Chris Pollock

Chris Pollock - web developer & ecommerce entrepreneur
undivided… my thoughts on world, family, church, business, technology and Jesus Christ (all in all)

Yes this really happened…

Just a few minutes ago I was visiting a site looking for Canadian proxy addresses so I could test my country specific detection script. The moment I opened the proxy page my mouse started flying all over my screen. I thought my computer had been infected with some sort of screen sharing virus and immediately set to work at shutting down the computer.

Just then my wife walked up and saw the look on my face. I told her what happened and she had an idea. She went downstairs and came back up to report: my six year old was playing with my bluetooth mouse 🙂

Kind of coincidence of timing! But I'm glad my computer can't be hijacked just by opening a web page 🙂

Moral of the story: Keep track of your bluetooth mouse!

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Transition to Mac NOT going as well as had expected

I hope this attempted transition to MAC doesn’t end in tragedy, but it looks like its heading that way fast…

  • MS Excel 2008 maxes processor
  • Cannot drag and drop files into Dreamweaver file manger
  • Lack of any “finder” based SVN client (e.g. such as tortoise SVN)
  • Lack of blogging software that holds a candle to MS Live Writer (come on! this is a Microsoft product)
  • MAC Skype client doesn’t support multi video
  • Have to pay for a lot of programs I got via open source before.

Yes there are some things I like, but I’m afraid that this list is only going to continue to grow. 

Update After this momentary crisis I didn't just ditch the MAC. I kept with it and am enjoying it more and more.

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It’s Official… I’m converting… to Mac

Looks like it’s official, I’m converting over to Mac.  After working in the field of web development for over 5 years now, I think it’s time to make the switch and see how things work out.  I’m looking for software recommendations for the following:

  • SSH
  • SSH private key handling
  • SFTP
  • S3 access program
  • Zip file manager
  • HTTP watch program (like fiddler)
  • Auto Hot Key
  • Best integration program for running windows only programs
  • IDE programs

Looking forward to recommendations on these and anything else you want to toss my way.

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Simplified Building enters a New Era


You haven’t heard much from me over the past couple of months, and that’s because our flag ship web site, Simplified Building Concepts has undergone a complete overhaul.  Last year I release Simplified Safety, my first foray into Merging Magento and Expression Engine.  Simplified Building is the next generation of that project.

Hopefully I’ll be getting some time over the next couple of weeks to blog about some of the adventure. 

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Too Awesome Not to Share: Adobe offers Edu Pricing to Homeschoolers

My good friend Jay brought this fact to my attention via facebook.  Adobe offers educational pricing to homeschooling parents.  Here’s what you need to verify:

Home Schooling

Those who are home schooling must provide a valid photo ID, and a copy of one of the following:

  • Letter of intent to home school addressed to local school district for current school year
  • Home School Legal Defense Association membership card
  • Home School Charter School membership card
  • Book/curriculum receipt for the current year

If you like Adobe products and you’re a homeschooling parent take advantage of this great offer.

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First Gifts from Fellow Samaritan Members

Cards from Samaritans Members

Over a year ago our family joined Samaritan Ministries to help manage the cost of healthcare.  We made our choice by comparing all the Christian health care sharing programs are out there.  One of the reasons that we choose Samaritan is because we liked the idea of sending our gift and receiving our gifts from real people.  Today, I went to the mail and was surprised to find a number of cards in there.  At first I was confused, then I opened them and found out they were our first gifts from fellow Samaritan’s Members.   A few months back we had our fifth son, Oliver Quincy, and these gifts were given to help offset the cost of his delivery.  Today I’m reminded why this program is so great.  I bet no ever felt good from receiving a check from an automated insurance check writing machine, as I did today when receiving handwritten checks and notes from fellow Samaritans!

Lately Samaritan Ministries has been in the news, I hope this catches on with more people!

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2009 Pollock Family Year in Pictures

What do you expect from a family with a photographer wife!  The Pollock’s have had quite an adventuresome year.  Too many things have happened to simply express them in words.  Our words are growing more and more insufficient to tell the tale that Jesus Christ is writing on our lives.  The pictures capture only what is happening on the outside, while many more good things are happening on the inside, in the hidden parts of our hearts known only to God and those whom we share life with on a daily and weekly basis.  We hope you enjoy this brief tour through the external happenings of our life: 

Take a look at this picture.. now think of my wife.  Yep!  These guys are crazy, but we love them, every last one of them.

