Change robots.txt file dynamically by domain name.

28. July 2009 02:49 by Sasha in   //  Tags:   //   Comments

There are times when websites have different domain names but point to the same code base. The most common is a CMS system that hosts multiple sites.

As the robots.txt file sits in the root of a website it will apply to all domains running from that codebase.

A easy way around this issue is to use the free ISAPI rewrite DLL from Helicontech for IIS.

First create 2 files in the root of your site

robots.block.txt – to block acess

robots.allow.txt – to allow access

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Once you install the DLL and go into the editor just add the following

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Depending on the domain name of the visitor, this will either read in the content of the block file or the allow one into a robots.txt file.

Note: Your files need to have a .txt extension and the robots.txt file should not actually exist otherwise.

Getting the most out of your software

17. July 2009 04:04 by Sasha in   //  Tags:   //   Comments

How many software products do you use everyday and how well do you know those products?

Being in IT I probably use more than most but accordingly I would be expected to understand these tools better than most.

If we take the attitude that most features are built into a product for a reason then it is safe to assume that we could probably improve our productivity or processes by doing a little study of those hidden capabilities.

Start small – get a list of keyboard shortcuts for software you use all the time.

I use Firefox all the time and here is the list of short cuts - http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/Keyboard+shortcuts – I have just looked at it for the first time.

Here are a few shortcuts that I never knew existed

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The last one here is one I have always wanted and never knew was possible. 1 min research for a lifetime of knowledge.

Imagine if you just spent a minute learning something new about the tools you use very day.

My only tip is to limit that time to a minute. There is always something to learn and our poor little brains can only handle so much.

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Syncing Gmail, Outlook and the iPhone for free (almost)

4. July 2009 23:49 by Sasha in   //  Tags:   //   Comments

It’s almost free because you need to be using the premier edition of Google Apps which is $50 per user per year- http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/index.html

If you use Google Apps Premier, Outlook 2003 or 2007 and have an iPhone and would like to sync your email, contacts and calendar then this article is for you. The rest of you will just have to imagine what it would be like.

Just to be clear here when I say Sync, I mean true 2 way sync. If I delete a contact on my phone I want that contact deleted in my Gmail and in my Outlook. Same if I delete from Outlook or Gmail.

Google is the hub. We sync iPhone to Google and Outlook to Google.

Syncing iPhone to Google

Overview here

Email

You probably already have email set up – Instructions here. This works fine and there is nothing to change.

Calendar and Contacts

Although there are third party tools out there such as Neuvasync and Soocial which are pretty good, they didn’t seem to offer anything that Google wasn’t offering out of the box.

To configure iPhone Cal and Contacts follow these instructions. - http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=138740

The only extra thing worth noting is that if you have multiple calendars or share calendars with other people in Google,

(i.e I can see my wife's google calendar and she can see mine.) you can choose which calendars to sync on the iPhone by following instructions here -

http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?answer=139206&ctx=sibling

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If you are not sharing calendars then you are missing a great feature of gmail.

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Syncing Outlook to Google

Google has just released Apps Sync for Outlook.

All the info you need is here

Note that this will set up a new Outlook profile for you. The old profile will remain intact.

My biggest gripe is that I can’t see my shared calendars in Outlook. I hope they change this.

Second biggest is that filters in gmail don’t affect Outlook. So you have to set up rules in Outlook if you want mail to go into specific folders.

The problem with this of course is that if you change your pc you lose your rules and will need to migrate them manually.

 

Tips

Make sure you have everything backed up before you sync anything. The iPhone deletes all your contacts when you set up a new sync account.

What I did was get all my contacts on Gmail first and back gmail contacts up. This is your master list.

You can back up your contacts to gmail by using iTunes – Instructions here

The Google Apps sync lets you import your contacts/calendar from your old profile. When you do your first sync they will be copied up to gmail.

You will most likely end up with duplicates (we did). Fortunately gmail has merge function. I couldn’t see a way around this.

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When you update an event on your iPhone it can take up to an hr to display in Gmail so be patient.

Issues

I did have some issues with this. The worst being that my Outlook mail stopped syncing and I had to reset up another profile and re-download all my mail again. It’s worked properly for a couple of days now so I’ll update if something more happens.

Webcoda CMS – Create new page

2. July 2009 08:28 by Oleg in   //  Tags:   //   Comments

This post explains how to create new page in Webcoda CMS system

Overview

  1. Open the site in edit mode
  2. Pick new page location
  3. Set new page properties
  4. Edit new page content
  5. Publish

Open the site in edit mode

Logon on to the administration and select “Edit Pages” link on the left hand site menu.
This will take you to your website in in authoring mode thus allowing you to create, edit and move pages.

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When viewing the website in authoring mode you’ll see an authoring console which lets you:

  • Switch between live and edit modes
  • Go back to central administration site
  • Pin and unpin the console, move it and save it’s preferred location
  • Logout from authoring mode

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When site is in live mode, only published content is displayed so you are viewing the site as the end user. The first link on the console says “Edit mode” and console itself is minimised.

