SonicWALL GVC Setup on Windows 8


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Spent 2 hours figuring this one out so thought I would share my experience:

In installing on two Windows 8 laptops I was not able to get the GVC to connect. Every attempt would instead default right to the phonebook screen, an indication that it could not find a Internet connection. Thanks to GuRu Guy, I was able to find the solution on this page:

http://www.magalan.co.uk/sonicwall_vpn_problems.html

Basically you cannot allow it to make a decision on what Interface to connect to. In the settings, just change the Interface to LAN and you will be good to go…

Hope this saves you the 2 hours I lost….

ReCaptcha, Great Tool… Poor Documentation…


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So I needed to install a Captcha into a static HTML web form, simple right? Not really…

The first step was researching and finding the best tool, this was easy, I went with the most popular… ReCaptcha. So I started the integration to only find the worst documentation. Although the tool is great, lots of documentation, there was nothing on how to do the most basic integration that 90% of users will do. How do you integrate it into a HTML web form?

So I tried on my own, for hours, even searched the Internet to find the worst; many people were having the same issue as I with no answer available. So how do you integrate the tool into a HTML web form while using the HTML web form action command? Glad I could find the answer in a few hours, hopefully this will save you from that…

Unfortunately I do not have the time to list a whole tutorial, however here is a link to the site that helped me and a quick step by step.

The site that helped, THANK YOU!!!: http://inko9nito.wordpress.com/2007/12/12/installing-recaptcha-with-php/

The step by step:
(Assuming you are using a HTML form, with a PHP form processor)

1. Set you .htaccess file to allow PHP in a HTML document by adding the following command to the file:
AddType application/x-httpd-php .html
2. Add code into the HTML form to display the CAPTCHA.
3. Add code into (IMPORTANT) the beginning of the form processor to determine if an error with the CAPTCHA or to submit the form.
a. If form is correct, do nothing and form processor code will submit form.
b. If incorrect, code in beginning of form processor will either send you to an error page or back to form with an error displayed in the page.

That is the concept, and the link I provided should be able to explain how to do this whole process.

From the Internet to the Paper


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In today’s day and age everyone is busy. I have realized that there may be some people who may be interested in my articles but may not read articles on the Internet. Maybe just too busy and the only time they read up on the news is on the train or maybe they just don’t read stories on the Internet. Perhaps the business owner who would benefit from an article on backing up his business data on his PC, but only reads the paper because of his schedule. So that is just what I did, wrote an article in the local paper on the basics of backing up and it’s importance to both the consumer as well as the business.

One of the most shocking things I see in the field of technology consulting is the lack of disaster preparation. Even many businesses still have little to any backup solution. The article: Technology: Prevent loss of data with backups, was featured in the Poughkeepsie Journal (PoJoNews.com), the state’s oldest running newspaper. The article is a brief overview of what a business or even a home user can do to protect their data.

I plan to continue doing off line articles as well as the blog to keep businesses as well as the general consumer informed on various technology topics. I will also continue technical articles and try to even work on some off line technical articles. In any case, I will keep you posted.

Centralized Storage


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Ever try to pull up a file and then you find out it’s on your other computer? It is very frustrating when you have multiple computers and files spread over many of your computers. This too is often the case with many small businesses with 3-5 machines onsite. Many times to simplify the operation, one machine will be used to hold all the information and the other computers will map a network drive to the machine in order to share the files. This machine is really acting as a makeshift server and is really the only option for a small business who is not ready to migrate to a server. Continue reading

Can’t We All Just Get Along?


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More and more, buzz words like net neutrality, muni-wireless, convergence, are coming up. Why? Because of the need for convergence. We are at the tipping point of various technologies hitting their development phase of implementation to the end-user. All back-boned by wireless technology, we have now scene WWAN (satellite internet cards), muni-wireless (municipal wireless services), hybrid service phones (the ability of a cell phone to switch between a wireless internet signal and its primary phone signal), and VOIP (internet telephone). So how do these all come together and why is it important?

Think about it. In a perfect world there would be a wide area wireless coverage from a mutual system of WWAN, muni-wireless, and private wireless systems. Provided, all these systems provide neutrality (do not control the internet, allow for open access, as most people get the internet now), we will be on the right path. Then imagine that the cell phone carriers allow for your phones to use hybrid technology so that they will switch between the carrier signal and the internet based on a traffic demand? Then take that a step further, you have only one phone number. Based on a tree hierarchy, the call can be sent via VOIP to any device that you choose so that you can receive the call at multiple locations. Based on location of the device, you will receive the call from a multitude of signals. Pretty crazy stuff…

However I do not see this happening anytime soon. Although we see these technologies individually, we will never have convergence because everyone wants there own land with a castle they can be king in. Although a backbone of a free-market economy, I think everyone can still have a castle and work together. Just someone has to set up the meeting….

