04.29.2010   |   0comment

Alley-way neighbor, Xmission, wrote a nice little post about Magento and one of their hosting products, Stackable, and happened to mention our CTO, Mac.

Check it out here: Magento and Stackable Hosting, A Perfect Fit!

We have run a couple of installs on Stackable and it truly is a great product. If you haven’t already, check out our Magento specific site – Magento Mavens


04.16.2010   |   5comment

A friend of ours sent us an email with some information about a cool event coming up called hackUTOS – A Code Festival. It looks pretty cool and it will be interesting to see what kind of things can be hacked and created at this event.

For more information:

Event Website
Facebook Event Page


04.01.2010   |   0comment

This April Fools edition of Sharpening the Blades only has two serious articles and we’ll let you decide on the last one. Luke talks about the Future of Web Typography, Benjam talks about jQuery Methods and Mac, well, Mac is the playful one at the office so he chimes in with his April Fools joke for all you PHP gurus.

Luke, Future of Web Typography
For years typography on the web has been very limited when compared to what can be in the print world. Over the last few years though we have been given more and more tools to help us accomplish good typography on the web. As time goes on these tools will get better and will become more widely supported. There was an article on Smashing Magazine this week that talked about a lot of these tools that are available to web designers. I really enjoyed reading up, refreshing my memory of code I haven’t used in a while, and also learning some new ways of styling type. Read it over, the text on your website will be very happy you did.

Benjam, 20 Helpful jQuery Methods You Should Be Using
While developing a website, I use a lot of tools, both in the creation of the website files (my text editor of choice, file manager, etc.), and within the website itself (CakePHP, jQuery, CSS, etc.), and I’m always interested in finding features of those tools that I might not be very familiar with.  While I have a deep familiarity with the features I use regularly, and a passing familiarity with most of the features of these tools, it’s always good to get a refresher on what I could be using more.  Here is a post highlighting 20 jQuery methods/features (actually 33 methods in 20 groups) that should be in everybody’s familiarity tool box.

Mac, April Fools – PHP Style
This discusses a topic that we often only think about once or twice a year, but it is still worthy of our attention and deserves some practice to improve our skills. Also, while you are there, subscribe to the PHP Developers feed. The main guy, Chris Cornutt, does an excellent job of filtering the best PHP articles.


Luke,on the topic of  Tools, Web Development
03.26.2010   |   3comment

As Front End Web Devs CSS is our biggest tool. CSS itself keeps getting better and better. We need to keep up on our tool to use it to its fullest. I’d like to talk about a pseudo-selector tool that I have not used much that I would like to embrace in upcoming projects. I find that it will be really valuable to me. I think the Backend Devs will like it to because I won’t have to come bug them as much if I can make proper use of this selector. It is the nth-child selector.

nth-child

Lets say that a client decided they would like the background of every other <li> tag to be darker than the rest. This <li> is created dynamically. In the past I would have to go contact a Back End Dev and have him write some code to put a class on every other <li>. Then I would go style those with the new class. With the use of the nth-child pseudo selector I can do this with the CSS alone. Here’s how:

ul li:nth-child(2n+1) { background:#212121; }

The expression 2n+1 will match the first, third, fifth, seventh, and so on, elements if they exist. 2n+1 isn’t the only expression you can run. Here is a list of a few possibilities:

  • 4n+1 would select the first, fifth, ninth, thirteenth…
  • 4n would select fourth, eighth, twelfth, sixteenth…
  • -n+5 would select fifth, fourth, third, second, first, none

If this isn’t making perfect sense yet just run the math loop in your head and it will. Lets take the first example again. 2n+1

  • 2*0+1=1
  • 2*1+1=3
  • 2*2+1=5
  • 2*3+1=7

Before we go out and use this everywhere I should point out that IE doesn’t support this in any of its versions. The saving point to this though is that jQuery does support all CSS selectors so if you are using jQuery you should be fine. For examples of how the nth-child works with jQuery see this page. Happy Coding.


