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Some RSS play

posted: 25 Sep 2009

I've always been interested in how RSS is replacing the 'standard' paradigm of news delivery, allowing us to pick and choose those topics that we're interested in rather than relying on the opinions (and I admit expertise) of a professional editor. This can have both positive and negative impacts on the way we receive information. The knock on effects of such freedom is also interesting, that print is falling away as the primary delivery mechanism and electronic aggregation and delivery are taking over.

Feeling somewhat nostalgic for the old days of black 'n' white columns, I set about a project to render my daily news into a 'newspaper' format, albeit online. It's a work in progress and whilst the HTML cleanup is working pretty well, there are still plenty of remnants of unwanted markup in the output. However, if you feel so inclined, please take a look at my WIP the BM Times!

Once I get that pesky HTML under control, I'll start looking at ways to lay it out nice and proper like. Let me know your thoughts, ideas.

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Linux and Windows

posted: 04 Jun 2009

It's no secret that I've been sitting on the Linux fence for a few years, never getting much further than installing a copy of Linux, only to be halted by requirements to recompile the kernel or learn a bunch of command line wizardry to open a file. However, with our new house and the almost endless scope for networking niceties, I have looked once more to the open source. And this time, I am finally finding my feet. Thinking back to the days when I was 'learning' Windows, I would spend hours installing, configuring, breaking and reinstalling 98, ME, 2k, XP... now it's happening all over again, but with Linux. Although, this time, the web is there to help and I have a goal in mind.

My end game is to create a Windows domain, web/application, database and DNS server. To what end, I'm not completely clear, but at the heart of it, is to be able to host small web applications from my own network and browse them from 'the outside'. And all this, to be done on using only open source applications and a small footprint, low powered Mini-ITX PC board. And it's going pretty well.

Recent achievements have got Fedora Core 4 installed and Samba set up with basic Primary Domain Controller functionality and my new NAS (Buffalo nkstation 2Gb) mounted for file storage. The next phase is to install MySQL with the data on the NAS and then Apache/JBoss/Railo for application development.

I'll keep you posted, on how that all goes, but let me finish by saying that I am now, officially a Linux fan. Not yet a -phile but I'm working on that.

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File upload progress and CF

posted: 18 Mar 2008

I'm working on a video project at work, where we need to provide visual feedback on a file upload. You know the sort, fill in the form, pick your file, hit submit and watch the progress bar tell you how much has been uploaded.

Well my initial thought was that ColdFusion would be able to do this, submit to a hidden iframe and then monitor the files size, however, it appears CF won't even start to process the script until the entire request, file and all, has been received. So by the time you can do anything scripty, the process is already complete. Even if the script doesn't use the file, it gets it ready to process just in case.

So I turned my gaze to Java, CF being Java meant I could maybe sit a jsp alongside my CF pages, and I found FileUpload from those great guys at the Apache Foundation. The latest incarnation (1.2 I think) of FileUpload has the ability to watch the upload progress. You basically register an event handler class to the update() method of FileUpload.

So I got my Java books out and went to work on revising inner classes. I now have two jsp pages, one that accepts the form with an inner class that writes the percentage complete, and other status' to an application variable, and a second that provides a monitor on this status.

On submit of the form, JavaScript rewrites the form submission, hides the submit button, reveals the progress bar, creates a hidden iframe and submits the form to it. It then sets up an asynchronous XHR to watch it's progress. The monitor jsp file feeds back the progress and the page updates a set of divs that make up the progress bar. Once the file is uploaded a 'new' status is returned to the browser and the page redirects to a static 'success' page.

I am thinking about posting an example of the code, once I've ironed out any wrinkles.

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Watch lists trial

posted: 27 Dec 2007

I was going through my inbox tonight when I realised that I am keeping a lot of emails, just because they have links to stuff that I want to look at. They are resources that I might not necessarily want to keep in del.icio.us but I don't want clogging my inbox and I don't yet want to delete. So I have created a feature on bluemini called watchlist. It's basically a link list of things that I want to look at, but as yet haven't had the time to. I don't know how it will progress. Whether I actually use it, I don't know. If I do, then I'll need to figure out some kind of workflow for those links once I've vetted them but exactly what that might be, I don't know.

For now, I have a bookmark shortcut that posts the site url and title to a form that I can edit and send to my database. I also output them to a list if you're interested in seeing the list (sort of) so far. I'll keep you posted how it goes.

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Eclipse and Subversion

posted: 26 Dec 2007

I've used the Eclipse IDE for ColdFusion development for a few years in the guise of CFEclipse but in the last year, my invovlement in Java, particularly for web applications, has increased and with Eclipse installed on my desktop already, it seemed a perfect fit to carry on using the same familiar IDE for the Java development as well.

However, we are a big user of Subversion for our version control and I found that I was suffering predictable but unhelpful functionality from the Java build process in Eclipse. The basic problem is that during compilation, particularly a full build, the IDE would strip out the build output folder and then replace it with the freshly comiled contents of my src directory. This has one major flaw when using Subversion; Subversion uses a folder (.svn) and sub folders/files to control the version control information for the contents of that folder, in particular the url into the repository where these files live. During a rebuild, this information was being replaced with the Subversion information from the src folder, including the repository location of the src files. Trying to commit the compiled classes to Subversion (I know, probably not the best thing to do) would result in my compiled classes being pushed at the Subversioned src folder in the repository, this would break Subversion and I couldn't commit anything to the repository.

I Googled this problem and I found one posting about excluding the subversion files during the compilation but no help in how this could be done. But this morning I figured it out and thought I would post it here for my own use and to help anyone else with a similar problem.

The settings can be done either local to a project or globally to the IDE (I chose IDE wide). To do this, select Window from the main IDE menu and then 'Preferences...'. In the left menu expand the 'Java' node and then expand the 'Compiler' node. Now pick on the 'Building' node, this brings up the Building preferences in the main pane and scroll down to the 'Output Folder' section. I modified two settings to make this work for me:

1. Uncheck the 'scrub output folders when cleaning projects', otherwise your .svn and other control files will be removed 2. Enter two (extra) terms to the 'Filtered Resources' text box. '*.svn*, *svn/'. This should stop any svn folders or files from being copied.

Then hit Apply or OK and rebuild your project.

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Been a bit rubbish

posted: 22 Aug 2007

I don't think I have a huge readership, in fact I'm pretty sure of that, but I hate to see my site looking the same all the time and for the handful of people who come past, I'm sorry about that. So what has been keeping me busy? Well that's difficult to say, since although I can't recall anything very large keeping me away from posting anything, I still don't recall a single evening that I've had where I could spend the time assembling my thoughts. My recent interest has been in looking at how I can remotely record and access television from the UK. The process is a little undefined just yet but it will take the form of something like: - A machine hosted in the UK, probably a mini-ITX motherboard with digital tv receiver - A small wake-on-lan script to wake this machine up - Reconfiguration of the gateway in the UK to allow the WOL packet entry - A scheduled tv listing collection, daily, and UI to view and mark for recording - An FTP server on the recording machine to allow remote access - Possibly a transcoder to compress the recorded files to something easily downloadable So far, I have the PC and the magic packet for WOL working, but it's looking like in principle, it should all work. Fingers crossed... Other than that, I'm off to the UK for the first time in about 4 months, visiting the family and going to a friends wedding. Will chuck in a couple of days at the office too, at least I don't need to take that time off as holiday. Well I'm about done here, will post again when the tv recorder is working. Until then, y'all take care of yourselves.

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