Welcoming a New Member to the Team…

Desktop support DaytonIt’s a bit of a tradition for us to shower gifts upon newborns in the office. When we heard the news that a baby was on the way, we scrambled to get some custom gear printed immediately!

Our go-to vendor for short-run custom printing is Zazzle. The people at Zazzle are equipped to customize nearly anything you can think of using their state-of-the art equipment and technology.

We added something special to this onesie and t-shirt combo since the father is one of our support techs. There’s nothing wrong with teaching them early!

A Beautiful Way to Manage Disk Usage in OSX

DaisyDiskDrive space and file management is one of the most difficult concepts to adopt for most computer users. It doesn’t take long to fill a hard drive these days. Even the most modest user has digital photos, HD videos and music files that all contribute. Clearing out or backing up files can be a daunting task.

Manually exploring the finder, looking at files and folders and trying to determine what is taking up all that space is time-consuming and frustrating. We found an app with a great UI that makes this process much easier.

DaisyDisk is an interactive disk space analysis tool that is simple to use and immensely helpful. Once you choose a drive to scan, DaisyDisk creates a graphical version of all your folders in a circular pattern or map. It separates the highest level folders into primary colors. Folders with the most data are shown as large wedges making the culprits easy to spot.

The full version of the app ($10.00) allows you to interact directly with the scanned files so that you may preview or delete them instantly. The trial version limits this capability though it does provide the file path so you may navigate quickly using the finder.

A Fresh Look for Habitat for Humanity of Miami and Shelby Counties

OmniSpear, Inc. has a long history of working with non-profit organizations throughout Dayton, Ohio and the surrounding areas. One of the organizations we work with is Habitat for Humanity of Miami and Shelby Counties (HFHMSCO). Their charitable work goes beyond just building houses. We were tasked to help them convey that message and their mission.

Once Habitat international released new branding and messaging standards, the existing HFHMSCO site had become outdated and needed a full refresh. We worked closely with their staff to outline the elements and structure of the site in preparation for a new look. Together, we slimmed down the site helping them target their message to the appropriate audiences. Once the structural outline was complete, we moved on to their branding and messaging. The new site features strong graphical elements which reflect the new colors of Habitat for Humanity. We also direct visitors with clear calls to action and provide engagement through the use of a news feed and blog.

We are proud of our work in the community by assisting organizations like Habitat for Humanity. You may learn more about their mission by visiting their new site: https://hfhmco.org

Happy Halloween from Team OmniSpear!

Ohio web development The OmniSpear office tradition continues as we all get dressed up to celebrate Halloween. From superheroes to super Mario our web team always comes up with a creative selection of costumes to celebrate the sweetest holiday of the year. Wishing you a great fall season, try not to eat too much candy and have a spooktacular good time!

Setting up an Ubuntu 14.04 LEMP Server with the Nightly Build of PHP7

Install nginx

apt-get update
apt-get install nginx

Install and secure MySQL

apt-get install mysql-server

Add Zend repo and install PHP7

echo "deb http://repos.zend.com/zend-server/early-access/php7/repos ubuntu/" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
apt-get update 
apt-get install php7-nightly

Configure PHP7 php-fpm.conf

cd /usr/local/php7/etc
cp php-fpm.conf.default php-fpm.conf
nano php-fpm.conf


pid = /var/run/php7-fpm.pid


error_log = /var/log/php-fpm.log

Configure PHP7 www.conf

cd /usr/local/php7/etc/php-fpm.d
cp www.conf.default www.conf
nano www.conf


user = www-data


group = www-data


listen.allowed_clients =


security.limit_extensions = .php .php3 .php4 .php5 .php7

Configure PHP7

wget -O /etc/init.d/php7-fpm "https://gist.github.com/bjornjohansen/bd1f0a39fd41c7dfeb3a/raw/f0312ec54d1be4a8f6f3e708e46ee34d44ef4657/etc%20inid.d%20php7-fpm"
chmod a+x /etc/init.d/php7-fpm
touch /etc/init/php7-fpm.conf
nano /etc/init/php7-fpm.conf

Add the following to php7-fpm.conf

exec /usr/local/php7/sbin/php-fpm --nodaemonize --fpm-config /usr/local/php7/etc/php-fpm.conf

Add the checkconf file for PHP7

touch /usr/local/lib/php7-fpm-checkconf
    nano /usr/local/lib/php7-fpm-checkconf

Add the following to the php7-fpm-checkconf

set -e
errors=$(/usr/local/php7/sbin/php-fpm --fpm-config /usr/local/php7/etc/php-fpm.conf -t 2>&1 | grep "\[ERROR\]" || $
if [ -n "$errors" ]; then
    echo "Please fix your configuration file..."
    echo $errors
    exit 1
exit 0

Configure PHP7 continued

chmod a+x /usr/local/lib/php7-fpm-checkconf
update-rc.d -f php7-fpm defaults
ln -s /usr/local/php7/bin/php /usr/local/bin/php
ln -s /usr/local/php7/sbin/php-fpm /usr/sbin/php-fpm
service php7-fpm start

Set up nginx config

cd /etc/nginx/sites-available
cp default (your site here).conf
nano (your site here).conf

