Aug
14

Server Going Offline 2017

Well, I'm not surprised in all honesty.

The server this and my other sites are hosted on has started to go offline for 10 - 240 minutes per day, at (seemingly?) random times.

About 15 years ago (christ, really!?) UK2 moved me from my original server when I upgraded my hosting and since then it's been going to shit. I - finally - got them to move me about within the last year to another server after constant down times, except within the last week it's all gone to shit again.

The difference is that before this server change, the sites were going offline for (typically) a few minutes a time numerous times per day around two days out of the week, but on this new server the sites are going offline for extended periods of time once or twice a day every other day.

Compared to other hosting providers, UK2 isn't actually that cheap; I haven't switched providers because there's two decades worth of infrastructure I've built-up with UK2 that I really can't be arsed sorting out.

Aug
12

No, I Haven't Binned This Off 2017

Still here.

I haven't posted in a couple of days because I didn't have anything to write about. While I begin working on a new program yesterday and got a bulk of it done today, I'm not going to write anything on it until it's near being released. It's more of a "tool" than a fully-feature application, but it's still useful for those wanting, er, it.

Aug
09

In the works: Voting 2017

A new feature is coming and that is...

Voting!

Each post will have a thumbs up and down buttons. This'll allow posts to be voted on and will give me an idea of the types of posts to make more of in future - or fewer of.

It would've gone live today but I'm having a bit of a pisser of a time when it comes to actually displaying the voting results to myself. For some reason, a value of 1 is being returned for each and every post, regardless of the number of actual votes cast. Although I did receive a value of 2 at some point but that was lost when I re-seeded the database.

I can only imagine it is something to do with the count being returned for each actual post rather than the number of votes made for the posts. This reminds me, I'm going to need to do more than just return a number as I'd rather have the sum of the positive and negative posts and display that; displaying positive and negative posts separately is just a waste of space, I think.

Once this is fixed, then I'll upload the changes.

Aug
07

Formatting Fix for Mobiles 2017

I was just about to go to bed and then thought it would be a great idea to jump right into PHP and sort out the mobile-issue with the quote above. D'oh.

Alright, the blue quote at the top of this page seems to be a bit too long for mobile browsers and overflows out of its header bar. The solution? Don't show it on mobile browsers - sorted!

Did a quick search to see if I could just detect mobile within the User-Agent and sort it that way. Instead, I found some library that kept getting referenced and decided to just go ahead and make use of it: the Agent library, with Laravel support - hurrah.

This somewhat goes against my own lightweight way of doing things, but presumably it's not quite as easy as detecting a mobile sub-string as otherwise why would there be a dedicated library for it? In fact, don't answer that.

Integrated it and all that and then the site stopped working due to an exception. Deleted the vendors folder from the server - which took minutes - and then re-uploaded my local version as no doubt something was missing. A few minutes later - it all works. Phew. Oh; as a bonus, a load of libraries also got updated with a quick composer update, so that's nice.

A quick addition of

if (!Agent::isMobile()) {

along with a change to remove the appropriate <span> and such, and it was all done.

Does it work? No idea. Haven't actually tried it on a mobile device yet (although inversing the logic works so I'm hopeful it's all fiiine) as my phone is elsewhere in the house. But, there are no errors and so worst case is that it makes no difference.

Aug
06

Documentation - is it worth it? 2017

It feels like I should be writing another post as it's been a few days. While that's technically true, there's been posts every day now but they were actually written earlier in the week and published once per day with the new timed publish update.

So I'll write a quick post about documentation. Specifically, the FileSieve documentation.

I haven't done any programming for the past couple of days and so thought I should at least do something, and that something was some FileSieve docs. I remembered a thing: a couple of days ago I looked at the Analytics for the FS documentation and it appears hardly anyone even looks at it.

So, really; am I just wasting my time with it? Honestly... yes, I think I am. I started reworking the single Automation page into an entire section before this realisation and now I'm starting to wonder if there's any point? Unlike a lot of the rest of the application, automation requires documentation.

Maybe I should just shove out the required info (and not bother polishing it all up) and be done with it and spend any other FileSieve time on the application itself.

Aug
05

Timed Publishing? In! 2017

Woke up yesterday morning and had a thought while I was on my way to the bathroom: timed publishing doesn't need to be Cron-based. Just set a date on the post and display that post if the current date/time is past it.

It seems I got somewhat fixated on the whole Cron job method of allowing posts to go live based on a set date and time that the obvious non-scheduled way of doing things just passed me by.

