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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Thu, 12 Jul 2018

Social-style entries generated by my BlogPoster script are now going directly to the Updates site

I've been meaning to make this switch for awhile, and today I switched things around in my BlogPoster script so that the social-media-style entries I generate with it are now going directly to my Updates site.

So the message you currently see at the top of this site is not entirely accurate anymore. I will keep it there for now while the changes to the script are still young, but from here forward, My shortish entries that are generally mirrored on Twitter will not appear here, even temporarily.

When I change the message above, I will probably put some kind of link or navigation that allows readers to toggle between the main blog and the updates site.

I have been working on a new version of the BlogPoster script, but it's been slow going, so I might try to separate the configuration information and put it in a separate file so I can publish the current script, more or less, on GitHub. That's the main problem -- I'm developing using a version of the live script that I am actually using, so it's hard to avoid committing logins and passwords to git. Once I have them separated out, I can create a sample configuration file and let the script create the "live" version of same on the first run.

It's funny. Now that I have the program that I intended to write (with the exception being that it's a command-line utility and not a GUI application ... yet), I spend a lot more time using it than I do hacking on it. I need to tip things in the other direction.

Sat, 29 Apr 2017

Is this blog for you or me?

I'm not trying to make money with this blog, and it hasn't happened despite my lack of interest in same. I don't have Google Analytics (or Piwik) counting the traffic. Every once in a while I look at the AWstats data from my web host, but not too often.

I write about the things I'm doing. It's mostly about technology, though for the longest time I've meant to write about other things.

If you want to read this site, it's for you. Otherwise, it's just for me.

Tue, 28 Feb 2017

I still have blogs littered all over the place

I wrote into two blogs that I rarely think about:

Gathering up all of my blog entries from everywhere and putting them under one site has always been in the back of my mind. I have taken steps to do this, especially grabbing entries from WordPress sites en masse, but I have yet to write and deploy the scripts that fixes the metadata and image links to really make it happen.

My "old" WordPress blog is pretty deep in terms of content. It was active from 2005 through 2009ish. Combine that with my Daily News-hosted tech blog, active from 2006 through 2011 (with a smattering since then) and my other Daily News-hosted personal blog, active from 2006 to maybe 2009 with a trickle since then, you have a lot of blog posts.

Even though I wrote three WordPress posts today, I'm still a lot more interested in writing for the blogs that use "flat" files like this Ode system or my new, experimental Hugo site.

If and when I do get the ability to take the output from WordPress data dumps and turn it into text and image files that can work in flat-file blogging systems, then I'll have a huge archive of everything, however dubious it may be.

Thu, 02 Feb 2017

At jury duty, and boy are my arms tired

It's been years since my last call for jury duty, and I find myself once again in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.

Except last time they sprung me by noon. And today I'm still here at 3:30 p.m. I didn't get called for any panels, and I suspect there won't be any more need for jurors today. Yet I am still here.

I took the Metro Orange Line to the Red Line to get here, and I was surprised (though I shouldn't have been) to see the refurbished Pacific Electric Train Depot at the end of the Orange Line open and serving Groundwork Coffee. Love that coffee. I smell a bike ride down the Orange Line in my future.

This was also my first time taking the fancy new underground pathway (you can call it a tunnel) on Lankershim Boulevard from the Orange Line terminus straight into the North Hollywood Red Line Station. That is slick, and I'll thank all the politicos who helped make it happen, including Rep. Brad Sherman, City Councilman Paul Krekorian and anybody else I missed. This is the kind of thing the San Fernando Valley needs, and I'm glad it now has it.

During the long lunch break they give us chickens jurors, I walked around a bit. I haven't cracked the code for this part of downtown (Music Center and Civic Center). Grand Park is nice but smaller than you think it is. Other than all the Music Center and Civic Center buildings, there's nothing here. I passed by the Colburn School and saw a sole classical-music student making her way into the building.

If you're looking for something other than huge buildings, I guess you have to truck it to Little Tokyo in one direction or Chinatown in the other.

Gadget-wise, I didn't bring my laptop, just the tablet and wireless keyboard and mouse. I can't use all three at once because there are few table- or desk-like surfaces here. Just my actual lap and a book I brought that is serving as a small table for the keyboard while I balance the tablet with its built-in magnetic stand on my knees. Weak as shit. Whatever.

I got through a few hundred Disqus comments from my day job, deleted a couple of months' worth of personal e-mail clutter and checked in with the news via Google and Twitter (Trump, Trump travel ban, Uber guy says no to Trump, Snap as in Chat gets ready to IPO, Facebook's Zuck is either clueless or crafty, Trump, Trump), and then got the keyboard out to write a bit.

A few months ago, I did a whole setup on this tablet to use my day job's CMS -- the awful Saxo Mediaware Center via Citrix -- but I soured on it like I've rarely soured before when I realized that putting Citrix in the background, as one does with everything in Android all the time, results in my losing the connect to the app's Citrix-connected server. Call it a nonstarter. I'm slated to say goodbye to Saxo and Citrix in a few months, and it couldn't be too soon.

Meanwhile, Jury Duty Lady, let us go home!!!

Update: 3:40 p.m. It's over. I'm done with jury duty for 2017.

A couple of observations: All buses and trains I was on were crowded, so Metro seems to be doing more than fine ridership-wise. And I don't recall seeing any law enforcement presence at all on either line, whereas in the past the Metro system could be thick with deputies. Might be a byproduct of Metro's wish to either scale back or end its contract with the sheriff's department. Or not ...