Configure your config as needed (example script below)

server {
        listen *:80;
        server_name (server name here);

        root /usr/share/nginx/html;
        index index.php index.html index.htm;

        client_max_body_size 1m;

        error_log /var/log/nginx/(your site here).error.log;
        access_log /var/log/nginx/(your site here).access.log;

        location / {
                try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php$is_args$args;

        location ~ \.php$ {
                fastcgi_index index.php;
                fastcgi_split_path_info ^(.+\.php)(/.*)$;
                try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php$is_args$args;
                include /etc/nginx/fastcgi_params;
                fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $request_filename;
                fastcgi_param APP_ENV dev;

Continue set up nginx

ln (your site here).conf ../sites-enabled/(your site here).conf
rm ../sites-enabled/default

Restart services

service php7-fpm restart
service nginx restart

Regression testing of websites with just a little JavaScript.

In my past professions whenever the word “testing” came up, there were usually one of two follow-up actions to take on my part as a developer.

– Get with a group of testers and draft a Q&A (quality assurance) specification.
– I would be the one stuck with the task of programming test scripts in some language that would take quite a bit of time (I was using Borland Silk Test version 6 and I’m quite sure the latest is a dramatic improvement).

As I spend most of my time in Javascript, it would be nice to create standard automated regression tests in the same realm of my skill set (i.e. web technologies). And that’s where PhantomJS comes in. For those web developers who have used the Console window inside their browser cranking out console.log statements will be right at home with PhantomJS.

What is it? It’s a headless (something you can’t see) web browser based on WebKit that is “scriptable”. Imagine a console terminal application that can be programmed to go to a web site which performs the following:

– Calculates the time it takes to load the page.
– Performs some validation. When the script enters a letter instead of a integer (inside a input box), does it error like it’s suppose to?
– Automated action. Fill in the input fields and click on the submit button.

If you’re comfortable using jQuery, you can simply load it in the PhantomJS environment and off you go. Here’s a taste of a PhantomJS script that goes to www.omnispear.com to print out all the blog headings:

var page = require('webpage').create();
page.onConsoleMessage = function(msg) {
page.open("http://www.omnispear.com", function(status) {
    if (status === "success") {
        page.includeJs("http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/2.1.1/jquery.min.js", function() {
            page.evaluate(function() {
                var blogs = $('#blog_feed_text');
                $(blogs).find('.wp-title a').each(function(i) {

I’ve been following the development of PhantomJS since it first came out in 2011 and I am excited about where the project is heading. If testing websites is something that is in the back of your mind, you definitely should check it out.

Use multiple cloud hosting companies for efficient pricing and effective infrastructure.

While the idea of managing data and applications using multiple cloud providers may sound like a nightmare to maintain – are there any benefits? One likely benefit is the removal of single point of failure within your business process. Cloud providers ranging from Amazon to Microsoft have faced outages in the past and it surely was noticed throughout the web (Instagram website was unavailable).

By putting your business processes in multiple locations and infrastructure – you will find yourself in the following situation: “Our website and applications are down but our reporting service and HR systems are still up.” Doesn’t that sound better compared to “It’s all down. We’re waiting on the hosting company to come back with an ETA.” Perhaps your reporting service is hosted in Microsoft’s Azure (SQL Server and SharePoint rigged with SQL Reporting Services) with SalesForce.com handling HR information. Just because your corporate website and product is unavailable doesn’t mean your whole company is at a full stop.

Selecting multiple cloud carriers leaves room for creative price management. Perhaps one provider is better for bandwidth while another is more flexible for storage. If the cost of managing your IT infrastructure is really a concern, selecting multiple cloud hosting company should definitely be considered. And there are solutions out there to help manage the multiple cloud environment, such as RightScale.

Further reading:

2014 Best Cloud Hosting Reviews and Comparisons

Amazon Web Services suffers outage, takes down Vine, Instagram, others with it

Designing Website Asset Caching with Scalatra

Regardless of if you spent countless hours writing pretty CSS and JavaScript or you just need to package Bootstrap and jQuery in your application the last thing you need to worry about is loading all of your assets individually. This can wreck your sites loading times and rendering performance. Scalatra being a light weight framework for building straight forward applications and API’s doesn’t come with a prescribed solution, though WRO4J can step in to assist us with this process. We will step through the configuration of WRO4J, SBT, and finally the inclusion of these into your layouts.

To configure WRO4J we will first add it into our Build.scala or Build.sbt file. We will add a dependency in the following manner:

      libraryDependencies ++= Seq(
        "ro.isdc.wro4j" % "wro4j-core" % "1.4.0",

We then need to configure our wro.xml file for our Boostrap and jQuery assets:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<groups xmlns="http://www.isdc.ro/wro">
    <group name='core'>
        <css minimize="false">/css/bootstrap.min.css</css>
        <css minimize="false">/css/bootstrap-theme.min.css</css>
        <css minimize="false">/css/bootstrap-glyphicons.css</css>
        <css minimize="true">/css/app.css</css>
        <js minimize="false">/js/jquery.min.js</js>
    <group name='bottom'>
        <js minimize="true">/js/bootstrap.min.js</js>

Followed by our wro.properties file which defines our WRO4J usage:


Now we will adjust our layouts to point to the new compiled asset:

        <link href="/assets/core.css" rel="stylesheet" />
        <script src="/assets/core.js"></script>

While this is running you should see a local development speed improvement similar to the table below. This result will be amplified when the application is running remotely in a production environment.

