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I wanted clean URLs and I learned about httpd’s and PHP processes February 23, 2018

Posted by Steven in The-Web.
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Lately I seem to tell a lot of stories here :-) . Well I hope that’s alright. Let me know in comments if it is to much “storytelling”.

So lately I am avidly using the open source version of OwnCloud. I absolutely value hat it is a very quick and flexible system. You can quickly manage your files and it installs on very many different platforms and hosting environments.

When I recently did set up another OwnCloud instance on a shared hosting provider, I’ve observerd that you can style many things but the OwnCloud URLs look rather messy. They include your domain your OwnCloud path and then a rather messy index.php and then further path to the OwnCloud functions.

So I basically googled: index.php-less URLs.

https://doc.owncloud.org/server/9.0/admin_manual/configuration_server/index_php_less_urls.html

The steps seemed rather straigtht forward:

  • set two parameters in config.php
  • use the occ binary command to maintain your OwnCloud installation
  • or wait for the next update (as I’ve not figured out how to use a shell or a real command on my shared host)

I’ve tried all this but it had no effect. So I realized I’ve made a rather stupid rookie mistake: I didn’t read all the paragraphs, the prerequisites of the manual.

The prerequisites in the above linked document detail:

  • It’s a bit cryptic but I read that your web server or as the pro’s call it: your httpd http daemon needs to be: Apache.
  • And: modules to rewrite URLs need to be installed and active. Such as: mod_rewrite and mod_env
  • Then there is an interesting detailed sentence:  the way Apache interprets php code needs to be relying on the Apache module mod_php -> fpm or fastcgi won’t work

So far I must admit I did not really think through the intricate systems that are your httpd, your php core interpreters and the various modules added.

So I’ve read up on it. And I’ve learned that mod_php is not really the recommended method to use php with Apache nowadays.

https://support.plesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/213372509-Apache-handler-is-not-available-in-Plesk-The-handler-cannot-be-enabled-because-corresponding-Apache-module-turned-off

Also there are tangible benefits and my shared host does not even support mod_php :( . So no clean URLs for me for a while. But lots of interesting things about memory usage and speed when using fpm or other methods.

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/4526242/what-is-the-difference-between-fastcgi-and-fpm

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Toying around with Google Analytics 360 Suite February 19, 2018

Posted by Steven in In-Media, The-Web.
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Today I followed up on a long standing to-do on my list. For a couple of personal projects I use smaller German and American web platform providers. The projects are really small – like your neighborhood cooking bloc or the like – so there is not much traffic and I look at basic built-in statistic tools. Like aw-stats.

What I’ve done now: Cleaned it up nicely, set up an organization in the Google Analytics Platform. Hooked up the respective Google+ profile to make it look nicely (cool feature). Confirmed the domain ownership and created a nice Analytics account and property structure. And in the end I connected the Google Search Console data to Analytics.

The whole Analytics suite is rather impressive. The setup went smoothly and transparently. The UI is clean but powerful. Tracking works in real time – which is also rather impressive as you see marks on a map come in after just very few setup steps.

I must say it’s worth exploring further.

https://www.google.com/analytics/360-suite/

spotted Figma February 6, 2018

Posted by Steven in The-Web.
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Very much in line with previous reporting and tipps (i.e. Tipps for UI design; and entrepreneur links) I found another cool tool.

Figma.

Figma is an online and online-collaborative design tool. As such it draws inspiration from inVision. It looks sleek and very minimalistic. Also check out their sleek and dynamic error page: 404.

Free stock photo services (royalty free – free use license model) January 11, 2018

Posted by Steven in The-Web.
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I am involved in a couple of website projects at the moment. One thing I always tell my customers is: An excellent site needs excellent photos. And I usually recommend talking about the structure and goals of the website first and then directly sketch out where to get the media (i.e. collaborate with a photographer or studio).

In many cases or for smaller more experimental projects you may want to search or suggest good stock imagery.

If everything needs to be real fast then here is a list of services / providers which let you download photos for free (commercial) use. To be clear they all provide royalty free images with a nice flexible free (i.e. CC0) license.

