Rialto a new classified ads component for Joomla

rialtoWe are pleased to announce a Classified Ads component for Joomla named Rialto.

This component runs on Joomla 3.4 (and above) only.  Wikipedia defines Classified advertising as a form of advertising which is particularly common in newspapers, online and other periodicals, which may be sold or distributed free of charge. Advertisements in a newspaper are typically short, as they are charged for by the line, and one newspaper column wide. An advertisement as seen in a newspaper, magazine, or the like is generally dealing with offers or requests for jobs, houses, apartments, used cars, and the like. The Joomla component permits a site to accept such advertisements from its registered members and acts as a conduit between purchaser and seller.

The name is derived from a historic market district of Venice, Italy, named the Rialto, located close to the Grand Canal and to the 16th-century Rialto Bridge. It became the business centre of medieval and renaissance Venice. Since that time the word has come to have a few other meanings such as 'agora', 'forum', 'marketplace', 'shopping place' etc.

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Joomla Resources

In the spirit of spreading information about Joomla this short message provides a short list of free Joomla resources that can assist you in meeting your website construction goals.

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10 Joomla resources you can tap into:

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Farewell to XMAP, Hello OSMAP

We have used the XMAP component for some time and were a little surprised when we discovered that this excellent component was no longer being supported, but not totally surprised since the last update was quite a while ago, but it performed well and did what it was intended to.  We had noticed that it had ceased working with EasyBlog but this was not a major concern (for us at least.)

We were therefore please when we discovered that OS Training (Alledia) were assuming the task of enhancing it.  We duly downloaded the 'new' OSMAP component and installed it and it worked flawlessly almost straight away.  A minor change to the Google Web Site and we were soon working again.

What was nice was that the EasyBlog XMAP plugin worked perfectly with the new version.  The only problem we discovered was when we tried to add the Kunena entries to our site map.  The entries were added to the site map but unfortunately when one clicked upon them the forum entries gave an 'access prohibited' message. The cause was because appended to each entry was '/list'.  Removal of the erroneous string and the link worked perfectly.  Fortunately we found this post in the Kunena forum which provided an alternative plugin which when installed resolved the link problem.

 

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Benefits of a RAID configuration

We unfortunately suffered a hard disk failure over the weekend, which meant that a replacement was required.  We had been watching the ’Reallocated sector count’ rising on the specific disk for some time and it was in range of 2000 so were not totally surprised by the turn of events. One can run with a small number of reallocated sectors as the bad sectors will have been replaced with spares. Their Logical Block Addresses (LBA) having been reallocated to other physical sectors.  It is only when the number of spare physical sectors run out that one runs into real problems.   We also note that a couple of the other drives have a few reallocated sectors but these are in the low numbers and are not increasing so there is no need for concern at the moment.

Fortunately the disk was part of a RAID 6 configuration which meant that no data was lost and we could run in a degraded mode until such time as we could replace the disk.  We could even have survived a further failure, but fortunately that was not necessary.

The disk duly arrive and we plugged it in and restarted our QNAP system.  The drive was accepted and a RAID rebuilt immediately started.   It was as simple as that. No reconfiguration of need to do anything at all, just wait for the rebuilt to complete.  Simplicity itself.

This all helps justify our original decision, several years ago to purchase a QNAP system, and this is the first drive that we have had to replace, so it has paid for itself over the years.

In that time the drive technology has moved on, and our replacement drive, a Seagate Constellation ES,  whilst not being identical to the original, it being a later and ‘faster’ model, was a perfect match, and we note runs slightly cooler.

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Speeding up site loading

Came across this small post about improving the speed of a web site which I thought might be of interest to some.

It mentions the compression of JavaScript files using gzip by entering the following command in the .htaccess file.

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/text text/html text/plain text/xml text/css application/x-javascript application/javascript text/javascript

This doesn’t apply to our particular site since we already make use of the feature which is automatically inserted into the .htaccess file by Akeeba Admin Tools Pro by turning on "Automatically compress static resources" in the .htaccess maker
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Quicken UK Personal Finance Part 2

qw2k43In an earlier post on this subject, we earlier mentioned our experiences in starting to upgrade our UK version of Quicken. This continues with our discoveries with the US version.

Having managed to obtain a copy of the US 2015 version from one of our contacts in the United States, we tried installing it on a test machine.

The first problem was that it didn't like the fact that our test machine had the earlier UK version installed, so we uninstalled and installed the 2015 US version.  This went well but when we tried torun it it complained about our locale for NON-UNICODE programs and that it should be set to set to 'English (United States)'.  So we changed the locale and tried again.

This time it requires us to register the version.   Here comes the second problem in that one requires a US address to be able to register the program. OK we can do that, so using the address of our US contact we try and register.  Unfortunately we cannot get it to register. It also soon becomes apparent that because we are located in the UK, we cannot access the US Intuit site via a browser either.

Time for a review:   The classic way to get around the problem of access to a US site which is restricting itself to thier own country is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network).  One such product is named 'Tunnelbear' which enables one to 'fool' the target web site to think that one is in the US (or UK).  This particular VPN has a 'free' option so we install this and manage to successfully register the product.

Now we try and read our 2004 UK Qdata file.  It immediately objects to the file and says that it cannot read non US files.

