Two awesome little gadgets…

Well, technically it’s one gadget twice.

I recently purchased a powerline adapter starter kit for around $30. Since moving my computer out of the office in our house to make it a down-stairs play room, I first moved the computer to our bedroom. But that got crowded. The one plus of that arrangement was that there was a phone jack for the DSL modem and I could hook my desktop right into the modem. Well, we moved my computer into the spare bedroom. One problem–no phone jack and no ethernet jack. (I had replaced the original phone jacks with phone/ethernet jacks.) Using an extra wireless router, I created a wireless bridge, but this wasn’t ideal.

Along with my gaming desktop is a desktop computer I’ve converted into a Linux server we use for photo storage, among other things. Using the wireless bridge meant that Sav’s connection would only be about 20Mbps instead of ~150-300Mbps. So I went online, and I stumbled upon these: TP-LINK TL-PA4010KIT AV500 Nano Powerline Adapter Starter Kit. I’d never used powerline adapters, but for just $30, it seemed worth a try. I combined that with a gigabit switch for speedy transfers between my gaming machine and the server (I use it to store music, docs, and game backups).

Well, they all got here yesterday, and I couldn’t be more pleased. They were super easy to setup, and they just plain work. I haven’t done a speed test or anything, but downloading Left 4 Dead 2 from Steam wasn’t having any problems. I’m going to put it to the test this weekend with a little online gaming. And I’ll need to see how well I can transfer files from the server over the network.

This was a pretty boring post, but the moral is: if you’re looking for an easy way to network two rooms without running new cable or using wireless, I recommend these power adapters. If you need higher transfer speeds (gigabit), then you’ll want to go with the AV600, but for most people, the AV500 will be plenty fast. (It claims 500Mhz, which is 5x faster than the ethernet ports are rate (though those are duplex, so I guess only 2.5x faster). Still, that gives plenty of margin for overhead. I’m almost tempted to buy a couple more and move that Linux server out into the garage. Almost.

Currently listening to “Believer” by American Authors

Windows 8 isn’t awful…

But that doesn’t mean I like it.

I bought a netbook around Christmas. I got a great deal on it, as far as size, RAM, and disk space. The AMD APU (processor) could use a boost, but it does OK for web browsing and email. And surprisingly, it’s able to remote into work very well, which was one of my main reasons for wanting a smaller device. Upon bringing it home, I immediately installed Ubuntu (Linux). But sadly, it couldn’t remote into my work. So I put Windows 8 back on. And although I’m constantly fighting with all the Microsoft Account crap, it’s actually been alright. But if my netbook didn’t have a touch screen, it would be retarded.

But what’s weird is the Windows Store, which sells “apps” for stuff like Facebook, which seems really pointless, since you have a full browser. And the last thing I want is for Facebook to have access to my computer. But probably the worst part is that Windows 8(.1) and all of its apps (e.g. OneNote) want to sync everything to the “cloud”. If you make your account a Microsoft Account, your WiFi passwords and email accounts are synced before you get a chance to disable the OneDrive sync and other sync settings. Annoying.

Well, after 2-3 weeks with Windows 8, I’ve finally almost got it setup the way I like. the only thing I can’t get rid of is all the crappy Acer branding.

Currently listening to “Feeling Myself” by Nicki Minaj feat. Beyoncé (thanks, Sav)

Goodbye, Ghost…

Well, that was a fun little experiment.

I stuck with Ghost for nearly a month. But I just couldn’t stand it. The whole time, no spell check. And each time there was a new release, still no spell check. Since WordPress can do Markdown just as well as Ghost, it really didn’t make sense to stick with it. It was only lacking features, and the update process was a pain.

So here I am back with WordPress. Plus, I can again use the app on my phone. One of the perk of self-hosting like this was that all I had to do was change a few lines of my web server’s configuration, and the switch was instantaneous. Then I just copied over the couple of post I did through Ghost (manually, since there were only about five), and bam!–back to WordPress.

I think the Ghost project is going to turn out a cool alternative, but it’s just not going to catch up to WordPress. Plus, my blog can snow.

Putting out Fires…

Well, it has been a little while since the last time I blogged. I’d like to like to say it’s because I’ve been busy exercising or developing something cool. But it’s not that. It’s Borderlands. I’m not ashamed (in fact, I’m quite happy with this), I’m just informing.

Work has been crazy. Boring for blogging, but crazy. Plus, I can’t say stuff that’s going to get me in trouble.

In slightly less boring news, we ended up returning the Fire tablets that Sav and I got for Christmas. When they don’t do what you really want, there’s no reason to keep them around. Sav would like an iPad. I would like a Nexus 9 tablet, but it’s not something that I need. It would probably be faster than this netbook, but no keyboard and twice the price. You can’t argue with math, especially when it comes to $$.

