Archive for the ‘Techy Stuff’ Category

Running the script you are currently editing in vi

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Instead of doing all the typing involved with leaving your vi session to run the script you just edited, you could simply type

:!%

“%” is a shortcut for the current filename. For this to work, the current file (%) should be in your $PATH. Or if that’s inconvenient or unwise, you can always just make the call to the file’s absolute path by substituting % with the absolute path of the file. The file should be executable, which, if it isn’t, you change by typing

:!chmod +x %

Of course, if you have just created the file, you’ll need to do a :w to actually commit the file to the filesystem, before you can make any calls to it.

Remember to use

:!!

to repeat the last command you just ran from within vi to save yourself more typing.

VI Cheat Sheet

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Replace commas (or something) with line breaks (or something)

:%s/,/^M/g
where ^M = ctrl+V & ctrl+M

Use vi to comment out (or do something else to) several consecutive lines

Example: If you wanted to comment out lines 20 to 40 of a file, use the following:

:20,40s/^/# /

Use

:set number

to enable visible line numbers.

Problem with “terminal too wide” been plaguing you on those farty old Solaris boxes for the last 6.5 years but you were usually too busy doing something else to stop it from ever happening again?

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Well you can install VIM, or if that’s not practical (or if you’re not in the mood to install VIM and its required dependencies on the hundred or so boxes you log into), then the command “stty columns 120” will do ya.

Reset sound in Ubuntu (Linux) without restarting

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

When messing around with lousy audio players like Amarok2, it sometimes happens that your sound system gets usurped by them when they crash (and boy do they ever crash a lot!).

The first thing to try is:

$ sudo /etc/init.d/alsa-utils restart

But that doesn’t always work, so you should see who’s holding on to your sound system:

$ lsof | grep pcm

kill the processes that still have open files one at a time until you get your sound back.

Register your nick on IRC

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

# If you’ve never registered before (and if the server provides NickServ):
/msg nickserv register YOURPASSWORD YOUREMAIL

#Check your email for the confirmation, which should have something like this:

/msg NickServ VERIFY REGISTER YOURUID SOMECONFIRMATIONCODE

# Upon returning to the network:

/msg nickserv identify YOURPASSWORD

or possibly…

/nickserv identify YOURPASSWORD

Stupid Unix Tricks: Creating Files

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Typically I create files using the vi editor. vi, unlike just about any other editor in the *nix world, is ubiquitous –even when running in stripped down systems and in single-user mode, so it’s worth knowing how to use for basic editing. The great thing about vi is that the more you work with it (and spend time learning about it) the more you discover it can do to make your life easier. I will write more about this in another post.

In addition to vi, another way I quickly create files on *nix systems is with touch.

$ touch newfile.txt

This creates an empty file that you can later append info or edit, what have you. Touch can change an existing file’s timestamp without altering the original file’s contents too, in fact that may be touch’s raison d’etre, but I almost always use it to create new, empty files when I need to (or when I need to test the umask settings of the user I’m logged in as).

Another quick and dirty file creation method is with simple I/O redirection. To create a new, empty, file:

$ >newfile.txt

To create that file with a blurb in in,

$ echo blurb > newfile.txt

(newfile.txt will contain the world blurb), or

$ echo “Longer blurb with more words than the original one we created” > newfile.txt

(the sentence in quotes will be in the file. Note: with I/O redirection, the > character will overwrite/clobber the contents of the file on the “less than” side of the operator, so be careful when using this that “newfile.txt” or whatever you’re redirecting to doesn’t have anything important in it….or you can use >> to append, rather than overwrite/clobber the file.

This is cool, and you can do a lot with the echo command and escape sequences that will allow you to do some level of formatting with the contents of the new file. But if you need formatting why not use an editor, or editor-like functionality? Leaving vi and other editors aside, the simple cat command (short for concatenate) with some I/O redirection can be pretty cool, and not quite as overkill as the full vi editor (and perhaps a few less keystrokes from start to finish).

