Internet Explorer: 32bit Vs. 64bit. Another Layer Of Web Testing?

32bit vs 64bit As if it weren’t bad enough we have to make exceptions and workarounds for every version of Internet Explorer out there, but as it turns out there are some differences between the two flavours of Internet Explorer which now exist: The standard 32bit and the newer 64bit.

Over the last several days I’ve been pestered by this infamous error from IE:

Message: HTML Parsing Error: Unable to modify the parent container element before the child element is closed (KB927917)
Line: 0
Char: 0
Code: 0
URI: <removed – not relevant to topic>

In a nutshell, a flash slideshow module I’m using in Joomla was throwing this error, then refused to load anything further on the page. I should also note that this particular site is Error Free and works fine with ALL OTHER BROWSERS!

The first thing I searched for was the Knowledge Base reference. Gotta love Google. I found a solution and workaround rather quickly. I’ve always loved quick fixes.

Off I went to my next task thinking this issue was behind me. No so. Seems anyone using the 64bit versions of Internet Explorer are still experiencing the above error. The workaround(s) only seem to fix the 32bit versions. I’m still searching for a solution.

The specifics of the error are not the issue I’m pointing out here. Nor is the Web Site.

The point of this post is that we, as Web Developers, now have a new layer of Web Site testing to consider. Not everything at the 32bit level is going to work for users of 64bit browsers. This issue has shown me that. I’m also assuming this situation could go the other way as well. Things that work in 64bit may not work in 32bit.

I can guarantee you that for each new browser version we’ll be doubling our testing efforts.

I can also guarantee that after reading this post you’ll be running around to all your Web Sites for additional testing. (32bit and 64bit) 😉

Let me know if you find any surprises. 🙂

Discreet Front End Login For Joomla Admins

Joomla Front End Login So, you have a Joomla web site and you wish to grant front end admin access for editing articles, etc. The site is set up with no visible login area for the front end. Basically a display-only site with no need for memberships, thus the login module option is unpublished.

So how do you get in without a login area? The solution is insanely simple. No additional plugins or coding are required.

For this article I’m going to assume Joomla 1.5 with native SEF URL’s enabled.

First, login (back end) and head to ‘Content->Article Manager and create a new article. Simply call it ‘Login’ and give it the alias of ‘login’. Sections and categories don’t matter. Set the access level to ‘Special’ (administrator) and enter something like, “Thank you for logging in” in the text area. Save it.

Joomla Front End Login

Next, head to the menus. It really doesn’t matter what menu you put this on, just as long as it’s published. So, select the Main Menu for example. Create a new menu item of type ‘Articles->article layout’

Joomla Front End Login

Give it the title of ‘Login’ and alias ‘login’ with the ‘Special’ access level. Link it to the article we wrote in the step above. Fill in any other required info and hit save.

Now if you try to read that article directly (go to http://www.example.com/login) you do not have access to see since it requires ‘Special’ Access. Joomla will then automatically prompt you for a login. (Told you it was simple)

If you have a different method of URL rewriting, you may have to make both the menu and article ‘Public’ access temporarily. Go to the site, click the login link, then record the URL of the article AFTER you’re logged in. Reset both menu and article back to ‘Special’ after you’re done. This recorded URL will be your login page.

So, what are you waiting for? Login! That’s it. Done.

In the last several weeks I’ve been working with Joomla quite a bit. Expect to see additional posts on this CMS coming up.

Last.FM – Worth Paying For?

Last.FM Logo I have been an avid listener to Last.FM since I joined the service near the end of December 2008. Since then I’ve streamed over 10,000 tracks and have loved all of them.

My musical tastes are very selective and I’ve never before come across any radio station which delivers great tunes and recommendations within my favourite genres. Progressive, Symphonic, and some Gothic Metal are my main focus when selecting music.

Imagine my disappointment last month when Last.FM announced they were going to a subscription service.

My initial reaction was, “Fine! I’ll just expand my offline collection to include the favourites I’ve discovered though their service.”

Even with this there was still something missing. Sure, I could listen to my favourite tracks any time I like, but where were those odd gems that Last.FM would throw at you every now and then? That one tune that made you stop everything you were doing just to see who was playing it. That type of thing just doesn’t happen when listening to your offline collection.

But that was just part of what I was missing. I also enjoyed seeing other people’s shouts (comments) on some of my favourite tracks. There is nobody in my real life who enjoys my musical tastes. (Then again, I don’t get out much!) It’s nice to see other people enjoying the same music as myself.

