the $30  subscription price that was being asked so I decided it would be better/cheaper/easier write my own. Having written it I could also see an opportunity to sell it to others who wanted the plugin but did not want to cough up the subscription for just one extension.

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Fix your painfully slow PHP mail() function.

Fix your painfully slow PHP mail() function.

Having moved all of my sites to the Excellent Digital Ocean hosting I noticed that on some sites the php mail function seemed to be painfully slow and in some cases threw up some error messages telling me that it had failed. Googling didn't turn up too much in the way of solutions, most information seemed to suggest that the sendmail or postfix packages be installed instead.

Whilst sendmail and postfix are both great solutions, I did not really want to install a fully fledged mail server on my box as all email handling for my domains is handled on a separate server. It seemed like too much of a waste of resources so I decided to simply fix the issue with the php mail() function. 

After doing a bit of digging I discovered that the issue lay with the hosts file. The host info was incorrect.

Editing the hosts file is pretty easy to do, but first you will need to know what the current hostname is set to. To do this simply type in the following command at the command prompt

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Cloning your Joomla site

A while back I was working on a project that allowed replication of an instance of Joomla. The reason for this was that I have a couple of sites that are set up as SaaS applications. Rather than use the traditional method of selling access to multiple user accounts on a single site I needed to provide complete anonymity between users. The nature of these apps were that all data is private and for me the best way to manage both the segregation and anonymity was to provide completely separate sites for each user. 

I wanted to use a basic site as a template and then replicate it for each user. This meant replicating both the physical files and the database information for each subsequent user.

I had previously used JMS multisites but had found the component to be a bit overly complicated and limiting when used in a commercial capacity as licenses were required for each replication. It also did not do exactly what I required. I did have a look at modifying the code to do what I wanted but in the end my solution was to simply write my own component.

For my setup I required that each instance had it's own subdomain, but that users could log in from the main domain. Each instance was also created from creating a subscription on the main domain.

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User Clearout

I've deleted a bunch of old user accounts that were either never enabled or never revisited the site after being enabled. In the very highly unlikely possibility that you had an account and find that it has been deleted you will need to rejoin.

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Downloads now available again

The downloads section is now back up and running. 

All available downloads can now be downloaded without having to log in or become a member.

If there are any missing downloads or broken links please let me know

/DM

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Site Reshuffle

Been busy today tidying up the site. I've been meaning to get around to finishing off a few things, namely the poor cataloguing of the tutorials section and reinstatement of the downloads section which unfortunately broke during the last site update.

I've changed the tutorials section so that it runs off of the excellent SectionX from StackIdeas. I had perviously used SectionX on a few 1.5 sites and was very disappointed that it was never updated it for later Joomla versions. In the end I migrated the tutorials across to EasyBlog, but it was never quite the same.

Whilst recently updating a clients site I was pretty stoked to find that SectionX had been updated to work with the current Joomla versions. Great news! So I have installed it and re-enabled the old tutorials. All I need to do now is to go through the blogs and migrate any new posts back across to being a Joomla article. Stack Ideas offer a free plugin that claims to do this so I will give it a go and see what happens.

One thing that I will need to revisit is commenting for articles in the tutorials section. This was being handled by EasyBlog but will now have to managed by something like Komento. (another StackIdeas product).

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4626 Hits
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Ubuntu Forums Hacked

Looks like the Ubuntu forums have been hacked as they are currently offline. The forum is currently displaying the maintenance page with the following information: Ubuntu Forums is down for maintenance There has been a security breach on the Ubuntu Forums. The Canonical IS team is working hard as we speak to restore normal operations. This page will be updated with progress reports. What we know Unfortunately the attackers have gotten every user's local username, password, and email address from the Ubuntu Forums database. The passwords are not stored in plain text, they are stored as salted hashes. However, if you were using the same password as your Ubuntu Forums one on another service (such as email), you are strongly encouraged to change the password on the other service ASAP. Ubuntu One, Launchpad and other Ubuntu/Canonical services are NOT affected by the breach. Progress report 2013-07-20 2011UTC: Reports of defacement 2013-07-20 2015UTC: Site taken down, this splash page put in place while investigation continues. 2013-07-21: we believe the root cause of the breach has been identified. We are currently reinstalling the forums software from scratch. No data (posts, private messages etc.) will be lost as part of this process. 2013-07-22 -> 2013-07-25: work on reinstalling the forums continues. 2013-07-26: the forums are up running again and being tested privately by Forum administrators.

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Green Geeks

I have had a few of my larger sites hosted at Green Geeks for a number of years now. At one time I used to use them exclusively for all of my hosting, years ago the prices were good, and the service was great. However, over time the level of service seemed to drop massively and the number of issues that I experienced seemed to grow exponentially. 

One issue that kept rearing it's head was unexpected server updates. The techs had a habit of making server configuration changes without any prior notice meaning that you would come into work and find that 100 out of your 200 sites had features that had stopped working. These changes were usually in response to server security compromises, and amazingly on some of these occasions there was even a root breach. Such changes were an absolute nightmare and sometimes would result in losing two days or more to update code to work with the new convoluted configurations. In the end I simply moved everything to another host.

