29 October 2017

Get a Dart-lang web dev environment installed for Visual Studio Code

This is for Windows, but it's pretty easy to figure out for Linux too.

Open Visual Studio Code and use the addon installer to install the Dart Code plugin from Danny Tuppeny

From the Dart site, download and install the dart-sdk.

Put the location of the sdk on your $PATH variable

C:\Program Files\Dart\dart-sdk\bin

Use Dart's pub tool (Dart's package manager) to install stagehand (the Dart project generator). In the terminal run

pub global activate stagehand

Then add the following to you $PATH (replacing your_username)


You will be using Dartium you view your web apps. Dartium is bundled with the Windows install of the SDK. You can find it in

C:\Program Files\Dart\chromium\chrome.exe 

Create a shortcut for convinience. Note: Dartium will no longer be needed from Dart 2.0.

To run a test app, create a test folder and open it in VS Code. Open the VS Code terminal and run

stagehand web-simple

Your test folder should be populated with the broilerplate dev files.

Provision the required packages by running

pub get

To launch your test app run

pub serve

Note the response (mine was http://localhost:8080/) and open that in the Dartium browser. You should see Your Dart app is running. You can still test apps in any other browser by opening the same address in that browser, but it may take a several seconds to build (check the terminal for feedback).

30 August 2017

Basic commands to quickly set file/folder permissions and ownership

Assuming you have navigated to the directry you want these changes to take effect ie. /var/www/your_vh_domain

Note: Remember to set individual restricted permissions to sensitive files and folders after this bulk action has taken place. For example, with WordPress you will want to set wp-config.php file to 600

Change folder permissions recursively

find public_html -type d -exec chmod 755 {} \;

Change file permissions recursively

find public_html -type f -exec chmod 644 {} \;

Change file ownership recursively - Set your own user and group as desired

chown -R leke:www-data public_html

20 August 2017

Sites that offer free stock images

Here is a collection sites that offer free stock images you can use for your projects. Please check the current licensing status for each site as it might have changed as of writing this.

The Stocks

http://thestocks.im/ - the best royalty free stock photos in one place


https://www.splitshire.com/about/ - Helping you to be awesome out there with great content.

Pic Jumbo

https://picjumbo.com/ - picjumbo is free stock photo site created by designer & photographer Viktor Hanacek in 2013.


http://gratisography.com/ - Free high-resolution pictures you can use on your personal and commercial projects. New awesome pictures added weekly! All pictures were photographed by Ryan McGuire and free of copyright restrictions.

Startup Stock Photos

http://startupstockphotos.com/ - Free photos for startups, bloggers, publishers, websites, designers, developers, creators, & everyone else.

Negative Space

https://negativespace.co/ - Beautiful, Free High-Resolution Photos with No Restrictions For personal or commercial projects, all of our CC0 licensed images are completely free to use!

Life of Pix

http://www.lifeofpix.com/ - Free, high resolution photography.


https://unsplash.com/ - Beautiful, free photos. Gifted by the world’s most generous community of photographers.

Endless Icons

http://www.endlessicons.com/- Endless Icon is a project bulid by Min Kim who runs Email-Gallery, App Monstr, and Endless Photos. I created it to share some of the icons and creative stuff with the design community. Cheers!

26 July 2017

Get a Windows licence key from a machine after it's been uninstalled

It turns out you can get the Windows licence key from a machine, even after it's been uninstalled, using Linux. Run this in the console

sudo hexdump -s 56 -e '"MSDM key: " /29 "%s\n"' /sys/firmware/acpi/tables/MSDM

If the key is in your machine's firmware, you should see it.

15 July 2017

I've been using the wrong date delimiters in PHP for JavaScript

So I've been making dates in PHP like this

$dt = new DateTime("2017-07-15");
$date = $dt->format("Y-m-d");

and passing that to JS like this

echo "foo = new Date(\"$date\");";
// returns: Sat Jul 15 2017 00:00:00 GMT+0300 (FLE Summer Time)

and that was working fine in Chrome and Firefox. However, if you try and call foo in Safari, you'll get an invalid date error. This is because Safari doesn't currently support the dash delimiter format. More info.

To avoid this in the future, I need to start remembering to format my dates in php with / instead of - when I'm going to be using it in the web-page. So like this

$dt = new DateTime("2017/07/15");
$date = $dt->format("Y/m/d");

The only thing I can see still needing dashes, would be in URLs. If you need to switch to dashes while in JS, you can do something like .replace(/\//g, "-")

I've been neglecting testing in Safari which is pretty bad. Luckily, you can still download an old version of Safari for Windows, so testing is easy enough.

24 June 2017

CodeIgniter 3 Sessions

CI sessions are an alternative to php sessions. It is advised to autoload the sessions so they are always available. CI sessions simplify using native php sessions, ie the $_SESSION superglobal. For example, there is no need to include the session_start() function (to start a new or resume an existing session). Session data is simply an array, associated with a particular session ID (cookie).

As well as read, set and unset values, CI also provides 2 special types of session data, flashdata and tempdata.

To read a session variable use either $_SESSION['item_key_name'] (or the magic getter) $this->session->item_key_name

To retrieve all of the existing userdata, you can simply omit the item key $_SESSION for example print_r($_SESSION) (the magic getter only works for properties).