I spent yesterday getting the feature in and made it live. Posts are now displayed based in their (newly added) published_at column rather than created_at. Of course I had huge amounts of fun with timezones. sigh

I gave the site a quick test on mobile after someone mentioned it doesn't work. Seems it's just a minor formatting issue, at least on Android Chrome, involving the quote in the header at the top of the page. I'll probably just not display it on mobile browsers; presumably there's a mobile substring in the User-Agent header.

Didn't quite get around to sorting out the categories display (click on a category at the top of this post) and so viewing a category right now doesn't work quite how you'd expect. I probably should've gone with keywords rather than rigid main and sub categories.

Finally, I added a set of badges to posts so I can see at-a-glance if any specific flags are set rather than having to rely on remembering what their background colours denote.

Post Flags

Aug
04

FileSieve Documentation 2017

I seem to be on a major productivity roll lately. I realised why, too: this new Corsair K95 RGB Platinum keyboard (US version can be seen here). It might seem like I'm babbling on about mechanical keyboards like a zealot, but I had to plug in my previous rubber-domed Logitech G19 keyboard recently and holy crap. The holiest of holy craps.

Rubber-domed keyboards are genuinely 'orrible to type on!

Since I got this new keyboard (a week or two, now?), I just can't stop typing on it. I'm having to come up with excuses to work on something just so I can use it.

The upshot of this is that my productivity is going a bit insane. Even these posts you're reading are starting to be written days in advance - that's how much I'm writing now.

In fact, I've decided to add a whole new Automation section to the FileSieve documentation!

I don't even want to imagine how much output has been gimped while having to use that previous rubber-johnny keyboard. Ugh.

Aug
03

VB Runtimes Pack, release 8 2017

Speaking of unexpected happenings, I got contacted a couple of days ago by someone asking me if the Visual Basic 6 Runtimes Pack was free for enterprise use (spoiler: it is).

The pack doesn't require me having to recompile anything using the Visual Basic 6 IDE, as I haven't had that thing installed in well over a decade, so I thought I'd repackage it in an updated installer.

Running the original VB Pack installer itself shows that it was littered with errors. Not errors in the files it was installing (well, maybe a couple - but more on that later), but in the instructions and license.

As with all of my software installers, there are three text documents the installer shows to the user.

There's the License that is shown at the very start which contains the licensing terms that must be agreed to before the installer will do its thing.

Second is the Before, which contains general information. In this case, it outlines what the pack is and what it'll install. Also included is the pack version and its release date, just like the other two docs.

Thirdly, and lastly, is the After. This is just a quick message letting the user know that everything is installed.

The problems are down to the site each document points to: they're wrong. As this pack was originally released way back in 2002, the URLs are pointing to my old site www.tnk-bootblock.co.uk as opposed to here.

Another problem is the release date. Each of the three documents mentioned above have entirely different dates! No idea how that happened.

Oh, the file errors that I alluded to above. There was a note in the Before text saying that any .dll registration errors that occur can safely be ignored. While setting other properties within the installer, I noticed there was a flag for ignoring any errors that are thrown during the regsvr process. Now that flag is enabled so the errors are no longer shown, if they indeed occur at all this time around.

As well as general quality control, I wanted to get this site properly advertised in there as there is a huge amount of downloads of that pack. It seems people and companies just tell their customers to download the installer from my site. I might as well get a little bit of advertisement from it as it's not exactly like I'm gaining anything.

Aug
02

Timed Publishing 2017

I could do with setting a Publish Date on unpublished posts and have them go live at specified times. Except of course such functionality isn't present on this blog.

I'm on shared hosting, so I never really got into messing with Cron jobs.

I think Laravel has support for some time-based thing, but I'm not entirely sure how it can trigger itself. Must be based on visitor access - that's the only thing I can think of. If the site doesn't have visitors then the job would be missed... too unreliable in my opinion, so gawd knows.


Just a Test Post

This is more of a test than anything.

Due to an explosive productivity growth on my part (oi - steady on), I'm finding myself typing these blog posts in advance. I'd rather have one large post per day than multiple in one go, possibly resulting in a couple of days without any new content. I'll still add smaller posts if I can actually think of anything.

This test is to ensure I haven't done anything stupid like assuming all posts are in a sequential date ordering; extremely unlikely, but always test. Test everything just to be sure.

There are two posts waiting to be made live as I write this very entry. It's going against the whole recap-of-the-day purpose of this blog, and I can see myself falling even further behind (or should that be ahead?); that is, I'm going to end up queuing posts for publishing days ahead. Not sure what to do about that.

I just can't stop raving typing!