Whilst this was easy for most sites, I have a couple of larger sites that simply were not an easy task to migrate. The sheer size of the sites meant days of FTP time to transfer the files. I simply kept putting the migration off until the inevitable happened.

Well that inevitable moment happend recently when the billing cycle was unable to renew as my credit card details had expired. Instead of emailing me to let me know so that I could update my details they simply flipped the switch and took the sites offline. The first I knew of it was receiving an email from an irate client saying that their service had been suspended. Great.

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Farcebook. Dolphins and Conundrums.

Along with the recent site update I have also decided to junk the 'web technologies' moniker and revert to just the plain old 'DeeEmm' name. The reason for adopting the name in the first place was to try and leverage the DeeEmm name to generate some business from the hard earned reputation that I had garnered from providing free templates, mods and plugins for various web platforms.

For some reason, perhaps the free lovin hippy side of me, I decided to give away (yes GIVE AWAY!!) modifications and plugins for FREE!! This had a rather good outcome in that I managed to secure me quite a good reputation. Whilst others seemed to milking every and any opportunity I decided to try and undermine their cashing in by providing my mods for free. This ploy worked remarkably well, especially with the Boonex Dolphin platform, in fact so well that I still get enquiries for Dolphin work long after I opted to have nothing to do with it (some 2 or 3 years in fact!). The upshot of my free mods was that I received many many enquiries. But whilst I received many enquiries, the conversion rate was relatively low, in fact for every fifty enquiries only one would end up as a sale and not someone expecting free advice or help, not a very good conversion ratio. 

For some reason most of those enquiries related to the Dolphin platform all ended up being little more than wishful thinking, it appeared that most of the enquiries that I received seemed to want everything that I could offer, but expected to pay more-or-less nothing for it. This is a phenomenon not experienced with other software platforms and I'm not 100% sure why.

I would like to say it is because of of a carefully considered business model where a less than a perfect software core is sold and then Svengali types swan along and sell you solutions to all of the inherent problems in the code. However I think that the reality is much worse than that.

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Site Update

Decided to update the site and freshen it up a little.

The template is now based on the popular Twitter boostrap template and some of the superfluous areas of the sites have been removed. The discussions area is now no more. I figure that I'm not developing commercial components any more so there is really no need for it, instead I will simply support each mod / tutorial through it's comment section.

Whilst on the subject of comments handling, I decided to stop using the excellent Komento and instead simply reply on the inbuilt comments system for EasyBlog. This is more than adequate and running a skinnier site is going to be much easier to manage.

There are numerous other changes, most of them minor and none really that noticeable so that's it for another year or so until the next update.

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JomSocial Group Discussion Exploit

Been getting spam for quite a while in a few of my JomSocial sites so decided to take a look into why. Spam messages were somehow being left by guest users even though guest access was disabled and permissions were set to members only for group discussions. After a short while I was easily able to replicate how to to do this myself.

So wanting to the the right thing and not publicly post the exploit for others to see and abuse I emailed JomSocial support with details of the exploit and how to fix it. After waiting for a while I got absolutely no response whatsoever. I then posted a message to their Facebook feed, same thing - absolutely no reply whatsoever. Pretty ironic considering that thier Facebook page is pretty active lately telling us what a great job they are doing improving JomSocial.

Hmmnnnn what to do?

So next I post a support thread on their forum. After a couple of weeks of not receiving any official reply I gave up any expectation of ever getting a reply and simply fixed my sites myself. I eventually received an email requesting that I give examples of the exploit, screen grabs and a whole bunch of other stuff that would take up heaps of my time. I politely declined saying that they had missed their chance but offering that they could engage me professionally if they wanted me fix their code. Not surprisingly there was no reply.

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27740 Hits
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Go Yabba Daddy

Not being a very heavy traffic type of site DeeEmm.com has always been quite happy residing on a shared server along side the other similar sites that I run. My two heavy traffic sites reside on a dedicated server but there has never been a need for such extravagances here. That is, until just recently.Go Yabba Yabba!I have a habit of bouncing between hosting plans so that i can get a better deal and have moved between several hosts before settling on GoDaddy. They offered the cheapest unlimited hosting and as I had domains and online storage registered there it seemed like a no-brainer. Before I moved I gave them a call to make sure that they supported Joomla and a few specific hosting requirements that I needed. The support guy was very helpful and reassured me that there were no account restrictions and the hosting could be configured as I required. Cool.So nearly a year goes by, with no major dramas. The support has been excellent when I have needed it and the sites are running much better then they did on my previous host (who had a habit of continually reconfiguring the servers in the name of 'security' which usually ended up breaking my site).Out of the blue just before Christmas I get an email from 'network violations' telling me that my account is in contravention of their hosting policy and will be taken down unless I immediately fix it. On digging a little further it transpires that as a couple of the sites I had hosted there have over 1024 files within a directory it was seen as being in contravention with their terms and conditions. They advised me to immediately change the site so that it did not have greater then 1024 files or folders in a single directory and then send them an email stating that I had removed the offending items, was in agreement to their rule of 1024 and would not do it again.WTF!?!I smell a rat!I was majorly pissed off as one of the issues I asked about before committing was hosting limitations on their 'unlimited' plans. Well after doing some digging I found out that there is no such clause in their T&C, hence the request to cut and paste a specific statement into an email. Obviously I refused.After some debate and moving up the food chain a few levels I ended up in a stalemate conversation with one of their managers who was not going to budge on their newly created 1024 rule and whilst I managed to get the deadline extended a little they were adamant that I had to address the file issue.There was no compromise on their behalf and I was fed a bullshite story about how my sites were affecting other domains on the shared hosting (quite amazing considering that neither site was actually live, the DNS records were still pointing at my previous registrar meaning that there was zero traffic to their servers).With lies and a complete lack of cooperation on behalf of GoDaddy I decided to vote with my feet and take my (considerable) business elsewhere. Their loss! I did however manage to get a parting shot by getting them to refund me for the three hosting plans that they miss-sold me. The ironic thing was that in the course of the discussions I had with them I asked if they would upgrade me to a VPS plan for free - which they declined. Not sure why as it was a fraction of the price of the three plans. Idiots.My GainTheir loss has literally turned into my gain as I discovered Digital Ocean who offer basic VPS hosting from as little as $5 / month. I have now migrated all of my hosted sites over to a single VPS instance which is working absolutely flawlessly. The best thing is that should I need I can easily and instantly upgrade to a higher spec VPS with the click of a button.I'm going to carry on testing things out for a while and will probably move my two large sites across as it is much better value than I am currently getting./DM