A Great Way To Get Your RSS Feed On Your Static Website


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I know it has been a while and this blog is suppose to be mainly about web design, however as titled it is really about my life experiences as well as experiences with web design. So with that said, here is a web design topic that is pretty hot. RSS, Really Simple Syndication, is one of those buzz Web 2.0 items that has even worked its way into the new windows (Vista). RSS is more or less a coding language that codes news stories in XML, eXtensible Markup Language, so they can be dynamically implemented into web and now desktop applications. In this technology error, it is critical to get the latest news at a moments notice. Now with RSS, people can encode a news feed for their business or organization and persons interested in that news can subscribe to the feed and get the news dynamically on there desktop with Vista or on their home page on Google.

This technology integrates perfectly with a dynamic website CMS, content management system, such as a blog. As you write a news story or blog post as I am at the moment and then publish it, most CMS systems such as Drupal or Word Press will use a plug-in, widget, to encode that post or entry in the sites RSS. Now instantly people can read the latest news and posts! The problem becomes with static websites that still are authored to this day, how can they play with this new hot dynamic technology. I ran into that very issue recently with one of my clients static website and found the answer with one of the best web resources there is: Dynamic Drive DHTML. There RSS Display Box is by far one of the best solutions I found to solve the problem.

The issue was how can I make a dynamic element with a static website? So I figured the easiest way to solve the problem was to have the dynamic element tell the static website what to do. By doing so I could have the news stories expressed dynamically through RSS and then use the Dynamic Drive Java-script to display that dynamic data solving the issue entirely. This new method of web design is known as AJAX or Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. More or less it integrates all of the popular web languages (Java-Script, XML, and XHTML (HTML) as well as CSS) to accomplish interactive and dynamic web 2.0 technologies in a usable and fast manor. With that said Dynamic Drive once again pulled through for me with this great code.

Of course I had to add in a couple of edits to cater to my needs. I am a web standards buff and in order to allow the news stories to display in a list, I would have to add in the UL or OL tags inside the Java Script it self. So if you too want a valid list heres how. First open up (outputbody.php). This is located in the rssbox folder and manages the templates that will display your feeds on your page. In this file you will have to add LI tags enclosing the template so that it generates the list :

function outputbody($item, $template=""){
if ($template=="" || $template=="default"){ //DEFAULT TEMPLATE ?>
<li> // Insert the list item to add each item as a list item
<DIV class="rsscontainer">
<div class="rsstitle"><a href="<?php echo $item->get_permalink(); ?>" class="extlink"><?php echo $item->get_title(); ?></a></div>
<div class="rssdescription"><?php echo $item->get_description(); ?></div>
<div class="rssdate"><?php echo $item->get_date('d M Y g:i a'); ?></div>
</DIV>
</li> // Insert the close tag for the list item after the RSS item template layout
<?
} //end default template

The the last thing you have to do is define either a UL or a OL for your list type in the page that controls the entire feed and template integration in the file called (main.php) also located in the rssbox folder. Here I created a small IF statement to trigger an echo command to insert the UL or OL tags depending which template is used in the outputitems function:


function outputitems(){
if ($template=="" || $template=="default") echo '<ul>'; // Added in an IF statement to trigger an insert of a UL if the default template is used
global $feed, $feednumber, $templatename;
$max = $feed->get_item_quantity($feednumber);
for ($x = 0; $x < $max; $x++){
$item = $feed->get_item($x);
outputbody($item, $templatename); //call custom outputbody() function
}
if ($template=="" || $template=="default") echo '</ul>'; // Added in another IF statement to trigger an insert of the close tag for the UL
}

There you go, simple as pie. A great way to get your dynamic RSS feed on your static web page with a little tweak. ENJOY….

3D Printing, The Future???


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As I spend as much time as possible researching the up and coming technologies in the world, I from time to time run into some pretty interesting things. One of those things would have to be 3D printing. A concept that comes from industries that program a 3D rendering (CAD Drawing) into a computer for parts and have a laser or high-powered water jet cut them out of a piece of metal or other item. Recently a few companies have released devices that uses a inkjet type of technology that prints on layers of a powder type material. As the layers are built excess powder is removed and color is added rendering a 3D object.

One of these companies, Z Corp ( Z Corp ), claims to be the number one player in this small industry and offers it’s 3D printers with the price tag of $20,000 – $50,000! However this is well worth the investment for car companies, architects, or even pipe appliance companies who can use the machine to produce a 3D prototypes that in the past took much longer, were less detailed, and over a period of time much more expensive. Just take a look at some of the amazing prototypes this thing has designed so far Z Corp ZPrinter 450.