$ cat > newfile.txt

(creates the file, but you are still concatenating, so…)

type your message/write your script here

create a new paragraph if you like

get fruity with formatting if you need

^D (ctrl + D) to terminate with EOF (end of file)

Voila, you have a file with the contents you just typed in cat mode. It’s nothing fancy, but if you want to whip up a quick and dirty script, it’s one way to get started.

Pretty stupid stuff, huh?

Rant: Sun’s Web Site

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

I sent a message to Sun after a frustrating afternoon trying to get a patch cluster to patch my personal Sun server. The grammar and wording sucks, but I was completely pissed (and it’s been building up over the last 3-4 years trying to use their awful web site).

Subject: Your Website: Awful!

I’m trying to download the 10_Recommended patch cluster. 3-4 successive attempts to download the 600+ MB file completed after 220MB leaving me with a corrupt file. It took me 5-10 minutes to actually even find the page containing the patch cluster to begin with. Then I learned that I needed to be logged in to download the cluster. But I wasn’t given a login prompt, I was just given an error page. I had to go back and search the previous pages for a login prompt. Overall your site has, for the last 2-3 years, completely sucked. Why don’t you help the people who use your products by making things easier to find, and making them available (not by filling our hard drives with corrupt zip files)? Also, don’t make people log in to read your precious tech docs and spec sheets. That’s completely stupid too.

I used to think the people I worked for were crazy for dumping Sun for Dell/Windows, but now I see that you seem to be too inadequate to handle the business people give you. I guess you’ll be going the way of Sco Unix before long. Can’t say I’ll be that sorry to see you go when you do.

Zippy New Rig!

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Been wanting to upgrade my old-er AMD 3400+ system for about 2 years, and have been needing to for at least the last year. Running Linux doesn’t force the issue as much, except when Amarok was recalc’ing additions to my audio collection. But the Windows side was pretty sluggish. My last two main workstations were AMD CPUs and MSI motherboards. I can’t really fault those for any deficiencies, they work great (aside from some hitches with the MSI motherboard and the stupid, needs-DOS-installed, BIOS update methods), but I did want to try something different (i.e. intel multi-core and a motherboard other than MSI).

I’ve been building my own for at least the last 5 years and though it’s typically the best value, I’ve grown tired of supporting my own systems when things go wrong. I guess after supporting computers for a living for so long, I’ve started to value a good service contract. I was also torn between making the switch to a Mac. Ever since OSX and the new BSD-based Darwin I’ve been intrigued by Macs.

Every couple weeks over the last few years I’d go to dell.com or alienware (now also dell), cyberpowerpc.com, newegg.com, and apple.com and spec out a system with a service contract and the type of specs I’d like (a fast processor, but not the fastest, and tons of RAM). I think of the ones I just mentiond with support contract, cyberpowerpc was the best deal going. A guy I work with loves those guys and says he’s had good experiences with them. I still found their prices on the high side, and I’d look at their components and go to newegg and spec the individual parts out and would always come out ahead at newegg. But that left the problem of building/supporting it myself.

Macs remain just too expensive to get the specs I want. A slick OS that integrates well with the hardware isn’t worth the expensive hardware costs. I considered an iMac 24″ and a Mac Pro. The iMac seems cool, but I don’t like how limiting it can be to upgrade with drives and add on cards in a slimline/form factor system like that. Also, when I spec’ed them out with all the stuff I wanted, like more RAM and the Apple Care warranty, they were always in the $1900. range. Add $1000. to that for the Mac Pro version. Sorry, but no thanks. And I’ve been hearing enough bad things about Leopard (how it’s the next Vista) to make me wary. Not to mention the fact that my experience with iTunes (that so many people — who must just not know better — revere so highly) has been much less than satisfactory. So a Mac was out.

