Google Code Search

September 30th, 2008

Any programmer who’s ever googled for code snippets, particularly non-alpha snippets like ”<=>” will appreciate this…

Did you know Google has a code search tool? Go to and try a search like "def <=>" lang:ruby


We just rolled out a new feature that we’re really proud of: Online Donations! Now your donors can donate to your organization easily using Donor Tools’ new Online Donations feature!

The great thing about online donations is that funds are transferred immediately via PayPal, and the donation shows up instantly in your Donor Tools account.

As an added bonus, if you do a little legwork and track down your PayPal Payment Data Transfer token (we’ll show you how), Donor Tools will automatically record any fees that PayPal deducts (Donor Tools doesn’t deduct any fees for online donations).

Take a look at our Haiti Aid example site, at It’s a real fundraising project that we set up to help raise money to buy water purification supplies for victims of the recent hurricanes in Haiti.

Donor Login

Online Donations comes with another nice feature also – Donor Login. Now your donors can sign in to Donor Tools to track their giving history, print donation receipts and reports, and of course, donate online.

Water for Haiti Hurricane Victims

September 3rd, 2008

We just sent 45 boxes of Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets to Haiti to help provide potable drinking water for hurricane flood victims.

Much of Haiti has been inundated by recent hurricanes, causing contamination of many water supplies. A major concern right now is the outbreak of water-borne diseases like giardia and typhus. These water purification supplies will most certainly save lives by providing clean drinking water.

Our first shipment will go down on Friday, Sept 5. We’re sending enough to purify about 1350 liters (357 gallons) of water. We’d like to send more!

So let’s do it! We will match every dollar donated to buy more purification tablets. If we raise $1000, then we’ll match it for a total of $2000. That’s enough to purify about 4633 liters (1224 gallons). That’s enough to provide one week of clean drinking water for 350 people!

Why Haiti? Both have spent significant time there – Ryan as a missionary kid and Bethany as a nurse. We still have family in Haiti. Despite the poverty, the land is very dear to us.

Thanks for donating!

Update: Now you can donate through our new Donor Tools page!

Update 2: Also check out the Haiti Aid Blog

Did you know that the ”_” (underscore) character is prohibited in URLs host names? I didn’t, until just a few minutes ago.

The problem began when a Donor Tools customer signed up for a new account with a subdomain like “demo_organization”. So their web address would have been It worked fine for me, but they could not sign in no matter what they tried. We went back and forth with support emails trying to figure out what was going on – I could access their web address and every other web address on the system with no problem. But as soon as they tried to sign in on their end: boom, error. (Customer was using Internet Explorer)

I quickly traced the difficulty down to a cookie error. Using a little creative cookie sniffing, I set up an error message on the signin form, so if you go to with cookies turned off (or with a restrictive privacy policy), you’ll be warned to turn on your cookies. So I instructed the customer how to turn on their cookies, loosen their privacy settings, etc. All to no avail – they could still not sign in.

Finally it hit me: this was the only account we had that used an underscore in their web address. Could that be it? A quick google got me this page:, which references RFC 1123:

In DNS computer names, use only the characters that are listed in RFC 1123. These characters include A–Z, a–z, 0–9, and the hyphen (-). In Windows Server 2003, DNS allows most UTF-8 characters in names. However, do not use extended ASCII or UTF-8 characters unless all the DNS servers in your environment support them.

Internet Explorer was choking on the underscore character! It would access the web address like normal, but for whatever reason, it was blocking cookies from that address. Voila! A quick change of the web address from ”_” to ”-” solved the problem.

So, for future reference, if your site requires Cookies, default to the least common denominator, Internet Explorer, and constrain web addresses to [a-z0-9-]*.