Disappointed with Zend’s PHP5 Certification

I’ve never been a huge fan of certification. Although I understand it is supposed to help gauge an industry benchmark in a given field, I often feel like it’s given the IT world a generation of good test takers who are not necessarily good designers. Still, I’ve programmed with PHP on my own for years and want to eventually move my career path towards that direction. I decided to get a one up and try for my Zend PHP5 certification. What I came away with was a massive sense in disappointment in Zend’s entire certification process.

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I just finished my latest web application project: TweeFlood. For those of you on Twitter, TweeFlood is a way to see how much you and your friends tweet. It displays statistics for how often your friends tweet per year, month, day and hour. Try it out and follow @TweeFlood.

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Installing Awstats on a Media Temple grid-server (gs)

I’ve been using Media Temple for web hosting for a while. Like any other host, they have their advantages and disadvantages. One of the biggest problems with Media Temples is that their basic grid-server (gs) package only allows for very simple statistics gathering using Urchin. It is so simple that it combines hit counts from all websites into one graph unless users purchase additional grid-server units. Although Media Temple provides raw access logs, the way virtual hosts have been setup causes difficulty when attempting to use their logs with a log analyzer.

The following tutorial goes through how to install and configure the free and open source web statistics program Awstats to be used with Media Temple’s grid-servers to provide analytic data from the Apache logs per each individual domain.

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Winter at Lula Lake

Season Song – Kaiser Cartel

Okay – Kaiser Cartel (ft. Winterpills)

nVidia’s Hardware H.264 (1080p) codec for Linux

I spent a couple of hours getting a proprietary software H.264 codec working in Linux and even published a writeup to help others. A day later I learned from one of the people I sourced in my article that nVidia started releasing Linux drivers last November for the hardware high definition decoders found on the 8xxx series of video cards as well as a customized version of mplayer to support the new drivers.

A mixture of emotions came across as I realized I wasted an entire day on a software decoder when a hardware solution was available for $30 to $40. The software solution was fairly disappointing, so I decided to try one of these new cards, an nVidia GeForce 8500 GT, to see if it provided a better solution. It took some work with my setup, but the results were worth it.

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1080 Video in Linux with CoreAVC

I’ve got an old Pentium D 920. Over two years old, with the right ffmpeg options for mplayer and frame dropping enabled, this CPU can still play H.264 720p video at amazing quality in Linux. However, all 1080p and 1080i60 (camcorder M2TS files) choke horribly. The video drags, audio skips and the video is totally unwatchable. In my search for a better video codec, I came across CoreAVC, a closed source commercial codec for Windows, as well as the coreavc-for-linux project: an attempt to use those closed source drivers with various media players in Linux.

Unfortunately, the installation documents for coreavc-for-linux were months old, out-of-date and had few corrections for new bugs. The following are some of the common errors I found as well as the solutions I’ve found to get the trail version of the CoreAVC codec working on my Gentoo Linux system.

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Upgrading the MacBook

My MacBook is about two and a half years old. Aside from upgrading the memory to 2GB when I initially purchased it, I’ve kept it stock and it’s been a fairly reliable laptop and the most convenient laptop I’ve owned. Currently it’s also the only computer I own that will let me edit and play HD content. Even then, the video becomes jumpy after about fifteen to twenty seconds during the editing process. Also, the battery no longer holds enough power to keep the laptop operational for over an hour. So a few weeks back I decided some upgrades were in order: upgrading to OS X 10.5, a new 500GB hard drive and new battery.

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Guide for New WordPressMu Administrators

Recently I migrated several websites from various web applications and frameworks onto a common WordPress base. I chose WordPress because it has a large adoption audience, a massive range of plug-ins and a good release cycle. I decided to use WordPressMu (multi-user) to handle several websites from one base install. I ran into a couple of interesting caveats and unique gotchas I’ve decided to document here in hopes of assisting other WordPressMu administrators.

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