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Time to put Serendipity out to pasture

I have been running this site on Serendipity. It has served me well but it is time to move on. I initially started using it because I wanted something simpler than what I had been using and it seemed to fit the bill. However, it did require an SQL server. This did not initially bother me since that is a common enough requirement. The various systems that I had used previously worked the same basic way. In general, this just makes tghings easier.

However, I am running it on The service there is good and designed around only paying for what you actually use. I am using an SQL server so I am paying extra for that piece on a site that I rarely touch.

I could, of course, edit the html by hand like I have done previously and it would work. I just did not feel like it. The primary reason for having this site is to fiddle with things. This is what lead me to looking at static site generators. The idea is to continue to separate the content from the formatting but to generate all of the html files once instead of each time a page is requested. This means that they do not have to have an SQL database if they have one at all. This is simpler and easier on the web server.

Initially, I looked just using shell scripts that used articles in individual pages and html fragments to build pages. However, I was not happy with the results and I did not want to spend a much of time exporting and reformatting the articles from the old system. This lead to my second requirement of automatic importing of the old articles.

Finally, I wanted to host it on OpenBSD so I was looking for something that would be easy to run on it. After a bit of digging I ended up with Pelican. It is not an ideal system since a few of the pieces do not seem to map perfectly to OpenBSD. However, they are minor and I have worked around them for now.

The next steps are to review the articles and make sure they came over correctly. The import was not perfect and there are some extraneous bits in the content files. I did consider scripting the cleanup since they are just Markdown files but I decided I wanted to verify them myself to be on the safe side. There are well over 500 articles so I am going to just remove them from the Serendipity blog as I verify they are in the new site. This also gives me a chance to clean up the formatting and typographical errors. I am not sure how long it will take but the few I have done so far did not take that long.

Cleanup and a bit of a change

I've made a variety of changes to my presence on the internet over the years. The most recent around consisted of consolidating a few different websites into one. I've done this before but websites seem to appear as if by magic so it was required again. This particular time I have consolidated into I have also finally removed the stuff. I cannot believe I still have it since that domain lapsed years ago. The net result of all this is I have cut the size of the junk by half due to the elimination of duplication. The real point to this post though was, if you see this instead of what you expected, now you know why. Although, I still have to ask... Why are you here? :-)

Cut and Paste are simple, right?

In another entry in our occasional series, "Cleaning out the bookmarks file", we have an entry on Cut and Paste. Cut and Paste are things that should be ridiculously simple. However, the existence of various clipboard enhancers shows that it is not. Another example of how complicated it can be is this classic. I never thought learning the fine details of clipboard theory would be interesting but the bookmark has been with me for longer than I care to think about.

Another part of it that I enjoy is that it reminds me of my youth when things like Wikipedia and even did not exist. If you had something to say you put it on your own webpage. The times I found fascinating information maintained by someone who cared made the internet a far more interesting place. It seems nowadays it is easier to find what you are looking for if it is popular with the right people but far more difficult in other respects.

Comcast: What one hand gives, another takes away.

Comcast announces their IPv6 rollout has moved them to number three in the world. This is a good thing even if you do not care about IPv6. It at lets you know they are still pushing their network forward and not standing still. Than they threaten a website because it published a public domain court record. First, are Comcast's lawyers really that stupid? It doesn't matter to anyone if it is an outside company, if they represent Comcast than Comcast is responsible for their behavior. Second, did anyone really think a website called "TorrentFreak" wasn't going to publish the letter? All the little bits of good will get blown away in an instant because someone didn't think. Lawyers and threats should be a last resort not standard operating procedure.

A lab too old

We are finally replacing our K-8 computer labs at work. The labs in question are full of eMacs that originally shipped with 64 megs of ram. We later upgraded them to 128 megs and finally to 256 megs of ram. They were reasonably fast and cheap back when they were first purchased.

However, nowadays a PowerPC G4 1.25 ghz with 256 megs of ram is no longer speedy, reliable, energy efficient or good for much of anything. I certainly did not expect anyone to miss them when they were gone. I was wrong and in the process learned that they were still good for one thing I didn't expect. In the interest of saving money our HVAC system doesn't keep the buildings very warm in the evenings. The custodians would apparently take breaks in labs that got left on at night. The ancient eMacs apparently make excellent space heaters.

As an aside, thanks to Comprenew for handling the recycling of all those space heaters.

Testing an easier way to blog

I have to admit that I am terrible at blogging on a regular basis despite the fact that it is one of the things that I actually enjoy. However, I have now tweaked things in a way that should simplify things a hair. Well, either that or it will make them more work. We will see.

The real issue will be whether I can finish writing/editing stuff that I have already started. I end up looking at what I wrote and not being able to convince myself that it gets across what I wanted to say.

