Monday, 12 May 2008

Free fashion related links

Run a fashion site? Want some free linkage? Leave me a comment, with the keyword you want - make sure I can contact you via it, perhaps include your URL (or a link to somewhere that has a contact form for you, don't make me think) - and I'll hook you up with some good deep links inside text, from a white-hat site.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Screw Lipsum

People love (I mean LOVE) to fill up their mediocre templates with text from Lipsum:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum


But this stuff is so dull! Surely it's preferable to at least fill your templates with something more legible and interesting:


Knight Rider, a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless in a world of criminals who operate above the law.

Children of the sun, see your time has just begun, searching for your ways, through adventures every day. Every day and night, with the condor in flight, with all your friends in tow, you search for the Cities of Gold. Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah... wishing for The Cities of Gold. Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah... some day we will find The Cities of Gold. Do-do-do-do ah-ah-ah, do-do-do-do, Cities of Gold. Do-do-do-do, Cities of Gold. Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah... some day we will find The Cities of Gold.


Malevole's Text Generator has the filler text hookup.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Ubercart initial review

Ubercart is an open-source ecommerce solution. It's not osCommerce derived, which immediately fills me with hope. It's got a silly name, but great looking demo sites. It's based on Drupal, and plugs in as a module.

The install process looks promising; Step 1's a remote installer! This needs FTP details, a MySQL login, and the hostname of the destination site. Great stuff. After setting up vsftpd dual logging in order to work out why it doesn't work, it turns out it's expecting passive mode to just work. Punching a firewall hole for the install source host's IP fixed things, and the installer then runs a few tests and becomes familiar with its environment.


Step 2: configuration. Here we set up an admin login, and are given options to configure drupal and the cart, mainly asked to add or drop modules. As we have no idea about Ubercart or Drupal at this point, the huge lists of modules to install or ignore are fairly overwhelming here, but they are hidden to start off with, so that's alright. Slightly disturbing is the choice not to install Paypal, Order, Payment, Shipping and Stock modules by default!

So, after confirming this, a progress bar appears, and chugs along happily as data is pumped onto your server. Watching Ubercart remote install is a bit like watching insects having sex; there's definitely a bit of protrusion and insertion. The install process uploads PgSql files, even though it's working via MySQL; interesting. Files also go up individually. Surely uploading a zip then unpacking it server side would be faster? It already checked phpinfo so it knows we have the gzip and bz2 libs compiled in; there's no excuse.

Anyway, after a good looking upload that went smoothly to 100% without any ftp errors, a message appears that the installation has failed. The user account we set up doesn't work, either. Panic stations!

Luckily, the Drupal basic config screen could be much worse, and signing up as the first user is easy. Trying to administer the site, we find:

PHP Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 16777216 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 7680 bytes) in /var/www/x/html/sites/all/modules/cck/content.install on line 158, referer: http://www.x.com/?q=user/1

Bah! That could've been easily detected and catered for, or alerts raised, by the installer. Well, never mind; it's easily fixed.

So, we're in, kinda. Looks like a basic Drupal install more than anything else, and there are certainly no pointers as to what to do next. Well, the status section has some flagged status items - easily corrected, again. The Remote installer could've checked for .htaccess function and fixed the rewrites itself, but no problem. Adding a crontab for the site's user doesn't satisfy the cron poin - is cron job detection flaky?

And then we get to.. this horrendous thing - each line is a link to a page of configuration settings to adjust so that you're up and running:


For some reason, the crash reporting is set by default to report your URL, sales, order and product volumes. URL is understandable, but that other data? No thanks!

Product data contains no link to actually add an item. How do we do this? Via the "create content" link at the top of the admin leftnav, obviously! This screen is again filled with detailed settings - fine for the advanced user if they need them, but skipped to start off with. Ubercart requires you to set your own SKUs, with no option to have them autogenerated. Sigh.

So; now we have a shop, with an item, and not much else. The contact info entered hasn't gone onto a nice contact info page; in fact there's no way of contacting the site owners yet. More manual work. The currency symbol seems dead set on following the price, too (e.g. 2.50$) - very odd! It'd be nice to get rid of the login links everywhere.

At this point, there's no add to basket button on the product page. The item has a setting for "how many to add into the basket at once"; the modules that look appropriate are set up; and the guide on the site has been followed, until it got to the point where 20 pages of lists of todos are required to proceed. Given experiences so far, it looks like some special tweak has to be done to let people add to the god damn basket.

I want a shop that installs, I set up basic metadata, add products too, and people go buy. I don't want to learn Drupal; I don't want to hunt for hours for settings to enable basic ecommerce system requirements; I don't want to force my visitors to log in; I just want to sell things, online.

Ubercart - you looked hot, but it turned out that you were a tranny. I'm kinda glad I kept my pants on.

 
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