Programming + Design

Google phasing out support for IE6
Written by Brett Brewer   
Monday, 01 February 2010

As a followup to my prevous post about IE losing the browser war, it looks like Google is going to start phasing out support for IE6 in Google Apps over the course of this year. I just received this notice from them:

"...In order to continue to improve our products and deliver more sophisticated features and performance, we are harnessing some of the latest improvements in web browser technology. This includes faster JavaScript processing and new standards like HTML5. As a result, over the course of 2010, we will be phasing out support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 ​as well as other older browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers.

We plan to begin phasing out support of these older browsers on the Google Docs suite and the Google Sites editor on March 1, 2010. After that point, certain functionality within these applications may have higher latency and may not work correctly in these older browsers. Later in 2010, we will start to phase out support for these browsers for Google Mail and Google Calendar...."

Thankyou Google!

Last Updated ( Monday, 01 February 2010 )
IE Officially Losing the Browser War
Written by Brett Brewer   
Thursday, 24 December 2009

We win!...and by "we" I mean all you web developers out there that have been at the mercy of fragmented browser market share, buggy browsers and lack of standards compliance which has needlessly taken much of the fun out of coding web sites for many, many, many years. I've been coding web sites since 1994, so I've seen pretty much every browser bug and ever other form of BS that browser developers have come up with over the years. So, I was pleasantly shocked to discover that Firefox 3.5 recently surpassed Internet Explorer 7 as the #1 browser version worldwide....and I've been seeing lots and lots of articles like this one lately too: Is Internet Explorer Doomed?

It seems that IE usage has practically fallen off a cliff in the past few months. Firefox still lags behind IE in the United States, but if you develop web sites for a worldwide audience, you now have a new primary browser to worry about and a great excuse to dump your support for IE even faster than you probably already wanted to. Since you were probably already doing most of your development and testing with Firefox (unless of course you are a complete massochist), this means you can now feel much better about blowing off testing your sites in IE. I suspect that within the next 9 months I'll finally be able to quit testing web sites on IE6 altogether, and with any luck I can follow suit with IE7/8 shortly thereafter. That's right, I said it....I see a future where we can completely DROP (or severely curtail) support for every fracking version of IE (unless of course MSFT comes up with a version of their browser that renders pages and handles Javascript exactly like Firefox). Prospects are looking quite good for Firefox usage to surpass IE in the United States sometime next year. Can I get an A-MEN!? Could it be that the majoriy of internet users are finally coming to understand what a browser is?

I really never thought I'd see this day. Soon, we might finally be back to where we were in 2000 in terms of the number of browsers developers have to debug and test on. This time though, it won't be due to a lack of other browsers, it's simply that the new generation of browsers that will remaing after IE is dead are much better at rendering pages the same way thanks to a relatively strict adherence to web standards. Thank you to all the web developers out there who wouldn't stop bitching about standards compliance because it's FINALLY starting to pay off (until recently it only COST us effort but returned little benefit). Back in 2000 it was a nearly completely market-dominanting IE browser that started to make web development easier, not because the browser didn't suck, but because it was the only one you had to worry about. Things started getting hairy again over the past 9 years as Opera and Firefox emerged on the scene, Apple released Safari, then Google tossed Chrome into the mix for bad measure. Fortunately for everyone, the only two browsers that currently appear to be GAINING market share as of today, December 24, 2009, are Firefox and Google Chrome. Every other browser is currently losing market share. I couldn't be happier. I'll be a little sad to see Opera die off because it's really a great browser, but if it has be a casualty of Firefox's success then so be it. With any luck, Mac users will eventually stop using Safari and jump completely on the Firefox bandwagon because Safari is just a flat-out waste of developers' time and effort that would be better spent elsewhere. There's simply no need for it anymore except possibly on the iPhone which, as usual is Apple's fault and another perfect example of why some people like me actually switched from Mac to PC in 2000 and have been thrilled with my choice ever since...but that's another story. The Mac has gained enough traction recently thanks to an operating system that people actually want to code apps for, so now Firefox is a first rate browser on the MacOS and there is simply no need for Safari. Safari clearly hasn't kept pace with Firefox, it doesn't render pages as reliably and forces developers to write more platform-specific bug fixes and do needless platform-specific testing when they should just be testing on the cross-platform standards-compliant browsers. Mac users are starting to understand this though, and Safari usage just started declining for the first time since it's initial release. I could rant about Apple all day though and that's a completely different topic, so I'll end this post by saying my hope for 2010 is that Firefox will surpass both IE and Safari use in the US on both Windows and MacOS and continue making cross-platform web development less painful and more creative for everyone involved. 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 24 December 2009 )
Linux Torvalds interview on FLOSS
Written by Brett Brewer   
Monday, 21 December 2009

I like to listen to various tech podcasts to help keep myself up to date with the latest happenings in open-source and PHP worlds. Two of my favorites are the FLOSS weekly podcast (Free Libre Open Source Software) with Randal Schwartz and Leo Laporte, and the PHP-Abstract podcast . If you haven't checked out the FLOSS podcast, here's a great interview with Linus Torvalds to get you started. Every week FLOSS interviews a prominent figure in the open source world, or they interview the developers working on some interesting open-source project. Of all the general interest open-source podcasts out there, I think FLOSS is one of the best.

