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 The new website for the Henley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society has now gone fully live. The new site features an exciting Joomla template which matches the fun character of the society. The site is easy to modify ensuring members can submit/change the content themselves. We have trained key personnel in the Society to modify the content.
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ReactOS Thorium - a kickstarter project to fund ReactOS PDF Print
(2 votes)

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It is URGENT - Reactos needs your pledge now - The only real alternative to the Windows operating system has a kickstarter project goal of $120,000 in donations that it needs to reach by Friday 21st Feb 2014. So far $11,000 dollars pledged and the kickstarter has only just started.

The idea is to raise enough money to allow development of Reactos as the force behind an iCloud solution for all our desktop and mobile needs. In short, your Windows desktop environment would sit on the internet running on ReactOS instead of locally on your old Windows PC. Your desktop would look like Windows, run like Windows, it would run all your Windows applications and it would be accessible on any device you choose. All your data and your operating system would sit on the net. This online project is known as 'Thorium'. The ReactOS team are going to develop this combined operating system and icloud solution and will need your donation to complete their goal. The ReactOS operating system is already in an alpha stage, it boots in seconds, runs and looks just like Windows, it runs Windows applications. Work is required to complete the memory manager, provide device and support for alternative file systems, in short, to finish the thing off.

The remote access to ReactOS also needs to be built in order to complete Thorium but the end result will be an open source Windows compatible operating system that is completely free for you to install on any device that currently runs Windows.

Why is this good? Well, Windows costs actual real money, every desktop or laptop PC that you buy costs an extra $50 because it has copy of OEM Windows on it. A real set of Windows Professional installation discs can cost hundreds. With a free Windows compatible o/s you can have as many windows PCs as you like. Every few years or so Microsoft makes your operating system obsolete just so they can charge you more money for the new version, plus all the new software you will need. That will not happen with ReactOS, it will just keep on working. All your old software will just keep working. All your new software will work too!

When you buy a new o/s from microsoft do you really believe it is a brand new o/s? Of course not, it is the old o/s rehashed with a new GUI and some cosmetic changes. XP was NT, Vista was based upon XP with some additional junk and Windows 7 is Vista without all the Vista bad bits, you could call it XP+. Windows 8? well, at the moment it is a tablet o/s running on a desktop/laptop - which suggests it is an o/s to be avoided...

Windows is run by an organisation that needs to make money, that is why they make their o/s regularly obsolete. That is why they change the GUI mechanisms regularly so that everyone has to start from scratch and send lots of money to Microsoft for the privilege of doing so.

ReactOS won't do this - ReactOS could be the solution to all our o/s problems.  I cannot recommend more strongly that you contribute something, anything to this kickstarter project. Do it to help the ReactOS team, do it to help yourself to a free o/s. Do it to help break Microsoft's unhealthy stranglehold on the Windows o/s market. Just do it.

Contribute here:

The Thorium Group's Website is here:

ReactOS website is here:


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 08 January 2014 )
Elxis 2009 CMS a review PDF Print
(3 votes)

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I'm not sure why someone would choose Elxis as their default CMS. At first glance it seems to have great potential, based on Mambo 4.5 you'd imagine some compatibility with Mambo and Joomla 1.0.15, after all why would you create a CMS that does not have compatibility with all those hundreds, nay thousands of Joomla 1.0 extensions, templates &c. If I were creating a Mambo based CMS it would surely be my most important aim. You could attract so many ex-joomla 1.0 users with ease if you could guarantee future compatibility of components, modules, mambots. Imagine a fully supported Joomla 1.0 compatible CMS, what's not to like?

steampunk-console.pngThe trouble is that although they have gone to great lengths to create a quick, elegant CMS that is incredibly familiar to Mambo/Joomla 1.0 users, is quicker than Joomla 2.5, it does NOT have the compatibility that you'd expect. I built an Elxis 2009 (Aphrodite) test site and attempted to installed a major SEF tool that is an essential component for all my Joomla 1.0 sites, I also installed one or two mambots that I have written myself and a template from Joomlart, featuring an elegant javascript menu. I built the site with the multi-language options enabled and test data.

