Blogs

First part of CentOS 5 server setup howto series now available

After much research, experimentation, testing and tweaking I'm happy to announce that I have completed the first part of my CentOS 5 server setup howto series!

As of today, you'll notice a new CentOS 5 Howtos link on the where I have listed the first two parts of the howto series, the getting started howto which will help you setup a basic system environment and more importantly, the mail server howto which documents how to setup a secure mail server offering POP3/IMAP/SMTP with virtual users stored in a MySQL database.

I'm very happy with this setup because it uses virtual users that cam be mapped to system users and also keeps the software set relatively small; Dovecot is used for SASL authentication (both for POP3/IMAP and SMTP) and for postfix's local delivery agent, so with only 2 servers we've got it all covered (of course technically it's 3 servers with an extra transport if you take amavisd and response-lmtpd into account).

The virtual user database is currently only used in this tutorial for the mail server, but I have plans to introduce (with an upgrade path) a new database structure that will unify several authentication data pools and make managing clients for a shared hosting server easier... But I'll talk more about that later once I've finished posting my other guides. I plan on adding ones for other services such as DNS & Web, although I cannot promise when those will be finished. The mail server tutorial alone is 16 printed pages (!) so it does take me quite some time to ensure that the tutorial is well documented and that the configurations listed work properly.

I still have to add some notes here and there about the implementation, but the core material is there. Enjoy!

Ubercart modules: Manual shipping quote & payment after checkout

I have been working with a client to setup an Ubercart store customized to their needs and one of the things we came across as we launched the store is that because of the nature of the items being sold, it was very difficult to give a accurate shipping estimate. Thus, I set off to find a way to enable customer payments after checkout and to enter the shipping quotes manually.

These two modules, uc_manual_shipping and uc_payafter, are the fruit of these efforts. I hope you find them useful!

Note that this is my first release of these modules and the code should be considered a beta and work in progress. They are untested so far and not recommended for use on a production site just yet. All information about installation, configuration and further development is available in the README.txt file, DEVELOPERS.txt file and/or source code comments. If you have made some changes or improvements, please let me know in the comments! I would love to hear about your changes and I would be more than happy to apply any patches or bugfixes.

uc_manual_shipping enables the store administrators to manually enter shipping quotes on orders after a user has passed through checkout. It can be used in combination with uc_payafter to have users create go through regular checkout without paying, and then pay later once a shipping quote has been submitted by a store administrator.
Download uc_manual_shipping-6.x-1.0.tar.gz

uc_payafter duplicates the checkout process and allows users to perform payments on their orders after checkout at the URL cart/checkout/pay/$ORDER_ID. Store administrators can email users different invoice templates after payment.
Download uc_payafter-6.x-1.1.tar.gz

Update 2011-06-08: A user in the comments, Moises, has pointed out that in the 6.x-1.0 release of uc_payafter there was a typo that would prevent users from being able to select the request shipping invoices in the conditional actions configuration. I have updated uc_payafter below to fix this bug.

Update 2011-11-08: uc_payafter has a new home! I have created a Drupal Sandbox project for the code here. Once I have the chance to work on the code a bit more, I will promote it to full project status and update the download links in this post.

Drupal 7 playground, coming soon to a blog near you!

I'm going to be upgrading this blog to D7 soon so I can experiment a bit with a live install... Sorry if there's some (brief) unexpected downtime!

Edit 2011-02-26: It's up and running! Not the most pleasant upgrade experience, but then again I can't complain too much for a point-zero release. Most of the issues were caused by third-party modules (namely Fivestart Comment and CKEditor). Also, as a reminder to those who are using custom color styles on a Drupal theme: changes in the theme's CSS will only take effect *after* you save the theme settings to re-generate the theme CSS! I spent about 50 minutes trying to figure out why any CSS changes were not being applied until it hit me and /facepalm ensued...

Edit 2011-03-01: Just realized that the howto indexes (which use Views) were completely broken until now. Sorry about that! It's been fixed now, although the formatting (mostly page breaks) are rather broken on the howto pages themselves, I'll have to clean that up next week.

Tags: 

Metro

I was in the metro today and the train arrived at the stop as usual, but as it came to a complete stop the doors didn't open. The conductor was obviously trying repeatedly to open the doors because the red lights at the top of the cars kept flickering on and off (they usually stay on when the metro doors are open).

After about 2 minutes trying to get the doors open, the conductor shut down the metro train, so the air vents stopped and lights when out for a brief moment as she/he restarted the engines. It's perfectly logical that this is possible as after all, they have got to start the trains at the beginning of the day to get them moving along the metro lines but it was just bizarre to see a train in its powered down state.

The good news is whatever restarting the engines does fixed the problem - the doors opened immediately after the conductor "reset" the metro train.

Tags: 

Brain pattern recognition

Sometimes the brain just amazes me. On the way home a few days ago I was listening to Paul van Dyk - Complicated from his album In Between. I couldn't pinpoint it, but for some reason something about the song suddenly seemed very familiar... The best way I can describe it was like audio déja-vu. I knew that the familiarness wasn't just because I had heard the song a bunch of times before (I had, after all, bought the album).

Today I was thinking about it again but I still couldn't find out what made it seem so familiar. So I forgot about it, and then suddenly David Guetta vs The Egg - Love Don't Let Me Go got stuck in my head. Almost immediately, I realized "hey, that's the song!"

I think Paul Van Dyk has used a sample from it. Check it out:

Paul van Dyk - Complicated (In Between, 2007) -- sample appears throughout

David Guetta vs The Egg - Love Don't Let Me Go (Single, 2006) -- sample appears at 0:39

(Disclaimer: I didn't upload the videos, nor do I own the copyright. Sorry if the embeds break.)

I found it incredibly cool that just by thinking about a song, the brain can recognize a pattern and match it up with similar bits from other songs without you even consciously trying to do it.