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Full stack log: 20170413

Today, I mostly provided cover for the IT Support team, they were a person down, so I volunteered. As I’ve mentioned before, I quite enjoy working on support as it provides an insight into the trials and tribulations faced by non geeks.

One of my first support tickets contained a request to investigate a printer that was printing horizontal black lines on printouts. I investigated and found that the horizontal black lines were actually in the document, and not a fault with the printer. This provided me with much amusement.

Another ticket involved fixing a dodgy WiFi connection. The user’s Windows 10 system would connect to the WiFi, but stated that there was no internet access. As a Linux and macOS user, I was a little stumped on this and I had to ask for some advice, which made me feel like a total noob. Anyway, it turns out that sometimes Windows likes to hang on to the IP addresses that it gets allocated from previous network connections. This is quickly resolved by opening cmd.exe and entering the following commands:

ipconfig /release
ipconfig /renew

The final ticket of interest involved helping a user who could not access the company’s shared training calendar via Outlook. I advised the user to spin in their chair whilst rubbing their tummy and patting their head, before telling them that I would escalate the issue to the person responsible for maintaining the company Exchange servers. I think the user understood that I was joking, about the chair spinning part.

Other than that, the rest of the support tickets were really rather mundane, so I did manage to get some coding done. First, I updated a large SQL statement, adding some conditions to change shipping values for a couple of given suppliers. This was an urgent job, apparently, something to do with the Easter break. Second, I updated some CodeIgniter views removing some out-of-date information, before publishing the changes to one of our subsidiary’s websites.

And that was my day. I’m on annual leave for the next 12 days, so this’ll probably be the last full stack log entry until I return to work.

Colormind [↗]

Colormind is a color scheme generator that uses deep learning. It can learn color styles from photographs, movies, and popular art.

A nifty colour scheme generator. It has a nice colour lock feature, which enables easy generation of complementary and intermediate values.

Rellax [↗]

Rellax is a buttery smooth, super lightweight (1021bytes gzipped), vanilla javascript parallax library.

Looks like a nice library to add to my design tool belt.

Full stack log: 20170411

This morning, I started my working day by posting some health and safety notices on our intranet. It was a nice gentle start to my day. I then covered for one of our support team who had called to report that he was going to be late. I don’t mind covering support, occasionally, I find that it helps to keep me on my toes. Anyhow, the first call I took was from a user in one of our remote offices. The user had called to report that their “email thing” had disappeared from their “bar”. So, I remotely accessed the user’s desktop, hit the Windows key, searched for Outlook and opened it, before pinning it to the user’s taskbar. I was then tempted to ask the user to “switch it off and on again”, but I opted to play nice. That was the most exciting call of the morning.

I spent the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon in Sublime Text, coding in PHP and adding another supplier to our database. I didn’t get it finished and it’ll probably take a while to complete as there is a fair amount of munging to perform. Wouldn’t it be marvellous if data from our supplier’s exactly matched our schema?! Fat chance.

I finished the day by helping a first time WordPress contributor get to grips with the WordPress admin area and editor. This was probably the most rewarding part of my day. Tomorrow, I’ll be working on the supplier’s data, again.

What’s Next for Ubuntu Desktop? Mark Shuttleworth Shares His Plans [↗]

We’re helping the Ubuntu GNOME team, not creating something different or competitive with that effort. While I am passionate about the design ideas in Unity, and hope GNOME may be more open to them now, I think we should respect the GNOME design leadership by delivering GNOME the way GNOME wants it delivered.

Mark is saying all the right things and it’s good to read that he’s respectful of the GNOME team. I’m hoping the Ubuntu devs and release team are listening and taking notes.

Full stack log: 20170410

This morning, I mostly coded in PHP, pulling down data files from another supplier’s FTP server and importing the data into our system. The task required methods that were very similar to the ones I created last Friday, so I reused as much code as I could.

This afternoon, I wrote an internal news article to be displayed on the company intranet and signage displays. I then edited a contributor’s news article for the company website, before attending a meeting to discuss the company’s social media efforts. As a result of the meeting, I’ve somehow managed to adopt the Facebook and Twitter accounts for one of our subsidiary companies. I have control of the social media accounts for one week and I need to try and increase the number of likes and follows. I guess I should put my thinking cap on.

The web looks like shit [↗]

Auto-play videos lurking in unopened tabs. Pop-ups that won’t go away. Photos that won’t load. Text that’s invaded by ads. It’s hard to complain about the internet without feeling like a mom struggling to post on Facebook, but going online has started to feel like an assault on the senses.

A sad, but accurate commentary on today’s web.

Making GNOME Shell Feel Like Unity [↗]

I like the way the Ubuntu Unity desktop works. However, a while ago I switched over to Gnome Shell to see what it was like, and it seemed good so I stuck around. But I’ve added a few extensions to it so it feels a bit more like the parts of the Unity experience that I liked. In light of the news from Canonical that they’ll be shipping the Gnome desktop in the next LTS in 2018, and in light of much hand-wringing from people who like Unity as much as I do about how they don’t want to lose the desktop they prefer, I thought I’d write down what I did, so others can try it too.

I’m hoping that Ubuntu 18.04 LTS ships with a stock GNOME Shell experience, but this post has some good tips for Unity lovers.

How we built Twitter Lite [↗]

Details some impressive engineering on the new mobile.twitter.com application. Worth a read if you’re interested in website/app performance.

Full stack log: 20170407

Today, I have mostly been coding in PHP, adding some new methods to one of our applications. The methods download some files containing stock level data from a supplier’s FTP server, the data is then inserted into one of our databases and our stock levels are adjusted to suit. Simple enough, but time consuming due to a number of sanity checks.

Question: it’s 2017, why do our suppliers still use FTP servers to distribute their data?

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