Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

Shortening my own URLs

OK, so here’s a dead-simple idea.  Shorten your own dang URLs instead of letting the URL-shorteners steal your Google-love.

Step 1 — get yourself an abbreviated version of your domain name.

This site is my old standby blog.  A dumping ground for all the ideas that can’t find a home on one of my other sites.  It used to have the domain-name but I lucked out and sold that name a few years ago so now it’s on the name.  Not bad, six letters, pretty short.  But shorter is better.  So I just ran off and got and loaded it on the server so it points to the same site as

Step 2 — load up the “non-WWW” version of your new shorter domain-name

Egad!  Another 4 letters wasted if you have to put that on your URL!  Make sure that your site answers to the shorter version as well as the “www.” version of your spiffy short domain name.

Step 3 — WordPress users — use the “ugly” version of your links

Here’s a great post from SheepTech that describes how your WordPress blog is already providing you with a darn short URL.  Click HERE to read his article.  In short, your WordPress blog creates a short “ugly” URL in addition to whatever “pretty” URL you’ve specified.  So you can save a bunch of characters by using that ugly URL.  The format looks like this (using the URL for this post);

That’s pretty darn short!  Way shorter than the “normal” URL for this post, which is;

It’s not quite as short as the URL-shorteners, but the nice thing is that it’s MINE.  🙂

Low Power FM program-distribution and station-control by Internet

I got going on an idea during coffee with Amalia Deloney yesterday.  She was saying the LPFM stations have a tough time filling the hours with programming and my thought was to replicate the old NFCB Tape Exchange using RSS feeds.  Here are some ideas to get people started.

Problem – Not enough programs to fill the day

Idea – Use podcasts (blogs with RSS feeds and audio programs) to aggregate content from a federation of LPFM stations.  Garrick Van Buren built a great gizmo to do this and you can see an example of his system at PodcastMN.  I’m sure Garrick would be happy to help with this.

Problem – Not enough volunteer hours to do the “program director” function for a single station

Idea – Share a program director between a federation of like-minded LPFM stations.  Let the person be the aggregator of multiple feeds similar to the one Garrick does, and then create a feed that drives the daily programs on multiple stations.  The stations could subscribe to this “network feed” and break away whenever they want to do local programming.

Problem – Not enough volunteer hours to operate a single LPFM station

Idea – This gets a little geeky, more for you engineer types.  What about using multiple RSS feeds as the command and control network to operation the stations?  Each station would generate an RSS feed of what it’s doing (playing a file, changing transmitter settings, losing/regaining Internet connectivity, temperature sensing, etc. etc.) and those RSS feeds are monitored by a centralized C&C system that sends station-commands down one RSS feed per station.  Monitor the RSS feeds pretty often (once a minute?) for granularity.  One could use this for both program control and technical control of the station.

Problem – The station isn’t on the Internet

Idea – Use the podcast program-distribution network anyway, but burn the programs to CD and carry them to the station.  What the heck, we used to do this with audio tapes sent through the mail.  This would still provide a really good, cheap source of programming for the federated stations even if they weren’t on the ‘net.

Problem – The station goes off the Internet (thus going out of control)

Idea – Lots of ham remote-control their transmitters (including me).  Many of us have built configurations that poll the Internet and, if the station loses Internet connectivity for some period of time, shuts itself down.  Here’s a link to my configuration, you could use this as a model.  And here’s a link to the remote-controlled power switch that actually monitors the ‘net and shuts the station down if the station goes offline.

Problem – LPFM station doesn’t have any money

Idea – The only thing in this page that costs money is that little switch.  The rest of this stuff you can do for free.

… Just a thought…


More life-hacking.  Here’s a cool concept — from Japan.  Keep track of little everyday things that make life easier.  Click HERE for an article to get you started (a link to a great book is at the bottom of the article).

This book saved my camera a couple days ago.  I dropped it in the snow, the camera was warm so the snow started melting before i could brush it off, the result was a really wet digital camera.  The Urawaza trick was to dump the camera in a bowl of uncooked rice (which acts like those little dry-out packets that are included in lots of electronics).  After a few hours in the rice, the camera emerged dry as a bone and works perfectly.

Ear plugs!

Ok, this is a life-hacking post.  Mick Souder changed my life.  Maybe I’ll change yours with this post.

I haven’t slept well for years.  I have ears that will pick up a gnat sneezing from a half a mile away, so I hear all the little night sounds.  Furnaces, water softeners, dew dripping through downspouts, trains, trucks, etc. etc.

All those little sounds wake me up, and once awake I start “processing” stuff…

Mick gave me some earplugs about a year ago when we dropped by his place in Durango and I forgot about them (I was sick at the time and didn’t feel like trying them right away).  I finally got around to trying them on our recent RV trip when we were parked close to a freeway.

ASTOUNDING!  Complete silence.  I slept through the night for the first time in 25 years.  I’ve been using them ever since with the same result.  I sleep like a teenager.  I notice a huge difference in my energy level, my frame of mind, etc. etc.

These gizmos can be yours for about 15 cents a pair — a box of 200 pairs cost me about $30 at Northern Tool.  I like the Classic flavor (the kind Mick gave me).

Click HERE to look at ’em.

Lots of new O’Connor blogs

Not many blog posts on Haven2 these days, but that doesn’t mean we O’Connors have gone silent.  We’re just posting in other places… — I blog about the experience of being the at-large appointed urban-consumer representative to the Minnesota Ultra High Speed Broadband Task Force. — Marcie’s new blog about bug stuff. — Marcie’s even newer blog about raising bugs — Richard’s blog (coauthored with his friend Phil) about their upcoming trip down the Mississippi by canoe — Robert’s new blog about whatever catches his fancy.

