Category Archives: WWW

Play Authenticate No Context

Hopefully this saves someone a little time.  Starting with a working project that had play authenticate fully integrated and  all of its controller methods fixed to work with 2.4.4/2.4.6 injected routes, I deleted everything but the bare metal code to create an entire application template for future projects.  When trying to pull up the home page, I was getting a runtime error from the Application.java controller on construction saying that it could not be injected because there was no http context available.  By removing code from the main page, i quickly determined that the error was coming from the authentication references.  I checked the old application again and everything critical to authentication seemed to be there.  To make a much longer than it should have been story short, the problem was simply that I had not defined an index.html.scala template.  I was using a template named “home” but did not realize that authenticate needed this.  Exactly why would require digging that I don’t care to do, however, in researching the problem, i noticed that in the Global class where I would expect context initialization to happen, the index template was referenced.  So, I added it back with a simple forward to my home page as so

<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0; url=@routes.Application.home” />

and that was all it took.   Anyone interested in this working, starter application please let me know as I will be happy to share it or whatever i’m using for a play starting point at the time.  I am not sure if play authenticate has been updated to be compatible with 2.4.x play yet so this may save  you quite a bit of work.  Hope this helps someone 🙂

Trivago. Bait and Switch??? What the hell is wrong with this company?

In my post earlier today I was criticizing Trivago’s use of fake competitive sites in order to show a price differential in their listings. This is questionable to the point of being strange. Now, I am completely convinced of what type of company this is. About an hour after this last post, I was out on weather.com and of course, since I don’t have it blocked, the ads that pop up on the side are targeted to my most recent cookies. Trivago pays weather.com to fill up the side of my forecast with hotel listings featuring ridiculously low prices. The two I clicked on were like 30$ and 32$ a night. I don’t need a hotel. I just wanted to see what the deal was with a $30 room. I mean, how bad would a place have to be to only charge 30$ a night. Upon clicking on these ads, i am taken right back to the beautifully css’ed trivago site only to find out that both of these hotels are now charging well over 100$ a night. This is not a timing thing. This is not an expired offer. This is Trivago being a really really sucky company. Before, I might, just might have given them a chance when hotel shopping. At this point, I could care less about saving money if it involves dealing with these fucktards.

Trivago and Amoma???

As if the Trivago commercials weren’t annoying enough, I’ve found yet another reason to question this perfectly css’ed sight. Really, I am very impressed by the developers use of client side elements and reactive design. Their marketing though is down right insulting in some cases. For example, they use the old trick of showing a high price, and their price, which is much lower to create urgency in the buyer. “Look! This is such a good deal!” To get the high price they show, without much explanation of how this is picked, they grab a high price from one of the sites that they work with and compare it to the lowest price from amongst their list of partners. Well, apparently there was not enough differentiation in prices between legitimate sites to create the urgency their marketing department wanted. So, what do they do? They create another site, Amoma.com, which also lists hotel deals (claiming to have low prices) but whose deals are often suspiciously above the market rate. Then, whenever they cannot find a legitimate difference in prices when comparing legitimate sites, they always have a high price leader to turn to. The Trivago list is full of entries where a high Amoma.com price is displayed with a line through it directly followed by a reasonable price from a leading hotel room reseller. From what I can tell there is very little difference between the major players in this business. Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity all pretty much have the same rates regardless of whether it is a hotel room, car or flight you are looking for. Why even bother going to another site that has to set up a fake travel site in order to justify it’s existence. Just my 2 cents.

The Web and the Decline of the Middle Man

At one time, it was pretty standard for a real estate agent to be involved with every sale of real property in the US.  When the market boomed a few years back, more people than ever jumped in to grab their share of this easy money.  You can’t sell your house, building or lot without an agent and when it sells, that agent is entitled to 6-10% of the sale price.  How did this system evolve?  Is selling your property really that complicated as to require a consultant who ends up “earning” 10k, 20k, 50k or more.  How much could this person actually be worth when to become an agent all that is required is reading one little book or taking a short course over a few weekends and then passing a basic competency exam?  Apparently the public has finally given these questions the attention they deserve and the market has changed.  For decades, the real estate business has thrived based on it’s control of information.  While most of the actual complexity of handling a real estate transaction is dealt with by a lawyer, the brokers and agents have maintained their position in this deal by the guarding their information.  In every state, an agency would maintain a book containing property listings, the MLS.  This book was only available to licensed brokers.  Furthermore, rules and regulations were lobbied in to place by this and other agent supported associations to secure their role in property transactions with the argument that they somehow protected the consumer.  While not all of reasons agents and their strict code of ethics were imposed upon this market were bad, the price paid for such services and protection was clearly outlandish.  Now, access to lists of property for sale are easy to come by, thanks to the internet.  So is information on how to manage a real estate transaction.  The real estate industry now finds itself on shaky ground and commissions have fallen drastically.

