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Top 10 Developer!

Nibber Badges

Always Learning

As a web developer, I am always learning about new technology and new ways to do things.

I was especially motivated during 2012 after discovering the free Nibbler test tool by Silktide. Nibbler analyses submitted websites and provides a free report and a score out of 10 on how well the website is put together including accessibility, technology, social networking and so on. Websites are awarded badges based on the Nibbler findings such as "W3C Compliant",  "HTML5", "Well Linked" and so on.

Nibbler is used by developers all over the world and thousands of websites have been tested.

Developers can claim websites and earn badges (examples at right) and a score of their own. Add a leaderboard into the mix and it can become quite competitive and addictive!

So Nibbler did influence me learning more about quite a few things in 2012 including:

  • W3C validation
  • HTML5
  • Content Delivery Networks
  • Print stylesheets
  • How to create a Joomla plug-in
  • Social Networking
  • Responsive Web Design
  • Compression and Caching

These are all useful things to know and have motivated me to continue improving both my own websites and client websites.

Top 50 Website
Top 10 Developer

Top 50 Website

During the end of year break, I took the opportunity to work on my own http://webilicious.com.au website, updating to a responsive HTML5 Joomla Template together with a few other minor adjustments.

The website made it into the Nibbler "Top 50" for a while which I am very pleased with.

Top 10 Developer

These extra points and some other badges boosted my own score and catapulted me into the Top 10!

Thanks to Nibbler and Silktide for making learning more fun than usual!

January 2013 Update: I made it to 2nd highest scoring Nibbler user!

Sitebeam

Note that the free Nibbler test tool only tests five pages of each website. Silktide also have a commercial tool, Sitebeam that tests all the pages on your website.

Protecting your Joomla Website from Spammers

No Spam

CAPTCHA is No Longer Sufficient

Forums, registration forms and other forms can usually be protected from spammers using CAPTCHA codes or other security extensions such as the excellent EasyCalcCheck PLUS.

Sophisticated spammers are now circumventing CAPTCHA codes on websites using techniques such as:

  • low paid human workers manually entering the codes
  • clever spam bots that use OCR to decipher the codes
  • high traffic websites owned by the spammers that redisplay the a target website CAPTCHA code on their own website, have it solved by a visitor and then use the solution on the website they wish to spam

At least one of my clients is affected and a better solution is required.

Keeping One Step Ahead of the Spammers

There are several services on the web such as projecthoneypot.org and stopforumspam.com that maintain lists of the IP addresses of known spammers and hackers. We can team these services up with a suitable Joomla extension to stop the spammers from accessing the website at all.

I have chosen Akeeba Admin Tools Professional as my preferred solution. An Admin Tools Professional subscription at €20 is excellent value for money and has many other useful features apart from the IP Address blocking.

Enable protection in Akeeba Admin Tools as follows:

  • Register an account and apply for a key at http://www.projecthoneypot.org/httpbl_configure.php (it's free)
  • At Components -> Admin Tools -> Web Application Firewall -> Configure WAF -> Project Honeypot integration, set:
    • Enable HTTP:BL filtering: Yes
    • Project Honeypot HTTP:BL Key: [enter your own key here]

Known hackers and spammers will now be blocked from accessing your Joomla website.

Free Spam Protection

You can find more free and commercial IP address blocking extensions in the Site Protection and Spam Protection categories in the Joomla Extensions Directory.

Some promising free extensions (so far untested by me) are:

What are you using to foil spammers?

Backup, Backup, Backup!

Akeeba Backup Logo

Why Backup A Website?

Everyone with a website knows, or should know, the importance of regular backups. There are many reasons that you may have need of a recent backup. For example:

  • your website could be compromised by hackers
  • the server on which your website is hosted could fail
  • your web hosting company may not have a recent backup of your website (check your terms and conditions - many web hosting companies have no guarantees in regard to backups)
  • your web hosting company could go out of business
  • an administrator could inadvertently delete content or misconfigure your website

Backing up a Joomla Website

Backing up a Joomla website is so easy, there are no excuses to defer this important task.