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Evernote 5.... Epic Fail!

:(

I've been a proponent of Evernote for quite some time now, I use it on my Mac, my iPhone and iPad as well as using the online version when accessing from my clients windows machines. Being able to instantly share data between all of my machines has been an excellent boon to my productivity, and being able to find information fast means that I am never caught short in meetings or whilst out in the field. Well at least that's how it used to be before the latest Evernote 5 update.

The new version of Evernote has been vastly prettyfied, so much so in fact, that instead of being the leading GTD app (GTD = getting things done), it has now entered to realms of bloatware. The new update is visually very different, and a considerable amount of time would have appear to have been spent on creating new fancy graphics and swipe actions. Unfortunately this is at the expense of usability. 

Heres my lowdown on why you should NOT update...

 

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Macbook dies in freak plane accident

The past week has been pretty painful as I have been without my trusty macbook. Unfortunately it died in what I can only call  freak accident.

Last week whilst I was flying to visit a clients site the plane hit some turbulence. Now when I say some turbulence, you could probably translate that as the worst turbulence I have ever experienced. Not wanting to sound too blasé about such things; I fly quite a lot and being originally based in London I've experienced quite a bit of extreme weather whilst flying. Anyhow, before departing i did what I always do; put my mac into sleep mode, loaded it up in my trusty pull along samsonite laptop case and headed off to the airport. After going through check-in, stopping off for the obligatory coffee at the qantas lounge and boarding the plane I settled in to reading my book. (This week it is 'Existence' by David Brin).

Takeoff was pretty bumpy and the ride did not improve as we rose above cloud level, then about 15 minutes into the flight we hit some turbulence. I can only liken the turbulence to what it must feel like to be trapped inside an industrial washing machine, stuck inside of a cement mixer that is bouncing on the worlds biggest bungee. In fact, I'm not really sure if that is an adequate analogy, but I'm sure you get the gist.

Whilst such a ride is no issue for a skateboarding petrol head (I did at one point think of throwing my hands in the air and giving a 'whoop' or two), I've got to admit that the sound of the engines straining and the wings creaking was making the engineer side of my brain ask questions.

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Mobile Joomla Mobile Template

http://www.mobilejoomla.com/

Another multi platform mobile template, Mobile Joomla. Works great with joomla and kunena and is configurable with seperate templates for different platforms. This is currently active on the site.

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5545 Hits
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JTouch Joomla Mobile Template

http://www.mobilemews.com/

View your Joomla based site on a mobile device. Just installed this on DeeEmm.com. Needs some tweaking but works reasonably well.

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8022 Hits
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Airflick & Airplayer

http://ericasadun.com/ftp/AirPlay/

Turn your Mac into an airplay device or serve files and URLs to Apple TV

Tried this out last night to watch a file I had on my macbook on our TV. Works like a dream. Whilst it does not have the prettiest UI, it's an app I will definitely keep hold of for future use.
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7909 Hits
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iPad 3 months on

Been a while since I started using the iPad so thought I'd best post some progress.

If you have read the iPad versus MacBook experiment post you would know that one of the objectives of the whole experiment was to see if I could use the iPad as a replacement for my laptop. Well, in short, I did actually manage it, albeit with a few restrictions.

I will start off by saying that whilst you can use your iPad for most things, there are a few things that are much easier on a proper computer. The biggest issue with the iPad for me was simply the user interface. It's great for most things but when you want to type there is nothing like a real keyboard. This is no big issue as you can use the standard apple bluetooth keyboard which works flawlessly. However, this leads not to another issue. There is no mouse.

Mouseless

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4568 Hits
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iPad versus MacBook experiment

The first in a series of articles documenting an experiment with an iPad, a consultant and a sense of adventure, If you are considering usig an iPad as a replacement for your laptop then read on...

