Snorkeling in Descanso Beach, Avalon, Catalina Island, CA [PHOTOS]

Catalina Island is an awesome place to snorkel. It has the clearest water in California. It’s the best snorkeling area you’ll find close to Los Angeles, CA.

Adding Groups to Tank Auth for CodeIgniter

Soviet T-34 tank column advancing near Leningrad, 1942
Photo: Wikipedia
Tank Auth by Ilya Konyukhov is regarded as one of the best authentication libraries for CodeIgniter. Tank Auth is the top recommendation on this landmark CodeIgniter authentication thread at stackoverflow for it’s rock solid security features. But one drawback of Tank Auth is that it has no support for groups or roles out of the box (‘admins’, ‘users’, etc). In this post we’re going to add the most minimal groups/roles support to Tank Auth possible. In the spirit of clean and object oriented code principles, we won’t change any code in the core Tank Auth library, only extend it with our own class. I’m not opposed to hacking things together, when it’s a good fit for the goals of the project. But my goal for this extension of Tank Auth is to not touch any Tank Auth code at all and keep things as minimal as possible. (UPDATE: “Tank Auth Groups” is now packaged with install instructions on github)

The approach outlined here makes a few assumptions.

  • Tank Auth 1.0.9 installed in CodeIgniter 2.1.0
  • MySQL (5)
  • The default group ID will be ’300′
  • The admin group ID will be ’100′

Here is an overview of the steps…

  1.  Add a group/roles column to the users table in the database
  2.  Create a library in CodeIgniter that extends Tank Auth with groups/roles support
  3.  Create a model in CodeIgniter that extends the Tank Auth ‘users.php’ model
  4.  Change everywhere the Tank Auth library is loaded to the new library

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Xbox Kinect Is The New Killer Interface

I’ve had a Kinect for a few weeks now and I’m very pleased with my purchase. The experience of controller-less navigation through the UI menus and playing of games is a very welcome addition to interacting with a computer.

The Xbox 360 overall has turned out to be a great platform. With Xbox Live I can download a bunch of game demos for free and buy full games downloaded and stored on the Xbox memory so I can play these games/demos without a disk. Also, the Xbox 360 is rumored to become a home online media hub to compete with Google TV, Apple TV, Boxee etc. If this does happen, then the total of Kinect + Xbox Games + Xbox Online Media sounds like a sure winner to me, offering more than the competition.

Kinect is also in direct competition to the Nintendo Wii, and it has a lot of advantages over it. As an owner of both, I’ve been able to compare them from my own experience. While the Wii does offer some great family friendly fun with it’s simple standard games, I can see Xbox Kinect is going to take over where the Wii leaves off. Continue reading

Net Neutrality Pros And Cons: A Potentially Sticky Issue [OPINION]


[This article ponders just a small bit of the pros and cons concerning Net Neutrality. Understand that I'm absolutely pro Net Neutrality as a policy, but I'm a bit divided on whether or not government should impose regulations to protect Net Neutrality. In the end, it seems like government regulations may be absolutely necessary to protect Net Neutrality, but whether the government will decide to regulate is another issue. Considering all this, Net Neutrality could be a potentially sticky issue for some time to come.]

My simple definition of Net Neutrality is…

ISPs don’t touch the bits and bytes flowing through their pipes

In other words, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) remain neutral concerning what internet traffic flows through their networks (or their “pipes”). ISPs just provide dumb pipes for the traffic to flow through. They remain neutral by not actively doing anything to the traffic, like filtering it or blocking it in any way. This is the way the internet has operated since it’s beginning (for the most part).

An example where an ISP acted in a non neutral way is when Comcast actively blocked BitTorrent traffic on its networks. In many ways, this is a fairly small thing they did. All paying customers of Comcast who did not use BitTorrent didn’t notice a thing. Comcast+BitTorrent users on the other hand, we’re stuck and would have been forced to switch ISPs in order to continue using BitTorrent, had the FCC not intervened.
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Distributed Social Networks: The Digital Home [CONCEPT]

Photo: Stuck in Customs

A few days ago an analogy regarding social networks and their future crossed my mind. The analogy is “The Digital Home” as a distributed social network platform.

The idea is that big social networks are kind of like massive communes where you have your own room (for instance my room on twitter is Continue reading