In the end I decided that building my own was the best bet. After spec’ing out a Dell XPS with 4 GB RAM and a single 320 GB hard drive (with either an Intel Core2 duo or Core2 quad) and having it come out to around $1400. or more every time, regardless of any discounts I could find on dealnews.com or through my employer who has a relationship with Dell. I went to Newegg and spec’ed one out that is WAY better. Each part is cherry picked (unlike the Dell, which doesn’t allow you much choice in RAM, PSU, Case, hard drive, burner, etc.), the system is faster than the XP and it cost under $1200. after all the MIRs (which suck, but at least you get something back after jumping through the stupid hoops).

Here are the specs:

  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz
  • Abit IP35 Pro Motherboard
  • G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
  • 2 x Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500320AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drives, 5 year warranty (yep, 1000GB! w00h00!)
  • Thermaltake W0116RU 750W Power Supply
  • EVGA 256-P2-N751-TR GeForce 8600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 SLI Video Card
  • ASUS 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model DRW-2014L1T
  • Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower

I am re-using my 10K RPM WD Raptor drives for the system drives. (My one regret about this system is not buying 2 new 150GB raptors for the system drives, since my old ones are 36GB & 72GB and though fast are pretty small — and noisy after 3 years of daily use!)

It’s not the fastest system out there, but a huge upgrade from what I’ve been running for over 3 years now. I am never willing to pay for the “Extreme” processors that are out. It’s not worth the extra $500 just to have a few extra Mhz. and a slightly faster FSB.

The least deluxe part is the graphics card (I’m still gun shy after frying 2 $300-$400 video cards in my last system after having them for not very long — must have been a power surge or something), which I plan to upgrade once I get some power conditioning in my house.

Anyway, finally got the dual boot between Vista Ultimate & Ubuntu 7.10 64-bit happening and everything I’m doing is a breeze! iTunes still sucks balls though, what a shitty media manager it is! (see my comments below, which have some new additions coming) I’m thinking I’m going to stop using it altogether and just find another way to keep my iPod sync’ed up. Everything else is just aces though. Makes using a PC fun again.

O yeah, and newegg had the stuff I ordered on Sunday night at my doorstep by Thursday. That’s another nice advantage you don’t get from most builders…quick turnaround.

Catastrophic Personal Data Loss

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Do you know how much space all the files you’ve been collecting and saving for the last 10 years takes up? You know what I’m talking about, all your backed up files, your contacts, old emails, old correspondence, old Word docs, your various downloads, your various license keys/serial numbers, every digital photo you’ve ever taken or had taken of you, your pr0n, your vast collection of ebooks & audio books, your wicked collection of ultra cool and ultra rare (out-of-print) music books, sheet music, play-along CDs, backing tracks, tabs, magazine scans, etc., etc.?

In my case it was 255GB (yes, gigabytes, not megabytes). The reason I know is because although I’ve always been careful about backing this huge store of amassed information to a second hard drive across the network (thus having two live copies always available), I (along with the help of a failing <brand> hard drive), may have just wiped it all off the face of the earth in a couple of stupid, fell swoops.

I always slept well at night knowing I have done a recent rsync to sync up any changes made/files added from my master data drive to my backup data drive. Why just this month I was in there tagging some of the (complete collection of) Aebersold CDs and renaming things to a more logical, easy to find system. Piles of this kind of data take hours of painstaking work to categorize and organize. It’s something I’ve never felt finished with and am always in there tinkering to make the system better, finding new ways to automate the process, etc. etc. It’s like a rather large hobby of mine. I guess I’m kind of an archivist at heart.

