Archive for May, 2007

Drupal: How To Remove the Login Block From Public View

For Drupal-powered websites that do not allow the public to log in to the website, you will probably want to hide the log in block.

To do this, you need to know two things: how to hide the block (very easy, and fairly obvious), and how to log in when there is not login block (easy, if you know how).

Hiding the Login Block

The following instructions are for Drupal version 5. Version 4.7 is a little different, but this procedure should still help you.

  1. Navigate to the Administer page.
  2. Click blocks (in the Site Building section).
  3. Locate the user login block.
  4. Select <none> in the region menu.
  5. Click the Save blocks button.

This removes the login block.

Logging In With No Login Block

Now that the login block is gone, how do you log in?

www.yoursite.com/user

Maintaining Consistent WWW Prefix in Drupal

It has been bothering me for months that visitors arriving at my sites without the www (for example, discover-doug.com rather than www.discover-doug.com) end up at two different places (as far as Google is concerned).

Note to WordPress users: this does not seem to work for WordPress. I just tried it with out success. That is why this blog, which runs on WordPress, will not change discover-doug.com/something into www.discover-doug.com/something.

I just stumbled across the solution in the Drupal Issues page which explains how to fix this.

Actually, I was lucky, because Drupal 5.x has a bug in the.htaccess file. There is provision for this - an explanation and some lines to be un-commented, but I had not bothered to read the .htaccess file.

Continue reading

How Things Change

Time-CapsuleI saw this cartoon which really made me think. Not only are things so much different as an adult from what we imagined when we were children, there have been changes our parents would never have foreseen …

How Much Privacy do we Really Have?

This flash movie about ordering pizza is funny because … its true. Almost. And when you stop to thing about it, maybe not so funny after all.

Someone sent me a link to the movie; its the sort of humor that gets around by email. Curious to know who published it, I stripped off the URL do the home page and discovered the American Civil Liberties Union. They are rightly worried about privacy in the USA. I know I’m pretty worried - I don’t know if things are better or worse in Canada, but soon there may not be a difference if the SPP, the so called Security and Prosperity Partnership gets any hold. That is the sort of thing that could make the pizza scenario come true.

Americans have a lot to worry about, but so does the rest of the world, especially its nearest neighbors.

Reducing Search Result Spam

There is nothing more annoying than getting trashy sites in your Google results! This used to happen a lot more, but over time, Google has greatly improved its search engine results. Almost always, the first few results are relevant to your search, even if they are not quite what you are looking for.

Still, junk websites can slip through.

I just discovered a way of reporting search results spam to Google. This looks like a great way of keeping search results clean!

Is Marketing Copy Better as One Long Page or Many Short Ones?

I am just working on new copy for my Douglas Samuel website. The copy writing is coming along, but now I face a dilemma: should I have a few long pages, or many short ones?

A few long pages may be better for readers, and for conversion.

Many short pages is probably better for search engine optimization.

So I’ve put the question to one of my favourite forums. If you want to read along.

I have come to the conclusion that the best approach is to do what is right for the readers.  There are many methods for optimizing a site, and many subjects to write about when it comes to adding more pages.  Getting visitors to arrive at the site is important.  It is also important that they have a good experience when they arrive or the effort of building and promoting the site is wasted.

Optimizing my Website for Search

I’ve been having an “interesting” time optimizing my main business website Douglas Samuel (www.DouglasSamuel.com).

It started off well. For the first time ever, Googling Douglas Samuel brought my website to the top of the list (as it should be). Before I knew anything about SEO, none of my websites came up, period. Also, I was able to get decent ranking for Ottawa Technical Writer and Technical Writer Ottawa. What really surprised me though, was that Ottawa Writer and Writer Ottawa also placed quite high. Not as high as I would like, but I have been contacted for some writing assignments, so already the website has been worth the effort.

Now comes the interesting part. Firstly, my page rank shot up from zero to 4. Great! Meanwhile, Ottawa Writer slipped to coming up at 97 - not very useful. Unfortunately, it is a useful term for me. Writer Ottawa on the other hand, sometimes comes up considerably higher, like 19th or so. Just now though, it has slipped to 84. Again, not very useful.

Technical Writer Ottawa is better at 22. This turn seems to bounce around between 25 and 14. Ottawa Technical Writer is considerably better, at 13. Still not first page ranking though, I’m afraid.

The slap on the face though, is Douglas Samuel. I’ve been displaced by some author with a book on Amazon. I now come third, after Amazon, and then Amazon again. Doug Samuel brings up my site in the third spot. Not the home page, but the contact page. At least I’m not invisible.

The remedy I believe, is to build a bigger website. As I’ve noticed, especially with my allergy website, the bigger it gets, the better it pulls.

The next challenge is getting my website to rank well for Search Engine Optimization Ottawa or Ottawa Search Engine Optimization!

Subdomains that Work Independently From Drupal

If you have Drupal installed in your main directory (i.e. public_html), and you want to use subdomains for webpages or websites that have nothing to do with Drupal, you may have noticed that they don’t work!

The problem is that the .htaccess file in the public_html folder is set up to assume that the default index file is index.php. What you probably want is to have index.htm and index.html recognized as the default file when your visitors browse to sub.domain.com

The solution is simple:

  1. Create an .htaccess file in the subdomain folder (e.g. public_html/sub)
  2. Add the following line to the .htaccess file: “DirectoryIndex index.php index.htm index.html ” Add “index.php” as well if you think you might ever use php in the subdomain as part of your index file.
  3. And you are done!

Now, when you go to sub.domain.com, your index.html or index.htm should get served up.

Thanks to CogRusty for his solution on the Drupal Support Forum for the solution.

Drupal Blocks - Error Causes Display Problems

I just about destroyed my Drupal-powered allergy website today. I made one small change to the HTML in a block, and the whole website came up blank. With a blank website, I did not have admin access to the menu that changes the blocks!

Rather than panicking, I reasoned that I had made a fundamental typo in the HTML in the block I had just changed, and that must be in the database somewhere.

It was.

Using phpMyAdmin from the account back-end, I looked through various likely tables. The most obviously named, “blocks” was not the right table. It lists all blocks, along with their display status, display location etc.

Boxes is the correct table. It contains the content and title of all blocks that simply contain HTML.

Sure enough, I’d failed to close a quote in the HTML in the block I had just edited. Other things to look for: unmatched tags (especially the <DIV> tag, and unmatched angle brackets. I fixed it in phpMyAdmin and now the allergy website works again.