Browsing posts in: Tutorial

SQL Server Error User Group or Role Already Exists in the Current Database

This is an issue that I come across frequently enough that I know where in my notes to go look for it whenever it happens, but infrequently enough that I don’t have it memorized. After restoring a database backup and trying to login you’ll often see a SQL Error like this:

If there are ways to fix this using SQL Management Studio alone, I haven’t spent the time necessary to find them, but the following SQL statement, when run on the affected database works to fix your orphaned user:

The resulting output should look something like this:

Installing Tomcat 7 with Apache and mod_jk

Installing Java, Tomcat 7, Apache 2 and mod_jk in Ubuntu 12.04

Why would you need to install Apache and mod_jk to run a Java web application on your server? Well, you don’t have to, but there are a lot of reasons why you would want to. Removing :8080 from all the requests, rewriting URLs and handling static assets, performance (loadbalancing/clustering/CDN/etc.) and a whole host of other reasons. This guide assumes you have a brand new server up and running with nothing really installed yet.

The following is an extremely vanilla setup that I would consider my normal baseline configuration, the bare minimum to get Tomcat and Apache talking successfully. This will mainly aid in allowing all your web requests to be funneled through port 80 (instead of the normal Tomcat 8080) and allowing static assets to be served that exist outside of your application’s WAR file- think uploaded user images and such.

Install Java

First things first, without Java installed on your server, none of this works.

Go to the Oracle Java Download page and choose the proper JDK for your environment. Remember: A JRE is not enough for running Tomcat or other Java application/container servers.

Follow the instructions for unpacking and installing the JDK to your file system. This example assumes you installed the JDK to /usr/local

Install Tomcat

Download the latest Tomcat version, for this post we’ll be using Tomcat 7.

Unpack Tomcat and move the contents to where you want them. For this post, we’ll be using /usr/share/tomcat7

Install Apache and mod_jk

For Ubuntu, we’ll simply use the apt package manager to install these:

Configure the default site to use the default AJP worker. For this example, we will be configuring all requests to go to Tomcat

Edit /etc/apache2/sites-available/default:

Server Specific Configurations

These steps are not entirely necessary and can vary from OS to OS depending on how servers in your environment are normally set up.

Update alternatives to point to your Java install:

Edit /etc/environment and add the following:

Create a tomcat user for running the server and assign ownership of $TOMCAT_HOME (this is necessary for the Tomcat init script in the next step):

Install this tomcat7 init.d startup script that I created for better startup/shutdown of your server to /etc/init.d/tomcat7.

Simulating Slow Connections in OS X or Linux

Simulating Slow and Laggy Connections


Do you want to simulate how it feels to load your site from a mobile connection (If it’s AT&T just turn off your network for an accurate simulation- I kid, don’t sue. But seriously AT&T, figure it out.) or from a laggy network? In OS X or Linux, you’ve got everything you need already installed: ipfw (IP firewall and traffic shaper control).

Create a Pipe

Configure a pipe with the appropriate bandwidth (I’ve also added a 200 ms response delay in this example).

Attach the Pipe

In this example we’re going to use port 80, but you can also use port 443 or any other port that you may be testing communication on. Additionally, you can attach the pipe to multiple ports.

That’s it!

Wait a second, you say! Now your network connection is completely throttled and everything is running terribly! You need to delete both ipfw entries and the pipe that were previously created.

Here’s how you undo what you’ve just done:

Subversion: Merging a Branch to Trunk

Merging a Subversion Branch Back to Trunk

So, you’ve successfully branched code and have a great new feature set you need to get back to trunk, but how? Easy!

Get the latest revision number of the branch you want to merge

If you already have the branch checked out, cd to that directory and svn update it.

Alternatively, if you don’t have (or don’t want to have) the branch checked out locally, you can do it remotely.

The last line returned contains the first revision of that branch, it’ll look something like this:

Check out trunk

Alternatively, you can just update trunk if you have it checked out

Change to the trunk working directory and do the following:

You should see output like this:

This will update your copy of trunk to the most recent version and tell you the revision you are at. Make note of that number as well (should say “At revision YYYY”; where YYYY is the second number you’ll need to remember).

Perform the merge

Now you’ve got the details you need; the revision at which the branch started and the most current revision.

Change directory to the trunk

Check in the results:

Final thoughts

Described above is how to perform the act of merging a branch back to the trunk, there are however many things I didn’t cover. Before you perform this operation you should do a review of all the changes and potential conflicts if the trunk was also receiving active development.

In a team environment, this would be a great time for a peer/mentor code review as well as an approach review for the bugs/featured covered in the branch.