Well, yesterday I realized it’s quite possible I’ve lost it all to a couple of seriously boneheaded actions on my part and a surprise disk failure on a 320GB “back up” hard drive on my LAN’s file server (running Ubuntu server + Samba). It started with my other post from this week about Windows Vista. I was in my main workstation (2 system disks that are smaller 10K RPM raptors for the OSes + 2 data 500GB data disks full of audio + 1 320GB external USB drive on which these data files reside). I was smart enough to unplug the 500GB drives before messing around with the OS b/c I’ve had enough experience to know that it’s easy to wipe one of these when messing around with partitioning software in any OS. At some point I saw that the light on the USB drive was on and I thought to myself I should go ahead and turn that drive off until I was done. I got distracted and forgot to do it. (Bad move #1). Then when I was reinstalling XP, I was in the partition menu, I saw two drives with byte counts starting with “3” something. So I wiped the first one thinking it was the 36GB raptor I use for the OS. (Bad move #2) It turned out to be the friggin’ data drive. I realized it almost immediately. I breathed a sigh of relief however, since I knew I’d done an rsync between that drive and the “backup” drive about a day or two before, so there probably wasn’t any data loss. Also, I hadn’t checked the health of my backup drive before doing anything serious like installing an OS, and I don’t have any automated log monitoring set up to send me email or SMS alerts to things like drive failures. (Bad move #3).

So out of the 5 hard drives in my workstation, and the 4-5 hard drives in my LAN file server, guess which one turns out to be experiencing a total failure? Guess how I found out that the drive was failing? If you guessed that it was when I was desperately in need of a backup of the 255GB of data existing on that very 1 drive out of 9-10 hard drives I have spun up at any given time, then you guessed right.

BLERG!!!

I spent all day in a kind of semi-catatonic daze. I think I was partially in denial about it. I was also racking my brain for what I was going to do to recover it (and also trying to get a feel for the scope of my loss — which just got worse and worse the more I realized I was storing on these hard drives). I even had to go to my history class and take a test while I was waiting for fsck to stop spewing errors to my screen while running it (which may have made the situation worse for any hope of recovering anything from that drive). By the end of the night I couldn’t even mount the drive as the file system was no longer recognized as a valid Linux filesystem, I started getting IDE controller errors in the logs as well, which was a change from the earlier imagic & bad block errors I was getting when I first realized I’d just dicked myself out of all this data (and man hours collecting and organizing it).

Today I was home from work, so I got right up, got a coffee and brought my Knoppix CD to try and see what could be done. Much to my surprise I could mount the drive and it appears I was able to x-fer a few of the smaller directories over to a spare 320GB USB hard drive. While I was waiting for the transfers to finish, I got to thinking that the dd utility might be better than mounting this disk up and copying/rsyncing the files over. (Actually certain directories were unreadable and had very weird user info and perms, nothing I could do would change the perms and rsync just wasn’t dealing with the errors — as it probably shouldn’t have). Then I stumbled onto to something even better than dd (I hope) called dd_recover, which changes the block size of the x-fer on the fly to better accommodate a drive that is throwing errors. It’s a utility specifically designed for recovering data from a failing drive. So I’m very hopeful I can get something back. I have yet another 320GB USB drive hooked up and am running it. It seems to be taking a while (like 25GB x-fered in about 2-3 hours), but it’s also IDE to USB — and if it took 3 weeks and worked it’d be well worth it.

Man, Linux fucking rules. The native logging and the native tool chain that is available for troubleshooting, fixing stuff like this is unbelievable. You know what it cost for an OS that is stable and feature-laden? A single CD-R and a 699MB download. I’m sure there’s a Windows solution like Winternals, or some other 3rd party app that would do what the free dd (or dd_recover) does, but it’d cost at least $150. and have some license that times out in a year — or the app will be outdated in 6 months and you’ll have to buy it all over again. And that’s all after I had to pay for the OS, pay for the rsync-like utility that does backups, and all the other software that I’d have to pay for to do what Knoppix does out of the box. Pfft!

Anyway, back to my recovery…. I’ll post the outcome when it’s done.

