Web Work

A day without email

I flubbed my DNS records on Friday, thinking that I was getting ready to move my work site from Dreamhost to MediaTemple (since I’ve been having email delivery problems on Dreamhost; too many spammers on their shared servers). So I switched my name servers on Friday afternoon without the proper MX records… Long story short; I haven’t received any email since Friday afternoon.

Normally I don’t screw this process up (since I’ve done it probably 50 times in the past 2 years), but I was rushing when I did it Friday afternoon. I had myself convinced on Monday morning that it was just a slow weekend, and no one had anything to send me. Then I remembered that I tried to send email to myself Friday night, and puzzled over why it never got thru. Mystery solved.

It’s been frustrating waiting for the old DNS records to expire on the Media Temple server so I can enable mail services. I’m used to communicating primarily thru email, and being unable to do that all day has been driving me nuts!

Code Web Work

.htaccess forcing larger file uploads

So this is something that I should have memorized by now, but always find myself searching Google whenever I need it. MediaTemple’s Grid Servers have a built in 2mb limit on file uploads, which is small when you’re trying to upload photos from new multi-megapixel cameras, or even just large PDFs. The solution is to drop the following code into the .htaccess file in the root directory:

php_value upload_max_filesize 20M
php_value post_max_size 20M

This next bit usually helps if the uploads are timing out.

php_value max_execution_time 200
php_value max_input_time 200

This usually does the trick!

Photography Web

Vivitar 285 Mod

I’m really liking this Vivitar 285 flash mod, and trying to figure out if there’s a way I can cobble together parts from the two slightly broken ones I have and make something this cool. (Edit: Also found this Vivitar mod which has pictures and a “how-to”).

Just ordered some new flash remotes since the Cactus V2s we have are getting too finicky for my liking. Cactus released V4s earlier this year, and they’re still extremely affordable. Looking forward to getting those later this week.

I still have a big backlog of photos to go thru for Theresa and Andree’s wedding, and I’m really gonna push to get my picks out this week.

Oh yeah, and pics of the yurt are coming soon as well. Stay tuned.

Code Web Work

.htaccess forcing www in urls

I’m starting to use this site as a resource for myself, because I use this stuff all the time, but not enough to commit it fully to memory.

That said, something that’s come up a lot recently is forcing www. in front of all urls on a site. Since all of my servers are Apache, with mod_rewrite enabled, this is no problem. Create an .htaccess file and drop this code into it:

RewriteEngine On
# force www in url
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.chrisrunnells\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R=301,L]
# END force www in url

The other thing I’ve started doing is using 301 redirects when launching a new site. I can’t believe I didn’t use this years ago! Just add the following to the .htaccess file:

redirect 301 /oldpage.htm

And voila, the server redirects the user, and the search engines index the new page as the old one.

Code Web Work

ZeppOS Developer Resource

Rob has a nice designers resource page on his web site. Hopefully the ZeppOS Wiki will gain some momentum and become the main destination for documentation.

I was working on a Flash slideshow for an Aloha Media Group project, and I needed to make sure the slideshow background was transparent. I needed to look up the SWFObject code to make that happen, which is:

so.addParam("wmode", "transparent");

I also made sure the to update the slideshow.xml with bgOpacity="0", which I think would have given me the functionality I needed without adding the wmode parameter. I’ll have to test that out.

Code Web Work

Flash Slideshows in ZeppOS

So I find myself spending a lot of time trying to debug issues with Javascript and Flash when building sites out in ZeppOS. I’m posting this in the hopes that other people might find this useful!

Basically, I use the Flash Nifties XML Slideshow any time I need to do a quick image slideshow. To embed the swf file, I use the included SWFObject javascript for cross-browser compatible flash integration.

Now, the key to pulling this off successfully is to make sure the paths are all correct. Not only do we need to make sure the path to the XML file is good, but we need to make sure the paths to the images inside the XML file are valid as well. Trying to embed slideshow.swf by itself using the built in WYSIWYG editor doesn’t work, because the SWF can’t find the XML file. So, using the editor override method, I drop in the following code:

<script type="text/javascript">
var so = new SWFObject("/_Library/Media/Slideshow/slideshow.swf?file=_library/Media/slideshow/slideshow.xml", "gallery", "400", "300", "6", "#ffffff");

Alternatively, I could use addVariable technique to tell the slideshow where the XML file is (found here):
so.addVariable("file", "xml/images.xml");

However, since there’s only one variable, it’s easy enough to just add it directly to the uri string.

Now that slideshow.swf knows where it’s XML file is, I can test this by changing the bgcolor attribute in the XML file and seeing if it shows up. Once I’m sure the slideshow is reading from the XML file, I need to make sure the file paths to the images are correct. Since Flash reads the directory structure relative to the page it’s being called from (in this case, the root of the web site, index.asp), the path has to look like this:

<image img="_Library/Media/Slideshow/image1.jpg" />
<image img="_Library/Media/Slideshow/image2.jpg" />
<image img="_Library/Media/Slideshow/image3.jpg" />
<image img="_Library/Media/Slideshow/image4.jpg" />

Since ZeppOS is on a Windows platform, the paths are case-insensitive, but I add in capitalization anyway.

And that’s about it. Next time I’ll show a snippet of Javascript that I sometimes add to trick the browser into updating the XML file each time the page loads.