03.18.2010   |   0comment

I just spent about an hour banging my head on a brick wall with the apparently well known “Unable to create selectable TCP socket” problem, which manifests itself most notably with failing imap_open() calls from PHP. It is related to fd_setsize and a frequent limit of 1024 open files (or at least selectable open files). It is quite well documented that it is some kind of bug/shortcoming in the c-client libraries that underlie a lot of email-related stuff, particularly the UW suite of tools like uw-imap, pine, alpine, etc. as well as the IMAP extension in PHP. I love being able to go Google for answers and find a ton of related content. It is really annoying though when people have been talking about this bug for years, since at least early 2007, with very very few workable solutions posted, or even workarounds.

So, I’m going to do my part: I found a workaround that I think might work very well for a lot of people who run into this problem. It’s biggest advantage is that it is very very easy to try, and has almost no downside, even if it doesn’t work for your particular situation. In my case, I found that Apache did indeed have a lot of files open, including log files for all my VirtualHosts, all the libraries that httpd depends on, files from sites that are hosted there (though it seems to open and close those just fine), and a large buildup of hundreds of entries for /tmp that were open and apparently never got closed properly. In my case, the server in question has an uptime of over 2 years, and while “apachectl restart” runs at least daily for log rotation, it seems that doesn’t really close unused file descriptors. The workaround I discovered was running “apachectl stop” followed by “apachectl start” which fixed the problem completely for me, at least for the next year or two I hope. From over 1600 open files, after restarting Apache fully that way, it only reopened about 325 files. And the imap_open() calls started succeeding as they should.

One last thought before I hop off my soapbox: when you find an answer to a problem, and that answer was hard to find or was not well documented, do your part to remedy that for the next guy or girl to hit that problem, and post your solution somewhere that Google will find it. It makes the internet a better place for all of us, and makes us all more productive. Who knows, maybe down the road you’ll run into the same problem again yourself, and not remember how to solve it until you find your own post from years before, and it will be your own time you’ll save. I fully recognize that a lot of what I accomplish each day is based on work done by others that I have found and emulated, as they say, standing on the shoulders of giants. Each contribution to the body of human knowledge lets us reach that much higher, so when you can, add your bit and as we all do that, it adds up.


03.12.2010   |   1comment

Editors Note: Quintin Smith is the Business Development Manger at White Label SEO and has been kind enough to write a post for Code Greene on his specialty – SEO.

SEO is an interesting process. We here at White Label SEO would like to talk about how important SEO is to your overall success of your website. We would like to thank Code Greene for this opportunity to post a message about SEO to their blog. Thanks Code Greene! One quick word on Code Greene. We have dealt with numerous web developing firms and Code Greene is one of the best. Thanks guys!

So how do you work on optimizing your site. There are a lot of things that need to be done. How is your content? Is your content keyword rich? Are you putting links in the proper places of your site etc? All of this is important, but when it comes to starting a successful campaign you need to know YOUR COMPETITION! At White Label SEO we evaluate your competitors. Why is this? Well, for a few reasons. First, your competition might be large. You may have a lot of competitors that have been doing SEO for awhile so it is important to know who it is and what kind of traffic they are receiving and what keywords they are using. This is all important information to know when it comes to keyword selection and the success of your website. Research your competitors. Once you understand what your competition is doing you can start to build your keyword list that you otherwise may not have chosen if you haven’t looked at your competitors.

Search Engine Optimization is not like PPC. The results are not instant. It takes time and work to get in the top SERP of the engines. Knowing your competitors will help you gauge your success and help you determine your goals. The greatest way to turn an ROI on your site is through organic SEO. So you need to expect to spend a good amount of investment on your own developing your site and creating a web page that people want to link to. This is just a quick start for people that need to gain some insight on SEO. Know who you are up against and build your site and SEO campaign based off that knowledge. We wish you the best of luck in your efforts of climbing to the top of the search engines.