The future for these machines is endless also. Companies are working on machines that will not only prototype, but create real 3D objects such as the laser and water drills. A major push in the industry is also bio-printing or using similar devices to create artificial human organs or other tissues instead of using donated organs. It will be nice in the future to be able to create replacement parts or say a heart just from a printer!

I know you would love to have one in your basement to make all kinds of cool things, but seriously think of the possibilities. In the future, as the price comes down for these devices, the potential use is there. Think of all those sci-fi shows that a device tele-ported items from one location to another. Now I know we won’t be tele-porting anything with the machines, but say for instances you need a leg for a chair that just broke. Just go to that chair’s website, download the 3D instruction file, load in some wood to the printer, and send the job to the printer. NO TRIP TO THE STORE!!! Believe it or not we are closer than you think for the public getting their hands on a 3D printer. Today you can purchase a similar device know as a laser engraver, that can produce 2D objects such as wooden design plaques, engraved picture, ect. and if you really want a 3D object, there are some commercial services that will let you design a 3D object on a Z Corp printer for around $100.

Video

  1. ZPrinter 450 Demo Video

Biggest Evolutions in Computers in YEARS!!!


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Wired, Wireless, Flash, Multi-Core

We are in the era of the biggest evolution in computers since the PC was introduced in the early 80s. However this time it is not one object that is making it so revolutionary, it is multiple that have allowed us to finally reach the potential of computing and the Internet. Continue reading

Flickr Photo Album Review, Solved Major Web 2.0 Theme Issues with Plug-In


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As you know, I use Word Press for my blog. As many developers do, I also feel it among the best blog suites out in the market – especially as open source freeware. One of the major pluses to it or any software is its plug-ins. Word Press developers love to make them and there are literally millions of them. One major project of my blog was to make a photo album section, so as always I spent about 2 or 3 days doing some major research on the topic and I have found what I think is a home run for your Word Press Blog. However as always I ran into some issues with customizing it with my theme, a problem I have scene with numerous other Word Press blogs who use the Web 2.0 Theme. Rest assured though I fixed those problems too.

The Flickr Photo Album Plug-In ( Tan Tan Noodles ), is a great plug-in for Word Press. However before I even talk about the plug-in, I have to talk about the step before it. I needed to decide if using my own server or a third party service to host my pictures. Doing my research I feel in love with the Web 2.0 phenomenon of Flickr. With this suite you can not only manage your photos, but the Web 2.0 technologies are endless. You can comment on pictures, join picture discussion groups, map your photos on maps, add tags to your photos (a web 2.0 staple) and so on. This is a great site and I highly recommend it for your online photo album. It is a great and easy way to organize your photos into albums and share with your friends/ family. So with that said it came time to decide what plug-in to use to integrate my albums into Word Press. I quickly went through the list getting very disappointed not to find anyone that would work. Finally I found two great possibilities FAlbum and Flickr Photo Album. After working with both though, I really liked and felt comfortable and decided to go with the latter. It offered easy integration of your Flickr photos right into your blog post and a great looking photo page that included your photo albums and tags associated with them.

So I setup the plug-in and followed the instructions in how to move the required files from the plug-in into your theme in order to customize the album into your theme:

  1. Copy preview.php and rename it to photos.php and place it into your current theme directory.
  2. Copy all html files starting with photoalbum- into this same directory. These are the template files you will be working with.
  3. Modify the HTML and CSS in the template files to fit your own site. All the CSS is located in photoalbum-header.html.

Then I crossed my fingers and took a look with disappointment. Everything worked great except it did not like my theme at all. Anytime I used the php call to get the side bar the background would not drop down to the bottom and the side bar would be pushed to the bottom. So then took my three day commitment to fix it and boy what a time it was. So if you use the Web 2.0 WP Theme with the Flickr Photo Album here is your answers….

The first thing I knew was it had to do with something in the side bar since it rendered fine without it. So I picked the entire side bar apart with no avail, great I knew it would be one of those small hidden issues. So I decided to actually paste in the entire side bar code into the photos page to see if I can find the issue by deleting sections of it at a time to find the problem. A home run because I did indeed find the primary issue with the side bar. Of course the problem had to be something as simple as a misplaced close tag for the wrapper div of the theme. This explained to me why the background would not drop to the bottom and why the side bar would fall below the albums.