The same has happened in the car business.  Web sites such as truecar are working to provide consumers with the information they need to make better buying choices.  The car salesman used to play an important role in the typical new or used car purchase.  Now, anyone with the internet can walk in to this type of transaction knowing almost everything needed to make a good choice without the help of a highly paid car consultant.

Quite a few other industries are experiencing similar evolutions.  Almost any job with the title of agent, salesman or broker is either going away or adapting to much higher expectations and lower margins.  Some are going away all together.  When was the last time you called your stock broker?  Personally I think this is great.  Not only am I fond of economic efficiency and perfecting markets, but in times like these, it is becoming critical for the nations economic survival.

In all of this, one would expect the business of staffing, recruitment, job placement to be dwindling to nothing.  Of all of the “agent” style businesses, this is arguably the most questionable in terms of value to the consumer.  How does someone secure an income of 100k, 200k or more simply by running a few searches and making a few calls?  Why has internet availability of information on the job market not totally eradicated this line of work?  Clearly this industry is hanging on some how as year after year tech search firms, staffing firms and the like report 10s of millions in revenue with no end in site.  The current job market is arguably in worse shape than the housing market.  Why does this tax on employment still exist at all?  Are recruiters providing value that other agents and brokers in other industries were not?  Either the answer to this question is yes, or something else, something far less palatable, far less redeeming, far less defendable is happening.

Amaya HTML Editor Won’t Start in Linux

You may have an interest in using Amaya in Ubuntu, Mint or other Linux distribution of your choice and be having trouble getting the application to stay open.  While a lot of web developers use Linux, editor choices are fairly slim out there for those looking for wysiwyg or partial wysiwyg support.  For a decent list of what is out there click here: 20 Best Free HTML Editors for Linux and UNIX  While it’s been a few years since it was updated, the one which I was most interested in using was W3C’s editor Amaya due to it’s support of html5 and it’s by default industry standard position.  The Linux version for a lot of you will appear broken right out of the box.  Particularly, if you have intel integrated graphics and are depending upon Mesa, Amaya will crash shortly after opening, often with little warning as to what happened.  In Windows, Amaya depends upon hardware OpenGL stuff.  If you experience crashing or slow performance, the Amaya site recommends updating these drivers from your graphics chip manufacturer.  Linux implementations, however, use software drivers.  While I’ve not had trouble on systems with dedicated graphics like my box with a gtx770 card, the mesa drivers on my laptop with integrated Intel Iris drivers seems to throw Amaya for a loop.  To get the application running, try this trick.  Create a shortcut to Amaya on your desktop or task bar.  In the shortcut, place this text in the command “amaya %u index.html”.  Make sure the reference to Amaya is pathed correctly and that the page being opened initially (index.html) is something you would like to start with and is accessible.  I use a boilerplate template as a start.  Apparently, starting Amaya without an initial page selection causes an exception of some sort.  Try things this way and you should at least get the application to stay open.  How it runs after that will depend upon a lot of other things.  It is working fine for me so far.

***ATTENTION***

I hope this gets you going on Amaya.  Here is a product I just got started with that you might find even more helpful.  So far seems much less buggy in Linux.  Also, appears very up to date and powerful.  It uses Gecko for rendering.  No problems yet.  Give it a try!

Download BlueGriffon

Removing Ghost Spam from your Google Analytics Reports

Upon logging in to the Google Analytics summary page for this blog the other day, I noticed a surprising jump in traffic.  While, of course, being happy to see this increase, I decided to dig a little further and check in to the actual source of this new traffic.  As was not surprising, it wasn’t the case that somehow this site had become dramatically more popular over night, but instead that I had encountered a new type of spam known commonly as Ghost Spam or Ghost Referrers.  Ghost Spam consists of hits to your GA account that originate not from hits to your actual site pages, but instead from faked traffic emanating from entirely different hosts.  The short term fix I have applied to this was to apply a filter to the data collected by GA.  The process is fairly simple.  First I looked at a report of the hosts responsible for recent referrals to the site.  After determining this sites valid hosts from this list, I created an “include” filter specifying these valid host and thus rejecting referrals emanating from others.  In looking in to this, I also made sure to check the new “known bots and spiders” button in GA’s settings.  While doing this should defend the site against another common attack, crawlers, using the same filter functionality allows you to protect your site against web crawler attacks.  These illegitimate hits mimic payload day to appear as if they originate from good sources.  The solution to this would seem to be the application of an exclude filter listing specific Campaign Sources to exclude.

Checking again the following day, it appears that my problem has been solved, at least for now.  However, I am still rather irritated by the whole situation.  It seems that for every person on the internet working to build things and  add content and value, there is another working to tear what they have done down.  I am usually the last person to suggest regulation as a solution to anything, however, sometimes I wish that those who spend their time in this way were subject to some sort of penalty.  Since Obama has not managed to give the Internet away yet, maybe the US could push policing of such activity upon the countries producing the majority of this nonsense.  For example, if you exceed a certain threshold of spam production, your country’s internet gets shut down for a week.  I believe a policy like this would be very effective  towards the goal of motivating other governments to solve the problems emanating from within their borders.  While this comment is likely to be irritating to quite a few people, so is spam.

