Ben Tasker's Blog

My love/hate relationship with Responsive Web Design

I am, by no stretch of the imagination, not a web-designer. I can write and understand CSS but completely lack the ability to look at something and think it would look nice if I did this, ultimately I'm a sysadmin and a developer at heart - the visual stuff just doesn't interest me.

However, just because I can't design something doesn't mean I don't come in contact with it, and 'Responsive' design is becoming increasingly popular (for example, Joomla 3 is responsive by default), and I regularly do - both as a user and in my professional life.

Responsive design is how things should have been designed from the beginning. Of course, we didn't have to worry about such a range of different devices accessing sites, so no-one really thought too much about it - every one was far too busy working out how best to deviate from the standards so that IE would display things correctly.

The growth of responsive design does cause me some concern though, and in this article I'll be explaining what my concerns are, and how we can best avoid them.

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Introducing PHPCredLocker Version 1

For a little while now, I've been working on a small PHP based project designed to store passwords securely. After a lot of testing, bug-hunting and fixing, PHPCredLocker has reached version 1.

Designed to prefer security over convenience, the system takes every step it can to protect stored credentials. Depending on the version of PHP you are running, passwords will be encrypted with either OpenSSL or MCrypt. A different key is used for each credential type (think FTP password vs Joomla password) and the database has been designed to be as unhelpful as possible to any miscreant who should manage to get a database dump.

I'm not an interface designer, so the template is very basic, but PHPCredLocker has been designed so that you can adjust and override as necessary (modules and views can be overridden, and templates are easy to create).


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Why I Use Joomla!

For those who weren't already aware, this site was created using the Joomla! Content Management System. Personally, I think it looks quite good, but why exactly did I choose to go with Joomla!?

I can quite happily write software all day, so why go with a CMS someone else has written when I could enjoy the challenge of writing my own bespoke platform?

In this post, I'll be explaining the reasoning behind my choice, and why I continue to use Joomla where appropriate.

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My Most Used Android Apps

My other half's new phone arrives today, replacing a very old and knackered Sony Erricson. Once the Galaxy S2 Mini gets here it'll be down to me to set it up, which has set me thinking about which Apps I use regularly (aside from games) and which of those will actually be of use to her (somehow, I can't see her using ConnectBot!)

I don't think any of the apps I use are too obscure, but then people's exposure differs so hopefully some of these will be of interest to other users!

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Natwest - The Big Mistake

There's been a lot of talk (unsurprisingly) about the recent screw-up at Natwest, RBS and Ulster Bank. There's been a lot of people blaming 'outsourcing' despite RBS denying that the work was outsourced. Here's where the confusion lies though, RBS operates in India so although half the team weren't based in the UK they weren't technically outsourced. The term in these instances is 'off-shoring'.

Of course, it's a game of semantics and it's a little concerning to see RBS willingly playing such a pointless game. To most in the UK, if you are sending the work abroad (especially to India) then you are outsourcing (even if you're really off-shoring).

What's scarier, though, is that the failures at RBS could quite easily happen to any other company. It's easy to blame the bankers (we have a lot to blame them for!) but the practices there aren't that different to what's been happening in other companies around the globe. That it was a bank that fell over is probably just blind luck.

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