# Saturday, June 21, 2008

In a previous post about CodeGarden 08, I asked people to get in touch if they'd be interested in a UK Umbraco meet up. I've had a fair few people get in touch so I think it's something worthwhile pursuing further. The nest stage from my POV is working out the location and potential content of the meet so I thought I'd open it up to the floor.

With the forthcoming DDD7, I thought it might be a ready-built platform that we could use but I agree with Phil that DDD7 may not be a suitable platform for a multitude of reasons.

As I've had people from the South West and Scotland voice an interest, I don't think it'll suit the majority of people to have it based in London so suggest it is based in the Midlands -probably Birmingham as it's easy to get to (M6 from the North, M4 from London, M5 from the South -or train!) and there are plenty of places to have the meet.

In regards the format/content of the meet, does anyone have any suggestions? We could follow Niels' and Per's open format or we can have a more structured theme? I've not had too much of a think as to subject matter but some I have come up with so far:

  • An introduction to Umbraco and what it is (many of the people I've spoken to have only just started using Umbraco)
  • Examples of Umbraco how Umbraco can be used
  • More advanced Umbraco functionality (membership etc)
  • Getting to grips with XSLT
  • How to sell Umbraco to your clients

So that's where I've got to so far, does anyone have anything to add?

BTW the logo is just a working logo atm, need to have Niels approve it ;)

Update: I have posted a post on the Umbraco forums about a UK Umbraco meet here

Saturday, June 21, 2008 12:17:58 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [4]  | 
# Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I don't mind when I get told I've made a mistake -or there's a problem with the system but this error message kinda takes the P! Quite what the developers were thinking when they wrote this one I'm not sure!

What do I do? celebrate that it went through ok or commiserate because it failed?

The "Ok." relates to the transaction completing without an issue, the "Stop" actually says that it failed so it's not even "Part A was ok, but Part B failed". Really odd, someone needs to look into testing their system.

Looks pretty though!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 11:37:58 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [2]  | 
# Monday, June 16, 2008

Since our recent feature on CSS Mania, we've had it pointed out to us that The Site Doctor is getting featured all over the place. The most recent two relate to our new brochure -more notably The Site Doctor branded stressballs which are apparently protect against MRSA.

The first feature was in an industry magazine (PRW) check out a photo of the article here. The second feature was from EPPI (you can see it online at: http://www.my-catalog.at/37483_eppi62/ -Pg 76). Ok neither actually talk about The Site Doctor but at least our logo is getting out there!

Thanks to Mark Bailey from the UK stressball manufacturer -Urofoam for letting me know about these two.

If you've seen The Site Doctor mentioned somewhere leave me a comment, I'd love to hear!

Monday, June 16, 2008 11:39:28 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
# Thursday, June 12, 2008

After months of  painstaking work I can FINALLY reveal what we've been beavering away on -our new brochure with a twist. If you're involved in marketing at all you're probably already aware how hard it is to print interactive designs. Regardless of that, we needed some way of advertising so we got our thinking caps on.

The brief was simple: we needed to come up with a way of marketing our bespoke design and development services. Being a creative company we also wanted something that stood out from the other 1,001 West Midlands based web design companies. It should also reflect the attention to detail and quality that goes into our web design and development.

Our target audience was to be high end management so the brochure had to be quick and easy to navigate, have clear calls to actions and require minimum effort to read (unlike my blog!!).

As all "good" ideas* start with a pen, napkin and one too many coffees, we trotted off to our favourite Costa for a brain storming session and here's what we came up with:

* not all good ideas do but some do but it's a good excuse for a coffee.

We went through all sorts of ideas ranging from having themed TicTacs produced, to sending out branded bottles of wine, most of the ideas were dismissed because they had either already been done or would just be binned/eaten and forgotten. We needed something that stood out.

For those of you who can't understand our scribbling's, we decided upon a brochure with a twist (or two).

The First idea was to make the brochure quick and simple to navigate -like the websites we develop so we decided to go a little Avant Garde (off the wall/pushing the boundaries) and opted for a coloured tabbed navigation system, the idea was taken in part from an Argos catalogue which uses colours to separate the sections. I felt combining the tabs and colours would ensure the brochure was quick and easy to use.

The next issue we addressed was how to get the reader to open the brochure, it sounds silly but getting someone to open the brochure (let alone reading it) is pretty hard to do so we decided to offer the reader an incentive and what was better than our new stressball? Why not put one on the front of the brochure?

I've jumped a few stages in our thinking but here's the final product -a brochure with a stressball attached to the front, mimicking a pill packet (complete with foil on the inside to get the pill out), coloured tab page navigation and loads more.

Thursday, June 12, 2008 9:59:50 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, June 11, 2008

As fantastic as it is, and I love the Flickr plugin (being new to Flickr this was what convinced me) but although they look the same, there are a couple of differences (that or I've not found them yet). One of the big issues I've found is that you can't filter the results by ranking, here are two screenshots, the first from Windows Photo Gallery:

And Windows Live Photo Gallery:

So where has the "Ratings" tab gone I wonder.

The other thing that I've not yet worked out is how to flag photos as "Private" and be able to hide them -perhaps that's not possible.

Another thing that would be nice is if it remembered when you had uploaded a photo to Flickr and stopped it re-uploading.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008 10:11:16 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
# Tuesday, June 10, 2008

So things have been manic here the past week, for those of you who didn't know, I popped over to Denmark at the last minute to attend Umbraco's CodeGarden 08. It was great fun and I have to thank Niels Hartvig and Per Ploug Hansen for putting on a great couple of days.

