I’m judging at .net Awards 2010

Posted August 25th, 2010 in Press by Damian

Thanks to Dan Oliver and guys at .net magazine for giving me the privilege of being a judge at this year’s iteration of their annual .net Awards. It’s really kind of you.

What are these awards about? Here’s a bit from their press pack:

.net, the world’s best-selling magazine for web builders, has opened voting for its annual .net Awards – a celebration of the very best in web design and development – as organisers hope to beat the 60,000 votes cast last year.

The .net Awards website (www.thenetawards.com) – in association with Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 – is open now for votes in sixteen categories; Awards include ‘web personality of the year’ and ‘innovation of the year’, which sees the controversial Wikileaks (www.wikileaks.com) competing against nominees including Google’s Android 2.2 OS and Adobe’s Flash Player for Mobile.

Held annually since 1998, the long-running .net Awards mix public opinion with those of a leading panel of 100 industry experts, including the likes of Jeffrey Zeldman, Paul Boag and Molly Holzschlag, who deliberate on the final shortlist.

Winners of the prestigious .net Awards 2010 are announced on Thursday, 18th November at a special event in London.

.net Awards 2010

  • Design agency of the year
  • Interactive site of the year
  • Blog of the year
  • Mobile site of the year
  • Mobile app of the year
  • Innovation of the year
  • Web personality of the year
  • Redesign of the year
  • Podcast of the year
  • Video podcast of the year
  • Web app of the year
  • Open source app of the year
  • Standards champion
  • Best API use
  • Community site of the year
  • Viral campaign of the year

Go vote now!

3 best native web developer tools for Mac OS X

Posted August 7th, 2010 in Mac OS X, MySQL, PHP by Damian

When I switched to the Mac platform (quite recently) I simply took all the web development software I used over to the Mac OS X. Most of it was cross-platform and I was familiar with it so it made perfect sense. To some degree.

As an ex-Windows user I didn’t realise that the UI on the Mac is quite different from the Windows one, both visually and usability-wise. This makes user interfaces of software originally written for Windows really awkward to use. I decided to look for more native and free alternatives to my PHP development apps.

Having tried several packages in each category, here is what I found to be the best.

Best PHP IDE for Mac OS X

I have been a long-standing fan of Eclipse PDT. I always liked how complete the feature set of it was. However, Eclipse really feels sluggish and ugly on a Mac. That’s why I tried Netbeans, which looks native (althouth also Java-based) and is soo much faster than Eclipse. It also has as a more back-to-basics approach to the UI while maintaining quite a rich feature set at the same time.

Best MySQL management tool for Mac OS X

Although I use PHPMyAdmin daily I realised that a good desktop application for managing MySQL is still a better tool for the job. Having tested a few of them I decided to go with Sequel Pro, whose interface is simple and powerful at the same time allowing for inline data editing and simple column creation. It also allows you to connect through an SSH tunnel, which is particularly handy for remote databases.

Best LAMP stack for Mac OS X

MAMP is the king of local LAMP stacks on MacOS, hands down. Although quite a simple app it gives you everything you need to run you local server set up. It’s a bit of a shame that the option to create virtual hosts costs money.

One of the drawbacks of MAMP is that if you want to run Apache on port 80 it will ask you for you password every time you run it (annoying). Fortunately you can avoid that by running this app I wrote, which stores MAMPs password in your Keychain.

These are my favourite applications. What are yours?

Run MAMP on port 80 without a password – the easy way

Posted July 31st, 2010 in Downloads, Mac OS X, MySQL, PHP by Damian

If you use MAMP for your local web development with Apache running on port 80 you will find that it shows a password prompt every time you run it. It’s annoying to say the least.

Fortunately there is a way around this. I’ve put together a small app that runs Apache & MySQL from MAMP without asking for a password each time. It’s quite secure because it uses a stored password locked in the Keychain. It also quits Apache & MySQL when you quit the app itself.

Here is how to use it:

  1. Open the Keychain Access app and click ‘+’ to add a new item. Call the item ‘MAMP’ and enter the account name and password that you use to log in to your Mac.
  2. Download and launch the MAMP No Password app


Release 1.1 updates (20th March 2013):

  • Added a dock icon menu to restart Apache and MySQL.
  • Changed the name of the app to MAMP No Password.
  • Added compatibility with OS X 10.7 and newer (thanks @robwierzbowski and Steve @ Tech Otaku)

How to workaround PHP’s SOAPClient bug when connecting over SSL

Posted November 12th, 2009 in PHP by Damian

Today, while integrating SecPay (aka PayPoint) payment gateway with an ecommerce site I’m working on, I came across a very annoying problem with PHP’s SOAPClient implementation.