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6848 Hits
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Black Wednesday

If you are a regular internet user, or even a regular user of other more traditional media, you probably couldn't fail to be aware of the blackout of several well known websites. Amongst the most reported was the blackout of Wikipedia. It's actions receiving a lot of media coverage here in Australia on the radio and television, coverage that was no doubt echoed around the rest of the globe...

 

 

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4833 Hits
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Busmans Holiday

You would think that working on websites all the time i would have an up to date site myself, the problem is, that by the time I've finished working on everyone else's stuff, i don't really feel like working on my own.  Contrary to popular belief, there is actually a life outside of the internet (it's true :D ), and whilst it can be really hard to drag myself away from the monitor, I make a point of doing other (real and tangible) stuff wherever I can. This is especially true since having children. The upshot of this is that time is at a premium and my own sites suffer, nothing gets updated.

So with new abandon, I'm setting out to update DeeEmm.com. It's been long overdue, but the time has come to give the site a bit of a spruce up. i did take a bit of a look at this some time back, but as the site is still running from the old 1.5 version, the main reason for wanting to update was to upgrade to the newer 1.7 code. Unfortunately the jUpgrade code prescribed by Joomla for migrating to 1.7 did not seem to want to work, however, there is now a new version, and the test migration I performed last night worked flawlessly.

At this time I'm planning to migrate the info over, spruce up the template a little, and maybe (maybe), add a few new features in.

One component that I've been using quite a bit on other sites is EasyBlog from StackIdeas. This will probably see it's way into the update as it's much easier to use than publishing these posts via the Joomla interface. Plus, it comes with all of the bells and whistles that you would expect from an up to date blogging platform.

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4707 Hits
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New OHS Community

I'm just about to embark on the start of a new project to build an occupational health and safety web portal for engineering professionals. The new site, ohs.eng.pro will provide community tools for OH&S professionals and engineers engaged in safety related roles. The goal of the project is to provide a think space where safety professionals can collaborate on safety related projects, get peer advice and share in discussions realting to all aspects of safety, safety management and safety related products.

The portal will be open to all who wish to join and contribute and aims to provide a central repository of safety information for all to share in. With a focus on improving current safety knowledge and sharing best safety practices, the portal aims to be a truly global endeavour.

Dedicated discussion forums will be provided for a variety of safety related subjects and industries, and each forum is available to be sponsored by comercial entities.

We are currently looking for content contributors. If you are interested in contributing editorial articles relating to any aspect of safety for inclusion in the new site,  please contact us using the contact form below. Contributors will be allowed to promote their own product or company by way of a short 'bio' included at the end of each article.

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3811 Hits
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First steps

If you are one of those visitors who is expectantly waiting for the release of the Dolphin to Joomla migration script, you will be happy to know that things are moving along nicely and the script will be released before the end of the month. In preparation for this imminent release I have started to prepare the documentation for the installation, including the scope of operation and the requirements for getting it up and running.

The documentation will be provided in a series of articles in the tutorials section which will walk you through the whole process in a step by step manner. It will also cover the setting up of Joomla and Jomsocial, as well as providing installation help for the required third party modules.

The first of these articles is now available to view and is an introduction that covers what you can expect from the migration. To view the article visit...

http://www.deeemm.com/resources/tutorials/60-dolphin-to-joomla-migration.html

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Finish What You Started...

I had to laugh to myself when I took a look at the Boonex website earlier today. True to form, and as predicted by me many months ago. It would seem that Boonex are preparing to move on from their Dolphin 7 script and replace it with... you guessed it... Dolphin 8.

As predicted, Dolphin 8 will not share functionality with the earlier version rendering all purchased modifications, templates etc useless. Those choosing to update to the new version will be at the mercy of the vendors when it comes to updating and it is likely that many vendors will use this to force users into purchasing products again. This was certainly my experience when I upgraded from Dolphin 6 to Dolphin 7.

Another issue that I faced when I upgraded was that the URL schema was changed between D6 and D7, this was a major headache as it had a huge effect on my sites SEO rankings, and was something that was not fixable. It would not surprise me to find that Boonex will change the URL schema again on the new update.

The dolphin community are anxious with the news of the upgrade, especially those members that have been around long enough to have experienced this before. Amusingly Boonex seem to be using similar excuses about D8 being the next best thing, and so much better than the last best thing. Quite rightfully there is a lot of frustration amongst the older community members.

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8086 Hits
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Free Stock Icons

http://icons.mysitemyway.com/icon-banners/black-ink-grunge-stamps-textures-icons.jpg

Occasionally I need to use icons in an application or website, generally I favour the 'standard' stock icon sets like the fantastic and widely used FamFam Silk icon set or Bitcons by Somerandomdude which I utilised in earlier versions of DMCMS. but recently I needed a larger icon set to create buttons for an admin panel that I was putting together for a web based application.

After the usual google search I stumbled across http://icons.mysitemyway.com/ which offer 66 different themed icon sets each based on the same basic pictographs. Each icon set is divided into several categories, such as business or social media and can be downloaded separately. In total there are 128,743 royalty free icons and clipart images available.

The quality and variety of each icon set is fantastic and diverse enough that there is a style available to suit pretty much most application and website designs. I managed to find a 'safety' themed icon set called yellow road signs that perfectly suited the application I am working on. But what was even more impressive was that the icons set included enough of a variety of icons, that I managed to cover every single icon type that I required, without having to create additional icons myself.

