Too much silence

October was a very busy month for me. It started out in Seattle at the Helix Summit at RealNetworks, moved immediately to the GNOME summit in Boston, and ended with the Mono Summit, also in Boston. I’ve so far only spent 6 nights at my apartment in Raleigh this month.

During all that time, I think I managed to [rather quietly] make two or three Banshee releases.

I’ve got a month of blogging to catch up on, and have a massive post/update on Banshee in the works (and has been for some time, so please forgive me). It’ll be full of goodies, so keep an eye out for it in the next day or so.

Spring Cleaning

Lately I had been noticing that my Linode was really slow. I’ve got a fairly decenty setup with 180MB dedicated RAM, but SpamAssassain was making it crawl. Half of my swap was taken up almost immediately on boot. To keep more vital services up, I had taken Postfix down for a few days, so if you sent me any mail to an aaronbock.net/abock.org account, I probably missed it.

Running tail -f /var/log/syslog showed that I was getting hit about 15 times a second from some .ru spammer. I took this as an opportunity to just start over with the linode as it had been untouched in about a year. I noticed that Linode now has a 2.6.16 kernel with TLS support (finally), so I decided to try Hula for mail this time as I am really tired of dealing with Postfix and I hadn’t played with Hula in about 8 months.

All services are back online now, including Banshee SVN, various web sites, and mail. I am running Debian 3.1 (same as last time) with Apache2, MySQL 5, PHP 5.1, and Hula. I was very surprised to see WordPress work with MySQL 5 with only very minimal tweaking. Also, for the first time I decided to just use the Debian unstable packages for everything except Hula and WordPress, and I am very impressed. For the past 4-5 years I had always built my server services stack, but really don’t have time to maintain that anymore.

In the process of all this, I gained about 3GB of disk back by moving things around and merging various disk images, so life should be a little easier. I had been living with about 50MB of free disk for the past 6 months. It was not fun.

And for those who may be considering switching to MySQL 5 with a WordPress 2.0 install, be sure to execute these SQL queries against your migrated WP database:

ALTER TABLE wp_posts MODIFY post_content_filtered TEXT NULL;
ALTER TABLE wp_posts MODIFY pinged TEXT NULL;
ALTER TABLE wp_posts MODIFY to_ping TEXT NULL;

Anyway, Hula is rocking hard. I am a fan. Evolution 2.6 also works great with its integrated Hula client, but I am guessing that it just uses Hula IMAP for mail. Not sure what else this does yet, but I am eager to find out. When I have some more spare time I will get Mono back on the box and play with CalDAV. Wooo.

I should be a stunt-car driver

I was on my way to get some lunch today, doing about 40 MPH in the jeep down a slight hill around a reasonably tight curve, over a small bridge that goes over the lake that is near by the house – completely normal, I do this a few times a day. The road was wet too. All of a sudden, the transmission kicks, and then completely locks up in park. Keep in mind the conditions. There are also cars coming over the bridge in the opposite direction.

So with the transmission locked, the engine shuts off, and I press the breaks, hoping to maybe take some stress off the transmission and stop faster and safer. Meanwhile I’m spinning the wheel in various directions very rapidly, and while there was lots of skidding and swerving, I managed to keep the jeep mostly in my lane without hitting the bridge rail or oncoming traffic. I’m soooo glad there was no one behind me, especially considering in this area people most of the time will tailgate you.

At a stop, at the end of the bridge, smoke is still coming from the rear tires, the “gear shift” is still stuck in drive, yet the transmission is locked in park, and the engine is off. This means the engine will refuse to start. I managed to rock the jeep a bit and was able to put the shifter back into park and start the engine, and drive out of the way.

The Jeep: about a year ago

Tomorrow it seems the jeep will be in the hospital. Maybe I’ll just drive it off a parking garage and watch the pretty flames. That’d be cool.

New Blog, New Site

I’ve been wanting to re-do my entire web site for quite a few months now, but just haven’t had the time. To complicate things, my server runs PHP 5 and MySQL 4.1, which used to be a requirement for me to host and develop web apps for clients. I’m not strictly tethered to either now, but don’t wish to put any effort into regressing my platform. I just don’t see the point. The reason it complicated things is because it left a slim-to-nil selection of applications to run, as most things PHP don’t support the MySQLi layer in PHP 5. So the basic option left was to rewrite or continue using my custom content system, which has worked very well for years, but has recently left me wanting to add features.

