Nothing to Report – Saturday – Lent 2014

Today’s been pretty laid back. Got up late, hung around and the flat, did some washing up, went to caretake for a kids’ party at my old church, sorted out some stuff to go in the loft, then had Old Young James round for tea, telly, chat and a game (we ate Chinese, watched Stewart Lee and Still Open All Hours – both were very funny, much to our collective relief – and then played Ankh Morpork, which James won – much to Ros’s and my disgust – all in all a good night).
Now James has gone and it’s time for bed.
Good night.

Possibly my Proudest Achievement – Friday – Lent 2014

Today, at work, I finally got the search on the work website working satisfactorily. It’s something I’ve been struggling with for an age and a half and there were no quick solutions anywhere online, the forums I asked gave no replies, but eventually I cobbled together the bits of php I needed.

None of this will be of any interest to anyone but I’ll carry on regardless (and not post anything too technical), below, bullet-pointed for convenience is the whole sorry story:

The Set Up

  • Our website is WordPress based with some bbPress forums (as part of the Commons In A Box plugin collection) forming a large portion of it.
  • Some of the WordPress side and most of the bbPress side is only available to logged in subscribers (who are all members of the resources centre).
  • The standard WordPress search only includes results from the WordPress side of the site but copes okay with excluding the members-only content.

The Challenge

  • We wanted everything to be searchable to users who were logged in and not to the general public.

The Problem

  • If we expand the standard search to include results from the forums, the members-only exclusion breaks down because bbPress wasn’t marking topics within private forums as ‘private’.
  • These returned search results for topics in private forums, showing the complete contents of the topic.
  • When the link back to the topic was clicked, the site would then go to an error page showing an unresolved ‘loop’ giving the (correct) impression that the site wasn’t working properly.
  • The bbPress search that appears on the top forum page returns results from all forums, logged in or not in a similar way to the WordPress search.

The Solution
This came in stages with snippets of how to do tiny little bits of it coming from all over the web with a lot of false-starts, swearing and imaginary hair-tearing-out along the way.

  • I worked out quite early on that it would be impractical to use the back-end to ensure that all topics inherited their forum privacy settings – especially as our members get to post new topics at will and we don’t have masses of time for moderation.
  • The first step was restricting the forum search to appear on each forum page by itself and only search within that forum (with a placeholder text saying ‘search this forum’). This eliminates the final part of the problem above but currently won’t search within subforums – I’d still like to find a way to do this but am happy to leave it as is given that the next steps have worked out as they have.
  • I redesigned the side bar to include a better layout, in different sections, with a separate forum search that only appears for logged in users. This was an okay work around as far as it went but was still irritating to have to have two separate search forms needed. This can be seen in action on my test version of the site.
  • The bit that has taken most working out was getting the main site search to only include forum results if a user was logged in – I reckon that combined with the new side bar, this should offer a workable solution to the problem as described.

Still to work on

  • It more or less does what I want it to, but is a long way from being ideal:
  • I have no idea why sub-forums and topics don’t inherit privacy settings or what I’d need to do to make the search exclude private forums unless a user was logged in.
  • Search results that are replies to the forum topics are listed as such but no other type of result has a prefix – I’d quite like the forums and forum topics to be identified as such rather than simply appearing as empty posts or posts respectively.
  • I’d like to have excerpts of topics from private forums show in the results with the link taking users to a ‘you must be logged in to view this topic’ message rather than the loop-error.
  • It would be fantastic if I could find a way to make the individual forum searches include the contents of sub-forums – this is the biggest problem that remains to be sorted but can wait – I’ve spent far too long getting this sorted and I have other work that needs catching up on.

So, there you have it – this has given me more relief than even completing the Giant Form of Doom and getting it handed in.

And I told you it would be dull.

PS if anybody’s interested, I can post about the php bits and pieces with credit to the various bits of internet they were learned about from.

Football Crazy – Thursday – Lent 2014

The last two times I’ve played five-a-side, one of my teammates has injured themselves quite early on in proceedings. This has necessitated a change of position for both them and me: they retreat into the relative safety of the goal-keeper’s box, where no other may enter, and I am cast out into the dangerous hinterland known only as ‘the outfield’ where much more running around than usual happens, more contact with other players, and much less of the fun jumping around trying to catch the ball.
I’m less not-bad in the outfield than in goal, I can’t stop and turn once I do get moving, and I’m generally more dead by the end of my time playing than I like to feel.
Still, it’s not all peachy for the poor sods stuck in nets, less able to duck out of the way as the opposition kick ball after ball in their general direction.