Windows Vista

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

Vista’s probably the first Microsoft OS since Win98 (since that was in production when I started using computers regularly) that I’ve not been an early adopter of (or that I’ve not been using since beta). Here it is months after it was released to the general population that I’m using it for the first time. There are a number of reasons for this. It has some to do with where I currently work and the people who get have access to the licensing, it has some to do with it being much harder to just “find” a license somewhere online (and that I no longer really trust Windows software media obtained from anyone other than the source), and it has the most to do with the fact that I really didn’t care much about trying it out since I had no need to upgrade. The very little I actually use the Windows OS in my life (partially forced by work to use it, partially out of convenience in running certain apps at home –without some of the headaches of running it in a virtual environment) has been served well enough by XP — and could probably be just as well served by Win2k.

Anyway, I got a copy of the media and and installed Ultimate to give’er a whirl on my home machine. Sadly it’s not the 64-bit version, so I can’t make full use of the AMD64 this machine has, but then again, when I used to run 64-bit Linux about 2-3 years ago, it too wasn’t really that rewarding, since at that time nothing worked in 64-bit mode (it could still be that way, I haven’t tried since I’ve stopped being the kind of person who reinstalls his OS every couple weeks to try some new OS or config or something. I typically leave the OS on for years now and only upgrade when I really feel the need for a change). It’d probably behoove me to read about people’s experience running Vista in 64-bit mode before even trying it.

The install is easier, and noticeably faster than an XP install. The installation also seems to bug you less than the XP installer. I’d be interested to do a side-by-side comparison though, since a lot of the annoying questions you get during the XP install were saved for the first boot (or was it the second? Vista wasn’t clear about what really was the first boot and what was a first boot that required a reboot before the first boot) before you log in.

The drivers for my system were mostly detected — enough to get me up and running with a good resolution and an IP address obtained from my LAN’s DHCP server. I even have a functional sound driver for my Soundblaster, but I am being told by the system that I should get the real driver from Creative. I haven’t checked the device mangler for missing drivers. I’m guessing there will be a few, but not any that stop me from working right away. XP installs on this box almost always required several driver installs before I had network and video functionality.

I notice that notepad didn’t choke on a 12MB XML file, so it seems they’ve improved its support for large files (or did they do that in XP, I don’t remember). I also noticed that the command-line (cmd)’s interface allows you to expand the window vertically and the text will adapt to the window’s vertical size. I think you had to always go into options and change that in previous versions of Windows. Would be nice if it would do that in both directions though. It didn’t seem doing it horizontally worked.

It seems they did a good job of modernizing the interface to look slicker and more up to date. Nice transparencies in the windows, nice side bar, everything looks pretty clean. (I love the look of the alt-tab switching between apps! And the new system monitor that you can get to from the Task Manager is pretty slick for monitoring performance on the system.) It’s funny though, this desktop looks a lot like what people have been using for a long time in Linux (and probably on Macs too) with the transparancies and the gdesklet-like side bar.

Despite all these changes, I’m not feeling too much like a fish out of water. Mapping network drives was simple. Changing the interface look & feel can be found in the same context sensitive menus. The Task Manager is in the same place. The Control Panel is pretty self explanatory. I purposely didn’t choose all the “Windows Classic” settings for windowing and folder views so that I’d become more familiar with the default interface, and I don’t find it too disorienting.

Some of the “mother may I” stuff when accessing menus and settings gets a little annoying. I think I had to do it like 5-6 times when installing iTunes. I also see that the game port for my Soundblaster Audigy isn’t supported.

Update: I do notice something odd about the process control changes. It seems apps lock up (“not responding” in the Task Manager) a lot less. However, it seems like they just kinda’ hang within themselves and don’t respond. So in a sense it looks like the program is responding, but it’s really not. It’s kind of a fake-out. I’m talking about iTunes. I had an XML file with the mappings to the library that would fill my 80GB iPod. I imported that into iTunes. iTunes would just sit there while “determining gapless playback information” for all these tunes. If I tried to sync my iPod to the recently imported library, it would basically stop responding. I did realize that the process priority was set to medium by default. Changing to high brought about the “not responding” more often, but didn’t really seem to help iTunes process this massive load.

