Skip to main content

The environmental post

I've been meaning to write up some notes about "the environment" and me.

I'm on the tree-hugging side of the fence politically, and have some of the old-fashioned skin-flint variety of environmentalist in my personal choices [keep the house cool, hang up my laundry to dry, walk/bike/TTC most of the time, own an old used Prius, caulk and insulate my old house obsessively, pay attention to my gas/electricty bills, etc.].

But for the purposes of this post, I want to point out that my website development business is also "environmental", even though I don't flaunt it very much.

Here's why:

  1. I work from home [no extra office to heat, no commuting].
  2. I host my sites on a "green" server at rackforce.ca
  3. By focusing on only Drupal, I can set up my server to be optimized for Drupal hosting, which is more efficient [both at a machine/energy level, as well as my time].
  4. I host quite a few environmental organizations.

So if you're looking for "the environmental choice" in your web development or hosting, you could do worse than using my services.

Popular posts from this blog

Me and varnish win against a DDOS attack.

This past month one of my servers experienced her first DDOS - a distributed denial of service attack. A denial of service attack (or DOS) just means an attempt to shut down an internet-based service by overwhelming it with requests. A simple DOS attack is usually relatively easy to deal with using the standard linux firewall called iptables.  The way iptables works is by filtering the traffic based on the incoming request source (i.e., the IP of the attacking machine). The attacking machine's IP can be added into your custom ip tables 'blacklist' to block all traffic from it, and it's quite scalable so the only thing that can be overwhelmed is your actual internet connection, which is hard to do.

The reason a distributed DOS is harder is because the attack is distributed from multiple machines. I first noticed an increase in my traffic about a day after it had started - it wasn't slowing down my machine, but it did show up as a spike in traffic. I quickly saw that…

CiviCRM's invoice_id field and why you should love the hash

I've been banging my head against a distracted cabal of developers who seem to think that a particular CiviCRM core design, which I'm invested in via my contributed code, is bad, and that it's okay to break it.

This post is my attempt to explain why it was a good idea in the first place.

The design in question is the use of a hash function to populate a field called 'invoice_id' in CiviCRM's contribution table. The complaint was that this string is illegible to humans, and not necessary. So a few years ago some code was added to core, that ignores the current value of invoice_id and will overwrite it, when a human-readable invoice is generated.

The complaint about human-readability of course is valid, and the label on the field is misleading, but the solution is terrible for several reasons I've already written about.

In this post, I'd like to explain why the use of the hash value in the invoice_id field is actually a brilliant idea and should be embrac…

Upgrading to Drupal 8 with Varnish, Time to Upgrade your Mental Model as well

I've been using Varnish with my Drupal sites for quite a long while (as a replacement to the Drupal anonymous page cache). I've just started using Drupal 8 and naturally want to use Varnish for those sites as well. If you've been using Varnish with Drupal in the past, you've already wrapped your head around the complexities of front-end anonymous page caching, presumably, and you know that the varnish module was responsible for translating/passing the Drupal page cache-clear requests to Varnish - explicitly from the performance page, but also as a side effect of editing nodes, etc.

But if you've been paying attention to Drupal 8, you'll know that it's much smarter about cache clearing. Rather than relying on explicit calls to clear specific or all cached pages, it uses 'cache tags' which require another layer of abstraction in your brain to understand.

Specifically, the previous mechanism in Drupal 7 and earlier was by design 'conservative' …