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Pages Check Template

We had a requirement of creating a check template in Apple’s Pages.

This template would eventually have to be populated with the client’s account number and the client’s bank’s routing number, although those numbers would of course be kept confidential.

The first resource we located was Robert Hashemian’s excellent online “Free Check Generator” located at <a href=””></a>.

This is a pretty amazing resource, creating an onscreen customizable check, with routing number, account number, and check number customizable, and present on the check in the proper MICR font. The page also contains numerous links to helpful information. Through these links we located the Wikipedia page for the <a href=””>Magnetic ink character recognition</a> font.

Because we were using Pages on a Mac, we had to look up how to get the <a href=””>Unicode Hex Input screen going</a>, as well as <a href=”″>jog our memories on how to make Pages show all fonts available on the system</a>.

Of course, we did not input our account numbers and routing numbers directly on the website, but we were able to put together a very basic check template with the proper MICR font in Pages and provide the solution to the client.


Sophos Home Launched

There is some very exciting news from Sophos — Sophos Home has launched (in beta) for free, for non-commercial use. It is licensed to never expire, and it works on Mac and Windows. This is very good news for every home computer!

Compiling the extension for PHP 5.3.5 on MediaTemple DV 4

We just enabled the MSSQL extension via FreeTDS on a Media Temple DV 4 VPS. Here’s a line by line of how we did it, borrowing heavily from
, but adding the particulars for the MediaTemple DV and for the particular version of PHP (5.3.5) that we were using:

Make a directory to hold these sources:

cd /
mkdir /source
cd /source

Grab the source of FreeTDS:


tar zxvf freetds-stable.tgz
cd freetds-0.91

./configure –enable-msdblib –prefix=/usr/local/freetds
make && make install

For some reason these files need to be copied over:

cp include/tds.h /usr/local/freetds/include
cp src/tds/.libs/libtds.a /usr/local/freetds/lib

cd /source

Adjust for your desired version of PHP (this example is 5.3.5):

tar xvfz php-5.3.5.tar.gz
cd php-5.3.5

cd ext/mssql
./configure –with-mssql=/usr/local/freetds

Now, when we first ran the make command we had to deal with a type redefinition in

nano /source/php-5.3.5/ext/mssql/php_mssql.h

Copy the extension to the proper directory… You can find out what directory it is with this command:

php -i | grep extension_dir

In our case it was /usr/lib64/php/modules.

cp modules/ /usr/lib64/php/modules

Edit php.ini file (this is the global one):

nano /etc/php.ini


Then restart your web server:

/etc/init.d/httpd restart

and done!

Other PHP MSSQL Resources:



(For reference:)

I compiled the extension… but it looks like PHP is compiled with –disable-pdo. So I went back to mssql_connect as a connection method…

Logging in as the user to the bash shell, I could telnet to the database server’s ip at port 1433.

From the command line as well, I could run tsql (the diagnostic tool that comes with FreeTDS) and connect to the server, where I was able to verify that the hostname, instance, and dbname lookups are correct. I could even run T-SQL statements and query the database successfully from there.

I configured the FreeTDS conf file to have [appname] as a reference to the server, and then accessed via the following code in:

$hostname = 'appname';
 $username = 'username';
 $password = 'password';
$databasename = 'database';
//connection to the database
 $connection = mssql_connect($hostname, $username, $password)or die("Unable to connect to $hostname");
 echo "
Connected to MSSQL
$result = mssql_query("SELECT TOP 1 field from table");
$row = mssql_fetch_array($result);
Result from sample query: ".$row[0]."

Which outputs the expected:

Connected to MSSQL
Result from sample query: x


​This was the missing puzzle piece:



Apparently FreeTDS looks in /usr/local/etc by default, not /etc.

Fascinating stuff about what Job Offers tell us about corporate architecture

New Favorite Inexpensive Desktop

We have been recommending these to everyone:

Just don’t buy up the whole stock of them as we have more clients to order them for!

Likely Next Laptop: Acer V5-122P-0857

Acer laptop Backlit keyboard…

Touch screen…

Have to upgrade to SSD, and replace Windows 8.


It seems like there is finally a great replacement for iTunes on Windows:

Remember Labels in Gmail?

I just counted (html > spreadsheet > row count / 2) the number of labels I have in my primary* Gmail account: it came to over 80.

How many do I use on a regular (daily) basis? 0.

How many do I use on a weekly basis? Maybe a handful. 5-10.

I do special purpose creates for them, but more realistically it’s easier to throw an IMAP setup on Thunderbird and use ImportExport Tools to do any significant manipulation of email data.

So, yup, it’s pretty much time for them to go… even though they were the hit controversial thing, with Gmail pulling us away from “real” IMAP folders at the time.



*Gmail: You can’t have just one. At least no self-respecting geek can, anyway.

Missing Plug-in Rant

No website should say “Missing Plug-in.”

Just saying. Even if the techie that built the site *really thinks* that every user *must* have that plug in. 🙂

Think about the site from a usability perspective, and try to cater to the viewers. Please!

Feature Request: Freshbooks Online Timer Rounding

We bill in quarter-hour increments, so it would be perfect if this timer interface (the web timer) had preferences. It should be able to configure it to round to whatever increment needed; it should support up, down, or nearest rounding as well. Auto-rounding (based on the selected preferences) and a few seconds delay a la Timersync after hitting submit would be ideal.

The only reason the browser is in use at the moment is because this is on OS X (and the dashboard widget is outdated and a pain).