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Preview: Ben Forta's Blog - Stuff

Ben Forta's Blog - Stuff

The web, app development, mobile, ColdFusion, gadgets, and whatever else tickles my fancy.

Published: Sun, 18 Feb 2018 04:08:44 -0500

Last Build Date: Sun, 22 Mar 2015 23:47:00 -0500


Google Mobile-Friendly Test

Sun, 22 Mar 2015 23:47:00 -0500

(image) Is your site mobile friendly? Use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool to find out. And yes, this site is, thanks to responsive design.

Sarah Hunt On Effective Infographics

Mon, 26 May 2014 22:40:00 -0500

(image) Infographics are all the rage, and some are very effective while others (most?) aren't. Our own Sarah Hunt wrote an article for entitled 3 ways to design an infographic that stands out from the crowd.

99U Conference 2014 Tickets On Sale

Tue, 22 Oct 2013 17:08:00 -0500

(image) 99U Conference 2014 will be May 1st and 2nd in NYC. Tickets are on sale now.

Jeremy Waite On The 80 Rules Of Social Media

Tue, 03 Sep 2013 09:22:00 -0500

(image) Jeremy Waite is Adobe EMEA's Head of Social Media Strategy. Jeremy recently created an Infographic entitled The 80 Rules Of Social Media. This one is truly thought provoking and well worth reading. Heck, print it out and hang it on your wall. My favorites is #12. No, it's #71. Or maybe it's #66. Argh, I can't decide! So, what's yours?

Vincent Hardy On Open Source Involvement

Sun, 01 Sep 2013 21:17:00 -0500

Our own Vincent Hardy has written an article for Website Magazine entitled Why Do Developers Contribute to Open Source Projects?.

99U's Pop-Up School

Thu, 29 Aug 2013 22:05:00 -0500

Behance is bringing 99U's first-ever Pop-Up School to NYC, offering training, workshops, and skill-building focused on three topics that are essential to making an impact with your ideas: career development, entrepreneurship, and brand & digital strategy. The first 99U Pop-Up School will be September 18th - 21st, 2013, and registration is now open.

Blast From The Distant Past

Wed, 12 Jun 2013 10:11:00 -0500

Someone just sent me this link they have discovered, the original spec for vCalendar, The Electronic Calendaring and Scheduling Exchange Format Version 1.0, circa 1996. Contributors include representatives from all sorts of organizations (many long gone) including AT&T, Attachmate, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Lotus, Novell, Netscape, ON Technology, Oracle, Starfish Software, and more, and contributor #14 on the list is yours truly.

Welcome To The New

Fri, 23 Nov 2012 14:00:00 -0500

With any luck (and with the cooperation of the DNS gods) you should be reading this on my new and improved personal web site. This is the first complete redesign of this site in over a decade, and I'm really pleased with how it has turned out. This site has evolved slowly (OK, it's worse than that, I know) for more than a decade. It started out as a resource for ColdFusion developers, and then turned into a support site for my books. And now it's both, and more, and perhaps most importantly, it's a playground for me to keep playing with coding, development ideas, and new technologies. Or at least that's what I had been trying to convince myself. The reality is that the site was stuck in a time warp, the web circa late '90s or so, complete with nested tables for all layout and alignment, embedded font tags and explicit sizing, images containing formatted text, ugly sprawling JavaScript that I had little control over ... you get the idea. And honestly, I did start work on a revamped site more than once. But between the back-end code, the design, the weight of pages, and more, I never seemed to like where I ended up, and so, well, the old site worked and so it lived on. Until today.For this new site I had a few important goals: A cleaner, more modern look and feel. Pure CSS for all layout and design (and not a single HTML table for anything other than tabular data). Exceedingly lightweight pages with no extraneous code. Highly performant (this one is an outcome of the two prior bullets, but is also thanks to sophisticated caching where appropriate). And perhaps most importantly considering the growing percentage of traffic coming from tablets and smartphones, a responsive design, one that would adapt to any screen size and look right. (The alternative was a mobile version of the site, a m. site, a practice I am not a fan of). If you are not sure what this means, try looking at this page (or the blog or a book page) on devices with small screens, or just drag your browser to make it narrower, or if you are using an iPad or a Nexus 7 try any of those pages while rotating between portrait and landscape. Pretty slick, huh? Obviously, the back end is all ColdFusion. The underlying databases did not change at all, but the middle tier and presentation layer were rewritten from scratch so as to use ColdFusion for what it does best, and to stop using it where it no longer makes sense to do so. Site structure and URLs were all maintained so as to not break existing links, but where possible I opted to use better and more modern ways of doing things (serving photo albums from Flickr instead of managing them myself, as an example). I've posted some details on the libraries and services used on the About page. The only section of the site that I did not bring over is the ColdFusion section. That used to host useful links most of which were no longer useful (and some were no longer even links), the user submitted and maintained "Who's Using ColdFusion?" list that had become so out of date that it had ceased to be of value, and the ColdFusion ISP list which had also gotten out of date and which frankly is just less needed in this Google search era. That aside, everything else is here, and everything seems to be working well. Of course, it is possible (even likely) that you'll come across errors or bugs or things that just look odd. And if that were to occur, please let me know via email or in a comment below. And as usual, your comments and feedback are welcome and appreciated. [...]