So, after a month of trying to live without Last.FM, I took the plunge and subscribed. It’s only $3.00USD/month and for the first time in my online experience, I feel I’ve found an online service which is actually worth paying for. A service I use quite a lot, which my 10,000 plays should tell you. 🙂

I’m now happily cruising to Last.FM once again. If you’re into Progressive/Symphonic/Gothic metal, check out my library at http://www.last.fm/user/LarryMonte

The Weary Client and Leaps of Faith

Weary Client Leap of Faith One thing I’ve come across many times in my 12 years of web development is the Weary Client.

The Weary Client is a skittish creature. Having been stung before, they are quick to hang up the phone in your ear or slam the door in your face the minute they hear you’re a Web Guy.

They have good reason too! They’ve previously paid out many hundreds of dollars (sometimes thousands) to someone who promised a fully functional web site but left them abandoned with a project that is either faulty or incomplete. Quite often the client is left without critical access information about his web site. (Logins, passwords, etc.)

The Weary Client is usually unwilling to pay out a deposit of any amount until results are seen. You really can’t blame them either.

So… What does a web developer do when faced with such obstacles in these tough economic times? The Weary Client is already feeling the crunch. Does he take another chance with his already strained budget? Not likely. If he is willing to part with his money (upon completion), it’s not going to be much.

At this point someone has to fold. I’m feeling the crunch too, so guess who? 😉 If I was going to accept these jobs for a lower than normal price, a time saving solution was required.

My solution was this. CMS installations with purchased Premium Themes.

Yes, I said, “purchased!” Might as well offer the client the quality that comes with a Premium Theme. Most are reasonably priced, I find. In the end, it works out when you remove the time to conceptualize the art and code the theme yourself. Not to mention all that effort for a payday that might never come. After all, we’ve taken a Leap of Faith here by agreeing to no down payments. An absolute no-no in this industry.

Worst case scenario: If payday doesn’t come, I shut down the site and still have a Premium Theme to use on a future project. I’m really only out a bit of time if things go wrong. When it comes down to getting the job or not, I think I can invest a bit of time. 

What can I say? My new lower rate is now landing me work for the first time in over a year. My (no longer weary) clients are happily running their Premium Themed sites, Premium Theme  Authors make a sale, and I get to see my paydays.

Sounds like a win for a few people. 🙂

Please note: I work exclusively with businesses local to me. I will not accept work over the Internet without a down payment.

BellNet.Ca Support – What A Joke!

BellNet.Ca Support Lines Time to update the blog and get my bitch post about Hydro One out of the spotlight by posting something new. Well, not completely new as I am gearing up to bitch about another one of our prime service providers here in Canada.

I recently acquired a quick web job for a small business. The previous ‘web guy’ had taken her money and ran before the job was completed. He also made off with all the critical web site information I would need to take over.

With no FTP/cPanel information, our only course was the dreaded call to BellNet support. The client initiated contact then the phone was handed to me.

*Crackle* *Static* Hello?

I couldn’t believe the horrible connection. Then again, Bell Canada’s support team are actually in India, not Canada. (See picture! 😉 ) This also made the language barrier even tougher to deal with. Inquiring about MySQL support turned into a 10 minute conversation.

The first stumbling block was establishing the password. It was not the same as what the client had on file. The solution was simple enough. They would email me the password.

Me: The email address is ****@bellnet.ca

Bell: Can you spell that?

Me: K – as in Kite. A – as in Apple…

Bell: A as in what?

Me: A! Just A! (Good Lord!)

(this process was repeated until the username had been spelt out…)

Me: …@bellnet.ca

Bell: Telnet?

Me: Bell-Net! (I had to repeat this twice!)

Bell: Dot com?

Me: No!! Dot ca! (Who the Hell do you work for?)

It took 15 minutes, but I finally received the password. Between conversations like this and the above mentioned MySQL discussion I was into a 45 minute phone call at this point. Oh, and let’s not forget the six or eight times I was put on hold.

But, we’re not done yet. After finding out there is no MySQL support without a huge cost increase to my client, my next question regarded the domain name itself which was registered through BellNet.

Me: Where do I go to manage the domain name?

Bell: We manage it for you.

Me: No. I need access to change name servers.

Bell: You’re not happy will Bell? (Not really!)

Me: I want to change the domain to point to a different web server. I don’t want to transfer the domain itself.

Bell:  I will have to transfer you to (insert another moron’s name here)…

Me: Nevermind. I have no further questions.

While this conversation went on I had found what I was looking for on my own. Just before hanging up I was asked if the help I’d received was satisfactory.

“Not really!” I said before hanging up.

I only had three tiny little questions: What’s the login? Do you support MySQL/PHP? How do I manage the domain? It was like playing charades with the blind!

This had taken up over an hour of my day. It was nice out too!