All in all I’m pretty impressed. I was expecting (and half hoping) to really dislike Vista every step of the way. But my first hour or so with it have been pretty good. I’ll update later as I use it more and have recourse to try working with a number of different apps.

New iPod, Old Gripes

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

I had been anticipating the arrival of the 80GB iPod for some time. My 20GB from the previous generation had been pretty quickly obsolesced by my library of music. It was a drag to have to pick and choose so much to get as broad a selection of music as I wanted in a portable device. It’s not about running out of stuff to listen to (that would be nearly impossible) but it is about having as large a pool of music to draw from as possible. Anyway, that problem is currently more than solved by the 300% increase in size with this new iPod. I can’t believe how much music I can fit on this thing. It’s turning into one rockin’ collection of stuff to carry around! Bonus for the much nicer display on these newer video models (could be the same as the previous videos, actually). It’s definitely easier on the eyes. The size seems about the same as my old 20. And kudos for letting the older gen’s sync cables work with this one.
I do have a number of gripes though. These have probably already been beaten to death elsewhere.

  1. iTunes keeps crashing when I’m adding tracks/adding music from my samba share. It’s not a networking issue b/c I have a full 100Mbp/s LAN at my disposal and this is about the only traffic on that LAN. I think it might be choking on some of the .nfo, or .txt, or .m3u, or .sfv, or .jpg, or .gif files that have found their way into my collection. Either way it’s as annoying as shit b/c there are huge collections of music I want to move en masse and the friggin’ thing keeps dying on me, which causes me to have to start over. And yes, I have the newest version of iTunes 7, which is supposed to have fixed all the initial problems with iTunes 7 and Windows XP.
  2. The sync is incredibly slow. Is it still USB 1.0? It feels like it. Syncing ~65GB of music looks like it will take several hours. I’ll let you know when I’m done. I’ve already added another ~10GB of music since I started syncing (thankfully I can still add while syncing, otherwise I’d be pissed).
  3. You still can’t sync an iPod full of music to a clean computer (one that doesn’t already have those files on it). I know they did that to avoid DRM issues. But it’s total bullshit. Luckily you can do it by going through Windows explorer or if you sync up with Linux/Rhythmbox, but you have to rely on really good tagging to re-organize things. I’m not lucky enough to have very good tagging across all my digital music, so it’s pretty useless to me. Wouldn’t it also be nice if the unit asked you about songs that had changed either on the iPod or in your repository and gave you a choice of what to do? For instance, sync iPod’s changed files to the repository or vice versa.
  4. The limited filetype support. Why no FLAC? I think OGG is now supported, but I’ve not verified. But all those shitty WMA, M4A formats still aren’t supported without conversion. Just support the file types where you can, or allow us to download separate codecs to support them. Fer crissake you can listen to all of them on Linux, why not in iTunes?
  5. It would be nice if 80GB meant 81920MB instead of 80,000MB. I think Apple would be a lot cooler if they would not play silly marketing games like hiding behind the whole “it’s legal to call 80000MB 80GB” thing. It sucks to get stiffed out of well over 2GB of storage. Actually, after formatting it’s more like well over 6GB short of the supposed 80GB of the device.
  6. It’s getting increasingly harder to navigate a single screen with 8000+ songs on it. I manage fairly well, but I often feel like I’m fighting against the interface (occasional slow loading that locks up the scroll bar, etc.). It could be time to improve the layout.
  7. It’s not easy to determine where songs have changed on your source repository when scrolling through the iTunes screen. You should be able to sort by items no longer found. Also, you should be able to “get info” and find out where the track was originally, so that you’ll be better able to find it if you renamed the folder (or just changed the id3 tags). Currently I’m pretty sure there’s no stored data about a track once it’s been changed or moved, only if it’s still accessible in its original location.
  8. Why no visible status/progress bar for syncing? It would be nice to know if a sync will take 10 seconds or 2 hours.

