SSH Access & Heart Internet, oh my …

ssh access heartinternetSSH, or Secure Shell is something any web developer will have come across. Personally, every single website I deploy involves SSH where I’ll upload and extract a single compressed archive. This is simply good practice and most importantly, much faster than normal FTP. There are a plethora of further benefits in having SSH access – I won’t go into these here though. However, as common a feature as SSH access is, gaining SSH Access on a Heart Internet hosting account surprisingly, turns out to be pretty darn hard to get.
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Laravel 4 Database Seeding with Faker

Database seeding can be a pain to perform and end up very clumsy. Seeding is a process required in the majority of web applications – either for stress testing or just to generate a reasonable sample of test data during testing. Laravel 4 already has database seeding and migrations built in, which of course is great. However, the functionality to generate the actual sample data is lacking. Enter Faker – a package, available via composer. The author describes this better than I can:

Faker is a PHP library that generates fake data for you. Whether you need to bootstrap your database, create good-looking XML documents, fill-in your persistence to stress test it, or anonymize data taken from a production service, Faker is for you.

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TalkTalk Business Websites – A Brief Encounter

I’ll keep this purposely short. I’m just in the process of attempting to transfer a basic 3 page static “Talktalk business website”, with a contact form from TalkTalk Business to my own hosting provider. This should be an easy task and a task I can do blindfolded for a tiny static website consisting of 3 pages.

My client asked TalkTalk for a copy of the site’s files (which will consist of a couple of html files and a single server side script to process the contact form). Nothing ground breaking by any means.

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Opencart 1.5.5 – Product Filters

Opencart have implemented product filters as of 1.5.5. In my opinion, category level product filters are a much needed feature and something Opencart has been lacking for a while. However, in true Opencart style, to date their documentation/announcement is completely lacking, simply citing “Product Filters” as a new feature – even their demo store still uses Opencart 1.5.4, meaning you won’t even be able to see the amazing new Opencart product filters in action!

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Counter Cache

Counter Cache (or Counter Cache Columns) is the term coined when adding a column to data tables in order to keeps track of aggregate data in an application. The term “cache” is used because the application has no need to perform costly count queries. It can simply read the value of the “count column”. This practice is less costly when compared to performing separate database queries. The worst case scenario, where the application has database queries within a loop is avoided too.

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Bodyforms’ Perfect Response to Facebook Rant

Nowadays, companies and brands are wide open to criticism and comments from anyone with an Internet connection. With the dramatic rise of social media, there is no place to hide. Brands and companies needs to deal with such negative criticism and comments in an open, yet transparent way. The worse thing any brand or company can do is to not respond to such comments or try to cover them up with deceptive tactics such as fake replies, negative SEO, paid reviews etc.

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Website Transfer Guide – Common Pitfalls & Solutions

A Different take on the normal “Website Transfer Guide” …

Taking over, or inheriting responsibility for an existing website happens to any web designer or developer at some point. In theory, website transfers sound extremely minor and insignificant – take a backup of the site, re host and away you go. As a result, if you Google something generic like “transfer web site” you’ll get lots of guides that are technically correct but rarely work in theory, as external factors have a big part to play. For instance, look at the website transfer guide of 123-reg.It appears transferring a site is a case of following a couple of basic points. It really isn’t! In reality, taking responsibility for a website is an absolute minefield and deceptively complex. A website transfer guide should reflect these complexities. What follows are some points to consider, from the view of a web developer when doing just that.

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Opencart Theme Development – My Opinion

Opencart theme development, in it’s current state is flawed in my opinion. Opencart is a great platform for any type of ecommerce store, having a plethora of features for users and a low entry point for developers. As a result, Opencart has plenty of themes available for download, just take a look on Themeforest. Occassionally, to test out various things out I’ll install such themes locally. More often than not the theme will break the store completely, or render parts of the site completely broken.

9 times out of 10 the issue will be down to the theme developer not sticking to basic Opencart theming guides – they’re very basic to say the least. The main point to note is that Opencart, like other ecommerce platforms, uses a fallback technique on the “default” theme. So, for example, if Opencart doesn’t find a template for a category listing page, it will fallback to the template from the default theme. If the latter is not adhered to, and it isn’t – look at some of the so called “premium” themes out there, it makes upgrading very, very painful. There are theme developers out there that are copying over a files for the sake of it, when no changes are made. If your theme literally only has changed the color/layout of the footer, apart from the default stylesheet folder, image folder and header template you only need the footer.tpl in your theme folder.

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Just Search SEO Review

If you were looking for an honest Just Search SEO Review …

.. apologies. If you were looking for an honest and impartial Just Search SEO review, this post has now been disabled due to pressure from Just Search, they clearly don’t want honest and truthful seo reviews. Just Search deemed my experience with them as something they don’t want on the Internet – which would be pretty boring place if everyone agreed and no one had an opinion. All the facts contained within the original post were verifiable and based upon upon actual events of my personal experience with Just Search and the SEO they performed (or are still performing) on a small website inherited by myself, for which I perform additional web development. The findings are also all backed up via industry standard tools such as Seomoz’s Opensite explorer and Google Analytics.
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Validate Data within A Model using CodeIgniter and MY_Model

CodeIgniter’s validation library is amazing out of the box and will save any developer an absolute ton of time. However, as CodeIgniter is an MVC framework it’s validation library does encourage data validation directly in controllers – which of course for the “MVC Nazis” out there is against strict MVC principals. So, data validation should strictly happen at the model layer, not in the controller. Moving data validation to the model has a few benefits¬† – it allows your application to follow to coveted “Fat Model, Skinny Controller” pattern and allows you to validate other data types (not just posted data). Again, you can technically keep things neat by saving your validation rules to a config file and keeping validation in the controller, but that still breaks the MVC principals.

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