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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Summer 2021: Menus, Gardens

It has been hot in our area with lots of moisture. I have been sticking with easy meals and desserts to prepare.

Shown below, some of the plantings in my gardens. I added a new hosta plant to the front porch and filled the deck planters with marigolds, however have done little more in the way of gardening this year.

The plantings in my gardens include:

  • Marigolds, most flying insects do not like marigolds so these were a great addition, especially with the cicadas this year.
  • Variegated Day Lilies (Pink & Yellow)
  • Back deck
  • Crocosmia Lucifer Spectacular Red Perennial
  • Shasta Daisies
  • Black Eyed Susans (Maryland's State Flower)
  • Hydrangea bush
  • Hosta on back deck

Most of the statewide pandemic restrictions in place over the last year have been lifted, and my area is becoming busier everyday.

Live Casino & Hotel along with Arundel Mills probably attracting most of the crowd. Friday, I had an appointment in the area, and was surprised by how many visitors I noted (based on automobiles in the parking lots and coming off major exists to the mall and casino). Seems as though people are trying to get back to normal.

Hope you are having a great summer. Have to say, I am ready for the cooler weather of autumn.



Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Recent Hardware Upgrades

Ever since receiving my Guzila Windows 10 Pro Mini PC, I have wanted to install a second hard drive. You may recall, I purchased the unit in November 2020 for an online Real Estate course, and found I could also use it as a business asset for Zoom meetings.

I was so pleased with the performance of the MinisForum Windows 10 Pro PC (dedicated to software development projects), after installing an additional internal hard drive, I knew it would be worth the effort to do the same for the newer Guzila.

Last week, I ordered several items to upgrade the Guzila PC, including a wireless keyboard and mouse combo, and a Seagate 500GB internal hard drive.

This morning, just after nine, the postman delivered my new internal hard drive and I completed the installation shortly after. Because the PC was already sitting on the breakfast tray in my bedroom, the installation photos were taken from the same location.

The keyboard and mouse arrived Saturday, so I had a chance to test these new devices. I am pretty impressed with the functions and feel of each. So far the new hard drive is performing as expected, however I have done very little with the PC other than to upload photos from my Canon M50 to the new drive for this blog post.

Yesterday morning, I received a new Point Of Sale (POS) reader for use with my PayPal business account for merchant services.

The differences between my old PayPal Here Chip & Swipe and the new PayPal Zettle Reader 2, include:

  • Zettle Reader 2 features the contactless Tap function.
  • Card pins can be entered via the Zettle reader's keypad.
  • Zettle reader displays prompt and status messages.

Yesterday, while testing the new card reader, I found a program called BlueStacks which allows a Windows 7, 8, or 10 system to emulate an Android device.

I installed the program on the Guzila PC and logged into the Google Play Store to install the PayPal Zettle app under the BlueStacks program. I did not know a program like BlueStacks existed and wanted to mention the interesting prospects a program like this offers. Installed several of my Google Store Play apps for testing on the Guzila system.



Monday, July 05, 2021

Syncing AJAX and JDBC- Too Powerful to Ignore

Several weeks ago, I completed work on a process that pulls comment counts for this blog from the QiSoftware.com installation of Commentics.

The first step in this project was to replicate the qisoftware.com Commentics database in my local development environment.

I then developed the inner join SQL call I needed for efficient retrieval of the counters. Initially, I developed a php program using the SQL call, however later decided I wanted a less open program for the online version, so opted to use Java Servlet/JDBC technology. I also believe, Java JDBC/Servlet technology is more efficient than php.

The following diagram, illustrates the AJAX/JavaScript used to call the Java JDBC/Servlet and the XML data response returned from the AJAX call.

This project is notable, because it utilizes AJAX which I have not wanted to incorporate into my programs.

Why? AJAX data prep is open source for one, but the other big problem- older browsers did not support AJAX. Though, I have done very little with AJAX in the past, I found this to be one of the easiest parts of this project and I am glad I had the opportunity to work with this very powerful resource.

So you want to know why I have not installed the counters on this blog? Initially, I felt I was providing a lot of open source technology using AJAX, however after I setup everything, decided that because only one blog post had comments (my test comments), the earlier work to install comments on this blog was enough for now.

If I leave everything as is and fail to get more feedback in the way of comments, most of the main pages will appear as they do now, a comment png image with the word Comments, with a link to the entry post. I only update the Comments link text if there is a comment count greater than zero. If there is only one comment, the update also changes the word from Comments to Comment.

I only wanted to make one call to the database (per page visit) even though there are several entries on each page. The counts are on the pages with category, archive or main page entries. Any page with multiple entries. Individual entry post pages have the comment area rather than the link.

Setting up HTML <div>s and syncing innerHTML updates were the main efforts for this project. I am happy with how this project turned out and will probably install the program online if I begin to get more comments.

Most of my projects use Java Servlets to do the "heavy lifting". In this case, JavaScript is doing a lot of the work. The inner join SQL call is hidden along with the generation of the XML data response within the servlet.

