Amazon Drive synced folder

Amazon Drive newest client supports folder syncing

Good news for data hoarders, Amazon Cloud Drive client popped up with an update today and to my surprise after installing what I assumed it was just a bug fix it included a highly requested feature – Folder Synchronization. A feature available in all other similar services such as Dropbox, Microsoft’s Onedrive and Google Drive. Even though Amazon Drive excels in one feature – offering unlimited space – until now it operated more as a backup service where you had to choose when, what and where to upload your files. Note that you could have sync functionality with Amazon Drive even before using third-party clients but it’s always nicer to have it built-in the official one. With the new version it automatically syncs any files you have in Amazon Drive’s online root folder and it allows you to pick any sub folders that are already backed up to be synced with your local Amazon Drive folder. In the meantime any new sub folders you create locally are automatically kept in sync.

Unfortunately syncing doesn’t have a placeholder functionality that OneDrive used to have and newer versions of DropBox implemented but at least they kept the option to back up files without having them synced.

JPHP – Compile PHP directly to JVM (Java) Bytecode

I stumbled upon the JPHP project today which adds yet another direction to the PHP world. JPHP is an one man project by Dmitriy Zayceff who’s been working on it for the past 2 years and I must admit he must have spent a lot of time on it. Here’s some key points:

  • Compile PHP code into Java Virtual Machine bytecode (into JAVa’s .class files)
  • Use the standard PHP function library including some extensions.
  • Can use any JAVA class through PHP code (you need to write a wrapper for it but it works)
  • Create cross platform GUI or CLI applications
  • Develop Android apps in PHP
  • It executes faster than the current PHP branch and even faster than PHP7.
  • Allows for both stateful and stateless execution when used as a Web scripting language (i.e. you can either choose to execute as a long-running process with shared memory or reset with every request like standard PHP.
  • Can do just in time compilation of PHP files.

Project’s Github page.

Benchmarks can be found here. Page is in Japanese but all you need to look at is the two tables. The first shows the time taken for the 1st run of the benchmarks and the next run where the code is already pre-compiled and JPHP wins.

Recent & Worthwhile in Web Development

PHP

  • Remember Me – Safely Secure Long Term Authentication Strategies
    A detailed explanation on how to implement the Sign in ‘Remember Me’ functionality securely in PHP (the concepts are the same for every language). I must admit I never considered timing attacks for the authentication token until I read this.
  • Laravel 5.0 was released
    The 5th installment of one of the most popular PHP MVC and all-around frameworks was released. Wrote a summary of the changes in another post.
  • HHVM 3.5.0 Released
    The Facebook supported alternative PHP VM has a new version.
  • Cockpit
    A plug-n-play CMS for PHP sites. Targeted to developers, who built web apps and don’t want to re-invent the wheel every time for the content parts of their app. Uses SQLlite or MongoDB as data store.
  • Return Types Declarations approved for PHP7
    In PHP7 we’ll be able to declare the return type for functions and will be enforced causing a fatal error if a different type is returned.  Here’s an example of how it will look taken straight from the RFC:
    function foo(): array {
      return [];
    }

JS /HTML / CSS

  • ReactJS for Stupid People
    A good introduction on what Facebook’s ReactJS is about and why you should use it.
  • Animated Bezier Curves
    Demonstration of how parametric Bezier curves are constructed. Uses D3, and the code is straight forward, just View Source.
  • Konva JS
    Object-oriented 2D HTML5 Canvas Framework. Event driven, layer support, drag and drop, shape nesting, animation and all the usual bells and whistles.
  • mProgress.js
    Material Design style animated progress bar. Uses CSS3, has no other library dependencies and has beyond the ordinary features such as indeterminate progress (7.7kb minified JS).
  • RubaXa Sortable
    Minimal & customizable Sortable with touch support and no dependencies.
  • fieldVal
    Programmatic Javascript Field Validation library (runs both on browser and server). Includes an optional UI library for presenting validation errors in forms.
  • TauCharts
    Javascript charting library which aims to be flexible rather than offering pre-packaged chart setups.

PHP: array_walk vs foreach

Its a minor optimization but might make a difference if you process large arrays. Built-in PHP function array_walk allows you to apply a function to every element in an array. Obviously you can get the same results using a foreach. One would expect the built-in function to be faster since its written in C and hopefully has been highly optimized but it turns out, that’s not the case. After a bit of online research and some tests, foreach is the clear winner. Here’s the examples:

<?php
$test = array_fill(0, 10000, 'test_data');
$start = microtime(true);

foreach ($test as $key => $value)
{
    $result[$key] = 'testdata';
}

$end = microtime(true);
$time = $end - $start;
printf( "%0.5fs", $time );
Using foreach - 0.01022s
<?php
$test = array_fill(0, 10000, 'test_data');
$start = microtime(true);

array_walk($test, function($value, $index)
{
    $value = 'testdata';
});

$end = microtime(true);
$time = $end - $start;
printf( "%0.5fs", $time );
Using array_walk - 0.08700s

foreach wins. Case closed.

Laravel 5.0 Final released

  • New project directory structure – now looks more intuitive.
  • Now more components implement interfaces for better extensibility.
  • Route Caching for faster performance.
  • Middleware support for routes.
  • Common Authentication functionality out of the box (controllers for authentication, registration, forgot password and their respective views are all included).
  • Job Scheduler so you only need to run one cron job and the scheduler picks what to run from the queued jobs for you.
  • and more…

Have a look at the release notes.

