hosting independant review – first impressions

As I mentioned before, for the first time in about 6 years i’ve actually coughed up for some paid-for hosting. This gives me somewhere to host some php/mysql stuff and means that I don’t have to rely on favours to get things sorted out, or be responsible for it myself. After having a quick look through some of the more popular “stack em high and sell em cheap” hosts, I signed up with Note that link has a referrer coupon attached to it – if you sign up using that link, I get a couple of free months of hosting and so do you – a win win situation 🙂

I’ve held off on posting that link, because I didn’t want to recommend anything that i’ve had bad experiences with, but so far i’ve been impressed with what i’ve got – an unfeasibly large data transfer and storage allowance, I haven’t noticed any downtime yet and i’m generally impressed with the provided control panel functionality: online file manager – including through the web editing – very useful, phpmyadmin for mysql, cron jobs, ability to set up virtual hosts, email accounts, email forwarders, mailing lists etc.

The only shortcomings so far are lack of access to logs (because of their shared server setup) and lack of shell access. There are some basic statistics available, but nowhere near detailed enough, especially if you were hosting a site for a company who want access to detailed stats for marketing. However, i’ve just integrated google analytics, which seems to be a more than adequate substitute.

So thumbs up so far – if I experience any problems with the service i’ll keep you posted!

archived comments

… and lack of shell access.

How is that even possible? How do you get things done?

orvar 2006-12-02 02:55:23

What type of things are you thinking about? When I say lack of shell access I mean that I don’t have ssh access, but I can still do everything I need to do in other ways. As I mentioned servage provide a web based control panel which gives me access to all the common things I need such as setting permissions on files and directories, creating mysql databases (plus secure access to phpmyadmin for admin of databases), setting cron jobs, creating new sites and virtual hosts, setting up email accounts and email forwarders. There is an online filemanager to add/ edit/delete stuff through the web, but I do most things by FTP (i.e have a local copy of the site running on my mac and upload files as needed).

Rick 2006-12-02 08:00:26

Plone installable custom skins – how to deactivate the ploney bits

I’ve been using DIYPloneStyle to create custom installable skin products since.. err.. an early version, and the process always went like this:-

  1. use the file to create a new product
  2. install the skin product
  3. Use the css_registry to deactivate most of the plone style sheets, so that I don’t have to overide the styles in my custom CSS

The problem with this is that this can cause complications if there is any skin-switching capability, plus if you provide the skin to someone else to install you also have to send instructions to deactivate the appropriate stylesheets.

Today I downloaded the 2.1.2 version, and I was pleased to see that the blank skin product that it creates takes me to exactly the same starting point as I like to start from, i.e. all the plone default styles are deactivated. I say deactivated, but what I mean is there are blank public.css, plone.css etc files in the product, so when the product is installed, these have higher precedence than the ones in the plone layers. This is a much more convenient way to deal with overiding the styles, not sure why I didn’t think of it before!

pinhole to the outside world

The BBC ran this article about how the majority of the users of the WAP version of the BBC news site are based in African countries. It reminded me of something I wrote about a few years ago about how there were (are?) more people using the internet via their mobiles in Japan than people accessing via PC’s. Although using the mobile internet, even on so-called smartphones is an inferior experience to using a PC, it is actually much cheaper and easier for the “average” person, worldwide to get themseleves onto the net this way than it is to get access to an internet enabled PC – something to consider when deciding whether to provide a WAP version of a website, or at least a sensible seperation of presentation and markup to allow simple HTML browsers to get to your content. – what’s next?

Anyone who has clicked through to dfr skate zine on my case study links might have noticed a holding page. This is probably a bit premature as the site is still running behind it. The site will shortly be upgraded from plone 2.1 to plone 2.5. I don’t anticipate any problems, but having just gone way over schedule upgrading from a plone 2.0.5 site (with loads of custiom products) to 2.5, i’m being a bit cautious. I’m also using this opportunity to make some improvements to the site in order to make it better and attract some more contributors.

no comment

just for the record, if you were wondering why there are very few comments on this site, it is because I previously didn’t have commenting enabled on the old site, so nothing was imported across in the way of comments. I’ve got it enabled on here since the move to wordpress (with moderation activated to protect against comment spam), so feel free to opine on any of the unsubstantiated claims I make on this site, or question my grammar/ spelling/ complete misunderstanding.