To make this capability suit our needs better in development and to additionally be used for Cache Busting in production we can also add a versioning output to our SBT build process. This will create a file that holds version information and a build number from our Jenkins CI, which we will use to determine the build state and to append to the URL to bust the cache.

To create our version.scala add the following code to your Build.scala file:

lazy val project = Project (
      // put this in your build.sbt, this will create a Version.scala file that reflects current build state
      sourceGenerators in Compile <+= (sourceManaged in Compile, name, organization, version) map {
        (sourceManaged: File, name: String, vgp: String, buildVersion) =>
          import java.util.Date
          val file = sourceManaged / vgp.replace(".", "/") / "Version.scala"
          val code =
              if (vgp != null && vgp.nonEmpty) "package " + vgp + "n"
              else ""
              ) +
              "object Version {n" +
              "  val namet= "" + name + ""n" +
              "  val versiont= "" + buildVersion + ""n" +
              "  val datetimet= "" + new Date().toString() + ""n" +
              "  val buildNumbert=""+System.getProperty("BUILD_NUMBER", "MANUAL_BUILD")+""n" +
          IO write(file, code)

We also need to make sure that Scalate will see this class in scope during runtime.

In Build.scala replace:

            Seq.empty,  /* default imports should be added here */


            Seq("import "+Organization+".Version"), /* default imports should be added here */

Now we can update our layout file with a condition that will automatically switch between development and production inclusions of our assets with a Cache Busting scheme.

        <!-- Bootstrap core CSS -->
        <link href="/css/bootstrap.min.css" rel="stylesheet" />
        <script src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.10.2/jquery.min.js"></script>
        <link href="/assets/core.css?v=<%=com.omnispear.example.assets.Version.buildNumber%>" rel="stylesheet" />
        <script src="/assets/core.js?v=<%=com.omnispear.example.assets.Version.buildNumber%>"></script>

To verify your BUILD_NUMBER handling will work and be passed from Jenkins or your other build system of choice you can run the command example below. Then verify that your assets have switched properly and you are seeing minified and gzipped responses.

./sbt -DBUILD_NUMBER=234 "container:start" "~ ;copy-resources;aux-compile"

An alternative solution would be to use the SBT WRO4J plugin. However, we feel the above method is slightly cleaner and easier to work with for our development process.

The example project for this is available on github. We also would like to thank those whom helped with the initial help with the generation of the Version.scala.

Subliminal Marketing

James Vicary in the late 1950’s performed an experiment in front of moviegoers (unbeknownst to them) flashing two messages: “Drink Coca-Cola” and “Eat Popcorn”. His finding shows there was a substantial increase in the sales of soda and popcorn. When Vicary was asked to reproduce his findings, he admitted he had falsified the data.

Nearly 50 years later, Vicary’s hoax is still in use (and still fine-tuned) by many companies practicing subliminal advertising and marketing. Can a logo of a company build trust and loyalty with consumers (as subtle as shifting a character within a company name)? Definitely something to consider when you are debating between buying an Apple product versus Dell, Lenovo, or the many PC makers out in the market.

Do you see the arrow in FedEx’s logo? The arrow is pointing to the right (parked between the two letters E and X), possibly hinting at “wanting to move something forward”.

Further reading for your consideration:

15 Corporate Logos That Contain Subliminal Messaging

Small Business Marketing Advice: Should You Use Subliminal Advertising?

Subliminal Messages Motivate People To Actually Do Things They Already Wanted To Do

Subliminal advertising really does work, claim scientists

UCL study: subliminal messaging ‘more effective when negative’

The Importance of Software License Management

As businesses grow and purchasing of software is spread across multiple people, it has become increasingly difficult to manage and keep track of the licenses for this software. There are several reasons why keeping an up-to-date inventory of software licenses is important. First it ensures that you are in compliance with the software company’s terms and conditions. Secondly, this inventory will help assist you in the process of showing proof of purchase in case of an audit done by a software company. Lastly, keeping an up-to-date inventory allows you to easily and quickly access license serial keys for software reinstalls in case of a computer crash.

Many companies use basic Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheets to manage their software licensing. This solution is okay, but the major issue with using any type of manual entry inventory is making sure your data is up-to-date. After purchasing several licensed software titles and forgetting to update your inventory results in the data becoming out of date and eventually unusable.


OmniSpear has a solution to this problem. Currently in beta now, AMS (AllMySoftware) is a web and cloud-based solution that will manage all of your IT infrastructure licensing needs by small software agents deployed on all computer systems that will securely transmit data to a web management portal in the cloud. This portal will display all licenses across several groups, locations, or clients (for MSP’s) and will allow multiple users in your organization to manage this data. This system will always keep an up-to-date listing of software licenses on all systems.

For more information please visit www.allmysoftware.com