Clicking the “Edit mode” link will switch the site into edit mode. This will change the link title to “Live mode” and will expand the console to display the CMS tools and page information.
Note that tools and the page information apply to currently selected page so if you want to edit a page you need to navigate to this page first, the click on “Edit” link on the authoring console.

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Pick new page location

When creating the new page, the first thing you need to do is to specify where this new page should appear in the website hierarchy. You start by clicking the “New Page” link which will launch the “Page location” window showing the websites hierarchy. Pick the new page location by selecting any of the existing site page nodes. If you want to create the top level page just click the “Select” button without selecting any of the page nodes.

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Set new page properties

Next step is to provide the properties for the new page.

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Field Description
Page Name Name of the page. Will be used to auto generate the Page Url field below.
Page Url User/Google friendly Url.
Page Title An alternative page name that is used in navigation links to this page auto generated by the CMS system e.g. top navigation.
Link Title A link title that is used when generating links above.
Keywords Used to fill the “keywords” metadata tag.
Description Used to fill the “description” metadata tag.
Template Layout template to be used by this page.
Homepage Indicates if this page is the site’s homepage. Only one page should be tagged the homepage.
Footer Page Indicates if link to this page should appear on the site’s footer.
Hidden Setting this field will hide the page from auto generated navigation controls such as top navigation. Note that page will still be accessible by the users if thy know the url and can be manually linked to from any page content.
Access Rules The page can be set as: Public, Members Only or Roles.
”Public” means that the page is accessible by all site users.
”Members Only” means that the page is accessible by logged on users only, regardless of the user’s role.
Selecting ”Roles” option will allow to restrict the access to this page to specific user roles only.
Start and End Publishing Automatically show / hides published pages based on start / end date selection.
Sort Order Allows sibling pages to be sorted. This sorting order is used when displaying page on auto generated navigation controls such as top navigation.

Edit new page content

To edit the pages content, click “Edit” link on the authoring console. This will switch the page to authoring mode allowing administrator to edit the content.
Once in authoring mode, all links except “Save” and “Save and Preview” are disabled.

Saving the page creates the draft version of this page which is only visible to administrator when the site is viewed in edit mode. Switching the site to live mode will show currently published version of the page.

Publish

To publish the draft content click the “Publish” link. This will update the current published version of the page thus immediately making the changes visible to site users .

Living La Vida Web 2.0

8. June 2009 20:36 by Sasha in   //  Tags:   //   Comments

Facebook and Twitter are the most well known of the web 2.0 apps but there are many more cool apps out that may suit you better.

My personal interests are Tech, Politics, Business, Current Affairs and Comedy. I travel by train each day so I keep informed by subscribing to podcasts. I have an IPhone so I use ITunes to find podcasts and with one click I subscribe and as new podcasts are published they automatically downloaded and synch to my IPhone when I next connect. There are so many great Podcasts and they are all free and they come on video and audio varieties.

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If you want to check out some of my favourite podcasts here are a few..

  • Jake and Amir (Comedy)
  • Digital Life by CNET Australia
  • Digital Planet
  • The Economist
  • Larry King Podcast

I am also a big fan of Wired magazine. No other publication seems to be so ahead of the curve, have such great writing and is presented so beautifully. Wired also produces Podcasts. One of them is called the Hopkinson Report, a Podcast made by the marketing guy from Wired, Jim Hopkinson. 
I was brushing my teeth yesterday morning and listening to the latest edition (I have an IPod dock alarm clock in my bathroom) where he interviewed the creator of a start up called Redwirewhich is a site for entrepreneurs to share experiences, stories and perhaps meet up in person. I decided to take a look and see if there were any groups that might be in my area that meet up to discuss running a small business. Unfortunately it’s early days and Sydney doesn’t have too many members but the site looks pretty cool.

Undeterred the Podcast had also mentioned a site called meetup.com, so I checked to see if they have any groups that would interest me. I found this one - http://www.meetup.com/SydneyOnlineBusinessOwners/ which happens to meet up right near were I work on the 2nd Tuesday of every month. I signed up and will be going tomorrow.

The point is that even if Twitter and Facebook aren’t your cup of tea that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a site that may suit your needs.

Navigating websites in the age of the iPhone

23. March 2009 02:35 by Sasha in   //  Tags: ,   //   Comments

The popularity of the iPhone has had a profound effect on not only new phones but also on websites.
Even though new phones are coming out that have twice the features, the iPhone still is the standard we compare all other phones to.

The main reason is usability. Suddenly features that have been on phones for years are actually being used. Alot of phones were capable of internet browsing and email but only since the iPhone have those features been easy enough to access that even my grandmother could do it. (This is only theoretical ofcourse. My Grandmother says her loyalty is to her Blackberry - Damn you Barack Obama!!)

So how has this affected websites? I'll tell you.
These days everyone expects their sites to be as easy to use and to navigate as an iPhone. This ofcourse is a good thing.

So what makes for good navigation?

1. Clearly organised and visible top level menu items.

2. Resisting allowing sitemaps to go more than three levels deep.

3. For larger sites (More than 3 levels) use a secondary navigation that adjusts with each top level menu item. This is usually done with the top level menu running horizontally across the top and the secondary menu vertically on the left. - Left is better than right as we read english left to right.