A big thumbs up to mysitemyway for their generosity in giving these icons away, if you need an icon set in the near future, be sure to go check them out. I will definitely be considering them for future apps that I write. A big 10/10 from me.

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5875 Hits
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Last post for LastPass?

Xmarks is a great cross browser bookmark and password sync tool. I've been using it for years to sync my bookmarks between the variety of browsers that I use, which is a boon for those of us who develop for the web.

In January I received an email that Xmarks had decided to discontinue their service. This was also posted to the xmarks blog The reason given was that charging for the service was not part of their original strategy, but their business model was not working for them, and the service was costing too much to maintain.

Fortunately, in steps LastPass an established password management tool, and save xmarks from their planned demise. They take xmarks over, and continue the service. Great. Except for one thing. Xmarks also syncs passwords, and this conflicts with LastPass. So they decide to phase out password backups from xmarks.

I recently lost all of my passwords and had to retrieve them from my xmarks account - something that I have had to do a few times in the past (computer fails, all info is lost, thank goodness for backups). This is where xmarks really comes into it's own, and before we had time machine, was the only way to successfully retrieve browser based settings.

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4704 Hits
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iJoomer JomSocial iPhone app trumps Dolphin oo

Whilst surfing the other day I stumbled across iJoomer an iPhone that connects to the joomla platform. Being a recent iPhone convert, and an avocate for Joomla / JomSocial I decided to check it out.

To work with your site, there is both a plugin to install and also a small code modification that needs to be made to two files. The code mod is relatively straightforward, and just involves adding a line of code to each file. With the plugin installed, and the mod done, you can test the application out by downloading it from the app store. Simply search for iJoomer.

Out of the box, the app is configured to connect to the iJoomer demo site. You can easily join the site and test out it's abilities all from the app. I initially did this, whilst checking what was happening on the site from my laptop browser before installing it on my own site. To connect to your own site simply choose settings from the log in screen and add the url of your site.

First impressions are that the app is very well thought out, and much more intuitive and functional than it's nearest rival, the 'oo' app offered by Boonex. The biggest difference between the two apps, is that the iJoomer app reports all wall activity, and with the latest JomSocial update, this even includes comments and 'likes'. It is also possible to add comments or like wall posts right from within the app itself. This is one massive failing of the Dolphin platform, decent wall functionality has to be added as a third party application, and so there is no support for it from within the iPhone app, but even so, the Boonex version does not even report the basic wall stream that is included by default, an epic fail in my opinion. Especially when you consider that it is this activity stream that has become the cornerstone for all social sites.

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8958 Hits
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Dolphin to Joomla (JomSocial) migration

It's been a while since I've finished the Geeklog to Joomla (JomSocial) migration, and with a new update released by Boonex, I've decided that it is about time to look at migrating my sites away from the Dolphin platform.

With even a mildly modified site, Dolphin updates are usually a nightmare. It is rare that something does not break, or mess up in some manner, so I've decided that instead of wasting time updating third party addons to work with the new Dolphin core, it is much more cost and time effective to write a migration script.

The target platform will be Joomla, running the JomSocial component. This is a comparative product for those who are using Dolphin as a community site, and pretty much, all standard modules have an equivalent Joomla component.

At the moment the project is at the drawing board stage, but the basic outline is complete.

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12367 Hits
6 Comments

Migrating from Geeklog to Joomla

[UPDATED!]

Now that the New Year is under way, I've turned my focus back to the Joomla project that i have been working on. This is the migration of an existing Geeklog site over to the Joomla (JomSocial) platform. The basic site design and functionality has now been finalised, and the next stage is to start migrating the existing data across.

The migration away from Geeklog is due to the lack of development on both the Geeklog and GLFusion platforms. Although there have been releases in recent times, these have been little more than security updates. GLFusion promised to take Geeklog into the current Web 2 age, but after over a year, it has failed to really pick up any momentum, plus, with many features missing from the core and requiring non-existant third party plugins, the decision was made to migrate away from Geeklog, to the better supported Joomla.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that many (any) have trodden this path before, and so i was not able to turn up any suitable info from the usual Google, search. This meant a bit of DIY hacking to get the data migrated. I did manage to find enough info on user authentication to be able to figure out how to migrate the users across without needing to get users to change passwords, which is a boon for a site like this one, which has some 1600 odd members.

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7180 Hits
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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of our customers and visitors, and best wishes for the new year.

/DM

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WD 10TPVT 1TB Macbook Upgrade.

A short time ago I upgraded the drive in my macbook pro as I had filled up the stock 250GB drive that came with it. After a little research I opted for the WD scorpio blue WD10TPVT 1 TB, as I had found out that even with it's increased height, it would still fit the macbook. But, after only a few months of use the drive has failed.

Fortunately the inbuilt S.M.A.R.T. check threw up an error message informing me of the impending doom, and advised me to back up my data pronto. As I could not get to a store until the weekend, I carried on using the drive for the rest of the week with no issues except running a tad slow.

One interesting thing that I noticed, is that, even though using OSX's 'Disk Utility', showed a S.M.A.R.T. failure (S.M.A.R.T. is a hardware check carried out by onboard diagnostics within the drive unit), Tech Tool's S.M.A.R.T. test passed as okay.