More SCO fun

Okay, it isn't really fun. However, I just heard through the grape vine that Unixis, or however they capitalize it, has basically thrown in the towel on its newly acquired SCO products. They're just going to provide bug fixes and the like. The assumption is that if you are just going to virtualize you instances of SCO and call it a day. I suppose it makes sense and acknowledges that new installs of their products are unlikely to occur in any quantity.

Windows 8 is half baked

I got a chance to try a tablet with Windows 8 on it. The first thing I am going to say is that Windows 8 is not actually released yet. This is just a preview.

My first impression is that everything is slow. I am hoping that the final software running on newer hardware will take care of that. This gets mentioned up front because the slowness was frustrating enough that I did not go real in depth with the software. The other frustration I will mention is that it had on optional pen. Unfortunately, the pen seemed to work slightly different than just touching the screen with my finger and had issues dealing with the slowness.

The second thing I noticed was that someone was definitely trying to make an interface that is not just a tweaked copy of what came before. This something to be encouraged and followed closely. However the differences between iOS and Windows 8 Metro seem fairly cosmetic on the surface. The one thing that becomes clear with use is that MS is trying to be more flexible on screen size, shape etc. the execution, so far, tells me to withold judgement until the final version is released.

The one down side I will mention is that MS is still unwilling to commit to anything completely. A version of the classic interface is still present, useable and as best I could tell, necessary. I was hoping that MS would be able support legacy apps within the new interface. I personally found switching between the two a bit jarring. I'd expect to either stick with classic or avoid non-Metro software. This kinda reminds me of the issues we have had mixing 64-bit and 32-bit on our Windows 7 machines which caused us no end of grief.

The apps are little better than demos so I will not comment much. A few show some promise. The features are lacking in most though and what is there now shows little thought has been given to the finer details.

In the end, this version of the software and hardware killed an hour but that is it. It is certainly not going to replace any of my machines. I would also be loathe to do any long term evaluation based on this combo. I would like try out a newer build on newer hardware this summer when I have more time and the product is more fully baked.

They're back!

SCO may not actually exist anymore but they are back in court. It seems now that the Novell/Unix copyrights situation has been settled and they've sold off their non-lawsuit assets and oh yeah, filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation they can finally resolve the SCO v. IBM lawsuit. The real question I have is not what is left to settle. The real question is, who's paying the lawyers at this point? Is there really any money left to them? Although a fun runner up question is, who owned stock in SCO? What were they thinking when the company ran itself off the cliff? If you're as interested in zombie corporations like I am than start at the Arstechnica article and follow the links.

Serendipity and tweaking things

I have been using MovableType for this blog for a while and I have not been truly happy with it. It works well enough that I cannot really complain but it just seems more complicated than I needed. In addition, it just did not have a theme that I could use out of the box that I liked. I prefer a theme with light text, dark background and navigation on the left. This is not a common thing and although I can make my own theme, it takes time. I have precious little time right now and would rather spend it on stuff that's more interesting than reinventing the wheel.

I dug around a little bit and ended up looking at Serendipity. It has a few things going for it. First, it looks pretty simple to install, maintain and operate. A feature that I particularly like is that when I am logged into the blog I see little edit buttons next to each item. I do not have to go to the admin side and relocate an item when I want to make an edit. It also has theme that matches my desires fairly closely. I think I will have to tweak it slightly but nothing drastic. There's also the added bonus that it is BSD licensed. I prefer license that I can easily understand and the BSD license, in its various incarnations, covers that rather well.

I've installed it on a test site and if things go well, I will move this blog over to it. After that, I have some stuff to consider. I have a couple of domains and a few different blogs. I have been thinking about consolidating them a bit. I am the only one who ever posts or visits the sites so making my life easier is really the only concern. It might also help me get back on track with a few of my goals. One of which is to simply post more stuff here. You'd finding time to do something you enjoy would not be so much work. :-)

Sad but Funny

I ran across this a couple days ago. One the face of it, it is kind of funny. People start to actually exercise their rights and the system just cannot handle it. However, it turns sad when you realize how few people actually care about their privacy, despite claims to the contrary. If they truly cared they would not have given it to the world. What do people expect?

At work we long ago figured out that if there's a field on a form than most people will fill it in. We do not not need to require anything. However, if we do not want data collected it requires changes in software and diligent monitoring of staff. Folks are obsessed with hoarding data no matter the value.

Information is power and computers are not people they won't forget like we do. I wonder if the best privacy laws should require erasure instead of disclosure. It would certainly require some change in the way we do business but no more so than actually complying with disclosure rules requires.

If you're curious about more Facebook and their data retention, you can look at

Updated MovableType

I finally updated MovableType to something that is not quite so horribly out of date. I'm not sure I did it right since I was in a hurry but everything works well enough for my purposes. Where well enough is defined as at all. :-)

The real challenge now is to come up with something worth writing about.

I learned to type on something like this.

It looks like the manual typewriter is officially obsolete. I'm not sure if I'm surprised they held on this long or not. This seems like the kind of product where finding your potential customers and letting them know you exist is probably a bigger concern than competition from newer products.