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Brian Smithwick's Blog:
Software development and the locked box
December 16, 2011 @ 11:41:09

In this recent post to his blog Brian Smithwick talks about the "locked box" that developers can sometimes restrict themselves to - getting to comfortable in the tech they already know and not branching out.

Jason Austin gave a great presentation at CodeWorks Raleigh recently about cultivating one's passion for software development through side projects -- safe spaces where we can play with new technologies and techniques. The point's well taken: as developers, we're probably putting most of our energy towards the thing that must be solved, that keeps us employed, that pays our bills. [...] And so all of us, at one time or another, end up in a backwater of our own devising -- a locked box.

He also puts an emphasis on collaboration and community as it relates to becoming a better developer. By interacting with other code and other projects' developers, you learn not only more about other ways to develop but are exposed to ideas you may not have come across on your own.

I'd add that active participation in the local community is just as important though: the opportunities for exposure to new ideas outside your sphere are greater than your feed reader will probably provide, and the depth of information that you can get in a conversation may be better than any blog post or man page.
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Matthew Weier O'Phinney's Blog:
Making Zend Server Available Via SSL Only
January 07, 2011 @ 09:46:58

Matthew Weier O'Phinney has a new post to his blog today about making your Zend Server instance a bit more secure by taking the admin GUI and forcing it to be HTTPS-only (instead of the default HTTP & HTTPS).

In light of the recent remote PHP exploit, I decided to update a couple servers I manage to ensure they weren't vulnerable. In each case, I had been using hand-compiled PHP builds, but decided that I'm simply too busy lately to be trying to maintain updates -- so I decided to install Zend Server. [...] One thing I've never been happy about, however, is that by default Zend Server exposes its administration GUI via both HTTP and HTTPS. Considering that the password gives you access to a lot of sensitive configuration, I want it to be encrypted.

He points out that, since the Zend Server interface runs on a lighttpd instance, it's easy to modify a few config files to change the setting. Adding a few lines to limit the socket it can connect on, the IP address to filter to and a URL filter on anything starting with "/ZendServer/" takes away the HTTP access.

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zendserver http https restrict tutorial

Christopher Jones' Blog:
Getting Oracle Connection Errors Faster in PHP
May 04, 2006 @ 06:47:44

On his Oracle blog today, Christopher Jones has posted a simple howto on getting the feedback the PHP Oracle functions throw when they error, only faster.

When a connection fails, you want to know about it as soon as possible. With Oracle Net there are many ways to configure connection and authentication. For example a connection:

$c = oci_connect("hr", "hr", "abc");

could be evaluated by Oracle 10g as using the Easy Connect syntax to machine "abc" (using the default port and database service) or using a net alias "abc" configured in a tnsnames.ora file.

He includes some settings to add to the sqlnet.ora file to help speed thing along - setting the directory path to enable a different authentication syntax and changing a setting to restrict the types of connect methods the client can try.

To show how it all works together, he gives an example of the tnsnames.ora, sqlnet.ora, environment variables, and the commands he ran to test it all out.

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