Deploying New Relic on AWS Elastic Beanstalk with Tomcat

It’s relatively straightforward and New Relic’s docs show you how to do it just fine for Tomcat 6. First, go look over New Relic’s documentation, I’m not going to repeat all the details they show there.
The only difference is the following:
At the Container JVM Command Line Options field, instead of the -javaagent string New Relic recommends, put this in instead

Setting the Logging Environment Name

You can also set the logging environment name in the same line. After the -javaagent string you justed enter, put in this:

If you read through the newrelic.yml file, you can see all the different options that switching environments can give to you besides just a different name in the New Relic dashboard.

Encrypting a tar or gz (gzip) File with OpenSSL

When you have sensitive data that you need to transmit but want to make it easy to encrypt and decrypt it, use some standard tools to get the job done!

I recently had an issue where a client was using OS X laptops running an Admin panel written in PHP on MAMP in an environment that may or may not have an internet connection. The problem was that they needed to be able to dump their database data into an encrypted file so that they could send the data off when they get a connection (via email, upload, who knows). My initial response was to use gpg to encrypt the file and hand out the keys to the people who would eventually be reading the data.

Turns out, this was going to be a nightmare and I needed something ‘easier’. How about encrypting a tar file with OpenSSL? Bingo! This solution uses utilities that are already on the machine and no installations need to be performed. The reason this was such a big deal is because the laptops running this software will be all over the world with various levels of technical acumen and it will be a nightmare to make sure every single laptop has been updated correctly.

Encrypting Your File

tar and gzip the file, then encrypt it using des3 and a secret key.

That simple!

Decrypting Your File

Essentially, just call all the commands in the reverse order.

Download the Utility Scripts

Download them!

Creating an SSH Proxy Tunnel with PuTTY

This tutorial is aimed at Windows users and focuses on PuTTY as our SSH client of choice.

Are you stuck behind a firewall or looking to add some privacy to your browsing? Whenever I’m off my own network I fire up an SSH tunnel back to my own servers and send all my browsing information through it. Why? Because big brother may be watching, but I can bet you someone even worse is trying to. Also, it could be incriminating if people knew how often I was checking my 9th (out of 10) place Fantasy Football team stats.

What is Tunneling? The Over Simplified Definition

When your browser (or other client) requests a webpage (or anything off the Internet) it sends a request from your computer through a series of routers, switches, firewalls, and servers owned and monitored by other people, companies, and ISPs until it reaches its destination, then follows the same (or similar) path back to your machine with the kitten pictures you asked for.

Tunneling bypasses some of the rules that these companies or ISPs may be enforcing on you by creating a direct, encrypted, connection to your tunnel server that can’t be easily peered into by prying eyes. This means that web pages that are blocked can be seen and passwords that are sent can’t be looked at.

For a much better definition, please see Wikipedia

Install PuTTY

There are other SSH clients and tools that are designed specifically for SSH tunneling and SOCKS proxying. I prefer this way because PuTTY also gives you an SSH client, which you should no doubt be in possession of anyways.

  1. Download PuTTY here (choose the archive version)
  2. Make a new directory at C:\bin
  3. Extract the contents of the putty archive into C:\bin
  4. An extra step that’s not really necessary- Add C:\bin to your Windows system path (if you don’t know how, skip this or google it)

Configuring PuTTY

  1. Fire up the client and enter the hostname and portPuTTY Hostname
  2. Type in a title under Saved Sessions and press Save
  3. On the left side, go to Connection->SSH->Tunnels
  4. In Source Port enter 8080 (this can be configured to be whatever you want, just remember it)
  5. Choose the Dynamic radio button under DestinationPuTTY Tunnel
  6. Press Add, you should then see D8080 in the box above
  7. Go back to Session on the left side and then press Save to save the changes


To utilize the tunnel to its full benefit, you need to set up a SOCKS proxy in your browser. Will describe how to use the FoxyProxy proxy switching plugin. It works for both FireFox and Chrome on Windows, which are really the only browsers you should be using.

  1. Download FoxyProxy for your browser here.
  2. Once installed, go to the FoxyProxy optionsFoxy Proxy
  3. Click Add New
  4. Click the General tab and enter a name in the Proxy Name box
  5. Make sure Perform remote DNS lookups on hostnames loading through this proxy is checked – we’ll discuss this a little later
  6. Select the Proxy Details tab
  7. Enter localhost in the Host box
  8. Enter 8080 in the Port box
  9. Check SOCKS Proxy? and make sure the SOCKS v5 radio is checked
  10. Press Ok to save
  11. At the Select Mode drop down, choose your freshly created SOCKS Proxy


So long as your PuTTY SSH connection remains connected your proxy tunnel will be open and you will be browsing the internet just as you had before, except without a lot of restrictions placed by firewalls and greater security.

