May 2012 - Digital Tool Factory blog May 2012 - Digital Tool Factory blog

The Digital Tool Factory Blog

Tribal maintenance goes farther with SharePress

As it turns out, the free version does not do what I thought it did. Retracted.
'sharing lunch' photo (c) 2009, Angie Muldowney - license: some reason I decided to engage more directly with my very few Facebook fans and after a bit of googling, I opted to use SharePress by Fat Panda.  Thus far, I am very impressed, and it joins the lofty list of WordPress plugins I actually use on all of my blogs AND recommend to client, an honor currently shared only by WordPress  SEO by Yoast.

May 12

Written By Steve French


How to create a Cron job with MySqlDump, and use GZip Compression

'Wordpress cron file' photo (c) 2010, Harsh Agrawal - license: Disclosure: I am a long-term Microsoft Windows user and developer and I haven’t used any sort of Cron job in about 12 years, so all this was new to me.

What is a Cron job?

It’s just something that runs chronically, i.e. an automated procedure on the server that runs every day or hour.

What is MySqlDump?

It’s a nice simple way to do a backup of a MySql Database

What is GZip Compression?

It is the Linux version of zipping a file, using whatever open source algorithm they use.

How do Cron Jobs, MySqlDump and GZip Compression come together?

In my case, I needed to backup a very large multisite WordPress database.  After some further discover I discovered that it would behoove me to compress the database as well.   Without compression, the backup file was 250 megs, with compression it was 25 megs.

What is the syntax for a Cron Job with MySqlDump and GZip Compression?

Just use this

mysqldump –opt -Q -u[YourUserName] -p[YourPassword] [YourDatabaseName] |  gzip >/path/to/desired/backup/location/`date`.sql.gz

That will create a file named after the current date and time that is a zipped version of your database.  It runs surprisingly quickly.

What is the catch?

The reason this particular little task took me some extra time to do is because I had forgotten that Unix system use the back tick character (`) and not the single quote (‘).  FYI – the back tick character is the one located underneath the escape key.

May 12

Written By Steve French


Less Accounting Review – Intermission Part II

It’s been a little while since my last update.  I have finally gotten all of the invoices (ten years worth) into Less Accounting.  For some reason their import procedure marked them all as drafts and did not import the invoice numbers, which pretty much made them useless and I had to go in and change ever one of them.  That took many hours.

The rest of the review is coming soon!



May 12

Written By Steve French


How I explain Paul Graham’s Maker schedule and Manager schedule without being insulting

'Day [009]  Schedule.' photo (c) 2010, Sadie Hernandez - license: of Paul Graham’s most useful insights has been his Maker Schedule vs Manager Schedule. Go ahead and read the link if you’re not familiar with the concept.

It is

  • True
  • Useful
  • Deep
  • and very hard to explain to people without being insulting

By singleing yourself out as a “maker”, and hence on a “Maker Schedule” you run the serious risk of alienating all of your equally smart colleagues who have different interests and work responsibilities.  Coders, designers and artists will understand it immediately, but if you’re not one of those people it can sound like you’re putting yourself on a pedestal.

Remove Maker Schedule and Manager Schedule from the description

Just remove the job description, and substitute the noise that you’re making, which implies the type of work that you’re doing.

If you’re producing mouse clicks, you’re doing manager work, and you’re on a manager schedule.  If you’re producing keyboard clicks, you’re doing maker work, and you’re on a maker schedule.  The work is being labeled, not the person.  No one is categorized as “creative” or “business people”, it’s just the work you happen to be doing at the time.

I’ve found that people understand this instantly and intuitively.  No need to explain “Flow” or why interruptions cost so much time.  People can relate to the fact that (usually) work involving the keyboard just takes longer than work involving the mouse, and no one is inadvertently put down by being implicitly labeled.

That’s worked for me anyway.

May 12

Written By Steve French


How to fix problems running Windows Azure web applications locally

The Problem:

You have an mvc 3 web project, and you are running it as part of a windows azure web application.   In my case it worked initially, but after I installed some Visual Studio plugins, run Windows Update, and installed a new router, it mysteriously stopped working.  A few of the error messages had me thinking it was caused by Sql Server, but I was mistaken.

The Cause:

This stumped me for several hours, but after much trial and error I discovered that the problem was with port mapping.

In the output window, I had the following messages:

Windows Azure Tools: Warning: Remapping public port 80 to 87 to avoid conflict during emulation.
Windows Azure Tools: Warning: Remapping public port 3389 to 3390 to avoid conflict during emulation.
Windows Azure Tools: Warning: Remapping private port 80 to 89 in role ‘MyCoolSite’ to avoid conflict during emulation.
Windows Azure Tools: Warning: Remapping private port 3389 to 3390 in role ‘MyCoolSite’ to avoid conflict during emulation.

I had enabled a homegroup somewhere along the way, which changed my network location, which somehow made changes in the firewall.

The Solution

This was more blind luck, but I got a windows firewall popup that asked me if I wanted to allow the Visual Studio Process to use lo these many ports.

So, in sum, check to make sure all of your ports are open.

May 12

Written By Steve French


How to create a Sql Azure database with Entity Framework codefirst

'King Cloud' photo (c) 2007, Karen Ka Ying Wong - license:’ve lately begun to use Windows Azure, and I thought I would start blogging about it as well.

Sql Azure database with entity framework codefirst – the song remains the same

As I am deeply committed to using MVC 3 with Entity Framework CodeFirst, I thought at first moving to Azure might be a problem, as Sql Azure is marketed as a cousin to Sql Server, and not the real thing.  Happily that seems not to be the case.

I searched for a guide on how to use Entity Framework Codefirst with Sql Azure and couldn’t find one – so I just up and tried it and it worked quite well.  It works just like the regular Codefirst method, only you must specify the proper sql azure database in the web.Debug.config and the web.Release.config files.  Furthermore, that database must not already exist.  The Windows Azure admin screens strongly guide you in the direction of creating an initial database, but I’ve found if you just delete your default database it will create one for you.

So, in sum, you just treat Sql Azure the same as you would any other Sql Server database.  I’m not sure why Microsoft is marketing it as something radically different, but so far I have not discovered any meaningful differences between the two systems.

May 12

Written By Steve French


Less Accounting Review – Intermission

I haven’t been blogging any more about my Less Accounting experience, largely because I haven’t made much progress in actually using it. Much as recessions will reveal what auditors cannot, changing accounting systems reveals Quickbooks flaws that will not come up in any other way. Everything has been on hold while everything gets properly imported into the new system.

May 12

Written By Steve French


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