Google Cardboard

This Virtual Reality viewer is one of the most unusual and interesting items I received at a recent conference at the Googleplex. It consists of a cardboard frame that you get to fold yourself, two lenses, and a magnetic button trigger. The front opens up, allowing you to place a smart phone inside, and if running the correct software can create a really great display.

Google Cardboard Virtual Reality Viewer

There are apps that let you do all sorts of things, from a virtual rollercoaster, to looking around on Mars, to navigating the streets around Paris. The educational and entertainment, and even business possibilities here are huge, and I’m surprised this isn’t more well known than it is.

This technology is meant to be open and available, and you can download printable templates to build your own. Of course you’ll need a few special items such as lenses, but all components are available to your average consumer. For those who want to jump right in and perhaps get something more solid than cardboard, you can find a number of viewers available online.

Read more about Google Cardboard:

Debugging PHP Files From The Command Line

Here’s a handy tip for debugging PHP files when all you get is a blank white screen. You know something is wrong, but it isn’t telling you what. This is a common problem when editing custom template files for WordPress.

Error output can be configured by modifying the php.ini file, but this may not always be accessible. Another way to have PHP tell you where it’s having a problem is by going to the command line and running it there:

    $ php -l report.php 
    Parse error: parse error in report.php on line 834
    Errors parsing report.php

There it is: “line 834”. It’s a quick and simple solution, and should work for just about any PHP file.

Dealing With A Hacked WordPress Site

If your WordPress site gets hacked, it’s usually pretty obvious. More than likely, your website shows nothing but a message from the hacker, often accompanied by some loud music.


Luckily, in most cases, the damage done to the site is merely visual, and finding and replacing a couple of key files is enough to get the site back up and running. However, you should also take steps to find out where your site was vulnerable and resolve those issues to prevent it from happening again.

WordPress has an FAQ especially for all of this. Read it first and determine whether or not this is something you can deal with yourself. If not, give me a call. I’ve dealt with a number of these and can get your site back online quickly.

iPhone 5: Workaround to Faulty Buttons

According to this engadget article, Apple has started a new program to repair, for free, iPhone 5’s with faulty sleep buttons. I’m currently using an iPhone 5, and it isn’t my original one. That one had a faulty button, which Apple simply swapped for a new one when I brought it in, but that might not be feasible for the long term.

If your iPhone has this problem, and you need to get by for a couple of days before getting it to Apple, here is a temporary fix that will keep you going. This will also work for you if your Home button isn’t working right.

The solution is a feature called AssistiveTouch. Open the Settings app, go to General, then Accessibility, where you will find an entry called AssistiveTouch. If you haven’t delved this deep into your device’s settings before: Welcome. Open it, and activate the option:


Immediately, you’ll see a glowing button appear on the screen, which you can position anywhere on the outside edge of the screen by dragging it around. Say hello to your second Home button. Go ahead, spend a minute zipping it around the screen just for fun.

When you tap it, you’re presented with a number of options:


Tap Device, and select Lock Screen. Not the most elegant solution, but at least you’ll be able to lock your device. You’ll notice the various Home button related tasks you can perform there as well, plus a whole bunch of other actions like changing the volume, getting to the multitasking screen, or taking a screen shot.

Good luck with your device!