Yes, It Is A Big Deal

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 11:27:00 -0500

An acquaintance apparently saw my exuberantly gushing Curiosity posts and tweets, and IMd me with "that big a deal, huh?". It took me a few minutes to figure out how to respond, how to capture the pride and emotion and admiration. But, I tried to do just that, and this is what I sent back:At the risk of sounding pompous, in the annals of space exploration, Curiosity's landing on Mars has to count as one of the most significant milestones. How significant? The Apollo 11 mission in 1969 placed humans on the moon, that was hugely significant, it changed how we thought about science and space travel and human endeavors, and inspired a generation to think big. The Space Shuttle program in the 1980s made space travel almost appear normal and even easy, reusable launch systems and vehicles completed 135 launches the vast majority of which never received any news coverage because going to space had become so routine, that is until Challenger and Columbia reminded us of how dangerous each mission really is. Apollo 11 and the Shuttle program changed our perceptions of what is humanly possible. They moved the bar between the doable and the unfathomable. They rewrote the book on scientific accomplishments and engineering ingenuity, and reminded us that the inconceivable can soon become anything but. They made math and the sciences cool, and made anything seem possible. And the way I see it, Curiosity is just as significant. Engineers and scientists spent more than a decade conceiving and building a one-ton nuclear powered robot (yes, Curiosity is a robot) the size of a car. Curiosity is now a long way from home, it traveled millions of miles for 36 weeks to reach Mars, and then it had to land itself using maneuvers that would make an Olympic gymnast shrink in fear. And engineers had to plan it all, thinking through every scenario and what-if, speculating about anything that could go wrong, anticipating any contingency, teaching Curiosity everything it needs to know so that it could autonomously execute an utterly audacious landing. Mars is 34,000,000 miles away when it is closest to us, so replacing parts is not an option, nor are manufacturer recalls, or scheduled maintenance - Curiosity has to make do with whatever she left home with back in November 2011. Oh, and there was no real way to test this thoroughly, the trial-run was the actual landing a few hours ago. And it worked, flawlessly! Curiosity is going to send us incredible pictures and data for a long time to come, at least for a complete Mars year. And if prior rovers are an indicator, Curiosity should be keeping us busy for much longer than that. But even if we were to never hear from Curiosity again, the successful landing is already hugely significant in that it has already moved that bar once again. Forget HAL and R2D2 and Marvin the Paranoid Android, Curiosity is a real robot, an incredibly intelligent and capable machine built by man, a machine that will force us to once again rethink the impossible and the inconceivable. Years from now you'll remember where you were when Curiosity proudly announced that it had planted its wheels on Mars, and you'll never forget the scenes of hugs and tears and jubilant cheers being broadcast from NASA JPL. So, yeah, this is a big deal, a big fat freaking huge deal!

Tarmac Delay Rule Shocker - NOT!

Mon, 14 Nov 2011 12:00:00 -0500

Back when the tarmac delay rule went into effect I predicted that this rule would fall victim to the Law of Unintended Consequences and that airlines will do the only thing they can do, they'll cancel flights earlier or more often (that copied and pasted from an April 2010 blog post). And so I was not in the least bit surprised to see the report from the US Government Accountability Office proclaim that our analysis has shown that the rule appears to be associated with an increased number of cancellations for thousands of additional passengers - far more than DOT initially predicted - including some who might not have experienced a tarmac delay. I know I shouldn't say "I told you so", but ...