I feel as if I am entering a new phase and have to get used to providing so much in the open area. AJAX and JQuery are too powerful for me to ignore and these days- most browsers support these two powerful resources.



Thursday, July 01, 2021

Virtual Classroom - Hardware Equipment

Earlier this year, I went back to the classroom for my real estate course via a virtual link-up. Since I had the opportunity to experience first hand, classroom interaction via the internet, most of the updates made to the "Back to School" products category, reflect my experiences.

My exact "Zoom" hardware configuration is provided below.

  

I liked the camera selection with this configuration because of the "beautiful face" setting option. I included a more standard video camera in the "Back To School" products listing.

Below, photos of part of the setup as discussed in this post.

I also felt, the bluetooth audio speaker used with this configuration enhanced the experience and was worth the expense.

Are you going back to school? Do you use Zoom or Microsoft Teams for online meetings? I like the lighting, sound, voice output, and high resolution display this configuration offered and very pleased with how my online classroom and business meetings are experienced.



Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Commentics & Thingamablog

Recently, I added comments and the option to shorten initial posts with a "read more" teaser to this blog and my business blog. I discuss this project in this post on my business blog.

To minimize legal issues, I use the Thingamablog content management system (CMS) to publish my off-line blog posts to my sites. This insures that I maintain the master copies of my blogs off-line on computers and as backups on external storage devices.

One of the problems with using a CMS hosted locally, and not popular online services like Blogger and WordPress, are issues with comments. Most users who go this route, use services like DISQUS to host the comments associated with their blogs.

The illustration below, shows the script added to the Thingamablog entry.template file for each blog (this and Remix), to handle comments and the read more teaser.

To date, though I have added the feature to this blog, I have not used the "read more" teaser, so I used an illustration from Remix, where I have used the new feature.

I also want to note, if you are a Thingamablog user, and want to try the "read more" teaser solution I discuss in the Remix post, you have to insure the HTML inserted into the Extra 1 field is clean. No double quotes, carriage returns, line feeds, etc. Why? My implementation uses Javascript which has an issue while reading the remaining post text- stored in the Extra 1 field. I only needed to check if the field was not null and believe it or not, that check was not easy.

Initially, I installed DISQUS on each blog, however, by late last week interesting ads began to appear on this blog, so I decided to install a self-hosted comment script. After a bit of research, I decided to use Commentics.

Several issues installing the new script. The first, I use Apache Tomcat so any time I add a PHP driven feature I have issues. One of the workarounds I have found, install the new feature on a sub-domain and make sure to update the underlying Tomcat XML files to handle the new sub-domain.

The second, I did not realize Commentics was a cPanel offering through Softaculous. I downloaded the script and prepared to SSH the files to my server when I found I could no longer use the SCP command I illustrated in this post. In 2017, when I first setup ssh access on qisoftware.com it took me a morning or so to get it setup correctly. I love being able to copy directory trees with a single line of code. Not sure why this is blocked, however I used FileZilla to copy the files. Then I discovered Commentics is a script offered by my web host.

To enable Commentics on this blog, I added the lines of code indicated, to the header and lower areas of the entry.template file of this blog's template.

The following illustration shows the last blog post entry with the Commentics script for comments in the lower area.

I continue to tweak the Commentics template for this blog. I really like this service because it offers a lot of features. Because I am concerned with load issues, DISQUS continues to be the service used on Remix. That said, other than my test comments, I have no comments so I am not sure why I am concerned with this issue.



Friday, June 11, 2021

WiredPages Weather: Why Am I Seeing This?

In September 2018, I developed a new world weather interface for WiredPages. I discuss the new tool (September 2018) in this blog post.

The following illustration is the same graphic used in the post referenced above, to show in September 2018 I was still doing most of my software development work using my MacBook. You can tell by the standalone application shots running in the Mac version of Firefox.

In January 2019, the original Yahoo! API was retired so I had to come up with another source of real time weather data.

Luckily, Yahoo! had another offering, although more complicated to integrate than the original, I worked out the issues and reinstalled a revised WeatherTool in late January 2019.

In late April 2021, I was notified that the Yahoo! Weather API was being retired and thanked for my interest in the resource. I wanted to believe the notification referred to the resource retired in January 2019 and not the feed I was currently using for the weather interface used on WiredPages.

That said, just in case my Yahoo! powered tool would become inoperable on June 1, 2021, as the email indicated, I developed another interface using a new data source. I wrote about the new interface on Mother's Day of this year, in this post.

The illustration below is from the May 9, 2021 (Mother's Day) post. It shows the then current Yahoo! WeatherTool side by side with the new interface using WeatherAPI data, running in my standalone development environment.

So why are you seeing a Weather Widget from WeatherWidget.io on the main page of WiredPages, as illustrated in the screen grab below and not the new WeatherAPI powered interface?

Too many security issues. As I have already indicated, the Yahoo! Weather interface developed in January 2019 was difficult, and should have been the tool I would not want installed on a less secure server. I like the new WeatherAPI tool, and it is ready for installation, however there is just something about the many issues I am having of late, that I do not like and so I am going to hold off on installing my new interface.





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