I’m holding out for this Ghost blogging platform. Sometime soon they are going to update the editor. At that point, I’m going to decide whether I keep it or ditch it. I have to say that I like where it’s going and how the interface behaves, for the most part.

Ok, that’s enough boring for a single post. I’m thinking about making a major shift and start posting a bit more family/personal stuff. I shy away from it for privacy reasons, but I realize it’s a little paranoid. Not like you’ll be seeing selfies with me and my new credit card (gotta make sure I get two — one of the front and one of my signature, right?), but you might start seeing some cute pics of my kids. I’m really not sure if anyone but Sav reads this, but on the chance that you’re not Sav, and you don’t think that my posts are entertaining just because they’re from me, I’ll try and make them more work reading. Maybe you’ll even want to comment one of these days. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Currently listening to “Moon” by Sia

In need of a project…

I’ve been thinking over and over about joining some sort of open source project. But my problems (among many others) are:

  • I’m nervous about joining an existing project and not cutting it.
  • I don’t have a ton of time I can commit to a busy, fast-moving project.
  • I kind of like the idea of doing something completely from the ground up. (Ok, not completely—just doing something my way.

I’ve gravitated toward WordPress before because I know PHP, HTML, JavaScript, and CSS pretty well. But I decided it wasn’t for me. The Ghost project seems neat, but I think they have different views about blogging than I do. I mean, I like most of the interface well enough, but I don’t really want a split screen. I want to type in just Markdown, preview on the fly, then maybe have split screen to do final edits if need be. But really, the whole point of Markdown is to just write and not worry about HTML. With Ghost, I’m constantly looking back and forth between the two views. Plus, I still don’t have spell check. 🙁

So I think I might start building my own blogging platform. From the ground up. Just because. It’s not going to be better, it will just be mine.

Fighting Fire…

I learned something very disappointing today. I learned that the Amazon AppStore is nowhere near the Google Play app store. And that it isn’t easy, maybe not even possible, to put the Google Play store on a Kindle Fire. And there aren’t Google Apps on Amazon’s AppStore.

And the worst part of all, my favorite app, JuiceSSH isn’t available on the Amazon AppStore. I was really hoping that I could use the tablet for more than just movies and games. Not that I have any lack of devices. It’s just nice to be able to do as much as possible with the smaller devices.

But if you want to watch movies and play Candy Crush, then the Fire can do it.

Frustration just being secure…

Working at a company that makes a third of the world’s computer memory, you would think that I would be working with the latest technologies every day. Well, that’s not really the case. I deal mainly with software, developing and maintaining the stuff. And while the hardware under my desk might be top notch (i7 quad-core with 24 GB of RAM), the software running on it is probably 10 years old.

In order to get Python 2.7, I had to compile it myself. I also compiled Git. We have a NFS mounted home directory, so it’s available on all Linux boxes on the network. But that meant that I had to compile for both i686 and x64_86. Oh, and I can’t get root access on my box or get something better like Ubuntu 14.04.

Well, in this latest round, I’m trying to install some Ruby, Rails, and Node.js, along with the related packages. Well, everything was going great until I started the main install, and I got a weird error trying to download from Github over HTTPS. It wasn’t the proxy (I already had that setup correctly). I dug in and found two problems:

  1. The certificates on my machine were out of date, so I couldn’t download from some sites.
  2. The OpenSSL on my machine was so old, it didn’t support SHA-256 (which, funny enough, all new certificates will probably have, as most certificate authorities are phasing out SHA-1).
    So I tried to go down the road of compiling OpenSSL, Curl, and Git with support for the newer digest, as well as update the CA certificates. Oh, the nightmare this has been. Everything seems to go fine, but then Git just doesn’t work over HTTP/HTTPS. No error message — it just stops.

And all of this is to get OpenProject running on Linux because our sys admin gave me a old Windows box with a Core Duo processor to install OpenProject on, and now OpenProject doesn’t support Windows at all, and a Virtual Box Ubuntu server won’t run fast enough.

Anyway, that’s a long boring story. My point is: how can a technology company be so bad with software? Oh, the horror stories I could tell…

Welcome to Ghost…

Well, I did it. I successfully migrated my blog to Ghost. It was a bit of a wild ride. I’m going to jot down a few of the nerdier lessons learned, on the off-chance someone else runs into the same problems and happens upon this post.

