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  • Jay Versluis 8:56 am on October 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    How to add Custom Buttons in Plesk 12 

    In this screencast I’ll show you how to create Custom Buttons in the Customer Control Panel in Plesk 12. These are direct links to URLs you can provide with the same look and feel as the rest of Plesk.

    Custom Buttons allow you to create links within Plesk or to external sources, like your website or a contact form. If you’re a developer you can even read out parameters that are passed with the URL (such as customer’s domain name). You can link to external sources as well as other areas of the Plesk Panel – including destinations you’ve created with extensions.

     

     
  • Jay Versluis 10:27 am on October 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    How to auto-start programmes in Windows 

    Windows7

    Remember the humble Autostart folder in Windows 3.1? You could simply add shortcuts to your favourite “apps” or documents to it which would automatically launch when Windows started. Except we didn’t call them “apps” in those days.

    It’s still possible to use this handy feature in Windows XP, Windows 7 and even Windows 8.1 – however the way to accomplish the same goal has changed slightly over the years.

    In this article I’ll show you how to do it. Before we start, have a shortcut to the programme in question ready on your Desktop. We’ll drag it into the appropriate folder in a moment.

     

    Windows XP

    • right-click START, then select EXPLORE
    • double-click Programs, revealing several shortcuts and a Startup Folder
    • double-click Startup
    • drag your shortcut into this folder

    The next time you restart Windows XP, your shortcut will be executed, starting the programme. Likewise, if you’d like to remove something from the auto-start routine, simply remove the shortcut from this folder. Happiness.

    PS: Windows XP has had its day and is no longer supported since April 2014.

     

    Windows 7

    Very similar to Windows XP (see the animated gif at the top for a demonstration):

    • click START, then select All Programs
    • find the Startup folder and right-click it
    • a new window will open up
    • drag your shortcut into it

    Next time you start Windows 7 your “app” will be started automagically. Remove the shortcut if you no longer need it to prevent it from being launched on startup.

     

    Windows 8.1

    Things have drastically changed in Windows 8.1, but with a bit of finesse we can get there just the same:

    • open Internet Explorer (not a joke)
    • type the following into the URL bar: shell startup
    • a new Explorer window opens up
    • drag your shortcut into it

    And again, if you no longer need it, simply remove the shortcut from that folder. This also works on Windows 8.

     

    Further Reading

     
  • Jay Versluis 9:27 am on October 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Setting up Plesk Mail on iOS 8 (iPad) 

    In this screencast I’m explaining how to setup your iOS Device for use with Email Accounts created in Plesk 12. I’m also explaining how to map IMAP folders from your email account to the relevant folders on your iOS Device.

    For this demo I’m using an iPad 3 running iOS 8, but the process is the same on your iPhone and iPod Touch and older versions of iOS.

    It’s a rather complex setup (as dealing with email accounts usually is) and has caused me and my customers major headaches in the past. I hope this video can alleviate such pains. If setup properly, Plesk Mail is a pleasure to deal with and works very reliably.

    Sadly iOS Mail does not discover the settings it needs to work with your Plesk Mail automatically, but with a bit of help and guidance it’s easy to get it working. Let me show you how.

     
  • Jay Versluis 7:21 am on September 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Setting up Plesk Mail on Mac OSX Mavericks (10.9) 

    In this screencast I’m explaining how to setup Mac Mail for use with Email Accounts created in Plesk 12.  I’m also explaining how to map IMAP folders from your email account to the relevant folders on your Mac.

    It’s a rather complex setup (as dealing with email accounts usually is) and has caused me and my customers major headaches in the past, I hope this video can alleviate such pains. If setup properly, Plesk Mail is a pleasure to deal with and works very reliably.

    Sadly however Mac Mail cannot discover the settings it needs to work with your Plesk Mail automatically, but with a bit of help and guidance it’s easy to get it working. Let me show you how.

    I’ve created a similar screencast to show you how this works in iOS:

     
  • Jay Versluis 7:09 pm on September 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    How to open up your Samsung NC10 

    Here’s a great video by Floppydonkey on how to open up your Samsung NC10 (and NC150). This comes in handy if you’d like to replace the hard disk.

