w. Patrick Gale

Design, photography and ramblings

Month: October 2014

What to do with your AFS space

Years ago, before the wonderful world of WordPress came along and offered us a beautiful website management tool here at UNC, there was only AFS space to host our html/PHP.  Those of us who knew coding, created simple websites without a database driving the content as we now have with WordPress.  However there is one way to host your own customizable CMS or PHP application on AFS space.  That solution is phpSQLiteCMS.

phpSQLiteCMS is a nifty PHP framework (sort of) that uses a database known as SQLite.  The cool thing about the SQLite database is there is no setup or need for a separate server to host your database.  So this is really the only database you can use on your UNC AFS space.  It is simply a file similar to say an Access database (although you can’t just click on the file and up pops a nice editor).

If you are a Windows user you may notice a Thumbs.db file created in your images folders.  This is a SQLite database file created by Windows to store thumbnail information for your images.

My OLD website with custom photo galleryMy old website hosted on AFS space uses  phpSQLiteCMS.  It is nice because I can create website pages with custom image galleries (like the page to the right) that pull photos dynamically from Google for example.  It also helps teach you how PHP code interacts with a database.

So while AFS space will probably die off and be replaced by Carolina CloudApps sometime in the not so distant future, it is still a useful place to play around with PHP scripting if you don’t want to mess with all the setup involved in getting started with Carolina CloudApps.

What is happening in your database?

Do you know if anything out of the ordinary is happening with your databases? Is one of your database applications secretly destroying your data?

We probably do not ask this question enough, if at all. Usually we can spot oddities in our data through the application interfaces they are tied to, but not always.

What if you could quickly compare changes in your database, across tables, on say a weekly basis? What if this only took a few minutes of your time?

Well there seems to be a number of tools out there handling just this thing. One tool that seems to work fairly well for SQL Server is SQL Examiner Suite.  This software will compare schemas and data.  It is the BeyondCompare for databases.  One of the cool features it the ability to compare backup files, which is very useful since you can quickly see where schemas or data have changed.

One way to actually use BeyondCompare to compare your database tables is to generate the insert scripts for the tables in your database and store versions of it every so often.  Then you can compare the individual tables (or the version folders the scripts reside in) as text files in BeyondCompare to help spot issues in your data.  BeyondCompare is a must have tool if you are a data manager or software developer, so using BeyondCompare in this capacity will help you become a power user quickly.


iPad responding slowly to text input

Today I found an interesting (yet frustrating) problem with a very large html form being accessed specifically through Safari on an iPad. After testing and testing the html page, I discovered the trend. The trend I noticed was slow response times when trying to type into a text input form field, but quick response from the textarea input type.

So how did I test and fix the issue? Well, it wasn’t pretty, but it seems to work. I simply changed the field types of my text input fields to textarea fields. Sure enough, when I made that change, the response times on the textarea fields were SIGNIFICANTLY faster than the fields I left as text input.

I have not installed any other browsers on this iPad so I can not confirm that this is strictly a Safari issue, but I suspect it is. Hopefully this bit of information will be useful to someone one out there trying to improve performance on a bloated html form being accessed through an iPad.

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