We’re Back / Moving Forward

So I’ve truly neglected here, my original space on the internet. . It’s been almost two years since my last post, which was really just a code snippet.

So moving forward I’m going to be blogging about completely different topics that I haven’t blogged about before. .

For my current subscribers (it’s hard to believe I still have subscribers) you may want to unsubscribe and decide if this is something you want to subscribe to moving forward.

So whats happened?

Well, a lot has happened since I’ve last posted on here. It’s even kind of hard to timeline the last two years myself. I started my own web development company in Kilkenny (coder.ie), I did that for around a year and a half.. Learned a lot of valuable lessons throughout doing that. Got myself the funds needed to get to Canada (barely), now I’m living in Vancouver and working at Motbot .

I love my new job, I don’t think I would go back to owning my own company anytime soon. Landing a job after landing in Vancouver was a breath of relief and I really lucked out ending up with a company that are doing some amazing stuff. My co-workers are really experienced in their respective fields and I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t learn something new. It’s so refreshing after the stress of working on my own for so long  and nearly losing my love for programming. I think that’s partly why I stopped posting on here, when I finished working the last thing I wanted to do is use the computer any further.

I can’t see myself returning to Ireland if I can work out staying here. Canada is an amazing country and Vancouver is just such a beautiful city.. So much is better here, its hard to even put into words, I’ll try over a series of articles! :P

What are my future plans? 

I think this works better in list format:

  • Improve as a poker player 
    Yes we’ve gotten very into poker in the last year playing mainly online tournaments, I won’t really get into this much here as there will be more content on it later.
  • Create a game using Unity
    Anyone who knows me knows I’ve always wanted to create a game, that’s what originally got me into programming. I’ve tipped my toes into a few games along my way, but I’ve never actually created my own game and had complete creative control. That’s the next plan. I’m going to create a 2D game over the coming months and document my progress here along the way.
  • Learn C#
    Kind of ties into “Create a game using Unity” since C# will be the language I use most.. I never did get around to learning Python, hopefully that doesn’t happen here, though its more unlikely since I’ll actually have a use for it.
  • Live Healthier
    I’m probably the picture of unhealthy living at the minute, I’ve been trying to make small changes to change this and hopefully all these small changes will turn into massive changes. Like quitting smoking, we’ve just been putting off doing that forever!!

So that’s all I have for now, I hope this clarifies what way content will be headed in future!

How To – Control Your Computer with an Xbox Controller

Today I’m going to walk you through setting up an xbox controller to work on your computer and control the mouse / keyboard.

First your going to need an Xbox Controller that works on Windows.  If you already have an Xbox controller you can just pick up one of these receivers. (Both links to Amazon, you can  find on  eBay cheaper).

Next you’ll need to install the drivers for the controller. You can find them on Microsoft’s website here.

Now you should be able to connect your controller to the computer and play any games using it. However you can’t use it to control the mouse yet. What we will need to do next is download JoyToKey from here. I went with the latest Beta version however you can also download the stable (v 4.6 at time of writing).

The second last step is to download my config and shortcut to the on-screen keyboard put the configuration in the folders shown and run JoyToKey.

The last step is to enjoy being lazy! ;)

WordPress – Shortcode in PHP files

So in WordPress with plugins etc. you end up using shortcode in posts to keep things simplier, an example would be if you want to display a gallery you would just use:
[galleries id="1"]
However trying to this when your outside of the “WordPress Loop” [in your theme files usually] you will hit the problem that WordPress won’t parse the shortcode. So whats the soloution? Super simple just append the following to your shortcode:
echo apply_filters('the_content', '[galleries id="1"]');
Presto, it works!

To read up more on shortcodes in WordPress click here.

Why I’m learning Perl

So this post may not be to everyones taste, its more a post to remind myself why I’ve decided to learn Perl. If anyone doesn’t know I already know PHP and some Java.

Perl is a programming language, It’s Object Oriented, simple to learn and very powerful. Perl stands for: “Practical Extraction and Reporting Language” but others have come up with many more interesting and colorful names for it;
Perl is “the little language that could” it’s designed to be able to do as many tasks as possible in as little time as possible.

