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My PHP and Rails development environments E-mail
Sunday, 12 September 2010 19:44


Since I wrote this I have added two more Ruby on Rails environments:

  • Aptana RadRails on Mandriva Linux
  • ActiveState Komodo IDE on Xubuntu

If I get around to it I'll write a comparison between the three environments for Rails development.


I run VirtualBox on a Windows 7 Professional 64-bit host installation.  The following are my VirtualBox virtual machines that I use for web development.


Programming language


Ruby on Rails

Operating system (64-bit)


Microsoft Windows




Windows 7 Professional

Arch Linux

Web server


Apache via WampServer 2

WEBrick (built into NetBeans)



MySQL via WampServer 2

  • SQLite
  • MySQL

Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

NetBeans 6.9.1 (PHP edition)

  • Microsoft Expression Web 4
  • Notepad++
  • phpDesigner 7 (trial)

NetBeans 6.9.1 (Ruby edition)

Database administration

  • phpMyAdmin
  • NetBeans MySQL integration


  • MySQL Workbench 5.2
  • NetBeans MySQL integration

Version control


  • command line
  • NetBeans plugin

Mercurial via TortoiseHg


  • command line
  • NetBeans plugin

File sharing (Linux -> Windows)




File sharing (Windows -> Windows/Linux)

  • smbnetfs
  • VirtualBox shared folders

Windows 7 Homegroup

  • smbnetfs
  • VirtualBox shared folders

Cloud storage and backup (running in host Windows installation)


  • Dropbox
  • Windows Live Mesh
  • Macrium Reflect Free edition (64-bit)
  • Cobian Backup 10


Web browsers

  • Mozilla Firefox w/ Firebug
  • Chromium
  • Internet Explorer 8
  • Mozilla Firefox w/ Firebug
  • SRWare Iron
  • Mozilla Firefox w/ Firebug
  • SRWare Iron

Other design- and development-related software


  • Adobe Photoshop CS5 64-bit (trial)
  • Paint.NET
  • Microsoft Expression Design 4
  • WinMerge
Adding a "Feedback" button: A brief comparison E-mail
Wednesday, 04 August 2010 10:09

I've seen the "Feedback" tabs on several websites, tethered to either the left or right edge of the browser window, and I think it's a nice unobtrusive way to offer your visitors a chance to quickly interact with you and offer their input on how you can improve your website.

I wanted to add such a button to my websites.  The most popular of the offerings seems to be Get Satisfaction.  I searched on AlternativeTo.net (a very useful service) and found several other similar services:

It came down to choosing one, possibly two, to check out, and I decided to go with UserEcho for now (deployed on this site and at p()thesis) and later check out VoxPopuli.  My reasons why are outlined in the table below:

  GetSatisfaction Uservoice UserEcho CrowdSound VoxPopuli
Free account Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes - self-hosted PHP/MySQL script
Unobtrusive "Feedback" button Yes Yes Yes No - the demo on the frontpage shows a widget (and not a button) that embeds on your site Not sure - but I'm thinking not because there is no mention of it anywhere
User doesn't need to leave my website to use the service Yes - everything is done in the GetSatisfaction widget No - users can view current ideas but need to visit the site page to add new ones Yes and no - can type new idea inside widget but submitting redirects to the forum on UserEcho site Yes - everything is done inside the widget Yes - from the demo it looks like everything is handled by the widget
  • The widget didn't open in Internet Explorer at Write.fm
  • They don't emphasize that they offer a free account, which makes me think it has very limited functionality.
  It could be considered a bit deceptive, but since there is an input box in the widget and no notification that "Submit" will redirect them to a new page, the user is more likely to use the service than if there weren't an input field in the widget at all.  
  • Project is open source
  • I haven't looked at the script yet but you can probably customize it to a great degree if you know your way around PHP.
Useful websites and tools - 5/12 E-mail
Wednesday, 12 May 2010 02:00


  • PDF-Xchange Viewer - Need to comment and annotate a PDF document?  Adobe Reader can do it but it's a 30+ MB download, and makes you download Adobe Download Manager.  Foxit Reader's free version adds a red stamp to the top of your document.  PDF-Xchange viewer is a free download that doesn't install extra crap and doesn't mark up your document.
Useful websites and tools - 3/27 E-mail
Saturday, 27 March 2010 02:00


  • Yuarel - URL shortening sites are a dime a dozen, but this one actually lets you "masquerade" the URL, so that the original URL is not displayed in the browser's URL box.  Instead, what's displayed is the http://yuarel.com/ URL you've created. 

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