Swap days and months in PHP – quick and dirty MM/DD/YY to DD/MM/YY


I have a ton of date strings in the stupid US style dd/mm/yy format. i.e. 12/24/09 being 24th September 2009. I need to convert them to the UK style dd/mm/yy.

Solution 1

As a string in PHP is really just an array of characters, the simplest fix was to address the individual number characters by their positions within the sting, and rearrange them into the format I wanted:

$d = "12/24/09";
$d = $d[3].$d[4]."/".$d[0].$d[1]."/".$d[6].$d[7];
echo $d; // displays "24/12/19".

Solution 2

I posted my solution on twitter (@hutchings) and asked for comments and @londonhackspace organiser Jonty came back with the following elegant (and much cleverer) suggestion:

$d = "12/24/09";
$d = preg_replace('|(d+)/(d+)/(d+)|', '$2/$1/$3', $d);
echo $d; // displays "24/12/19".

So provided you know that your original string is in US format, both these solutions can be used. In my testing I found solution 1 executed more quickly, but isn’t as pleasing to look at 🙂 Cheers Jonty.

Cannot set alpha on dynamic text in Flash / ActionScript 2


I’m doing some freelance Flash development, and it’s been a while. I have just created a dynamic text field that I wanted to fill via actionscript, then fade in via an alpha tween. This wasn’t working, even if I set _alpha = 0 on the movieclip containing the text field.


You can only set _alpha on a Dynamic Text field if the font has been embeded (with the embed button).

Works now! wohoo! Simple stuff that I’ve known in the past, but forgot.

Set space between list item and bullet (HTML, CSS)…


I’ve just had to convert a Photoshop visual to a WordPress template. The designer wanted a bulleted list where the bullets themselves were very close to the list items, and were small dashes. Cross browser support for list item and bullet styling is ropey at best, and to make things perfect I’d have to resort to browser specific styles.


The solution I think I’ll be using for the rest of my ‘web’ career will be this. JUST FORGET THE BULLET ITEM, and use positioned background images instead.

In the stylesheet, add styles for both the ‘ul’ tag, and the ‘li’ tag like so (explanations inline):

ul {
margin-left:0px; /* Set the indenting back to far left. */
padding-left:0px; /* Set the indenting back to far left. */
ul li {
list-style-type:none; /* Switch the list bullet off altogether. */
background-image:url(dashbullet.gif); /* The replacement bullet image */
background-position:0px 4px; /* Place bullet 0px from left and 4px from top */
background-repeat:no-repeat; /* Stops bullet tiling, important */
padding-left:7px; /* separation from li txt and bullet */

Then just create the list as you usually would, with ‘ul’ and ‘li’ tags. Here’s what it looks like in use:

Bullet fix in CSS

Here’s a bit more detail so you can get your head around the spacing. It’s incredibly simple, but still, nice to have a diagram or two sometimes:

Detail showing some dimensions and spacing
Detail showing some dimensions and spacing

This style works perfectly (by my testing, but I’m not perfect) on:

  • Internet Explorer 6, 7 & 8+
  • Firefox 2.*+
  • Opera 9+ (not tested 8, but bet it works!
  • Google Chrome (all versions)
  • Safari (Mac and PC versions)
Any problems, please post a question or comment below.

Quick ‘Lorem Ipsum’ plugin / extension for IE

Problem: While doing web development, I frequently need to insert lorem ipsum into a text field or textarea. To do this – bearing in mind that I don’t really like or use bookmarks, too messy – I tend to google “lorem ipsum”, hit lipsum.com, select/copy the block of text, and then return to my form field and paste it.

I wanted a quicker solution, and as I find myself using IE more and more to develop in now (thanks to the excellent ‘Developer Tools’ extension – never thought I’d say that!) my lorem ipsum fix would have to be in the form of an IE toolbar button or menu item.

Fix: It turns out that adding a simple javascript based text field filler option to a context menu is really easy, so that’s what I did. Here are the steps:

Firstly: Create the javascript to access the currently focused field, and insert the lorem ipsum text. Create a new html file in a location of your choice –  I used C:Program FilesInternet ExplorerPlugins – and copy the following code into it:

<script language="JavaScript">
var parentwin = external.menuArguments;
var doc = parentwin.document;
var rng = doc.selection.createRange();
rng.text = "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.";

Save the file as loremipsum.htm.