So, I went out at the weekend to buy a replacement drive, and to post the failed unit off for warrantee repair, as it is covered for 3 years. Unfortunately the store did not have a 1TB unit, so I purchased a WD 500GB black unit instead. Interestingly the store owner commented that they had stopped stocking the larger drive due to the high failure rate. It seems that this is one of those cases where bigger is most definitely not better.

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6116 Hits
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DIY Maps


With the advent of Google maps, it's now very easy to add a map to your website, a few lines of code, and you have added a nicely styled map. The style is of course pretty much fixed, and you have to retain the Google logo, but it's free and easy to use. But what if the style does not fit in with your website, or what if you want to show some geographical data, like highlighting a specific area or region?

 

 

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5076 Hits
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JomSocial v's Dolphin

A current project that I am looking in to is an update for an existing community site that I run. The site is based on the Geeklog platform and is a typical community site with forums, photo galleries, blogs etc. The problem that I have found with Geeklog, is that the plugins are not really actively maintained. Geeklog used to have a very active community, but a period of stagnation saw many of the contributors leave for other platforms.

I have updated the site a few times in the past, and each time I have ended up having to re-write the integration scripts for things such as the gallery, to be able to update them to the latest versions.

So a recent discussion with the other guys involved in the site has spurned me to take a look into alternatives.

Joomla has always been a candidate for migration, it's perfectly suited to running a site migrated from Geeklog, and has enough pugins already available to the community to be able to replicate our existing featureset. The only real problem, is that there are no migration tools, so this will have to be a custom migration job. Not really an issue, just a little more work.

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15429 Hits
22 Comments

Just for fun

Boonex regulars will know that there is soon to be a new policy put in place in Unity, instant bans for anything spoken out of line. There will be no opinions about Dolphin allowed, unless they are positive, and no critiques.

Of course, this will probably mean that i will not last too long, I am, of course, very outspoken when it comes to Dolphin and their developers, and it is only my good nature that prevents me from saying more.

So in response to a forum post, that I am sure will get deleted, and more than likely get me banned, i posted the following.

It will never change, you can disappear for 2 years and then come back here and things will be exactly like they were when you left. (except that the version number will be different) . On returning, at first things may appear to be different, as they will be dressed up in a different way, but the same issues will persist, the same complaints will be made about how the issues are handled, the same regulars will be in the forums complaining about how crap the support is, the same webmasters will be holding out, waiting for the magic version that will allow them to take their sites live, and the same core developers will be selling mods that should be core features.As I know that this will be deleted - I've also posted this on my site - to prove a point. Come back and check in 2 years - It will be the same - I will stake money on it.

To put it in context, it's a thread complaining about Dolphin, how buggy it is, and how Boonex handle management of it. My response is just some thoughts about how it always seems to be the same.

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Time Out

After 6 months of Dolphin development, I have decided that it is log overdue, to take some time out. The change in bias for the site from personal tech Blog to business site, alongside the change in business direction has proven to be a lot less profitable than anticipated.

The focus on Dolphin as a platform for which to develop was seen as a potential with high returns, and so some effort was spent in writing up some simple mods and providing support and development work for it's users. The idea was to test the water and see how the market lay. The reality is that the active userbase is relatively small, as are the returns.

The effort taken to write up even relatively simple mods, is a fairly big undertaking. Testing is required to ensure that mods function correctly, database scripts need to be written to add in additional database fields, and with every update, each mod needs to be tested and updated again. All of this amounted in an inordinate amount of time being required for developing, and maintaining a suite of mods.

The reality is that even with a selection of mods available, there is simply not enough of a turnover to be able to earn a living from, plus there seems to be a massive underground movement in ripping off mods - more so than with any other community that I have been involved with. People rip off your work, and pass it out like it is their right to do so. For someone trying to make a living this sucks.

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Syntax highlighting code in TinyMCE

After a recent tutorial a member mailed me to let me know that the code snippets were not displaying correctly. A quick look told me that this was due to my use of the pre tag, which prevented the text from breaking when it reached the bounds of it's containing element.

The fix was relatively easy - add the following hacks to force the text to wrap for pre formatted text...

word-wrap: break-word; /* Internet Explorer 5.5+ */ white-space: -o-pre-wrap; /* Opera 7 */ white-space: -pre-wrap; /* Opera 4-6 */ white-space: -moz-pre-wrap !important; /* Mozilla, since 1999 */ white-space: pre-wrap; /* css-3 */

But this got me thinking, and jarred my memory to something I was working on a little while back.

I had previously taken a look at syntax highlighting for WYSIWYG editors, this was for use in the DMCMS project where i wanted to allow full editing of template files from within the Admin panel. This is something that I had implemented on an earlier development version but had then abandoned. (For some reason that i can no longer remember)

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FREE RMS Service

For those of you who have been using Dolphin for a while, you will remember that Boonex used to offer a free RMS hosting service for it's free licenses. This service has long since been discontinued, leaving users to either ensure that they find a combined Web / RMS hosting package, or look for a third party RMS host.

Smoge over at ModMySite, has recently introduced a free RMS hosting package on their own servers, for small low bandwidth sites. There are also a variety of paid packages that should support all sizes of sites from small to large.