    The tools we need are a small philips head screwdriver, a small flat screwdriver or spudger, and a tough finger nail.

    In a nutshell, and VERY CAREFULLY:

    • turn your little buddy over onto a soft surface (lid closed, top down so that the back is facing you, headphone sockets face left)
    • take off the battery
    • loosen all screws, including those marked KEYBD (leave the ones for the memory flap)
    • where the battery once was, take the flat screwdriver and pop the two black plastic clips, just next to the two metal parts (inwards). Those are the two main clips that hold the tiny plastic body together.
    • take a tough fingernail and pop the back of the laptop where the battery sat (between those metal clips)
    • once done, lift the right side of the back first, leaving the headphone sockets
    • this is a bit fragile, but the whole back will lift off to the left
    • take out the cover from the headphone sockets
    • you’re done!

    The hard drive is held with one screw, simply take it out and slide the hard disk to the right, off the connector. It’s enclosed in a shelf of sorts, which is held onto the drive with two screws opposed the connector.

    Put everything back together in reverse order.

    Good luck!

     
  • Jay Versluis 11:42 am on September 22, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    MySQL Databases and phpMyAdmin in Plesk 12 

    In this screencast I’ll show you how to access your MySQL databases from Plesk and where to find the phpMyAdmin tool.

    I’ll also show you how to create MySQL users and copy databases in Plesk – this can come in handy when you’re about to make a change and you want to create a backup in case something goes wrong.

     
  • Jay Versluis 11:31 am on September 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    P2 Header Ad – Version 1.5 released 

    Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 11.15.53

    I’ve just updated my P2 Header Ad plugin with some new options:

    • you can now display the same ad again after the post content (before the comments)
    • you can do this on single posts, and additionally on the front page if you like

    These options are not enabled by default and work best if you have longer posts on your site – the look a bit naff if you use your P2 site mainly for short status updates.

    I’ve also spruced up the graphic assets that are used on WordPress.org while I was at it. Check out the new options in the Admin Interface (it’s still under Appearance – P2 Header Ad):

    screenshot-2

    Note on Google Adsense ads

    If you’re using both options above with Google Adsense ads, please note that those can only be shown up to 5 times on a single page. If your front page shows 5 posts or more, then the ad can no longer be displayed in the header (which is called last for performance reasons).

    If you want to use the after-content-front-page-ad feature, and you want the header to show first, you can tweak line 293 of the main plugin file (p2-header-ad.php) from this

    add_action ('get_footer', 'p2DisplayAdvert');
    

    to

    add_action ('get_header', 'p2DisplayAdvert');
    

    I may make this an option in the admin interface in a future update. Let me know if you have any questions. Enjoy the plugin, you can download it from within WordPress, on WordPress.org on GitHub:

     
  • Jay Versluis 10:16 am on September 19, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    How to use the File Manager in Plesk 12 

    In this screencast I’ll show you how to use the File Manager in Plesk 12. It’s a very convenient tool that has largely replaced the need for an external FTP client.

    The File Manager allows you to change files directly on the server via your web browser. I’m explaining the following things:

    • how to upload and download files
    • how to edit them via the integrated text and HTML editors
    • how to make files accessible to others via URLs
    • how to create and extract ZIP files directly on the server
    • and how to change file permissions

    Enjoy!

     
  • Jay Versluis 7:23 pm on September 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    How to create a Plesk Backup from the command line in CentOS 

    Plesk-LogoEven in Plesk 12 we can only schedule a single backup, and we must decide where said backup should be saved: either on the local server, or on an off-site FTP server. Sadly we can’t have it both ways.

    Many of us – me included – find this very limiting.

    Both local and remote backups have their advantages though, and greedy as I am I want the best of both worlds:

    • an FTP backup is stored off-site, which is great for disaster recovery.
    • but a local backup can be create and to restore much faster, which is great for development
    • a local server wide backup creates individual domain backups automatically, whereas an FTP backup does not – great for convenience

    The good news is that Plesk has a set of command line tools which we can use to create a backup manually. In this scenario you can schedule a local backup in the Plesk web interface, and create another one using a cron job.