The component failed to install at all, generating errors with regard to a tmpr folder and with relation to incorrect information within the component XML files, the mambots installed one generating XML compatibility errors but when the page was refreshed the site was broken. The mambots added JSDK code required by Facebook and added the FB like button to the content area on each page.

The template installation succeeded but having failed three other installations I decided to bypass Elxis installation and install usingsignal.png a method I knew would work, just by simply FTP'ing the appropriate files to the templates folder. The JA_Fagus template installed and looked good but the in-built horizontal menu just appeared to put junk on the screen. A bit of investigation showed that all code that refers to menus needed to be language aware, checking the menu items, extracting the language code and comparing that to the system wide setting for the default language. Once this understood then I was able to create a good looking page using the JA_Fagus template.

I knew I now needed to research why my mambots had failed to function but then I realised with the sheer amount of work it would take to test install, debug and fix all the components, modules and mambots that are on my site that the work involved would be greater than a Joomla 1.5 migration/site rebuild. There is simply no point.

What the Elxis developers have done is create a world-class CMS that only a few people will be able to use. Elxis has an advanced built-in directory encompassing components, templates, modules and mambots. Unfortanately, the number of these extensions is a mere fraction of those available to Joomla 1.0.15 so anyone looking for extensions will soon realise the paucity of choice and will be deterred straight away. None of my familiar tools was available, none of the extensions that would be essential for a site migration to Elxis were there.

At the end of my analysis I came away disappointed, what a chance had been lost! The possibility of keeping my Joomla 1.0 sites up and running on a supported multi-lingual platform all blown away. Elsewhere, the Russian based Joostina team had at least kept Joomla 1.0 compatibility as one of their main strengths but had failed at the last hurdle due to their Russian-centric support and development teams abandoning the English language community that might have helped them survive. In comparison the Elxis team seems to have it all, a massive technical improvement on Mambo/Joomla 1.0, English language forums, continued support for the Mambo based CMS, what's not to like?. Well, the total lack of Joomla 1.0.15 compatibility.

What's the reason to choose Elxis as your next CMS? Elxis is Mambo based so it will be familar territory to you, it has advanced features such as in-built SQL database viewing tool, an embedded version of the Elxis JED, multi language support, an auto updating tool. Anti SQL injections tools built in. The underlying code that accesses the databse is heavily optimised making Elxis very quick, even without advanced cacheing. It even has built in SEF. Sounds great.  

The trouble is that Elxis is not designed for Joomla 1.0 migration as nothing at all from Joomla is plug and play, significant effort is required to get each and every element of your site to work.

Conclusion - Elxis 2009 (Aphrodite) is a massive opportunity missed and is only useful as a new but familiar CMS. The developers have a new version of their CMS that is entirely new and has no Mambo compatibility whatsoever. What this shows me is where the developers hearts lie. I perceive they wish to abandon the Mambo legacy and work on newer more advanced CMS. This quite laudable but unfortunately it doesn't bode well for me and my Joomla 1.0 sites. Elxis just becomes another wannabee CMS and I have to say I wouldn't automatically jump into their camp. If Elxis had inherited Joomla 1.0.15 compatibility by default then I would have chosen it for any old Joomla 1.0 sites I would be asked to migrate.

For new sites, well it seems an interesting choice but due to the paucity of extensions and because the newer version is entirely unfamiliar to me it wouldn't be my first choice.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 24 December 2013 )
Is Joomla dying a slow death? PDF Print
(2 votes)

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What has happened to the popularity of Joomla is very easy to explain. Back in 2009 Joomla 1.0 was popular due to having complete functionality, a friendly back end and plenty of stability through regular upgrades. From Mambo to Joomla 1.0.15 it was a good CMS for anything from simple to complex sites.

With 1.5 the Joomla team wanted to dump the old mambo legacy and did so at the expense of stability and continuity. This is the approach they used for all upgrades from this point on. Each upgrade became a migration with a virtual site rebuild from scratch. They abandoned and closed support for the older product leaving those that could/would not upgrade in the lurch. With each upgrade requiring a rebuild it became harder to justify building a site in Joomla knowing you would have to tell your client that he'd need to rebuild it in 18 months. This is a sure-fire way to alienate even your most loyal adherents. Anyone looking to choose a stable technology for a client would simply look at Joomla and say - AVOID. You'd be sacked if you told them they'd have to migrate their whole site in 18 months, in fact you wouldn't get the job in the first place.