ModMySite, are a long time Dolphin support site that has been around since the original days of AEDating, way back in 2003, so they certainly know their stuff.

If you're interested in ModMySites RMS services, click HERE

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Boonex Blogs Gone

Well, maybe the title is not strictly true, but for all intents and purposes, the user blogs over at Boonex Unity are now dead. Andrew Boon, in his infinite wisdom, has decided to remove the user blogs from displaying in the blog index, leaving this solely for Boonex team posts. Whilst there is (some) merit in this, from a commercial perspective, it leaves the user blogs with no index, and no way of knowing if there is a new post.

So whilst the blogs still exist, you now have to navigate to each blog individually, via each members user profile to view them. Needless to say, I cannot imagine anyone bothering to post any more.

It's ironic that the focus on the community at Boonex has always centered around their core philosophy of 'Unity', it seems that this is far from uniting people, in fact I woud go as far as to say that it has the opposite effect.

If I were to be blatantly honest, I think that it is Andrews way of dealing with opinions that do not agree with his. I am probably one of the contributing factors in this respect, as i have often made very pointed statements in the Blogs, but if you do not want people to have opinions, why have blogs in the first place? I guess that is what has now happened.

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Boonex Dolphin Security Vulnerability

It seems like this week is a bit of a strange one so far. Not only is it National Cyber Security Awareness Week here in Australia, but first the Boonex site suffered a massive DDOS attack and then my own dolphin site suffered a similar fate. I believe that the two events are probably coincidental, as the attack on my site was not particularly well formed, and was easily defeated - most likely just some kiddie with a script. I managed to get the service that the attack was coming from terminated due to a violation of the providers TOS - they're probably in big trouble with mom and dad now. The attack on the Boonex site continued over the weekend, and there are still some services out of action.

I believe that the main source of the attack on my site was to take advantage of the exploit recently published on Boonex's site, and reported about here on DeeEmm.com in an earlier news article - http://www.deeemm.com/news/154-dolphin-7-security-vulnerability-exposed.html Whilst the noise about this issue seems to have been muted a little, after the attack on my site I am pretty convinced that the solution given by Boonex is no solution at all.

The main crux of the problem was claimed to be the DB_FULL_VISUAL_PROCESSING or DB_FULL_DEBUG_MODE settings, which caused the debug backtrace to be echoed directly to the browser in the event of a fault. Boonex's comments were simply that these were disabled by default and so the issue was a non-issue. This glaring oversight caused an obvious embarrassment to those who made the claims that the issue was with the DB_FULL_VISUAL_PROCESSING setting, this then caused them to promptly back off a little.

Whilst Boonex's solution has seemingly pacified the masses, it does not address the initial issue - that the debug back-trace is getting echoed to the browser in some error situations. The fact is that the issue has been reported by many, and until now no one had been sure of a definite cause, unfortunately the DB_FULL_VISUAL_PROCESSING setting was little more than a red herring, and whilst easily dismissed by Boonex, their solution does not actually fix the issue.

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Dolphin 7.0.1 and beyond

The latest release to Boonex's CMS system - Dolphin 7, has now been out on the wild for some time. Released at Christmas, the much anticipated Dolphin 7 was to be heralded as the latest in web tech, offering an advanced platform for social networking sites that was far ahead of the competition. With several public beta releases, the anticipation was fueled by the glimpses offered in each release, building up the expectations to a massive level. Also adding fuel to this fire, was the long overdue update and bugfix release due for Dolphin 6. As a result, Dolphin 7 had a lot to deliver.

With the release of Dolphin 7 finally made a year later than expected, it was unleashed into the public with a massive amount of issues, over 300 bugs to be precise. This left the Dolphin community a little abashed, with many users having stuck with Dolphin, through the extended development period, now feeling disappointed. Lots of these users had put development plans on hold, with the expectation that the promised release would be the answer to their needs.

It is now a further 5 months down the line, and the recent update release 7.0.1 has addressed many of the problems that plagued version 7. The problems are not completely fixed however, and there are still many issues surrounding how development and releases are handled, but it seems that Boonex are moving in the right direction with a shorter release cycle, and prioritisation of bugs addressed for each release. I previously touched on this issue with one of my blog posts over at unity - http://www.boonex.com/unity/blog/entry/Product_release_cycles

Based on past performance at Boonex, and anticipating the issues and extended wait with version 7, when it was originally announced, I decided to stick with version 6  - This is a choice that i am glad i made. Not only as the expected release date slipped way beyond the original estimate, and there were more issues than even I anticipated, but also as it has meant that I have managed to build my user-base over the past year, and develop the community for which the site serves.

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BoonexNerd Update

Just had a bit of a chat with James Tadeo, who has recently updated his successful Boonex support site BoonexNerd.net to run from the latest Dolphin version - 7.0.0. James blogged about the migration which he said went fairly smoothly using the migration tool that comes with D7, great news to hear for those of us who have still yet to update.

This got me thinking about the update to my own Dolphin site. I started to have a look at this a little while back - i set up a fresh D7 installation, which had a few issues as I had to reconfigure the server setup to suit D7. then I made a start with the data migration tool. I got as far as transferring the user-base over, but have been pretty busy since, and so have never progressed any further.This is something that I really need to make some time to go and sort out.

