Fold-out circular table

This is a series of pictures of our dining-room table.  The cool thing about it is how it folds out — so most of the time it’s a modest little table that four people can sit around.  But folded out, we’ve crammed twelve people around it.  Also great for poker.  This series of pictures shows how it’s put together.

Here’s the table, in it’s 4-person folded-up configuration.

Continue reading “Fold-out circular table”

Broadband connection improvements — avoiding DNS-interception and “buffer bloat”

This whole saga started when I read an Ars-Technica article called “Small ISPs use “malicious” DNS servers to watch web searches, earn cash.”  Here’s the lede that got my attention:

Nearly 2 percent of all US Internet users suffer from “malicious” domain name system (DNS) servers that don’t properly turn website names like into the IP addresses computers need to communicate on the ‘Net. And, to make matters worse, the problem isn’t caused by hackers or malware, but by the local ISPs people pay for access to the Internet.

Continue reading “Broadband connection improvements — avoiding DNS-interception and “buffer bloat””

WordPress gallery can’t save or link to external URLs

UPDATE:  Several years have passed and this problem still exists.  However now there is a nice simple plugin that fixes it.  It’s called WP Gallery Custom Links.  It’s working for me.  Hopefully it will for you too.  I updated the first of the three images in my broken example gallery to an external URL as a test.

Sorry about this lame-o post right in the middle of my blog, but this is a bug that’s best documented with a post so’s the WordPress folks can see what’s going on.

I’m running the current version of WordPress here (3.1.3 as of this writing) Continue reading “WordPress gallery can’t save or link to external URLs”

Panorama shots of the farm

Here’s a series of Morning Walk panorama shots — a nice perspective on the farm.  I have a new camera that has this cool setting where it takes 100 pictures as you swish it across a wide scene and then immediately stitches them together for you.   Not technically-better pictures.  But really neat pictures…  Click on the thumbnails so you can see the big versions.

Continue reading “Panorama shots of the farm”

Broadband Taskforce — Our bill passed, signed by the Governor!


Ooops.  The law hasn’t passed yet — I misunderstood Rick’s letter…  Here’s the salient quote (down near the bottom)

pass the law (well, getting closer anyway – should be next week!)

Sorry about that.  I’ll leave the original stupid/mistaken post here, but you can ignore it.  On the bright side, I’m hoping for the opportunity to write another “Woohoo” post if the bill does pass.

Sorry about that…



Woohoo!  We did it! Continue reading “Broadband Taskforce — Our bill passed, signed by the Governor!”

Wood glue — the way to really clean old vinyl records

ah…  The taxes are done, with hardly any damage to the checkbook.  This is the goody I found when I took a little tour of teh Internets as a reward for a job well done…

Click HERE to read a great post (and discover a great blog) about getting rid of surface noise using wood glue of all things.  And then click HERE to get the latest and greatest — ‘turns out that thread generated a LOT of discussion.

The key deal — the kind of wood glue makes a big difference.  The gang on that blog tend to think that Titebond Extend is the bees knees.  I may have to try this out.  The results are pretty darn spectacular.

Some thoughtful posts about ICANN Nairobi…

… that really do a good job of summarizing the security situation and the dilemmas it poses.

Leading off with Michele Neylon’s post which explains his reasons for skipping this meeting and the need for thoughtful discussion (comments are really good on all these posts by the way)

Maria Farrel posts a very balanced/detailed note about the situation here (Rod Beckstrom, ICANN CEO, posted in the comments)

Kieren McCarthy (until recently the ICANN staff person responsible for remote participation) posted a followup here — which really does a great job of turning lemons into lemonade in my view by saying that this may be the event that really pushes the remote-participation capability to new levels

Nick Ashton-Hart (current ICANN staff person in charge of remote participation) posted this in the comments to Michele’s post;

“Thanks Michele for your thoughtful and balanced post. I, too, would like to echo the call that people respect each other’s choices about attending or not attending the meeting. I think that characterising the choices of others in negative terms doesn’t really benefit anyone.

We are working very hard internally on remote participation for this meeting; I’m the overall coordinator of the effort. I think everyone will find that things RP-related at Nairobi take quite a leap forward from previous meetings.

You will find that when the schedule is posted on the 15th, detailed information on remote participation for all sessions is published along with the session information. More details will follow shortly thereafter too.”

I’m still on the fence — read those posts for the reasons why I’m still leaning towards going.  But we’ll see…

Bafflegab, the word of the day

Ah bafflegab. A word steeped in tradition. This word was invented in the early ’50’s by a fella named Milton A. Smith — who received an award for inventing it. At the awards ceremony, he was asked to define it. here’s his response;

“Multiloquence characterized by consummate interfusion of circumlocution or periphrasis, inscrutability, and other familiar manifestations of abstruse expatiation commonly utilized for promulgations implementing Procrustean determinations by governmental bodies.”

You can read the whole article i stole this from here —

Upgrading WordPress with a really old MySQL database

I know.  I should have upgraded MySQL long ago.  But I didn’t realize how easy it was, so I put it off until… now.   The latest version of WordPress (WordPress 2.9) doesn’t work on really old versions of MySQL like my ancient 4.0.27.  Further complicating things is the need to cut blogs and sites over one at a time so’s to be a little prudent about all this.  “Big bang” upgrades seems to result in just that for me — a big bang and then lots of screaming.

