Macrotone Blogs

Macrotone blogs upon Joomla, our products and other matters.

IP Mapping, clustering, refresh – performance impacts

ipmappingWe mentioned the other day about using HTML5 to determine a site visitors location and using it to be displayed upon a Google map. We are here looking at the various options that need to be considered when setting the parameters for the best ‘site impression’.  I have deliberately used the term ‘impression’ because most of the ‘work’ is actually performed by Javascript in the users browser. Each user will most likely be using a different machine, i.e. Desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone etc., not to mention the different processors included in each type, and all these will different performance characteristics.  This each user’s impression of ‘how fast’ a site actually is, will be different, and this is without considering the impact of any network performance in a) obtaining the source data from the web site and b) the transfer of data to/from the Google mapping servers.

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Experiences with HTML5 mapping

ipmappingWe have recently been updating our IP Mapping Joomla component to handle HTML5 geolocation detection and thought this may be of interest to others.

IP Mapping was originally designed with the aim of displaying IP addresses upon Google Maps and experience has shown that although it works well it is very reliant upon the accuracy of the data held by the various database and communication suppliers. The various supplied of the IP to location mapping vary considerably in the accuracy of the location information. We ourselves have been ‘located’ as being several hundred miles away from where we were physically located, depending upon which IP-location provider we were using and when we were determining the location. Whilst this may be adequate for some, for others it is a little bit hit and miss. I am thinking here of a ‘local’ village or town intending to serve the local neighbourhood, who desire to know how widespread their visitors are.

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Problem with HTTPS Everywhere and Google Translate

We recently noticed a small problem where we have HTTPS Everywhere installed within our Firefox Browser and we were trying to view a translation using Google Translate.

The translation page would display correctly yet only the page headers would be shown. The actual translation was not visible.  Inspection of the Java Console revealed an error:

Error: Load denied by X-Frame-Options: does not permit cross-origin framing.

The actual HTTPS rule was already disabled within the HTTPS plugin so we were puzzled as to why it was failing.  We tried disabling the HTTPS Everywhere plugin completely and the translation would work. So it was almost as if even though the actual rule to convert the http to https redirect was disabled it was trying to use the rule!

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Privacy Badger– an interesting Browser plugin

There is an interesting plugin for Chrome and Firefox currently in ‘Alpha’ release from the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) who brought us ‘HTTPS Everywhere‘ named ‘Privacy Badger’.

Privacy Badger is described as a browser add-on that stops advertisers and other third-party trackers from secretly tracking where you go and what pages you look at on the web.  If an advertiser seems to be tracking you across multiple websites without your permission, Privacy Badger automatically blocks that advertiser from loading any more content in your browser.  To the advertiser, it's like you suddenly disappeared.

More details upon the EFF website.

Website Features to avoid

Just read an interesting article on Mashable about a questionaire they did about annoying website features. I must admit many of them are all too familiar on a lot of sites one visits. I would however add one additional annoyance and that would be sites that do not support all of the common browsers - Firefox, IE, Chrome, Safari and Opera. No doubt you have your own particular pet hate as well.

Debugging PHP with Java console.

b2ap3 thumbnail joomlaIt may seem a strange title for a blog, but we have been looking at a small ‘opportunity’ in converting one of our components to Joomla 3.x.

First a brief explanation is required. The module in question is a PHP module which calls some Javascript code which in turn then calls a separate PHP routine.  The error we were trying to resolve involved this ‘second’ PHP routine.  The module was designed to display a Google map and the first PHP module sets up the display, the Javascript code builds up the required map and it is in turn, populated with data obtained from the database and formatted by the second PHP routine.

This ‘inner’ PHP routine was working perfectly on Joomla 2.5 but on Joomla 3.1 only the map itself was displayed, not the 'map points’.  It was apparent therefore that there must be ‘code’ that was not Joomla 3.x compatible but how to find it.  Code inspection did not reveal any apparent cause. The changes to remove JRequest and replace it with JInput were working fine, and attempts to use print, dump, enqueueMessage, etc. statements were accepted but would never display any information which one could see.  [This might possibly be due to our trying to display text ‘after’ the ‘error point’, but am not totally convinced yet.] Inspection of error logs also were not informative, mainly it is suspected due to the Javascript ignoring the errors and proceeding to execute even after receiving a error from the PHP routine.

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10 Top Time-Saving Tech Tips

Saw this video and just had to share it. It's amazing just how many things one doesn't know about even on the simple things. I bet there are is at least one thing here that you didn't know.



sh404SEF housekeeping and€“ shURLS

9539.png We turn our attention today to the question of shURLs. To quote Anythingdigital “shURLs — formerly called pageID — are tiny URLs automatically created by sh404SEF®. Their short length make them ideal for use in social networking sites or on print media such as business cards or promotional items.”

They seem to come preconfigured to be generated (at least we have no recollection of turning their generation on) by sh404SEF for certain Joomla components and we have observed the large number of ‘automatically’ created short URLS on our modest site.  We ourselves do not tend to use them, but what is interesting is the contents of these ‘short URLs’.  The vast majority were for subjects that have no relevance for our site what so ever and typically for subjects that would fall under the category of ‘SPAM’. They (most of the invalid/unrequired/unrelated ones) seem to be trying to ‘redirect’ or send email to external locations.

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Web slow down?

spamI have previously posted an entry on the latest version of Firefox 19.0.2 where I mentioned that there were speed problems accessing certain web sites, including but not restricted to the BBC web sites.

The following article was posted the other day which may go some way to explaining my observations. Access to the article may be slow, but it describes how a row between a spam-fighting group (Spamhaus) and hosting firm (Cyberbunker) has sparked retaliation attacks affecting the wider internet.

Google translate and Joomla

We have recently placed a new module upon our site to enable page translations using the Google translate service for the benefit of our foreign visitors.

Whilst working fine in Firefox (version 19.0.2), Opera (12.14) and Internet Explorer (10), with the translated page being present with our usual page layout format, we notice that when using Google Chrome browser (version 25.0.1364.172 m), that the information is translated, but the page formatting is completely lost.  This may be a conflict with the inbuilt translation available with the Chrome browser.

There are a few aspects to this.

1. Google translate is not retaining the site 'format' hence the display is not as on the originating site.

2. Being a site in Europe we are obliged to have a message re the use of Cookies upon the site. When the page is translated it then appears to come from our site but in fact is displayed from the '' site.  Since the 'translation site' is using 'our template the request for Cookie acceptance is initiated, regardless of whether the user has accepted cookies previously, since it is effectively 'a new site'.  However even accepting the cookie does not remove the 'acceptance message' since there appears to be some form of page 'caching' upon the site.  This cache we have no control over hence the 'cookie' message is still displayed on the translated page.

[See blog post about associate problem with cache and cookie handling.]

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