My Recommendation for the Best Massachusetts Home Inspector

Our recent home buying experience was one filled with lots of research, paperwork, planning, and conversing. At times it seemed overwhelming, and my wife did a great job of managing things, especially during times that wore me down. However, among all my interactions with attorneys, real estate agents, insurance agents and such, my experience with the home inspector was the best. If you're in the market to purchase a house in Massachusetts, I highly recommend Paul Rogoshewski of Harmony Home Inspection.

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Our New Home and the Home Buying Experience

For several years now my wife and I have been researching towns of Eastern Massachusetts to find the best neighborhood to begin a family. In 2006 the real estate bubble in the Northeast finally began to deflate, and for the first time in a decade it became a real estate buyer's market. Coupling the favorable market conditions with regular seasonal lows, we felt the time was right and this winter our search intensified.

We considered factors such as the best schools, lowest crime, amount of open space, commuting distance, housing prices, and overall quality of life. Each year Boston Magazine publishes comprehensive spreadsheets which rank nearly 200 Massachusetts towns by more than 30 factors, including population, average house prices, percent change in prices, student spending, SAT scores, MCAS scores (Science/Math, English), crime rates, contamination, open space, disease rates, average age, and much more. Although this data is published in tabular format as a magazine insert, on some years Boston Magazine made the data available via Excel or CSV document download. We've kept some of these downloaded comparisons and found them to be very handy.

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Fake Miniature Photography with the Tilt-Shift Technique

I've recently discovered Tilt-shift photography. The original technique involves actual camera and lens manipulation. By tilting a lens attached to a camera by a bellow an effect is achieved where a narrow slice of the image is in focus, producing an artificially shallow depth of field which makes the image appear to be a miniature or scale model of the real thing. Tilt-shift photos are said to be "faked".

Its recently become popular to produce the same effect digitally using tools such as Photoshop, and Flickr has some excellent examples as well as tilt-shift pools for both "real" tilt-shift and digital tilt-shift. I'm just getting started with this technique by following some tutorials.

My own tip... When buildings in the scene rise above the surroundings, the default gradient selection will cause the lens blur effect to blur some parts of the building while other parts are in focus. A better result can be achieved by manually "painting" the selection when in Quick Mask mode so that all parts of a buildings or structures in the same plane are selected, then when the lens blur effect is applied the building will appear to pop out of the background better.

This is definitely a lot of fun, and its a great creative outlet in the winter if you haven't had the chance to get out do actual photography. Here's my tilt-shift set on Flickr.

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Never Miss Another ColdFusion Hotfix

View the latest ColdFusion Hotfix notifications from your ColdFusion Administrator using a custom extension. Download this zip file, and extract the extensionscustom.cfm to the /CFIDE/Administrator/ directory.

The next time you view the Administrator you'll see a new menu item in the left-hand navigation panel called "Custom Extensions". When the new Custom Extension menu is expanded, you'll see a list of the most recent hotfixes available for your ColdFusion server.

The full hotfix article title is truncated to display well in the menu, but when you mouse over you'll see the full title. Click on a link to view the full hotfix article in the main ColdFusion Administrator window.

Got BlogCFC? The code makes great blog pod, too. Just slap it into a new, empty blog pod between the module tags and add line in layout.cfm.

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FDS 2.01 Upgrade - CRM Example App Requires Code Change

With the FDS 2.01 upgrade the Flex Data Services CRM Example Application will not work. Ths Adobe Devnet article demonstrates FDS data retrieval with ColdFusion. The main application file, companyapp.mxml, will no longer compile.

view plain print about
11 Error found.
2
3Error /cfcrm/companyapp.mxml:256
4Implicit coercion of a value with static type Object to a possibly unrelated type String.<br/><br/>255:     <mx:Binding source="zip.text" destination="company.zip"/>
5256:     <mx:Binding source="companyIndustryCombo.selectedItem" destination="company.industry"/>
6257:


This CRM example has a panel with datagrid on the left which lists companies, and the same view has a detail panel on the right where company information can be entered or updated, as well as an employees tab where employees per company can be added, updated, or removed.

When the application loads the company detail panel on the right has a combobox for Company Industry, which itself has a binding to the industry property in the Company class for the currently viewed company.

Flex CRM App

The error shown above is in the mx:Binding tag on line 256. It regards the conversion of an Object, companyIndustryCombo.selectedItem, to a String, company.industry. Flex 2.0 must have silently performed this downcasting automatically since the error above did not occur in Flex 2.0, but does occur with 2.01.