How to mysqldump without auto increment values in Windows

In order to run PHPUnit tests I use a boostrap file which uses mysqldump to export the ever-changing database schema without any data, and import it into the testing database. After using this method for a while I stumbled on a problem with the auto-increment values for the table primary keys. There is no easy way to get mysqldump to avoid including the next auto-increment value in the dump. The problem this causes is that if your tests depend on specific primary key values things will go wrong the second time you run your test suite. There is a way to fix this by piping mysqldump’s output into sed. Here’s the actual command:

mysqldump -d [devDB] | sed 's/AUTO_INCREMENT=[0-9]*//' >

This will work under Linux but sadly not on Windows which doesn’t have sed but there’s a solution for that. (more…)

hubiC cheap 10TB cloud storage and Dropbox new pricing

There have been some updates in the cloud storage industry since my last post

hubiC – new cloud storage provider

First time I heard of hubiC I thought ‘yet another cloud storage provider’ but I was wrong. hubiC is a product of OVH one of the largest Internet Service Providers in Europe which has been around for 15 years. Their headquarters and most of their data-centres are based in France, hosting 170000 servers (and 18 million websites). I used to rent a dedicated server from them for a couple of years and I had absolutely no problems with them. Being this large and old it hopefully also means it won’t disappear along with my data tomorrow and that they have more than basic knowledge of network security to keep my data safe. They give 25GB space for free and 100GB for 1 euro per month (inc vat) undercutting Google Drive by about 50 cent per month – not really worth switching providers for. Where hubiC shines though is their 2nd tier package at 10TB for 10 euro per month. Here’s a quick list of features:

  • Owned by a large company with many years experience in cloud and hosting
  • Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry clients.
  • Based in Europe means faster for us than Dropbox and Google Drive.
  • 10TB for 10 euro (0.1 cent per GB per month)

One concern I have about hubiC is that if its desktop apps work the same way as Dropbox it means it will be really hard to ever utilise the whole 10TB. Dropbox for example mirrors what you have stored on your dropbox folder to the cloud and any other desktop client you have running with the same account which means if you fill up 1TB of space, you need 1TB of space on your Laptop too. Consider the same with 10TBs. I will test their Windows app using the 25GB free package and post about it later.

Check hubiC out at here.

Update 1:
Tested upload speed with a bunch of RAW Image files totalling 300mb on 3mbit upstream. hubiC averaged to 325kb/s upload speed.
On their web interface if you choose more than one file to download, it sends you a ZIP file containing the selected files.

Dropbox “dropped” the price

Dropbox took its time but followed Google Drive’s and Microsoft OneDrive’s example and decreased its prices. They simplified their paid plans; now only one non-business option is available and costs 9.99 euro per month for 1TB if paid monthly (which is about 10 times more expensive than hubiC) or 99.99 per year. If you are US based you get the same for 9.99 USD, which means we are getting ripped off as usual.

How to enable WordPress Debug Mode in 60 seconds

If you are a WordPress developer or if you just installed a misbehaving plugin you will need to enable WordPress’s debug mode in order to figure out what made your site get into the dreaded blank white page (unlike Windows WordPress has a White-Screen-Of-Death). So here’s the quick step-by-step guide to get you going:

Step by Step

  1. Connect via FTP to your site (use FileZilla which is free, if you don’t have an FTP client already installed) or just open your text editor if you are running local.  (15 seconds)
  2. Browse to WordPress home directory, and open wp-config.php for editing. (10 seconds)
  3. Hit Ctrl-Endor scroll to the bottom of the document, locate the line that says define(‘WP_DEBUG’, false);  – you can find it a few lines before the end of the file. (15 seconds)
  4. Change false to true and Save. (15 seconds)
  5. Refresh the page and you should be able to see the errors.  (5 seconds)

 

Total: 60 seconds.

 

Its recommended you don’t run this option on a live production site but if you really must, make sure you turn if back off when you are done. Alternatively you can enable the debug log to be sent to a file instead of the browser by also adding the following line in your config file:

define(‘WP_DEBUG_LOG’, true);

This will cause the error messages to be saved in a file called debug.log in the wp-content sub-folder of your installation. Again make sure this file is protected because by default anyone from the web can access it in the particular folder.

 

And if my instructions are not detailed enough you can look at the long version on the WordPress codex.

Typescript compiler got a re-write and is now 5 times faster

According to Typescript’s blog on MSDN, they’ve rewritten its compiler from scratch and surprisingly also moved the compiler’s repository to GitHub. The new version which from a feature point of view identical to the previous version, generates Javascript code 5 times faster. For those who don’t know what Typescript is, its an attempt by Microsoft to make Javascript better, especially for large scale projects. Technically you can write pure Javascript and the compiler will just let is pass through but it will enforce variable types and declarations. So if you are already familiar with Javascript, it just ads a safety net layer for data types and some utility syntax for writing human-readable object oriented Javascript.

I still haven’t tested the new version but I can assure you the original one is noticeably slow. Running the compiler automatically through PHPStorm I found myself many times saving the .ts file then switching to the browser to test only to realize that compilation is still not done and had to switch back to confirm its done before re-refreshing the page. Hopefully this is now a thing of the past.

The announcement can be found here.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in Javascript in your browser

Like everything else becoming available in the browser, now there’s OCR for Javascript. The demo which you can try our here captures documents from the user’s webcam, then applies image processing to convert the image to machine readable black and white bitmap and then uses the Javascript implementation of Orcad (an GNU licensed open source OCR program), called Orcad.js to convert the processed image into text.

Even though I called it implementation before, Orcad.js was created using Emscripten, a trans-compiler which turns C or C++ code into web browser compatible Javascript (not the most accurate description of the process but that’s the general idea). Looks like an awesome tool, which I hope to have the time to play with some day. You can check it out here.

If you missed the link, demo here. Read/download Orcad.js here. The image processing is applied using glfx.js which used WebGL to accelerate image processing on the client.

There’s also a video demonstration: