PHPNW15: A Review

17th October 2015 - 6 minutes read time

PHPNW is the 8th annual PHPNW Conference, and I think I'm lucky to be one of the few who have attended every year. This was something that Jeremy Coates mentioned out as we sat down the introductory session, but it was also good to see lots of new people attending the conference as well. It was a great conference with a great community feeling.

The keynote this year was by Meri Williams, who talked about Stealing People Lessons from Artificial Intelligence. Meri's career has been in both development and project management and she was able to use lessons learnt during her PhD thesis on artificial intelligence in order to think about how people respond to work. The concept sounds a little un-emotional at face value, but part of the principles of AI is making sure that all agents have their own goals. Meri was a funny and engaging speaker who talked about all kinds of interesting aspects of how people learn and grow.

Drupal 7 Page Delivery Callbacks

21st August 2015 - 7 minutes read time

Or, how you can render a Drupal page with an entirely different template.

I recently had a requirement where I needed to get Drupal to render a single page of HTML that was entirely separate from the normal page layout of a site. This was actually part of an API callback, but this got me involved in looking at how delivery callbacks work in Drupal 7. It isn't necessary to create a new theme just for the job of rendering a single page with some custom HTML, especially as Drupal has mechanisms to provide this built in.

DrupalCamp North 2015 : A Review

2nd August 2015 - 7 minutes read time

The city of Sunderland played host to DrupalCamp North, which saw Drupal users and contributors travelling from all over the UK and Europe to attend. The event, which was held from 24th-26th July, was jointly led by the North East, North West and Yorkshire Drupal User Groups and consisted of a three day sprint, a business day, and a two day conference.

Drupal 7 Node Access Control With Access Grants

20th July 2015 - 13 minutes read time

There are a few ways in which you can create complex node access systems. Modules like Taxonomy Access Control and Node Access will allow you to restrict node access in different ways, and work very well for setting up taxonomy or role based access control. There are a few edge cases where you need to restrict access to a node based on some arbitrary conditions like the age of the user or the contents of a field. This is where the build in Drupal access control mechanisms come into play.

Scanning Linux For Intrusion With RKHunter

16th July 2015 - 7 minutes read time
RKHunter (or Root Kit Hunter) is a program that can be used to scan a Linux machine to see if there is anything there that might be a sign of a security breach. It will scan all of the files on the system and look out for any suspicious files or unexpected changes to system files that might indicate a security breach. Just like anti-virus systems it has a database of root kit definitions that it will use to compare files against to see if they are infected but will also just check for changes to core system files.

Some Useful Curl Snippets

14th July 2015 - 7 minutes read time
Curl is an incredibly useful tool and has all sorts of flags and options available for every situation. I tend to use curl quite a lot for all kinds of stuff, and not just downloading large files. So I thought I would post a few of the most common things that I use the tool for. Note that most of the following URLs don't really exist, they are just for demo purposes. I have also left out the output of these commands as they vary from a few lines to many pages of output.

Setting Up Basic Authentication On A Drupal Site Without .htaccess

14th July 2015 - 4 minutes read time

Basic HTTP authentication is a simple authentication mechanism that is used to prevent access to a site or directory on a server. It is by no means the most secure authentication mechanism but it is commonly used on staging sites in order to prevent unwanted access. This is a good way of preventing search engine bots from spidering the staging site, which is undesirable as it can cause staging site pages appearing in search engines results.

Compiling And Installing PHP7 On Ubuntu

11th April 2015 - 3 minutes read time

At the LAMP and Beyond III event (run by PHPNW) this weekend we set ourselves the task of giving PHP7 a go. Below is some nodes from that session.

This assumes that you’ve already installed PHP5.6 along with Apache and MySQL. Installing PHP5.6 via apt-get is fine as we just need some of the dependencies to be present.

To get the the code for PHP7 you need to clone from the PHP repo on Github.

Getting Started With Cache Functions In Drupal 7

30th March 2015 - 10 minutes read time

When generating markup in Drupal you'll often want to store the output in a cache instead of regenerating it every time. This is especially important for potentially expensive rendering tasks that don't change between page requests. Drupal 7 comes with a cache system that can be taken advantage of with the cache_get() and cache_set() functions. There is also a third function called drupal_static() that also fills in gaps between these two functions.

DrupalCamp London 2015

24th March 2015 - 5 minutes read time
Nearly a month has passed since my visit to London for this year's DrupalCamp and I thought I would put my thoughts down on the blog. I went down with a group of colleagues from my company Access on the Friday night before the event, having arranged a flat through Airbnb for all of us to stay in. After some beers and a burger we were ready for the main event on Saturday morning.