Etomite on php 5.6

This post is on the geeky end of the scale a bit, but might be handy for someone out there in the interwebs.

Back in the mid 00’s I was a big fan of a CMS called Etomite that begat MODX which I still use for some projects. You can read about the death of Etomite and the rise of MODX on wikipedia.

Anyway, I used etomite for an earlier blog site at which is the name of an electronics development company I ran from about 1996 till 2004, ish.

When I sold the rights to the then-current products and designs the new owner wasn’t crazy enough to take on the meaningless company name and oddly spent domain so I kept it for my blog.

That blog was used to record progress on a couple of microcontroller projects I was working on at the time and got enough traffic that it was worthwhile putting google ads on the site.

As I was earning one or two cents a week in advertising revenue from the site I kept it online until May last year when I rolled my web servers over to Debian 8 which included PHP 5.6.x.

Unfortunately PHP 5.6 was a bridge to far for Etomite and my efforts were rewarded with a dreaded deprecation error which are quite often journey to no-where to unravel.


Deprecated mysql library error in Etomite

I was already running the last version of Etomite released, Version 1.1, and as it was the only site out of a few dozen on that box that did not survive the operating system upgrade I went for the cop-out option and put up a cop-out home page and forgot about it.


Cop-out offline message that lasted over a year.

Skip forward to this weekend and I decided to re-visit it as I’m back on the blogging kick again and I still get the odd email about broken links to one of the projects on the site for a CNC stepper motor controller design I posted to some forums.

Long story short, here’s how I fixed up my Etomite install so you can get your crusty old Etomite site working again as well and revel in the y2k feeling of the admin interface.

To silence the error handling, add a new line at the top of index.php:

error_reporting(E_ALL ^ E_DEPRECATED);

Then pop down to the executeParser() function and line 605 or there about’s and comment out the handler and reporting calls.

  function executeParser() {

You should also comment out any other calls to error_reporting in index.php.  I had four of them but I think they were from my original half-hearted attempt to fix the deprecation error in 2015 but they may have been original.

Lastly put an ‘@’ in front of the deprecated mysql_connect statement on line 1323 or just after given you’ve added a new line at the top.


    if(@!$this->rs = mysql_connect($this->dbConfig['host'], $this->dbConfig['user'], $this->dbConfig['pass'])) {

to be:

    if(@!$this->rs = @mysql_connect($this->dbConfig['host'], $this->dbConfig['user'], $this->dbConfig['pass'])) {

And your Etomite will rise from the ashes, sorta, ish.

Now that you’ve got Etomite running again, shift the website to something else before you go much further.  There are some common open-source components in Etomite that have had long published exploits which could bite you in the proverbial bum if you leave it online.

At the very least make the entire site read-only to protect against the TinyMCE injection issues which surfaced after Etomite last received an update.  I’ve made mine read-only and have an IDS monitoring for file system changes but it is not what I’d call a ‘trusted’ site on the server and I’ll probably chroot it as well.

There was an attempt for a couple of years to get Etomite moving forwards called etofork on github but it seems to have died and if you want a similar CMS toolset MODX is the way to go now, or if your site was a blog you could go where everyone else seems to have and use WordPress.

For my part I’ll probably move the content to this site, as maintaining two blogs is kinda silly, but given my on-again, off-again blogging style that might have to wait another year or so. 🙂

Two years and another revamp

Has it really been two years?  Early in June 2014 I posted about the Nineties wanting their website back and since that re-vamp I’ve only posted one other item to the blog.  Talk about slack.

So now I find myself in August 2016 and re-building the blog again. This time a shift to WordPress along with a cleaner visually light weight template.

I considered scrapping all the old content as some of it was just link-bait for some SEO experiments.  There were even some very dodgy affiliate marketing links in a couple of posts from when I worked at Xtend-Life doing e-commerce work and I was trying to figure out in indexing / SEO impact of overt affiliate links.

After a bit of head-scratching I decided to pull across all the old content kicking and screaming although the link structure has changed and comments are lost so the value is probably marginal. I may even 301 some pages if I find a lot of traffic to some pages, but I’m doubting it. 🙂

On a personal front I’ve had a bit of a change of career in 2016 so I’ve got more time for experimenting and hobbies so I hope to be able to post a bit more regularly than once every two years on the blog but We’ll have to wait and see on that count. I said that a couple of times in older posts and it never really happens.

On the blog topic front I’m back into the R/C model aircraft club scene again again after a break of 15 odd years so there’s another random topic or the mix, just in case you were not already confused enough about my target audience!

The Nineties have been calling

For the last three or four years, possibly more there’s been this niggling little noise in my head every time I looked at my own blog.

It’s not that it’s the most important site I look after, and I really only set it up to test ideas and post the occasional rant but it turns out the 1990’s were indeed calling, asking for the website back.

So here we are, in 2014 and I’ve finally embraced HTML5 and CSS3 for my own site two years after the big ‘5’ became a candidate recommendation of the W3C, and in the year it is set to become the recommended standard for websites across the board.