You can check out my photos from the event on Flickr (bear with me, I'm just getting started with Flickr).

I'm sure a fair few people have blogged about the highlights (if you're interested check www.umbraco.org) but the biggy was announcing the release of Umbraco v3.14.0 which is pretty exciting news as it has a ton of feature enhancements and UI improvements. Also, you'll be pleased to hear that they're making 2008 the year of Umbraco documentation!

Another interesting points from the conference was the pending release of Umbraco.TV which will feature tutorial videos and insights from the core team on how to use Umbraco and the Umbraco store which allows you to easily distribute the packages you make :) All in all some interesting developments.

There were also a fair few English developers at the conference so discussion inevitably turned to a UK meet (I know there are a fair few designers and developers here that couldn't justify the expense) so that's something that I'm going to look into setting up. If this is something you'd be interested in, leave a comment or drop me an email and we'll see how much interest there is.

To all the rest of you -it was great to meet you, you're all a lovely bunch and I look forward to meeting you again at CodeGarden 09!

The other thing I've finally clarified (this is for you Simon!) is the Umbraco licensing rules so if you're unsure on those, check out my post on when you need to purchase an Umbraco license (the answer is always -or never, it's up to you!).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 7:18:53 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [5]  | 
# Monday, June 09, 2008

This may seem a slightly obvious/silly post but the answer is simple -it's just not *that* well documented/explained.

In a nutshell there are three scenarios you need to worry about:

  • Using Umbraco in a non-commercial environment with the branding (logos etc) intact -no fee
  • Using Umbraco in a commercial environment with the branding (logos etc) intact -no fee
  • Using Umbraco in a commercial environment without the branding (logos etc) -fee

So there you have it. But to be fair, you should always pay for it if you're using it in a commercial environment just because it's a great product (and it's good for your karma!)

Monday, June 09, 2008 6:16:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, June 05, 2008

I've never really got into Flickr but now I'm using Windows Live Photo Gallery which can automatically upload images for you I thought I'd give it ago. While checking out what the restrictions were on my standard (free!) account I was pleasantly surprised to find out I've actually got a pro account courtesy of BT Yahoo! -Shame I'm leaving them this month ;)

Thursday, June 05, 2008 9:25:24 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, May 30, 2008

I've had an irritating issue for the past week or so. I used to use POP3 in Outlook however the other day I switched to the internal Exchange server and I got stuck in an eternal loop saying that Exchange needed to connect to the server to synchronise the offline files and folders -but you couldn't do that until the files were transferred.

The message looked something like this:

The set of folders cannot be opened. You must connect to Microsoft Exchange with the current profile before you can synchronise your folders with your offline folder file.

Took me a while but the fix was to remove the profile and setup the exchange inbox first:

  1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Switch to Classic View, and then double-click Mail.
  3. In the Mail Setup dialog box, click Show Profiles.
  4. On the General tab, click Prompt for a profile to be used, and then click Add.
  5. In the Profile Name box, type a descriptive name for the new e-mail profile, and then click OK.
  6. In the E-mail Accounts dialog box, click Add a new e-mail account, and then click Next.
  7. Click the appropriate server type for your new e-mail account, and then click Next.
  8. Type your account information in the required boxes, and then click Next.
  9. Click Finish, and then click OK.
Friday, May 30, 2008 9:14:36 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, May 29, 2008

Doug Setzer posted this comment in response to my recent "A seriously elegant SQL Injection" post and I thought it may be of interest to others so have promoted it to a post...


Well, I'll step up and say that I am the "mate" who had this done.  Tim's right - *always* sanitize your inputs.  In my defence, this was a site that I inherited from a previous contractor.  I'm not entirely absent of blame, I still should have done a security sweep through the code.

I'd like to document the steps that I went through once this was identified to try and avoid this kind of thing in the future.

  1. Edit every web page that executes a query to sanitize any parameters that are passed in.  Since the site was classic ASP, I used my "SQLStringFieldValue" function:
    www.27seconds.com/kb/article_view.aspx?id=50
  2. Modify the DB user account that is used to have *read only* access to the database
  3. Modify the pages that DO write to the database to have *read/write* access to the specific tables that are being changed.  This limits the number of places that SQL Injection can occur to a smaller set than was previously possible.  I still sanitize all of my input, but I'm extra spastic in these database calls.
  4. Add database auditing (triggers writing to mirror tables with audit event indicator & date/time) to see when data changes occur.  This is still problematic with the pages that have "write" permissions to the tables, but again- that footprint is much smaller.
    My future plans are to move to a view/stored procedure based architecture.  I can then limit write permissions to just the stored procedures and read permissions to just the views.  My grand gusto plans are to move to using command objects & parameters, but I'd sooner re-write the entire site.

Although Doug's attack wasn't the same nihaorr1.com attack that's going around atm it was similar so I would imagine other's will find this useful.

It still amazes me how many developers still fail to sanitise strings, only last week I came across another site (in PHP) that was allowing simple SQL injections to be used to log into their administration system. It was down to a problem with the sanitization string, but why not at least check your site before it goes live? It takes 2 minutes and even less to fix...

For those of you who need a few pointers, there's a good discussion or two about sanitising strings on the 4 Guys From Rolla site.

Thursday, May 29, 2008 3:32:33 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [2]  |