PHP-Abstract used to be my favorite PHP podcast before it was taken over by Zend, but it has become much more Zend-centric than it used to be. It's still informative though.

PHP-Architect also has an excellent PHP podcast that was somewhat sporadic for a while, but it looks like they are back to doing regular episodes so definitely check that one out too if you're looking for a decent PHP podcast. 

Last Updated ( Monday, 21 December 2009 )
GET LAMP now available for preorder
Written by Brett Brewer   
Sunday, 13 December 2009
For those of you who were hip enough to catch Jason Scott's last documentary, BBS The Documentary, you may be excited to know that after 3 years of waiting, you can now preorder his latest documentary , GET LAMP , slated for release sometime near March 2010. GET LAMP is a documentary on the old text-based adventure games such as Zork, and if it's as well done as the BBS documentary it will be amazing. The movie byline is, "Before the first person shoter, there was the second person thinker." I've already preordered my copy because I'm geek like that. Go order yours now, I command you.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 December 2009 )
Setting up SVN access over SSH
Written by Brett Brewer   
Monday, 07 December 2009

I love using subversion to collaborate with other developers on projects, but I HATE administering and setting it all up. I think I finally found a tutorial that spells it all out in a nice clear step-by-step explanation:

It's a bit dated (from 2004), but it seems to cover the parts I could never quite get my head around...particularly the part about setting up user permissions so you can have multiple users accessing the repositories without destroying everyone's write permissions. I haven't tested these instructions myself yet, but I plan to in the near future at which point I'll update this post with the results.


Last Updated ( Monday, 07 December 2009 )
Specifying Multiple recipients for Kohana's email helper library
Written by Brett Brewer   
Tuesday, 27 October 2009

I love the Kohana framework, but some of their docs are pretty bad. I've used it for months without knowing how to specify multiple recipients for the email::send() helper function which uses the SwiftMailer library. Today I looked at the source code and figured out how to specify multiple recipient addresses. Here's how:

$to = array(
     'to'=>array('','Recipient Name'),
     'to1'=>array('','Recipient1 Name'),
     'to2'=>array('','Recipient2 Name'),
     'cc'=>array('','cc Recipient Name'),
     'bcc'=>array('','bcc Recipient Name')

$sentcount = email::send($to,$from,$subject,$body,true);

This assumes you've already set some vars for the $from address, message $subject, $body, etc. The trick to this is that Kohana's email::send() funtion will loop through your "to" array and anything that doesn't match the 'to','cc' or 'bcc' array keys will be sent as an additional "to" recipient. Even if you call the other keys "cc1","cc2", etc., the messages will be sent to them as primary recipients and their email address will show in the "to" field. There is no Kohana documentation anywhere to tell you this, so I hope this helps someone. 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 27 October 2009 )
HowTo Use Your Adobe Lightroom Catalog Over a Network
Written by Brett Brewer   
Sunday, 09 August 2009

I've been using Adobe Lightroom 2 for a while and mostly like the program, but I recently ran up against a massive oversight by Adobe. You can't open a lightroom catalog that is stored on a network drive. What a nightmare! According to Adobe this is a "feature" they added in version 2 to prevent people from corrupting their catalogs by trying to use them in a multi-user environment. Well, I don't call that a feature, I call that a bug, and forcing me to keep multiple versions of my Lightroom catalog just to use it from different machines is unacceptable. My LR catalog is huge and I can't constantly be exporting and resyncing it. Fortunately, there's an easy workaround. Don't blame me if it corrupts your Lightroom catalog.

  • Map a network drive to the location you want to use for your Lightroom catalog (for example I use "P:" for my Photos) 
  • Open a command prompt by going to "Start--->Run" and then type "cmd" for a command prompt.
  • Type the following
subst Q: P:\ 
  • The first drive letter above is the new drive letter you want to use and the second is the name of the mapped network drive you already created.
  • You should now be able to access the networked lightroom catalog at drive letter Q:

To make this happen automagically when you boot your computer,  you can put something like following line in your AUTOEXEC.NT file in the Windows/system32 folder on your boot drive

 %windir%\system32\subst.exe Q: P:\

You could also make a shortcut with the above line as the target and put it in your "Startup" folder. 

Adobe should really reactivate the ability to save to networked drives and if they can't solve the DB corruption probs, just display a warning to be sure nobody else is using the file before proceeding. It would be way better than crippling the product for power users.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 09 August 2009 )
Switching from allow_url_fopen to CURL
Written by Brett Brewer   
Wednesday, 03 June 2009

You may have notice that my site was displaying an error message across the top of the screen recently, due to my web host disabling "allow_url_fopen" in the PHP config (php.ini), which broke my Skype class that shows my Skype status. Today I finally got around to fixing it. Here's the code change I made, which should be easy to use as an example if you run into similar problems:

 Old Code:

$num = file($this->url);
$this->status = $num[0];


New Code:

// Establish a cURL handle
$ch = curl_init($this->url);
// Set cURL options
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HEADER, false);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, true);
// Execute the cURL request
$num = curl_exec($ch);

// Close the cURL session.

$this->status = $num[0];

A little more code to do the same thing as before, but apparently this is safer than keeping "allow_url_fopen" enabled. 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 03 June 2009 )
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