Secondly: Create the registry entry for the menu item:

  1. Open/run ‘regedit’ (Start > run… > “regedit” > ‘Ok’)
  2. Use the tree to navigate to:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftInternet ExplorerMenuExt
    using the tree view on the left of the Registry Editor.
  3. Create a new key (Right click, “New” > “Key”) and call it “Lorem Ipsum” or anything you like.
  4. Inside the new key, open the ‘default’ string value that’s already there (double click on it), and enter the path to the script you created just now. i.e. C:Program FilesInternet ExplorerPluginsloremipsum.htm
  5. Now create a new DWORD value (Right click, “New” > “DWORD Value”) and rename it “Contexts”. Set the value to 0x04 (hex) or 4 (decimal). Here’s an explanation of the different values.
The new Key and values in RegEdit
The new Key and values in RegEdit


That’s it! Now open IE, find a textarea or text field, right click, and you should see something like this:

Note the new highlighted option in the context menu
Note the new highlighted option in the context menu

Moving VirtueMart: Link path problem in admin console

Problem: Just now, I needed to move a website running Joomla 1.5 and VirtueMart 1.1.2 from the development server, to the live web space. After I had moved the data, and the files, and updated the path in Joomla’s ‘configuration.php’ file, it seemed to work ok, but all the links in the VirtueMart Admin area still pointed to my development server.

Fix: After doing a ‘find in files’ for my development server’s name, I found two more paths that need changing in VirtueMart’s own configuration file. This is the file:


The following two paths need editing to point to the new server location (URL):

define( 'URL', 'http://my.devserver.com/joomla/' );
define( 'SECUREURL', 'https://secure.devserver.com/joomla/' );

A simple fix, but probably worth posting.

Select template by Section in Joomla 1.5

Problem: In Joomla 1.5, at present, there is no way to set the template applied to an article or category  based on the section that article is in. Templates can be set by menu item, but not by the overall section they reside in. This means that if multiple templates are being used, each time a new article is added, changes have to be made to the template setup too – very tedious. All I wanted was to be able to create an article or category, add it to a certain section, and know that it would be rendered/displayed using a particular template:

Fix: This took some searching and tweaking. I found a post in the Joomla developers forum about someone trying to do something similar, but their example code was broken. It was enough to get me started though.

What you need to do is: find and open application.php in the includes directory on the root of your Joomla 1.5 installation. Then find line 309 or thereabouts and look for this code:

// Allows for overriding the active template from the request
$template = JRequest::getCmd('template', $template);
$template = JFilterInput::clean($template, 'cmd'); // need to filter the default value as well

Insert AFTER the comment on line 309, but BEFORE line 310, add this code:

// Templates by Section hack - Begin
$eItemView = JRequest::getVar('view');
$eItemId = JRequest::getVar('id');
$sectionId = NULL;
$eItemId = (strpos($eItemId,":"))? substr($eItemId,0,strpos($eItemId,":")) : $eItemId;
switch ($eItemView) {
case "article":
$edb =& JFactory::getDBO();
$eQuery = 'SELECT sectionid FROM #__content WHERE id LIKE '.$eItemId.'';
$edb->setQuery($eQuery, 0, 1);
$sectionId = $edb->loadResult();
case "category":
$edb =& JFactory::getDBO();
$eQuery = 'SELECT section FROM #__categories WHERE id LIKE '.$eItemId.'';
$edb->setQuery($eQuery, 0, 1);
$sectionId = $edb->loadResult();
case "section":
$sectionId = $eItemId;
// Edit the section id below, you can find it in the sections admin area.
if ($sectionId == "1") {
$template = "rhuk_milkyway_red"; // Use the full template name.
// Add more if clauses if there are other templates.
// Templates by Section hack - End

Hopefully you can see what this does. It looks for the section id to use in 3 ways, depending on whether joomla is currently displaying a section root page, a category root page, or an article. It then looks to see whether that section id has had a specific template specified for it by name.

