Category Archives: Programming

MODX – “The developer’s CMS”

For those of you who are looking for an alternative CMS (content management system) to something like Joomla, Mambo, Drupal and the numerous others then I urge you to check out a CMS called MODX.

MODXMODX is open source, written in PHP and MySQL and very, very easy to develop on and customise whether it be front or back end functionality.

MODX has become the CMS of choice at work for content managed websites.

This is mainly due to the cost (MODX is free!), functionality, ease of use for the web master  and ease of,  and therefore speed, of development.

It allows you to plugin your own PHP scripts almost seamlessly and embed them into content with a simple ‘snippet’ call.

You can get MODX from here:  http://modx.com/

If any of you MODX users come across this page and need a little help then be sure to drop me an email or a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out!

Spambots & Prevention

As you may know from reading other blog posts or pages on this site I’m a web developer. This is my job and I also do some at home.

Whitley WarriorsYou may also know that I used to play ice hockey for the Whitley Warriors until I was forced to retire after suffering a DVT.

When playing for the Warriors and studying HND computing at college I created a website dedicated to the Whitley Warriors ice hockey team. Eventually this site became the Official Whitley Warriors website.

The site is powered by a custom CMS (Content Management System) written by myself using PHP and MySQL and makes use of the ZEND Framework.

SpambotsRecently we’ve been getting a lot of spambots registering on the site forums (powered by SMF), making a mess and forcing me to spend hours removing post and spam users (I’ve removed about 2500 users up to date).

We are running CAPTCHA images but the spambots have managed to bypass this allowing them to sign up.

So I’ve recently added a few fields to the sign up form and database to help track new users and try to prevent the registration of spambots. Without the correct answers the registration will fail.

So what have I tried?

I’ve added a couple of dropdowns: Are you human? Are you a spambot?

Pick the wrong answer here and the registration attempt will be rejected.

I’ve attempted to catch spambots out here – if they change both answers they’ll fail, if they leave both answers on the default value they’ll also fail. They must choose the right question to change the answer in order to be successful.

Spambots also like to try to answer every question in the form – so I’ve added a box which must be left blank in order for the registration process to be successful.

The final measure in this attempt to prevent the registration of spambots is to ensure that the form has been posted from the correct page on my site. A lot of spambots submit their own form from a remote site, so, by checking the referrer we can see if the user has registered from the correct site and reject any remote registrations.

These measure seems to be working so far, but, if any of you can think of any other measures, whether it be actual code or just theories, which could be introduced or have any comments on the steps I’ve taken so far then please leave a comment.

Welcome to the Political Blogosphere

Please have a look at www.instantpolitics.co.uk. Myself and Malcolm Clarke have launched this site, the concept and code were written by yours truly and Malcolm has used his contacts, blog and inspiration to re-work that initial idea into a political blog portal.

What Instant Politics will do:

Instant PoliticsInstant Politics will take the latest 5 items from the RSS feeds of the blogs of many different parties and merge them into one neat list. You can filter this  list to give you the latest news from the political party you are interested in.

Instant Politics will, eventually, have lots of feeds, which will be added to as we find new blogs.

One of the common things Instant Politics has been criticised for is that it appears to be a replacement for the RSS reader. This is not what the site is intended to do.

We do not think RSS readers are as widely used as many think and this site is beneficial because it gives (or will give) lots and lots of feeds for you to click through to the site and at that point you can link them to your RSS readers.

Another benefit is that we will add the feeds, this means that you don’t have to waste time trawling the internet for political blogs – if the blog is worth the web space it takes up you’ll be able to find the latest headlines and links from that blog at Instant Politics – to put it simply we do the leg work of collecting the feeds and headlines so that you can sit back, relax and read what the political blogosphere has to say.

Instant Politics gives you blogs that fit the following criteria:

  • Our blogs are regularly updated – we do not link to out of date content
  • Up to date thoughts and feelings of the political blogosphere
  • Instant Politics is a search engine for political blogs weighted 100% towards blogs that are active.

Over the next week you will see many more feeds being added to Instant Politics and subtle improvements, so please bear with us and if you have any feedback please get in touch with us via the contact page.

Click here to visit Instant Politics and find a new Politics blog to read regularly.

Programming and RSS feeds

Just a quickie…

I’m now sick of the sight of RSS feeds having spent most of my free time programming a script, which will hopefully make me rich and if not will at least prove useful to a few people, which merges multiple RSS feeds into one before outputting them.

RSS

This allows me to pool together all of the RSS feeds I want to follow and view in one convenient place.

I wish they were standard, rather than differing types RSS1, RSS2, Atom etc – would’ve made things much easier for me.

Seems to be working well with 5 or 6 feeds – the real test will come when there’s hundreds of feeds to parse rather than just 5 or 6.

Once the scripts finished, tested and given the OK we’ll be able to launch the new site which, linking back to my second paragraph, will make me rich or at least money to cover my pool costs.