Programming + Design

Moving from Flash 8 to Flex: Day 1
Written by Brett Brewer   
Saturday, 18 August 2007

So today I begin my journey. Having worked with every previous version of Flash and gone through several flavors of actionscript by now, I have been a bit loathe to once again relearn how to develop flash applications. Just when I think I've finally discovered the last pitfall when developing in the latest version of Flash, they go and redo the whole thing from the ground up and call it Flex. 

Last Updated ( Saturday, 18 August 2007 )
Online, customer service is king.
Written by Brett Brewer   
Saturday, 18 August 2007

Recently I had experiences with two different companies that do business online that perfectly illustrated the difference between good and bad customer service and how important customer service is for an online business. I have always said that "content is king" on the internet and that this should be the foundation of any successful online business, but I haven't talked too much about the customer service aspect. It wasn't until I worked for a company that provided superior customer service that I realized how big a difference it makes in the long-term success and organic growth of a business. It is hard for me to tolerate bad service when I am subjected to it now that I know the difference between good and bad service, and that it can actually cost less for your business to provide good service if your employees are properly trained. I will now compare two experiences I had today with two different companies so you can see how drastic a difference it makes, simply to have a well trained customer support person who understands the underlying business and has the power to make a useful decision for the beneift of the customer.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 18 August 2007 )
Brett Brewer seeking Canadian sponsor/employer
Written by Brett Brewer   
Tuesday, 14 August 2007

I am officially embarking on my long-time dream of establishing permanent residency in Canada and am focusing my current job search on the Vancouver BC area. If you are a Canadian employer or you know a Canadian employer who would be interested in importing an expert PHP/MySQL/Flash developer with over 13 years of experience in print, web and multimedia design and programming, please contact me . It is much easier to emigrate to Canada if you have a job lined up, so I probably won't be too picky about what offers I consider so long as they are in Canada, preferably somewhere south of the Arctic Circle and most preferably in the Vancouver area. I have already received offers from US recruiters for companies based in Hollywood (CA), San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, which is somewhat comforting, but for now, I'm holding out for my dream job in Canada. Where are all the Canadian recruiters? Meanwhile, I should be getting my Zend PHP5 certification by the end of the month, renewing my passport, and learning a lot more about the Canadian immigration process. Any interested employers should check out the employer page on the Canadian immigration site and, of course, you can view my resume on my resume page.

vBulletin/Wordpress Integration Plugin
Written by Brett Brewer   
Wednesday, 01 August 2007

I've seen several methods of integrating WordPress and vBulletin, but none of them really seemed to solve my problems, so I've created yet another integration method for Wordpress and vBulletin using their plugin APIs. It basically allows you to use your vBulletin forum as the comment system for posts on your Wordpress blog, but does not integrate the Wordpress and vBulletin user systems as I have no need of that and other plugins already exist to do just that.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 August 2007 )
Brett is officially looking for a job
Written by Brett Brewer   
Friday, 20 July 2007
I am somewhat sad to announce that I tendered my resignation to The Real Estate School, Inc. today where I served for over 5 years as the VP of Technology and more recently as the Executive Vice President. My departure marks the beginning of the next phase of my career and my life as I seek better opportunities to utilize the wide range of programming, design, and SEO skills I have honed over the past decade. Ideally I would like to work with a team of skilled PHP/MySQL developers on useful web based products and services similar to the ones I've already successfully built. My ideal job would be located in Canada or Western Europe or New Zealand, but I would consider another job in the U.S. with the right company. If you are interested in my experience and qualifications, please check out my resume and if you know anyone that could use someone like me I'd love to hear about it, regardless of where the job is located . In the meantime, I will be working on getting officially certified in PHP/MySQL and any other relevant technologies. Sadly, most of the companies in Tallahassee are ASP.NET shops and despite the fact that ASP and PHP programming is very similar, I suspect it will be hard to land the kind of job I'm looking for at one of the local ASP shops. So drop me a line if you hear anything.
Joomla VFM File Repository Component Bug Fixes
Written by Brett Brewer   
Thursday, 26 July 2007

I've been testing out a few download managers on my site and so far my favorite is the VFM File Repository component. It's got some nice AJAX functionality, but lacks a functional category feature, so all downloads simply display in a list. When editing the descriptions via AJAX, I discovered some issues with quotes not being properly unescaped. To fix this, simply open the "components/com_vfm/vfm.php" file. On about line 191 you will see the following code:

 $result = $vfm->setAttribute(array( 'description' => $_REQUEST['contents'] ));

 Simply replace it with 

 $result = $vfm->setAttribute(array( 'description' => stripslashes($_REQUEST['contents']) ));

This will fix the escaping problem and allow you to embed quotes and html with attributes into your descriptions. You can do the same thing for the title field by making a similar edit to line 179 of the source file. 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 26 July 2007 )
Filtering User Input for XSS with PHP
Written by Brett Brewer   
Friday, 22 June 2007
I've been building some web apps that rely on integrated WYSIWYG text editors for user input, which is something that is typically very dangerous to do in a secure application. Fortunately, I discovered an amazing PHP library, written by Edward Z. Yang, called HTML Purifier , which will take html input, parse its node structure and break it into tokens, validate and correct any nodes according to the relevant RFC definitions, then spits out safe, standards-compliant XHTML which can be used anywhere without fear that some 13-year-old Russian kid found a way to sneak some malicious javascript through your filters. Of course, if you want your users to be able to add specific bits of javascript  code to a page, HTML Purifier can be easily extended with plugins to allow your custom code to pass through unaffected. In just a few minutes I was able to use their example YouTube video plugin to write my own filter that will let FlashObject code pass safely through the filters. Unfortunately the developer doesn't have a donation page so I couldn't send him money, but he said that just spreading the word would suffice for now, so consider the word officially spread. 
Last Updated ( Saturday, 23 June 2007 )
Apple's Safari browser on Windows
Written by Brett Brewer   
Friday, 15 June 2007
I just had a chance to start using Apple's Safari browser on my work PC and I must say it seems to work great so far. I already have a new favorite feature. It appears that by default, Safari adds resize handles to any multi-line input fields on a web page. This has the effect of allowing you to resize elements in a CSS-based layout while watching the page layout change as the Safari CSS box model re-renders everything on the fly. This is nice because it lets you really see how the layout of subsequent form elements change as input fields are resized. It's not terribly useful, but it does let you see the Safari box model in action, which might provide some insight into some tricky layout problems. I just wish there was a way to toggle this feature on and off for every element on the page. That would help so much with fixing box sizes when doing complex CSS layouts that may have issues in some browsers. To see the page layout reflow in realtime as things are resized is really helpful. Perhaps this feature is already built into the Firefox WebDeveloper plugin, but I haven't found it. So kudos to Apple for what appears to be a decent addition to the latest generation of "standards compliant" browsers.
Last Updated ( Friday, 15 June 2007 )
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