Skip to content

Minimising MYSQL disk usage

Database optimisation is hard. Whether it’s tweaking a query or digging into my.cnf to change some of the global MYSQL parameters, you can actually make matters worse without intending to. But one thing that is simple, easy and predictable is making the database smaller.

Knowing which tables are taking up loads of space can be done crudely just by looking at each table to find those with lots of rows, but a when you’ve got a behemoth like Magento, or even a WordPress install with plugin powered table bloat, it’s slow and boring looking at each table. A query is much easier…

SET @database_name = "whatever_your_database_is_called";
SELECT TABLE_NAME AS "Table", round(((data_length + index_length) / 1024 / 1024), 2) AS size
FROM information_schema.TABLES
WHERE table_schema = @database_name

Then it’s just a matter of running some table maintenance to shrink things a bit…

Posted in MYSQL, Performance, Web Development | Comments Off on Minimising MYSQL disk usage

Which Apple products are worth buying in 2019?

I was speaking to a customer in Bradford-on -Avon today about replacement options for their venerable MacBook Pro 15″ 2011, which has once again succumbed to a failing GPU. The discussion came round to what they should replace it with, which got me pondering… What Apple products that still have current support for the latests OS, would I spend my own money on?

Of late that’s become a much more difficult question for me to answer, due to the large number of documented hardware issues with Apple products of late and the steep inflation in prices over the last few years. Plus I’m stingy and want good value for my hard-earned money. It’s a short list when you consider I’m looking at any Apple product sold since 2011…

What’s worth considering?

  • Magic Mouse 1 – Love them, and unlike the V2 uses replaceable AA batteries.
  • iPhone 5 SE – They’re dirt cheap, still supported with iOS 13, very reliable and have Touch ID. I fail to see the “killer feature” more recent phones have. Bigger screens? Buy an iPad and both together are still cheaper than a iPhone 8 or later.
  • iPad 2018 – Under £300, supports the Apple pencil and plenty quick enough. Unless you’re a digital artist the iPad Pro is just a much overpriced version of the same thing.
  • MacBook Pro 13″ Mid 2012 – They’re a bit chunky, but with easily and cheaply upgraded battery, RAM and hard drives, plus bombproof build quality they make excellent workhorses. Hard drive cables can fail, but cheap to replace.
  • MacBook Air 11″ 2014 to 2017 – Decent keyboard, easily replaceable battery and hard drive, stupidly portable and very reliable.
  • MacBook Pro Retina 13″ or 15″ 2014-5 – Fewer of the reliability issues that affected the 2012-2014 models,  just as quick as the 2016-2018 models, but with none of the terrible keyboard and display issues. Bonus points for cheaply upgradable hard drives, SD card reader and normal USB ports.
  • iMac 27″ Retina 2015 onwards – The reason I would consider this is the stunning screen. Everything else is “meh” to fine, but the screen makes up for a lot of my indifference. Earlier models can suffer from GPU failures and should be viewed with some suspicion.
  • Mac mini 2018 – A brilliant little machine, only let down by the soldered on hard drive.
  • MacBook Pro 2019 16″ – Only time will tell if they end up being reliable, but at least they’ve returned to using a sensible keyboard and have better cooling. The lack of upgradable or replaceable anything quickly pushes prices to ridiculous levels once you add in a little bit of future proofing, but it does a least offer something significantly “better” than the 2015 models, albeit at a silly cost.

What should you avoid like the plague?

So what devices would I explicitly avoid? Any iPhone 6. Anything with a “Butterfly” keyboard. Any MacBook Pro 15″ apart from the 2014-5 and 2019 models. Any 2013-2014 iMac with Retina display. Any iMac Pro*. Any Mac Pro**. Any Magic Mouse or keyboard with a built in battery or AirPods***.

Closing thoughts…

If you’ve got money pouring out of your pockets then frankly buy what you fancy and ignore Mr Scrooge over here. If your computer earns you so much money that it will pay for itself in short order, or your employer has money to burn, get the fastest thing you can justify. But for everyone else who doesn’t have unlimited funds, wants an Apple device that should last for a good time all whilst at a reasonable cost, I believe my list represents the “best of class” devices that Apple have sold in the last 8 years…

* I bet they will start to suffer GPU failures in the coming months/years. AMD Vega video cards run notoriously hot and Apple devices never have generous cooling. Plus the cost is nuts. A 9900K Hackintosh with similar specs will cost a fraction of the price.

** The “Cheesegrater” Mac Pros are no longer supported and the “Trash Can” Mac Pros are underpowered and plagued with GPU failures. The fabled 2019 Mac Pro is going to cost silly money for anything significantly faster than a well put together quality Hackintosh or compared to a comparably powerful Windows workstation.

*** Any expensive device that includes a non-replaceable battery and hence will be landfill in a few years time needs to burn in hell. Keyboards, mice and headphones can and should last for a decade.