The undisputed backup tool of choice for Joomla is Akeeba Backup. It is very simple to download, install and run Akeeba Backup which backs up all your files and the database into one neat compressed file. This should then be copied via FTP to your local machine or somewhere else safe.

How Often Should I Back Up?

The answer to this question is usually, "how much can I afford to lose?".

A static website which rarely changes may only need to be backed up once every few months. A website with a few content updates each month might need to be backed up every month. A busy e-commerce website may need to be backed up every day.

How Much Does It Cost?

The free version of Akeeba Backup does an efficient job with the paid version of Akeeba Backup having a few extra features such as the ability to back up to DropBox and elsewhere in the cloud. See the feature comparison for more details.

The Alternative

I was recently asked to investigate a hacked Joomla 1.5 website (not one that I built or looked after, I hasten to add).

The best way to recover from a hacked website is to start with a known clean copy of the website. Unfortunately, the client did not have his own backup so we had to rely on the web hosting company. After many support emails and a few weeks, it became apparent that the web hosting company had no suitable backup.

The only alternative, apart from rebuilding the website from scratch, was to identify and remove all the malicious code. With over 15.000 files in this particular website, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack! Eventually, malicious code was removed from three files and a malicious file was removed to restore the website. This is not the preferred way to restore a hacked website as you can never be 100% confident that you have removed all the malicious code. This method is also more time consuming and costly!

When did you last back up your website?

Remository Migration from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 2.5

Remository Logo

This is the fifth article in a series of Joomla component migration instructions. Published so far are:

Remository Migration

Note: The database tables must be copied across to Joomla 2.5 before installing Remository on Joomla 2.5 as the installation procedure will add new database fields if required. If you do this in the wrong order, the fields won't be created.

This procedure was successfully tested using the following versions:

  • Joomla 1.5: Remository v3.53.13J
  • Joomla 2.5: Remository v3.54.05J2

Migration Procedure

  1. Install Joomla 2.5 in new sub folder.
  2. Migrate core functions including user accounts with SP Upgrade or similar.
  3. Upgrade Remository on Joomla 1.5 to latest version, if it isn't already. Note: You need to uninstall the old version and then install the new version. Since version 3.40, data and configuration are not lost across an upgrade.
  4. Export the 14 x Remository database tables from Joomla 1.5 with "Quick" and "SQL" options. Note: Assuming they are not too large, you can multiple select tables and export and import them as one file:
    • jos_assignments
    • jos_downloads_blob
    • jos_downloads_classify
    • jos_downloads_containers
    • jos_downloads_credits
    • jos_downloads_email
    • jos_downloads_files
    • jos_downloads_file_classify
    • jos_downloads_log
    • jos_downloads_repository
    • jos_downloads_reviews
    • jos_downloads_structure
    • jos_downloads_text
    • jos_permissions
  5. If necessary, amend table prefixes by searching and replacing all of the old prefixes e.g. jos_ to j25_ inside the file(s).
  6. Import the Joomla 1.5 Remository database tables into Joomla 2.5.
  7. If the tables are too big for export/import, and they are on the same server, you may be able to use the copy table operation instead of import/export.
  8. Install the latest Remository version on Joomla 2.5. The database tables are automatically modified with extra fields, if needed.
  9. Check for and copy any files in the file system. Locations will be specified as absolute paths in the configuration.
  10. If paths in the site have changed, you may need to update the configuration.

References:

http://remository.com/faq/remository-upgrades/upgrade-remository/
http://remository.com/faq/remository-general/migrating-remository/
http://remository.com/forum/func,view/catid,5/id,18564/
http://remository.com/forum/func,view/catid,15/id,18376/
http://remository.com/forum/func,view/catid,15/id,18130/