Couch Jumping

The boys of course are growing, enjoying things like:

Building a snowman

Building a Snowman

Working with Papa in the shop.


Doing crafts with Grandma


“Helping” mommy in the kitchen (that machine was not supposed to be opened!)


Preparing to take on the evil of the world.


Learning to build.


And of course be read to.  This is Lisa Passero surrounded by our boys and her family  – pictured here: Araya, Johanna, Caleb, Steven – Araya and Caleb were adopted from Liberia this last year)


All sorts of things are growing around here.. especially teeth!


To start the year off, Mimi, Papa, Scott and Julie came for a visit!


Isaac turned 6 in January (now he’s almost 7)


Simon turned one!


And Amy started homeschooling this year.. I don’t think it’s had any effect upon her and the children!?  What do you think?




Homeschooling has been great and takes on many forms.

Winter Day

This year Isaac got his first real mountain bike.

Isaac on his new Bike

Micah started saving for college.

Feeding Piggy

And Isaac is now tuning into quite a reader.

Isaac Reading to his Brothers


February took us on a trip to the wild north of New Hampshire to visit Grampy and Ellin


Simon was crowned King

King Simon

We saw a dog sled race

Dog Sled Race

And Grampy snapped our picture.

Dog Sled Race

The kids enjoyed the enormous amount of snow that falls in the White Mountains

Snow Tunnel at Grampys


March brought the first trip to Europe for the year.  Daddy went to England to attend a conference with the company that purchased his business.

"We Miss You!"

This trip didn’t afford much time for site seeing, but I got to see a bit of the English countryside.


With four boys, winter is always a long event.. everyone is eager to get out in the spring.  Here are the boys getting the mud sprayed off of them (Oh!  how many times did we do this).  The funny part is that this was supposed to be a punishment (getting sprayed off with the hose) and they ended up loving it!! 

Mud Brothers

This year we bought a used canoe.  Here we are taking it on its maiden voyage.

The Maiden Voyage

Finally summer came and it was sprinkler time!!!  This is Ava Wender showing lots of enthusiasm in our sprinkler.

Sprinkler Fun

Caleb in goggles

Sprinkler Fun

Joy Wender

Sprinkler Fun


Sprinkler Fun

Finally got the bathroom remodeled with a bigger sink.

Bathroom Updates

Micah started potty training

Cleaning the Shovel

And Simon was making tracks

Simon Trail

In the Summer Grandma and Jim came for a visit.


And of course summer means everyone’s favorite: Ice Cream!

Ice cream time

Isaac is taking on more and more responsibility.  This year he started mowing (with a little help getting the mower started from Daddy)

Isaac mows the lawn

And in July, Grampy, Todd and Emily came for a visit and we went to Toronto to the CN Tower and Red Sox / Blue Jays game.


Here’s a view of the field from the tower.  Sox lost! 🙁


Summer means great times gathering at the Mumau’s farm to meet with the church.  Here are a lot of us just hanging out on the porch.

Sam's move in party

Isaac likes to go fishing in their pond.


Here’s Amy’s bike that she pulled out of the trash.   Some scrubbing, some new wheels and a seat and she was ready to go! 

Amys shiny new ride (redeemed from the trash heap)

Micah took us on a ride through the Erie Canal where we learned its history.


Headed into the Locks

Inside the lock

And we got new neighbors.. the Doolittles.  Here we are with them at a Redwings game.


September took us to a vacation home on Cape Cod to visit with Grandma, Jim, Todd, Emily, Emily’s parents, Uncle Dave, Aunt Mary and Aunt Barbara.  It was good to see those we hadn’t seen in so long and enjoy the seashore with the family.

Vacation house on capecod

We toured the lighthouses

Nausset Lighthouse

But the boys didn’t always get it.

Bored in the "Classroom"

Here’s their crazy Aunty Em! 🙂

Emily & Simon

Isaac and Caleb took the canoe for a spin all by themselves. (Daddy was close by in case of an emergency)

The Boys Boating by Themselves

Lots of family love playing mini golf!


And walks on the beach


And the occasional family photo


Mouth Full of Sand.. Yum!





Part of the homeschooling lesson was to have an archaeological dig.  Here are the boy’s excavating our garden bed.

Archaeological Dig

A walk with the family in Highland Park


Here’s a real steam powered saw mill.  Not OHSA approved 🙂

Working Steam Powered Saw Mill


Many of you know that work with my company took us to Europe for 5 weeks this past fall.  The boys and Amy were stationed in England while I traveled to Germany and France.  It was an amazing trip, the rest of pictures try to summarize just a bit of what we experienced there.

