March 13

Impending Server Changes

I’m going to be making some changes to the server.  I recently had my server “hacked”, which was basically just some skiddie finding a way to post one of those pharmaceutical spam ads on a couple of my WordPress sites.

Hacked - I do not think it means what you think it means.
Hacked – I do not think it means what you think it means.

I’m taking this time to figure out a couple of things.  The plan is:

  • figure out how to use Let’s Encrypt for HTTPS (for TTORP, the Story Teller Forum, and my Fitness Forum).
  • find a way to deploy + update WP sites via git (including initial setup)
  • work on a better CMS for Crazed(Sanity) sites
  • update my “deploy” system to work with GitHub and generic git (not just BitBucket.org)

That’s actually quite a bit of stuff.  It’s going to take a while to get this all setup.  It’s equally possible that I’ll post about impending downtime as I am to simply just do it: pretty much all my sites are (extremely) low traffic.  So, there, I said it.

October 26

The Truth About Family

There’s two kinds of family. There’s the kind that you’re forced into at birth, and there’s the kind that forms out of close relationships.

Some people think that “real family” somehow are more important than anyone else. They believe that the family you’re bonded to through DNA–your blood relatives–should be held in the highest regard, forsaking everyone for them.

Sometimes blood relatives have a strange sense of entitlement.  They think that because DNA connects you, that somehow they’re automatically more privileged.  They deserve more from you, and should be given more slack.  That they automatically have a place in your inner circle.

But here’s the truth, at least the way I see it.

The family that has formed around you are sometimes more important.  They don’t have the same sense of entitlement: in order to get into your inner circle, they had to prove themselves.  They fought for you.  Bled for you.

So who is more important?  Hmm.

Category: Rant | Comments Off on The Truth About Family
September 30

How I Got Here…

I posted something on Facebook the other day, with a couple of pictures (last year vs this year) and a brief statement that I’d gone from 324 lbs to 287 (37 pounds lost). A co-worker asked me how I’d done it, and I gave a short answer… which later I realized was far too short.

So what has changed?  What did I do to get here?

That’s a good question.  And there’s a lot to think about, and I probably won’t give credit where it’s due, but I’ll try.

First, I drew my line in the sand.  I was in the fight of my life, for my life, a fight just to survive.  My health was spiraling out of control, and I needed to do something, not just plan and think, but DO something.

I started going to the gym.  I got a membership at the YMCA, went there with a buddy (thanks, Prophet), and put my nose to the grindstone.

I logged every trip to the gym, with very few exceptions.  The only way you can see change is if you track it.

I started seeing some changes, added some muscle and lost some weight…. but I needed more.

I added racquetball to the mix, because it was fun and got me moving.  Even though Prophet (and later my son) kicked the snot out of me, I had fun.

I learned to sweat, and to enjoy sweating.  I learned that it was okay to huff and puff, to have to stop to catch my breath, because that pounding in my chest was my heart telling me I was still alive.

Nerd Fitness - Join the Rebellion
Nerd Fitness – Join the Rebellion

I found this awesome website jam-packed with information, called Nerd Fitness.  No pushy sales, no need to buy anything to get help.  It actually took me a while to figure out what there was to buy.

I started investing in my health: I gave up going out to eat every morning so I could afford a gym membership.  I asked for–and received–a membership to the “Nerd Fitness Academy”, a one-time fee that’s turned into the best investment I’ve made.

Logging stuff was a huge thing, so I finally took an interest in an awesome little app called My Fitness Pal.  I used it to track food intake, and to track carbohydrates, so I knew how much insulin to take.  Insulin and blood sugar levels have all been logged religiously in a cool little app called OnTrack by Medivo.

gallery_5603_173_202964 gallery_5603_173_125417

The graphs above show what tracking progress really means.  The one on the left has all the individual readings, while the one on the right uses daily averages.  They cover slightly different time frames, but that little gap–the funny little line between October & January–is when I started caring.  When things started turning around.  That was the end of 2013, into the beginning of 2014.

 

I started walking more.  I embraced the Walk to Mordor challenge, going so far as to start work on my own app to track it (yeah, it’s still in the works).

When my knees started giving me problems from walking too much (especially with stairs), I got myself a bike.  When I started, I could barely get around the block… now I feel like I’m slacking if I only get 15 miles a week.  I only feel really accomplished when I hit the 4 mile mark on a single ride, though I generally limit myself to an hour a night.

So that’s what I’ve got so far.

It wasn’t a simple thing.  It wasn’t some crash diet.  No “juicing” or 90-day crash diets.

