Chell's Roost

Blog & gallery of a geeky, anti-lima bean bookworm

Bragging a Little

Just bragging, a little bit. This is my uber talented hubby, doodlin’ around on the keyboard. He thought he’d see if he could play “Year of the Cat.” I think he could be playing the most charming and classiest of candlelit venues.

Website Wall of Shame

On one hand, I want to start a section here called the “Website Wall of Shame,” which would kind of be like a “Chell’s Website Pet Peeves,” where I can demonstrate said pet peeves. On the other, I don’t necessarily want to point to specific url’s or companies. I’m going to start this as just a category, but not make it a regularly occurring feature. That could change.

Site owners who notice such glaring issues with their own websites might take a moment and consider how to fix them.

I’ll start this off with a web design result that was very likely caused by the only consideration being cost savings or personal connections.

The Greeting

Here is what we are greeted with. A ginormous image slideshow, that completely dominates the front page. The image file sizes are large, which makes for an ugly page load and frame load time. Not only is the slideshow out of alignment with the page content, but the images are smashed to the left, in the container.

Not a Way to Greet Visitors

Yes, that is the entire front page, with just the copyright and web design firm name cut off the bottom. No, I’m not kidding. It is the entire page.

The images are also poorly cropped. Not something that should be highlighted as the gist of the site. This is that same slideshow frame, with some of the additional eye candy.

Poorly Cropped Slideshow Image

Oops!

Responsive web design is all the rage. For some, myself included, it is a very important aspect of web design, considering the various devices and screen sizes that may access the internet. For others, I think it is only a fashionable key phrase.

When, and if, we realize there is more content to the website highlighted here, we are shown the following, in smaller browser windows.

Oops!

The text that disappears off the left side? That’s a problem.

Wasted Potential

The highlighted website is a WordPress website. That means it should have plenty of functionality. It should be convenient to display, and even sell, individual products on the website. Here is the actual functionality of this website:

No Functionality

There is none. There’s not so much as a thumbnail or a description page for individual products.

This design suffers from a lack of functionality, poorly done images, layout mistakes, and a slideshow that eclipses everything else anyway.

That’s a shame.

Restrict Articles to Specific Users in Joomla 3.4

For a CMS, plugins can conveniently add functionality, but I don’t want to add a plugin for every last little task. Especially when out-of-the-box functionality can accomplish what I want to do.

Joomla is a superb CMS for a variety of purposes. It’s my own choice for one of my websites. For that site, I needed the ability to restrict certain articles to specific, registered users. While one might expect to choose, from the article-creation page, specific users who may view the article, this is not the case. It is possible to select a general access level for the article, but there may be many users who have the same access level. There are quite a few content and member management plugins available, but here is how to set this up without a plugin.

First, create a new group (Users » Groups » Add New Group). If you sell building supplies, and one of the construction companies you deal with is called “Jerry’s Houses,” create a group with that company name. I actually created a subgroup of registered users, to keep things neat, and placed my customer groups under that. That is up to you, and simply requires the creation of the desired groups. Create a separate group for each organization or individual you deal with. Keep in mind that a group may have as many users in it as you want, or only one user. All of Jerry’s employees will ultimately be able to view the content meant only for “Jerry’s Houses,” but other users won’t see that content.

Create an access level (Users » Access Levels » Add New Access Level). You can name it the same as the group name you created. Under “User Groups Having Viewing Access,” select the group that will be able to view the content. So the group, “Jerry’s Houses,” would be selected to have such access for the access level of the same name. Do this for each group you have created.

Now, when you create an article, you can select from the “Access” dropdown to restrict viewing to the desired access level/group. To allow certain users to view the article, make sure you have added them to the appropriate group.

I took this a step further, and set up a “customer area” category, and a menu item that points there. The menu item is only viewable by the subgroup that contains my targeted groups. It (the menu item) is a “blog” of customer area items, and the articles I create for specific groups are placed only in the customer area category.

There is one other thing that made this work well for me. It is off topic, for this post, but handy. Users may need to view files that I upload just for them (specific users), and I want them to only see the files via my website. I created a folder for such files, and restricted access to everything in it via an htaccess file. Only my server can show the files. Then, I enabled iframe tags for the article editor in Joomla (Extensions » Plugin Manager » Editor – TinyMCE). To do this, remove “iframe” from the list of prohibited elements. Now, I can simply place an iframe that contains a selected file in an article.

Although it’s likely possible to get the same result with a plugin, it’s doable with only an understanding of users, groups, and access levels.

Bike Ride

Pook and I went on the most perfect bike ride tonight. Went through the park by Foot Lake, and through part of downtown. Seven months after our move, and I just love it here. There are so many lakes nearby, and Foot Lake is just the closest one. This is, as I normally call them, a cruddy cell phone pic. Why can’t summer last forever? :) Anyway, there’s not much to this post, except to wish everyone at least an equally enjoyable evening.

We Always Have Choices

The recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage doesn’t sit well with me. That’s the polite way to say it. Before you jump on me, read that first sentence again. “The ruling” doesn’t sit well with me. This isn’t about gay marriage. It’s about the roles of government, and it’s about power and freedom.

I do not believe that the Supreme Court has the power to dictate whether or not individual states allow gay marriage. Individual states should have this power, meaning that people who live in those states would govern themselves, via their elected representatives and their votes on individual items. This is a state issue, not a national issue.

It is not the role of the Supreme Court to define “marriage,” which is exactly what they have attempted to do. Aside from the issue of government roles, there is the issue of religious freedom. The Supreme Court does not get to dictate what the religious concept, marriage, means to individuals and their organizations. This not only goes against the laws of our land, but against natural law. A branch of the government cannot dictate what a person believes. It’s impossible. And to force a person to work against his or her spiritual center is unthinkable.

We always have choices. Sometimes they are not easy choices. Sometimes the choice to settle for nothing less than freedom is a choice that will cause us harm, at least initially, or even death. The US is not currently a place in which we must die to believe as we will. If you believe in blessings, count them. 😉 It is a place in which livelihoods are completely destroyed in the quest for religious freedom. How did we get here?

We got here via our choices. If you are a religious person, you might see certain choices as tests of your character, or even tests of your faith. Even if you are not particularly religious, being presented the options of doing something you think of as wrong, and being harmed for doing what you think is right (while not harming someone else), is a test of character. When the Supreme Court or any part of the government hands us tough choices, we need to make decisions that reflect our character, and that of our beliefs, and that of our country. That’s the way to freedom.