Dean Marshall's Blog
A few people have asked me to start writing about a few of my experiences - the little things that I come across and struggle with during an everyday existence in IT. I have tried blogging in the past - but anyone who knows me will know that finding time for regular writing is not really my strong point. Anyway, spurred on by more and more new developments with Joomla and in web development in general I've decided to give writing another go.
Written by Dean Marshall Friday, 17 August 2012 10:18
Update: Obviously we announced this investigation out of a sense of disbelief at the ludicrous nature of being investigated for something that isn't a crime - and which we were reporting others for doing, NOT DOING OURSELVES. Some people seem to massively misunderstand these two facts and even offer them as evidence of misbehaviour or mistrust on our part. Nothing ever came of this, it just disappeared after one chat with one police office.
A police investigation is underway to determine whether we have committed a hacking related crime by linking to a website in a way the website owner doesn't like.
Background To Dean Marshall Consultancy:
We build websites powered by the Joomla Content Management System, for large companies, national religious bodies, local and national government bodies, multinational companies and even for organs of the United Nations. We also provide web security related services to clients - securing websites and de-hacking exploited websites (typically for new clients).
Our website is, according to one widely used (though unreliable) metric, somewhere just outside of the top 5,000 sites in the UK in terms of visitor numbers.
Written by Dean Marshall Friday, 04 November 2011 21:28
We hit an interesting little snag last week while using Joomla 1.7 - let me say from the off that we've followed Joomla 1.7 development, at a distance. We haven't had many clients come to us who had already made the decision to utilise it and we've only had one client site so far where the decision was made to build on 1.7 from the off.
Let me also add that it doesn't matter how much you toe dip with a CMS, it is only when you are in the nitty gritty of building out a whole site from scratch that you hit the real gotchas.
I also think that browser changes over the last year or so are part of the reason we haven't picked up on this sooner. Firefox, Chrome and IE now routinely hide the 'Title bar' which used to show the title of the currently displayed web page. Now you have to deliberately go looking for the page title and it takes an extra click or three.
Lee, one of the team in the office, spotted that we had the wrong title within a site we are currently building out. Questioning whether we had misconfigured something or whether the template in use on the site had an error within a template override we quickly checked another recent Joomla 1.7 sites - one that is all but finished but not actually launched yet.
We saw the same issue in both sites.
Written by Dean Marshall Wednesday, 31 August 2011 09:48
We're working on a new Joomla 1.7 website for a client using Rockettheme Modulus template, on the home page we didn't want to display the content component, Modulus has an on - off switch for turning off the content component for the home page. Turning this off had no effect, leading me to start pulling my hair out as I could not find anything in the documentation or help on the demo site. An hour of searching the forum lead me to the answer, with a Joomla 1.6 or 1.7 site the home page must be of type "featured" for the "Display Component" switch to work.
Here is the forum post:
Written by Dean Marshall Tuesday, 17 May 2011 09:35
If like myself you have upgraded to the latest version of Ubuntu, you may have also noticed that the keyboard and mouse do not work, you have to bang the mouse or press keys down several times for them to work.
I've found a work around for now and have posted this on the Ubuntu forum.
If you have a zombie process running then you need to 'kill it' ( for this you will need a command-line terminal ), below is the command line code you need to do this. Until Ubuntu is upgraded or someone else finds a permanent fix, you will have to do this each time you start your machine.
Written by Dean Marshall Monday, 22 March 2010 00:52
If you ever saw my two articles about Pipex Internet it will come as no surprise that this was a company on its last legs.
After a considerable battle, and many frustrations dealing with officialdom hell-bent on defending Pipex for no reason, I eventually got my money back - twice over, and at one point with a firm commitment for another payment - however they welched on this final payment. Some things never change!
Pipex was subsequently swallowed up by Tiscali who as far as I can tell from the emails and phone calls I continued to receive from other frustrated customers seem to have continued the same fine traditions of not honouring cancellation requests and dipping randomly into customer accounts.
It will therefore come as little surprise that Tiscali is also no more having in turn been swallowed up by Talk Talk. I can only wish any of their customers well - for I have serious doubts about anyone who would buy up the remnants of these companies.
Anyway - I've had a number of requests from people wishing to know who I recommend as an Internet Service Provider in these days of uncertainty with so much consolidation within the industry.
Written by Dean Marshall Saturday, 20 March 2010 13:53
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years, or you are totally new to web design, you are probably aware that Mozilla Firefox is the web browser of choice for most web professionals.
There are a number of reasons for this - anti-Microsoft resentment, hatred of IE (particularly version 6), etc. One reason for the success of the Firefox web browser is that it is incredibly flexible. Firefox is extensible (or extendable if you prefer) via a system of extensions that add myriad new features and customisations.
Written by Dean Marshall Tuesday, 05 August 2008 23:23
Sorry people, but the time has come where I tell you the worst kept secret on the web:
Internet Explorer 6 is evil - pure and simple.
There I've said it. By continuing to use this browser years after its useful life are over you are placing an intolerable burden upon people in my profession. Please stop.
We at Dean Marshall Consultancy Services will no longer support this browser on *any* of our own websites.
We shall recommend clients also cease - but of course this is a recommendation only - final say will be theirs, we serve our clients after all. Please continue reading this article for a full explanation why we have taken this decision and what you should (in our opinion) do next if you are still using IE6.
Written by Dean Marshall Sunday, 23 March 2008 19:07
If you are here for my business site and don't wish to take time out of your busy schedule then please proceed to my normal Joomla CMS Consultancy home page.
