'Website Tools' Category Results

Browser Testing Made Easy

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Quite often when developers create a website they typically design for the latest version of Firefox and IE. While in general this will cover the majority of the users, there are other browsers you should test the site in to make sure you take into consideration your other users. Unfortunately, with various operating systems and compatibility issues, it’s not always that easy. Hopefully this guide can get you started.

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Simple Tips to Help Survive The Digg Effect

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

You’ve just posted a killer blog entry and submitted the link to digg. You get a hundred or so diggs in the first hour, and the next thing you know, you’re on the front page. A couple hundred diggs later, you get one of the various dreaded messages that your site is either dead or dying (“Server cannot be reached”, “Service Temporarily Unavailable”, or the unthinkable “Account Suspended!”).

“How could I have prevented this?”, you ask yourself.

There have been many articles on this topic offering various suggestions such as toying with the webserver and database settings, using a form of query/content caching, and ensuring you use good hosting. All are good suggestions, but what if you’re using a blogging service or shared hosting? The following list contains some very simple ways to help alleviate some of the issues caused by the digg effect.

  1. Monitor the number of diggs: It’s not as if you wouldn’t do this anyway, but keeping an eye on the number of diggs and if/when you get front paged helps you get a jump on the traffic spike.
  2. Talk to your hosting provider: Giving your hosting company a heads-up on what’s going on can save them some headaches (especially if you’re on shared hosting) and possibly save you some $$ on your hosting bill.
  3. Turn off comments, widgets, etc: Most diggers don’t comment on dugg pages anyway, so one less trip to the database can make a big difference. Have a rating widget you can disable? Do it. Try to keep the number of queries to the database to a minimum.
  4. Don’t use images or other media: Content is king, right? Unless you’re specifically posting an image or some other media, don’t include additional images or media. Each one is another request that the server has to handle and another chunk out of your bandwidth cap.
  5. Post a static copy: Some blogging tools will create a static copy of your post. A static page uses much less server resources to serve than a dynamic one. If you don’t have that option, create a static copy and redirect to it. If things are still slow, post a “print friendly” text only version that removes all the excess chrome from your site.
  6. Redirect to a copy on a caching service There are a couple of caching services that are great for situations like this: DuggMirror and CoralCache. They’ll cache a copy of your page and have the infrastructure to handle very high loads. It’s a good idea to follow their instructions and populate a cached copy as soon as you submit to digg. With the more popular stories, diggers will refer to the cached copy when the dugg page gets slow, but often the cached copy is too late and grabs a copy of one of the dreaded “dead site” messages. Better yet, why not create a cached version using CoralCache and submit the link to the cached version to digg.

I can’t guarantee that doing all these things will keep your site from faltering to the almighty digg, but they’ll certainly help keep it alive as long as possible. Happy digging!

Jeremy Ashcraft has been working with this ‘internet thing’ since 1997 and has a great affinity for Linux, PHP, beer, metal (the musical kind), and pole vaulting, but not necessarily in that order.

Essential Reads!

Monday, April 16th, 2007

I have completed a new page entitled “Essential Reads” — you’ll find a link to it located on the right hand side just below the PageRank Decoder. I think you may find the page useful. There’s three sections to the page:

1. Find All Post by Author
The top part allows you to find all articles by a given author of Search-This. This was actually fun for me to develop because I got a chance to use both Flash and Ajax. If you mouse over a team member it displays their user name and real name and then if you click it, it retrieves all articles by that user. If you don’t have Flash you can still use the dropdown menu.

2. Essential Post
This next section shows some post that I think all would benefit from reading. This would also be a good time to subscribe to the Search-This feed. We now allow you to subscribe via e-mail too, so please sign up today.

3. Top Ten List
The last section simply shows the last ten people to comment on Search-This. This can be handy for trying to keep up with all the comments throughout the website. Below the last ten comments list is another list of the top ten most commented-on posts.

I hope you find the new Essentials page useful. If you can think of something else you would like to see included on the page, please let me know.