    The tool I’m talking about is called pleskbackup and it lives in the Plesk utilities directory. On CentOS this is in /usr/local/psa/bin.

    If called without parameters you’ll see a long list of options you can pass to this command:

    Usage: pleskbackup  <command></command> [] 
    
    Commands:
    
      server         Backs up whole Plesk.
    
      resellers-name Backs up selected resellers. Reseller's logins are read from command line,
                     space-separated. If no resellers provided, backs up all resellers
                     on the host.
    
      resellers-id   Backs up selected resellers. Reseller's identificators are read from command line,
                     space-separated. If no resellers provided, backs up all resellers
                     on the host.
    
      clients-name   Backs up selected clients. Client's logins are read from command line,
                     space-separated. If no clients provided, backs up all clients
                     on the host.
    
      clients-id     Backs up selected clients. Client's identificators are read from command line,
                     space-separated. If no clients provided, backs up all clients
                     on the host.
    
      domains-name   Backs up selected domains. Domain's names are read from command line,
                     space-separated. If no domains provided, backs up all domains
                     on the host.
    
      domains-id     Backs up selected domains. Domain's identificators are read from command line,
                     space-separated. If no domains provided, backs up all domains
                     on the host.
    
                     Use Exclude options to exclude some resellers/clients/domains.
    
      help           Shows this help page
    
    ...
    
    Output file option:
      --output-file=
            /fullpath/filename      - regular file,
            -                       - use stdout for output,
    
            [ftp|ftps]://[[:]@]/fullpath/filename - storing the backup to ftp server.
                           FTP_PASSWORD environment variable can be used for setting password.
                           FTP option '--ftp-login' can be used for setting login.
                           FTP option '--ftp-password' (with '--ftp-login') can be used for setting password.
                           If your password contains slash, you have to use '--ftp-password' option or
                           FTP_PASSWORD environment variable.
                           'ftps' protocol can be specified to use FTP over SSL, instead of plain FTP.
                           With ftps specify 990 port to use implicit FTPS, otherwise explicit mode will be used.
    
            Used to import dump from repository into the single file.
    

    Usage Example: Local Backups

    To create a local server-wide backup, all we have to do is this:

    pleskbackup server
    

    This will create a backup just like the Backup Manager would in the Plesk web interface. Those are stored in a variety of files in /var/lib/psa/dumps and also in the respective domains/resellers/customers directories.

    To create a single domain backup, simply replace “server” with “domains-name yourdomain.com” like this:

    pleskbackup domains-name your yourdomain.com
    

    Add more domains on the same line, separated by spaces.

    Usage Example: FTP Backups

    FTP backups are slightly more complex to create. We must pass all our credentials as part of the –output-file parameter, which requires us to specify a file name. Since the tool will create a .tar file, make sure you add this as part of your file name. Let’s look at a full example.

    Imagine we’d like to create a server wide backup, and our FTP credentials are

    – server (FTP Host)
    – user (FTP User Name)
    – password (FTP Password)
    – filename.tar (our backup file name)

    then we can call the command like this:

    pleskbackup server --output-file=ftp://user:password@server/filename.tar
    

    If all goes well you’ll receive no feedback. This is a synchronous task which on larger installations can take several hours – but it should be done within seconds on systems with dummy domains.

    First the tool creates a local backup, then ZIPs up the tarball and sends it to the FTP server. Once finished, the tool comes back to the command line.

    Automatically deleting older backups from FTP

    I love how the Plesk Backup Manager takes care of older backups and deletes them automatically. The pleskbackup command line tool on the other hand isn’t so friendly and instead is a low-level command that only does one thing. If we’d like to see automatic deletions we’ll have to employ a script that will do this for us.