This hack works well for me, I only need to add the different template data once in application.php for a given site. Ideally someone needs to make an admin mod for this, so that sections and categories can be assigned different templates in the backend. Maybe one day I’ll make one, but not unless there’s demand 🙂

Any questions, corrections or thoughts, please comment below (no need to create an account or anything!)

Textpad Regular Expressions

TextPad is a great editor, been using it for years, but never really used it to it’s full potential. Recently I needed to do some find/replace work in some huge SQL and CSV files – huge enough to make manual editing impossible – so I had to start using Textpad’s Regular Expression capabilities.

Here are a few expressions that came in handy. I intend to add to this list as time goes on.
Regexp shown in Green, my comments in Red:

CSV Editing:

Remove spaces and tab characters at the beginning of a line:
Find what: <span style="color: #008000;">^[ t]+</span>
Replace With: <span style="color: #ff0000;">don't enter anything in the field</span>

Remove spaces and tab characters at the end of a line:
Find what: <span style="color: #008000;">[ t]+$</span>
Replace With: <span style="color: #ff0000;">don't enter anything in the field</span>

Add “Hello” to the beginning of every line:
Find what: <span style="color: #008000;">(^.*)</span>
Replace With: <span style="color: #008000;">Hello 1</span>

Add “Hello ” to the beginning and ” World” to the end of every line:
Find what: <span style="color: #008000;">(^.*)</span>
Replace With: <span style="color: #008000;">Hello 1 World</span> <span style="color: #ff0000;">(watch the spaces)</span>

Find empty fields (i.e. “, ,”) with spaces or tabs in, and replace with empty field (“,,”):
Find what: <span style="color: #008000;">,[ t*],</span>
Replace With: <span style="color: #008000;">,,</span> <span style="color: #ff0000;">(just that, nothing else, just 2 commas)</span>

Remove blank lines in a text file, by searching for two linebreaks next to each other, and replacing with one:
Find what: <span style="color: #008000;">nn</span>
Replace With: <span style="color: #008000;">n</span>

Replacement Expressions:

Extract email addresses only from the following text: “Joe Blogs (job.blogs@blogsworld.com)”
This expression searches for 2 tagged expressions, firstly any printable characters including spaces up to the first open bracket symbol, secondly anything between the brackets. It then replaces the whole line with the second match.
Find what: <span style="color: #008000;">^([[:graph:] ]+)(([[:graph:] ]+))</span>
Replace With: <span style="color: #008000;">2</span>

Submitted by Paul: “Here’s how to convert csv to xml with a (quite large) regexp you can alter/extend for your needs.”
Find what: <span style="color: #008000;">^"([[:print:]]+)","([[:print:]]+)","([[:print:]]+)"</span>
Replace With: <span style="color: #008000;">123</span>


  • The expressions above need the ‘Regular Expression’ condition to be ticked in the Find or Replace dialogue boxes for them to work.
  • Text pad needs to be set to use UNIX not POSIX style expressions. To set this, open ‘Configure > Preferences’ (Ctrl+Q,P), find the ‘Editor’ settings, and untick the ‘Use POSIX regular expression syntax’ box.

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Centre and float a div over page content with CSS – no hacks, cross browser


If you need to center a div (or any another block element) over the rest of the content in a page, and you need it to be cross-browser and valid (CSS and XHTML)…


Try the following CSS in your stylesheet or page head:

#cdiv {
  position:absolute; /* important. */
  left:50%; /*important if you want it absolutely centred in window. */ 
  margin-left:-50px; /* importnant. must be half the width. */
  width:100px; /* set to your requirements, but remember left margin setting. */
  height:100px; /* not neccessary if the element needs to grow with content. */
  border:1px solid #ABF; /* not important. */
  background-color:#DDF; /* not important. */
  text-align:center; /*not important. */

… and now set the ID of the element you want centered to ‘cdiv’. If the item you want to centre is an image, remember to add display:block; to the style (this makes it act like a block level element).

This style works perfectly (by my testing, but I’m not perfect) on:

  • Internet Explorer 6, 7 & 8+
  • Firefox 2.*+
  • Opera 8 & 9+
  • Google Chrome (all versions)
  • Safari (Mac and PC versions)
  • Netscape 9 (is anyone still using this?)
Any problems, please post a question or comment below.

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