Archive for January, 2006

The future of web stats

I went shopping around for a new flavor of website statistics. What I found is that the commercial products, dare I say are really standing out from the opensource programs. I have used Webalizer and Awstats on linux. When I first used Awstats years ago, it wasn’t really all that impressive, but the new features that have been addded makes it a competing product with Urchin 4. The only thing I cant seem to find in it is popular “paths” visitors took around the site.

In comes ClickTracks, a new appraoch to looking at the black and white numbers. It goes as far as overlaying stats right overtop of your webpage. They term it “in context display”. Either way it is some real eye candy for the business owner who knows little about computers and only wants to see how changes and ad campaigns has effected the web site traffic. Clicktracks has several other appealing features, but the golden nugget is the A/B split and time split. Their program will archive snapshots of your website and then show side-by-side comparison so that you can determine how even the smallest change to your website effects your traffic.

I do belive that Awstats is still useful for the raw numbers and if you are technically savy enough to make custom url variable tracking work for you. Also, awstats will grap stats for email and ftp servers that could prove useful. Hopefully the project continues on in 2006.

Cafe Press : Final Outcome

After the second mug arrived cracked, I contected CafePress customer service again. I was nice and fully explained “the deal”. I told them look, I want to continue to see CafePress sell these mugs now and in the future and I am afraid that if you dont pack the mugs properly then a whole lot more are going to get broken in transit. I spoke my mind, politely. The customer service rep told me he would take care of it, and then I waited. I received my third mug before the deadline I gave them. However the first two broken mugs I recieved, the print quailty was much better then the third. I am going to have a print designer re-do the logo for me, and then we’ll see what they are made of.

Cafepress – the good and the not so good

So I setup a cafepress account, so that I could get my beer club logo printed on merchandise and see how good their service was. Hope was on my side, as I had read mixed reviews about them. So I create and account, and login to their site. I was really hoping for some sort of API so that I could dynamicaly generate images and then automate a storefront. Their site was easy to use and intuitive. There was a template available so that you can line up your graphic to the product placement. No problems so far. So I get my graphic uploaded and tinkered around with the site a bit. Overall, easy to navigate but no API or scripting options.

I ordered the first product and was notified very shortly afterwords with a confirmation. Then the next day it was shipped already. (Wow that was fast) and the oops guy drops it off like three days later. Awsome right? Not unless you like your product in 100 pieces.

So now I get to experience first hand what kind of customer service they have!

CafePress : Attempt 2

So I email in to CafePress to let them know my order came through broken, and I would expect they are pretty busiy with holiday returns so I am patient. I emailed in off their contact/feeback form on their site on Thursday eavening. I finally heare back from them on Sunday eavening with good news. They are going to ship me another product, no questions asked. They also said they were going to up the shipping from standard to 2 day air. So that was a nice responce.

So when I get my order the second time, we’ll see if cafe press gets a thumbs up or two down.

Where is my order Cafepress?

I hate waiting! Cafepress said they would 2nd-day air my order since the first one was damaged. Well it has been 4 days. I wouldn’t complain about it but they gave me the “od we’re so sorry, yadda yadda yadda…. We upgraded you to express 2nd day priority super fast shipping for FREE!” (not the actual quote). But you get the idea.

The cafepress order BETTER come in tommorrow! OR ELSE I get really mad.

Update: I called CafePress customer service 800 number, and had to hit a few options but then got right through to a real person. The lady was very helpful and gave me the tracking number for my order. So it is on its way and I should have it on monday. So I have my fingers crossed.

Sharing Calendars with WebDav

I always wanted to try this out, but finally was able to work out a reliable configuration. I used Apache with WebDAV to act as a remote calendar share and Mozilla Sunbird as the calendar application. Now granted you could use any compliant WebDav or CalDav client, but this example I will stick to how I was able to make it work. I also learned the hard way, that you can not enable WebDAV in an .htaccess file for security reasons.

In this sample I configure Apache on Fedora Core 4 with Apache 2 pre-installed from the fresh RedHat installation.

