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DefCon 17

It's been about a week and a half since we got back from DefCon 17. What a trip! If you are into computers, and have even a passing interest in security related issues, then you really need to get out to DefCon at least once in your career.. you won't regret it.

Use PHP and PDO to connect to MS SQL Server

I had some "fun" today trying to get PDO connecting to Microsoft SQL Server. This turned out to be more of an effort than one would think, while at the same time it proved to be rather simple once I learned the secret. The hard part is finding the right information online - there is a LOT of outdated information out there. Here's the secret...

I was using a Ubuntu 9.04 installation, but the following *should* be enough to get you moving in the rigt direction for other distributions.

Setting up PHPUnit with Ubuntu Jaunty

UPDATED (again): The information on this post is outdated. PHPUnit can be installed on Ubuntu via a simple "apt-get install phpunit" with more modern up to date versions of the OS. However, you should be aware that using this approach will NOT get you the most current version of PHPUnit. For that you should still use the PEAR installation method.

Google Adsense at work

This website is receiving some long overdue attention, but all on the back end and non-visible. I've added some anaylitics code to the theme so that I can better track what is working and what is not. I'm using both Google Analyitics and Piwik (which is an open source project). I'll try to settle on one in the coming months.

Zend Login Starter Application

One of the downsides of coding is that you tend to do the same type of task over and over. This hit me as I was ramping up for a new personal project - I needed a basic system that did user logins, and some limited access control. In addition, a simple user management system was needed. And I had decided to use Zend Framework. Instead of writing one from scratch yet again, I decided to create a shell project that provided these features. This way, when I start my next project I have a head start seeing as the code is already done.

Autoloading plugins with Zend_Application

Sometimes the simple things can be challenging. Zend Framework has a "plugins" concept, where you can write code that will be executed at certain points in the process of rendering a page. Before rendering, after rendering, etc. This is a great thing as it allows the developer to do many things in a relatively easy manner without placing random blocks of code throughout the application. Logging all requests can be done from a plugin, making sure a user is logged in before viewing a page can be done from a plugin, etc. However, getting plugins to work properly can be a lesson in humility.

Zend Framework's Zend_Acl and Active Directory - Updated

One of my apps is using Zend Framework to integrate with Windows Networking for security. In other words, you use your network login to login to the application, and the system administrators can grant granular access to the application via network groups and arbitrary application roles. For example, user "joe" may belong to the "hr" group on the network, and the "hr" group can "manage resumes" in the application. So when "joe" logs in, we need to determine if his account can "manage resumes". This is the requirement I was asked to implement.

Samsung SyncMaster 2494HM Monitor

I recently picked up a new monitor - a 24 inch widescreen Samsung SyncMaster 2494 HM. So far this is an awesome monitor. But, I have run into an issue with it that I didn't find documented online. So, here's a quick post to hopefully help someone else with a similar issue.

Problem: Occasionally the front control buttons stop working. The power light may start a slow flash (I observed one). The monitor continues to work just fine, but you can't use the controls in any way.

Victimized by Copyright

Today I received a rude introduction to how easy it is to be caught on the wrong side of Copyright concerns. No, I didn't get sued or anything that bad. Instead, I am potentially facing a lot of work to redesign a shirt we were getting printed, and thereby possibly missing the timeframe we were aiming for. hmm.. that's not a good start. Let me back up and tell the full story.

The unspoken problem with frameworks

The more I work with Zend Framework and other frameworks (Rails, CakePHP, etc.), the more I come to a realization that there is a hidden cost to using a framework. That's the time it takes to learn the framework, and the amount of work needed to do something relatively simple.

Sure, there are good points about frameworks - code reuse, flexibility, etc. And most times these points outweigh the downsides. Especially on larger applications.

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