Beware copy and pasting ad text into your web pages

Just discovered that you shouldn’t trust code provided by others, no matter how big the business. Especially don’t trust that code when you have a link to the W3C validator! Although some code, such as the Spread Firefox ads, is perfect, others neglect to properly encode the ampersands within the URL. And this, of course will break your validation.


Faux Columns

Some things are oh so simple when you actually look at them. Most web sites contain some sort of background image these days, why not just place your vertical columns in a vertically tiled background image?

The explanation is at A List Apart – I know it’s been around for a while, but better late than never.

And, yes, the column divisions on sophos1 are done using the faux columns technique!


Foray Failure

I have to confess that after spending a fruitless couple of hours trying to install either phpmyadmin or mysqladmin I gave up and swithched the machine off.

I then installed php on my regular Windows XP machine and was up and running in minutes, and that’s including setting permissions for the relvant files/folders.

I would have to say that I’m smart enough to earn a living doing everything from hardware through networks to software development, and it’s not that I think configuring Linux with what I need is impossible, it just will take far more time than I am willing to give it. I have to confess that if I was planning on spending good money on purchasing a *nix web server I would do what Jon Honeyball (PC Pro) does – get a Mac server running OSX. I don’t believe that the particular aggregation of bits yet comprises a complete quality package.

I would love to be able to install a fresh copy of Fedora, Red Hat, Suse, Mandrake, Debian, Slackware and then be able to download packages such as MySQL or php and install them without cryptic dependency messages. Surely it’s not beyond the programmers to ensure that all the libraries needed are inlcuded in the download, or at least a reference to a valid link to the package on the web.

In this busy world of IT I don’t have the time to take weeks out searching for ad hoc comments on other peoples’ experiences in order to get MySQL or php up and running. In the end it is Linux that loses out to the poor way in which the community organises itself and its products. Most IT users would rather pay something for a reduction in the amount of time spent tearing out our hair trying to solve the myriad of silly niggles that prevent us getting on with just using Linux.

This all leaves me with a distinct sense of disappointment. I would love to be able to really use Linux. After all, I’ve used DR-DOS, Gem, OS/2 in their time, yet I have to confess that Apple is looking more and more as if it will steal not only the ‘Cool’ crown, but also the ‘Valid Alternative’ crown from the competition.


A Foray Further

Fedora seems a nice product, but, coming from the ease of installation that is the Windows environment there are still major gotchas for the average user.

1. Simple things such as syncing my Palm Zire via USB – won’t work out of the box, plenty of suggestions on the web, no immediate solution.

2. Although MySQL seems to be running, I can’t get the Admin module to run. Downloading it from the MySQL web site as an RPM fails due to dependency issues.

All in all it’s a pain. I’m sure that with some hard work researching the problems I may resolve one of them, but it’s still dark days when a Palm PDA won’t work, even with persuasion, never mind just plugging and playing.

I’m no technophobe, but I’m not willing to spend inordinate amounts of time trying to resolve problems that shouldn’t really be an issue any more.

Microsoft on the desktop is definitely a case of lower TCO for all users, regardless of personal OS preferences or predjudices. Until this changes Linux will remain at the fringes, used by a minority of dedicated users who value following their preferences over their time.


A foray

Having run Xandros on a spare laptop for a while, and been reasonably happy with it, but not bowled over I’ve been scouting around for something to run that I can use for a foray into the realms of PHP/MySQL for web sites. As all I’ve done to date has been of the ASP/SQL Server variety this will require something Linux to run aforementioned PHP/MySQL on. I know they are available for Windows, and have already played with MySQL briefly under XP, but want to do it how it’s done on a web server. There’s no point in using PHP/MySQL on a Windows server.

Of course Xandros is really designed as a desktop OS, not a server. So, I’ve gone for Fedora, which I know is aimed at desktop use, but is a lot more flexible in terms of configuration, and there should be a lot more support than the very small ranks of the Xandros community.

First happy surprises: Firefox included, Evolution for mail, automatic checking for updates (downloading as we speak). First unhappy surprises: still running 1024 x 768 laptop display at 800 x 600 despite telling Fedora the correct display. Will have to wait for the udpates to finish downloading in order to log off/on an see if this can be cured.

Once all is up and running then the PHP/MySQL adventure can begin…