My main concern was that my D6 site is fairly modified, and whilst D7 does have greatly improved functionality, it does lack some of the mods that my members have come to expect. These mods are a mixture of purchased mods and mods that I have developed myself. There are also a large number of minor enhancements and bug-fixes that are hopefully now covered by the new D7 feature-set. the site has been developed over the past year, which is a nice and comfortable time frame to have developed a site this modded. Unfortunately with the upgrade, time is not that plentiful.

At present I think I will wait for the D 7.0.1. update to be released before revisiting the upgrade. I will have a look into rewriting the current mods for D7 and see how much work is involved, maybe I can temporarily drop a few of the mods to buy a bit of time.

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Delete .DS_Store files

Whilst recently packaging some files for distribution, I noticed that that the folders that i was compressing contained .DS_Store files. These .DS_Store files are hidden files used by OSX to store metadata such as icon position and view settings. They are similar to the thumbs.db file used on windows, and are equally annoying when packaging files up for viewing on other systems.

By default the .DS_Store files are hidden in OSX, unfortunately this is not so for other systems where they are displayed alongside whatever content you packaged Not wanting to have to manually drill down through various folder levels to delete each and every instance, I decided to have a quick google to see what I could find.

First page up led me to Ryan Grier's site, where he has an application called the 'DS_Store Cleaner v1.5' listed. The app has not apparently been updated since January 2005, but this is not an issue, as the app works perfectly.

Basically after unzipping the app, place it somewhere on your mac (the application folder seems like a good spot) and then drag it to your dock to create an icon. Now simply drag the folder you want cleaned onto the DS_Store Cleaner icon. After chugging away for a little while, you will be notified by an alret box as to how many .DS_Store files have been deleted.

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Times a Changing

The site migration is pretty much finished, with just a few small odds and ends to fix up. One of the things that I have left to do is to add in some re-directions for the old content. When moving content it is always a good idea to redirect visitors to the new location with a 403 error response to the users browser. This will in turn be trawled by the web crawlers and your new location duly noted. As the old content locations followed the navigation structure of the old site code, I can add in one or two rules in my htaccess file using mod_rewrite and regex to redirect users from specific areas of the old site.

You may have noticed that the new site no longer runs from DMCMS, and whilst I do feel more than a little guilty about this, I simply did not have the time to integrate shopping carts, trouble ticket systems, forums and user handling into the DMCMS core. It was much quicker and easier to use existing products. Plus, the idea with DMCMS is that it is a simple and easy to use CMS, so integration of additional third party software does not fit with the idea behind it.

The online store is now up and running, although there is currently only one product (DMCMS) this is just for testing purposes. I will add in the premium mods as I develop them. All mods are instantly downloadable on checkout. There are one or two mods for Dolphin 7 already in the works, with more planned to come.Purchasers of premium mods also get access to the helpdesk system for dedicated support.

There are free mods available from the Resources > Tutorial section, this is basically the 'How To' section from the old site, that has now been categorized, I will add hints and tips here as I get time. There are a bunch of mods I developed for Dolphin 6 that I need to convert into proper mod format. My ultimate idea is to strike a balance between free mods and paid mods.

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Mac Database Client

http://www.sequelpro.com/assets/images/g-notebook-header.png

A recent project using a remote database server forced me to go looking for a suitable database client for my Mac. Previously i had used EMMA on Linux, but as I only has my macbook to hand I decided to have a look into what was available.A quick google turned up Sequel Pro - an open source project - http://www.sequelpro.com/

Sequel Pro is a very capable tool, that works flawlessly, it supports SSL connections and had a wide range of encoding options. The layout is instantly familiar to anyone who is used to using phpMyAdmin, and the interface is pretty intuitive to use.

The query editor allows easy query management with both a history feature as well as a favourites menu to keep track of your more frequently used querys, this alone is a great feature for anyone who needs to use the same querys over and over. The query editor also provides basic text editor functionality and syntax highlighting to make life a littel easier, it also includes auto complete.

Overall, if you need a remote database client, or simply want to use something other than phpMyAdmin, I would reccomend Sequel Pro. A great application, at a great price.

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UEX Ultraedit For Linux

uex.jpg

 

It's a very exciting time in the DeeEmm office, we have been made part of the beta team for UEX - yes, that's right - UEX - the Linux version of Ultraedit - the long awaited port of Ultraedit to the Linux platform.The new Ultraedit for Linux is nearing the release date and a few lucky users have been chosen as beta testers - We were lucky to be one of those.

First impressions of UEX are exactly as expected. UEX is very similar visually to UEDIT and UEStudio. It differs in that there are a few features that are missing or different, but it likely that these will appear with the final release.We've been using Ubuntu 9.04 to run the UEX beta on, and we've been using it for the current re-write / tidying of the DMCMS version 1 release. So far our findings with UEX are pretty much as expected with a beta release, mostly the code works as expected, but with the occasional bug / hangup. Hopefully our dilligence with reporting the errors will mean that RC1 will as robust we have all come to expect Ultraedit to be, and that the final release of UEX is not too far behind it.

There are also rumors of a mac port of UEX, although there is no timeline currently available for it. My guess is that once UEX is up and running it will be little matter to port it to the mac platform.

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