Hang on, what do you mean? Isn’t HTML5 the standard? HTML 5

Amazingly although a large number of websites use HTML5 for their rendering now and it’s been a buzzword for at least five years it’s not actually a recommended standard yet. The W3C plan indicates that will happen this year. 1

This is the reason you hear website developers bemoaning the state of browser ‘X’ and device ‘Y’ rendering their latest creations. Or at least that’s why you heard those noises if you travel in circles frequented by web developers who like new toys.

So, off I went to themeforest and bought me a shiny responsive template, chopped up the source files and slapped it down on top of MODX without too much pain considering how long I put it off.

So far the result has been pleasing although I need to re-code the blog comments bits as they look horrible and there are some nasty kludges going on in the back room to get my old content to work in the new template.

Once I’ve fixed up the last couple of visual elements I suppose I’ll have to fix the validation of the old content as well but who really does that any more?

So here is it, my first post in the new template. It remains to be seen if it injects some enthusiasm so I start posting regularly again. Only time will tell.

  1. W3C 2014 plan

Should this be forgotten?

A tale of my slightly oblique involvement in transgender employment experiences.

The recent news about the ruling in Europe around the concept of the ‘right to be forgotten’ got me to thinking it was time I did a bit of ego surfing earlier on tonight.

For those not entirely familiar ego surfing is putting your own name into Google or another search engine of your choosing if you are so inclined.

For me it’s somewhat topical I suppose as I’m currently contemplating a change in career and I’m sure some prospective clients or employers will be searching me out and finding all sorts of dregs around the internet.

I know of only four other people on the planet with my name so it’s not like I can even use the ‘Bill Smith’ defence and claim it wasn’t me who did whatever it is that the search engines find attached to my name.

As a curious segue I’m facebook friends with one of the other Chris Hellyar’s who resides in the UK. He too is employed in IT, has a beard and glasses. Small world, apparently.

Book CoverAnyway, I’m ego surfing earlier tonight and there are always lots of hits as I’ve been a netizen for a while now and although I prefer to keep my private parts that way a lot of my club activities and work life is available in bits and bytes somewhere.

Part of my working world is stock photography. You know the stuff; photos of smiling people doing happy things. Photos of books, logs, pins, ducks… Stock photography is the essential furniture which graces the virtual and print media world with images of almost anything you can think of.

I see my images popping up all over the place. Bank websites, book covers, advertising for shoes, travel, health conditions, pet food.

Some of the hits are often obscure and tonight I found one that really caught my attention a listing under my name in the search results for ‘transgender employment experiences’.

After a bit of hesitation I clicked on the link to find a fairly serious bit of literature by a Kyla Bender-Baird with one of my images on the cover no less. Google had found the copyright notice for the cover image a couple of pages into the book.

I’m not fussed to be honest and I’m happy that Kyla’s publishers honoured the copyright terms and credited the image. I do wonder what a prospective employer might thing of that in the search results though, given I have a beard and I like to think I’m a pretty manly sort of figure!

Is this the sort of search result that the complainants in the EU want to have forgotten? I do wonder.

(You can see the preview to the book on google books here. Here is the book publishers page on the book if you wound up here looking for the book!)

It’s been a while.

It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say, it’s just that I keep on convincing myself I was too busy to say it. Or something like that.

Since I last posted lots has happened that’s noteworthy in my world, so I feel a little guilty for not saying at least something.

In the Online marketing / SEO world two cute black & white animals wreaked havoc on my working days. Penguin and Panda had a very real affect on the bottom line at work and for reasons that I’m struggling to understand our reaction to these changes has not been as swift as previous algorithm changes.

We use to roll with the punches but now we’ve managed to institutionalise slow somehow.

I think we’re finally getting some progress but the last eight or so months have been a bit weird. I’m sure describing the inner workings of my workplace here is not appropriate so suffice to say that after a great deal has been said and done there has been a great deal more said than done.

On the home and hobby front I got my amateur radio license about thirty years after first studying for it. I’ve been enjoying being a ham and probably should have done it long ago.

I’m a geek at heart and ham radio is one of the oldest forms of ‘geek’ around. That and it fits in better with my spare time and although you can easily burn large piles of cash on radio gear it doesn’t cost you anything to own once it’s on the desk.

That’s in contrast to the motorbike which was costing me $1,000 a year even if I didn’t ride the thing in insurance and registration costs.

So in 2012 I said goodbye to my trusty Yamaha FJ1100. It actually felt like cutting a body part off to be honest but I was never much of a solo rider and the group of folks I used to ride with have dispersed and moved on to different things. It had got to the point where I’d only put a few hundred k’s on the clock between Warrants on the bike.

Kate and I spent a lot of time on that bike and in the 15 years I owned the beast spent over 150,000 k’s trundling around Aotearoa. Fond memories but I’m not sure if I’ll buy another bike.

