Archive for the ‘Solutions’ Category

Customizing phpBB Template Files

May 2, 2009

I spent the better part of today installing a phpBB forum on a new site (specifically phpBB 3.0.4).  This was my first experience with phpBB, and it looks pretty cool.  I won’t cover the install process here — there are plenty of great resources available for that — suffice it to say that it was very easy to install.

Once I had the software installed, I wanted to make some modifications to the header — include my own logo, etc.  This should have been easy, it’s just a matter of editing the overall_header.html file (download file via ftp, edit in text editor, upload, refresh).  But…no matter what I did, I couldn’t get my changes to show.  After quite a bit of time, I found a solution in a forum (yes, ironic).

To hopefully save others some frustration, I’m re-posting it here.  The key is that you need to refresh your template before the changes will show on the site.  To do this:

Go to Forum ACP->Style Tab->Template->Refresh your Template

That’s it!  Wish I would have known a few hours ago 🙂

How to Exclude Internal Traffic from Google Analytics Reports

February 12, 2009

There are two methods for excluding internal traffic from appearing in your Google Analytics reports: you can filter out a specific IP address or a range of IP addresses, or you can use cookies to filter out visits from particular users.  More info here.  I’m using the cookie method on my sites and have found it to work well.  This is the better method to exclude traffic from dynamic IP addresses.

How to exclude traffic by cookie:

1. Create a new page on your site containing the following code:

<body onLoad="javascript:pageTracker._setVar('test_value');">

Note that this code is in addition to the Google Analytics tracking code that you have on every page of your website

2. In order to set the cookie, visit your newly created page from all computers that you would like to exclude from your reports.

3. Create an Exclude filter to remove data from visitors with this cookie. Follow these instructions to create a filter with the following settings:

  • Filter Type: Custom filter > Exclude
  • Filter Field: User Defined
  • Filter Pattern: test_value
  • Case Sensitive: No

Now any visitors with this cookie will be excluded from showing in your Analytics reports.

Stop Unsolicited Delivery of Phone Books

November 23, 2008

The other day, we received  — along with the rest of the neighborhood — another stack of phone books on our doorstep.  Oh joy.  We have not used printed phone books for years, relying instead on Google and other online directories.  Yet we continue to receive multiple stacks of phone books.

Normally I just dump the phone books in the recycle bin without a second thought, but this time I got to thinking: just how much waste does this create?  Turns out quite a bit.

Apparently there are over 7,000 different titles of Yellow Pages published in the U.S., including competing industry-specific, ethnic-targeted, and “underlay” or neighborhood-specific titles.  Over 540 million directories are distributed per year — that’s nearly two books for every person in the country!  This industry practice is called “saturation distribution.”  There are no rules, other than market demand, limiting the number of Yellow Pages titles printed in a single market.

To produce 500 million books requires:

  • 19 million trees
  • 1.6 billion pounds of paper
  • 7.2 million barrels of oil
  • 3.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity

Only 40% of the paper used in phone books is recycled, and over 700 tons of phone books were dumped in landfills in 2007, consuming 268,000 cubic yards of landfill space.

This is just outrageous.  The yellow pages industry claims that nearly 90% of adults use print yellow pages each year, but I don’t know anyone who actually uses phone books anymore.  I’m sure there are those who continue to find value in printed phone books, but it seems to me there ought to be a way to opt out of delivery for those of us who no longer use phone books.

There are a couple of websites where consumers can sign up to be removed from delivery distribution lists — Paperless Petition and YellowPagesGoesGreen.  I don’t have personal experience as to whether this method is effective.

I launched a little website — Eco Yellow Pages — to add my voice to the opposition of yellow pages delivery practices, and to provide additional information and resources to consumers who want to stop delivery of phone books.  Check it out at www.ecoyp.com.

You can also fan EcoYP at Facebook 🙂

How To Clear an Obstruction in a Child’s Nose

March 10, 2008

I know, I know, this title sounds like a joke, but it’s not! We recently learned a neat trick, something that every parent should know. Our three-year-old daughter was playing with little beads and somehow got one stuck up her nose. It was lodged way up the nasal cavity, likely because she had been picking at it trying to get it out. We briefly tried getting it out ourselves, but quickly gave up out of fear that we were only pushing it further in.

We rushed her to the emergency room, and the nurse taught us a neat trick: simply plug the other nostril (the one without the obstruction) with your finger and blow into the child’s mouth. The important thing is to seal your mouth over the child’s (like you would for CPR) and to blow forcefully.

A couple of strong puffs later, the bead popped out. No big deal!

How to Embed Quicktime Videos on your Website

February 18, 2008

I spent the better part of today trying to figure out how to host and play video files on my website. This caused me endless hours of frustration, probably because I was trying to use Dreamhost’s QuickTime streaming service. It doesn’t work…or at least I wasn’t able to figure out how to make it work, and believe me I tried (grr). In the course of surfing around the web to find help (could Dreamhost’s support wiki be any more worthless??), I pieced together a solution. Here are the steps:

1. Prepare your video file with QuickTime.

  • Open the file with Quicktime
  • Export the file using “Movie to QuickTime Movie” setting (see below). Make sure you select the “Prepare for Internet Streaming” option and select “Fast Start”

quicktime export settings

2. Upload the file to your site. I created a new “media” folder (e.g., domain.com/media) for all my movie files.

3. Create a new html page and save as a regular html file (i.e., with .htm or .html extension). Here is the code to embed the video file:

<object classid="clsid:02BF25D5-8C17-4B23-BC80-D3488ABDDC6B"
width="640"
height="496"
codebase="http://www.apple.com/qtactivex/qtplugin.cab">
<embed src="/media/sample.mov" width="640" height="496" autoplay="false"></embed>
</object>

Note that you want to add 16px to the height value to show the controls on the bottom of the video player.

I have tested this in Firefox and Safari and it works fine, still need to get on a PC to test it in IE. I’m using QuickTime Pro Version 7.4.1 hosting with Dreamhost.

Here’s an example of the final product.