Removing Author from your WordPress Post

While you probably don’t mind the readers of your blog having your contact information, having your email at the top of each post invites spam to your inbox in a big way.  To remove this field from your posts try this css in your style.css file for your chosen template.  I would recommend doing this in a child template so that it doesn’t get wiped by an update, however, it is simple enough to re-do in the case that you don’t use one.

Simply add this to your style.css:

.entry-meta .meta-sep, .entry-meta .author { display: none; }

This is the most simple way of doing this that I am aware of as you do not have to modify any php files.

 

Tolkien’s Kennel, The Best Kennel in Richmond Virginia. http://dogkennelrichmond.com

While I am sharing 🙂 I want to mention a friend’s business and the web site I made from them a few years ago.  I believe this was also a WordPress site.  As I have stated before, I don’t necessarily consider myself much of a web developer in the artistic sense.  I do like the way this one turned out though and also highly recommend their business for those who own a dog.  If you love your pet, it is always an anxious time leaving it when you are away for work or vacation.  This is much worse if your dog is older or possessed with more than average anxiety itself.  While some of this feeling is unavoidable and you will always miss each other, things are much better when you both like your kennel.  During the 12 years I was blessed to have my Doberman, Pookie, a trip out of town for me most always meant a vacation stay for her at Tolkien’s.  I understand that a review of a business by a friend can hardly be considered unbiased, however, my best friend over these years was my definitely my dog and without such a wonderful place as Tolkien’s to leave her, my travel would have been limited greatly.  Having helped with other dogs and lived in other towns in the past, I do have experience with other kennels and dog day care businesses.  Most have been sufficient if not better than good.  I have also visited kennels that did not meet my expectations and moved on.  I’ve never missed a flight over it, but trust me, I would not leave a loved at one of these places for a week unless I was certain of them receiving high quality care.   If you live in the Richmond area and love your dog as I loved Pookie, please do both of you a favor and check out Tolkien’s for your next trip.  I can think of no other kennel in the city or surrounding counties for which I can offer as high of a recommendation.  The people at Tolkien’s are dog lovers through and through having shown American Staffordshire Terriers competitively for years.  The runs are spacious, clean and well outfitted.  Their attention to detail regarding dietary requirements and medication is flawless and their prices are quite reasonable if not low for the area.  Furthermore, they pay close attention to your pet’s health during their stay, which actually may have saved Pookie’s life once.  Basically, my dog was a dedicated underwear consumer and occasionally this habit resulted in life threatening complications.  Thank goodness the people at Tolkien’s were paying attention when a week after the fact she began to display symptoms.

I could tell as I pulled up in their drive that Pookie loved staying there too.  She seemed absolutely thrilled each time we arrived, jumping out of the car and dragging me through the gate and back to her run without the slightest bit of direction or prodding.  It feels so much better leaving your pet somewhere when they are clearly happy with the arrangement.  If you have not given Tolkien’s a try, please do and let me know what you think.  You and your pet will be glad you did.

Woot!

While I would imagine most of you out there are familiar with the site Woot! I have actually run in to a few people lately that were not.  Woot is an online shopping site featuring interesting items that fall into the “I don’t need it but I really want it” category.  When the site started, it would feature just 1 item a day, usually a special purchase with a great price.  They have since expanded significantly offering somewhere between 100-200 items a day in such categories as home, electronics, computers, tools & garden etc.  Each item is run for a day or so at a time or until it sells out.  Most everything is at a fair discount however note that many items are re-manufactured and  therefore not brand new in case that bothers you.  I have purchased quite a few re-manufactured items, many of them from Woot!, and have never had a problem.  Also, while the prices are almost always lower than elsewhere, it definitely pays to check around as occasionally they are not the best deal.  For the most part though, the prices are great, sometimes even ridiculously so.  Shipping except for very large items is a flat 5$.  If you order several items, you are usually just charged shipping for the first one so it can makes sense to buy a few items at a time.   Is there anything I don’t like about Woot?  I would have to say, besides their ability to prey upon my impulse shopping tendencies, the only thing i can find fault in is their shipping.  Once in a while, they are spot on, but for the most part, expect to wait for your new toy.  While this is acceptable if you are saving a few hundred bucks, on an item where the price is average, I might choose another vendor just to be sure of getting it quickly.     So, if you haven’t yet been out to Woot!, go on and check them out.  I highly recommend them.  I usually check the site  at least once a day in the morning.  The best deals can sell out quickly.  If there is a particular, high dollar item that you are after, it can pay to check at end of day  pacific time (2am eastern) when the items switch up.  Definitely give them a look if you are after a computer or peripheral.  They can be hard to beat.