Searching the web we discover that this is also a 'well known' problem. It is suggested that an earlier version of the US version for 2004 is used to read the UK files.  We can obtain a version from the US Intuit web site and we install this. We then try to read our 'updated 2004 UK' QData file.  Again we get reported error saying it can not read non US files.  Perhaps we can use a QIF file, which is an export from our 2004 UK version.  This has mixed success.  First the accounts that get created by the Import are all set to use the US currency. We get around this by first just importing the accounts, then modifying them so that they have the UK currency.  Then we try importing the data again.  It states that it reads 15000 records but we can immediately see that the final account values are incorrect.  It is obvious that the import has not handled the transactions that are between the different accounts.  In addition the dates of the transactions it has imported are wrong in most cases.  A number (most?) seem to have dates with the year in the early part of the 20th centrury.  i.e 190x., and there appear to be a number of transactions missing.

Given the number of transactions we are dealing with it is going to be a long winded task to check, and change the incorrect transactions  and Import them it is back to the drawing board.

So time for another review.  We have our 2004 UK version working fine and it seems to handle all that we require, is it worth the pain in continuing.  The answer has to be a resound no, so for the time being we will stay as we are and perhaps, and I mean perhaps, we will look at it again later, but for now we will leave it as it is.

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Joomla 2.5.28 released


joomlaThe Joomla! Project and the Production Leadership Team have announced the release of Joomla! 2.5.28.

This is a maintenance release for the 2.5 series of Joomla! and is the final scheduled release of the series. Support for Joomla! 2.5 is scheduled to end on December 31, 2014.

What does this mean for me?

End of support refers to when Joomla! no longer provides bug fixes, features, or security updates for a release. This is the time to make sure you have the latest available update of Joomla. Your website will continue to work as normal.

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Quicken UK Personal Finance

qw2k43We have for more years than we care to mention used a personal Finance program to track all of our finances.  The package we have used in known as Quicken developed by Intuit. Unfortunately back in 2005 they decided that it was not economical to continue with the UK version and thus it is many years since we last updated the package.  In fact it is even longer than that since the version we use is/was dated 2001.

This isn’t quite as bad as it sounds since financial accounting hasn’t significantly changed over time and crediting and debiting amounts from an account still functions exactly the same.  However the program runs/ran upon Windows XP, and even Microsoft have officially ceased XP support.  We have even resorted to having a virtual machine just to run our old version.

This situation is not ideal but the main competitor Microsoft Money was also withdrawn in 2005.  There are a few alternative from smaller producers available, but familiarity with Quicken is not one of their main considerations, not surprisingly.

In the States the version of Quicken is 2015 version, so we decided to see if it were possible to upgrade.

The first thing we discovered was that the file format of the Quicken data file has changed so even if we wanted to migrate to the latest US version we would have to go through an intermediate step to convert the files.  Fortunately Quicken UK provide a free upgrade to Quicken 2004 R2, which can convert the file.  We installed the update and the file was successfully converted. We performed the conversion on our virtual XP machine, after ensuring suitable backups etc., were taken.

We then wondered whether we could run this upgraded 2004 version on Windows 7 native.  We found this post which mentioned that many people were able to use it on Windows 7. The posts were dated 2011 but with nothing to lose we installed the upgrade on Windows 7.  It installed fine but when we tried to run it we received the error that the file MFC70.dll was missing.  Again we found a post that provided a resolution.   In our case we merely changed the install file to be XP compatible and reran the install. This time it ran successfully after reinstalling.

Then we loaded out backup QData file and we were back on track.

OK we have no official support for such an old version but it functions well, and having never had the need for support in over 20+ years, it is not a major consideration. Updated share prices and the ability to download from Financial institutions were both features that we rarely used so  that they will (probably) not work is not a concern.

Next we have to look at obtaining and using the US 2015 version.  In theory we should be able to use the US version by specifying our default currently as Sterling.  We would probably not be able to use the Cloud storage and a few other ‘features’ either which begs the question is this something worthwhile doing?

The first problem is going to in obtaining a version from the US, since they are reluctant to send a US version out of the States, since we do not have a US Zip code. Amazon state that the product is only available to to customers located in the United States and who have a U.S. billing address.  Since we do not this is a potential show stopper.  EBay appear to have a few sellers but with postage such a large contribution to the total cost there has to be  cheaper option.

So currently we have managed to ‘upgrade’ our version to the last UK supported version and can run it upon Windows 7, which is a cleaner solution that using a virtual machine with the 2001 version.  This is progress and moves us further forward with a good working base but we are not running the latest US version which was our original intent. Something to look at again when we have some more time.

 

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Creating a category on component install.

We were looking at an easy way in which to create a default category for a Joomla component which we are developing. The problem is that a common insert directly into the table is not sufficient since the ‘#__categories’ table is actually a ‘nested’ table, and it would be necessary to rebuild the table entries after an insert anyway, otherwise the table could/would be corrupted.

We searched around for a possible solution and eventually found a method which we could adapt for our usage.  We present our resultant function below:

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Image and text wrapping in a responsive template

We recently turned our attention to a small problem we had noticed on our site.  We display a few famous quotes as a module on the site, and since moving to a responsive site template, noticed that the various quotes did not display nicely when various screen sizes were in use.

As displayed the quotes were composed of an image tag followed by the specific quote text, and then by the author details.  A typical quote quote would thus look similar to the following:  (Lines split for convenience.)

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