Exporting from WordPress

Exporting the WordPress data was easy. I just used the Ghost export plugin for WordPress. I first exported all comments to Disqus, and I didn’t worry about images, since I don’t have that many and I didn’t really care if they were lost. I guess there are ways to save the images as well, but I didn’t bother. One caveat that you might also run into: tag descriptions cannot be more that 200 characters, so trim these first or you’ll be editing JSON by hand.

Installing Ghost

I chose to download from GitHub, in case I wanted to make any changes. I made my own fork as well. Anyway, that was the easy part. Just make sure you follow the right instructions (there are extra steps if you download from GitHub, in a “contributing” section). Once I did that it was a piece of cake.

The only tricky thing was that all off the post dates were way off, so I had to adjust the dates by +7 hours. Otherwise, all of my permalinks were broken. But now BYU students can still find the MRH.

Apache Reverse Proxy

I run Apache, including a few other blogs and other tools in PHP, so I needed to figure out a way to forward all https traffic to Ghost. I tried using a socket. That was a mistake. Apache’s Unix domain socket support is questionable, and documentation is nonexistant. Save yourself the pain and just use TCP/HTTP forwarding. I set Apache to redirect any HTTP traffic to, so I just had to worry about the SSL/HTTPS forwarding. But be sure to add the following line to your Apache conf file, or you’ll end up with endless redirect loops:

RequestHeader add X-Forwarded-Proto https

I’m sure that there’s a variable for the “https” but since this is a *:433 virtual host, it didn’t matter.

Ok, I guess that wasn’t as hard as it needed to be. Honestly, I probably spent a good 1-2 hours trying to get the socket thing to work. And before that, I spent 5-6 hours setting up SSL between my webhost and home server’s MySQL servers, as well as resyncing the slave. That was trickier than it needed to be, mostly because it left out the important detail that the CN for the requests had to be different between the CA, server, and client certificates. But now that’s finally secure. That wasn’t even something I thought of, then I stumbled upon the settings and realized that everything between my master and slave was plaintext. Oh, and tip: setup the slave certs through the CHANGE MASTER TO MASTER_SSL_CA=… command and not through the my.cnf file.

Well, I’m done with the nerdy stuff for now. I’m really excited to start using Ghost. The only thing I’m not happy with is the lack of browser spell-check support. Other than that, I’m tickled pink with this new blogging platform. My new little laptop handles it better as well.

Why can’t it be more simple…

So I looked into using Discourse for comments. Another project using Ruby (on Rails). So that’s not my favorite idea.

I’ve started to think what I would most want from a blogging platform.  One thing I don’t really care about WordPress right now (any maybe it’s just this theme) is that my content seems to take a back seat to the sidebars and widgets. But this is the WordPress default theme of 2014. So…

So here’s my wishlist (in no particular order):

  1. Simple — I don’t need a lot of fluff.  I don’t need Facebook integration or anything like that.
  2. Lightweight — I need something that runs a little better on my new laptop. WordPress is feeling bloated.
  3. Comments — While I don’t get a lot of comments, I think blogs need comments. Comments with moderation.
  4. Minimal — I want a minimal theme, nice crisp font. Nothing flashy.
  5. Easy — Something that I can drop on a server and not have to run 5 different languages to get it going. Apache and PHP are easy, so WordPress does have an up here.

So Ghost is most of these things. I’m not sure how easy it is. I’m working a lot with JavaScript lately, so I could probably add anything I really wanted. Plus, it might prove to become an open source project that I could actually contribute to. There are no comments, but this might just have to be the way it is for a while. I’m not even sure anyone reads my blog anymore.

So that’s what I might be doing tomorrow: taking care of a sick wife and installing Ghost.

I just want to watch Clue…

Come on Netflix!  I know that when you say you’re stuck at 25% that it really means that you’re lying to me and that you’re at 0%.

Anyways, that’s not important.  But it does mean that I can focus on blogging.  I was hoping to do both, but this will have to do.  I’m testing my new 11.6″ laptop out on WordPress.  It’s not a very powerful machine, so I’ve already abandoned the visual editor. But it’s doing fine with the text editor. And I like Markdown anyway (actually, I prefer CommonMark–I’m not a fan of Gruber).

I’ve been using more and more open source tools at work. And it has peaked my interest in becoming involved in some open source communities and projects. I’ve thought about getting involved with WordPress, but it’s such a huge project. Plus, it feels like it’s getting bloated. And it’s probably overkill for my readership of one and the seldom that I write.

I started looking at Jekyll. It’s perfect, except it’s written in Ruby–I don’t like Ruby. Then I started looking at Octopress. Same problem, plus it doesn’t seem to be actively developed.

Then (just a few minutes ago), I stumbled upon Ghost…

And with just 5 minutes with their trial, I’m sold. I’ll be switching to Ghost in the near future. Ghost with Discourse for comments.