Web Development

"Getting Real" on project development


The folks behind Ruby on Rails, 37Signals, have compiled ninety essays on almost every aspect of project development and are making it available as a $19 PDF "book" called Getting Real. As a taster they have four essays available for free, which give a good idea of what to expect in the rest of the book, and so far it looks like it'll be well worth reading, just looking at the table of contents is enough to get me salivating.

MSFT looses brain learning AJAX


While developing their competition for Google Maps, MSFT seem to have forgotten how to develop good applications and gone back to the philosophies they used to develop Bob. I present, to you, one of the worst pieces of crud ever:

While it is true that this maps application is still under development, there's almost no way they could turn this into something usable without throwing out probably two-thirds of its functionality, which I doubt they'll do. Yet another example of why MSFT drastically needs to learn the concepts of KISS, as others have to great effect: Google Maps and GMail, 37 Signals's Basecamp, Campfire, Backpack, TaDa List and Writeboard, Carson System's DropSend, etc, etc, etc.


MySQL Tip: phpMyAdmin export filename


A quick time for any users for phpMyAdmin and MySQL.

When you backup your database using phpMyAdmin, an "export" in their terminology, by default it names the file simply databasename.txt, e.g. damien_blog.txt. If you do regular backups this becomes a slight hassle as each time you have to rename the file to something more useful, and decide if you want to name it after the date, or add a version number (e.g. "database_backup_5.txt"), etc.

There's an easier way to take care of this. Instead of letting phpMyAdmin name the backup file after the database, have it automatically add the date to the filename too. Then, when you download the file you'll be able to list them in order, oldest through newest, and never wonder whether you named the file correctly the last time, or which one is newer.

To do so is quite easy, simply go to the Export page in phpMyAdmin, change the Save as file filename template to __DB___%Y%m%d%H%i and your backup will now be named e.g. damien_blog_200602131315.txt. What makes this even more useful is if you click the option labelled remember template, that way you'll never have to remember this again, simply click it and all backups that you do from then on (from that computer and that web browser) will be named accordingly.

Note that the date is listed as year, month, day, hour and then minute, which when you have several files listed in a directory one after the other makes it really easy to see the files in the correct order, rather than trying do list them with e.g. the European date format of day-month-year or the American format of month-day-year.

Update: Thanks to reader Jörg for pointing out that the last part of the string should have been %i rather than %m to output the minutes.

SmarterStats - excellent website stats program


Just a quick blurb to mention that this evening I installed SmarterStats on our website to give it a spin, and so far what I see I really like. The download lets you run stats for free for any one site which is perfect for personal sites or for doing a test run against your company's main site. The only requirement is that the .Net v1.1 runtime must be on your machine, but you don't have to install it on your server, you can instead put it on your desktop and just download the logfiles. Give it a spin!

IIS6 and Quicktime 7 files


At work we're going to be making some videos available on our website in WMV and Quicktime 7 formats. Simple enough. Well, it turns out that if you save your Quicktime file as a "M4V" file (h.264 codec I believe) that IIS6 throws a 404 File Not Found error when its requested. You can search your log files until you're blue in the face but it doesn't make sense.

Until you Google the problem, that is, when you discover that its a mimetypes problem. Yep, IIS6 handles unknown (unwanted?) mimetypes with revulsion and simply blocks the file rather than falling back to something like simply downloading the file.

So to fix it you have to load up the IIS Manager, go to the properties on your website (or the master websites properties), go to the HTTP Headers tab, click MIME Types, click New, type "m4v" as the file extension and "video/x-m4v" as the MIME type, then click OK twice then Apply and you're done.

Bit of a pain if you ask me, but at least now I know to manually configure each media filetype I intend using.


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