Category Archives: Projects In Progress

Current projects

Talking Shop with Mike Otgaar

Talking Shop – My New Blog

Talking ShopToday I posted my first articles on Talking Shop. Talking Shop or Shop Talk is the blog for my new newly opened PC Technology Store. It is not about reviews, at least this is not the intention. Product reviews are published using web site pages instead of posts…

Talking Shop is more about general computer industry related topics, possibly occasional announcements of special offers and new product releases worthy of mention. The first posts discuss the current time being a good time to upgrade a PC, and why I think it is better to ‘buy up’ when purchasing a PC system.

Talking Less can be More:

Right now, I intend to keep most of the posts on Talking Shop short and sharp, limiting content to between 300 and 400 hundred words. I consider fewer than 300 bad for search engine ranking. More than 400 hundred words detracts from the purpose of  ‘Talking shop’ – brief quick articles that may be remembered by shoppers for PC equipment. Read the rest of this entry

Last Job 2011, First Job 2012

Clearwater Beach Website Re-vamp

Clearwater Beach PropertyThe last job of 2011, which is also the first job for 2011 started yesterday. Clearwater Beach Real Estate, a Florida based real estate company needs their website SERP  improved. This job is a holistic web management undertaking that includes on-site optimisation of content and code, upgrading basic site security, structural changes and improvements to the visual impact of the website.

A few of the areas under the microscope include simple security improvements (why do commercial theme authors violate the most basic recommendation that no mention should be made of WordPress CMS anywhere in the code or text content, and add admin links to the footer area?), several page and menu items needing nofollow attributes, a more organised primary navigation menu, a feed from an external site (required) that is wrecking page load speed – it takes more than 30 seconds to load, and stops the rest of the page loading (That one is going to be fun to fix… might need a code hack to force it to load last!)

Read the rest of this entry

osCommerce e-store

OsCommerce logo

WPOnlineStore e-store for Graphicline

Finally, after several days trying e-commerce solutions, I am going to use osCommerce and WordPress for the PC store with the WPOnlineStore system.

As I mentioned, the Drupal 7 option requires several unstable modules; after running up a development Drupal system, there were clearly going to be some problems with the plugins that I don’t intend to spend time fixing.

WordPress commerce systems tried included WP E-Commerce, wpStoreCart and finally osCommerce which worked out the best of the lot, and is the easiest to set up as well requiring just a shortcaode added to a single page to create a full online store.

osCommerce with Mystique screenshot

Click image for larger view

osCommerce is highly configurable with lots of functionality, and provided the appearance I was looking for anyway. A WordPress theme, probably Mystique, will be used on the front end; it looks good on the testing server, and matches some of our other themes (as well as this blog).

The Mystique theme is the Ajax powered version 3.1 from Digital Nature which also offers numerous options. Possibly using this theme is overkill as the WordPress part of the production store will be very basic, not much more than a front end for the shop.

The latest WordPress version will be used, version 3.3

osCommerce SSL Support

Another useful feature, osCommerce supports SSL (secure Socket Layer) adding security to the site for financial transactions. Although not required at the moment as only PayPal and Online transfer payment methods will e used, should the need to accept credit cards directly arise, the basics are already in place.

Other e-commerce systems tested:

Read the rest of this entry

Computer E-Store by Graphicline

Computer Technology E-Store

New Computer E-Store Launches

I am happy to announce I am launching a new e-commerce website in January 2012. Otgaar Computer Technology will trade in a range of PC hardware components and software, and will build custom PC systems for gamers, graphic design and power users.

Otgaar Technology joins Graphicline among my group of business interests. Graphicline will be the branded site builder and site-manager.

The online shop will complement  our re-launch of our expanded Information Technology division also in  2012. After considering the work required to produce an on-line catalogue of products, there was no reason not to take the further step and produce a combined catalogue and e-shop.

Focus on Southern Africa

The e-store will focus mainly on servicing Southern Africa;  South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Angola, while the local trading division will focus mainly on the Johannesburg Metro, and a subsidiary outlet in Cape Town later in the year.

Delivery of goods will be via a reputable courier and small-freight company, rather than the Postal Service.

Product Lines:

Otgaar Technology and e-store will initially be offering a selected range of product from the following stables; Gigabyte, Intel, AMD, Powercom, Pinnacle, Sony, Epson, Seagate, Zyxel, Leadtek, Samsung, Transcend, Microsoft, and Adobe.

The brands were selected for their reputation for quality, performance and reliability. We also decided to rationalise our supply line, and are able to source the bulk of these products from a single distributor.

The IT Division will offer custom built PCs for mid to high end users, Laptops, and Servers, along with support and backup for our products.

Our Product Guaranty

Otgaar Technology provides the full warranty we receive from the manufacturer/distributor of the equipment; 3 years on motherboards and other items covered, and 2 years or 1 year where components carry a lesser warranty. (Terms and Conditions)

Our own workmanship is guaranteed for up to 12 months, depending on the work category.

A Good Time to Build E-store

The Christmas Holiday season will be a good time to create the website. The several slow weeks when most of our customers are on holiday will allow us the time to test several e-store options before committing to a live build. First decision will be the system; sadly from my point of view I don’t think it will be Drupal – too many version 7 plugins are still in Alpha, Beta or RC versions… The most concerning are the powerful ‘Views’ modules, that are required for so many Drupal functions. When are the contributors going to get stable releases – after version 8 is released in a stable production version? So I think WordPress or Joomla will be the CMS used.