If you were looking for a tool to build a quick site for a small organisation, Joomla 1.0 was perfect as it was stable and easy to build with future stability in mind. But that was all blown away. Would I suggest building small sites with Joomla 2.5/3.0 - NO!. I hate to say it, but I would choose wordpress.


scissors.pngThe Joomla team are a bunch of developers who work on the things they want to, and as a result priorities are decided by individuals with the result there is no corporate goal. That is why we only get piecemeal end user changes from seemingly major structural upgrades. I personally have never been asked by any client for any of the new features that have been added since J1.0. Better categories and ACLS are really the only changes that have made any external difference, the rest has just been smoothing processes here and there and adding minor functionality. I realise it has taken a lot of work to recode, rejig frameworks but frankly the end result of all that means little to end users. If I log in to a Joomla 2.5 site, then to a Joomla 1.0 site do I see major improvements over the old system? The Joomla 1.0. site is snappy, much quicker, easy to use, less corporate looking and is so much easier for a PHP/javascript programmer to modify/hack. All these years of change and the end result does not 'seem' to be that great.

The problem is the development team who are very clever but caustic and opinionated bunch whose presence on any other forum would have them named and shamed as trolls. They have been far more involved in arguing incessantly (and viciously) as to the best method of doing things, whereas it might have been better to choose what was the best thing to do for the end user and simply choose any method to achieve it. Anyone who browses the support and development forums of the Joomla world will see that is a deeply fractured and unhappy place to be. The dev forums are almost disfunctional.

Joomla will fail, it is failing now, strangely Joomla is dying because of the developers involved who are doing most of the work. The Joomla dev team has spent a lot of time achieving a lot. The trouble is, it just isn't what anyone wanted.

It is time for a FORK.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 December 2013 )
Windows 7 a complete steampunk makeover PDF Print
(4 votes)

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Ladies and Gentleman, we present a complete steampunk makeover for your PC windows 7 system. Some of it will also apply to Mac OS/X, at least the Yahoo widget bit will. the end result is probably the bsusiest desktop you've ever seen. Enjoy the video created by Christophe Maanebarth.

If you enjoy the video do please open it on youtube and 'like' it.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 December 2013 )
Virtuemart Product flypage not changing PDF Print
(1 vote)

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Virtuemart can be one of the most painful shopping carts to configure, a first time shop-builder would do well to consider starting elsewhere or leaving it to a professional to set one up for you.Virtuemart throws up problems from time to time that can stymie even a seasoned web administrator. When I get an on-line cart just 'right' then I tend to copy it and use it as a template for other web-shops. I also try to keep things roughly the same - This way I do not have to encounter the pain of regular new issues that can prevent Virtuemart from operating. Virtuemart has problems with child products, producing blank screens during shopping carts, confusion during setting up shipping options, hard-to-find and illogically placed configuration controls, clunky sign-in, failing to operate as expected with Joomla cacheing enabled, can cause severe and unexpected errors when running themes. However, it does have a good forum, it is free and it integrates very well with Joomla, so I persist with it.

vmtickerupdate.pngOne rather peculiar error in Virtuemart 1.1 is the failure of Virtuemart to change the product display page when you have explicitly made changes to the product flypage. FYI - the Virtuemart 'flypage' is the name that Soeren the developer, applied to the product page template. You can select a different flypage and refresh the cache any number of times and what the site displays is entirely different to what you expect. I experienced this a few years ago and had assumed that virtuemart had its own internal cacheing mechanism that prevented the changes from being shown, as shortly after, the flypage changes would appear. However, regardless of any setting change I could not trigger them manually.

The default product flypage is defined in the Virtuemart configuration and the confusing thing is that it is also set at product category level in the product category configuration. It would seem that the product flypage overrides the default flypage in every case so I am unsure as to why there is a default flypage at all. Even changing these at category level seems to have no effect.

A solution is to be found by changing  four Virtuemart files (solution originally found on the VM forum). The change is simple, involving swapping a lowercase variable for an uppercase one.

