Laravel, WordPress and PHP

I’ve been going through a series of tutorials on on the Laravel web framework. I was skeptical of Laravel at first since I’ve tried CakePHP and Yii and was less than impressed with their weight, speed and ease of use. If I am going to use a framework, I don’t just want an alternate way to do what I can already do in PHP with slightly less code. Seriously, CRUD operations are the backbone of dynamic web apps, this should be no less than 1-2 lines of code to make this happen. Laravel does this, and it does even more as I dig deeper. It’s like.. oh, I dunno, the creator of Laravel actually uses it to make websites? Some framework creators are very good at conceptual designs and academic discussions on why their design is best, but they fall apart at the actual implementation part. I might as well just reinvent the wheel with every project rather than use a framework for the sheer joy of using that framework. Ok, well I could go on for hours on that.

So whats with the constant updates to WordPress? I am glad they have automatic update now though, I run some Drupal sites and got bit hard with the zero day exploit about 3 months back where all Drupal sites were hacked simultaneously. Without the WordPress auto updater, all the other sites I run on WordPress would have probably been hacked as well. So thank you for that, WordPress devs.

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On to Vala and Gnome!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Mostly due to this time sucking thing called life oddly. Regardless I wanted to start talking about something that has really lit a fire under me to start doing some hobby programming. It’s called Vala and coming from a long background of Java it’s been really easy to pick up.

I use the Diodon clipboard manager extensively and it’s missing some features I would really like. As with any industrious programmer I though “how hard can it be to add that feature myself?” So I started digging through the source code of Diodon and found it uses the great libpeas plugin system. So I immediately begin hacking together my first plugin. Without too much cursing I was able to get the basics of a plugin together. I will post it to the site once I have it in a more useable state.

I am planning on putting my travels to learn Vala as a series of articles. I am finding examples of vala code hard to come by so I’ll add my wandering to the mix in the hope it will help someone out.

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Support Wasteland 2 and gaming on Linux

Bryan Fargo and inXile Entertainment have just released Wasteland 2 the successor to the highly addicting Wasteland. I burned a large portion of my youth playing.. and re-playing Wasteland a looong time ago. Head over to and buy yourself a copy. You will not only get a great turn-based game, but you’ll be supporting gaming on Linux. InXile was gracious enough to do the extra work to port their game to Linux as well. This deserves your support, don’t crack this game, buy it and show that there is life in Linux gaming.

While you’re at it, get a copy of Shadowrun Returns as well, another great turn-based game that was ported to Linux from the beginning. I’ve played through it as well. Not as solid as Wasteland 2, but still better than most games.

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Mark Shuttleworth names the next Ubuntu LTS, and invents new words

I have yet to update my desktop box to Trusty Tahir, or Ubuntu version 14.04 for those of us that raise an eyebrow at the rather bizarre code names. I’ve never really cared either way for what the versions were name but I do enjoy the set period of updates and the corresponding version number (ie. 14.04 == April 2014 release). I keep a passive eye on Mark’s blog for any news relating to Canonical or Ubuntu. After a release he usually names the next release or next LTS release or has something interesting to say. His newest entry was a bit odd in that I had to look up about 10 words he used, most of which don’t appear in the english dictionary, maybe I need to look in a South African dictionary.

Regardless, all hail Utopic Unicorn the next Ubuntu release (LTS?…I am not sure) I am setting aside some time this weekend to do the upgrade, here’s hoping for a seamless process

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Simple Todo’s

I like my lists. I also like to keep them simple. Sites like,, and other are great for people that like that level of record keeping. The problem I have with them is that I spend more time organizing my todo’s that actually doing the todo’s. It’s actually a character flaw of mine, I like to monkey with features so I endlessly tinker. I actually enjoy installing new software just to see how the developer implemented standard features, or even new ones. Like a graphic designer trolling the web looking for inspiration.

When Gina Trapani put this out, I loved it! I do a fair amount of work from the command line so it was always available, but then I also do work on my desktop. Which brings me to my number one annoyance with computers, task switching. Yes, it’s really not a huge thing, but nothing annoys me more than trying to flip through my apps looking for what I was doing 10 seconds ago then totally forgetting what I was doing in the first place. For some odd reason task switching is a trigger for my ADD to kick in at high volume.

IMG_20131204_194637_534 For this end, I love keyboard shortcuts and finding the fastest way possible to switch between programs, having 3 screens helps too :-) But Ubuntu really helps out with the Unity app shortcuts as well.

Now I found this little gem so I can keep my todo’s even more conveniently located. I haven’t tried it out yet but here’s hoping I can remember it when I get home.


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Ubuntu One shutting down

I saw this coming, I was hopeful it wouldn’t but I knew it would just be a matter of time. How could Ubuntu compete with the likes of Google, Dropbox, Box, etc? There were a ton of other’s in the cloud sync space offering more for less. Granted Ubuntu One had tight integration with Ubuntu desktop tops, but so did Dropbox.

Ubuntu’s attempt at a music store faltered from the get-go as well. I was fully willing to pay a little extra to support them and use their streaming service. However, the service was near impossible to use and finding music was even harder. I purchased a couple songs to try it out and was thoroughly unimpressed. File sync was slow, and streaming music was accomplished via browser plugin that didn’t support playlists or organizing your music. If you wanted to organize your music you had to sync your collection to your local machine and organize it through Rhythmbox. You could tell it where to sync your music to so it all go dropped into a hidden folder in your home directory.