I am very pleased to have this project at this time of the year – It has always been a good time for me to embark on major new projects. Time can be found to resolve basic teething problems, and make changes should these be required

CMS Website for frontpage banner

New Look for

Drupal CMS Website

Graphicline switched over from a static HTML website to a Drupal CMS system. The new look site went live at about 16h00 SAST on 18 August 2011. Regular visitors may remember we are in the process of construction a client area on the site ‘The Zone’. The Zone is the basis for the new site, and was migrated to become our main website entry point. Drupal CMS First Overview.

CMS Website Theme:

For the present a stock Drupal theme is in use for the site. Eventually I will look to a more customised style; however that is some time in the future. Before then, there is much ‘backroom’ work needed to get things working the way they are required.

HTML not replaced;

The existing html content remains in place and available. The static site will be fully indexed into the CMS Website.

Read the rest of this entry

Taking on OpenERP | Graphicline Zone

OpenERP logoDecision to use OpenERP

Much of today was given over to instaling and configuring OpenERP, an OpenSource business administration solution.

A modern full featured ERP system has been a critical requirement for our admin ever since becoming a full time business.

OpenERP compared to other options

Open ERP will provide most if not all the functionality required going forward, and at some point will be integrateable with our Drupal Customer Zone

Read the full story on The Zone: Taking on OpenERP | Graphicline Zone.

OpenSource Software

I admit it, I have become a fan of OpenSource software. After great experiences with WordPress and Drupal, finding a OpenSource logo imagedecent OpenSource ERP solution in OpenERP was a definite plus.

OpenSurce applications have really come a long way in the past several years. The good ones are feature rich, STABLE, and more often than not free.

They may not be as plug&play as some Windows or Official Mac apps, but anyone setting up an ERP on Windows Server / SQL server will know these are also not plug&play in the strict sense of the word.

As far as Open ERP installation on Windows, as easy or as difficult as Evolution, whichever way one wants to look at it. A quick installation that didn’t require a restart, then a few basic things like remembering what the admin password had been set at, followed by creating a new database, and logging on to http://localhost.

Looks good in a “what the doctor ordered” kind of way.

OpenERP Revue:

I will review the app in 4 to 6 months time, after having used it. It’s not a priority project right now.

Support the OpenSource applications we use:

The least any of us who use the essentially free OpenSource apps can do, is provide a link back from our sites to the providers web site, and publicise it through our usual social networks.

WordPress is OpenSource too

Drupal CMS – First Overview

A first look at the installation and use of drupal CMS green logoDrupal CMS;

set up on our website as a development platform, and called The Zone, Although I am thinking about changing the title to Zone 7. (UPDATE: The development site is now our primary web site interface)

Version Installed: 7.4 Upgraded today to v7.7

(Also installed on a LAN Apache Server, along with V6 which will also be installed on a live site in the near future)

Status of Installation:

Live ‘in development’
Security update completed today
Restricted access due to a pending major configuration and feature update. (Completed)


The following is a quick(ish) look at how I felt about the installation procedures and features of the CMS. Rated on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being the least favourable, and 10 the most)

Read the rest of this entry


Implementing Twitter OAuth on website:

We have started to implement Twitter’s @Anywhere on our website

Follow @mikeotgaar

Example shows implementation using keys for my personal site

The first implementation is active on our Drupal 7 development sub-site, with further rollout across other sub-divisions and sites to follow.


Apart from keeping up with technology, I just like the appearance of the buttons…..

OAuth has become a de-facto standard (as has OpenGraph protocol). No doubt it will soon become one of the things favoured by Google Search as the algorithm gets more and more adjusted for Google’s idea of ‘quality content'(and the other new standards as well – HTML5 and CSS3)

We live in interesting times!


Basic Installation Succesful

Default image used for Zone logoBasic Installation Successful;

Site now live as a Drupal site

The subsite which we are calling ‘the zone’ can be previewd at Readers who have been following planned installation on this blog will know we prepared in advance for problems during the process, with no interruptions of our main website. First off the install proceeded smoothly;

Then while installing and activating modules,

WSOD (those familiar with Drupal will smile knowingly at this) or ‘White Screen of Death’ – and error messages. Caused by a shortage of memory allocation in the php.ini file. Unable to configure this setting ourselves, a help request was sent to the server owner Afrihost at 01h12 and shut down for the night.

First thing the following morning, I received an e-mail (sent at 01h26) to say the php setting had been changed…. What can I say… very nice service. It’s great to know that just because we are a smaller enterprise, we aren’t at the end of the list for service response. Thanks Cazlin at Afrihost

Configure item by item:

Of course, the full set up is nowhere near completion; Every item along the way has to be configured. There’s no content at this time, just a first article used as a holding page….

Impressions of Drupal Set-up Process:

For a first installation, I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it went (the previous weeks reading up paid off).  Not a system to configure for anyone without at least a fair level of knowledge… But a thoroughly enjoyable process. A review  of the process will be posted in a few weeks time


Stage One in Progress

Graphicline Frontpage Image

Graphicline Frontpage

Today I began the first stage of the upgrade

The past 5 days have been great fun… assembling Drupal on a local Apache installation, going through the thousands of modules, and finding the ones needed.

Then getting the app assembled, and testing it… and still a lot to do… It has been several days of learning new things all the time (Oh YES!!!) and very absorbing. Great fun.

Today, on schedule, I decided it was time to do the domain hosting upgrade to allow deployment of this app… and can happily say that has been accomplished… with MySQL and MyPHP installed. Now just waiting for Afrihost (the domain is on a shared server) to enable SSL and one or 2 other things…

Over the following few days I will finish the Drupal configuration, and upload to the server. Hopefully that will be problem free too.

Then I can start one or 2 small projects before moving on to installing the next required app – WordPress. And I’m really looking forward to that process as well.

Thanks top all the readers who have left comments. I will get to them!.. But right now it’s back to the task in hand.