This trip was the first time on an airplane for all the boys.  They were very excited about it and enjoyed the flight.  They loved the in-flight consoles on the back of the seat.  Isaac got a little air sick before we landed in London, and we almost missed our flight in the morning… other than that it went off without a hitch :)  Note.. when traveling with 4 children, arrive earlier at the airport than usual 🙂


Soon we were in the air and flying over the same place where we were staying a couple of weeks earlier (look, it’s Cape Cod)


Our new home for 5 weeks.


Living room


Dining Room


Sleeping Arrangements



The local town of Newbury was filled with all sort of interesting history and architecture.


Behold I Stand at the Door and Knock!

Packet boats for rent that can be used on England’s extensive canal network.


This is a canal bridge that swings to one side.


One of the best parts of where we lived in Newbury is that we had to walk everywhere.  Shopping was just a 5 minute walk a way. Even better was the ruined castle called Donnington Castle that I think we visited a grand total of 5 times.  It was just a mile walk up the road and offered a great place to visit in the evening.


Walking the walls at Donnington Castle


Horses were friendly and along the way to Donnington Castle


Traveling in England we got used to taking the train.  It was our primary means of transportation and it took us all over the country.


Thankfully, when it came to sight seeing we had an excellent navigator.


Big Ben and Parliament


Westminster Abbey


Trafalgar Square


Chasing the pigeons was probably the boys favorite thing that day.


Of course Simon had to get in on the action!


I’m just thankful that I didn’t have to fish them out of the fountain.


London pedestrian bridge over the Thames River


The London Eye



Day 2 in London took us to the Tower of London.


We found this guy crawling around inside.


Tower Bridge, outside the Tower of London (this is not London Bridge)


Inside the British Museum


Lots of exhibits to reinforce what Amy is studying with the kids (Ancient civilizations)


And of course we didn’t always follow the rules.


Everything wasn’t always smiles and laughter.. sometimes people just got tired and that was enough.


After a couple of days in London we were headed off to the country side.  Driving in England.. yup on the wrong side of the road. Apart from one incident where I looked in the wrong direction, the Lord gave us a lot of grace while driving and we enjoyed our time in the car.

Our Chariot


Our tour of the English countryside started in Brighton

This is a pleasure palace in Brighton where the royalty used to vacation.


Brighton Pier


The boys enjoying the rides.


The best part of this day was a walk on the Southdowns way.  It took us through pastures and to some spectacular landscape.


A view of the “Seven Sisters”  These cliffs are made from chalk and it is absolutely everywhere. The boys wanted to take it all home to draw on the sidewalk.


Family picture!


Writing our name in chalk


By the time we got to the top I think we wish that we could fly down!


The boys of course had to take some time to throw some rocks into the ocean.


Micah’s feet got tired a lot 🙂


Day 2 on the country side took us to the ever famous hanging stones – Stone Henge means “hanging stones”.


And to some beautiful English country side.


Amy really liked the sheep.


And the very narrow roads!


Day 3 on the country side took us to Bath and Cheddar Gorge.


Side note to those of you traveling in Europe on Sundays.  If you go looking for a bathroom you might find it as follows:


The street musicians were excellent.


This was warm water that was flowing into the ancient roman bath.


You don’t see many of these in England.  It was so unusual we had to take a picture.


Cheddar Gorge – lots of rock climbing activity and the home of cheddar cheese.


The cheese was stored in the caves at the base of the gorge.



Gates like these were everywhere and let the people through but kept the animals (like Micah) penned in.


Of course there was always time for hanging around.


A trip to Portsmouth


The highlight was the fully restored HMS Victory which was Lord Nelson’s flag ship in the Battle of Trafalgar.




Admiral Micah


Micah was quite smitten with the fact that Lord Nelson was shot.  You can ask him about it.


Spinnaker tower in Portsmouth offered a view of the harbor.


Sleepy looking Simon.. the day is getting long.


Too long for some.


While Daddy was traveling Rachel Mumau came to stay with Amy and the boys.  They went to lots of playgrounds.


And around to some shops in the country side.


The Lord gave us a great connection with a house church while we were visiting in England.  The first week we went to meet with them they were meeting a five minutes walk from where we were staying!


