Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

Fishing with osCommerce

Dakota Angler

I'm finally down to just the finishing touches on that osCommerce project I mentioned about last month. The site is Dakota Angler, a fishing bait and tackle store, that finally is ready to sell their goods online.

What made the project challenging was that it already had a presence on the Web providing fishing reports, images of big catches by the customers, and an active forum. Having to integrate a new shopping cart around the old site in a way the client was comfortable took some effort. He wanted the online store, but he didn't want to change the existing site so much that he lost his current users or made it difficult for his employees to learn "everything new". There are some practical business decisions as to why you don't want to fancy up a "bait store" too much for the customers.

Just as challenging to work with was the choice of software for the online store, osCommerce. As I've mentioned before, I'm just a little surprised with how much work was required in hacking the core. In osCommerce, I found that the "boxes" and much of the other non-product content are stored in "flat files" and not the database.

Perhaps I have been spoiled by more modern content management systems out there where almost all content is stored in the database. In the CMS that I use today, if I want to add a "box" on my page, it just takes a simple couple clicks with the mouse in the in the administrative menu and the job is done. With osCommerce, you have to hack a couple files to get the job done. While modifying the files in osCommerce is not difficult for anyone with programming experience, it can be very difficult for the "average" client.

Perhaps IE7 is an improvement

I know giving Microsoft a hard time is everyone's best pastime sport, but perhaps IE7 is an improvement over IE6. While there have been some complaints about IE7 "breaking" sites...the uproar is a lot quieter than I expected. I had anticipated a little bit more from the general public. Also, it is also nice to note that IE7 isn't included in many of the "critical"updates that the rest of the IE suite are.

From the IEBlog:

This is a “Critical” update that applies to all supported IE configurations from IE5.01 to IE6 for XPSP2 and IE6 for Server 2003 Service Pack 1 except IE7 where the associated vulnerabilities do not affect this newer platform. As always, IE security updates are cumulative and contain all previously released updates for each version of IE. Read More...

By the way, the "uproar" from the enterprise may be quiet for a different reason. Many larger organizations have blocked IE7 from installing on their network until then get a better handle on what IE7 doesn't do that IE6 did do. At least that's what I did for my office...

Knowing Tech in South Dakota

Yesterday, I spent my time at the Techknowlogy Summit in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We don't get too many technology or geek conventions in the state of South Dakota, so I didn't want this one go to by without a mention here at CMS Report.

Keynote Speaker

The Techknowlogy Summit is a trade show with presentations by both national and regional leaders in technology. The keynote speaker for the show was Kodak Company's Bill Lloyd, CTO, discussing his company's transformation for meeting the demands of the digital age. It was an interesting discussion on the challenges a century old company faces when needing to shift their primary products (film) over to new digital products. Kodak's current modernization efforts began around 2001 and is expected to be near completion in 2007. It was an interesting story, a story that looks likely to have a happy ending for the company and its investors.

Breakout Sessions

The show also had some breakout sessions. I attended a couple Web oriented sessions as well as a session on project management (well done). Regarding the Internet focused sessions, all the speakers were knowledgeable but I'm not convinced all the speakers fully understood who was in their audience. The make-up of the audience was made up by about half developers and half small business people (many of them small retail owners). Naturally, a business technology show should have made sure those talks had the small business owners in mind.

No claim to JPEG

Website owners rejoice! Forgent Networks has dropped their claim on owning the patent rights for JPEG. While this hasn't been a huge concern for most Web designers it's still one less worrisome thought to worry about! Groklaw was the first site that I came across this story:

Here you go, straight from the Public Patent Foundation's press release: Forgent Networks has stopped asserting its patent against JPEG, has dropped all its pending cases that were asserting the patent, and says that it won't file any other infringement claims based on the patent. Read more...

Uncle Ray on E-Bay

Ray Evans Steelers Football Player 1948

After 20 years working with computers and 10 years putting Web pages on the Internet, I finally got around to making my first eBay purchase. My first purchase on eBay helped end a five year search for a 1948 football card of Ray Evans while he was quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ray Evans not only was an NFL quarterback, but he also the University of Kansas' first All-American in both football and basketball.

Why did I want this football card of Ray Evans? Well besides the fact that he was a great athlete he was also my great Uncle. For the past five years I've searched the Internet looking for this card and ironically it showed up three weeks ago on eBay. The auction ended just in time for me to give the card to his niece for a birthday present.

To my surprise no one in the family knew that this card ever existed. I cannot help but wonder how many things we let slip away through the passage of time before we had the Internet. Suddenly legends are able to live on a lot longer before slipping away in the history books. This is the kind of stuff that makes me proud to be in the field of information technology