Computer Books

After finishing the Drupal 7 book I bought a few weeks ago, I decided, for some reason, to get back to a book that I bought back in April 2010 — Dino Esposito’s “Introducing Microsoft ASP.NET AJAX.” I started reading it not long after I bought it, but I put it down after reading the first few chapters and just never got back to it. It’s somewhat out of date now, but it’s still got some useful info in it.

I just finished the chapter on the Ajax Control Toolkit. Now, I’ve been using the ACT a lot at my current job, but it turns out there are several controls and extenders in there that could be pretty useful, and of which I was completely unaware. I’ve tended towards doing client-side stuff with jQuery, like pretty much every other web developer on the planet, but there are times where I think the ACT could have made things easier.

creating an API documentation site in Drupal

Part of my job involves maintaining the REST API for a product called Bullseye. It’s an evolving API, and we’ve always kept the documentation in a Word file, which we simply print to PDF and publish to our web site. But, it seems kind of silly not to have a real on-line documentation site, so I started working on one recently. I’m using the book module in Drupal, along with CKEditor and GeSHi. Right now, I’m simply going through the Word doc, and pasting stuff into Drupal nodes using the “paste from Word” function in CKEditor. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well that works. The HTML that results usually looks pretty clean. For code samples, I just decorate them with the GeSHi tags and that does a pretty good job. I want to mess with the font settings in GeSHi a bit, but other than that, I like it.

At some point, I’m going to want to see how I can go in and hyperlink related classes and methods, and stuff like that. I’m hoping I can find a way to do that automatically, rather than having to go in and manually create a bunch of hyperlinks.

Windows backup weirdness

I hadn’t done a backup of my main home desktop PC in a while, so I decided to get one done today. I’ve previously used the built-in Windows 7 Backup, and, more recently, Crash Plan. I’ve had problems with both, so I needed to find another backup program.  I have a 1 TB drive, about 70% full, and two 500 GB drives that I can use for the backup. So, I need a program that can split the backup across two drives, which turns out to be more of a limiting factor than you’d think it would be. I’m currently running a backup with Macrium Reflect Free, which *should* be able to split the backup between two drives, though I’m not sure if it will or not.

The “weirdness” referenced in the title of this post is with regard to the speed of the backup. This is a desktop PC, and I’ve never really tweaked the power settings on it. I have the display set to blank after 10 minutes, but my assumption has always been that the PC will keep running at full speed, if it’s doing something, like a backup. When I started the backup, it was running at about 300 Mb/sec. That seemed like a good speed, and I expected it to get done fairly quickly. I’ve noticed, though, that if I check on it after it’s been running for awhile, it shows at 100 Mb/s.  If I sit in front of it for a few minutes, it gets back up to about 300 Mb/s. But, if I step away for an hour, then come back, it’s back down to 100 Mb/s. So, clearly, something is happening to slow it down after a certain period of keyboard/mouse inactivity. So, I’ve switched the power settings from “recommended” to “high performance”, thinking that maybe it’s going into a low-power mode or something, but I don’t think that’s helped. Which could mean that some other background process is kicking in after a few minutes of keyboard/mouse inactivity and slowing things down. All very frustrating. We’ll see if I can manage to get a backup done before the NFC Championship game is over.

DrupalCamp NJ

I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks, so I thought I’d throw a quick post up. I’ve been busy with some personal stuff, listing my parents’ old house with a new real estate agent and lowering the price. I did some cleaning too, but there’s still a lot I could do to make the place look nicer and hopefully more attractive to potential buyers. We’ll see how much of that I manage to get done.

I’m still working on learning Drupal. I’ve worked my way through most of the Drupal 7 book that I started a couple of weeks ago. I want to finish that, and then maybe start into learning module development. And I just registered for DrupalCamp NJ, on Feb 4, at Princeton. That should be interesting.

1&1 Linux

In anticipation of installing Drupal on my 1&1 account soon, I went into my control panel and poked around a bit. First, I found that my account was set to use PHP 4. It was pretty easy to switch it to PHP 5. A call to phpinfo() shows that I’m now at 5.2.17. That’s not quite up to date, but it’s probably close enough.
I also looked into the MySQL setup. Several years ago, I set up a MySQL database on my account. That database is still there, at MySQL 4, with a 100 MB limit. Just for the heck of it, I created a new database. The new one is MySQL 5, and has a 1 GB limit. So, that’s nice. (There doesn’t seem to be any way to upgrade the old MySQL 4 db to MySQL 5, but that’s fine, since it’s empty.)
I even went as far as uploading the Drupal 7 tar.gz file today, but the 1&1 web file browser can’t unzip tar.gz files, so I’m going to need to get to a command prompt to do that, and it’s a little late to get into that tonight.

Drupal 7

This is one of the books I bought in ebook format from Packt last week. It’s a beginner/intermediate level book on Drupal 7, covering installation, configuration, and administration. It covers all of the basics (as far as I can tell) along with some of the more interesting parts. I’m about halfway through it. I find that I’m skimming over parts of it, since some aspects of Drupal are pretty obvious, if you’ve ever used a CMS before.
The formatting of the epub file, which I’m reading on my iPad, leaves a bit to be desired. I’m pretty sure that some special characters were lost in translation somewhere. There are a lot of places where there should probably have been an em-dash, and there is no em-dash, for instance. And I just came across a table that got screwed up so the text that should have been in the second column is instead just superimposed over the text that should have been in the first column. (The PDF file for the book looks fine though.)
I think I’ve been spoiled by O’Reilly’s ebooks. They generally have accurate and reasonable formatting for their PDF, epub, and mobi files.

messing around with the blog a bit

I just spent a little time cleaning up the files on my 1&1 account, moving anything that I think might be referenced by the blog into a ./blogfiles folder, then changing my address to point there, instead of at the root. I think it worked out OK.
I now have nothing pointing at the root, which frees me up a bit to experiment with setting up different sites in different subdirectories, and not having to worry about them being accessible in unexpected ways. For instance, I’m probably going to be setting up a test Drupal site soon.  I can put it in a ./drupal folder, and set to point there.

Happy New Year

I went to bed at 11pm last night, and got up at 6:30 today, so I can’t say I had a wild & crazy New Year’s Eve. That’s OK though.
Early in the year, I often find a few things that I’ve been putting off for too long, and try to take care of them. This morning’s project has been getting redirects in place on this web site, so that links to my old blog entries, from back when I was using Blogger’s old FTP publishing, to, will do 301 redirects to the appropriate pages at, where the pages are now dynamically generated by Blogger.
I switched from FTP to “custom domain” back in Feb 2010, so I’ve put off the redirect stuff for long enough that it probably doesn’t matter anymore. But it seems like a good idea anyway.
I don’t know that much about .htaccess files and ModRewrite, but I know just enough to be dangerous. I picked up some hints on what I need to do here and here.
The part of my .htaccess file that handles redirection now looks like this:

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST}   !^ [NC]
RewriteRule (.*)$1 [R=301,L]

I use to reference various files on my web server. Everything else should just get redirected to So, pretty simple.