Coldfusion, IIS7, Plesk and 401 Authentication

July 16th, 2009

While installing Coldfusion 8 on Windows Server 2008, I came across a problem that I simply couldn’t find an answer for anywhere on the interwebs. Now, some three hours later I’ve stumbled across the solution and thought I’d blog about it in an attempt to save others the headache.

The Problem:

You have a fresh install of Windows 2008 server running Plesk Control Panel.
You innocently download and install a copy of ColdFusion 8. The installation goes fine and you can access the ColdFusion administrator with no problems…
However, when you try to access a .cfm page on any other site, you’re greeted with a login prompt asking for authentication details. You’ll also find that your Plesk URL does the same thing.
In fact, any page on any site other than the default (which is where your ColdFusion Administrator is installed) is now asking for authentication, and of course returning a 401 error when you are unable to supply the correct login details.
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Posted in ColdFusion, General | 8 Comments »

Pixels vs. Ems – my proverbial 2 cents

June 19th, 2009

A wise man once said: “A moving target is not so easy to hit”.
At least, I think that’s what he said. He was running past me rather quickly at the time.

As a conscientious web developer, I aim to create clean & accessible code, using currently accepted best practices. Unfortunately no-one can seem to agree on what those best practices might be and in any case they keep changing, so it’s difficult to keep up.

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Where do they find the time?!

April 22nd, 2009

I love working in the web industry. As a relatively new technology, only really gaining worldwide popularity in the last decade, the web is an industry that’s literally inventing itself on a daily basis. There are some astoundingly smart people out there, developing the web, shaping its future and working tirelessly to improve and innovate. What you know today could be outdated tomorrow… it’s nothing short of thrilling.

It’s not hard to see which people are at the forefront, making a difference and shaping the industry. Flick through any web magazine and the same names pop up again and again. These same people are to be found speaking at conferences, advising on panels, writing thought provoking articles on their own blogs and, in a great many cases, writing books to share their expertise with the world.

My question is this: Where do they find the time?!
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Jack, Jill and Hill of all trades.

March 25th, 2009

When the likes of the Oliver Twins and David Brayben were writing video games in their bedrooms back in the mid-eighties, I’ll bet they had no idea just how advanced the world of games development was to become. These days a commercial video game takes a team of hundreds, with a budget of millions (which incidentally, is why there are very few original games released these days – nobody wants to bank roll an unproven idea).

In recent years, the web industry has begun to wander down a similar path. With the scope of the average web project being so much greater than a decade ago, the most successful web agencies are those housing multiple specialists.
These days a web project needs information architecture, copy writing, user experience & interface design, database design and development, back end coding, front end coding, user testing, a dash of marketing and some project management to tie it all together.

So where does this leave the ‘Jack of all trades’? With the recent economic ‘apocalypse’, a lot of people and especially freelancers, are wondering where their next paycheck may be coming from… How do we weather the storm?
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Posted in General, Website Development | 2 Comments »

7 copyright tips for your designs

March 20th, 2009

Getting our designs and ideas ripped off is a worry for anyone in this industry. It happens all the time, but what are we supposed to do about it?

As you may know, when I’m not busy making websites, I make t-shirts inspired by retro video games. Recently some of our designs were shamelessly ripped off by an ex-supplier of ours, who then, (astoundingly) tried to wholesale them back to us!

I spoke to several law firms and organisations and thought I would share the advice I received.
Please note that while I am paraphrasing advice I received, you should in no way assume this information to be legally sound – I would ALWAYS advise you to speak to a copyright lawyer in these matters. This said, here follows my top copyright tips:
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The uncomfortable truth about SEO

March 17th, 2009

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not an SEO professional. I don’t work for an SEO company and I don’t charge for SEO in any way. But I have been developing websites for a long time, and in that time I’ve been involved in a lot of SEO projects. I’ve had sites at the top of Google, and I’ve had sites blacklisted. I’ve been shafted by black-hat SEO companies, and I’ve employed black-hat techniques myself. I’ve witnessed the rise of CPC advertising, I saw the demise of ‘Top-Pile’, and I’ve voted for the ‘president of the internet‘… In short, I’ve learned a few things…

Having just had a conversation with yet another ‘SEO consultancy’, I’m simply amazed that there are still people out there disseminating these crackpot ideas of what SEO is. That clients of mine, unsuspecting business owners with little or no knowledge of the intricacies of SEO, are still parting with inordinate, over-inflated lumps of cash to these cowboy companies for a service they don’t understand, and are therefore unable to accurately gauge the effectiveness of, simply angers me.

So here, in an attempt to enlighten as well as entertain, is my compendium of uncomfortable truths about the world of SEO in 2009.

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Posted in SEO, Website Development | 4 Comments »

New site live… Vertical rhythm FTW!

March 13th, 2009

After many sleepless nights, the new Simian Enterprises site is now live – complete with a lovely new back-end system as well as a *gasp* WordPress blog!

I know as a ColdFusion developer, I should probably be using Mango Blog or BlogCFC – Both of which are pretty awesome in their own right – but at the end of the day WordPress is simply a better tool for the job.
I’ve heard it said before, but I’ll chuck my opinion out there too: The new WordPress UI is absolutely fantastic, and I have to say it’s that more than anything else that made me choose it over the other two.

Of course, integrating WordPress with the rest of my ColdFusion site proved interesting. Several things in the site template are achieved through ColdFusion and had to be replicated in PHP. I ended up writing a CFC to pull data from a WordPress blog, which has proved enormously helpful. If I get the chance, I’ll clean that up a bit and put it up as a download – I can’t be the only one wanting to use WordPress on a ColdFusion powered site.

Props go to Anthony at for the lovely new design.
Also, due largely to two fantastic talks by Jon Tan and Richard Rutter at Skillswap Brighton, I have lovingly embraced typography and this site adheres strictly to a vertical rhythm. The math excites me. Really. It’s actually quite worrying.

That’s all for now. I’ve a few articles in the pipeline that I’ll be posting up here fairly soon. Until then, I’d love to hear any feedback on the new site.
Use the lovely comments box below.


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Simian Enterprises is the trading name of Gary Stanton, a freelance web developer working by the sea in Brighton, UK. Gary's been creating websites since 1996 and still loves it. Read more


Gary Stanton


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