New Server!!

Today is a wonderful day!

After a decade of using the low end, entry model 212J Synology NAS I’ve finally splurged and gotten a state of the art server. I bought the 212J about a decade ago because I had always wanted to host my own blogs and thus not have to pay some company to host them for me. As I knew nothing about running a server, or even if I could do it I went with the cheapest option. Over the past decade I’ve taught myself and have come to rely on it as my blogs are not only a very important part of my life they are in-fact a recorded history of it. This is such a treasure to me and it was all hosted on a cheap server that could have failed at any moment.

The 212J was faithful although with updates threw some major fits in the past 10 years which could have destroyed my blogs. The most recent tantrum was in the past update where my CPU shot to 99% usage and made the NAS almost completely unusable. This was scary but with patience and a lot of tinkering I was able to figure it out. It was this however which convinced me to finally splurge for a new NAS as well as learn all the things I needed to know to ensure I had it set up like a pro and not an amateur. I had stumbled my way through a decade in getting it to work and had not realized that I was on the edge of a cliff once step away from seriously damaging my blogs.

In technical terms I did not understand RAID nor how to have a perfect backup of the blogs. I used SHR without data protection in the storage. I learned that the pros will always RAID configurations which means the data is always written immediately and simultaneously to two disks in case one fails. Then the other disk will immediately keep the data available until the bad disk is replaced. As I didn’t understand RAID or SHR I only had my blogs on one disk.

Now I did have backups of my blogs but they were not sufficient. I had simply exported the blog from WordPress as well as the content folder which kept the pictures. What I didn’t understand is I also needed a backup of the SQL database because it is that database that lets the blog know which posts to put that media in! Yes, I would still have my writing, and I would still have the pictures, but the blog wouldn’t know which pictures go with which posts. I had tried backing up my SQL before but would always get a timeout because of my slow server and there was a setting or two that was not correct.

With my new 920+ on the way I spent a week studying how RAID and SHR works, and consulted websites on how to ensure everything was set up perfectly. I owe a debt of gratitude to for creating a site which easily explains everything along with pictures! Often websites will get directly into Terminal commands for the complicated things and the Terminal is pretty much only for the pros. Now I have WordPress in Raid 1 which is two drives mirroring each other all the time.

Simply getting a new blog is not why I’m pleased with myself however. I had been stressing for weeks over being able to transfer my blogs and actually getting them to work on the new server. Mind you I had spent a decade tinkering and often getting stuck for months and even over a year in the beginning. But all that tinkering as well as this past weeks study paid off. I was able to transfer everything over in about 6 hours. It took that long because I did get stuck a few times which I’ll explain. Warning, technical WordPress, SQL stuff ahead!

First I downloaded everything and was even able to download my SQL databases. I preferred to transfer manually as I was somewhat familiar with it, plugins rarely work perfectly for big projects like this and the amount of pictures was immense. I tried it myself at first, but kept getting an error that WordPress couldn’t connect to the database. That kept me stuck for a while but then I realized I shouldn’t be trying to do it with Maria 10 as I had used Maria 5 before. I had tried upgrading to Maria 10 before but could never get it to work. When I finally just used Maria 5 it worked. I’ll come back to this.

The next place I got stuck was in making a secure connection. I didn’t want Google telling visitors my site was un-secure and even worse stopping them with a warning to not proceed! I had transferred the certificates correctly and after a while realized I just needed to assign the right certificate to the right blog. That is to say not all blogs on one site’s certificate.

So I was able to get it working with Maria 5 but I was determined to get Maria 10 to work. The forums all told me it must be something to do with the settings in the WordPress config file but my database, user name and password were all correct. After much searching I was finally able to find the answer. It was like finding a nugget of gold after hours of coming up with nothing but dirt. The problem was that Maria 5 uses “localhost” in the db_host line. The forums were telling me to put in the actual internal IP which didn’t work. The nugget of gold was to put in “localhost” followed by a string I didn’t understand but it made Maria 10 work! I was overjoyed.

Since I’ve decided to dedicate two drives under Raid 1 to WordPress I needed more drives for everything else. I spent a little more and have two 1 TB drives arriving today. Then I’ll be able to install Note, Surveillance Station and also take a peak at all the other applications I’ve been thus far unable to use due to the limitations of my 212J

Today is a good day!


