I spent the better part of the entire day yesterday upgrading my blog from BlogCFC version 3.9 to the latest and greatest 5.5. I've been meaning to upgrade for some time but knowing the amount of work that was going to be involved I put it off. While the process went smoother than I expected (always good), it was a major time commitment. It took several hours to create a staging environment to perform all the work, which included getting all my production data pulled down and working in a new 3.9 instance. I already had my blog running on localhost but I wanted to isolate the upgrade in case I ran into issues along the way. The next step involved getting Ray's latest and greatest code from his Subversion repo and creating a vanilla 5.5 install. Super easy.

Now that I had a 3.9 database and a 5.5 database I went about comparing the architecture of the two and writing scripts that would bring my 3.9 database up to par. This consisted of several ALTER TABLE statements needed to add columns to existing tables, some UPDATE statements to bring my existing data into compliance with new columns, and Ray's CREATE TABLE statements for tables that weren't in the 3.9 version. It wasn't a big deal, but I went slow and was very careful to document every single change I made and test all my code against the staging environment. I did this by pointing the staging DSN (for the vanilla 5.5 install) to my newly upgraded 3.9 database. Everything worked flawlessly.

At this point I had my production data on localhost, I had written scripts to migrate my production database, and I had tested the scripts pretty thoroughly. My next step was to merge all the 3.9 customizations I had made - including styles - into the vanilla 5.5 codebase. This step was by far the most time consuming taking somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-5 hours. Ugh. I had applied the aura styles and cleaned them up significantly, not to mention shoe-horned my own custom background images into 3.9. While working with all the styles I recalled how many pain-staking hours it took to originally create the graphics and styles. Not being a designer and certainly not being good at cutting up graphics for a Web site, the work took at least a day and half. To get things right this time - in 5.5 - was not as bad but it's not the kind of coding I really enjoy.

With the database migrated and my customizations in place it was time to load everything up to production. It only took 20 minutes to run the scripts against the live database and upload the new codebase. However, in this small amount of time over 1500 RSS error e-mails were generated. My application level CFABORT and maintenance message stopped no telling how many e-mails, but before I had that in place several minutes had passed. The errors were thrown due to the 5.5 code residing on the server before the database changes were made. Just goes to show, that Ray's blog software works amazingly well if I can get 1500 error e-mails in about 5 minutes. I can't even imagine what my Inbox would look like if a major error was introduced to production code and left unresolved.

So, 5.5 is up and so far is running well. I'll be watching it closely over the next few days; if you notice anything funky please let me know. In an effort to help anyone else upgrading from BlogCFC 3.9 to BlogCFC 5.5 I've zipped all my SQL code and made it available as a download. Use the Downloads pod to the right or simply click here.


"Hip" Music

Posted by Aaron West at 9:21 PM in Music, Personal, Blogging

Tonight I decided to start blogging about music on "the hip" aka trajiklyhip. For years I've focused almost 100% on blogging about technology and my experience therein. That's fine, and I'm certainly not giving it up, but I've decided to also blog a bit about some personal stuff that I really enjoy. To start off I'm going to blog about new music I'm listening to or have recently discovered.

Music is one of the largest parts of my life. It occupies a significant amount of my daily routine whether it's listening to a new album while commuting, sharing a rare gem with my wife, or enjoying music with friends at work. It's no coincidence music is used to evoke an abundance of emotions on TV and film. It can be the simplest head-bobbing track or a complicated piece of art.

So, starting today I'm going to share some tracks and full albums that you'll find prominent on my iPod, laptop, and stereo. I'm also hoping to drag out the TrajiklyHip Flash MP3 player, rewrite it in Flash 8 or Flex and use it to share some tunes. It's a bit tedious to keep it frequently updated right now so a rewrite is in order.

Stay tuned.


Ray Releases BlogCFC5

Posted by Aaron West at 10:49 AM in ColdFusion, BlogCFC, Blogging

Ray's new version of BlogCFC (version 5) has been in beta for about a month or so now. Ray (and team I guess I should say) have now released the new version as 'Gold.' I've had the beta version running on my localhost (for the Nashville ColdFusion User Group) for a while now. I am now integrating the latest release and will hopefully in the next week or so deploy to production.

I'd like to thank Ray, Scott, Charlie, and all the others for the hard work they put in for this release. There are a ton of cool features (delayed posts, draft mode, CAPTCHA, and more) to check out and test drive.


My Blog Turns 4

Posted by Aaron West at 10:33 PM in BlogCFC, Site News, Blogging

Five days ago was the 4th anniversary of my blog. It was so uneventful that I didn't even realize it occurred. I knew it was coming up after checking some blog stats a month ago but I had since forgotten about it. It's rather embarassing, but I'd like to share just a few stats on my blogging history. For starters, I don't post near enough to keep the content as fresh as I want to. As of today I have been blogging for 1,466 days having posted 128 entries. While that is pretty pathetic I am not too upset considering the first 3.5 years I didn't try to keep up with the blog much at all. It wasn't until I switched from Greymatter to BlogCFC that I started to keep my posts up.

Having shared some of the bad, what about some of the good? Last month was certainly a milestone in the life of my Web site (6 years old now) and blog when over 70,000 page views were recorded. Ever since November of 2005 my page views have almost doubled every month. Why? One reason is crawlers. The largest reason though is RSS. A lot of my site hits come from people with various news readers like NetNewsWire (Mac) or FeedDemon (PC). Another cool stat, is that my MusicStoreAutoPlay AppleScript has been downloaded over 300 times in just two months. Additionally, all of my sample CF code and tutorials have each been downloaded more than 100 times with the majority of them having been added within the last 40 days.