Enter Jaws. Wow. While still under heavy development, it is very promising and has a very bright future. Move over WordPress. It wins in my book simply because HEAD supports MySQLi, which means I can use my existing database server. But what I’m really impressed with is the quality of their code. They are taking advantage of the pretty decent new object model in PHP 5, and they handle their development like a real application, with version control and all, which is fairly uncommon (though I’m a bit out of the loop) with PHP applications.

So in just a couple of hours I wrote a script to port all the entries from database tables in my old content system to Jaws, and have added some links, etc, and set a cute little simple theme. Their template system is pretty nice too, so I need to finish my new design at some point, because I hate themes I didn’t create.

Since I already migrated my old blog, I felt the need to just start using Jaws for new entries. I guess over the next few weeks I’ll be moving non-blog content from the old site to this one, and get that new theme up and running.

So bottom line: I highly recommend taking a look at Jaws!

Major Server Updates

I have moved everything to a brand new UML-based server! I am also in the process of updating some major components of the web site. Returning visitors should notice a new layout. If you are unable to access a page, or if something seems out of place or broken, just check back in a day or so. Exciting times! I’ll have more news to post in the next few days.

Back to Business

My trip to Santa Barbara concluded yesterday as I arrived back in Raleigh at about 5 in the evening. The first flight, from Santa Barbara to Dallas was pleasant. It allowed me to get about an hour of sleep. From Dallas to Raleigh however was atrocious. It seems commonplace: I was sitting next to a loudly vocal toddler, who was also enjoying crawling on me. In the row behind me, there were three more babies/toddlers, all of whom were equally vocal, and came with the added bonus of the wonderful ability to kick my seat. The parents were obviously oblivious to their childrens’ actions, or maybe they thought it was cute.

I’ve noticed something odd. Since I started carrying my cell phone in that convenient little “change” pocket above/inside the normal front right pocket on most jeans, and having the phone vibrate before ringing, the muscle located right below where the phone sits spasms mildly at random times… and the phone isn’t vibrating. Very odd indeed.

I must get back to work – back into the flow of things, and catch up with life on the home front. I look forward to returning to Santa Barbara when the weather is better. 90% of the two weeks was spent indoors due to the massive rainfall, which lead to mild flooding and some mud slides. Oh well.

Remixing Life

After spending 24 hours in the air or in an airport, I finally arrived in Santa Barbara, California on Tuesday morning. I flew out of Raleigh (NC) at 3:30 to Chicago. My flight was delayed in Chicago by an hour. I arrived in Los Angeles at the same time my flight from LA departed for Santa Barbara. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy. We sat on the tarmack for another 15 minutes. I checked in with American Airlines (AA) support/ticketing center at LAX. They were great. I had already been automatically rebooked on the first flight to SBA for the next morning (my original flight to SBA Monday night was the last one for that evening). AA gave me a hotel reservation for the LAX Marriott along with two meal vouchers! It was a painless process to get to my free room and then back to LAX the next morning. So, as of Tuesday morning, I’ve been having fun in California.

I haven’t yet managed to purchase a new laptop. I’m torn between three models. A Sharp Actius MM20, some ultra-mobile Sony Vaio, and… gulp… an Apple PowerBook (12″). I’m currently on a iBook G3, using OS X 10.3. I love it. There’s so much innovation in this operating system. I’m just not totally comfortable using it. Though it’s smooth and beautiful, it really does feel “closed” (as in source code). I’m installing XTools from Apple, which apparently include gcc and other open-source tools. If I do get a PowerBook, I’ll be putting a PPC Linux distro on it.

I think I like OS X so much because I see basically what’s coming to GNOME, and what I’d love to one day contribute. For example… I’d love to write Sherlock for GNOME.

I’ve also been enjoying playing with iTunes. This inspires me because I am in the middle of writing an ultra-powerful Music playback/library program for GNOME. iTunes has some of the features that I have in mind for my program, but I have much planned that isn’t implemented in iTunes.

I’ll be writing code like crazy when I return home, but for now, I’m relaxing in beautiful Carpinteria/Santa Barbara California.

Happy Holidays!