Despite these gripes, it’s a pretty bitchen little unit. I got an iSkin cover for it which is also pretty nice (except the lock/hold button is kinda’ hard to manipulate from under the rubber). I upgraded to some cheapish Sennheiser earbuds (hope they’re better –and more comfortable– than the stock jobbies). I also paid for an extra year of warranty with Apple care. This could be a ripoff, but I wanted to be covered in case this thing failed in a major way within the next 2 years, instead of just being covered for a single year. I’m pretty psyched to have a vast catalog of music to carry around with me wherever I go. Now if I can get a good docking app for my car stereo I think I’d be in hog heaven.

Update 12/2007:

A couple of my above gripes have been improved some, I will try to amend the original text with comments.

New ones are:

  • sorting duplicates,why can’t it be done by CRC, then by file size, then by similarity in length in order to make it easier to determine between things like remixes and live versions (that are typically longer than the studio version). Also, sorting jazz/fusion music by filename alone is silly since many people play standards, so according to iTunes every version is a dupe, which is seldom the case
  • Syncing over a 100Mbp/s LAN is still hurtin!
  • iTunes is the only thing that locks up pretty hard on my newly built quad-core system with 4GB of RAM. That’s utter bullshit! Giving it a higher priority in the process table doesn’t seem to help it process files any faster, apparently. Thus adding that 80gb of music (pardon me, 74 after formatting) is still an all day affair. BS!

dkap.info has landed

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

If you’re reading this, you’re on the new host. Isn’t it grand? A couple of bumps along the way owing to some strange behavior of my server after dreamhost had a power outage, and some weirdness with the newer version of the script I use for my photo gallery. But by the time I got up this morning everything seemed to be sorted out with DNS and the dreamhost server. A couple of tweaks to my photo gallery script and it’s working. Now I can abandon my blog for 8 months like I usually do. 😉

Changing Hosts – Goodbye Cruel Closet

Friday, July 28th, 2006

I’ve been paying phpwebhosting.com $9.95/mo. for the last 4-5 years. I started using them before I had a killer DSL package that allowed separate IP addresses, a decent upload speed and didn’t discourage running servers. Once I had that kinda’ ISP (Speakeasy), I started hosting my own DNS & http on a DMZ. It’s been going great aside from the occasional power outage and crummy Zyxel DSL modem needing to be restarted. I never really discontinued with phpwebhosting after I started hosting my own b/c it was convenient to let them keep hosting my email for kaplowitz.net and to have a web presence that I didn’t have to worry about.

This Summer however, I really started to notice how bad my little server closet was when my web server started overheating in a big way and crashing at least once a day. I’d walk into the little walk-in closet and it would easily be 30 degrees hotter in there than it was in my already hot apartment. I knew this stuff would just start failing like gangbusters. Aside from dedicating a fan to that room, I didn’t really know what else to do. Shit was probably consuming pretty serious power every month too (though I’m told a headless PC running 24/7 doesn’t take up much more than a couple dollars/mo — but I have no less than 6 PCs running 24/7 so that probably starts to add up). So I looked at some of the features dreamhost.com was offering for the same money I was paying phpwebhosting and it was pretty much a no brainer to start using them as long as I was paying the same amount of money every month for a lot less in services.

So I spent a bunch of time this afternoon configuring my DNS pointers and setting up my domains through the dreamhost console. Funny enough, when I went to log in a few minutes ago to configure this site and one more I’m still hosting out of my hotbox server room, the connections started timing out. dreamhoststatus.com said they’d had a power outage. Hopefully it’s not a portent of what to expect, because I paid for a full year already. I guess I have 90 days to figure out if they’re worth it.