Quitting Facebook

Since the new year is an excellent time to adjust one’s habits and routines I’ve decided to experiment with a number of changes. 

One of the biggest is to stop using Facebook.  So far I’ve gone three days and the feeling is one of tranquility and peacefulness.  It is not that I have anything against Facebook or agree with the reasons of the usual anti-Facebook crowd.  Facebook to me has been invaluable since I have a vast amount of acquaintances throughout the world with whom I would have lost all contact and even memory if it wasn’t for Facebook.  Facebook helped me keep those connections from completely dying.  

But now, seven or eight years on I’ve finally had my fill, like one who has eaten too many sweets and feels nauseous or perhaps like one who has drunken too much and now feels like throwing up.  

Perhaps it is my overindulgence that has lead to my current feelings.  I’ve started three groups and a page and am without rival in sharing old pictures of me and my friends.  But this circus has run its course and it seems as though I’m watching the same act over and over in my infinite news feed. 

It is not that my news feed is boring; there are a wide array of subjects and material.  There are the women who post image after image of themselves, sometimes four or five per day.  Upon obtaining a boyfriend these same women post image after image of them kissing their boyfriend, change their profile picture to them kissing their boyfriend and henceforth every activity is with this boyfriend.  

For those with families, children are the main subjects.  I do enjoy seeing these family photos and what my friends lives are now like but like any reasonable person one or two family albums are usually enough.  

There are those who post every random thought, minute daily detail or shred of internet distraction.  Some use Facebook as therapy and reassurance.  Those that need constant comforting from their friends as their lives are not turning out as they had hoped.  Others have pretty fantastic experiences and travel the world, post beautiful pictures and are really living life to the fullest.  There are many many others, but even though the movie has been grand, it has run for a very very long time and I now prefer to spend my time doing something else. 

I think one of the main attractions of Facebook is the pleasure people get when others “like” their status updates.  A higher “like” count equals more joy.  I too was addicted to the “like” but realize I’ll feel much better by getting off this drug completely.  

I do feel a bit cheated by Facebook.  In the land of Facebook there are no real deep connections, no substance, everything is superficial such as the “like.”  I’ve never had one deep conversation nor reconnected with my friends.  In the land of Facebook I’ve received thousands and thousands of “likes” but not more than five phone calls from these friends in over five years!  The long, in-depth e-mails I used to have have dropped to zero.  Not one long, interesting catch up e-mail in over five years.

All of these old friends who I’ve missed over a decade or two have suddenly all appeared all at once.  It seems as though it is a terrible nightmare.   I’m having a party, almost everyone I’ve ever had a conversation with in the past two decades shows up but instead of a hug and interesting conversation to catch-up they just give me a thumbs up.  I walk through this enormous crowd and nobody can speak, they just look at me, smile and give a thumbs up or poke me.  Very few are able to utter a sentence or two but mostly it is just a blank smile.  Some of them are stuck to their boyfriends in a kiss.  Their eyes turn to me and mumble a greeting but with lips continually pressed against their beau.  

Some of them are able to get a private message to me but out of the entire party only five or so have this ability.  It is better than poke, better than a sentence but never has been more than a paragraph or two and usually just contains the standard greetings in longer format.  

Before Facebook I often thought how wonderful it would be to catch up with many of these people.  Well, here they are, all together in the same place, but the nightmare I’ve described never changes, it is the same dream night after night.  

So, I’ve decided to wake up.  I don’t want to have this dream anymore.  I don’t feel like sharing and I think many people have had their fill of my pictures as well!  So let us have an amicable separation.  It is not that I still don’t find FB attractive anymore, I may, and I may ask for a late night rendezvous once in a while but on the overall I think it is much better and healthier to have a formal separation.  

I’ve deleted Facebook from my phone, and removed the permanent tab in my browser.  I have other interests in this universe known as cyberspace and it just doesn’t make sense returning to the same planet over and over again.

I do hope to keep all my relationships alive, but like plants that need continual watering and sunlight, relationships take effort, even a word or poke every few years to remain.  