For those of you who have decided to read on - but who haven't seen my previous article on this subject I will attempt to give you a very quick summary. This is massively abridged and perhaps takes liberties a little - please do read the original article for the full story.
UK ISP Pipex Internet moved me onto a new contract following a casual enquiry during which I decided not to proceed. The contract involved a twelve month lock in period with a cancellation fee equivalent to the full 12 months fee should I leave their services. I cancelled my account and only then was I told about the 'new contract' and cancellation fee. Staff agreed a mistake had been made and no cancellation fee was due. To my horror (but not surprise) they promptly took the cancellation fee directly from my bank account anyway - along with three other spurious payments in the month of January. I have been given the run-around ever since. My bank 'Abbey' and card processor 'Visa' have decided not to help - my complaint is a 'quality of service' issue and not fraud - apparently because I have previously authorised Pipex to take 23.44 from my account.
Follow this link to read the previous article on this subject entitled 'Are Pipex Fraudulent Criminals'
Some people have expressed concern that I should be cautious before I allege fraud and/or other illegal activity from Pipex Internet Limited. Before alleging fraud they feel I should attempt to rule out simple error or even down right incompetence. While there are undoubtedly many elements of my treatment that could be described as incompetence I aim to show here that this is actually unlikely to be the entire story and that there is indeed reason to believe that Pipex Internet are guilty of fraud.
I will try and demonstrate through recordings of calls with Pipex staff and through analysis of correspondence recently received from Pipex Internet that they employ deliberate tactics to frustrate complainants, that they refuse to re-act when mistakes are pointed out and that their management knowingly employ an automated system which takes money from people even when staff know that no money is due. I then assert that there is no reasonable explanation for this behaviour that could be down to accident or even incompetence - it is quite simply systematic and deliberate.
Written by Dean Marshall Wednesday, 06 February 2008 19:08
Before I begin what will be another long rant let me start by saying that I was a happy Pipex customer since 18 March 2003 and that in that time on my personal recommendation I know I have sent more than thirty, possibly as many as fifty, customers to Pipex. If you are one of them - I hope you enjoyed the last few years and I sincerely hope you do not hold me responsible for any issues you have with the company in its present operations.
For three and a half years I was very happy with Pipex. When I heard of people with other providers losing connections for hours or sometimes days at a time I would boast to people that service was so good that they used to send emails two weeks ahead of any planned outage to inform me about a potential loss of service for 30 seconds at two or three o'clock in the morning.
The last eighteen months however are something else.
Written by Dean Marshall Wednesday, 23 January 2008 00:00
Here at DeanMarshall.co.uk we are planning to expand our operations during 2009. With this in mind we have moved to new offices in Lancaster City Centre.
This is a local position for local people (extra points for telling us the source of this bastardised quote!).
We provide a range of services to users of the Mambo and Joomla Content Management Systems throughout the UK and around the world. Our clients range from small sites for local tradesmen right through to the UK arms of major multi-national electronics manufacturers. We have clients around the world and Dean Marshall, our principal, is well respected throughout the Joomla and Mambo circles. Additionally, we are developing a range of software products for these markets as well as extending our range of client services.
We currently do the bulk of our work ourselves, but where necessary we call upon the services of a network of trusted contacts throughout the world. Whilst we will continue to call upon the services of these professionals, we would also like to develop a team locally with the necessary skills to progress this business in what is an exciting and rewarding field.
We are looking for capable people with knowledge of Content Management Systems to join the team over the coming year. Knowledge of Joomla would be a distinct advantage, as would the enthusiasm to learn.
Written by Dean Marshall Sunday, 15 July 2007 17:36
Over in the Joomla Developer's Blog it has been publicly announced that two people have resigned from JoomlaShack in recent weeks. Whilst this fact is not entirely wrong - it is portrayed in a manner that implies my dissatisfaction with the current stance of one of the JoomlaShack founders on the GPL debate.
I have made this post as I feel I must clear a couple of points up.
Written by Dean Marshall Tuesday, 21 November 2006 14:58
I have just been contacted by someone trying to sell domain names to me and encouraging speedy response. If I had expressed any sort of interest in buying domains from this person or company I wouldn't mind so much - but a direct approach, out of the blue, using my online contact form, in my opinion sums up everything that has gone wrong with e-mail in the last 10 years.
Written by Dean Marshall Saturday, 22 April 2006 23:40
Update: This is an old rant about bad experiences with web hosting with 1and1. We no longer use 1and1 and have no intention of ever using them. We still get contacts from people who simply can't believe how bad 1and1 support is. Basically you can be with 1and1 for years and things appear rock solid - but as soon as something does go wrong you are left stranded, sometimes for weeks at a time.
We now provide web hosting services of our own. If you want reliable hosting with good support - especially for a Joomla powered website then head on over to our Joomla web hosting pages.
Okay, so you are looking for web hosting and you may have seen a little outfit called 1and1 or OneAndOne - they are one of the world's largest web hosts. I signed up for a 'professional' account: described by their marketing blurb in the following terms: '1&1 Professional is the ultimate Linux shared hosting solution, containing all you need to create a Blue Chip web presence.'
For six months or more the web hosting has been solid and reliable over multiple domains - so recently I moved a large domain that I operate over to this professional package. Again for a month or two all was well. Out of the blue I was unable to upload a single file up to my webspace, so I contacted technical support - there my adventure begins...