Tips 'n Tricks

Project managment software for the rest of us

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A really awesome find this evening. I've always been on the lookout for good project management tool. I've wanted something that was web-based (so that I could access it from anywhere), open-source (so that I had full control over the code if needed), easy to use, and able to cope with both my personal projects along with any consulting work I pick up along the way. There are some definitely great programs available, for example 37Signals' Backpack, BSAG's Tracks, etc, but most of them suffer in one way or another, particularly Backpack which is a hosted application so you can't control its inner workings. In the end I found a program called activeCollab which is very heavily based on Backpack but is open source, so you host and manage it yourself. The current version works well for what I need and the update coming in a few weeks adds many improvements, mainly being able to add comments to anything and a rewritten file system to simplify uploading and managing attachments. Worth trying out.

TIP: Apache rewrite rules forgetting stuff

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On a side project I'm working on they're using Apache mod_rewrite rules to turn ugly page addresses into pretty ones, e.g.:

RewriteRule widget-(.*)\.htm$ widget.php?id=$1

Nice goal and in general it works well. There was a problem, though, when they started doing this the SAJAX AJAX fancy stuff I wrote stopped working. A few thousand hair and some time later I worked out that one very simple keyword was missing from the rewrite rules, the %{QUERY_STRING} keyword to retain all of the extra fields passed in by SAJAX, e.g.:

RewriteRule widget-(.*)\.htm$ widget.php?id=$1&%{QUERY_STRING}

Also, note the extra ampersand in there before the keyword, you need this to separate the extra values from the one you're passing in from the widget-somat.htm address. Et voila!

TIP: IIS looses touch with ColdFusion

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This evening I was trying to install PHP on our Windows/IIS web server and had some unusual problems develop. It seems that first off a partially installed IIS rewrite engine decided to start causing problems, so I uninstalled it. At this point someone mentioned that our ColdFusion sites were failing so panic set it. After some fiddling I got IIS to at least try using ColdFusion for CFM files, but started to get this error message:

Either the Macromedia application server is unreachable or it does not have a mapping to process this request.

To fix it from here I had to run the remove_all_connectors.bat script then do the iis_connector.bat script to reinstall the connector. Et voila, it started working again. <phew>

Have fun with wireless network intruders

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Here's someone who discovered his neigbors were using his wireless Internet connection without his bidding. Instead of blocking them he decided to have a little fun, first redirecting all of their web page access to Kitten War, then he set up a web proxy so that he could manipulate what they were seeing, to interesting effect. Full details, including source code and configuration, are available.

19" widescreen monitors are awesome!

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I'm having a major bout of monitor envy. At work, after my suggestion, they upgraded the office so everyone is on LCDs and as part of the deal the Geek gang got swishy new 19" widescreen Viewsonics. They're awesome. With a native resolution of 1440x900 it has 1.6 times the screen real estate of a 15" 1024x768 screen, has lots of width to place windows side-by-side (useful for code comparisons) and doesn't make you crane your neck to look from top to bottom, unlike some larger screens. One really cool feature is that if you have two computers available, one with a regular 15-pin VGA connector and one with a swishy new DVI connector, you can have both of them connected simultaneously and just press a button on the screen to switch between them, so using this I've got both my Mac and beefy PC ready to go as needed. I will definitely say that the DVI output from the Geforce 6800 in the PC is far superior to the VGA from the Geforce 4 MX on the Mac, the text is much more crisp. To give you even more screen envy we got them for about $216 with free shipping and a $20 rebate brings the price to under $200, a third of what we paid for our 17" LCD a few years back! NewEgg is where we got them and to make life easier for you here's a link to search their site with the various options we went for:

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