Wed, 05 Oct 2016

I bring the Blogger version of The CTRL Freak to Ode, plus a tally of what's left to move

It's low-hanging-fruit day. In my quest to archive all of my old blogs here in Ode, where I have everything on my server and in filesystem-level backups, I'm aiming to bring all of my "old" (and just plain old) blogs into this file-based Ode system that I host myself.

Today I did The CTRL Freak -- the Blogger version (there's also a WordPress version, the blog itself tells me).

It was only eight entries, I left at least one behind (because all it did was point to another blog entry), and there were no images. That made it a quick conversion, hence the low-hanging-fruit analogy.

I'm starting to get pre-2011 entries on this site. I'll expand the date links on the right when I get more vintage content on the site.

Here is what I have on Blogger:

2,000 Days in the Valley
142 posts to do

This Old Mac
61 posts to do

This Old PC
40 posts to do

My jazz guitar journey
48 posts to do

The CTRL freak
9 posts done

The status of my WordPress.com blogs is more complicated because there are backups in there from my company-owned WordPress.org sites as well as the Blogger sites mentioned above.

The WordPress.com sites are:

Steven Rosenberg
378 posts

Takectrl's Weblog (I think this is an old Click backup)
1,149 posts

The CTRL freak (WordPress version with maybe a few more entries)
27 posts

I also have:

Master and Server, which is a WordPress.org site on the devio.us OpenBSD server. It only has a few entries.
20 posts

And then there are my two big Daily News blogs that started their lives on Movable Type and which were converted to WordPress.org:

Click
1,950 posts

Come on Feel the Nuys
367 posts

Clearly these last two are going to either take a Herculean effort or some kind of scripting magic from me. I used to have access to the server and could grab the images in bulk, but I don't think I can do that any more. The hard parts of these kinds of "automatic" conversions are the internal links (WordPress uses absolute links, which are good for SEO but bad for portability) and images (and their URLs, also absolute links).

Today's mood (or mode): I could be programming, but I'm moving blog entries around instead ...

Tue, 04 Oct 2016

Blogging over the years: bringing it all together

After I started using self-hosted blogging software that wasn't WordPress in February 2011, I began with FlatPress and continued using it through October until I discovered and settled on Ode as the blogging software that best fit how I wanted to run my personal site.

As I write this post, it occurs to me that I've been running Ode just about five years.

It was always my intention to bring all of my past blog posts from Flatpress, WordPress and even Blogger to a single platform. I moved most of my Flatpress posts over some time ago but there were about a dozen or so entries from the early Flatpress months that never made it over. Over the past day and a half, I moved those entries into this Ode site.

I guess that means I can shut down the Flatpress site.

Migrating blog posts is hard. There's the formatting, the file naming (and organizing) and the images. There are ways of doing it automatically, and I might explore scripting the rest of it. But I'll probably just chip away at it manually, starting with my Blogger sites.

That's if I do it at all. The idea of having all of my blog entries in this Ode site, which means I'll have them in a local filesystem, too, is something I would like to do, but it is a lot of work.

Fri, 18 Dec 2015

Personality type: I'm an INTP

Every take one of those personality-type tests?

I did. Turns out I'm an INTP:

INTPs are independent, reserved, and live in a world of ideas. They can work well on a team but prefer to work alone in sporadic bursts of energy.

Although private, INTPs can at times seem totally outspoken because of their directness of communication and economy of words.

Other people may assume that INTPs say very little, but this is only when there is nothing to say. The general chitchat of social life is not for them.

They prefer to speak only about areas that interest them, things they consider important.
Thu, 17 Dec 2015

Blogging without Internet is easy when you're just writing text files

I'm in one of more than a few places I've been in recent days with my laptop but no Internet connectivity.

I can write an Ode entry with no problems. This would be just as true for the many static blog engines that are if not all then at least some of the rage among the more geeky bloggers out there.

Like I'm doing write now, all I have to do is use my favorite (or any available) text editor, write into a file and upload it to the server later.

And in my case, I have helper applications (chiefly Unison) and short scripts that make those uploads virtually automatic when I do.

Thu, 12 Nov 2015

Me and Unix and the '80s

That's me on an ADM-3A terminal at UC Santa Cruz some time in the late '80s. I'm using whatever version of Unix the university had at the time. I can see from the screen that I'm running the talk program with one of my friends on UCSC's Unix B system.

Unlike the other Unix machines (all named with various letters), Unix B was open to anybody who wanted to start an account.

With the help of a photocopied manual called "Unix for Luddites,"available for a couple bucks at the campus' Bay Tree Bookstore, you could learn vi for writing, nroff for formatting and a smattering of shell commands to get your papers printed on a mysterious, before-its-time laser printer somewhere deep in the campus computer center. Your work would eventually end up in cubby holes for later pickup.

While the ADM-3A was the coolest, most retro-looking terminal, even back then you were a little lucky if a DEC VT100 (or similar) was available. Its screen was green and clearer, its keyboard less mushy.

You were really lucky if one of the even-newer Wyse (unsure of model numbers) terminals was in your college's computer room (or the college next to yours; though a Porter student, I gravitated toward Kresge's much better computer lab/room). The Wyse terminals had amber screens that were even clearer than those of the DECs and (more importantly) featured nice, clicky keyboards.

But for sheer design, the ADM-3A was (and is) a classic.

Sat, 26 Jul 2014

Working Saturday, sweating it out

So I'm working Saturday. At the office. I'm the only one here. And since it's Saturday, there is no air conditioning until 10 a.m.

I'm trapped in a large glass bottle of stale, hot air.

Update: It's 10:01. The air just kicked on. Half of any good employer-employee relationship involves free air-conditioning.