Quintin Smith – White Label SEO
For SEO Services, please contact Quintin and quintin@whitelabelseo.com


03.05.2010   |   1comment

This edition of Sharpening the Blades features an article from Mike about using jQuery, CSS and image sprites to create stylish forms, an article from Benjam about Passwords on the web and Mark chimes in with an article about the possibility of HTML5 in Internet Explorer 9.

Mike, Get your form on with Uniformuniform
We’ve all been there. You finish an amazing design using some sweet custom form elements that perfectly match the theme of your design. Then after a few frustrating attempts, you realize that some form elements just can’t be styled. Or if they can, not consistently. So you throw on a border, maybe a background image, and hope for the best as dreams of your custom UI vanish into nothingness. But fear not! Using the clever jQuery script Uniform and some CSS sprites, your form designs can once more be glorious! Works beautifully in all major browsers (degrades gracefully in IE6).

Benjam, The Problem with Passwordspasswords
Being in the Web Development industry for a while now, and having had a few third-party scripts that were on my site hacked, I have become more and more interested in web security.  Passwords are on the front lines to that.  Being a user of Web technologies, I’m also interested in usability and choice, and when it comes to showing or hiding passwords (what? you can do that?) I’m in the boat of give the user the choice.  This article nicely explains a few examples that offer people the choice to show or hide their passwords, both of which are very useful.

Mark, Microsoft to Double Down on HTML5 in Internet Explorer 9internetexplorer
Doubling down seems like the wrong approach to me. If I were the CEO at Microsoft I would instead of thinking of trying to put their foot down harder, they should instead learn to bend in the winds of the market and work on compliance with the other browsers. Though I hate to say it even forced upgrades like Firefox does would be good, to keep people current and reduce the amount of cross browsers compatibility problems Microsoft gives developers. I don’t think Microsoft realizes that by making developers lives bad by trying to be different they are actually building up a mass market of developers who hate them because it is so difficult to make cross compatibility easy and affordable.


Benjam,on the topic of  JavaScript, PHP, Tools, Usability
02.25.2010   |   7comment

Why is coding so personal?
I’ve been noticing that often times, when getting or giving feedback on code, or browsing my favorite programming forum, or just reading posts about programming, that people often get very emotional about their code. I was wondering why this is, and because I am not a psychologist, I’ll just give you my thoughts.

Coding to me is like creating art, and there’s a great quote that backs me up on this:

Programming is an art form that fights back. —Unknown

Because code is like art, I get very attached to my code, as well as my style of coding. My code is like my baby, my something from nothing that wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for me. It’s just a bunch of characters on the screen that, from somewhere in the blue smoke, creates a function, or a game, or a website. I have received criticism on my code (as everyone has), as well as given criticism on other’s code (as everyone has), and those times when I’ve received criticism on my code, depending on how it was delivered, or what was said, it was almost like a personal attack on me. And I’ve noticed a few other coders react the same way to criticisms on their code. It’s like the person who called your code ugly or inelegant was saying that your child was ugly (and those of you who have kids know… that’s a huge no-no, punishable by any means available).

It may be because I think that my coding style is the best, it’s what I’m used to, and it’s the format I use because it’s the easiest for me to get at the information I need as fast as possible. I know this because I’ve tried other styles (sometimes flipping back and forth in the same day), and looking at someone else’s code that uses a different style from me, is often times hard to peruse easily. It’s what I like, and sometimes I have to hold myself back from reformatting code I come across into my own style.

So maybe we should stop thinking of code and coding styles as being “right” or “wrong”, and think of them more like the tool that they are, a means to an end. And the way you react to someone else’s means should be a little more like a suggestion for a different method of painting. Not a matter of fact, but just another tool for the tool box.

To continue the art analogy, it’s like everybody is given all the art supplies in the world, and told to make/paint/draw/create a box. Everyone will come up with a different way of doing it, some will be huge and bright red; others will be small and drawn in pencil; others still might be made of clay or brick. No matter what, it’s the way you chose to do it, and it’s no better or worse than the person’s next to you. You might think so because yours was faster, fancier, more elegant, or more “boxy”; but they might think the opposite. In the end, you still have a box, and so do they.