“A good perl program is one that gets the job done before your boss fires you.”
Larry Wall, the creator of Perl.

Perl is an Interpreted language, so you don’t have to compile it like you do Java, C, C++ etc. For fast development work, that’s a godsend.

Perl has been successfully used for a lot of diverse tasks: text processing, system administration, web programming, web automation, GUI programming, games programming, code generation, bio-informatics and geneological research, lingual and etymological research, number crunching, and testing and quality assurance.

Perl Pros:

  • Cross Platform compatability. A perl script for linux/unix will work just as well in windows and vice versa, and the only exceptions to that rule are those dicticated by the operating system itself. (for example file paths are different in windows and unix.)
  • Online support. Perl has been around since the early 90’s, its exceptionally well known and thousands of tutorial and help sites abound on the internet.
  • CPAN.org, a massive collection of perl modules that can do almost anything, someone has usually done the work for you.
  • Taint mode, this helps you to write secure code by not trusting any data provided by the users until you have tested and declared it safe.

Perl Cons

  • Speed. Apparently with a very large program [Like word or something] the  sheer size of it would make it extrememly slow to compile at runtime.. This is the only Con I’ve found about Perl!


PyroCMS – CMS on the CodeIgnitor Framework

So lately I’ve been playing around with PyroCMS, for any of you who don’t know about Pyro, its basically an open source content  management solution thats based on the CodeIgnitor framework. What does that mean you ask?

  • MVC design pattern. (Model->View->Controller)
  • Security,  Cross-Site Request Forgery protection, XSS filtering and very secure password encryption.
  • Caching, in order to achieve maximum performance.
  • Translated into 16 languages!
  • Extremely lightweight!
  • Support for modules, themes, plugins and widgets!
  • Multi – Site Manager (In Pro Version £45 )

Really it takes the pain out of  making your standard websites, you’ll have an area where the client can update their website in a simple environment  and thanks to ‘permissions’ you can be sure they won’t mess anything up!

Of course there is always going to be a stage when your better off without a framework, but for projects that it will work for, PyroCMS will save you a BUNCH of time!

Thinking of Imagine Wimax? Think again!

So for any of you that don’t know I switched from Digiweb to Imagine Wimax for a painstaking 8 months, after seeing them advertised on the television with “Unlimited Download” and “7mb speed” their sleek advertising [and song] got me to switch. Worst decision ever.

For a start for the entire 8 months I was with Imagine’s Wimax I never once recieved 7mb speeds. Of course most ISPs use the whole “up to 7mb” so I wasn’t that suprised, what I was suprised at was after doing speed tests it was clear i wasn’t getting more than 2mb speed.

Now Imagine WiMax have a 1mb, 3mb and 7mb package, I was advised by their sales staff that my location did in fact have 7mb conectivity and that 12mb conectivity would be rolling out after Christmas. So I let it go until after Christmas dealing with my terrible speeds hoping that it would get better.

So after Christmas there is still no improvement in speed, at this stage I’ve called Imagine at least three times over this. You get the same crap fed down the line to you each time.. “Do some speed tests, via ethernet and wireless and we’ll get back to you”. I did a rake of speed tests, both on Imagine site and on speedtest.net.

Imagine get back to me with a soution about a month later.. “Plug Links”.
“Plug Links” plug into your power outlets in your house and send the internet through the power cables, according to Imagine they would “boost the signal”, I was skeptical; but weither on not these plug links would boost my signal didn’t matter, I waited an additional month and a half to recieve these plug links, being told they were out of stock. When I eventually recieved the plug links only one of them worked, making both of them useless!

