API Callback URLs and HTTP Authentication

When developing web applications that use APIs, it is usually necessary to have the development site accessible for API callback URLs. A good example would be when working with payment gateway systems, which typically post back success or failure of transactions. In this event it is convenient to use HTTP authorisation to prevent outside access (users, crawlers, etc.). The issue with this is that API systems don’t always work with the http://[user]@[password]:[url] method of manually passing through this authentication method.

Filed under Development, Snippets

Installing XHProf on Debian Squeeze

I was working on a project which was randomly failing to load certain views outside the development environment. It turns out that the system was running out of memory. After searching some of the error messages output by the script, I stumbled upon the xhprof PHP module. It was originally created by Facebook, and released under an open source license.

Filed under Servers, Snippets

Blueberry Slider with slideToggle workaround

I recently worked on a responsive design which required an image slider, with a toggle to “minimise” the block. Blueberry is a great responsive jQuery slider, keeping everything scaled correctly at any resolution I threw at it.

I needed to assign a slideToggle to the slider block, allowing the slider to be ‘minimised’. Unfortunately this exposes an issue where if you first minimise the slider, resize the browser window (causing ‘onresize’ to recalculate the slider dimensions), then slideToggle it back open, it will have calculated a zero height for the slider and will refuse to maximize until you resize the browser window again.

To trigger the slider’s size calculation, you need to trigger the ‘onresize’ event in the callback for slideToggle.

jQuery(button).click(function (e) {
	$this = jQuery(this);
		.slideToggle(250,function() {

This solution makes the transition noticeably less-smooth in the ‘opening’ toggle. It’s most likely down to the fact that the slider has zero height until after the transition, after which the resize kicks in and restores the slider to full size.

Filed under Snippets

Disabling Apache Server Signature

I have been trying to disable the server signature for a while, but I found that turning off the ServerSignature directive didn’t work for all servers. The signature might read something like:

Apache/2.2.X (Ubuntu) mod_ssl/2.X.X OpenSSL/0.X.X

If your server exposes this information, it’s easier for an attacker to compromise a system based on flaws in a particular server software version (especially if your server software is allowed to become outdated, or your distribution is slow to release security updates). By default, it will display this on error pages in plain text, and also present it as a Server header on every request.

To disable completely, you should set the following directives in your Apache configuration:

ServerSignature Off
ServerTokens Prod

via Nixtechnica

Filed under Snippets

Optimising WordPress: Caching

WordPress LogoMaking your site as cache-able as possible is vital to ensure a smooth browsing experience. WordPress in it’s basic form is quite efficient, when you compare it to code-bases such as Magento. Adding functionality such as plug-ins, media, themes and widgets all have a negative effect on performance. As part of the process of making this domain as efficient as possible, a number of caching techniques have been considered and employed.

Filed under Articles, Development, Web

A basic date_diff for PHP 5.2

I came across a problem having developed a site with a PHP 5.3 environment, when moving the site to the live environment the server was running PHP 5.2. Whilst the server gets upgraded I looked into getting the code to work in some form in the meantime. The main issues are the functions lcfirst() and date_diff(). The former is a simple fix, a function which lower-cases the first letter of a string — I was surprised this was only introduced in 5.3!

Filed under Development, Snippets

Quantity vs Quality

As my reader may have noticed, I took a hiatus from posting on here until recently. I came back a couple of weeks ago to try and get back into the habit of writing posts, and I set myself the target of publishing a post every Wednesday. I spend around about 12 hours a day on the web, or coding for it. Being able to share some of the fruits of that time ought to come naturally.

Filed under News

Understanding SEF routing for Joomla Components

Developing bespoke components for Joomla can be quite daunting. There are a lot of resources, books, dev articles and the API documentation; these try to give you a basic understanding of how things should be laid out. A lot of these work on the premise of learning by doing. Many of the documented examples from the API point developers to look at the core components to see how it works.

Configuring an effective component router can be quite tricky, as it depends on how complex your component is. This article serves as a reference for how routing works in Joomla, why it’s important, and how you could make better use of component routing in your projects.

Filed under Articles, Development, Web

File validation with jQuery and HTML5

I have been dealing with file uploads a lot recently, and I stumbled upon a few different methods for validating files which provide both basic file-type checking and file size checking before uploading.

The web app was already making use of jQuery with the excellent jQuery validation plugin; so I wrote a couple of extended validators.

Filed under Development, Snippets, Web

Playing with Incarna in EVE Online

Although my online gaming time has been sparse recently, I thought it would be good to take some time out and look at the new features coming to EVE Online this year. After reading the devlog post that Incarna functionality was being tested on Duality, I decided to take a peek. After spending quite a lot of time crafting my character, I was quite happy to wait an hour to grab the Duality client (4GB+) and take my avatar for a spin.

Filed under Articles, News