Monday, May 17, 2010

WordPress vs. Dreamweaver

Lately I have seen lots of interest in WordPress, so I've been investigating it for use in creating a website quickly that can be easily modified. This post discusses using Dreamweaver vs. WordPress as of this date. My ideas will probably change next week...

If you are comfortable with Dreamweaver and your content doesn't change a lot, you can find a template on the web that you can download and modify as you like (see for example). It's best if the template incorporates Photoshop pages (.psd format) so you can customize the graphics. The problem with proceeding this way is that you will either be the main person changing content, or you will need to tie into a database for content management which you can do through a tool such as PHP. The advantage of going this way is that you can create a static, search-optimized site fairly easily, especially by using a Dreamweaver template.

Wordpress seems to be on the rise, for several reasons. First, it's a hosted solution and doesn't necessarily require expensive and complicated tools such as Dreamweaver and Photoshop to make changes to a site (unless you want to customize look and feel). It can be set up so anyone with a login can change the look and feel. It's also free and open source. Also, as you may have noticed, there are thousands of themes available and a huge community of online support. The downsides: you will need a host that supports it and can run PHP, usually on a Linux server. Also, it helps to know PHP although they say it's not necessary.

The best place to start with Wordpress is on the website There actually is a link here

Friday, May 14, 2010

Services -- too much of a good thing

My computer has been running really slowly lately, so I looked in task manager and saw an ungodly amount of processes running. I tried to remove these using msconfig.exe, but found I was no longer administrator of my own computer! I searched the internet and found that this was a common and apparently unsolvable problem, but instead of using msconfig one should turn off services using the Services snap-in on the administrative tools menu. In Services, I saw that there were several SQL Server services running that I don't need unless I am using an SQL server applicationo. So I reset all SQL services to start manually, and my computer was happier!

To Flash or Not? Tips for Flash websites

I recently talked with a potential client about redoing or fixing up her website. Her website is entirely graphics and Flash, with the nav buttons as one pretty graphic with hotspots for links, and embedded flash for content. While this makes for a pretty site, it's not very SEO optimized. I suggested moving to a portal-style website with multiple links and text, with text for hyperlinks, and then use Flash just for the photo gallery. Flash is hard for the average user to maintain and not SEO friendly. In my experience, once you commit text to Flash it won't get changed again! However, for a photogallery Flash works well because it's less likely your photos will be stolen. Alternatively you can embed your photos in divs in your stylesheet to prevent them from being lifted. Of course, if you want animation you will need something like Flash.

Thoughts on SEO

Search Engine Optimization is the big deal now, and it turns what I know about web pages on its head. For example, I recently worked on a website that had over 100 pages that were copies of the index page. They were named in a way that would attract the attention of search engines -- so if we were talking about a soda website, there were 100 identical pages named something about soda, like cola.php, berry-soda.php, lemon-lime-soda.php. These pages were NOT made from a template so maintenance was a nightmare, but the site ranked high in the search engines. So, the new model: static pages, lots of text, redundancy and repetition -- pretty much the opposite of the elegant code a programmer likes to see. I suppose if these pages were generated nightly through code or batch processing one could preserve the control and simplicity that programmers prefer. At the very least, generating these pages from a Dreamweaver template would really help with site maintenance.

Vista Access Local Only

This problem has bedeviled me for some time now -- my wireless Vista laptop could only connect to the router for Local, not Internet access. I think I have fixed it, although I could still be unpleasantly surprised. I googled solutions for this problem and it's amazing how many people have had this problem and equally amazing how there is no consistent solution. So here are my suggestions:

1. Make sure Always Detect Settings is checked in IE, Tools-Internet Options-Connections. For some reason in Vista it apparently doesn't default to checked.

2. Disable TCP/IPv6 on the Vista computer by under Wireless Network adapter properties.

3. Perhaps most importantly, turn off Windows Firewall on all computers. You may keep you Antivirus firewall.

4. Restarting the router by unplugging it and plugging it in works but is only a short-term solution.

This topic may be updated as more problems/fixes arise, but I hope not!

Not able to view contents of folder in home network using Windows 2000

I have a laptop that runs Windows 2000 on my home network. I was not able to view the contents of my XP computer's shared folders from this computer even though I had the same credentials, ie Login and Password, on both computers. I have not had this problem on my Vista computer, which can view and edit files on the shared XP drive. I tried running the network setup wizard on the Windows 2000 computer to make sure all the network settings were correct, but you cannot run the network setup program on Windows 2000. I spent (too much) time researching this, and discovered that I had to enable the Guest Account on the Windows 2000 computer, and then add the Guest User account with full permission to the shared folder on the Windows XP computer. Don't know yet if this is particular to Windows 2000, but I didn't have the same problems with Vista or XP.

