Since Google has phased out old recaptcha (v1), some of our clients reported that their old Joomla 1.5 installs are suffering - getting spammed, now that they no longer have a decent captcha available.  While we realize that Joomla 1.5 sites should be upgraded to the latest version, not all clients are willing, or able to afford this.  

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You may have noticed a red warning message in your Joomla admin panel saying something like this:

Error
We have detected that your server is using PHP 5.6.x (or PHP 5.4.x or PHP 7.0.x) which is obsolete and no longer receives official security updates by its developers. The Joomla! Project recommends upgrading your site to PHP 7.1 or later which will receive security updates at least until 2019-12-01. Please ask your host to make PHP 7.1 or a later version the default version for your site. If your host is already PHP 7.1 ready please enable PHP 7.1 on your site's root and 'administrator' directories – typically you can do this yourself through a tool in your hosting control panel, but it's best to ask your host if you are unsure.

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This video demonstrates how to use Joomla and K2 to deliver email notifications to your contact list using Mailchimp - you can specify in Mailchimp how frequently (monthly, weekly, etc) and on which day and time you want the emails to be delivered. 

 

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The video below will demonstrate how I used Joomla + K2 to build an advanced, custom home page layout using regular Joomla modules.  This customization and technique will work on any Joomla 1.5.x, 2.5.x or 3.x site.  

Download the template override files attached to this post and upload them into your Joomla template here:

/templates/your-template/html/com_k2/

So the full path will look like this:
/templates/your-template/html/com_k2/home-override/category.php

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I want to take a quick moment to reiterate why I love Open Source software so much.  Not only is open source software free to use and customize to your liking, you can also run it on almost any hosting server.  You could even host it on a server in your basement if so desired.  

I recently noticed that the “Captcha” field on my website’s comment form was still showing the old “V1” anti-spam check:

old-recaptcha

(Yikes!)

Rather than the newer, friendlier format: 

new-recaptcha

The solution, which actually came as a surprise, was quite simple.  All I had to do was update the “K2 Component” in my site to the latest version and generate a new API key for the new “V2” Captcha.  And it just so happens that the developers behind K2 took the effort to make the latest version of K2 (released in 2017) compatible with Joomla 1.5, which dates back to 2010.   

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The Joomla 3.7 release added new features AND 8 (eight) low-level security patches.

What they should have done, was to release 3.6.6 with all of the security patches as a ‘security’ release.   Then, after the dust settles, release v3.7.0 with the new functionality.  They combined both “security” and “new functionality” into the 3.7 release.  To me, it seems they should have pushed the security patches into 3.6.6 and then the new features into 3.7, rather than a combination. 

The result is a scramble in the Joomla community where everyone rushes to install version 3.7 because it contains security patches.  Then, another scramble to install 3.7.1 because 3.7.0 had a new security issue.  It seems like a racket, no? 

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I noticed that after installing the Joomla 3.6.4 security patch, the background color of the /administrator control panel login screen changed.  It seems that with today's release of Joomla 3.6.4, and ease of which the exploit can be executed, it's really bad timing to make it so easy for hackers to see whether or not a site has been patched.  This latest Joomla exploit allows for a person to do two things:

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I just encountered an issue after upgrading a client's site to Joomla 3.6.4.  I was presented with the following error message on both the front end and back end of the site:

Error displaying the error page: Illegal mix of collations (utf8_unicode_ci,IMPLICIT) and (utf8_general_ci,IMPLICIT) for operation '=' SQL=SELECT id, home, template, s.params FROM #__template_styles as s LEFT JOIN #__extensions as e ON e.element=s.template AND e.type='template' AND e.client_id=s.client_id WHERE s.client_id = 0 AND e.enabled = 1: Illegal mix of collations (utf8_unicode_ci,IMPLICIT) and (utf8_general_ci,IMPLICIT) for operation '=' SQL=SELECT id, home, template, s.params FROM #__template_styles as s LEFT JOIN #__extensions as e ON e.element=s.template AND e.type='template' AND e.client_id=s.client_id WHERE s.client_id = 0 AND e.enabled = 1

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I put this video together to discuss some of the similarities and differences between Joomla, Wordpress, and Drupal.  In particular, I set up some sample content in a "plain vanilla" installation of each platform, and examine the underlying database structure.  Too frequently, I find myself reading peoples' opinions about which of these platforms is better than the other, and I can't help but think to myself, "You're just saying that because you learned (insert platform name here) first." 

If you already have a site built using one of these platforms and want to hire me, I'm happy to play the role of consultant.  If you don't have a site and want to engage me to design & build it, I can do that, too.  (I generally don't find the database structure by itself to be enough of a reason to switch from one platform to the other, but that's also an option if sufficient reasons exist.)  Get in touch today!

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Building optimized sites has always been a major part of our strategy: they are easier to maintain, easier to upgrade, and they load more quickly.  I have never built a site using only Flash, and have always built sites using HTML-and-CSS based navigation menus.  They are search engine friendly and easy to expand or rearrange.

With that in mind, I have recently come up with a few other ways to speed things up.  A faster site will generally rank better in the search engines, plus it will have less people abandoning the site while waiting for it to load.

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