Archive for November, 2005

Mambo Content Management Development

November 18, 05 by kenrich

Today I spent some time playing with the Mambo content management system. First I built the sample module as described in the developer documentation. After finding out that was only for creating modular blocks on the page, I decided I needed to learn how to build components. Components are the actual applications that are run in the main content area. They include an administrative component and a publicly viewable component.

So I started with a test component called PeopleBook. This is basically a contact management system which allows you to create a fancy address book. The first thing I tried was changing the name of the component to differentiate it from the original. I’ve got 99% of it completed and working but there is one last bug that I can’t seem to knock out. One of the old table names I had used is still recognized by my mambo installation. Even though I changed the name everywhere in my code, uninstalling and reinstalling the component doesn’t clear up the error. I am wondering if there is something that I might have missed. Maybe the tablename is stored in the database and needs to be deleted.

Other than that, I was pretty impressed with the component and module installation. The integration and modularity of the system is pretty well. It is extremely easy to setup and configure custom modules and components. It’s too bad that writing the actual components was not as easy. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it in a little bit.

Up to My Eyeballs in Bugs

November 17, 05 by kenrich

Man, the hits just keep coming where I work. I am up to my eyeballs in bug reports to take care of. At the current rate, they are going to have to hire some more people here to help get a handle on all of these bugs. Our other developers are creating bugs faster than I can fix them.

The problem is that we have a huge web application written in classic ASP with a SQL Server backend. For anyone that hasn’t worked in ASP before, let me tell you it can be a nightmare. We were supposed to be migrating to dotNet but there’s just no time to do it. It takes up all of our time to keep up with the current workload as it stands.

Over the years I’ve become an expert at ASP (Active Server Pages), but with four different coding styles to work with and no clear programming style guide, it is hard working with other people’s code. That is what I’ve been tasked to do though. Previously, we had people fix their own bugs (because they programmed the application and know how it works). I guess our developers figured that they could make themselves look a lot better if I handled all the bugs and they could take all the credit for building new applications. That’s convenient eh?

Hosting Switchover

November 12, 05 by kenrich

My company is well on the way to getting out of the hosting business. We are going to be transitioning a lot of our clients to a shared hosting environment. We were managing our own hosting environment, but we recently found that it was taking up too much of our time that we would rather spend developing web applications and client web sites.

Our Unix Hosting was setup a month ago and we have already moved a good number of sites over to that setup and we are very pleased with the performance. It should serve us well for many many years to come. I just hope that the Windows hosting we just signed up for offers a similar performance.

One major part of the windows transition will be porting all of the web applications to a MySQL database server. Right now we have all of our windows hosting using Microsoft SQL Server. I’ve done the majority of the work by converting our most recent intranet software over to MySQL. So it just becomes a simple matter of porting all of the specialized code that we’ve written for each individual client. The good news is that we have about two and a half months to do this conversion so hopefully we won’t be too pressed on time.

Work is Busy (Even More Busy Now)

November 10, 05 by kenrich

Work has been really busy lately. I shouldn’t even be writing this blog entry right now, but our HR manager says that we are each required to take a one-hour lunch. I have a list of bugs a mile long that need fixing.

Three of our employees are in Las Vegas right now at a software convention. They took the whole week off for this convention which is pretty amazing since our company is paying them for 40 hours of work. To make matters worse, the IT manager also left for Vegas this morning to attend some sort of military ceremony.

I’m not feeling much love here in the office. Early on, my IT manager decided that I should work exclusively on all bug reports. Only problem is, I have 3 people creating bugs faster than I can fix them. And everybody knows that it’s harder to fix a bug that resulted from someone elses code than to fix a bug you created yourself!

2005 Election Night

November 08, 05 by kenrich

Well, it’s election night in the U.S. I have the great privelege of living in the state of California. I also have the great satisfaction of seeing 3 out of 4 of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s propositions being shot down. I’m not a big fan of Arnold (as a politition.) He should have just stayed an actor.

A news report on the radio said that this election (for California) has largely been a waste of time. Only one out of 9 (or so) propositions looks like it is going to pass. The cost of this election is around 50 million dollars which has largely been a waste because no changes have been voted for.

The one proposition that seems like it will pass is a limit on union workers contributions to political campaigns. For the majority of Californians, this won’t have much effect on their lives. Such is the way of politics.

Free Project Management for All

November 04, 05 by kenrich

Recently, I was looking for a project management solution. I was searching for something easy-to-use, cheap and robust (isn’t that always the case?) To my surprise, there are not a lot of good options available. While there are a lot of open-source project management applications, I was having a lot of trouble finding a free web application that would allow me to create and manage a project.

When I say manage, I mean a complete project management solution which has many of the features of a community portal. I wanted something that had the ability to create and manage blogs, discussion forums, a calendar of events, wiki, surveys and polls. It seems that there just isn’t anything like that available. This of course seems to me like the perfect opportunity.

So a while back, I started building a new web application using PHP and MySQL. I developed a simple framework that made creating web forms and managing content a breeze. I have nearly finished a beta version of a wiki, survey, forums and a calendar of events. With the additions of blogs and polls and a little cleanup here and there, I will be ready to launch. The new site will be hosted at when it is done. For now, I have just posted a blog to track the progress of development from here on out.

Too Busy to Blog

November 03, 05 by kenrich

I’ve noticed that some people find the time to blog 5 or 6 times each day on their blogs. You’ve probably noticed that my blogging activity has dropped off significantly. Between work and married life, it’s really hard to find time to write pieces.

Lately, I’ve been busy trying to repair a car of mine. At the same time, I’ve been looking for a new hosting provider for my business and working on a few client Web sites. I’ve also been working on transferring some of our Unix sites to our reseller account. Also, I’ve been working on a new platform for our hosted clients (written in PHP / MySQL). Another thing I just completed was a translation of our entire Intranet to MySQL (from SQL Server).

Yeah, you could say that I’ve been a little busy lately. Last night I voted in the California Special Election. I wasn’t very impressed with most of the propositions. Hopefully, someone will begin an initiative to recall Governor Swartzeneggar.