I hope you enjoyed reading about it.  Feel free to ask questions or whatever in the comments below.

Category: Health, Rant | Comments Off on How I Got Here…
August 18

Solving the Puzzle

Sometimes a puzzle presents itself to you. Sometimes you’re aware of the puzzle, of it’s nature, and sometimes you just have this little… thing, this irritating little itch that you can’t seem to scratch.

Solving the puzzle can be straightforward.  The answer comes to you in a moment, in a flash of brilliance–or common sense–and then you move on.  But then there are those puzzles that take longer.  Hours.  Days.  Weeks.  Months.  Even years.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

I solved one of those puzzles.  It was a puzzle I’d been working on for years, one that I was only casually aware of, but it was really digging at my (crazed)sanity.

This particular puzzle was one whose nature was in programming.

“I’m not a programmer.  This is gonna suck.”

I won’t get into the details; hell, that would bore the crap out of me.  And I’m the one that’s excited about it.

With programming puzzles, you’re almost never sure if it’s truly complete.  With a real puzzle, you’re told straight out of the box that there’s 250 pieces and it’s 15″ x 15″.  With programming, it might be five pieces, and be 50′ x 50′.  Or it could be 50,000 pieces, but only be a few inches wide and a few feet long… it’s just impossible to know.  And when you get to a point where you think, “gosh, I think it’s done,” you realize there’s a whole bunch more pieces that suddenly showed up.

And the other thing is, sometimes there are pieces of the puzzle that you don’t even realize are pieces.  You hold onto this little bit of information, because you know it’s important, but it just doesn’t seem to have correlation… until all of a sudden, you go, “holy crap, this thing here hooks onto this other thing…”

Yep.  It’s like that.

Category: Code, Living With Linux, PHP, Rant, Software Development | Comments Off on Solving the Puzzle
May 7

TTORP and Play-by-post

So for a while now I’ve been running a roleplaying game with a couple of friends.  I’ve been running it over email, since one of the players is on the other side of the world–literally, he’s in Japan–so we have differing timezones.  Getting together hasn’t been particularly easy.

The email system started out just fine.  More than fine.  I finally whet my appetite for storytelling.  I got a lot of writing done.  Vivid imagery was had by all.  And I imagined this particular game–played out before, many years ago–in a whole new way.  It was awesome.

Then, for many reasons, it stagnated.  Updates stopped happening.  I stopped pushing, players stopped pushing, we just…

We just… stopped.

I figured the real way to get this done was to have a forum.  A bulletin board system, where we could post stuff, and everyone would get email notifications, and that would somehow fuel the game.  Somehow a forum would give our game the proverbial “kick in the pants” it needed.

I searched high and low for something I could use that was already built.  Software I’d used before, new stuff, easy stuff, hard stuff…

All the things I had to install myself made big promises that completely failed to get fulfilled.

One promised this simple interface that was all “Web-two-point-oh-ish,” easy to use, easy to read.  I used a production version of it, it was awesome… but completely exploded when I tried to install it.  For reasons that completely baffled me.

The next one was an “oldie but a goldie,” one that seemed pretty simple back when I’d previously used it.  It seemed like I could just set it up, configure some permissions, and go… and after a week of fiddling with permissions and settings and having locked myself out more than a few times, I gave up.

So then I tried taking a really simple piece of code for forums and modifying it myself.  “Hey,” I thought to myself, “this way I can tie it in with TTORP directly!  Total win!”  Nope.  I tried a couple of them, but they both required a monolithic amount of work to get the minimal amount of functionality that I required.

Right now, I’ve got a forum setup that my users were supposed to use.  And it’s imposed limitations on the game that I didn’t foresee: I can’t set any sort of permissions, so either you can see the forums–all of them–or you can’t.  That means I can’t have separately stories going for each player that others can’t see.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do to fix this yet.  Maybe I’ll go back to email.  Maybe I’ll try to perservere with the current forum.  Or… maybe… something else.

Category: Rant, Software Development | Comments Off on TTORP and Play-by-post
April 15

Email Updates are Coming

I’m close to having the email updates functioning.

I haven’t been very motivated recently to get this stuff done.  Dealing with chaos in the family, stress, and looking for a different job have all been consuming my time.  It’s one of those things where sometimes there’s so much to do that I just don’t want to do any of it.

Anyway, I’m hoping to have some emails being sent automatically in the next few days.  Stay tuned!

Category: Code, Hobbit Walk, PHP, Rant, Software Development | Comments Off on Email Updates are Coming
March 18

Programming Isn’t Just Typing

There’s a lot more to programming than just typing.

