Creative extigy on Mac OS X doesn’t support 5.1 surround sound

I ordered a few cables to get both my PC and powerbook hooked up to my old creative extigy sound card, hoping I could then listen to either through my 5.1 speaker set.

I’d used the extigy on the mac before, and it certainly does detect it and play sound. Unfortunately I hadn’t paid much attention to the rear speakers. It turns out creative never released any drivers for the mac, so not only can I not get proper 5.1 surround sound, the CMSS feature won’t work either.

So that was a waste of time and money, considering I can get the same sound from a normal stereo cable. Apparently the newer macbooks (hopefully mine included) have optical audio out, but I’m not sure I want to buy the cable to find out?

As a “sort of” fix, I’m going to play music using parallels running Windows XP. I don’t think I’m ever going to get away from Windows for good. 🙁

Selecting and uploading multiple files with one form element, wordpress style

We’re building a CMS at work and one of the requirements is a half decent file manager. Having seen how easy the wordpress upload tool is, we wanted to replicate it. Clients don’t want to sit there having to individually select and upload 50 files from a folder!

There are a number of options available to do this:

  1. Using a flash (swf) file to perform the upload
  2. Using a java applet to perform the upload
  3. Using an HTML file input box to create a hidden array of file input boxes

My issue with #3 is that you still have to individually select all the files in a folder before clicking upload. If you want to upload 50 files, thats 100 clicks and a case of RSI. So, I ignored #3 entirely.

Ideally,  I wanted solution #1, but I found a lot of answers to solution #3,  followed by #2. In the end I tried out four different solutions, all open source.

SWFUpload

By far my favourite, and the one we ended up using, this is the same tool wordpress use for their image upload plug

in. It is the most difficult to configure, but its got the most flexibility. SWFUpload uses a .swf file for the actual file uploads, which get posted to a script you specify in the setup. There are then a load of javascript callbacks that allow you to track the progress of files and update your page with the results. All in all, very impressed.

Check it out and download it here: http://www.swfupload.org

There are also demos at: http://demo.swfupload.org

UPDATE: I stumbled across a blog post with a tutorial for creating your own flash file, incase you don’t

want to use SWFUpload. It looks pretty simple, so check it out: Multiple File Upload Using Flash

Continue reading “Selecting and uploading multiple files with one form element, wordpress style”

Blackberry app world (store) launches

Somebody just mentioned that the Blackberry application store launched yesterday and so I had to try it out! So far, it looks promising, but have hit a number of teething problems.

Yesterday I was unable to browse the store on my phone because I was in the UK. Today I’m able to browse the store, but unable to download Shazam, an app that I could download yesterday.

I’m also a little worried that, as it grows bigger, it will be harder to find the application you are after and with only IE support if you want to view it on your computer, that sucks.

Hopefully we’ll see a load of updates over the next few days!

Online small claims application form: technical error

For the last few days we’ve been trying to file a small claim online but everytime we get to the submission stage, we get a technical error and are asked to try again later or file the claim the old-fashioned way!

With the error not dissapearing, I gave them a ring. The first question they asked was, “what browser are you using?“. Firefox, of course. Apparently the application form will only work in Internet Explorer. A few years ago I would have thought to try this first, but I was under the impression Firefox had enough market share to be taken seriously.

What really annoys me is that there is nothing in this process that should require internet explorer to operate properly. Its just a series of simple forms. Its ironic because the government probably paid more for this one form thatn we’ve ever charged for all forms we’ve ever built, and it isn’t even accessible to 30% of the Internet (counting Safari, etc).

PHP UK Conference 2009

Late last night I returned, exhausted, from a great 2 days at the PHP UK conference in London. I’m not a pro at writing, let alone reviewing a conference but I thought I’d post some of my views of the day! To start with, summaries on the talks I saw:

The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades (keynote)

I’d never heard of Aral before, and as he cheesily ran across the stage at the beginning (to a silent reaction) I was a little worried! It turns out I’d judged him too soon, as the talk turned out to be really interesting. I think his point about remembering the first piece of code you ever wrote, and how excited you were about what it did, really hit home with a lot of the people in the audience. He finished with “make sure you’re always working on things that excite you” (paraphrased, I’ll try to find the actual quote).. which is something I really want to work towards, but sometimes you just need to pay the bills.

Sharding Architectures

I’d already heard Scott talk about the new features of 5.3 so thought I’d checking Sharding. Although I didn’t know what “Sharding” was before the talk, I was familiar with the technique, I just didn’t know what it was called! 🙂 I thought the topic was delivered well, although some key points were missing from the explanation of consistent hashing.

Of Lambda Functions, Closures and Traits

Sebastien’s opening line: “I’d like to confirm that Marcus and I don’t hate each other”. I’d not heard any rumours but had always wondered what would happen if the SimpleTest and UnitTest creators had met up. Apparently nothing. 🙁 It was great to see some of the new PHP 5.3 features and examples of how to use them. I’m looking forward to the introduction of Lamba functions and closures but it sounds like there are a few useful (perhaps even key) related features that didn’t make it in to 5.3 in time that will hopefully get in to a future release soon. I couldn’t think of a use case for functors though?

Living with Frameworks

Although Stuart tried to stay impartial, he is clearly a big fan of Symfony. :p I think 80% of the room were already familiar with frameworks, me included, but it was good to hear other people had experienced similar issues to us when implemeting a framework. Towards the end I got a little bored with the reading of the quotes from Will, James and Bob (or whatever their names were). The talk was pretty popular though, and I was the last one to get in.. which was lucky, as the alternative was PHP on Windows. Its not that I have a problem with Windows, I just won’t be switching any time soon.

Flex and AIR for PHP programmers

Not a lot to say about this talk. Flex is something I’m interested in getting in to and so it was good to see Mihai creating an application live on stage. But I’m still not sure I had enough info to get me started. I’m gonna email him for one of those free books. 🙂

Security-Centered Design — exploring the impact of human behavior

I’d not heard of Chris before either, but he seems like an interesting guy and was pretty happy to openly share his opinion on pretty much anything. The talk didn’t get in to anything too specific, but shared some ideas on how to subtly let users know that they are on a secure site or, that they’re on the wrong site in the case of phishing. Either way I left the talk feeling I’d learnt something and had a good time.

Otherwise, the rest of the day was great. Lunch was tasty, events ran on time and everything seemed well organised. The only downside? I didn’t win anything. 🙁