Simple Website Monitoring

How do you easily track the availability of a handful of websites? I have a few personal resource websites hosted in my basement. And a few others out on the web. My aDSL modem had started to intermittently go offline. Since I was not monitoring it, I was unsure how often this was happening. Once every few weeks in the winter could just be due to local power failures in the neighbourhood. Or may the modem was really dying a slow death? What was the uptime of my cloud based sites? I was embarrassed since I could not quickly answer these qiuestions...

4 Wire vs 5 Wire TTL Strobe

My old Sea and Sea YS50 strobe has a 4 wire cable. My newer Sea and Sea YS110 strobes use a 5 wire cable. I needed to understand the difference so that I could adjust my quench controller to operate the YS110.

YS50 is not YS110

I had created an Arduino based controller that would monitor my camera hot shoe X contact and then fire a YS50 strobe based upon a power setting level control.

I had been using some old spare Sea & Sea YS50 strobes for my testing since I did not want to damage or wear out my real strobes. It was now time to hook the Arduino up to my real Sea & Sea YS110 strobes. I expected success since I was not doing anything too sophisticated. I got utter and total failure. The YS110s did not fire consistently and did not produce a consistent power output.

Packaging the Arduino

The next challenge was physical. I needed to mount an Arduino Pro Mini board in my reclaimed Sea & Sea TTL converter housing. Should be easy. The housing was much larger than the Pro Mini board. The Pro Mini board was smaller than the Sea and Sea board I removed from the housing.

Bundle Copy for Drupal Taxonomy Terms

We had a simple problem: capture a Drupal taxonomy AND its associated terms (definition AND content) in code so that we could automatically deploy a new taxonomy based feature to a website.

Bundle Copy was on our radar as the solution. Or at least part of it.

Deploying Drupal Taxonomy Terms


A Drupal Taxonomy is a very neat concept. They are handy for categorizing content. Combined with the Autocomplete Term widget, Taxonomies allow content creators to easily find an existing term or create a new term to associate with their content. I use a single taxonomy "Tags" to categorize content on this site. This post is tagged with Drupal and Taxonomy (look below at the "Tags" section).

Graphael Business Quadrant Charts

Next step was to produce a (more) polished product. We started to feed real data into our prototype code and quickly spotted some obvious visual issues:

Graphael Prototype Business Quadrant Chart

We needed to produce a Business Quadrant chart and had decided to use the graphael graphing engine to do it.

The first step was to create a skeleton module based upon Drupal Charts design that would allow us to specify and supply the chart data via a View. The initial version only provided the (x,y) data points by selecting a series of nodes.

Open Source Graphing Engines

We came to the conclusion that we needed to roll our own Business Quadrant Charts and started the search for a suitable open source graphing engine that we could easily incorporate into Drupal.

We separated the problem into two distinct architectural areas:

Google Scatter Charts != Business Quadrant Charts

At this point we were a little confused. We did not think our ask was special. All we wanted was to create a simple business graph. Why was it not easy?

Further investigation of the Google Scatter charts revealed they were perfectly suitable for a scientific scatter plot, but highly unsuited for a business quadrant chart. Why was this? A review of requirements revealed that they were fundamentally different animals, they just looked similar on the surface.

A Scientific Scatter Plot has the following attributes:


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