Somebody once said, probably jokingly, that what I was doing amounted to nothing more than typing.  It might have been one of those things where they say, “I’m joking,” afterward to keep me from being offended.  The first time it was said, it was funny.  The next few times, it lost a bit of humor.  After more than a dozen times, I have a hard time faking a smile.

The point here is that programming follows the 80/20 rule: 80% thinking and/or planning, and about 20% actually programming.  The typing part is actually a really small part… of that 20% programming part, about 80% of it ends up being debugging and testing.

Category: Code, Rant, Software Development | Comments Off on Programming Isn’t Just Typing
March 9

Why I Just Can’t Get Stuff Done

It seems like I’m always chasing my tail.  I start doing one thing, and it spirals into all kinds of other things.

First, I start by working on a web application of mine.  I start up a browser, and I get notifications that I need to upgrade, that browser is no longer supported.

Fine.  I go to figure out how to get the newest version of that browser.

I could download the most current version, and install it into my home directory, or… of COURSE the other option is to install a newer version of Linux.  Because, why the hell would there be an easy way just to get a repository that lets me get updates for the most current version of Firefox (or Google Chrome, or whatever)?

Fine.  I go download the newest version of Linux.

Wait.  What do you mean, I’m running 32-bit?  I could be running 64-bit!  Things are so much better that way!

Uh-oh.  I can’t just do an upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit.  That doesn’t work.  It might not work to upgrade from 32-bit to 32-bit… ugh.

Fine.  But I’m not going to use up another DVD just to get a newer version of Linux.  That’s annoying, it makes the upgrade slower, and… ugh.

Fine.  Spend a few hours figuring out how to create a bootable USB drive.

What do you mean, the newest version of UNetBootin doesn’t support my USB drive?  I HAVE TO FIND AN OLDER VERSION?!?!

Fine.  Get the older version.

Hours and hours and hours later, with a bunch of errors, a wiped USB disk that doesn’t seem to mount anymore at all…

FINE.  I’ll burn the damned DVD.

Wait… if I do this, I have to wipe out my home directory.  That means I lose everything, and I’ve gotta go through this painfully long process of backing up and restoring that data… why don’t I put my home directory (/home) onto a different partition?  I’ve got an SSD (Solid State Drive), it should be crazy fast.  Do it.

FINE.  Figure out how to re-partition my drive.  Burn ANOTHER disc, with Gparted on it.

Wait.  Why can’t I eject my DVD drive?  I press the button and… nothing.

FINE.  Turn off the laptop, take out the screw that holds it in, and… WHAT?!?!? IT DOESN’T COME OUT?!?!?!

Hours go by.  Then days.  Finally, for no good reason whatsoever, the damned thing starts working again.  WTF.

FINE.  Burn Gparted.  Boot off it.  Resize the partition, should be simple.

Resize the drive, so there’s room for the home partition… wait for HOURS until it’s done.  I have NO IDEA WHY.  It’s a Solid State Drive.  It’s like FIFTEEN THOUSAND TIMES FASTER than the original drive.  And it’s acting like it’s fifteen thousand times SLOWER.

HOURS LATER, resize.  HOURS LATER, move.  HOURS LATER, resize again.  HOURS LATER, move something again… not sure why, it’s taken so long, I’ve almost forgotten WTF I’ve been doing this for.  Fix the fstab (file system tab) so it boots.  Reboot.

Hooray!  Now I’ve got a separate /home partition!  WOOT!

Fine.  Time to reinstall, now it won’t be too difficult.  Boot off the new, shiney, 64-bit Linux Mint disc.  Choose “something different” so I can have a separate root (“/”) and home (“/home”) partition.  Even though it takes a while because the DVD drive is slow (compared to a thumb drive install), I reboot and it’s the shiney new Linux…

WAIT!!! WHERE’S MY DATA?!?!

Oh.  I told it to keep my /home partition, but I forgot to tell it to actually boot up with that partition mounted to /home… right.  So, fix the fstab.  Reboot, delete the “/home” folder data from the old partition (being EXTREMELY CAREFUL not to wipe out my real data).  Reboot again.

HOORAY, I GOTS MY DATA!

Alright.  I’ve got my new version of Linux installed and… awww crap.  I have to go install all my old plugins and stuff, because that’s not stored in my home directory.  UGH.

What was I doing again?

Oh. RIGHT.  I was testing my web app.  Finally, got it tested, spotted an error, so I’ll go fire up my IDE to fix it.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN, I DON’T HAVE JAVA INSTALLED?!?!?

Category: Living With Linux, Rant | Comments Off on Why I Just Can’t Get Stuff Done