All-in-all, I'm relatively pleased. I want to continue doing more traffic on the site and continue posting as much relative, interesting, and helpful content as possible. Here's to another 4 years!


MXNA Mobile is Cool

Posted by Aaron West at 11:51 AM in Adobe General, Blogging

MXNA Mobile, the mobile version of all aggregated MXNA RSS feeds, has been around since the inception of MXNA. Until this morning I had not checked it out but I must say it's pretty sweet.

I spend a fair amount of time on the go and some of that is away from my Mac. Now, I can whip out my Motorola RAZR and read all the latest posts on MXNA.

If you want to check it out, you need a mobile device with Web access. Just enter this URL (http://weblogs.macromedia.com/mxna/mobile/) into your device and you're set.


Internet Explorer Issues Resolved

Posted by Aaron West at 9:45 AM in Blogging

I played around with the CSS definitions and have finally solved the layout problem visible when using Internet Explorer. Apparently, one of my padding settings on the sidebar was causing IE to wrap the entire sidebar content below the main blog entry content. I'm not sure why IE was doing this as the CSS was valid and all the widths, padding settings, and margin settings were correct given the overall box model. Regardless, things should look fine in IE now. What a headache.


Internet Explorer Issues

Posted by Aaron West at 9:12 AM in Blogging

This morning I came in to work and checked the blog on IE/Windows and discovered things weren't as they should be. My personal dev machine is a Powerbook with no Windows software installed so all my testing was done in Firefox. If you're viewing from Internet Explorer I apologize for everything looking crazy. The entire blog _should_ be centered on your screen and all the pods in the sidebar should be aligned to the top and centered in the sidebar background. I'll take a look at this tonight and see if I can't figure out what's going on. I know Ray Camden isn't having the problem so perhaps I'll consult him.


Finally, after a week of preparations and changes I've switched my DNS entries to HostMySite. I've been on a great host for over 5 years but in order to stay current with the latest version of ColdFusion it has been necessary to find a new provider. After doing a bit of research and talking with other CF developers I chose HostMySite's Linux Builder+ plan. After moving my general site files (and updating some pages therein) I began moving my blog from Greymatter to Ray Camden's excellent BlogCFC. Ray's blog is set up very nicely and was very very easy to install. I had initially installed MovableType but after huge headaches and hours of attempting to import my three years of posts I decided to give BlogCFC a try. Skinning the blog was definitely the most time-consuming. I downloaded the base Aura skin and had a version of my new blog up in no time. After looking through the CSS files for Aura and feeling like the code was a little bloated (lots of unnecessary CSS classes and ID's) I decided to build my own version of the skin.

The basic look of my skin is not unlike other Aura skins out there (see Steven Erat's blog and Ray Camden's blog). However, my skin does not make use of the 4 CSS stylesheets and all the directories that come with Aura. It's much easier to grasp and it's very easy to make changes without getting lost in the CSS. Not being a designer it took me a painful amount of time creating all the image slices and getting everything to line up. And, I'm not done yet. I still have to create a footer graphic to round out the bottom corners. The work was well worth it though and I'm very happy with the new look of the blog (and my new host)! Now, users can subscribe to my various feeds through RSS 1.0 and 2.0 (see the RSS pod in the sidebar to the right). Comment posting and e-mail subscriptions are also now available. All-in-all, I'm excited to have a fresh new blog up and I'm excited about now being on ColdFusion MX 7. With all these changes you'd think it was the new year or something!


Webmonkey.com on weblogging software...

Posted by Aaron West at 12:34 PM in Blogging

During my usual morning routine of checking the many e-Mail accounts I have I discovered Web Monkey had a tutorial on weblogging software. Being that I had recently set up this /blog I decided to check it out. Overall, an informative article on the various options to those that wish to delve into the art (yea right) of writing on the web. If you are interested, you can check out the article here.

My favorites?


The Blog..

Posted by Aaron West at 3:13 PM in Blogging

After wrestling the weblog software to the ground 4 or 5 times over the last two weeks I think I finally have some semblance of log going. Let me first say that the Greymatter software is really cool. It takes a bit of work to customize though. Simple to install and get working, but the default templates are quite terrible so some degree of customization is necessary; it's this type of customization that takes forever. The documentation on how to use Greymatter, while lengthy, was not very helpful either. I spent hours just on trial and error checking the result of the templates only to find out I screwed things up further. And think about it, I'm a web professional! If I had trouble.. sheesh, I feel sorry for the rest of the general community. Anyhow, it's good stuff and the level with which you can customize your blog is really nice. Just what I was looking for. (Aside from me building my own in ColdFusion). If you want to check out Greymatter, you can get it here. Warning!! Not for the faint of heart!!

In other news, it was recently announced that the newest Flash player (Flash Player 6) has a pretty serious security flaw in it. In the wrong hands, a developer could exploit the bug and cause harm to your computer. This is pretty easy to remedy, just head to MacroMedia's site and download the newest plugin that MacroMedia released.

I doubt my audience will really care, but I feel the need to inform the general public that MacroMedia has released the newest version of ColdFusion MX (previously dubbed Neo). The newest version, ColdFusion MX Release Candidate, is quite incredible. I was fortunate enough to be on the beta team for ColdFusion MX and as such I highly recommend it to any and all web professionals. Especially those who are already using a previous version of the ColdFusion Application Server. Within the next couple of days I'll try and take some time to write up an article on the new features of ColdFusion (I'm no longer bound by the NDA!) and post it on my main web site. Heh, the main web site by the way has been undergoing a massive makeover. I'd like to be ready to publish the new site before mid-summer, but at the rate I'm going (and due to being slammed at the office) I'm not too sure if that is feasible. Anyhow, keep checking on it and let me know if you have suggestions or comments.