Bringing back the blog

Hiking with the kids

It’s been a while.

Life has been crazy.

My focus these days has been on the kids and making the most of their education while we’re all trapped sheltering in place. It’s a very interrupt-driven environment, which means that it’s tough to sit and focus on development work. So, I figured I’d do a little easy sysadmin work and get the blog back in decent shape.

This site has been living on a t2.small AWS instance for years. I had used a Bitnami installer to package up a whole WordPress installation. It was super easy to set up but was getting harder to maintain. The VM was running Centos 6, which is just prehistoric these days, and with apache, PHP, WordPress, and MySQL all bundled, it was hard to make sure that everything was up to date.

So, I broke everything back apart and did clean installs. Got the OS upgraded to the latest Ubuntu, which is dramatically easier to keep up to date. I moved off of Mysql and instead used AWS RDS Aurora. Did a clean vanilla install of WordPress.

One last thing that I had wanted for a long time so that I could take snapshots of the server and run multiple instances if necessary, was to move the media libraries and other files to S3 and use a CDN. This turned out to be easier than I had expected. Just required 2 CloudFront distributions for all of the sites hosted on this installation.

Now, I’m ready to get back into the habit of posting some thoughts and ideas. Not that I think anyone will read or care, but I’ve got to keep practicing writing.

Terminal hack to make logging into a cluster easier

I’ve been looking for a way to make it simpler to quickly login to all nodes of a cluster from a mac terminal. Discovered a small npm module that helped me do it called ttab. With this npm module I can then write a bash script:

#!/bin/bash
TYPE=$1
rs6 () {
ttab -w ssh bryan@example1.com
ttab ssh bryan@example2.com
ttab ssh bryan@example3.com
ttab ssh bryan@example4.com
ttab ssh bryan@example5.com
ttab ssh bryan@example6.com
}
if [ “rs6” = $TYPE ]
then
rs6
fi

This will open one new terminal window with 6 tabs all logged into the different servers.

Macbook Quibble

I really don’t understand the decision in the Mac Settings to link together the scroll direction of the trackpad and mouse. There are two different check boxes for whether you want natural scroll direction or not for each of these inputs.
On the trackpad, I definitely want natural scroll direction. However, the so called “natural” direction on the mouse is the opposite of every other computer that I use. Since there are two check boxes, one for each of these settings, I would REALLY like to be able to have them set opposite of each other. The problem is that if you check one, it checks the other and vice versa.
Otherwise the macbook pro is the state of the art when it comes to laptops. Especially when paired with a thunderbolt display in the office.

iPad Kindle Update

This is just a quick post for any of the Amazon iPad Kindle Reader developers out there that might be listening. As someone that has purchased and read hundreds of kindle books, the latest update is a step backwards.
Instapaper has better reading options and that’s a done by a single developer. The margins change is really bugging me. I realize that you just cant pick a single setting that is going to make 100% of the people happy, so there should just be a slider for margins. Then everyone can choose what they’re comfortable with. A slider for brightness and a slider for font size. Then you could let people choose their favorite font and you’d have the perfect reader.
I know that some of these changes are difficult. How would you calculate page numbers with infinite variations in the text? But making difficult things look easy is why Amazon is great.

Virtualizing Mission Critical Applications

Jaimie has organized a webinar to discuss what it takes to manage a large scale virtualization project.
One of the speakers, Mr. Brodhun, is uniquely qualified on this subject having previously served as Technical Director for Enterprise Standards and Technologies for the United States Marine Corps, where he oversaw the deployment of approximately 2,300 ESX hosts and nearly 7,000 virtual machines across 167 sites.
Regardless of the size of your virtualization project, you’ll learn how to maximize uptime and performance of mission critical applications, while eliminating hidden costs that can decrease virtualization ROI upwards of 50%.
Click here to register for this webinar.

Streaming music on the appleTV

I just stumbled across a little feature on the appleTV that I hadn’t been aware of before. It appears that if you create a playlist in the iTunes library that the appleTV is connected to. Then put streaming urls into that playlist. When you then go the internet tab on the appleTV, there will be a playlist menu item with those items in it. This way you should be able to get whichever streaming media that you want on your appleTV.

The Future has arrived

Ever since I moved out to California, one of the things that I’ve secretly wanted was to be able to listen to my favorite music while driving. The problem has always been that my favorite channel by far is the Vocal Trance channel off of Digitally Imported Radio. So this meant that I would need to be able to stream internet radio while driving in the car.
Well, today that day has finally arrived. I noticed yesterday that DI has an iPhone app that allows you to stream their premium channels over 3G. I was listening today for about an hour while out running some errands with Caitlin. I only lost the signal once for about 5 sec while driving in some hills, the app does a great job of buffering and keeping the music going. The quality is great and with ~1hr of streaming it only used 25Mb of data according to the built in meter (I’ll have to double check with ATT’s meter).
One of the greatest things about the app is that if it does cut out for any reason it can determine that it’s at the end of a stream and gracefully fades out so that there aren’t any jarring cuts in or out. Every streaming app should copy this.

Adding RSS discovery to Chrome

For Chrome on the mac, it appears that RSS auto discovery is not included by default. This is the feature that puts a little RSS icon in the URL bar when the page that you’re on has an RSS feed available. In order to enable this feature for Chrome on the mac you need to install this extension. This is an extension from Google and seems to work great.
Then if you find a RSS feed that you’d like to add to ReadPath, drag the link below to your bookmark bar.
Add To ReadPath
Then when you’re on a page that you want to subscribe to, press the bookmarklet and it will have ReadPath subscribe you to the feed.

Changing my comment policy

I’ve turned off comments on this blog for now. While I’ve gotten some great comments in the past, the volume of spam just isn’t worth the hassle. Instead I’ve put a mailto: link at the bottom of each article. This is the best way to get ahold of me anyway. If you send something relevant and worth sharing I’ll add it to the blog post.
Oh, I changed the name of the blog as well. Not as worried about having my real name on the web anymore.