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Web service for Dynamic DNS service

Last in my small series about running your own Dynamic DNS service: how to support clients which can't use the "nsupdate" tool directly.

 

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What is my IP address?

For a number of reasons it is nice to know your own IP-address. If you are behind a firewall or a NAT system, you usually only have a private IP-address and "someone else" on the internet needs to tell you your official IP-address.

Given what usually happens with free services - they are closed once in a while - and with freemium services - they change the business modell - I decided to run my own service. After all, it's not that complicated, and it integrates well into my own Dynamic DNS service.

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xPyrus community framework released by UniHelp e.V.

UniHelp e.V. - a registered student association in Magdeburg/Germany - announces the release of xPyrus, a framework for operating communities and document sharing platforms.

The framework is based on PHP 5 and PostgreSQL and has been running the students' community UniHelp.de (a platform for exchanging study-related documents and connecting students) in Magdeburg since 2002.

The entire framework is released under the GNU Affero General Public License v3 at http://www.xpyrus.org. A unix-based server is required for installation and use of all features, however, a hosting service can be provided by UniHelp e.V. on request, especially for student organizations.

The press release can be found at:
UniHelp Blogs - Press release

Further information can be found at:
- Homepage of the framework: http://www.xpyrus.org
- Reference application: http://magdeburg.unihelp.de
- Homepage of the publisher: http://magdeburg.unihelp.de/imprint
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Manage Serendipity installations with Spartacus

I have to manage some Serendipity (s9y) installations. Only one of them is my personal blog, the others are customer installations, all on different servers. Apart from new serendipity versions there's also the problem with updated plugins. How can one know about available updates without opening each blog in a browser window, open administration, select "Configure Plugins" and check for new sidebar and event plugins?

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Stupid open_basedir handling in PHP

I have an application which has to run on different webservers (or to be more specific on servers with a different directory layout). On one server the php files are in /usr/home, the next one is using /www, the third one /var/www and last but not least my laptop has the files in my home directory which is below /home.

No problem - or?

Since we want a bit security, we have open_basedir activated. Now the script has to check if a specific directory exists. I added this directory name to the open_basedir settings on all webservers. But surprise PHP tries to be intelligent. On servers where the specific directory does not exist, PHP removes the directory name from the open_basedir directory list (note: this cost another stat() call on startup).

You imagine what comes next? Now the is_dir() call on this server fails, because of an "open_basedir restriction in effect" error.

*grrr*

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BOOLEAN datatype with PHP-compatible output

If you use pure PHP (no database abstraction layer) with PostgreSQL, you may run into the problem that your BOOLEAN columns are not recognized by PHP but the value is instead returned as a string. So any code like:

if (!$boolean)

always returns true because the 't' and 'f' are just strings in PHP.

Other programming languages like Perl, Python or Java and even the newer PHP PDO don't have this problem so it's clearly a PHP issue ... but i don't expect this one to be fixed, because this may break a lot existing applications. The column type information is available in the query result information so normally this should not be a big problem.

How to resolve this problem? There are some possibilities, one simple way would be to just use a SMALLINT instead a BOOLEAN but with the disadvantage that you loose the boolean input values. Another way is to create a new BOOLEAN type and change the output to something PHP-compatible. This new type is binary compatible with the existing BOOLEAN type so casts in either way are not a problem.

Note: i asked around, but it seems, there is no easy solution which does not require updates in the PHP or SQL code. Any workaround like explicit casts to integer are error-prone and you cannot easily find out, because your application will work, but in a wrong way.

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UBERWACH plugin for serendipity

Maybe you already noted the small surveillance camera in the menu list on the right side. Hopefully the icon is green, that would be good for you. If it's red your request comes from an ip-address known for being allocated by a german ministry or political party. Thats nice to know, isn't it?


More details about the icon and the project behind can be found at http://www.uberwach.de/.


If you are running a Serendipity blog and want to show this icon, i wrote a small plugin. You can get it from: http://base.wars-nicht.de/projects/serendipity/. Unpack the zip archive, copy the contained directory into your blog plugin directory and check the "Configure plugins" link in the admin menu. The new plugin should be available in the list for the sidebar plugins. Have fun!


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PHP and version numbers

I just updated my local mirror of different documentations so i always have docs at hand, even if i'm working offline. So i went to the php.net website and then to the docs. Now try to find out, for which versions documentation is available ...

The only vaguely available clue is the date the documentation was built. There is no information, which versions are included and which not. Also no link pointing to older docs, not even for the 5.x releases. You have to use the "one size fits all" archive. Oh, thats really great work ...

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Wenn ein Consultant programmiert ...

So etwas kommt dabei heraus, wenn ein Consultant sich am programmieren versucht:

----- cut -----

function ValidateLink($link) {

...

}

// später:

$url=call_user_func("ValidateLink",$url);

----- cut -----

Das man selbstdefinierte Funktionen auch ohne Umwege aufrufen kann, ist bis in diese Ebene noch nicht durchgedrungen, oder? Von solchen Konstrukten fanden sich (neben anderen Abscheulichkeiten) Hunderte Stellen im Code.

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PHP und assoziative Arrays

Und wieder ein Grund zum Lästern: Es ist ja nicht so, das in PHP ein Array gleich einem Array behandelt wird, zumindest nicht, wenn das Array in der Session gespeichert wird. In diesem Fall muss sich der Key des Arrays an die Vorgaben für Variablennamen halten ... ansonsten wird das Array kommentarlos gelöscht, sobald das Script abgearbeitet ist. Wohlgemerkt, zur Laufzeit kann man auf jeden beliebigen Key zugreifen, die Daten werden erst beim Speichern gelöscht.

Warum? Eine weitere Krankheit aus der Zeit, als beliebige Daten noch global in den Namensraum eingeblendet wurden.

Es ist wohl an der Zeit, damit mal aufzuräumen oder das ganze zumindest konfigurierbar zu gestalten.

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