Thanks,
Mark

Keeping Tabs on the Competition

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

“Know Thy Enemy” – The Art of War, by Sun Tzu

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not your enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

When you run a business, it’s always a good idea to know who your competition is as this is what really keeps businesses evolving. Recently, our company was recognized as an Authorize.Net certified developer. As an aside, Authorize.Net is the most popular payment gateway which acts like your website’s credit card terminal. Back to my story… since this has happened, we’ve had a ton of phone calls asking us to integrate Authorize.Net into an already existing website. This increase in traffic and sales has been extremely welcome, but after a couple months, we realized that we were landing every single lead that came our way. And when we told them our price, people immediately said , “YES!” So, we wondered if our prices were too low.

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Secure Copy from a Unix-Based Server

Monday, March 19th, 2007

Sometimes I need to pull files from one server to another so I need to use secure copy. This is really simple to do with SSH, but I always seem to forget the command when I need it. SSH allows Unix users to secure their terminal and file transfer connections. Now let’s look at the code:

Once you are where you want to be, the command is:

scp filename.ext ses5909@123.123.123.123:

First type in scp (the secure copy command), then the filename, followed by your username on the other server, the @ sign, and the IP or host name of the other server. The part I always forget is the colon (:) and you need this or it will not work. Once you’ve executed this, you will be prompted for your password on the other server. Once verified things should transfer to your user directory on the other server.

If you need to copy an entire directory be sure to include the -r and you’re set 🙂

scp -r directory ses5909@123.123.123.123:

Hopefully this helps someone else out! Do you have any basic commands that you always forget?

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Monday, February 19th, 2007



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If you hang out on enough web development forums, mailing lists, or chatrooms, you'll eventually get asked this question:

What language should I use to program my next project?

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forums, mailing lists, and chatrooms for a while now, I hate seeing this question. Yes, it comes around a lot, but repetitiveness isn't what bugs me about it. What bothers me is that there's usually very little background information attached to that question, which makes it as open-ended as asking what mode of transportation you should take to get to the store. I can tell you anything from a skateboard to a jet and either vehicle can get you to the store, but to give you the best answer I need to know how far you have to travel, what you plan on buying, and how much money you have, among other things. The same holds true for the programming language question, so let's look at some factors that can help you choose which language to use on your next project. (more…)

View All Email Account Passwords in Plesk

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

On my server, I have several domains and I have corresponding email addresses for a few of them, for example: ses5909@mydomain.com, ses5909@anotherdomain.com, etc. I have come to find that in Plesk if I have a domain that has an email user named ses5909 and I need to make the same username on another domain, they are not allowed to share the same domain. So if I give ses5909@mydomain.com the password: supersneakypw, I cannot give that password to ses5909@anotherdomain, or anyone else that has the same username. This is pretty lame if you ask me. The reason for this is that mail is not handled on the domain level, but rather the username level. That is a whole other issue though.

Well today I needed to get into my mail and I wasn’t at the computer that I run my mail client on so I went to my webmail account. I couldn’t remember the password for the life of me. I tried a few that I commonly use, but no luck. So, I needed to try to find my password. I could have reset it, but I’ve resorted to this in the past and I am just tired of doing that. I needed to find a way to retrieve my password.

So, I logged into mysql as the root admin. I looked through the databases and noticed there was a psa db which I am assuming stands for Plesk Server Administration. I immediately looked for email and finally saw mail. I saw all of the usernames and a quick join with the domains table showed me which column belonged to which domain.

SELECT mail.mail_name, domains.name from mail LEFT OUTER JOIN domains ON domains.id = mail.dom_id;

But, now I needed to find the passwords for these. After some more hunting, I found the accounts table where passwords are stored in plain text. If only I didn’t have 200 to look through. So a query was in order:

SELECT accounts.id, mail.mail_name, accounts.password, domains.name FROM domains LEFT JOIN mail ON domains.id = mail.dom_id LEFT JOIN accounts ON mail.account_id = accounts.id

Problem solved 🙂

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