When Lightning Strikes The Network

Thu, 04 Aug 2011 21:11:00 -0500

My home network had a bad week last week. One of my 24 port hubs is dead (well, it powers up and passes POST, but not a single data LED lights up). The WAN port on my SonicWALL firewall is fried (fortunately I had an unused port and was able to change the configuration to get back online). My Roku box no longer works on wired Ethernet (although it does work on Wi-Fi). I lost one port on my PBX. A VGA over Cat5 extender lost all 4 of its ports. The integrated Ethernet port on one of my computers is dead. It could have been much worse. I have lots of connected equipment and the vast majority of it is fine (the pattern around what was fried and what not is intriguing to say the least). Still, as I said, a bad week. The culprit? A massive lightning storm in the area. We never lost power, but apparently the lightning must have caused a significant surge and fried lots of equipment connected to the phone lines (several POTS voice lines and a U-verse data line). Interestingly, all of the damaged equipment still works, I just lost lots and lots of ports, almost all on my LAN, and one on a PBX daughterboard. I have significant power surge protection. But, obviously, none for the phone and data lines that come into my house. And while I know that this was a freak occurrence, it's still been frustrating and expensive enough that I've been looking into the options for protecting phone and data. And the information out there is rather ambiguous, ranging from inline solutions with mixed reviews, to comments about the impact on performance, and more. So, I'd like your input. If you have any experience with this type of surge protection, please share - the good, the bad, and the ugly is all appreciated. Thanks!

Vote For Matt Gifford

Fri, 29 Jul 2011 00:21:00 -0500

.net Magazine is running their annual .net Awards, and our own Matt Gifford is the only ColdFusion developer up for a .net Awards 2011. Feel free to help him out, go vote (category 16, at the bottom).

BrowserLab Updated

Sat, 11 Jun 2011 23:14:00 -0500

The BrowserLab team has announced that version 1.6.1 is now live, and includes support for newer versions of Chrome (although not the newest yet).

Expanding A Virtual PC Hard Drive

Mon, 30 May 2011 17:40:00 -0500

I use Virtual PC extensively, and have lots of virtual machines that I fire up as needed to run specific software. (Charlie Arehart gets the credit for getting me hooked on virtual computers many years ago). Virtual computers use virtual hard drives, essentially a complete hard drive in a single file, a .vhd file. When a virtual hard drive is created you specify a maximum size, and the drive can either grow to that size as needed (dynamic drive) or start off as the specified size (fixed drive). But what if you need to expand a drive beyond that initially designated size? There is a great little free utility named VHD Resizer, which, as its name suggests, resizes VHD (virtual hard drive) files. It can convert between dynamic and fixed sized virtual drives, and can change the drive size, too. Simple, right? Well, not quite. Here's the problem. Expanding the size of virtual drive is simple enough, but expanding the size will not automatically resize partitions on the drive. So, if for example you expanded a 4GB virtual drive to 8GB, your C: drive on the virtual drive will still be 4GB in size, and the extra space will be unassigned waiting for you to create a new drive (perhaps drive D:). Which is great, unless you really do need to expand drive C:, as I just did. Windows includes a command line utility named diskpart which can extend partitions, but diskpart cannot be used for system or boot volumes, and so if you boot from drive C: (usually the case) you'll not be able to extend it. There are 3rd party tools which can indeed manipulate partitions, including extending system partitions. But (at 36,000 feet somewhere over CO) I found a workaround. WARNING: What follows is NOT recommended by Microsoft. It worked for me, but no promises. In other words, if you're going to attempt this, make sure you've backed up your .vhd file. And if it doesn't work, well, I don't want to know! ;-) Ok, so here's what I did:
  1. You'll need two virtual computers, let's call the one whose drive you want expanded A, and the second B
  2. Make sure virtual computers A and B are not running
  3. Open the settings for virtual computer B, you'll likely see a virtual hard drive listed as Hard Disk 1, and Hard Disk 2 through 4 will be empty
  4. Set Hard Disk 2 to point to the .vhd file used by virtual computer A
  5. Save settings and fire up virtual computer B
  6. Once virtual computer B is running you'll see its own virtual hard drive as drive C:, and virtual computer A's hard drive as another letter (next available letter)
  7. On virtual computer B, open a command prompt and run diskpart, selecting the volume that is computer A's virtual hard drive, and extend it (this will be allowed as diskpart won't recognize it as a system partition as you didn't actually boot virtual computer B from it)
  8. Shut down virtual computer B, and remove the added hard drive from its settings
  9. Now fire up virtual computer A
  10. With any luck you'll now have an expanded system volume
This is NOT supposed to work safely. But, I just did it, and it worked perfectly. Great little workaround, but, caveat emptor.

BrowserLab For Firebug Updated

Mon, 04 Apr 2011 23:50:00 -0500

BrowserLab is our online service for performing cross browser testing, and BrowserLab for Firebug is a Firefox add-on that lets you preview temporary changes you've made using. Today the BrowserLab team announced that BrowserLab for Firebug has been updated to support Firefox 4 and Firebug 1.7.