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Biased Random Value From Array With PHP

10th March 2008 - 2 minutes read time

Sometimes you will want to get a random value form an array in a biased random way, that is, you will want certain values to be returned more than others. Here is a function that will generate a single key from an array, with a greater change of a higher value being retrieved.

function biasedRandom($numbers){
 $total = 0;
 foreach($numbers as $number=>$weight){
  $total += $weight;
  $distribution[$number] = $total;
 $rand = mt_rand(0,$total-1);
 foreach($distribution as $number=>$weights){
   return $number;

This function is used in the following way.

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Discover Auto Increment ID After MySQL Insert With PHP

9th March 2008 - 2 minutes read time

Inserting a value into a database with an auto incrementing field is quite common. Once you insert the new row you would expect that you need to do another query to get the newly created ID.

Another option is to use the mysql_insert_id() function to retrieve the ID created by the last insert statement.

// insert
$sql = 'INSERT INTO table(colum1, colum2) VALUES(1, 2);';
// get new id
$id = mysql_insert_id();

The $id variable will now contain your most recently inserted ID.

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PHP Password Generator

8th March 2008 - 2 minutes read time

Here is a very simple function that will generate a string of random characters, ideal if you want to create a password for a new user.

function generatePassword($length=10)
 $pass = '';
 $parts = array_merge(range(0, 9),range('a', 'z'),range('A', 'Z'));	
 for ($i=0; strlen($pass) <= $length; $i++) {
  $pass .= $parts[array_rand($parts)];
 return $pass;

Use the function like this.

echo generatePassword();

To create a longer password string just pass a parameter with the function.

echo generatePassword(5);


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Changing Your Wordpress Database Prefix

7th March 2008 - 5 minutes read time

A good security tip when installing your Wordpress blog is to change the database table prefix, the idea is that this will hide the tables from any hackers looking to compromise your blog. This can be done in the wp-config.php file and the variable $table_prefix. Changing this value from the default wp_ to, for example, blog_ will change the table wp_posts to blog_posts, making it more difficult for hackers to find it. Using blog_ is only an example, you should treat the prefix like a password, include letters and numbers to make it more difficult to find.

But what happens if you have installed your system and want to change the prefix? Well you need to change the $table_prefix variable in your wp-config.php file and alter the tables in your Wordpress database. Which one you do first is up to you, but you should go them both as fast as you can. Here are some MySQL statements that should help you to do this.

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Extract Links From A HTML File With PHP

6th March 2008 - 2 minutes read time

Use the following function to extract all of the links from a HTML string.

function linkExtractor($html)
 $linkArray = array();
 if(preg_match_all('/<a\s+.*?href=[\"\']?([^\"\' >]*)[\"\']?[^>]*>(.*?)<\/a>/i', $html, $matches, PREG_SET_ORDER)){
  foreach ($matches as $match) {
   array_push($linkArray, array($match[1], $match[2]));
 return $linkArray;

To use it just read a web page or file into a string, and pass that string to the function. The following example reads a web page using the PHP CURL functions and then passes the result into the function to retrieve the links.

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Using mod_rewrite On Form Parameters

5th March 2008 - 6 minutes read time

Using mod_rewrite on websites is fairly straightforward and can create some lovely looking URL structures. Instead of having a URL that contains lots of odd looking parameters like this:

You can use a .htaccess file to rewrite the URL on the server side in order to shorten this to something like this:

In this occasion the value of parameter2 will always be value2 so we can just include that in the rewrite rule, which would look something like the following. $1 is a back-reference to the first parenthesized value matched in the RewriteRule.

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Simple PHP Script To Hide An Email Address In An Image

4th March 2008 - 3 minutes read time

Spam is a problem. You want to allow people who genuinely want to get in touch to see your email address, but doing this invariably leads to you getting thousands of spam emails.

One solution is to hide your email address in an image, but it can be a pain to create an image for every email address you need. A better solution is to use the PHP GD functions to create an image at runtime so that your email address is displayed, but is completely unreadable to spammers.

To to this you will need to create an image tag on your website, here is an example.

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Getting All Permutations Of An Array In PHP

29th February 2008 - 3 minutes read time

Here are two ways in which you can figure out all of the different permutations of an array.

The first is using a recursive algorithm. This nibbles apart the array and sticks it back together again, eventually resulting in all of the different permutations available.

Create A Simple Flash Presentation

28th February 2008 - 4 minutes read time

One common thing that can be done with Flash is to create presentations. These presentations can then be exported to a swf file and viewed by just about everybody.

To make a presentation create a new flash document and create a new layer. This layer will be used to keep the next and previous buttons in a consistent place.

On the first frame add the following code to stop the animation running at the first frame.


Next, create a button that you can use for moving forward and backward through the presentation. This can be done by drawing an object on the stage, right clicking on it and selecting Convert to Symbol.... You can then add these buttons to the stage and create events for them.

For the previous button a function exists in ActionScript called prevFrame(). So all you need to do is attach that function call to the release event (ie. after a user has clicked on it) on that button.

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Apache Bench Tool

25th February 2008 - 5 minutes read time

The Apache Bench tool can be found in the bin directory of any standard instillation of the Apache HTTP server. It can be used to test the response times of any web server you want and can be useful if you want to stress test a mission critical server before it goes live.

To use the tool open a command prompt (or terminal), navigate the Apache bin folder and find the program ab, this is the Apache Bench tool. The simplest form of running the tool is to use a single URL. However, you must enter a full file name or the tool will give you an invalid URL error.


This gives the following output.