Jul 022014
 

Introduction

Recently I was asked to look into solutions for moving some WordPress sites in-house for a client.  At first this looked fairly straightforward, until I realised that they wanted the ability to spin up new self contained VM sites with little effort.

Naturally, I pursued the logical step of building a “base” virtual machine with a clean install of the latest copy of Ubuntu Server 14.04, configuring it with the LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) stack and Mail support.  At one pojnt at friend of mine, Craig Harvey, asked if I’d considered a pre-built distribution image such as the ones available from Bitnami.

As it happened, I hadn’t gone that route at the time – but I’m glad I did.

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Enter Bitnami virtual machine images

Suppose you want a baseline application platform with a sizable array of applications and a close to zero configuration effort?  Bitnami provides – for free – two awesome VMWare or VirtualBox virtual machines which are pre-configured to support single or multi-site instances of the latest version of WordPress (3.9.1 as of writing).

Can it be that simple?

Yes, it can.  You simply download the image of choice (using or registering an account) and all you need to do is unzip the contents and attach to VMWare/Virtual Box – then start the VM.

The version of Ubuntu is a little out of date (version 12.04) but is pre-configured.  Bitnami images are built from open source software and distributed for free.

As of the time of writing, the Bitnami WordPress stack ships with the following software versions:

  • WordPress 3.9.1
  • Apache 2.4.9
  • Varnish 3.0.5
  • MySQL 5.5.36
  • PHP 5.4.29
  • phpMyAdmin 4.2.2

One obvious advantage is that the Bitnami template virtual machine could be updated when newer versions of WordPress are released.

Understanding the Bitnami template

The Bitnami template provides a number of pre-installed applications, some of which may not necessarily be used for each WordPress installation.

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Figure 1 – The Bitnami Console

The default root of the hosted site provides access to a range of applications:

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Figure 2 – Default page of the out-of-the-box template

Adapting the Bitnami template for each WordPress site automatically provisions a pre-configured copy of WordPress 3.9.1:

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Figure 3 – Default WordPress site

When you authenticate for the first time, you are forced to change the default password (which is always a good idea!).  From here you may roam the operating system at your leisure. 

One quick tip for those not familiar with Ubuntu – there’s no “root”, to perform administrative functions you use the command “sudo” (as opposed to “su”) before the commands you need to execute.  There’s a compelling console/text editor as standard called nano which you’ll likely get used to.

Summary

It’s still early days for me, as I navigate the murky waters of Ubuntu.  I’ll be taking this image for a spin to determine whether it is fit for purpose, but at this stage it looks very promising.  I’ll most likely be posting a follow-up article to this one, so stay tuned for more updates.

Jun 222014
 

Last month I was lucky enough to try out a wireless charging solution for the iPhone 5/5s courtesy of a local mobile phone accessories site called MobileZap

Before we get into the charger itself, I just want to point out how well designed the site is to use, it’s terribly easy to search and filter through results – why can’t all sites be this easy to use?

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Trident Wireless Charging Case & Charging Pad

Anyhow – so today I’m focusing on specifically the iPhone Trident Qi Wireless Charging Case and Charging Pad.  I’ve thrown in a few (actual) product shots here of the charging pad and case I’ve used.

 
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This solution is very neat – use the protective charging case as your normal iPhone case, and instead of having to plug it in when it needs a charge, simply place it on top of the charging mat.  Too easy!

Now when it comes to convenience.. there are a couple of compromises worth considering.  Based on the design of the base of the iPhone, you’ll lose the I/O port on the base of the phone as it will be used by the charging case.

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You’d therefore lose the ability to hook your phone up to the car stereo (via USB) in this scenario, but you’d be able to bypass that if you link your phone via Bluetooth: problem solved.

The other consideration is that you’ll need a charging pad at each location where you’d want to charge your phone (e.g. Home/Office).  Then again, that’s the whole advantage of wireless charging!

This is a tidy charging solution which more or less erases the need for the daily plugging and unplugging of your iPhone.  The charging itself is a breeze, and this is well worth a look as a primary charging solution.

Check out more iPhone accessories and charging pads on this iPhone 5S Case page and the Qi Charging Pads page.

Jun 202014
 

lync2013

This morning I struggled to get Microsoft Lync 2013 to work.  The symptoms consisted of the application running normally – I could authenticate, and the contact list would load – but after a few minutes the application would hang.

Naturally, I Googled the symptoms and found a match for the following:

Now I can load each of the apps but when Lync opens, it may work for a short time or not at all but it goes to Not Responding or just freezes completely.

Which described my situation perfectly.  Scrolling down the page, I noticed that someone had helpfully posted details about how to set Lync’s debug/tracing configuration:

In Lync log files (enable them in Lync settings, set to Full, location: C:\Users\<USERNAME>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Lync\Tracing)

Besides the fact that the information on Lync’s logging is a really helpful reference, it turns out the person who posted that comment had had the exact problem I’d been having – my audio configuration.  For whatever reason, Lync was trying to use the wrong speakers and microphone settings.

My resolution was to disable the playback and recording devices which were not functioning correctly and to perform speaker and microphone tests from within Lync’s settings page.  Problem solved!  Many thanks to the Jussi Palo for the info.

I hope this information helped someone else struggling to keep Lync functioning!