My last fling was to the March Hair in 2012. I really enjoyed the ride and traveling back through the Mackenzie was immensely cathartic having spent too much time working and not enough living it was a relief just do live for the journey.

The down side was that the rally itself was strangely depressing and catching up with friends who have become distant physically and emotionally in a contrived social setting in less than perfect conditions was awkward. Smalltalk was difficult and although I had a good time while I was there I can’t recall much about it without looking at the photos. Maybe I’m turning into an old fart?

Don’t get me wrong though, some of the great people we’ve met over the years from the seat of the bike are still our best friends it’s just that the friendships have sustained far better than my love of the bike it would seem.

I suppose a 2-year catch-up can’t be complete without mention of the earthquakes here in Canterbury as well. There is nothing that I can write that has not already been written though.

We had little real damage out our way and where I work was only 6k’s from the epicentre of the fatal February 2011 aftershock which changed so much in Canterbury.

Unfortunately having little damage doesn’t get you away from the weird that is dealing with insurance companies and EQC. I hope to be clear of that this year. Maybe.

My place of work despite having a loathing of cute animals spawned from Google HQ has survived the earthquakes and managed a modicum of growth since then so I count myself lucky compared to many who lost so much in the aftermath of the wobbly ground.

Well. I’m sure there is something else that’s happened since March 2011, but at least now I can tell folks who ask why I’ve not posted to my blog for a while that I have indeed put digits to keyboard. I might even get back in the habit, but don’t hold your breath.

Productivity tools can be viable alternatives to work

Ever since some smart chap, or chappess, came up with the idea of a check list and impressed the boss the world has been beset with a search for bigger, better tools to replace what was essentially a very good idea.

Taken to the it’s illogical conclusion this search can lead even the most sensible people to a point where the productivity tools themselves are a very viable alternative to work.

If your team is not distributed, your tools don’t need to be either.
Gantt charts, mind maps, flow charts, to do lists, issues registers and all manners of witchcraft will not be of much use if you’re woefully disorganised. Conversely if you’re a maniacally organised person you will probably just gain ulcers rather than time when you install ‘Project widget 2.0’ on your PC.

One of the big problems with a lot of smoke and mirror systems is that everyone in the market place is clamouring to make the next big thing when what is really needed is a good clipboard and check list.

If you can describe your entire project on one hand-written piece of paper and all the stakeholders live in the same town you need a photocopier and regular communication, not Microsoft Project.

If you managed to write about your plan for world domination on one bit of paper and no-one understands what the project is about you have problems that are nothing to do with web based collaboration.

If your team is not distributed, your tools don’t need to be either. The whiteboard industry is still alive and well, and a stack of post-it notes on the office wall will still work when your broadband is down.

So before you run out and attach your hopes for better efficiency to the latest shiny productivity tool, apply some old fashioned common sense. That is of course unless you’re looking for an alternative to work, in which case the search starts here….

I felt special for about 30 seconds

“It is my pleasure to inform you that on September 30th, 2009 your information was reviewed and accepted for inclusion in the 2009/2010 edition of our registry.

Strathmore’s Who’s Who each year, recognises and selects key executives, professionals and organisations in all disciplines and industries for outstanding business and professional achievements.”

It sounds almost too good to be true! Well, as it turns out it is way too good to be true. I filed this in my ‘must read that later’ folder in my email, and just got back to it today.

About 30 seconds with Google and I discover than Strathmore’s Who’s Who is not exactly almanac of all great achievers they would have you believe.

It is in fact yet another scam to separate the gullible from their money by stroking their fragile egos.

Not that I haven’t got a fragile ego myself. I diligently saved the email, and went to their website.

The alarm bells rang for me when I saw how much information they wanted for me to be listed. If I was truly selected for this amazing honour you’d think they’d have at least Googled me, as I was about to do to them.

I’ve had an online footprint for way too long now to be even able to hide from the lethargic spiders living over at Microsoft, and Google has a way of finding all sorts of history even I’d forgotten.

Even more alarm bells ring when you find out they want you to part with up to $700 in hard earned moola to be listed.

So there go my hopes of being one of the ‘Who’ again this year. Oh well, back to the grindstone.

So, if you’ve found up reading this blog posting because you too had your ego stroked by Strahmore’s Who’s Who invitation, I suggest some of the following reading:….……

As an interesting aside, the invitation came to an email address that I’ve only had for a short while compared to my main personal ones which have been published in plain text on the web for about 12 years now.

So why did the spam bots find this address and not my two published ones? I suspect that was because the new one is on a .com domain. It was published on company blog posting about two months ago.

Be careful out there.

Welcome to my new blog site

The title says it all really. Welcome to my new blog / website.

The intention is to slap all sorts of random things on here. The topics will be as varied and random as my wandering attention will allow. Occasionally some of it will be interesting as well. Although probably not all that often!

If you’ve landed here and this is the only posting it’s probably a bit early to understand what I mean, come back in a while and you’ll get the idea.