I figured out a pretty tidy way to do this, with tips from Garrick VanBuren and Natn Johnston.  Rather than go into lots of detail about what didn’t work, here’s what did work.  This little recipe is mostly for me, since I’m not going to do all these at once and I’ll likely forget some critical bits if I don’t write them down.

Ingredient 1 — multiple instances on MySQL on the same box

This way, I can move the sites over one at a time rather than crashing them over all at once (and most likely breaking things)

  • Download the non-installer distribution of mySQL 5.1
  • Unzip it into a new directory
  • Set up the “my.ini” or “my.cnf” file (depending on whether you have a Windows server or a non-Windows server) to point at a new port — I used 3307,  one larger than the standard 3306 that’s the mySQL default
  • run the new instance from the command line (paying special attention to specifying the correct ini/cnf file) until things are running right.  Here’s an example for the command-line;
    • in-the-new-mysql-bin-directory> mysqld --defaults-file="c:\program files\mysql\mysql server 5.1\my.ini" --console
  • Get yer daemon running — on Windows that means setting it up as a service, again making sure to point at the port-3307 version of the ini/cnf file

Ingredient 2 — loading up the new version of the database

  • Create a new empty database (in the new instance of mySQL) with the same name as your existing blog’s database, let’s call it “YourBlogDatabase” in this writup — I did this with MySQL Control Panel but there are lots of ways to do this, including the command line
  • Create a new user (again, with the same username and password as your existing blog, eg YourSQLPassword and YourSQLUserName), also in the new instance of mySQL
  • Dump the existing database (from your old instance of mySQL) — use mysqldump from the command line of the /bin/ directory of the old instance to do this.  Here’s an example;
    • in the old-mysql/bin directory> mysqldump -uYourMySQLUserName -pYourMySQLPassword YourBlogDatabase > YourBlogDatabaseDumpFile.sql
    • Note — the username and password syntax is purposely without spaces
    • Note — pay attention to directories and paths here.  I did all this from the command line and moving between the /bin/ directory of the mySQL instances.  I didn’t set up path variables because I wanted to be very sure of which versions of programs I was using at any given time.
  • Reload the blog database (in the new instance of mySQL) — shift back to the new mySQL’s /bin/ directory so you’re sure to be using the right version of the command.  Here’s an example;
    • in the new-mysql/bin directory> mysql -uYourMySQLUserName -pYourMySQLPassword YourBlogDatabase < YourBlogDatabaseDumpFile.sql
    • Note — really use the mysql command here, not mysqldump.
    • Note — I found that sometimes I had to specify the port to get this to work right.   “–port=3307” on the end of the command did the trick
    • Note — be prepared to wait for a little while for this to complete if your database is big.  I’m in hour 5 of a big reload as I type this.
    • Note — if you’re nervous and want to monitor progress, use MySQL Control Panel to watch the tables grow by disconnecting and reconnecting to the database in the control panel and opening up the tables.  See?  They’re getting bigger.  All is well, you just have to wait.

Ingredient 3 — new WordPress Code and new wp-config.php file

After all, this is an upgrade, right?  I was extra-conservative this time through.  Normally, I just dump the new WordPress files right on top of the old ones and it all works fine.  This time, I made backup copies of the directories just in case things needed to be rolled back.  Here are the steps I went through.

  • Make a copy of the blog/Wordpress directory and files
  • Copy the new WordPress 2.9 files on top of the existing directory (not the backup)
  • Replace the old leftover wp-config.php file with a newly created one that’s got all the same info as your old one except:
    • Change the hostname to point at the port of the new mySQL server — here’s an example where I’m pointing at port 3307;
    • define('DB_HOST', 'localhost:3307');
    • Comment out the ‘DB_CHARSET’ line — that avoids the “funny characters in my blog” problem that sometimes arises during this process.  Here’s how it looks if you comment it out (alternatively, you could just delete it);
    • /* define('DB_CHARSET', 'utf8'); */

Try it out!

After all, what could go wrong??   Go to the wp-admin page of your blog.  If things are according to plan, WordPress will want to upgrade the database.  Once that’s done, things should be working normally, except you’re on the new version of WordPress.

What if it breaks?

Oh well, so who’s perfect.  Replace the new WordPress files directory with your old files (I’d rename both directories — so you’ve still got new stuff to play with, but your blog’s running again).  With your old files back in place, your old blog should reappear since it’s now using the old files and the old wp-config file is pointing at the old database.  Then, sit down and figure out what went wrong.

Texas Danny Hanson and the Rootin’ Tootin’ Roofin’ Gang

An aggregate picture of social media

Click HERE for a graphic developed by Brian Solis and JESS3 called “The Conversation  — the art of listening, learning and sharing.”  Sorry guys, I’m not trying to steal your Google love, it’s just that all the places I found your picture made it so small I couldn’t read it.

This is a great 2009 snapshot of a bunch of different platforms that are out there to conduct that Conversation.  It’ll be interesting to check back in a few years and see how the landscape has changed.