You can assign (set) data to the $_SESSION array, as with any other variable. Or as a property of $this->session. For example $_SESSION['something'] = 'hello' or $this->session->something = 'hello'

Check if a session variable exists: isset($_SESSION['some_name'])

To remove session variables, use for example, unset($_SESSION['some_name']) or multiple values: unset($_SESSION['some_name'], $_SESSION['another_name'])

Session Flashdata

Flashdata is data that will only be available for the next request, and is then automatically cleared. This can be very useful, especially for one-time informational, error or status messages. To create a session variable as flashdata:

$_SESSION['item'] = 'value';

Or more concisely:

$this->session->set_flashdata('item', 'value');

Read flashdata variables the same way as regular session data $_SESSION['item']

However, if you want to be sure that you’re reading “flashdata” (and not any other kind), you can also use the flashdata() method:


Or to get an array with all flashdata, simply omit the key parameter:


If you find that you need to preserve a flashdata variable through an additional request, you can do so using the keep_flashdata() method.



Tempdata is session data with a specific expiration time. To mark an existing item as tempdata, simply pass its key and expiry time (in seconds!) to the mark_as_temp() method:

$_SESSION['item'] = 'value';
$this->session->mark_as_temp('item', 300); // erased after 300 seconds

Or concisely:

$this->session->set_tempdata('item', 'value', 300);

Read tempdata variables the same way as regular session data $_SESSION['item']

Destroying a Session

To clear the current session both of these will work in exactly the same way session_destroy() or $this->session->sess_destroy()


You can still use the native php session functions with the CI session library and for simplicity, I think this is best practice. You then only need to learn the extra CI session methods (ie. flashdata, tempdata). The added bonus to the CI's session library is that you don't have to add session_start() to every file that uses sessions.

30 May 2017

CodeIgniter's last_query()

I had an issue running codeigniter's $this->db->last_query().

It returns the last query that was run (the query string, not the result). But, remember to run the query, ie call the get() method before the last_query() method.


// Some query you are having trouble building...
// note, you have to call get()
$query = $this->db->get();
echo $this->db->last_query(); // output the converted MySQL query 

This method is helpful when having trouble building queries with the CI query class.

25 April 2017

Running Vagrant on Windows

Recently Packt Publishing kindly gave away Learning PHP 7 in a short 24 hour promotion. I've been going through it and had a problem setting up Vagrant 1.9.3 on Windows. Specifically running vagrant up returned this error

C:/Program Files (x86)/HashiCorp/Vagrant/embedded/gems/gems/vagrant-1.9.3/lib/vagrant/util/is_port_open.rb:21:in `initialize': The requested address is not valid in its context. - connect(2) for "" port 8080 (Errno::EADDRNOTAVAIL) 

Here is the reported error and fix Vagrant 1.9.3 up fails.

None of this is the book's falt of course. Technology changes fast and it's tough to keep up to date with it.

Next problem I had was the book assumes you have an ssh client installed on windows, which I didn't, so the command vagrant ssh returned another error. Although this time, the error simply instructed me to install an ssh client and even suggested some. I chose Git, but found there was one more step to do after installing it. You need to add C:\Program Files\Git\bin and C:\Program Files\Git\usr\bin to your Windows environment path. This latter path contains ssh.exe along with a bunch of other tools.

Now you can easily run vagrant up and vagrant ssh from your project folder path.

The chapter index in this book looks fantastic! There are lots of new things I need to learn there, and some other things I should master. Good luck.

24 April 2017

QPython Hello World over SSH

QPython is a script engine that allows you to run python programs on Android. It comes with SL4A (Scripting Layer for Android) built in. SL4A has access to many of the APIs available to full-fledged Android applications, but has a greatly simplified interface that makes it easy to get things done by wrapping it in Python modules. It supports my really old Gingerbread 2.3.5 OS and can be installed directly from the PlayStore. It really is a great piece of standalone software that will get you coding in minutes, but I decided to run this over SSH with SSHDroid. Take your time to properly setup and protect SSHDroid, get things like the IP address, then try this hello world application.

On your local PC, create a file called test.py and add

import androidhelper
droid.makeToast("hello world!")

Copy it to the QPython scripts folder on the SD card (note, your ssh port number and IP Address will be different)

scp -P 2017 test.py root@

To test the script, you can do it via the QPython GUI interface. You can also run it by calling QPython's python interpreter from a logged in SSH session, and pass it your script to execute. It's a bit like calling python test.py

ssh -p 2017 root@
/data/data/org.qpython.qpy/files/bin/qpython.sh /mnt/sdcard/qpython/scripts/test.py

If all looks good, you might want to now call it over SSH. Log out of your SSH session. Wrap your whole command in an alias to issue a quick command from your Linux terminal

alias phone-helloworld = 'ssh -p 2017 root@ "/data/data/org.qpython.qpy/files/bin/qpython.sh /mnt/sdcard/qpython/scripts/test.py"'

26 March 2017

Tweaking the vertical position of an image

Positioning images/icons alongside text or other elements can be tricky. The following CSS will allow you to slide the image along the vertical axis.

.something img {
    transform:translateY(-35%); /* play with this */