Navigate to this directory within your Joomla installation:

Look for these files: 

Edit each and change the indicated instance of 'flypage' to 'FLYPAGE' in upper case. Make sure that in your copy 'flypage' is not already in uppercase (as in the example below) or your problem is most likely different):

shop.ask.php (line: 24): $flypage = vmGet($_REQUEST, "FLYPAGE", '' );
shop.basket_short.php (line:30): $flypage = vmGet($_REQUEST, "FLYPAGE", null);
shop.pdf_output.php (line:20): $flypage = vmGet( $_REQUEST, 'FLYPAGE');
shop.product_details.php (line:115): $flypage = vmGet($_REQUEST, "FLYPAGE" );
shop.product_details.php (line:422): $tpl->set( 'FLYPAGE', $flypage );
Clear your Joomla cache and see the product flypages change.
Last Updated ( Saturday, 24 August 2013 )
Steampunk Volume XWidget finally out... PDF Print
(4 votes)

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I've just completed the Steampunk Volume XWidget and dropped it into my gallery, submitted it to a few groups. Now time to sit back and see if anyone likes it. It is a straight conversion from the Yahoo widget code keeping the two as similar as possible so they can both be updated/debugged in parallel. The code is remarkably similar and the two widgets work in a very similar fashion, though the code I have written is not necessarily the correct way of doing things for a Xwidget. The main problem seems to be that the Xwidgets lack any real documentation so it is a real pain to figure out how to do things. Also a lot of nice functionality is missing in Xwidgets that I am used to in the Yahoo Widget Engine/Konfabulator. The GUI for Xwidgets is slick in parts and bleedin' awful in others. I often found that the GUI simply got in the way and I ended up using my text editor of choice 'Context' to make the changes I needed. In my opinion the GUI has a long way to go before it can be considered usable for serious development of widgets.

These are some things that Xwidget engine currently lacks the ability to do:

Creating modifying menu items within javascript
Forcing a widget to reload in code
Including external script - not possible
Changing the dock icon dynamically
Making the GUI code editor fonts much smaller/configurable
Playing a sound continuously and asynchronously is not possible
Transparent areas of PNGs have no mouse click-through
Highlighting long lines causes phantom code duplication in the IDE

xwidget-popup.pngIn reality though, I am really impressed with the amount of work that the two (?) developers have done. The product works - it creates real desktop widgets and provides an environment in which to create them. The list of functions that the language supports goes on and on, and you can use VBscript or Javascript notation in the code. I may have sounded critical but I am in awe of the quality of the product that they have delivered. It is usable - it just needs a lot of tidying up.

The Xwidget engine is under continuing development so it feels nice to be working with a tool that isn't out-of-date and obsolete for a change.

My only concern with Xwidget development is that the documentation has been created as a an afterthought and due to this there are great big gaps in the user group's knowledge that can only be filled by getting responses from the developers. While the devs are out coding for new platforms they don't always have the time to answer all the many questions on the forums, often leaving us poor users in the lurch when we have questions to be answered... Hopefully things will improve here.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 15 December 2013 )
Steampunk Magnifier Widget - Any suggestions? PDF Print
(0 votes)

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I recently created a Steampunk Magnifier Widget extracted from a War of The Worlds desktop.  - It is a fully functioning widget, ie. it can move, be resized, made transparent, layered on the desktop and it can also be assigned a command line function when it is double-clicked.

magnifier.pngHowever, I want it to do more. I can't currently think of a useful function for it. The Yahoo widget engine has limitations, it can't determine which widget is underneath it so it can't be used to analyse another widget by pointing and clicking, it isn't really possible to dynamically magnify the desktop beneath the glass as this would a ridiculous amount of resources and some serious programming to accomplish it.

So, other than being a launcher for a search utility I can't really think of an appropriate function for it.

I guess that leads the field open for more esoteric suggestions such as recoding it for an engine that can do animation more efficiently, one that can access the underlying desktop more easily.

Any suggestions?