02.19.2010   |   1comment

This weeks edition features an article about customizing WordPress for beginners, designers who can’t code their own designs and the best way to handle content management systems for sites that matter.

Chad, The Beginner’s Guide to Tricking Out Your WordPress Blogtrickingoutwordpress
I liked this post/entry about WP because it was built and geared for the beginner. Once you installed it now what. I find these type of articles interesting because sometimes they are just so simple that I don’t even think of them. And it helps me to explain or think of other things that I feel our clients may want or need.

Mike, Web Designer’s Who Can’t Codedesignerswhocantcode
Twitter exploded in a debate this week when Elliot Jay Stocks boldly tweeted:

“Honestly, I’m shocked that in 2010 I’m still coming across ‘web designers’ who can’t code their own designs. No excuse.”

The world is full of talented designers trained in a wide array of media, but just like other mediums, the web offers its own constraints and limitations. Knowing how to code definitely gives you an edge, even if you don’t code the site yourself. Image resolution, measurements, typography, and browser discrepancies all play a role in what is possible, and help determine the collective best practices of the web. So does a good architect need to know how to dry wall? Maybe not. What about a fundamental understanding of construction and engineering? Absolutely. How much does a good web designer need to know about their craft in order to build a successful website? What do you think?

Mac, Content Management for Sites that Mattercontentmanagementforsitesthatmatter
I liked this article because it gets right at the core of the cost/benefit trade-off that many people don’t think enough about when building their web site. Either there’s a significant value to the work you’re doing on your site, which justifies spending some money on it and getting it done right, or there isn’t a significant value to your site, so why bother? I don’t 100% agree with them about the WYSIWIG comments, but I’ve never tried to tell a client to assume it would look identical in TinyMCE and on the public site. We’ve generally had to train them to be very careful to keep it simple. Use bold if you want, make some lists, paragraphs, links, and stuff like that, but don’t try and do anything funky or you’ll end up disappointed. Another annoying thing about TinyMCE is that even when you tweak the HTML manually in their HTML view, it often wants to “automatically fix” some of the things you did. I was trying to leave a <br /> or two between a couple of separate lists if I remember right, and it kept either taking it completely out, or turning into a paragraph, constantly leaving too much or too little whitespace, even though the HTML I manually entered would display exactly how I intended.


02.05.2010   |   7comment

Tim, 10 WordPress Dashboard Hackscatswhocode
This is a nice article that shows you how to get a customized WordPress dashboard. The article calls them hacks, but I would call them customizations. One that I have tried and loved is adding your logo on the dashboard page next your blog title in the top left hand corner of the dashboard. It’s a nice little touch that goes a long way.

MikeHow Wireframing Makes Your Website Designs Betterbriancray
The value of wireframing comes down to a simple idea: Wireframing forces you to think about your user interface design decisions in terms of user needs first, instead of in terms of what looks good.” While wireframing requires a little extra effort in the initial planning stages, it pays huge returns in the long run. We redesign less frequently, hit deadlines sooner, and best of all, greatly mitigate scope creep. So take your foot off the pedal, assess your client’s business objectives and user needs, and translate concepts into a tangible wireframe. You’ll be glad you did.

LukeFor Better Productivity, Communicate Lesscommunicateless
I agree with Joel Spolsky in one of Lifehackers latest posts when he says that adding more people to a project will only slow it down. I think this is especially true in web development. Once deep into a big project a web developer knows where things are and how they are related. If you throw five of them at the same project at some point they would end up stepping on each others toes. There is a chance that if things are planned out right each developer could tackle a specific task and then they could put all their pieces together to make the final piece. To do that though a lot of planning and meeting together would have to happen. This will probably lead to more disagreements and toe stepping. For those reasons I think getting the few people needed on the project and keep them there is the best way to accomplish a web dev project.