Anyway, enjoy the last few hours on the host named “mysteryroach”. 😉

Solaris Sysadmin Test T-minus 23 days

Tuesday, July 26th, 2005

I suck. I studied for like 45 minutes today. I got caught up in a thread on the zappa.com forum about time signatures in FZ’s music. When it’s time to study, it’s so easy to find something else to get into….and esoteric musical subjects will do very nicely.

Spoke to my old friend Todd in LA for a long while about gear and life. He can actually play a lot of this stuff. Killer job on Sinister Footwear. That’s like an end game Zappa tune. What the fuck might you ask is an “end game” Zappa tune? Well, you’re right. It makes no friggin’ sense. But in this context I guess it means something you’d learn how to play/execute as something extremely advanced and way later than a lot of stuff you’d probably learn first. By “end game” I guess it means “what the hell else is there left to do after you’ve done that?”

Then I went out with the fianceé for dinner. Upon returning home I listened to the intro to “Catholic Girls” in an endless loop until I could hear that it is 5 measures of 9/8 (2-3-2-2 sort of feel) and one measure of 5/8 (2-3) feel into 4/4. In the middle the intro motif is played again, but this time it’s 9/8 & 7/8 repeating a few times (didn’t count how many) and then possibly a measure of 11/8 (I have to loop this to hear it since I’m so rhythmically challenged).

There you go. That and surfing a few forums as I do and you have an adult male’s evening pretty well frittered away. I guess this’ll be one of my sort of “goof off” days.

BTW, the only reason I knew it was 23 days until the test is b/c I googled for the how many days until calendar. Thanks for not forcing me to reinvent the wheel or manually count (which I started to try but then figured I’d get it wrong).

P.S. My Tom Anderson Hollow Drop Top (06-13-02A) sold to someone who bid on my abortive ebay auction. We negotiated a price, and did a “second chance offer” and it worked out. Ebay and Paypal killed me on fees, as they do with these things (more than $80 between the two!). I lost my ass on the guitar, but I did it to buy something I’ll use more, so hopefully there’s some redemption in there.

Solaris Sysadmin Test

Monday, July 25th, 2005

I totally don’t want to study for these two tests that are going to expire on 8/19. If I blow them off it’s $300. down the drain. My boss doesn’t really seem to care, but I think it’s a terrible waste, so I’m gonna go for it. It’s just barely enough time to get it right though…and at the rate I’m avoiding it, it’s nowhere near enough. Luckily I’ve been working with this OS day in and day out for about 1.5 years now. Ugh.

Got the Calkins book, which seems good, and the Exam Cram one as well. I’ve done MCPs with less study, but I know these tests are harder than most MCPs. Will see what happens.

Update: Studied through about half of the chapter on booting/shutdown. It’s not so bad. I figure if I go for a solid chapter a day as a minimum, I’ll be able to cover everything, with about 12 days left for goofing off, reviewing, practice test, and more reviewing. I guess I’ll have to fit that exam cram book in there somewhere too.

WordPress Troubleshooting 101

Sunday, May 15th, 2005

Spent a couple days chasing my tail after a WP upgrade (1.5.0 to 1.5.1). First off, it wasn’t WordPress’s fault, it was my own. I stupidly deleted everything and started over, which actually worked the first time. But then I saw that WP’s site had different instructions (I typically read the instructions after flying blind). So I tried their instructions, overwrote my wp-config.php file and used one from backup, but apparently that one had the wrong DB username.

The symptons were: blank pages throughout…even calls to specific files like upgrade.php/install.php would produce blank pages. I tried reverting to 1.5.0 again (took forever to find a working copy buried in a thread on wp’s support forum), then I started getting database connection errors, which led me to the solution: use the right db username in your wp-config.php. (Though oddly I did try using MySQL’s root uid/pwd briefly and that failed too, but maybe I didnt’ do a hard refresh….I dunno). Anyway, it appears to be working now. I’m glad it wasn’t permanent. (Which reminds me that I have to back up my database.)