The issue was that I organized the div close tags improperly causing the plug-in to fail in the web 2.0 theme. So here is what I did by mistake:

// Get the universal header of the photo album.
<?php get_header();?>
// I inserted these two div from my theme to integrate the plug in into the theme.
<div id="wp-content">
<div id="wp-content-pri">
// The following is the photo album coding.
<div id="content" class="narrowcolumn">
*** Photo Album PHP Calls ***
// Closes the content div that surrounds the photo album.
</div>
// I inserted in order to close the wp-content-pri div which is the main column containing the photo album.
</div>
// HERE IS THE ERROR. I inserted in order to close the wp-content div which is suppose to be the wrapper for the entire main area which includes both the sidebar and photo album. SO REMOVE THIS div close tag.
</div>
<?php
// This call for the side bar already has the end tag for the wp-content. PROBLEM SOLVED!
get_sidebar();
get_footer();
?>

So thats it, you pretty much have to make sure you dont close the wp-content div, because it is already closed in the side bar. A pretty simple fix for a common issue with the web 2.0 theme and this plug-in. So other than that, she works like a charm! Enjoy the photos…

SEO, SEM and Some New SEO/ SEM Issues


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SEO, SEO, SEO; another computer acronym to add to the ever growing list. However if your a web developer and this one isn’t in your vocabulary, then there are defiantly some problems. If you are one of the few, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, usually synonymous with SEM or Search Engine Marketing. These two acronyms should be on the top of your vocab as a developer, because whats a website if no one can find it or even worse knows about it. SEM and SEO are all about website promotion since the latest stats say that 80% of all persons looking for a website will use a search engine. So with that said it is pretty critical to get your website listed on the top of the search engine rankings, preferably the top 10 also known as the infamous “first page” results. With a whopping estimated 75% of the search engine market, Yahoo! and Google are of course the most critical. With over half the market using Yahoo! and Google, it should also be your task to learn these two guys inside and out.

Unfortunately they do not publicaley release their search algorithms for obvious reasons, but there is one thing for sure; THEY LOVE LINK POWER! Google calls it Page Rank and many have spent countless hours on the topic agree. The more links linking into you, the more powerful you will be in the search engines. There is of course more to it such as keywords, the more similar words located in the site, the more apt that your site will be located in the search engine ranking by those words. However everything can’t be that easy.

Too many people take advantage of a good thing and “black hat” their sites to unethically gain search engine ranking. It is unfair to list hundreds of words the same color as the background of a site to gain search engine ranking. It is unfair to conduct any of these procedures. That is why I am happy that search engines have created their algorithms to combat these persons. I am proud of Google creating the ( Google Guidelines for SEO ). By doing so, the web has once again become a more fair place. Then I think some people take it too far as in Wikipedia’s case.

Wikipedia is a Web 2.0 tech, the evolution of the web to an interactive medium. It allows the public to edit and create encyclopedia entry’s and in doing so has pretty much became the most in depth and believe it or not accurate encyclopedia in the world. A great idea and resource of course has its problems. Since anyone can edit it, it can be easy to corrupt or in SEMs case eay to get some great link credit. However Wikipedia does a GREAT job in preventing and controlling these issues, however they have felt that is was important to block external links from getting any juice for their link credit and I am talking about a lot of juice! Since Wikipedia is a extremely popular website, it holds a lot of value if your link appears on one of their pages. Since Wikipedia knows this, they have inserted the link class of nofollow so that external links get no juice from being listed.

I feel that this one is wrong. The Internet should equally exchange links, its how it is the “web”. As long as the external links are relevant to the topic, they should be allowed on the page and get the credit for it. Many devlopers have become so disgruntaled at this one that they have formed a grassroots organization named ( NOFOLLOW me to Wikipedia ). They ask that all developers add the NOFOLLOW tag to a link if they link to Wikipedia, funny if you ask me. Although a gallant effort, the effort will be futile. Wikipedia is already a powerhouse in the SEM market and even if a lot of developers did jump on, the amount required would not happen. Besides the word of mouth and technologies such as social bookmarking will hamper their efforts. I suggest a two prong attack, perhaps using the NOFOLLOW and every developer creating websites called Wikipedia that contain a lot of Wikipedia keywords. The combination of competition and the NOFOLLOW can be the only possible solution.

In any case, Wikipedia is here to stay and I think they are still a great resource. I will still use it as in most developers, just won’t link to it =). SEM, SEO, and website marketing are a very important topics and I have just touch base on the topic here. For more in depth information on website marketing and some great FREE tools, here are my top chooses:

  1. Search Engine Watch (Great Starting Point)
  2. SEOMoz (Some great search engine tools)
  3. Market Leap (Some more great tools)

References

  1. NOFOLLOW me to Wikipedia Campaign
  2. Google’s Guidelines to SEO