Author

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Chris Shennan

I am a web developer specialising in web driven applications using PHP, MySQL, Symfony and Zend and I am currently working for the The Drum in Glasgow, Scotland.

Most days I can be found frantically coding away with EuroDance in my ears and consuming what I hope to be a never ending supply of coffee... happy days!

Disqus: How-To notify your authors of new comments

The commenting platform Disqus is really easy to get up and running and a great addtion to your blog.  However, there was one feature I needed for Inside the Agency that didn't appear to be as simple as it sounded.

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An implied feature of any collaborative site (including Inside the Agency) is that each author who contributes to the site is notified of any new comments that were posted on their articles, but this is not a feature that Disqus handles directly.  Disqus can send notifications to each Disqus moderator when a new comment is posted but often the author is not a Disqus moderator so sending author notifications has to be handled outside of Disqus.

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How-To: Tail Apache logs to Ubuntu Notifications

Like many other developers I aspire to write clean, efficient code and while I don't always achieve that goal I am always on the lookout for ways to help me in that pursuit.

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It always makes me a little sad when I look at an error log file to try and diagnose a problem only to find it bloated with deprecation and notice warnings which are easily preventable with a little care and attention. I know you can turn off logging for these types of errors but I feel it is better to fix these issues rather than ignore them.

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My Top 10 Linux Commands

Over the last couple of years my role has expanded significantly and I have really had to pick up some good tips and tricks to try and make me as efficient as possible.  One area that has had to grow has been my familiarity with linux, terminal and my comfort with the command line and so I thought I would share my top 10 linux commands which I use on a regular basis. 

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Composer & Git Branch Names - A Doh! Moment

It was one of those moments of clarity followed quickly by a doh! from everyone.

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We were trying to include a branch of one of our Symfony bundles in our project using composer but composer refused to see the branch.  We checked the repository and the branch was definitely there so we could not understand why composer was not able to check out the branch.

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Sencha Touch for the PHP Developer

The beginning of the year saw me working on the latest version of the Herald Scotland app (both android and iOS versions were released at the beginning of May) using Sencha Touch and PhoneGap. App development is not one of my primary skills and the learning curve from my comfort zone of PHP to Sencha Touch has been a steep one and one which I'm still far from conquering, however I thought it might be useful to share some of what i have learned and hopefully steers others away from some of the issues I encountered.

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If you only take away one thing from this article then it should be to forget everything you know about web development and start again... Sencha Touch is an entirely different beast to what you are used to.

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Using setSharedMaxAge() with HttpCache in Symfony2 always returns s-maxage=0

When implementing HttpCache within one of our Symfony2 projects I came across a curious problem in that regardless what I set the shared max age to it would always show as s-maxage=0 in the network inspector and the cache result was always a miss.  This puzzled me and so to try and isolate the issue I broke it down to the most basic example I could, but even then I still experienced the same s-maxage=0 problem.

My simple example was

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"-":4: bad minute when installing crontab from a file

I recently had to migrate a rather messy crontab from one server to another and to try and simplify things I wanted to split the crontab into managable chunks.  

Unfortunately the crontab does not have any import / include functionality and I didn't want to use different user accounts to have different crontabs (this would likely cause permission issues, a management headache, and I would be replacing one messy solution with another) so after a quick Google I found that the solution was to create the separate files and concatentate them into the crontab. i.e.

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Installing and configuring Symfony2

Getting a Symfony2 project up and running is fairly easy but I did come across a few bumps in the road when I first attempted it so I am hoping to smooth those bumps out a bit for some of you first timers.  The basic process is:-

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Make a folder on your web server for your Symfony2 project.  I will assume we are using /home/chrisshennan/public_html/symfony2.chris.home.internal/ as our root directory for this tutorial.

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#htmlmovies - A bit of nerd humour

A colleague of mine pointed me in the direction of a humorous twitter hashtag of the IT variety which, with being a web developer I found quite amusing, especially on a friday afternoon.  The hashtag was for #htmlmovies.

If you've not already guessed, the basic idea is to convey a film is a clever way using html tags such as

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Import Product Attributes into Magento

I have recently taken on a new web project which is to move an e-commerce website from a custom 3rd party solution over to Magento and before I even got started I hit a road block (you have got to love Magento for that!).  I found that I had to import around 200 product attributes (colours, sizes, etc) from the old online shop to the magento installation and obviously I did not want to enter all these by hand, but where to begin?!

Luckily I came across a post on the Magento forums which details a method for bulk importing product attributes into Magento and although it did not allow me to automate the whole process, it was sufficient for my purposes.

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Chris's Reading List

John Doherty

Does A Startup Really Need The .Com Of Their Brand Name?

Recently Paul Graham, a VC and entrepreneur whom I very much respect, wrote a post called Change Your Name in which he argued that a startup should seriously think about changing their name if they are not able to get the “.com” … Read more

SitePoint

SitePoint

Look, Ma! No NodeJS! - a PHP front end setup without Node

Bruno Skvorc combines BowerPHP, Mini-Asset and Robo.li into a PHP front end asset building pipeline that aims to completely avoid having to deal with NodeJS Read more

Moz

Moz

Why No One Pays Attention to Your Marketing - Whiteboard Friday

Brand fatigue is a real threat to your marketing strategy. In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand highlights some common causes of brand fatigue and how to combat it. Read more

UserTesting Blog

3 Most Common Mistakes Marketers Make When Running User Tests

As marketers, we rely on data to guide our decisions. We run A/B tests. We use robust analytics tools. We find out where customers are converting, and where they’re not. We know exactly what our customers are doing. Read more

Medium

Medium

How a single change boosted organic traffic by 40%

The SEO world can sometimes be a confusing maze of contradictions. Read more

verraes.net

verraes.net

Sensible Interfaces

How did we get from 'Program to an interface, not to an implementation' to 'Just slap an interface on there, it's the fashionable thing to do'? Read more