Give that I basically live my life out of Google these days I’ve been dying for a way to get GDrive on my desktop. Why, when Google seems so pro-linux would they hold off on a Linux client? it really makes no sense to me. So given that there is no official client I am all but certain I am going to drop the $15 to buy the insync plus client. I have 15 GB of storage and most of my stuff is there anyway. My entire music collection is there already and I can stream it via the Nuvola player. I can use Google’s music downloader/uploader to keep my music synchronized. If I run out of room for some ungodly reason I can just purchase a ton more for about $24 a year.

Ok, so I tied insync and I am sold. Tried the 15 day demo and bought a license for insync plus an hour later. This is really good software. Get yours

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A sad day for ‘free speech’

So I’ve been following the story of Brendan Eich become CEO of Mozilla. Then the subsequent backlash by LGBT Mozilla employees over the hiring of this ‘hater’. In a related turn of events, the website OKCupid put a message on their main page if you browsed in with Firefox that you should use a different browser. So now amid the controversy, Brendan Eich has stepped down as CEO of Mozilla today. This is a sad day indeed for free speech.

Let’s flip this whole situation on it’s head and see how the loudmouths respond to this situation. A straight employee quits and a website prompts your to change you browser because a gay CEO was appointed to lead Mozilla. I think the criticism would be along the lines of ‘that poor CEO being attacked by all those bigots’. This may be surprising to some, but prejudice against a majority is still prejudice. Mr. Eich never imposed his beliefs on his employees nor did he publicly drive an anti-gay agenda. The guy gave $1000 to support proposition 8 in California, oh the horror. When did the ‘free’ in free speech come to mean, “as long as it agrees with the LGBT agenda”?

Let me say that I have a lot of respect for Mr. Eich as the founder of Javascript and as a technologist. However, I have to say I am saddened by his decision to step down as well. He should have weathered the storm and stuck with it. In a week or two the loud mouths with an ax to grind would have found something else to bitch about and he could have carried on with with his life.

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I was intrigued when Google’s Marissa Mayer went to Yahoo. I thought that it would be cool to see what she did with the company. A new direction and increased vigor would be good for competition and the intar-webs as a whole. She definitely shook things up initially by making everyone work from an office or quit. That move made sense to me, most full-time offsite workers are less productive (please note the MOST, I didn’t say ALL) and she wanted to make a statement that people should start delivering or GTFO.

Ok cool, so we have a positive trend going here. Yahoo mail is usable again, the calendar app has even been revamped and… hmm, looks a bit like Gmail with it’s minimalist design. But you know, good design is good design and shouldn’t require a lot of bells and whistles. Then Yahoo maps got an upgrade.. wow, didn’t even realize they were still around, but ok.

Now I read this. I am not always the most observant netizen, but this is starting to smack of Yahoo trying to copy Google stride for stride. Not to call out the obvious here, but I think Yahoo is going to lose in a foot race against Google. This could end up like the Samsung/Apple smartphone race. Samsung has made a nifty business for itself by just copying whatever Apple puts out. Lately Apple hasn’t been doing much innovating and surprisingly…neither has Samsung. I am going to venture a guess that it’s only a matter of time before Mayer starts running out of Google products to copy.

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Buy Roccat peripherals

When I built my current rig I actually had the hardest time trying to determine what to get for a keyboard and mouse. I wanted hardware that would be better than average but I didn’t want to pay the premium for the hardcore gaming keyboards and mice. I went to Bestbuy and tried everything they had, although most of it was either Microsoft or Logitech. The Logitech keyboards were nice but I really don’t like wireless peripherals since it annoys me to have to buy batteries every couple months. I am not a huge fan of mechanical keyboards because of the clackety-clack sound they make while I am typing, membrane keyboards are just fine for me.

When I started to investigate Linux support it because very clear that none of the manufacturers had given even a thought to supporting it. These top of the line keyboards with configurable hot keys and special bindings just flat-out wouldn’t work under Linux. There were some hobby projects that gave partial support to some of the hardware, but it either wasn’t hardware I was interested in or it was for hardware that was out of my price range. (I set a limit of $125 for both a keyboard and mouse) I was quickly running out of options until I ran across ROCCAT (sounds like row-cat, NOT rocket…I think) They had Linux support and their hardware was both above average and within my price range.

I ended up going with a ROCCAT Kova[+] mouse and ISKU keyboard. After 6 months of usage I have to say I have no complaints. The drivers are even updated periodically with bug fixes and new features. So there you go, next time you are looking for good peripherals, go with ROCCAT

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Facebook buys Oculus

For those of you that haven’t heard:

Well, I’m glad I didn’t back their kickstarter. I guess we can bid any sort of great VR headset goodbye. I am sure Facebook has no interest in developing a solid VR gaming headset. Notch, the legendary creator or Minecraft dumped $10k into the oculus, and he really isn’t happy about this. Who can blame them though, Facebook gave them $2 billion for their creation. I think I would be hard pressed to not sell my idea for that kind of money. These guys [Oculus] seemed to be genuinely interested in developing this VR headset for purists. What could Facebook possibly do with that kind of tech?

I have to admit, I’m not a venture capitalist so I might not be able to see the possibilities here, but VR with social media just doesn’t make any sense to me. I just don’t see a teenager strapping on a VR headset to update their social status and view pictures of kittens. “Hey Grandma, you can keep up with the family on our Facebook page! Just strap this thing to your face, get motion sickness, vomit all over the place and enjoy the vacation pictures!”

Most interesting part of this buyout is now John Carmack is a Facebook employee.

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