Amy and Rachel stumbled upon a local children’s Bible program as well while we were there.


And they hung around on the playground.. did I mention that already.


Amy got to visit Windsor castle with Rachel and the boys.


But Simon spent most of the time on the phone (just kidding, this is an audio tour)


Rachel had her birthday when she was with us.




While the kids and Amy enjoyed England I traveled in Germany and to Paris.

My hotel in Germany was right outside the old German town of Steinheim


While Rachel was visiting, she helped usher the family to Paris for a weekend visit.


Taking in some French cuisine.



Notre Dame


Playgrounds abounded in Paris, this one is right outside of Notre Dame.


Simon was fascinated.


Seine River and the infamous Concierge where prisoners were held before being executed during the reign of terror (French Revolution)


The Louver


Walking on water is easy when you control the camera angles.


Yes, he would have jumped right in if I let him.


For the most part this place was for the birds. 


Lunch time in a park in Paris.


And on to the Eiffel tower.


Simon was a hit wherever we went.  He loved to make friends.


Caleb loved to climb.


Simon making more friends in the park by the Eiffel tower.



Is it me, or are the kids starting to look more intelligent.


The Eiffel tower at night was an amazing site.


And the bread.. so good!


Street side cafes everywhere.


And subway mechanisms that try to eat you for lunch.


Day 2 in Paris included a trip to Versailles




And of course.. Micah’s feet got tired again.


Pony rides at Versailles


After coming home from Paris we were on the final stretch.  I spent a couple days in the Netherlands for the EECI 2009 conference.

Windmill in Leiden, Netherlands


Right before we left we had chance to visit Oxford.  This is Christ Church College.


The museums here were amazing.


And perfect for kids


There was plenty to touch.. and the best part: is was OK.



With Micah.. there’s always time for a granola bar.


Coming home was a welcome change.  After 5 weeks away form our home, our church and our friends, we were quite ready to come home and reconnect.  The trip was a lot of work.  Some people might say we were crazy to take four kids under 7 and a pregnant wife to Europe for 5 weeks, but we thoroughly enjoyed it – difficulties and all.   Speaking of pregnant wife.. did you know we’re having boy number 5!


Coming home also meant settling in to some Brithdays. Caleb turned 5.


And Mimi and Papa couldn’t wait to see us again, so they came for a visit.


This year Chris has started to read the classics.  Initially he started to get prepped for homeschooling, but he found that he has enjoyed it immensely.  This year he read:  Tale of Two Cities, The Three Musketeers, My Bondage and My Freedom, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Hard Times, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Moon is Down, The Scarlet Letter, Of Mice and Men, Brave New World, 1984, Animal Farm, Kidnapped, Frankenstein, The Grapes of Wrath, Fahrenheit 451, Around the World in Eighty Days, Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Moby Dick (ok.. he only read 3/4 of Moby Dick) and now he is in the middle of The Jungle (not exactly reading to promote Christmas cheer)


Micah turned 3 this year.. he wanted snow and he got it.  It snowed the very morning of his birthday.  He even got some snowmen on his cake.



The end of the year is nearly hear.  The boys are playing and enjoying their time indoors and out.




Playing Games


And just generally hanging around.


I hope you enjoyed the pictures, we certainly enjoyed making them.  We are thankful to the Lord for all that he has done this year and hope that you will join us in giving thanks to God for the best gift of all: Jesus.  Without him, everything that you see above is worthless and without meaning.  But with Him, our hearts can overflow with thanksgiving. 

The happiest of Christmases to all of you,

The Pollocks

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Get Location Information via visitor IP with Yahoo Query Language (YQL) and PHP

I was reading a Read/Write Web article and YQL and started to monkey around with it a bit today.  I was in need of an script that returned information on the users location based upon their IP.  In a few minutes I was able to pull together a quick script to start parsing out information based on a user’s IP.  Nothing fancy here, but it works!  There are some limits to how many times you can query YQL (read the documentation for more information).