Netsight Plone demo as first Bristol Skillswap

Rick Hurst Plone demo bristol

many moons ago, back in february myself and Matt Hamilton of Netsight did a plone demo at the watershed media centre in Bristol. This was the first in a series of “SkillSwaps” as part of the Bristol branch of SkillSwap based in Brighton. I’ve only just got round to blogging about it now due to my blogging hiatus!

The video feed is online here (note that this link skips forward a few chapters to where I actually start talking – before that is several minutes of people arriving and introductions etc).

bulk search and replace on unix using perl

here’s a example of how you might do a bulk search and replace on unix – here i’m replacing all occurences of old style br tags with xhtml br tags:

perl -pi -e ‘s@<br>@<br />@g’ * (this will replace all instances in all files in the current directory)

find . -type f | xargs perl -pi -e ‘s@<br>@<br />@g’ (this version will search subdirectories too)

EDIT: remember that bulk search and replace can be dangerous, and also bear in mind that if you use subversion like we do, the method described above will affect the .svn files too. This appears to be a BAD THING

redirects from the old site and RSS imports

i’ve set up some redirects from my old asp xml blogger archives to the relevant archive page on the new wordpress site. This was fairly easy – I have used a custom 404 page on the old site to check for requests for pages in the format YYYYMMarchive00x.asp, then extract the date and month and redirect based on that. The old blog used to be set up into seperate blogs for different subjects e.g. linux, photography etc, but I have now imported all (most?) of the old content into the same blog. I will no doubt have missed something! If you are looking for something in particular that used to be there but you now can’t find let me know and i’ll have a look for it.

I have to praise whoever wrote the RSS importer for wordpress – this made it incredibly easy to drag content in from the old feeds. It was to my advantage that I didn’t have categorisation or comments enabled on the old blog as I guess these would have to be handled seperately but it meant that I could do the migration with no custom scripting whatsoever – one of the reasons for going with wordpress. Quills/ Plone blog developers take note – import tools will massively increase uptake. I think many people like me who have defected to wordpress could be tempted back if there are any one-step import tools in the final product.

itunes ignores file import

on windows itunes seemed to be ignoring my attempts to import a video file. turned out either the file name was too long or it objected to something in the file name. After renaming it it worked fine.

archived comments

I just got my 2000t and all of my songs are skipping in iTunes, and I cant figure out why. If someone could help me out and tell me how to fix this I would really appreciate it because its driving me crazy. Thanks for the replys.

Tyler 2006-11-28 18:28:33

hypothecate is now (also)

so if all has gone to plan, my RSS feed should have burst back into life and anybody subscribed to my old RSS should now be reading the feed from, my new personal blog / portfolio site, running on wordpress.

so lets get this right , I spent hours and hours migrating hypothecate to plone then binned it and went for wordpress instead? yep. For the last six years or so I have always used (much appreciated) free webspace from people I know, but this always tied me to a platform – first ASP, then zope/plone. Now I have another personal project running on Plone ( – ironically currently offline while I migrate it from plone 2.1 to 2.5), I thought I would stump up for some paid webspace so I could run some php/ mysql stuff without relying on favours and harrassing people to install and configure stuff for me.

The new site has a bit of a portfolio on it, as I am pimping myself for a bit of non-plone freelance work (out of hours – i’m still happily esconced by day ploning away at netsight hq), so any bits of web development work you need doing, contact me and I might be able to help you out, and you might be able to help me replace my dying car 🙂

Now I have working blog software again, I might even start posting a bit more often – still on the same theme – web technology with random inane drivel thrown in.

The old site will eventually redirect here, and I will do my best to not leave any dead links, by setting up some redirects. In an ideal world I would retro-categorise all the imported content on here.

As for quills etc have I completely given up? no – quills should make an appearance on the skate site in the near future.