Install WebDav

In FC4 I belive mod_dav comes with apache now adays, so you would just install apache as normal

# yum install httpd

Setting up the file and folder structure

Go to the directory where you want to share your calendars from. (in this example I am using the redhat default web root)

# cd /var/www/html

# mkdir calendars

# mkdir user_samplefolder1 (obviously you would user your username)

# vi user_samplefolder1/calendar.webdav

In the file enter the following text and then save:

BEGIN:VCALENDAR
VERSION:2.0
PRODID:-//Mozilla.org/NONSGML Mozilla Calendar V1.0//EN
END:VCALENDAR

Repeat as needed for each user. Then change the owner to the apache user

# chown -R apache:apache *

Make a password file to authenticate against

# htpaswd -c /var/www/html/calendars/.htpasswd user_sample1

repeat for each user (just get rid of the -c option for subsequent users)

Configure Apache

# vi /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf

Enter the following config (change the PATH to your file path

#######################################################
# WebDAV for Calendars
DavLockDB /tmp/DavLock
<Location “/calendars”>
Dav on
AuthName “Calendar”
AuthType basic
AuthUserFile /home/html/calendars/.htpasswd
require valid-user
AllowOverride none
Options None
<Limit GET>
require valid-user
</Limit>
</Location>
#
# End WebDAV for Calendars

#######################################################
Now Setup one of these location directives for each of your calendars in httpd.conf as well

<Location “/calendars/user_sample1/calendar.webdav”>
Dav on
require user user_sample1
<Limit GET>
require valid-user
</Limit>
</Location>
Don’t forget to restart apache

# service httpd restart

Setting up Sunbird

Download and unzip the program, no installer needed at this point if you download the zipped version.

Switch from the Date tab to the “Calendars” tab then right click in the box and choose new calendar, choose remote, then choose WebDav

In the url box you would want to format this as the direct url to your apache server ie

http://ipaddress_of_your_server/calendars/user_sample1/caledar.webdav

Click next then finish. It should prompt you to login if you configured everything properly

Note (if you want to give other users access to add/edit/delete items from each other’s clalendars, then adjust the permissions accordingly.
Cheers! You are now sharing calendars, and without paying M$ !

Example to allow two users to work with a shared calendar, but allowing read access for everyone else

<Location “/calendars/user_sample1/calendar.webdav”>
Dav on
require user user_sample1 user_sample2 # etc etc
<Limit GET>
require valid-user
</Limit>
</Location>
Don’t forget to restart apache

Example to allow me a private calendar

<Location “/calendars/user_sample1/calendar.webdav”>
Dav on
require user myuser
<Limit GET>
require myuser
</Limit>
</Location>
Don’t forget to restart apache

**Note – If you try to edit a calendar you do not have permission to you will get an error 401 access denied

**Note – If you messed up you webdav config you will get an error 405 method not allowed

MediaWiki

I was thinking more and more about doing a mod to mediawiki to get the 4Devz project back on track. This is what would need to happen to make this work.

Allow “code modules” to be executed inside the MediaWiki context or possibly even inside the wikimarkup language , through a custom wiki tag.
Permissions based selection of weather or not to allow running specific modules on a per domain basis.

Make wikimedia more “search engine friendly”

Doesnt seem like much todo!

4DEVZ

Welcome to 4DEVZ. This site was originlly going to be the public sector for web developers that utilized the content management system I was in the process of creating. It never made it out of alpha phases, while other projects like mediawiki and wordpress surpassed the project I was working on.

In light of that, I may consider revisting the concept, but using it in a different context. In the mean time I am going to post technical information here that may or may not be useful to others.

The concept I was working on, is still pertinent, and could still be built on top of mediawiki. My content management system’s goals include several things that mediawiki can already do. So it really doesn’t make sense to continue to build it as a stand alone system. It would make more sense to build 4devz as an extention, or re-tooling of mediawiki with all the security aspects of multi-domain shared content management system should have.

If anyone would like to learn more about the CMS concept I was working towards, ask away. As I have free time I will post more information about the concept.

Until then….