Final Note: Secure DNS Resolution

As far as I understand it Chrome will automatically use your SOCKS proxy for DNS resolution, but Firefox doesn’t by default. This means that firewalls or DNS servers could still block requests to certain websites because they will refuse to tell your browser or client how to look the remote server up. FoxyProxy should fix this due to the installation steps we took, but it doesn’t guarantee that your IM messenger, other browsers, or other internet clients will be able to securely resolve DNS requests when using the SOCKS proxy. For more information on exactly what DNS is, browse over to Wikipedia

I recommend a 3rd party DNS service like OpenDNS to further enhance the safety, speed, and security of your DNS lookups. They can protect from malware and other bad things, but they can also provide you with a ‘less restricted’ internet.

NSLog Conditionally in Debug Mode and NSLog Macros

Using Objective-C Macros to Conditionally Log

During the course of developing and debugging my first iOS apps I’ve realized that there has to be at least a semi-decent way of using log statements for debugging messages as well as error messages without a lot of code overhead and manual changes when switching between building for Release and Debug.

Using macros and compiler settings, you too can quickly separate the statements out and streamline your debugging/logging code.

Creating Your Macros

Find the -Prefix.pch header file for your project and open it for editing. If your project’s name is MyProject you will look for MyProject-Prefix.pch.

Add the following lines to the end of your Prefix header file:

What We Did

I have prefixed each macro with Ash so that there is no confusing them as macros I created. As you can also see, we have created a few different ways to log. We have a standard wrapper for NSLog that we will call instead of NSLog that will only fire if we’ve built using a debug mode flag. We also have two different methods for creating detailed log messages on the fly that will include our log message along with the function and line number the message originates from. The nice thing about these macros is that you can easily change the string format to log in any way that you want.

XCode Settings

  1. Select your project in the Xcode explorer/left pane

    XCode Project

    Xcode 4.2

  2. Select Build Settings in the Xcode center window
  3. Search for preprocessor in the Build Settings section and add DEBUGGING as a Debug Preprocessor Macro.

    Xcode Preprocessor Build Settings

    Set the Debug preprocessor settings

Reduce Three20 Compile Time for iOS (Making Static Libraries)

In using Three20 with Xcode 4, I have found life to be a little more difficult than in Xcode 3.

Project changes have required me to fiddle with the project/target compile settings in order to get my project to build correctly, often seeing the dreaded “Three20/Three20.h” file not found error, and not being able to build for archive have all been recurring issues that I’ve faced while developing some pretty simple iOS apps utilizing the Three20 project.

Finally, when the project is building correctly, I spend almost all my compile time building all the Three20 libraries. In search of a better way I stumbled upon a stackoverflow question, and then later on a blog post that have essentially gotten rid of all these hassles for me.

Step 1: How to build any library for all platforms

  • Open an existing static library project.
  • Select the project file on the top, and then select the target you want to build.
  • Go into the Build Phases section
  • Add a new “Run Script” build phase
  • In this phase, paste the following script:

The following code, which was copied directly from the blog post linked above, tells Xcode to compile all the targets for both Device and Simulator. The resulting output will be a .a library file for use in other projects.

Applying this to Three20

  • Go into {Three20 Root Directory}/src/Three20 and open Three20.xcodeproj
  • Select the Three20 target and add the above script into the appropriate build phase
  • Nothing needs to be done to the “Three20UnitTests” target, we won’t be using it for anything.
  • Expand the Dependencies folder for your Three20 project, in the files list on the left side of Xcode
  • Add the same script phase you did before in all of these dependent projects.
  • Do this for every dependency project. If you don’t do this, Xcode will produce all .a libraries, but only the main Three20 library will be created for all devices and they all need to be created for all devices.
  • Once you have added the script build phase to all projects and dependencies, build the project (and be patient).

Giving Due Credit

Had I not stumbled onto Christos Sotiriou‘s blog post I probably could never have figured this out from end to end on my own. He even offers a direct download to compiled libraries and headers if you want to just get up and running.

Authentication Using WordPress and Zend Framework

I recently had the need to implement a Zend Framework web app that could authorize against WordPress without necessarily using WordPress as the front end. I was very relieved to find out it was quite easy to do!

In your application’s index.php (typically found at public/index.php) you need to include the WordPress header file to make sure you have access to the WordPress functions later in your application:

I have the following code in my LoginController.php (application/modules/public/controllers/LoginController.php) file.

doWordpressAuth function