    $ip = $_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR']; 
    $url = "*%20from%20ip.location%20where%20ip%3D'{$ip}'&format=xml&";
    $xml = simplexml_load_file($url, 'SimpleXMLElement', LIBXML_NOCDATA);
    // if you need to see what is coming back.. uncomment below.
    // print_r($xml);
    // store the information you want using xpath
    $country =  $xml->xpath("/query/results/Response/CountryCode");
    $city =  $xml->xpath("/query/results/Response/City");
    $lat =  $xml->xpath("/query/results/Response/Latitude");
    $long =  $xml->xpath("/query/results/Response/Longitude");
    echo "<p>" . $country[0];
    echo "<p>" . $city[0];
    echo "<p>" . $lat[0];
    echo "<p>" . $long[0];

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Expression Engine – Extension to Show Custom Fields in Edit Tab (by Label)

An extension that showed custom fields in the edit had already been developed and was readily available on the EE forums.  However, I needed to mod this extension a bit to be based on field label instead of field id.  Functionally this allowed me to grab custom fields in different custom field sets and display them in the same column.  The use case for this was as follows.  I had multiple custom field sets, the user was entering the title in German and I wanted to be able to see a title in english.  So I added a field to each custom field set with the same label “english_title”.  I used that to pull the English title in the edit tab (so if I needed to find something I could, see as I don’t speak German). 


To use the extension, install the files in their standard locations, enable and then edit the settings (fill in your field with the appropriate field label).

If you have any problems feel free to leave a comment and I’ll help you when I can.

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My Latest Creation: Simplified Safety

Just about 18 months ago we conceived of a new web site that was focused on safety solutions.  As we conducted business on Simplified Building Concepts we saw an increased emphasis on safety railing and safety products.   This led us to create an entire site that focused on providing safety solutions and advice.  The site was designed in collaborations with Squared Eye.   Matthew Smith from Squared Eye did a fantastic job working with me to put together a site that is both beautiful and usable.  I highly recommend his services.

I welcome you to visit the site and give feedback (use the black tab on the right side).  In the future I plan on releasing some posts on the ins and outs of the architecture of the site.

Here’s a bit of information about the site:

Simplified Safety is a company specializing in safety products and advice.  We aim to provide customers with tested, top quality safety gear and the appropriate advice to identify the products that are needed by each individual customer.  Working closely with each customer to arrive at a tailored safety solution is how we hope to set ourselves apart in the industry.  Here are a few examples of the safety products we supply: Guardrails, Skylight Protection, Lifeline Systems, Personal Protection Equipment, Harnesses, Lanyards, and more.



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Things I see

There’s the verse that says “love covers a multitude of sins”, well... so does snow:grimacing::flushed::stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:. #mudseason #nograssagain #lifewithboysMicah’s been working on his beard. It’s filling in quite nicely!! #mountainman #lifewithboys #11yearoldswithbeardsSick day for Lucas and therefore the rest of us. It’s nice though to have the windows open!!What a difference a haircut makes! Spock to Simon. #beforeandafter #spockhair #haircut #shearingmysheepCelebrating Chinese New Year with a friend (a little early) with some treats straight from Beijing! Yummy!This greeted me this morning. :heart_eyes: #lifewithboys #ivalentinesdayPhotoApparently my read aloud book was riveting to this guy:yum:. The rest of us enjoyed it though. A historical fiction account of Tyndale’s life by Scott O’Dell. #thehawkthatcouldnothuntbyday #readaloud #historicalfictionPhotoThe current favorite face of the house! It’s a cute one!! #puppylifeYour future pilot :man:‍:airplane:Agamemnon, Menelaus and a reluctant general.History actors take a bowSnow Dog!Camo mom working on her next project.

Chris Pollock

Web Developer - proficient in both PHP and ASP.NET.
Rochester, New York

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My Pictures

There’s the verse that says “love covers a multitude of sins”, well... so does snow:grimacing::flushed::stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:. #mudseason #nograssagain #lifewithboysMicah’s been working on his beard. It’s filling in quite nicely!! #mountainman #lifewithboys #11yearoldswithbeardsSick day for Lucas and therefore the rest of us. It’s nice though to have the windows open!!What a difference a haircut makes! Spock to Simon. #beforeandafter #spockhair #haircut #shearingmysheepCelebrating Chinese New Year with a friend (a little early) with some treats straight from Beijing! Yummy!This greeted me this morning. :heart_eyes: #lifewithboys #ivalentinesdayPhotoApparently my read aloud book was riveting to this guy:yum:. The rest of us enjoyed it though. A historical fiction account of Tyndale’s life by Scott O’Dell. #thehawkthatcouldnothuntbyday #readaloud #historicalfictionPhotoThe current favorite face of the house! It’s a cute one!! #puppylifeYour future pilot :man:‍:airplane:Agamemnon, Menelaus and a reluctant general.History actors take a bowSnow Dog!Camo mom working on her next project.