    I’ve written such a script in PHP and put it on GitHub – feel free to examine it, test it, use it, redistribute it:

    To use the script, take a look at the top of the file and amend your details accordingly:

    // add your FTP credentials here
    $ftp_server = "ftpserver";
    $ftp_user = "ftpuser";
    $ftp_password = "password";
    
    // maximum number of backup files to keep on FTP
    $maxbackups = 30;
    
    // add a prefix for your backup
    $prefix = 'BACKUP-'; 
    
    // PLESK utilities directory
    $pleskbin = "/usr/local/psa/bin/";
    

    Save your changes and make sure you add execute permissions to the file:

    chmod +x ./backup.php
    

    Now you can call the file from the command line or via a Cron Job (Scheduled Tasks in Plesk). Execute the script as root and make as many backups as you like – in addition to what Backup Manager is doing from the web interface.

    The one caveat I found is that the pleskbackup tool does not maintain the correct timestamp when it copies the tarball over to the FTP server. It’s an issue with pleskbackup rather than my script – I don’t understand how Backup Manager can do this fine in the web interface, which presumably relies on the same tool.

    As a workaround I’m saving the date as part of the filename, i.e. BACKUP-YYYYMMDD-HHMMSS.tar. For the auto-deletion to work, make sure to use a dedicated directory for your FTP backups with no other files – otherwise the latest backup may be deleted.

    To save your backups in a subfolder, amend the prefix like this:

    // add a prefix for your backup
    $prefix = 'subfolder/BACKUP-'; 
    

    And that’s how we can create Plesk backups from the command line!

     
  • Jay Versluis 10:18 am on September 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    What are the credentials to your AirPort Time Capsule 

    AIrPort Time Capsule

    There is something I keep forgetting time and time again: the credentials to my AirPort Time Capsule. It serves as my router, Time Machine Backup disk and even as shared storage for internal use, thanks to an attached USB drive.

    All our Macs connect to both drives automatically and without fail – but every once in a while we want to access something on the shared drive, either via Windows or another app like GoodReader. And every time I forget what those credentials are – particularly the user name.

    Because there just isn’t a dialogue to set it up.

    The password is fairly obvious because it’s something you’ve added when you set the device up. Chances are you can remember it. You can even reset it by pressing the reset button at the back of the device for one second – but not longer, or it’ll reset to factory settings). AirPort Utility will help guide you through this.

    But the user name? What is it? Something generic maybe? The name of the attached drive? Steve Job’s daughter?

    Turns out there isn’t one. Put anything you like. Seriously. I know it’s weird, and it’s just not how a computer brain works. The user name can’t just be arbitrary – but on Time Capsule it is. So use any user name you like.

    It doesn’t matter what as long as you put something into that field. Your uncle’s boyfriend’s pet name, or the day of the week. Anything. Just for heaven’s sake don’t leave it blank or the universe as we know it will seize to exist in a moment’s notice.

    But I guess nobody tells you this in the shiny brochure.

    And in case I forget how to connect those drives in Windows, here’s a quick reminder for completion:

     

    Connecting to the Time Capsule drives (Windows)

    Technically you can connect to the Time Capsule drives via two protocols: Samba and AFP. The latter however is only used on Apple computers. So with Windows and Linux, Samba it is.

    In Windows we can map a network drive by heading over to the

    • Windows Explorer
    • find My Computer (Windows 7)
    • or This PC (Windows 8.1)
    • select Map Network drive at the top of the window

    This will bring up a dialogue that shows a drive letter drop down and asks for a server path:

    Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 20.27.51

    The browse option won’t find your Time Capsule – instead find the IP address on your network (usually it’s 10.0.1.1, but AirPort Utility will verify this for you in the “LAN IP” field). Add it into the path/folder field like this:

     

    \\10.0.1.1\drivename

     

    Two backslashes, followed by your IP address, followed by your drive name. If you don’t specify a drive name the operation will fail. If your drive name has spaces (like “Shared Data”) then just write them out – no need to escape them. CapItaLisAtiON is important here though.

    Hit finish and your drive should be accessible.

    To find your drive names, consult your friend the AirPort Utility. GoodReader on iOS will find those names automatically – but Windows does not.

    And that’s that: another puzzle solved. There is no user name when accessing a Time Capsule drive.

     
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