4. Shortcuts to most visited pages or areas prominently displayed. This can be in the page itself or in a constant part of the site on every page.

5. Landing pages - For very large informational sites as each new area of the site is entered then a landing page that has quick links (Icons are nice) and descriptions to pages below the current navigation make getting around easier.

6. Bread crumbs.  - There is a reason Hansel and Gretel were found before the wolf ate them. I wonder if they own the patent?

7. Sitemap - Not really a big fan of these but if done properly they can't hurt.

Should you eat your own dog food or have a gourmet dinner?Should you eat your own dog food or have a gourmet dinner?

25. April 2008 02:26 by Sasha in   //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments
Most IT guys working with Microsoft technologies would know the phrase eating your own dog food. For those have never heard the term, to say that a company "eats its own dog food" means that it uses the products that it makes/sells.

My question is what if you don't want to eat dog food? Or what if someone else makes better tasting dog food? Should you only eat one brand of dog food out of loyalty?

At WebCoda we work with Microsoft Technologies so up until recently I ate Microsoft flavor everything. Lately though I find myself straying and it's at once both exciting and unnerving.

Where did I go wrong, how has it come to this you ask?
Well let me take you back about a year when I decided I would try working with Firefox as my main browser instead of Internet Explorer. It all seemed so innocent at the time.

My IE was playing up and was taking way too long to start loading new web pages.
Before I knew it, I was installing plugins. Oh at first it was just little ones like the color picker and the measuring tool. But before I knew it I had installed the web dev toolbar and Firebug. I knew at this point I was a goner. I could never go back to boring old IE that was still taking 3 weeks to load up a simple web page and had as much decent functionality as an Ipod - Very little. (Hey I could have said as a Mac).

The next step in my demise came when we switched our mail over to Google Apps. Maybe it was the 25 gig of mail storage or maybe it was all the extra apps such as calendar, documents and mobile access. Or maybe it was the moonlight. I can't say but suddenly I found myself using Thunderbird instead of Outlook (gasp!!). The integration with IMAP and Google calendar was too much to resist.

I am now having regular arguments with my business partner over whether we should store company info and documents in Sharepoint or whether we use Google sites or one of the many other such sites out there.
The reason is this. Why should we host our own sites which need regular backing up, only have internal access and need to be upgraded manually when we can let someone like Google handle all these things? Everytime I log into one of the google sites there seems to be a new feature they have added like a little gift that you were not expecting.

Don't get me wrong. I am a big fan of Microsoft products - The operating Systems (Except Vista), Media Center is awesome and of course the programming tools and languages rock.

Maybe it's just that I don't like the taste of dog food.

Things that every web developer should do in their life time (Or atleast in their lunch time)

24. April 2008 02:21 by Sasha in   //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments
As a web developer for Webcoda I have been creating websites for others for over 10 years. Sometimes just like the proverbial shoemaker, we web developers just don't have the time to maintain our own websites. Even worse, we can be too busy coding to look into sites that most Net users every day.

So for my first ever Blog I have decided to discuss things that every web developer should do. (On the web, not in public)
I might even create my own certification if you pass all of them!

Not necessarily in order of importance..
  1. Buy something from Amazon. - Amazon is the king of shopping sites. From suggestions and reviews to the amazing check out process and order tracking.
  2. Set up a Facebook account. There has never been a more fun way to spend your work day and what better way to reunite with all the people you swore you would never speak to again? It's also an amazing display of web 2.0 and remember - what reality TV is to television, social networking is to the web. We all bitch about it, yet at the same time are strangely drawn to it.
  3. Sell something on Ebay. If you have nothing to sell, make something up. I hear anything that resembles Jesus sells well. Maybe sell your soul (You won't be needing it where you're going anyway [insert evil laugh here])
  4. Buy something on Ebay. If you have never experienced the sheer thrill of an online auction now is the time!! Bid for that cheap Ipod knock off that some guy in Korea has made from sawdust and potato skins. You never know it will probably work better then the real thing.
  5. Upload a video to Youtube.
  6. Explore Google Earth.
  7. Write a Blog on Blogger.
  8. Create social book marks with Digg or Del.icio.us.
  9. Use P2P software to download music and movies. It's only illegal if you get caught!
  10. Do your banking over the net.
  11. Use Paypal 
  12. Twitter on Twitter
If you get really adventurous you could combine a few.
E.G. Create a Digg bookmark to a Blog about a video that you posted on Youtube where you sell something on Ebay that you bought on Amazon.

There are more but if you manage these points you can officially call yourself a web developer.

Webcoda, Web Development & Design, Sydney

Webcoda, Web Developers & Designers Sydney is a Sydney based Web Development company comprising a team of consultants who are experts in all aspects of Microsoft web technology from ASP.Net development to Kentico CMS & SharePoint.

Webcoda has a long history of producing outstanding results for clients large and small. We have helped companies grow from humble beginnings to multi-million dollar enterprises through technology.

We love what we do and this blog is our way of sharing info that we find interesting with the world at large. Please feel free to comment or drop us a line on +612 9370 3636

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