Category Archives: Site

Things specific to the GCW websites and related technologies

A new machine, a new era.

Just a quick note to say that I have upgraded to a new machine. I had been using a Mac Mini to host GCW for many years, but the hard drive in the old beast is starting to sound like the gerbils are getting tired, and I thought it was time.

I know no one would guess I had given up on the Mac universe, so without further ado, here is the new beast…


It’s a 27″ iMac, with the 3.5 GHz i7 and the upgraded graphics chip (780M w. 4Gig of RAM). I must say, it is amazing. It’s actually fast enough to play PC games under Parallels with completely acceptable framerates even at high detail levels.

And so, it’s the end of an era: I am getting rid of my gaming PC. I’m also getting rid of the Mac Mini I was using for the server, and the MBP I was using for music. Believe it or not, atthe end of this process, I will havejust the one iMacin my home office,plus a station to hold my work laptop when I bring it home. I’m not sure how long I can stand it, but that’s the plan.

In any case, I have once againtransplantedGreat Castle Wilson to new hardware. This movewas more difficult than previous ones, since (for some unknown reason) I was unable to load the mysql database directly by importing the records from the old site.Instead I had to usethe export/import capabilities built into WordPress, which at least appearto have been successful. This is the first time I’ve tried this though, so if you see anything wrong/missing, please let me know.

One note: So far of all the old blogs on GCW I have only gottenthis one going. I don’t think the others get many visitors, but I will get around to moving themeventually.

I know, I know. I haven’t been posting.

This is yet another of those posts that starts out by apologizing for not keeping up with the blog. Believe me, I’m more frustrated than you are that it’s been so long since I last posted.

The thing is, my life has been busy, to the point where I haven’t even been finding the time to keep up with 140 character tweets, let alone full blog posts.

Anyway, here are some highlights…

New role at work

In addition to being the Eclipse Project PMC lead, I have now taken on a significant architectural role working on the “IBM DevOps Services powered by JazzHub”. This is a new property that provides project hosting, including online development (based on Orion), tracking and planning support, etc., which is intended to be the premiere environment for building applications that are part of the “IBM BlueMix” platform-as-a-service. What’s even cooler about this is that it can be used for free. Definitely check it out.

Just finished a Divertimento concert

*sigh*. Yes, it would have made more sense to talk about it ahead of time. Oh well. This was the orchestra’s 30th anniversary concert, and it was an awesome program:

  • J. Strauss — Die Fledermaus Overture
  • Mozart — Violin Concerto No. 5, K.218
  • Brahms — Symphony No. 4 Op. 98

The concert was sponsored by the Austrian Embassy including bringing in the soloist for the Mozart, one Daniel Auner, who is a truly excellent up-and-coming violinist. Even though we only had a single rehearsal with him, I felt like he helped us achieve a recognizably stronger understanding of the music.

I bought a car

A Fiat Abarth. I haven’t actually received it yet — It’s still being built — but I expect it will show up some time in the next couple of weeks. For now, here’s a shot of basically what it will look like:


It’s very small, but I verified that it will hold my cello case with the back seats folded down, so we’re good. Zero to 100 KPH in 6.9 seconds. I’m excited :-).

Woo hoo! GCW is a Maverick!

Yup. I upgraded the Mac Mini to Mavericks. Amazingly, it went almost flawlessly. A little bit of confusion with some file permissions and the need to re-enable PHP again, but that was it.

I’m sure there are a bunch of lurking issues that still need to be resolved, but this blog, and the old content from Deb’s “deblog” both came back, which is really what I cared about the most. Note: If you’re looking for updates from Deb, she now uses the blog attached to her Shopify account.

The rest I can work through as I find them.

Nothing like giving the old Mac Mini a new lease on life to make your day. 🙂

*** Site stability warning *** (updated)

Just letting you know that the various sites we host may be unstable for the next few days.

We’ve just upgraded our network connection, which should significantly improve performance, but it’s going to take a while to get all the kinks worked out.

Wish me luck :-),

Update: The most important sites are all working again. If you have any problems, please let me know.

WP Upgrade Blues

*Whew*. That’s what I get for blithely doing what I usually do when upgrading between wordpress versions. This time I was left with a very messed up page, and more than half of my plugins and themes reporting errors. Ugh. There were even error messages when updating the mysql db. Double ugh.

I’ve bashed it back into an approximation of working for now, using the included “twentyten” theme. Now I have to see if I can figure out whether anything else got wrecked.

Blogging is important

I was chastised yesterday (by my niece(!)) for going so long without updating my blog, so I’m going to take advantage of the Memorial Day holiday in the US (== no meetings) to try to make amends.

I really do appreciate that there are people out there who read this site, so I have to apologize for the extended drought. I will try to get back to a more regular (or at least more frequent) writing schedule.

I particularly want to apologize to the commenters who posted while I wasn’t looking. You’re content *is* my reward, and leaving it sitting in the “pending” queue for months in unconscionable.

Spammer creativity

It’s fascinating.

I was reviewing the comment spam for this blog, or rather I was reviewing the ones that didn’t get automatically caught — there’s always a couple. This time, there was one reply that genuinely looked like it could have been legitimate. The content was apropos of the original post, if not directly focused on it; it was clearly not machine generated (i.e. no “dissociated press” style errors); and the tone was heartfelt.

The only things that seemed out of whack were:

  1. The text was written in a way that it could apply to a fairly wide range of original posts.
  2. There was a website link attached to it that seemed a bit dubious.

I really couldn’t definitively cast it as spam. But, for those that don’t know, I loath spammers. To give you some idea of how much, on one of my other sites you can find this:

I formally curse all spammers as follows:

Your children will die of a disease that would have been curable, except that you put such a drain on the internet that the communication needed to discover the cure did not happen.

You get the idea.

In any case, this time the particular comment in question didn’t make it. So, if you’re out there thinking that you legitimately replied to this site, and you don’t see your response, and you’d like to have a discussion about it, feel free to send me a note.

What do you mean mysql can’t find my wp database?

Well, that was more excitement than I was expecting.

Tonight, Deb wandered into my downstairs office and said, “Are you playing with the server? I can’t get to my blog”. I naturally assumed it was the normal problem of my dynamic dns address changing and the associated delay before catches up. So I tried connecting to my blog and what did I see: “WordPress can’t find your database”. What!!! That would be bad; very very bad.

Well, after about an hour of messing around, I realized it wasn’t quite that bad. MySQL and all my data really were still there, but it turns out they had been masked by some misguided hacking I had been doing with MacPorts.


Well, in honour of the near miss, I promptly did a full backup of my entire website (as apposed to the incremental nightlies) and the mysql database, and then upgraded to WordPress 2.5.

So far, everything looks good. The upgrade went painlessly, as it has for me since I started using WP. Man, I wish all software was that easy to deal with.