Imagine also dislike Wi-Fi users, the first ISP I’ve come across that takes this stance. They’ll actually lie  about the speed capabilities of Wi-Fi speed and try to blame your Wi-Fi for their low speeds, however I assure you Wi-Fi isn’t your issue,  since I’ve changed back to Digiweb my Wi-Fi is hitting download speeds of 8.28MB…

David @ Imagine let me know the following:

Similarly, all speeds that are quoted are line speeds, actual connection speed relies on factors outside the control of the ISP such as routers/switches that are congested or poorly maintained but are not the property or even the responsibility of the ISP. As no ISP can guarantee anything outside of their own network, all ISPs rate their packages based on their given line speeds and nothing more.

Interesting stuff really, so from reading between the lines Imagine don’t even own the infrastructure they are built on, round of applause for those guys!

What I found hilarious in all this, and by hilarious I mean; seriously annoying marketting was the whole advertised “Unlimited Download”, sure they can give you unlimited download, because you actually can’t download anything!! What use is unlimited download at 1mb speeds?

Imagine also advertise their WiMax as being a good technology for gaming. I actually stopped playing Xbox Live for the months with Imagine as it was just SO laggy!

So if your thinking of Imagine’s WiMax, seriously think again your in for a nightmare, I’d recommend Chorus first as an ISP [if you can get them] and next Digiweb.

I wouldn’t go back to Imagine Wimax again if they were the last broadband[?] available.

Why I Love Blacknight!

Blacknight haven’t gotten their deserved mention here at all I noticed today, for any of you who are unfamiliar Blacknight are a web hosting company based in Carlow. I myself have been using Blacknight for over a year and a half. [Finally every one of my domains is on Blacknight instead of across multiple register's!]

But this post isn’t to point out how many domain names I have registered with Blacknight, it is to point out what an amazing hosting company they are, so in a randomly ordered list this is why I love Blacknight;

  1. Great offers on domains every week, monthly offers are usually emailed to you.. real money saving stuff! ;)
  2. They accept laser card payments, as we hate having to use the expensive credit card!
  3. Their hosting is 100% reliable, most hosts tell you they have 99.8% uptime, and then they go up and down constantly, not Blacknight I actually cannot remember a single day where any of my sites went offline for even a half hour. :D
  4. Cheaper than the majority of hosts, Blacknight’s lowest package starts at €5  a month, you’d really struggle to find a host that well priced!
  5. Amazing support; I’ve emailed Blacknight with hosting queries on multiple occasions and they are always extremely quick to get back to you with an answer, calling them is even better and you don’t have to worry about waiting with 1850[callsave].
  6. A great backup vault that takes care of backups for you, because we all know what happens when you don’t have backups! ;)
  7. Multiple websites on one package, the reason I originally moved to Servage hosting, if you do web design or just have a lot of websites this is seriously the most money saving feature you can find on a web host.
  8. VPS’s start at €16 a month, I have yet to upgrade my package to a VPS, I  see myself doing it in future especially with the low starting price of €16 a month!

So overall, thank you Blacknight for being such a great host and to everybody else out there hosting websites if your not using Blacknight, check them out!

Laptop Repair – Argos

So as you know from the previous post, three weeks ago I sent my laptop off to Argos to be repaired, its an Emachines g640. The problem they fixed was “apparently” the motherboard was fried and got replaced, however in doing that the wonderful technicians at D & J Henry [Argos repair company] broke my network card, so I get my laptop back that boots up, but has no internet whatsoever. I tried to use eMachines recovery management, praying it was just the drivers however to no avail. Now I’m stuck between bringing the laptop back into Argos and waiting another three weeks or going to a local repair centre to replace the card but void my warranty.

I can’t believe how bad Argos repair is, I originally bought my laptop there thinking that if something went that wrong that they would just replace the machine, however Argos’s manager pointed out to me that under the Sales of Goods Act the store gets to offer either a Repair, Refund or Replacement. Argos of course picks repair.

At the moment I actually can’t go without the laptop another three weeks, so I’m going to be keeping it another week or two until I can buy a few more parts for my new computer and then send it in for repair. I will NEVER buy a computer of Argos again and unless eMachines get back to my email before Tuesday I will never be buying an Acer or an eMachines laptop again.

Thats me out, pissed off at cheap laptops and even worse customer service from the companies that sell them.