Access codes in Cardbox

27 September 2012

The purpose of access codes is to make things less convenient.

Specifically, access codes exist to make it impossible to:

  • Set up the first user profile for a database
  • Encrypt a database

without knowing the code.

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Cardbox 3.1: the story behind the story

18 May 2012

Those of you who are on the Cardbox News mailing list will have seen this announcement of Cardbox 3.1. Briefly, Cardbox 3.1 makes Cardbox licence-free, so that you can install it on as many PCs and servers as you like without having to pay for licences or worry about managing them.

Some of you have emailed us to ask what this all means: is it the end of Cardbox as we know it? So I thought I’d write this blog post to say a bit more of what we’re up to and what this move means.

The very quick summary is that it’s all a bit of an adventure. In these days of the Internet it costs next to nothing to run a web site and nothing at all to distribute software from it. So there is now no reason not to contribute to the public good by spreading Cardbox among as many people as possible.

Cardbox is especially suitable for this treatment because so many of its users fall in love with it and want all their friends to use it too, and it’s easier to do that if there isn’t an up-front investment to be made. At the same time, Cardbox is solid and reliable and the majority of support requests we get are actually from people who have got their licensing in a tangle and need to disentangle it. So removing licensing from the equation cuts the support burden hugely, and we’re capitalizing on this by abolishing support subscriptions altogether and letting people support each other on the Cardbox forums, which we’ll keep a benevolent eye on, intervening where necessary, and which we’ll expand and restructure as and when they seem to need it. It’s always been rather embarrassing charging subscriptions for technical support which no-one ends up needing to use.

So what happens next?

If Cardbox booms, it booms. I can see some of the directions it could grow in, and you probably can too. I am dying to explore some of those avenues but I’m exercising iron self-control to stop myself. There has to be a critical mass of users to make any serious new project worthwhile.

If it doesn’t boom, it doesn’t, and nobody loses, because it’s still available for whoever needs it. For the things it does, nothing else is as good as Cardbox.

I couldn’t live without it.

Free Windows hosting on Amazon EC2

18 January 2012

Amazon are offering a year’s free Windows Server hosting on their EC2 cloud service. If you use the Cardbox Server on Windows, this could be an interesting thing to try as an experiment!

Build 4299: End of Windows 9x support

16 January 2012

Support for Windows 95, 98 and Me has been removed from Build 4299 onwards, and the installer will refuse to install Cardbox on these systems.

Build 4299: change to Amazon S3 backup format

16 January 2012

When a database is backed up automatically to Amazon S3, it is stored as a number of S3 objects. The rules for constructing the object names associated with a given database have changed slightly: they are documented here. Existing backups are unaffected.

Keeping a cloud server secure: Rackspace

9 January 2012

If you are serious about running a server in the cloud then you need to be serious about security. This is just the same as for any server, of course; but cloud servers typically come in a ‘bare bones’ configuration in which everything, including security, is your own responsibility.

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Keeping a cloud server synchronized: Rackspace

6 January 2012

For various purposes (such as the accurate labelling of backup files) it is a good idea if the time on the server is correct. Here is how to set up a server so that it keeps track of the time from an authoritative source on the Internet.

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Setting up a Cardbox Server in the cloud: Rackspace

6 January 2012

Rackspace offers Cloud Servers, which are virtual servers of various sizes. The smallest server of all costs 1p an hour, which is less than £7.50 per month.

As an experiment, we took an existing Linux-based Cardbox Server and tried moving it onto a Rackspace Cloud Server.

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Build 4298: correction of Find bug

24 November 2011

When you use Edit > Find or Edit > Replace, you can represent a line break by typing “\n” and a tab character by typing “\t”. If you want to enter a real backslash, you have to type “\\”.

A single backslash with nothing after it – just “\” – means nothing at all. Previous builds of Cardbox tried to interpret a single backslash as something and would crash as a result. This bug has now been corrected. Cardbox no longer crashes.

Remember: if you want to search for “\”, type “\\”.

Build 4298: correction of pick list bugs

24 November 2011

Pick lists are a feature of validation and thus are not available to Home Edition users.

There are two specialised features of pick lists. One is that a value with an underline in it (eg. “pick_list”) is displayed in the list without the underline (“pick list”) but is entered into the field with the underline (“pick_list”). A bug introduced in Build 4297 caused the underline to be omitted in certain circumstances. This bug has now been corrected.

The second specialised feature of pick lists is that they can contain both a code and a longer explanation of that code, much like drop-down lists. For instance, “SE=Systems_Engineer”. In this case, “Systems Engineer” is displayed when you call up the pick list with a right-click, but “SE” is what is actually entered into the field if you select this particular entry. Pick lists can appear in two forms, either as a menu that pops up when you right-click in a field or as a scrolling list that appears when you select “Pick…” from that menu. The menu typically has only a few entries, while the scrolling list has them all. An old bug – as old as Cardbox itself – meant that a menu item containing “=” did nothing when you clicked on it. This bug has never been reported to us. The reason that nobody has ever reported this bug is presumably that the sophisticated users who use “=” also tend to have long lists of options and therefore never use the menu, only the scrolling list. In any case, this bug has also been corrected.