Posted in Apple, Apple hardware repairs, Bargains | Comments Off on Which Apple products are worth buying in 2019?

Fixing errors uploading SVG WordPress

If you’re uploading .svg files to the WordPress Media Library, you might have been unable to, seeing the error “Sorry, this file type is not permitted for security reasons.”

Open your .svg up with a text editor and check that the first line shows as

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

If it doesn’t, whack that in, save the document and try again. Adobe software often omits the xml declaration if you optimise the svg output. Pop it back in, problem solved.

Posted in Web Development, Wordpress | Comments Off on Fixing errors uploading SVG WordPress

Why we’ve not been posting about Web work for such a long time

I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since we last posted something about web development; time really does fly when you’re up to your neck in client work!

So what have we been up to during the last couple of years? As per usual, pretty much everything we do is for clients who don’t want us to talk about our involvement with a project, so we can’t publically post anything about individual projects 🙁 But in round terms it’s been:

  • Custom Laravel development
  • A large full stack web app build project using Laravel and View.js
  • Lots of custom WordPress themes and plugins
  • Bespoke Magento 1 extensions
  • Magento 1 maintenance and server migrations
  • Magento 1 to 2 re-platforms
  • A few small design and build projects

Need a reliable, cost-effective developer to turn your designs into a working website? Need help with an existing website that’s gone pear-shaped? Give us a call on 01380 830244 and we’ll see what we can do…

Posted in Magento, Web Development, Wordpress | Comments Off on Why we’ve not been posting about Web work for such a long time

How to safely apply Apple system and OS updates to a Hackintosh

If you have an Apple Mac, installing minor versions of System updates, Security updates and updates of Apple supplied applications is a generally* trouble free experience. Whilst that’s often also true if you have a Hackintosh, installing updates is not without risk. So the Hackintosh user  has 2 choices.

  1. Never update.
  2. Make sure you have a sensible, defensive update process.

Is never updating an option?

Actually in some specific situations this is a perfectly sensible approach. If you’re using the Hackintosh in a professional setting, it runs what you need perfectly well and it’s not stopping you doing or getting new work, why give yourself any hassle? It works, leave it be. My only caveat to this rule is please, for the love of everything holy, don’t use it for anything financially sensitive. Banking, investing, buying stuff online or any other personally sensitive transactions on a machine that never receives security is just asking for trouble in the long term.

So how can I update my Hackintosh safely?

The process is basically the same as it would be on a normal Mac, with a few significant difference. This assumes that you’ve done a vanilla install using Clover and have all of your .kexts in in the /EFI/ folder

  1. Make a complete cloned backup of the boot System volume to a separate physical “backup” drive. I don’t mean a Time Machine update, I mean a disk clone.
  2. Backup the EFI partition on your main boot drive to the EFI partition on your “backup” drive.
  3. Drop into the BIOS**, change the default boot volume to your backup drive
  4.  Boot up from the cloned drive  to confirm  that you have a working, bootable copy of your main drive.
  5. Install the update onto your cloned drive.
  6. Reboot from the clone drive. If nothing is obviously broken, ‘kick the tyres’ for a few hours until you’re confident that everything works.
  7. If all went well, install the update on your main boot drive.

As you can see, there only a few extra steps compared to performing an upgrade in a sensible, defensive manner on an Apple Mac. But I can’t emphasise enough how important Step 1, 2 and 3 are. The only fundamental software difference between a Hackintosh and normal Mac should be what’s on the EFI partition. But that partition contains all the system specific tweaks for the hardware your Hackintosh needs to run smoothly, on a particular version of Mac OS.

By following Steps 1, 2 and 3 you can be sure that when you startup from your backup drive, Clover is loading from the EFI partition on your backup drive. Thus when you install a software update, you can be confident if it all goes to pot you can simply drop into the BIOS, change the boot drive and be back where you started prior to attempting the update. Then it’s a question of doing a bit of research to suss out what caused the problem, ( or just choosing to do nothing if you don’t currently have time or inclination).

If that sounds terribly complicated, it’s really not. It’s a just a few additional steps assuming you’ve got things setup correctly in the first instance. Without this safely net you risk turning your lovely, stable and fast Hackintosh into a large paperweight – until such time as you get the boot issue sorted.

Need your Hackintosh updated, or a new Hackintosh built?

Please give us a call on 01380 830224 to discuss your requirements, we’d be happy to help. If you’ve a Hackintosh that’s been “bricked” by a System update, don’t panic. All your data will still be intact, we just need to fix whatever conflict there is between the specific OS installation you installed and your Clover configuration.

* Sometimes even Apple Macs get stuffed by OS updates, which is why I would always suggest having a known good bootable clone drive knocking around, regardless of whether you use a Apple Mac or a Hackinotsh.

** Yeah, yeah, I know it’s actually UEFI, but most people know the term BIOS, so let’s not split hairs 🙂

Posted in Apple, Hackintosh | Comments Off on How to safely apply Apple system and OS updates to a Hackintosh