blog meaningful labor

Admit it, you’re one of them huff duffers aren’t you?

Today I huffduffed for the first time. I’ve planned to for a while…

The word Huffduffer derives from a technology called Huff-Duff [HF/DF] that was used to triangulate the position of radio transmissions. Huffduffing on the web is a way of pin-pointing interesting MP3 files.

Jeremy Keith spoke to Refresh Belfast in December and while I gave up on producing the video because it was so dark in the venue I simply forgot that I’d taken a HQ line out of the sound desk with the recording.

So here in all it’s glory is “Jeremy Keith talking about Huffduffer on Huffduffer about Huffduffer.”



Harry Ferguson Memorial CMS choice – Textpattern

The last few days I’ve been putting the finishing touches to the CMS behind Harry Ferguson Initially completely in hand-coded HTML (to get it looking right without distracting myself hacking around in a CMS template styling system), it was time to choose a CMS to allow a certain amount of user updating to be done on the site.

I first experienced the Textpattern CMS through my participation in the TextDrive Joyent Mixed Grill “Venture Capitalist” life-time subscription. I was initially baffled by it’s usage of ‘forms’ ‘pages’ and ‘sections’ to categorise different design and structural hierarchy. Mostly using WordPress over the last few years on various sites and most recently developing a custom Rails CMS for the upcoming Bible Society of Northern Ireland website (note: current site is *not* of my creation) (launching in the next few weeks) I decided I needed to hunt around a bit. A quick play with Drupal left me unimpressed, I wasn’t going to touch Joomla (is it just me or does every site that uses it scream “look, it’s a site built using Joomla!”) and so I thought I’d take Textpattern out for another try.

Impressed by the fact it’s finally had an update (version 4.2.0 was released just a week ago (28th August) — after, I believe, a long hiatus — time to give it a spin once more.

Installation is pretty simple, quite lightweight; doesn’t require much in the way of configuration if you have a bog standard *AMP setup, just create or associate the database you wish to use (you can use a ‘_txp’ style suffix to append onto your existing DB) and create the .htaccess requested – it’s all explained on the linked instruction page.

I’m not going to do any sort of tutorial on the installation process, that’s been covered so many times, by so many people, I’d only do it a disservice. However, I have been using the YAB_Shop plugin, which is seriously lacking in documentation, with a 27 page forum post over at I’ll be putting together a few thoughts and instructions (which I found difficult to find) on the e-commerce plugin in the next few days and hopefully that’ll help someone out (and help me process and learn further!).


Edit: I realise I didn’t really ‘review’ the experience, which I intend to do more so when I write about the plugin, most of my gripes are with the plugin workflow!


Rails Table Doesn’t exist!? Yes it does!

It’s happened to me twice in the last couple of weeks, and this time I knew exactly what I’d done, so here’s the solution if you make the same bad and non-“Rails Way” mistake I did.

dave@infinity:~/$ rake RAILS_ENV=production db:schema:load
(in /apps/special)
rake aborted!

Mysql::Error: Table 'special_production.pages' doesn't exist: SHOW FIELDS FROM `pages`

(See full trace by running task with --trace)

In my routes.rb file I had specified a route as such:
# map.connect 'special-day', :controller => 'pages', :action=>'show',
:id=>Page.find_by_title("Special Day").id

DON’T DO THIS. Not sure in what way it struck me as an overly good idea, but just don’t.
Strip that route out of your code and if necessary replace it as such:

# map.connect 'special-day', :controller => 'pages', :action=>'special-day'

What threw me about this problem is that I thought there was an issue in my schema.rb or migrations, this isn’t the case: ‘rake’ is trying to load the environment and falls over because ‘Pages’ hasn’t got going yet.

Don’t forget when you’re finished you may need to re-setup and migrate (cap deploy:setup / cap deploy:migrations) before your site will go.

P.S. This (silliness) never went into production!

blog giants

In with the old and in with the new.

I’ve moved my site over to WordPress, which I have used to build both the Dromore Cathedral and the QUB Tennis Club web sites.

In the coming days I’ll be restyling with something individual, as I build up the brand under which I’ll be doing web sites from now on; and whatever work I end up doing on when I finish up with University this summer.That was the launch notice of QUB Tennis by the way; thanks to Chris for all his input and so on!

A night at the Giants tonight, yet another loss in the Cup – about six straight in all competitions now, though the performance lifted greatly tonight and after the first period break (and whatever shouting can be imagined to happen in the right hand locker room) both DeRou and his defence played somewhat better hockey. A few good shots went in and after a couple of fist fights the crowd were rocking behind the home team; though the boos were short, but sour, at the end of the night. Shawn Sutter has been signed, and the Giants need to drop one of their ‘imports’ to make room for him in the team before he arrives… Who goes? Todd and Ed decide!

Some more web sites to get started this week, and an audio visual gig to plan for October.