Itunes locked up due to corrupted user privileges

My Itunes all of a sudden became locked up -- I think it had to do with installing the Mozy backup. I googled and didn't find a solution that worked so I actually figured out how to do this myself -- Go to the folder My Music/Itunes, try to open the Itunes folder. It will probably tell you you don't have sufficient privileges. Right-click on the folder, then select Properties and the Security tab. If you don't see your primary Administrator ID, then you will need to add it using the Add button (note that you can enter what you think it is and press Check Names to see if you are correct). That should fix it!

Network Connections keep popping up.

I got caught by this one -- my network connections kept popping up mysteriously all of a sudden. I had added a new computer to my network and thought I had reset some network connections. As it turned out, adding the computer caused the "Never dial a connection" radio button the the "Tools-Internet Options-Connections" tab to be reset. Changing the buton back from "dial whenever a network connection is not present" to "never dial a connection" solved this problem.

Fixing ASP when sending from server -- error '8004020e'

I did a little ASP page for a Flash website that mails from a form -- standard stuff. However, I was getting error '8004020e'. I researched this on the web and found the helpful link: It turns out that I was setting the "From" value in the CDO code to be the actual email address that the user entered in the form. Since I was trying to send a message from the server from a domain not hosted on the server, it appeared to the server as spam and was rejected. When I changed the "From" to the actual domain name hosted (e.g. it ran fine. I thought that setting the "From" to be the person sending the email was a good idea, but now I understand how that could appear to be spam and an invalid address. Lesson learned!

Access doesn't delete DB1 file after compaction

This is a well-documented problem which still bedevils users. It seems to only be a problem on Windows 2003 installations with Access 2003. There is a hotfix on the Microsoft website:

This is a description of the problem that is fixed, hopefully, by the hotfix or by giving users full control of the folder:

After Office 2003 SP3 is applied, MS Access 2003 requires Full Control
permissions to properly compact a database. This means changing permissions
all over my network shares from "Modify" to "Full Control". Tech Support
says that this is a "Security Enhancement" in Access 2003 SP3 and the only
work around at present is to ask users to copy DB1.mdb back over the original
mdb, or to set "Full Control" permissions on every share where Access DBs are
stored.. I feel is it a "Security Threat" to have to allow all my users to
be able to change permissions. I would like to see Microsoft fix this
"Security Enhancement" as soon as possible.

Symptoms: Access 2003 "Compact and Repair" fails to overwrite the original
mdb file and leaves a new dbX.mdb file each time it compacts. This caused
our file shares to grow very rapidly, as we have a large number of large DBs
that have "Compact on Close" checked. We found db1 - db14.mdb were created
for many databases.

Exposing SQL Server to remote connections

Exposing SQL Server to remote connections

This one is really easy but can make you crazy if you can't figure it out, and the SQL documentation isn't much help. When you set up the server, you need to go into "Configuration Tools", then "SQL server surface area configuration". Then go into Remote Connections, then select Local and Remote Connections. This will expose the server to other servers or to the internet if on a web server.

Creating Trusted SQL connection in SQL Express

I could create a new SQL user, but couldn't create an ODBC connection -- kept getting the message "not a trusted SQL user." Found out that I had to go to the server properties, and do the following:

* Open The SQL Server Enterprise Manager
Start menu > Programs > Microsoft SQL Server > Enterprise Manager)
* Expand the tree-control until you can your server
* Right click on the server name and "SQL Server Properties (Configure)" window will open
* Select the Security tab
* For "Authentication", select "SQL Server and Windows"


Cursor in ASP.Net

I wrote a page that continually monitors a SQL file to ensure that all files get processed and sent out, based on a status code. So that if a file didn't connect with the mail server the first time it would get a code 2 and repeatedly try to send it until it was successfully sent. Similarly, if a pdf wasn't processed (code 0) it would go back and create it. I learned that I had to set the connection string cursor to adOpenStatic to allow the dataset to go backwards to clean up prior transactions that hadn't been sent.

Adding a remote user to microsoft MMC

On the server,
Start-Administrative Tools-Computer Management-Local Users and Groups-Groups-Remote Desktop Users. Then add users by entering name and verifying in system.