Good Financial Advice — from Sequoia Capital

Somebody over at Sequoia Capital wrote up a pretty compelling (and dismal) set of slides for their member-company CEO’s.  CLICK HERE to view the presentation.

It’s pretty good advice for the rest of us — whether we’re entrepreneurs or just regular folks.

The summary?  This is going to be a different kind of downturn — longer, harder, tighter.  Get out of debt, spend every dollar like it was your last and be careful.  Sobering stuff from smart people.

Sarah Palin — this is the bio of our next VP??

The governor’s site at the State of Alaska is kinda punky today, what with Sarah getting the nod to be McCain’s VP choice.  I finally wriggled in and scooped off this “bio” information.

I can’t imagine the kind of trouble we’re going to be in if McCain keels over and Sarah winds up being President.

And this is the woman that is supposed to attract Hillary fans???  This woman is put up as the alternative to Hillary, the Wellesley grad, Yale law grad, national board-member, former first lady, champion of women’s rights, champion of health-care reform, 2-term Senator from New York???

CLICK HERE to see Craig Fergeson’s piece about Sarah in which she dubs him an honorary citizen of the state.

CLICK HERE for a great blog post by an Alaskan.  Not pretty.

Sorry about the political post.  I couldn’t help myself…  Here’s Sarah’s bio from the Alaska site.

About the Governor

Governor Sarah Palin made history on Dec. 4, 2006, when she took office. As the 11th governor of Alaska, she is the first woman to hold the office.

Since taking office, her top priorities have been resource development, education and workforce development, public health and safety, and transportation and infrastructure development.

Under her leadership, Alaska invested $5 billion in state savings, overhauled education funding, and implemented the Senior Benefits Program that provides support for low-income older Alaskans. She created Alaska’s Petroleum Systems Integrity Office to provide oversight and maintenance of oil and gas equipment, facilities and infrastructure, and the Climate Change Subcabinet to prepare a climate change strategy for Alaska.

During her first legislative session, Governor Palin’s administration passed two major pieces of legislation an overhaul of the state’s ethics laws and a competitive process to construct a gas pipeline.

Governor Palin is chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, a multi-state government agency that promotes the conservation and efficient recovery of domestic oil and natural gas resources while protecting health, safety and the environment. She was recently named chair of the National Governors Association (NGA) Natural Resources Committee, which is charged with pursuing legislation to ensure state needs are considered as federal policy is formulated in the areas of agriculture, energy, environmental protection and natural resource management. Prior to being named to this position, she served as co-chair of this committee.

Prior to her election as governor, Palin served two terms on the Wasilla City Council and two terms as the mayor/manager of Wasilla. During her tenure, she reduced property tax levels while increasing services and made Wasilla a business friendly environment, drawing in new industry.

She has served as chair of the Alaska Conservation Commission, which regulates Alaska’s most valuable non-renewable resources: oil and gas. She was elected by her peers to serve as president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors. In this role, she worked with local, state and federal officials to promote solutions to the needs of Alaska’s communities.

Sarah Heath Palin arrived in Alaska with her family in 1964, when her parents came to teach school in Skagway. She received a bachelor of science degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho in 1987. Palin, who graduated from Wasilla High School in 1982, has lived in Skagway, Eagle River and Wasilla.

She is married to Todd Palin, who is a lifelong Alaskan, a production operator on the North Slope and a four-time champion of the Iron Dog, the world’s longest snowmachine race.

Through Todd’s Yup’ik grandmother, Alaska’s Native heritage plays an important role in their family. Track enlisted in the U.S. Army on Sept. 11, 2007.

Prior to taking office, Palin served on numerous boards and commissions throughout the state. She was active in her family’s pursuits including serving as a sports team mom and school volunteer. She also runs marathons.

Palin is a lifetime member of the NRA and enjoys hunting, fishing, Alaska history, and all that Alaska’s great outdoors has to offer.

A great blog

Dang I like Guy Kawasaki’s blog. I keep sending snippets from it to people. And I keep finding myself muttering to myself “dang! I’ve said those exact words myself. Why didn’t I think to blog that.” Here’s the link to his Let The Good Times Roll blog.

Business types will like it. Non-business types, you might too — Guy’s a bit more well-rounded in his approach than the typical heads-down business blogger.

Cheap nordic walking poles

Marcie and I are big-time walkers. We do 2 walks a day, 2.5 miles each time — 5 miles a day, 150 miles/month, probably around 1700-1800 miles a year. We run through a lot of walking shoes.

The new addition to our routine is walking with poles — aka “Nordic Walking” — which seems pretty nifty. It helps us old geezers navigate icy sidewalks in the winter and gives us a little bit better workout. Here’s a pretty good writeup of the whole Nordic Walking thing if you’re interested.

But oh my, those poles they’re using are darned expensive — ranging from $60 to $200+ per pair. My “cheap is good” instincts were aroused and we decided to make our own. Heading over to the used cross-country ski-pole place, we bagged some nice bamboo poles for a big $6 a pair. Heading over to REI, Marcie got replacement tips for walking poles for $9 a pair. So we’re talking $15/pair for stuff.

The making is easy. You need to know how long to make the poles. I came across a formula (somewhere, can’t find the link) that says that the length of the pole should be about 70% of your height. I used a hack saw to cut off the poles (sometimes there are metal gizmo’s in the middle of those used poles — those would be tough on a wood saw). A little detergent applied to the “replacement” rubber tips to slip them on to the bamboo pole and we’re good to go.

Yeah yeah, I know — these poles don’t have shock absorbent neutrino power subsystems with articulated carbon fiber folding landing gear modules. But they work fine for us.