Bluerg – Monday – Wednesday – Lent 2014

So, on Sunday I travelled down the country (as far as Halifax, anyway) to help out my mates with their monthly Rock Mass and then back home again afterwards so I could spend Monday morning with Ros rather than not seeing her until the evening when she got back from youthworking. As I got out of the car, I heard some drunken shouting behind me and ignored it until, as I closed the door, a very big gentleman stood in my way and angrily asked me if I knew a ‘Donna Jones’. I persuaded him that I didn’t and, after calling me a liar, he staggered down the road looking hurt and lonely and lost. I started getting my gear out of the back of the car and prayed for him that he’d find whatever it was that he needed.

Before I could close the boot, he was back in my face, acting aggressively and shouting at me to admit that I knew this Donna. I walked backwards away from him, all the while denying ever having met her. Then he took a swing at me – I almost ducked it but he connected with me cheek and sent my glasses flying. He tried unsuccessfully to punch me again and then stood there, offering his chin for me to punch. I told him again that I didn’t know any Donna and that I wasn’t going to hit him (I believe I said that I had no reason to hit him – make of that what you will). He stormed off down the street, I collected my stuff and took it inside once I was sure that he was nowhere to be seen.

After enough time for him to get clear of the street, we went outside to search for my glasses – they were nowhere to be found. We looked again in the morning and there was no sign of them then either.

Since then, I’ve been waiting for a new pair to arrive (they came this afternoon) and feeling tired and headachey because of the lack of being able to see properly (unless I was wearing my prescription sunglasses which left everything somewhat dark and still caused headaches from the strain).

They look something like this:
tim in his new glasses

The Nectar card is there because we used some our saved points to go out for Italian food tonight and the picture’s part of Ros’s record of things that made her happy this month.

Thankfully, work agreed to rearrange my days so I wouldn’t be staring at a screen trying to make out the tiny words whilst I waited for the specs to arrive – and for that, I am very grateful.

One and a Bit Week Review – Lent 2014 – Day 9

This Lent (so far) I have been aiming to do the following things:

  • Drink no coffee
  • Say morning prayer (or some variant) every weekday morning
  • Refrain from non-social drinking (i.e. no having a beer to unwind when I get home from work)
  • Write something every evening

The first of these hasn’t presented much of a problem – except when there are meetings at work and the whole corridor is filled with the fresh-brewed coffee aroma, or evenings like tonight when I was asked to make Ros a coffee using our mate’s fancy-pants brew-from-beans machine – I felt a slight twinge then.

The saying of morning prayer has coincided with some decent weather – it always helps to have sunshine when you’re getting up unusually early (I’m using a room in a local church to help get a routine started – people are welcome to join me but don’t generally know about it). It seems to be going pretty well. I’m using the Northumbria Community’s Celtic Daily Prayer book and I’m still finding the shortness of it surprising – the readings are usually only a couple of verses long.

The not having a beer unless it’s part of something a little more structured than ‘I fancy a pint’ has had so little impact as to be almost unnoticeable. The most that can be said for it that it’s probably saved me a little bit of money and there’s more space in the fridge.

As for the writing of something every night – although it’s presented in public – it’s more to get me into the discipline of writing something anything every day.

Filling-in Some of the Gaps
On Monday, I had my second post-Giant-Form-of-Doom-completion interview with the DDO*. This time we talked about the second of the nine criteria for a vocation to priesthood: prayer and spirituality. There’ll be another seven meetings (on a monthly basis) until October, then (if all goes as hoped) a set of three meetings with various people around the diocese with a recommendation to go to a national selection conference some time in February or March next year with training starting the following September.

Yesterday was just another very full day with an unexpected amount of caretaking to do at the end of it. There wouldn’t have been anything to write about in any case.

Tomorrow will probably hold more of The-Form-as-blog-entry…

*Diocesan Director of Ordinands – a priest in charge of seeing potential priests through the ‘selection’ process and beyond.

In Which I Almost Wish I’d Given Up Computers for Lent – Lent 2014 – Day 7

I spent most of this afternoon trying to make the work website behave. I don’t know enough php, the bbpress documentation was no help,the support forums not much more. All in all, several fruitless hours of not-joy.

To relax this evening, I carried on with my replaying of the PlayStation classic, ‘Medievil’. It’s great fun in a tongue-in-cheek undead skeleton warrior kind of way but today after getting myself to the point where I could work my way around the latest level achieving everything I needed to, I repeatedly fluffed a jump across the final bridge drowning my character horribly in the process until I ran out of lives.

Then, in some work I was trying to do for a friend, the software I’d been given to do it wouldn’t install and the free alternatives I could find on SourceForge would install but crashed before I could save anything.

More of the same tomorrow…