Last Updated ( Friday, 26 July 2013 )
The Steampunk Orrery goes Linux! PDF Print
(4 votes)

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At last someone has created a version of the Steampunk Orrery for Linux. It wasn't me I am afraid - so I can't claim responsibility for the coding. The developer 'joker' has used my graphics and my design but enhanced the javascript functionality in respect of the planetary movement and the co-ordination of the various components to take adavntage of the increased levels of animation available to plasmoids.

A very good job I say...

calendar.pngThe Steampunk Orrery requires the Plasmoids widget engine and the Marble Virtual Globe plugin is required for the widget to function. At the moment the instructions to install and operate are very sparse. Howver, if you are a linux user then you are generally more technically aware than a standard Windows user so hopefully you will be able to make this work for yourself. As I test the new widget (if I am able) I will create some documentation to allow more naive users to attempt the installation. Have a look at the widget instructions here. Download the widget from here.

The video is available to view here now at Vimeo : and at youtube

If any of you are Linux users and use the KDE desktop, please can you help me test the recently published Steampunk Orrery Plasmoid?
Let me know how you get on and what you had to do to get the thing installed. I have not yet been able to test as I am on my hols in the sunny IoW and when I get back the only machine I have available to test will be a Linux Mint 1ghz single core laptop. Such Unix/Linux skills that I have are also very rusty...

Any help testing would be really appreciated. 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 December 2013 )
The Owl Underground - A Cool Desktop Widget PDF Print
(1 vote)

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A lovely blog entry on a Wordpress blog has been recently noted which is highly complementary of the Steampunk Orrery Calendar Clock. Here is the wordpress blog link: I'm just placing a reciprocal post here to acknowledge their kindness in mentioning our work and requesting that you visit at your leisure...



Last Updated ( Monday, 15 July 2013 )
Blur Studio - A Gentlemen's Duel PDF Print
(4 votes)

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This one's been around for a while (2006) but it does not diminish the slickness, the comedy and the professionalism as well as the sheer fun embodied in this creative steampunk masterpiece. This steampunk duel between an animated Englishman and his comedy French counterpart over a delightfully well-endowed female is fought out using weapons from a deeply-steampunk creative mind. Blur Studios were a small player in the CGI field but recently have been growing apace having created all the space sequences in James Cameron's 2009 blockbuster film Avatar.

Enjoy the full animated film now, very entertaining indeed. Have fun!

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 December 2013 )
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Steampunk Yahoo Widget

How about something special for the weekend sir?

Steampunk Yahoo clock/calendar widget download

LightquSteampunk Stamp Widgetick have a nice little Yahoo widget for you to download. Click on the image above.

Do you need a stamp with that madam?


Steampunk Widget Downloads

Download the Steampunk Rotating Earth ... here

Steampunk Rotating Earth ...

Downloads: 1033
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Download the Steampunk Volume Widget here

Steampunk Volume Widget

Downloads: 695
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Download the Steampunk Orrery Plasmoid... here

Steampunk Orrery Plasmoid...

Downloads: 594
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Download the Steampunk Orrery XWidget here

Steampunk Orrery XWidget

Downloads: 772
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Download the Steampunk Orrery Rainmete... here

Steampunk Orrery Rainmete...

Downloads: 801
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Download the Steampunk Resource Monito... here

Steampunk Resource Monito...

Downloads: 3160
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Download the Steampunk Clock Widget here

Steampunk Clock Widget

Downloads: 1734
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Download the Joomla Multi-Site Status ... here

Joomla Multi-Site Status ...

Downloads: 323
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Download the Yahoo Widget SDK and Runt... here

Yahoo Widget SDK and Runt...

Downloads: 2638
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Download the Steampunk Orrery Calendar... here

Steampunk Orrery Calendar...

Downloads: 6737
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Download the Steampunk Weather Widget here

Steampunk Weather Widget

Downloads: 51460
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Download the Cyberpunk Yahoo thermioni... here

Cyberpunk Yahoo thermioni...

Downloads: 5137
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Download the Steampunk CPU / GPU tempe... here

Steampunk CPU / GPU tempe...

Downloads: 11356
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Yahoo widgets download

The Konfabulator engineYou will need Yahoo widgets if you are going to run the Steampunk clock/ calendar. Download it here now!

You will need Yahoo widgets if you are going to run the Steampunk clock/ calendar. Download it here.

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