software

Deal or No Deal - Microsoft Excel edition

Countdown beware; there's a newish favourite daytime gameshow in town to take the shallow attention of you non nine-to-fivers: Deal or No Deal. If nothing else, at least it keeps Noel Edmonds of the cruel streets of England.

In case you've been asleep for years (being in foreign parts is no excuse - there are at least 23 national versions of the show). The premise of the game is as follows: There are a number of boxes with varying amounts of money in, from 1p to £250,000. The contestant picks one box, and it is opened to reveal what it contained, hence giving the contestant the knowledge of what is left to play for. At some point in the game, a mysterious "banker" rings up and offers the contestant a specific amount of money if they will take it and leave.

Linked queries in Access

Back to the (Microsoft) Office...Today's cunning tip is that of linking queries between two Access databases.

It is easy to link tables in Access; that is to say that your Access application can use, edit, add and delete data that physically exists in a different Access application's tables. This allows you to have multiple independent front-ends for the same background data for instance, gain the ability to develop new forms and reports whilst other people are using existing ones, or have an application that uses data from two different databases. Do this via the "Link table" option you get, when you create a new table (Click the Insert menu, then Table). However at first sight it isn't possible to do this for queries.

Word mail merge sometimes doesn't show Access queries

It is common practice to want to perform a mail merge from Microsoft Word, using data from Microsoft Access. Normally, this is extremely easy, especially if you use the Mail Merge Wizard that you can find under the "Tools" menu after selecting "Letters and Mailings" (in Word 2002 anyway). It will lead you to choose first the Access database you want to get the data from, and then the table or query you want to use.

Sometimes however when it asks you what table or query you want to use, the one you carefully handcrafted for this purpose isn't it the list. This happens mostly if it is a parameter query (a query that the user is expected to type something into to generate the data), but sometimes erm...just for fun.

Adding a no wordwrap option to img_assist

Note: this article is outdated now as the official Image Assist module now contains a no-word-wrap feature within it.

The Poorhouse's current favourite way of easily inserting images into Drupal nodes is to use the module img_assist. To use it, you also need to install the image module.

Controlling who sees a block in Drupal

You can configure Drupal block visibility under Admin -> Blocks -> Configure. One option is "expert mode" whereby you can write a snippet of PHP code. If it returns true, the block is shown, otherwise it is hidden.

Drupal "save as draft" feature

Recently the Poorhouse wanted some sort of "Save as draft" facility, such that a (fabulous) article could be started at one point in time, saved - without being published - and continued some other time. Also the option to decide whether to publish to the front page or not on a case-by-case basis was desired - after all you don't want every last bit of the inner workings of your mind highlighted for all to see. At least make them work for it.

Drupal contains this feature, under "Publishing options". However, this is only available to the initial admin user, plus anyone who has node edit privileges. The Poorhouse wanted its guest authors it have this facility too. However giving them node edit privileges was not quite right, because it meant they could edit, delete and otherwise have finger-slips over everyone's articles and not just their own.

Drupal stuff

The Poorhouse uses a content management framework called Drupal. Drupal is great. It may be a bit complex to get your head around at first, but it is ultra flexible, modular, decent user community and so on.

This page will contain links to a few notes the Poorhouse has made during the adventure into Drupal, mostly so the Poorhouse can remember what he did if it needs doing it again, but maybe, just maybe, it'll be of interest to other avid readers.

Converting Drupal Acidfree module to mySQL 3.x

See here for an explanation. Basically, this is how thepoorhouse.org.uk converted the Drupal module "Acidfree" which is designed for mySQL 4 and above to run on mySQL 3.

Converting Drupal Workspace module to mySQL 3.x

See here for an explanation. Basically, this is how thepoorhouse.org.uk converted the Drupal module "Workspace" which is designed for mySQL 4 and above to run on mySQL 3.

Drupal modules on mySQL 3

The Poorhouse tends to use cheap hosting...which whilst bargainous, means you don't get the latest and greatest software. Most importantly here, it only has mySQL 3.x. mySQL 3 is missing a few features, including the UNION sql operator. Whilst this is fine for Drupal core, some of the modules rely on its existence. Which is fair enough all considered - but annoying for us.

Two such modules are Workspace and AcidFree. Both very useful, but required some faffing around to transform into something mySQL 3 compatible. In case anyone is in a similar situation, here's what was done to make them work to an acceptable standard.

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