When talking to a SOAP interface the first thing you want to do is obviously connect to the endpoint:

$this->soap = new SoapClient('https://www.secpay.com/java-bin/services/SECCardService?wsdl');

This looks correct and innocent, however it produces this nasty error:

SoapClient::SoapClient() [function.SoapClient-SoapClient]: SSL: fatal protocol error

Changing SOAPClient parameters doesn’t help and disabling wsdl cache in php.ini doesn’t do much either.

After googling a bit I found a couple of bug reports. It turns out PHP has issues talking to endpoints over SSL. *Sigh*.

Here’s a workaround I came up with to force PHP to connect:

$orig_error_reporting = error_reporting();
$this->soap = new SoapClient('https://www.secpay.com/java-bin/services/SECCardService?wsdl');

As you can see the idea is simple. Just turn off error reporting before instantiating soapclient and restore it afterwards.

I hope this helps some of you frustrated by this bug.

Secure Windows File Sharing (Samba) over the Internet without Putty.

Posted November 2nd, 2009 in Linux, Windows by Damian

There are numerous articles describing tunnelling Samba over SSH with putty. In this post I will show you how to set up Samba tunnelling for everyday use without putty running all the time.

Things you need before you start:

An SSH server between you and the shares you want to connect to. It may be running on the same machine as the shares you want to access.

Also, File Sharing (Windows) or Samba (Linux) should be configured correctly on the machine you want to access. Make sure your firewall lets the SSH server connect to your Samba or Windows shares.

Step 1: Create a local loopback interface

We need to create a loopback interface on your local computer first. There is a lot of HOWTOs on the web describing this. I suggest you read this one. As soon as you have the loopback working and putting properly forwarding ports to the local loopback interface, go to step 2.

Step 2: Set up the tunnelling app

So you have the forwarding working now. Technically, that’s all you need. However, if you plan to use shares on a daily basis, there are a few things you will notice:

  • It’s annoying to have the putty window open all the time,
  • If you close it, your shares will become unavailable,
  • If your network goes down for a while, putty won’t be able to reconnect your ssh session.

There’s a solution to these problems: a tunnelling tray application. Personally, I like myentunnel. It’s a simple wrapper for plink.exe from the putty package. Sitting quietly in the task-bar’s tray, it’s unobtrusive and reconnects automatically after a network failure.

Install and run myentunnel. Then set your hostname, username and password stuff in the Settings tab and go to the Tunnels tab. Add the Samba port and IPs in the Local box, press Save and then Connect. If putty connected and forwarded the ports properly, myentunnel should work without a hitch too.

If you have multiple servers to connect to, you can create server profiles. Read the myentunnel documentation for details.

That’s all, enjoy.

I’m judging at .net awards 2009

Posted October 18th, 2009 in Press by Damian

.net awards 2009I have been selected to be on the judging panel of the .net awards 2009. I’m very grateful to be next to some of the most prominent people in the industry. You can take part in selecting the best in the digital industry by voting yourself!

If you don’t know what the awards are about:

“The .net Awards celebrate the best in web design and development, and are brought to you by the world’s best-selling magazine for web builders – .net. The 17 categories for 2009 range from Design Agency of the Year and Mobile Site of the Year through to the Infamy Award, and once you’ve voted you can use our Twitter widget – over there on the left – to tell your friends about the Awards! This year we have a fantastic group of judges including the likes of Jeffrey Zeldman, Paul Boag, Andy Budd, Christian Heilmann, Jason Santa Maria, Jon Hicks, Ryan Carson and Jonathan Snook!”

I got published in .net magazine

Posted July 9th, 2009 in Ajax, Press by Damian

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to announce that an article I wrote has been published in a paper magazine.

The magazine itself is no less than the .net. You can find my article in the ‘technique’ section of issue 191. You can find out what’s in issue 191 here

The article itself is a tutorial on how to put together an Ajax Chat for your website and I’m very proud of it. I will post a PDF version soon.

Stay tuned.

Mac OS X Cursors for Windows 7, Vista and XP – Easy Installer

Posted September 21st, 2008 in Downloads, Mac OS X, Windows by Damian

Here is a little something for all of you Mac-lovers who use Windows. A quick and easy way to have Mac OS X mouse cursors on a PC running Windows 7, Vista or XP. Although personally I’m not a Mac person, one of the first things I do after installing a fresh copy of Windows is change the mouse pointers to the Mac OS X ones. Usually this means I have to download a zip of individual pointer icons and then manually assign them to the right cursors in the Control Panel, which is a bit annoying.Well, I don’t have to do this anymore. This morning I put together a nice and easy installer that does all that manual work for me. You can download the installer using the link below.

Download Mac OS X Cursors Easy Installer

Thanks to Shinde for uploading the cursors to Winmatrix.com