(Ex)Freelancer Frank

60 semicolons a minute

Search
About Me
Frank O'Connor provides solutions to the toughest of today's I.T . problems.

Frank has more than 15 year's experience working with architectural patterns, object oriented PHP, SQL, the Zend framework, CodeIgniter, A.P.I.'s, C.M.S (Wordpress, Joomla, Magento), version control, payment systems, e-commerce systems, Photoshop, JavaScript and JQuery. Frank consults on every aspect of coding, usability and design, including S.E.O., marketing, maintenance and upgrades. His focus is problem solving and creating value-added applications. He enjoys coding challenges and elegant solutions but is also highly customer focused, and always aims work to improve sites and applications from the user's perspective. Frank is now very much an ex-freelancer and has a regular full time position with an Irish financial services firm.

Portfolio
Popular Posts
Finding a good web host in Ireland

I needed to find a good web host in Ireland. My principle requirements were:

  1. Enough space to set up two or three Wordpress sites and a number of test sites.
  2. Lots of databases - preferably unlimited
  3. Bandwidth not being a problem.
  4. Latest PHP
  5. Latest mySql
  6. Something that made me think - 'simple' and 'professional'
A quick google got me here: http://www.webmentor.ie/web-hosting-table.html It features a comprehensive comparative table of Irish web hosts, listed by optimal hosting package value. It doesn't, unfortunately, show the number of databases available. I had to click through to see that. Even so, it did not take long to whittle down the first ten in the list to three, by removing all those that looked unprofessional and/or offered to little for the price and my needs. In the end I went for letshost. They satisfy all my requirements for just under 50 euro per year - which is lass than half what I had to pay in Eastern Europe for an equivalent service. So far I have had no problems. It's a transparent service - clean and simple.  

Read More
Freelancer Frank's Portfolio: Natural Beauty

The Site: Natural Beauty is a showcase site for a beautician based in Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK. Freelancer Frank's Portfolio Image for Natural Beauty

Features:

  • Custom Wordpress design
  • Custom coding

Freelance Frank's role:

Frank coded the site on Wordpress and to a design supplied as a Photoshop image file.

Tools:
  • Photoshop
  • Wordpress
  • Custom PHP

Read More
Zen Cart: List all products by default

There are many sites out there that just need a small shop attached, nothing fancy, maybe listing a few products and adding or deleting one or two in the year. Most e-commerce solutions are overkill for this kind of site. Zen Cart is the best I have found so far. Magento, though popular, has some serious drawbacks, such as not running locally out of the box and upload crashes. Zen Cart, in common with almost most e-commerce sites, has one drawback when it comes to deployment as a small scale shopping app. It defaults to a complex bells and whistles front page rather than a simple product list. A simple product list, however, is what most users would want to see if they are clicking a 'buy' option from within a larger containing site that has already done the job of explaining features and attracting custom. The Zen Cart admin does not have a quick and easy way to default to a product list, apparently because that would make it cumbersome for users should there be a long lists of products in the store. This is true but irrelevant when it comes to the small scale shop, with only a few products, which is the ideal candidate for defaulting this way in the first place. It's possible to mess about with item categories, and so on, but this wastes time when Zen Cart already has a perfectly good menu option for listing all products as standard. The only requirement, therefore, is to switch the default opener from the usual to this list. Preamble over, here's the hack. Top of the index page - add this:

if (!(isset($_GET['main_page']))){
    $_GET['main_page']='products_all';
}
This is a quick and easy fix. The drawback is that you won't be able to access the original page, if needed. But, again, on the type of site I am talking about, this won't be a problem. Incidentally, if you want to change the list ordering, add this one...
if (!(isset($_GET['disp_order']))){
     $_GET['disp_order']='6';
}
There's a range of ordering variables, somewhere. If I get the chance to look it up I'll add it here.

Read More
Recent Posts
Possible Dropbox Pitfall
Dropbox is a simple and useful file storage system that works on Windows, Mac and Linux. It has, however, on potential pitfall: The 'drag and drop' movement is now so common that it is as intuitive as writing a full stop. Dropbox works by placing a folder on your OS, which is linked to the cloud storage. What could be easier, then, than to simply drag the files and folders you want to store to your local dropbox folder and leave them there to sync with the remote? Let's add this assumption, as I did, to the common job, I suspect, of moving one's entire music folder remotely so that it can be accessed from any machine, anywhere. Finally, throw into the mix the common Irish upload speed which is roughly 3 bits a century. You now have a recipe for disaster. It is very important to realise, with Dropbox, that the drag and drop procedure actually *moves your files* from their usual home to the temporary Dropbox loading bay. Once dragged and dropped, it is now very easy to  lose them. Especially when you learn that it will take eleven days to complete the sync, and even more especially when you decide, to hell with it, just delete out the files from the Dropbox folder - never mind that there is not enough room in the trash - and start again. Do that and you face a very large existential gap - one that is quite literally silent, and devoid of music. A Sunday afternoon, spent frantically trying to restore Windows seven from an old and highly-protected iPod touch, is not the best of fun, but it can happen. Read More
Freelancer Frank’s Portfolio: Natural Beauty
The Site: Natural Beauty is a showcase site for a beautician based in Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK. Freelancer Frank's Portfolio Image for Natural Beauty

Features:

  • Custom Wordpress design
  • Custom coding

Freelance Frank's role:

Frank coded the site on Wordpress and to a design supplied as a Photoshop image file.

Tools:
  • Photoshop
  • Wordpress
  • Custom PHP
Read More
Freelancer Frank’s Portfolio: Getheard UK
The Site: Get Heard is a consultancy organisation established in 2002 that works with a range of statutory and voluntary agencies. The site was featured in the UK Times and described as: "intelligently constructed, simple and intuitive." http://www.getheard.org.uk

Features:

  • Custom design
  • Custom coding

Freelance Frank's role:

Frank created and designed the site from scratch.

Tools:
  • Photoshop
  • Custom PHP
Read More