  • Pixabay
    That was my original suggestion. A big site offering free photos under a flexible license. Search is decent but the selection can be generic and a bit out-dated at times. Nevertheless a good place to get started.
    https://pixabay.com/
  • Pexels
    This was fairly new for me. I discovered, that the new WordPress editor gives you a Pexel photo search right within the media dialogue. I jumped to their website and I must say it’s a good service. As far as I see it uses standard public domain CC0 license and provides a ton of free and up to date images (for example this sweet happy 2018 graphic).
    https://www.pexels.com/
  • Death to Stock
    This is an interesting one – I actually found out via a Wired article. It is basically a window to a more broad design community and service. How it works? You sign up and then you get a monthly link with 10 stock photos for download. The service tries to bundle images according to topics and tries to give artists a platform and also tries to draw in the customers to seek more images from these artists or get more involved in other services. The images are great, very modern, very unique and high quality in my view.
    https://deathtothestockphoto.com/
  • Pixelio
    This one seems a bit old school and maybe focusing on the German market. Nevertheless it’s a nice little database of good and slightly quirky individual images. It seems there are two licences around one editorial use and one editorial and commercial use.
    https://www.pixelio.de/

Experimenting with Wordpress child themes and overriding template-tags.php December 14, 2017

Posted by Steven in Software, The-Web.
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I recently realized a small project with WordPress. If I do get my hands dirty, the projects are really tiny so I usually resort to very simple platforms such as Squarespace, wix.com or indexhibit. Just anecdotally I believed WordPress has become to complex and the time vs. quality ratio of pulling together a good WordPress platform (with different plugins, template configurations and so on) is just not worth it. But as so many sites on the web are powered by WordPress I wanted to give it another shot.

I must say in current version 4.9.1 WordPress feels swift and powerful and also -in my view- the documentation improved and is now really easy to understand. So it was quite fun to set up the project.

Some things did not change: So either you fork $ for really complex and customizable themes or you start with a free theme and will eventually have to adapt it. Really any kind of intimate visual tweaks do require some jumps to the php / css code editor. I learned that my old copy paste approach is not the way to adapt themes. So I created a proper child theme. The procedure works fine but I must say.. again.. comparing it to Squarespace or the like: It is quite an intricate operation for something as simple as adapting an existing theme.

So I got basic custom styles and formats in and .. fast forward .. I needed to adapt some entry-meta-information. This resulted in the need to change php functions in:

template-tags.php

I used the good old child approach and simply tried to override the file in

<theme folder>/inc

But it turns out this approach does not override the functions loaded in the parents function tree. :-(

I googled and this forum post explains it very well:

https://wordpress.org/support/topic/customizing-inctemplate-functions-php-in-child-theme/

So the solution is to take great care in how the classes and functions are loading. And when you really step into this order of functions loading (pls. see the link above) than you can make it work and get your custom tags and stylings in.

Google Apps for your domain – now G Suite November 14, 2017

Posted by Steven in Software, The-Web.
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Back in 2007 I feel I was one of the first users (probably not) of the Google Apps and services made available for your own custom domain. I was starting to work in a technology team and I had my own TLD lying around so I just signed up for the free edition of Google Apps for your domain – as it was called back in the days.

The whole service still exists and it is still very nice to offer things like GMail and Google Drive with your custom TLD at the center of it. But the service is now called G Suite and it is no longer available for free :-( – at least not for everyone – educators may still use it for free.

As I can still use my edition of G Suite (or I still want to call it Google Apps for your domain) I want to know what limits I have to endure. As the paid version calculates your Google license fee by user. Also there are several editions (and I feel these editions and the available feature sets have changed frequently over the years).

So I haven’t found so many resources which can document the limits of my free legacy edition of G Suite.

I have found this one article at wired: https://www.wired.com/2012/12/free-google-apps/

They’re essentially saying that Google stopped offering a free version of G Suite in 2012. And shortly before 2012 the free version offered: 10 free users.

So this may be a safe bet – but I feel I signed up much earlier than 2012 and back then the limit was even more open like 100 users. Mhhhhh o well. Let’s see.

Great Spots Showcased: Awwwards June 13, 2017

Posted by Steven in In-Media.
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Always on the run for inspiration and for great spots on the world wide web. Now I found one little service that makes for a good starting point.

http://www.awwwards.com

In my own words: it’s a website aggregator which allows users and jury members to assign grades (1-lowes 10-highes) to website projects. It’s updated daily and provides a great overview of well designed or very usable websites. A good place to skim for inspiration.

 

Great Spots on the Web – made with Squarespace May 2, 2017

Posted by Steven in In-Media.
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Just yesterday I met with a friend who is planning to start her own business. It was an inspiring afternoon with lots of great ideas and the true free spirit of getting things done and working on things who make sense.

This inspired me and I brainstormed some of my own ideas again. So here we go – directly from the brainstorming session: Some great examples of sites which use Squarespace:

sites made with squarespace (illustration)

quick observation: apparently everyone needs huge images :-)

 

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