Computery

Wondershare iCollage for Mac is VERY buggy, company not very helpful

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Ever since moving to using a Mac as my primary computer I've wanted a simple app for building photo collages, cards, etc - something more than what iPhoto itself provides. After looking around the only one I could find that was reasonable was iCollage from the company Wondershare.

I happened to find it on sale via MacZot so tried the demo only to start running into problems.  I submitted some bug reports via their official support site and, after a long wait received a response saying that because it was the weekend their support staff would respond on the Monday.  Due to the deal running over a weekend I figured I'd risk it and bought the app.

The following Monday came and I started into a discussions with their support staff that went on for two weeks.  The delay in getting to the bottom of the issues left it too late to use iCollage for the project in mind I had so I left it alone.

This past weekend I decided to do a small collage for my mother's birthday and pulled up iCollage.  I manually resolved one of the bugs seen I'd seen before and started working on my project.  Well, let me tell you, I've never dealt with such a buggy, unstable piece of software before, it's surprising they released it for sale in its current state, there doesn't seem to be any way to work with it for more than a few minutes without it crashing!

So after submitting more bug reports and opening up another can of worms I figured I should start to publicly document some of the problems to warn off other potential customers.

Just to clarify: if Wondershare release a version of iCollage that is a) stable, b) resolves some of these issues, I will be more than happy to update these blog posts to note this fact; until then, I will continue to publicly document the bugs I find.

iCollage bugs:

  • Images thumbnail pane size is incorrect, hides images.
  • Does not recognize iPhoto library if files moved.
  • Templates list is incorrect out of the box.
  • Support system does not display the body of the original message, either that or they remove the text.
  • Emails from their support system can include URLs back to the tickets that are invalid.

More soon..

BarCamp Orlando 3 was awesome!

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Anyone who lives in Central Florida who's into anything IT-related, or design, or business management, or marketing.. or anyone who wasn't otherwise busy, should have been at BarCamp Orlando this past Saturday. With three rooms for presentations, there were plenty of sessions to cover just about any interest. Needless to say, it was awesome.

One of the best presentations, or rather two presentations, that I attended were from Murray Izenwasser who gave two great talks on business use of social media and, surprise surprise, how most companies don't have a clue of what they're doing. A key point was that just randomly throwing out a Facebook page or a Twitter account won't magically make the world shine on you. Contrary to popular opinion, if you're trying to build a social media following, if you build it they won't come, it takes a lot of planning and effort. I personally saw this at a company I worked with a few years back where the owner read an article about how blogs were great so decided to start a blog.. only then rather than letting it happen organically forced a rigid control over it so it became little better than their news announcements in a different form.

Another great session was, as always, Rob Dempsey talking about his favorite topics - agile management and scrum - always a good presenter.

A session I'm really sorry I missed was regarding IT in healthcare, particularly when it was one of the few that mentioned Drupal (my CMS of choice these days), but I'm looking forward to the notes being made available, I've heard it was very interesting and well presented.

So a huge thanks to Gregg Pollack, Eric Marden and everyone else who helped out! This year's was definitely full of win! I'm really looking forward to next year's...? :-)

menu_link_save doesn't like aliases (drupal)

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A quick tip.. while working on an install profile in Drupal I discovered that the menu_link_save() function requires an internal URL, e.g. "node/123" instead of "my-cool-page". Once I tracked down the issue I was able to very easily create lots of menu items as needed, but it wasn't entirely obvious this was needed. I was using install_profile_api to create the menu items and figured it was going to make things easier for the end user, but alas no, so I threw together a quick patch to save others the headache, and wasted hours of development time.

Downgrading svn repositories from 1.5 to 1.4

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It's an odd situation, but occasionally you need to convert your data to run on an older version of an application rather than the typical upgrade to newer versions. One such situation arose for me recently. I was starting a new project and was beginning to add/change code while working from home after-hours, with obviously no server admins around to IM a request for a new subversion repository. Being the agile developer I am, I figured I'd just create a local repository and upload it when I was next at the office.

As you may know, practice rarely follows theory. The theory was that I'd just do an svnadmin dump to create a data dump of my local repository and then svnadmin load to get it onto the main svn server at work. As it turned out, I forgot to check something. You see, the svn server uses v1.4 while I've been running v1.5 for about eight months, since shortly after it was first released - as a result, after several days of development my fresh 1.5 data dump wouldn't work with the server's v1.4. Bummer. I submitted a request for the IT department to upgrade the servers to 1.5 - there are several good reasons to do the upgrade - but it isn't something that's going to happen too quickly due to the need to then have all of the other users upgrade their clients.

Thinking I was going to be stuck for a while keeping my repository locally, I kept working locally and figured I'd be able to just wait the few weeks until the central upgrade. Again, life never works quite like you think it will, and I suddenly immediately needed to be able to upload my work to a staging server. Within an hour of dealing with SFTPing files to the server, trying to ensure two different instances of the servers were kept up-to-date and concurrent, the horrors of Life Before Revision Management came flooding back to me and in a mad panic I set out to get my code into a repository one way or another.

This is where my current web hosting provider, Dreamhost, saved my sanity. I had previously set up a repository on my account for some personal code development so figured I'd repeat my success there with the new project, as it would at least be accessible remotely. A couple of quick minutes had an svn dump of the repository waiting on the server for me to import into a new repository. Except it didn't want to work, it turned out that even Dreamhost was using the older v1.4. Argh! It seemed I was doomed to fail!

It was around now I thought "why don't I RTFM?" A quick look at "svnadmin help dump" didn't turn up anything, ditto for "svnadmin help load". Then I tried "svnadmin help create" and saw the previously unknown (to me) option "--pre-1.5-compatible" which is described as "use format compatible with Subversion versions earlier than 1.5" - a step in the right direction! This option would allow me to create a local repository in my local v1.5 setup which would then be compatible with v1.4. I guessed that it might then also create a dump file compatible with v1.4, which could then be cleanly imported into a new v1.4 repository... and sure enough it worked!

So, the exact steps I took were:

  • Created a dump of the v1.5 repository named myproject_1_5.dump using the command "svnadmin dump myproject > myproject_1_5.dump".
  • Created a new repository that was compatible with v1.4 using the command "svnadmin create --pre-1.5-compatible myproject2".
  • Imported the v1.5 dump file into the new myproject2 with the command "svnadmin load myproject2 < myproject_1_5.dump"
  • Created a dump of the v1.4 repository named myproject_1_4.dump using the command "svnadmin dump > myproject_1_4.dump".
  • Uploaded project_1_4.dump to the hosting account.
  • Created a new repository: svnadmin create myproject
  • Loaded the new data dump: svnadmin load myproject < myproject_1_4.dump".

Then, after a few quick moments (it was only up to rev 103 at this point) I was finally able to get back to development using a centrally accessible repository for a few days until I'm back at the office again and can get it back onto company territory.

NOTE: Yes, I know that git would probably have worked better in this situation, but the company is not currently ready for that move..

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