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My first talk - ColdFusion MX 7 Server Administration

Introduction slide for lecture 14 of Developing Web-based Database Applications In December 2006 I was honored to provide my first public presentation ever as guest speaker for Harvard University's course Developing Web-based Database Applications (CSCI E-253). This course is part of the Extension School curriculum for the Master of Liberal Arts in Information Technology and the Certificate in Applied Science concentration in Information Systems and Electronic Commerce, and it focuses on the use of Oracle and ColdFusion MX as the vehicle of learning database design for the Web.

The instructor requested that I provide 2 hours of material for the full lecture on the topic of administering a ColdFusion server. This resulted in a very comprehensive crash course presentation on ColdFusion MX 7 Server Administration from page request flow, to understanding directory structure and critical config files, to managing the web server connector stub, to walking through the ColdFusion Administrator, and including ColdFusion and JVM tuning. As a conservative estimate, I spent nearly 30 hours of my own time to build the presentation.

The course was part of Harvard's Distance Education program, which provides live, streaming video from the classroom to remote students around the country and around the world, in addition to the local students in the classroom. My presentation was conducted in state of the art video production classroom equipped with a control booth, several remote controlled cameras, and two slide screens. The control booth technician made me feel like I was on a Hollywood stage, providing hand signals to me as he counted down to begin live broadcast.

Surprisingly, I did a decent job without any major hitches. You can imagine how stressing this scenario was for a first-time presenter. Based on this experience, I intend to review my presentation to expand or contract some topics as necessary. Then if there's a need, I may offer the presentation to other groups when time permits. Since having joined the ranks of ColdFusion QA this year I've been much busier than I was in Technical Support, and even more now that my wife and I immersed in house hunting and negotiating, but things should slow down by the Spring and allow me to get back to this.

For now, here's a few screen shots from the preso, and I may generate blog entries for each of these topics in the near future, but hopefully there's some value in just having these cartoon diagrams. You may also want to check out last year's post on How ColdFusion Receives and Processes Requests.

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Small towns are in the big leagues of writing ... and photography

My photo of Concord Main Street Market and Cafe after a snow storm was published in the December 2006 issue of The Writer Magazine. The photo set the mood for an article titled Small towns are in the big leagues of writing, a reference to Concord's notable literary history including former residents of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathanial Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott. I would add to the list current resident Alan Lightman, author of the former NY Times best seller Einstein's Dreams.

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Using the Flex Data Service Contact Manager Application with ColdFusion ... Really

The Contact Manager Application and Tutorial for Flex Data Services integration with ColdFusion has a few problems that will cause it to not work. Having worked out the issues, I've created a parallel instruction set for getting this tutorial to work.

Using ColdFusion with Flex: Part 1: Creating and running a contact manager application


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Verity doesn't work when you run ColdFusion 7 (unsupported) on Java 5 or Java 6

Verity doesn't work when you run ColdFusion 7 (unsupported) on Java 5 or Java 6. The problem is not in ColdFusion or Verity - it is in the venerable old Cryptix Java security provider which doesn't work with Java 5 or Java 6. Fortunately Cryptix is open source so you can get Cryptix and change it as necessary to make it work with Java 6 (or Java 5).

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Running ColdFusion MX 7 on Fedora Core 6 Linux

There's been a lot of talk about how to run ColdFusion MX 7 on Ubuntu Linux, but I haven't seen much about running CFMX on Fedora Core 6 Linux. While both are officially unsupported for use with ColdFusion by Adobe, as a hobbyist you might enjoy working with these or other distributions, as I do. Ubuntu is based on source from Debian Linux, while Fedora Core is based on Red Hat source, and in fact Fedora distros are effectively public betas used towards the development of future Red Hat Enterprise Linux releases. According to DistroWatch, Ubuntu is by far the most popular distro out there, for now, while Fedora pulls in at #3.

The problems regarding the installation and configuration of ColdFusion on each distribution are both overlapping and yet distinct, especially where Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux) is involved (Fedora). FC6 intends to make SELinux security policy administration easier via a graphical troubleshooting tool. (While I was able to install and use setroubleshoot, I was not able to get the sealert client GUI to work, but it does have commandline operations that were helpful... somewhat. See below.)

Here I identify and address 5 problems in order to run ColdFusion on FC6, leaving one problem with SELinux unresolved but with a workaround. Some of these problems and their solutions have been blogged about before, but I found new twists to them in FC6.

I decided to address the issues of Fedora Core because Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 is currently in Beta 2 and is largely based on Fedora, and I hope to be ahead of the curve by the time RHEL5 is released. Since ColdFusion 4.01 in 1998, ColdFusion releases have supported current Red Hat releases.

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