Yet I find plants easier to maintain.  I’m one who remembers my friends, remembers the times we had and can pick up right where we left off.  I’ve found this is an uncommon ability.  Some “friends” never bother to write back when I do put in the effort.  I’ve reached out in many ways.  Phone calls, messages or posting something to others pages.  I’ve found the level of engagement or even a response to have severely declined over the years.  Perhaps everyone is exhausted of the FB drug but have become so dependent they do not realize it is FB itself causing the fatigue.  

I read an article recently that everyone is creating their own “brand,” on FB.  This article was actually about divorce and sharing the divorce on FB but in a positive way in order to maintain the brand.  For me, my favorite joy is sharing old photos as a way to reconnect but I quickly learned that some people may consider old photos damaging to their brand.  It is very hard to tell as some react with utter joy, many remain silent and one with a de-friend!  

The person who wanted to de-friend me told me that her Facebook page was “professional” and as all of her work colleagues were here FB friends they didn’t need to see an old picture.  She didn’t even have the courtesy to just remove me from her friends list but instead asked that I remove her from my friends list!  I wanted to retort that she might be confused with LinkedIn since that is the appropriate network to be “professional,” however I did consider this person a friend so just accommodated her wishes.  Furthermore, I didn’t post it to her page, I posted it to a group and tagged her so her own network wouldn’t have seen it.  But, I didn’t feel like explaining this as I was dumbfounded that what I would have considered previously to be a good friend was not.  

This brings me to another point and that is I’ve found that at 37 years old a good portion of my friend network are losing their memories.  Specific events aside, when I connect with a friend I’m immediately able to pick up where we left off as I mentioned above.  I remember the feelings and the deep sense of connection with these people.  At 37 most people will have either forgotten, or perhaps do not even wish to remember now that their lives have changed.  There are those that continually wish to forget their own past, or at least selectively remember it with a very minimal of it reappearing in the present.  I’ve come to understand that a majority of these types of people only want to live in the present.  These are the people who do not want to see pictures of last years haircut let alone recall who they dated in high school.  

In closing, I really don’t need Facebook as I have another.  This blog is a way for me to record my own life.  I don’t need likes but I do need to write, to put my thoughts down so they are not forgotten.  I want my thoughts to be available 300 years from now for my descendants who will load these posts into a hologram that resembles me and speak these very words.  I want to record the beauty of life, this life that I’ve rediscovered.  Life is a wonderful experience full of beauty and mystery if one just pays attention.  Life really is nothing more than an accumulation of experiences and these experiences are so valuable to me that I want to record them as our human memories are unreliable and frankly not very good.  

WordPress for me is an excellent format to record a life.  That is what I want to do.  I don’t need likes, I don’t need targeted ads, I don’t need the clickbait nonsense of “what happens next will amaze you click here.”  I need substance.  I need friends who actually want to make an effort to keep in touch.  And thus, with the beginning of a new year I no longer need Facebook


Goodbye Sliding Door theme

It was time for a change.  My sliding door theme had served me very well when I wanted to use this blog primarily for pictures.  Now that my interest in writing has been rekindled, the white text on a black background isn’t going to work anymore. 

Also, with the Japanese influence in my life I also tend towards the minimalist as one that causes as few problems as possible.  What theme does better than that then the standard WordPress theme!  I ran out of patience waiting for twenty fifteen to come out so I went with the beautiful Twenty Twelve.  

Also, I need to figure out what I’m going to do with the pictures in the galleries displayed by those previous sliding doors.  The plugin I used was Nextgen and I have to say the following

I hate the Nextgen gallery plugin!!!!!

The gallery itself was very nice but the plugin slows down the entire site to a crawl.  Well, actually it broke the site for a while due to conflicts with other plugins and that took me a few months to figure out!!  Then they fixed that bug but it still makes the entire site slow.  I tried tinkering but in the end kept getting a “thrown exception” error.  Without the plugin the site runs so much faster so I’m over it.  I may just use the WordPress default gallery option which is a bit awkward to use if you continually want to add pictures, or I could just take the easy route and be done with galleries once and for all.  

So goodbye Sliding Door Theme, you’ll be missed but it’s time to move on. 

Sliding Door Theme - mcurtin


WordPress – Recording my life and finding a vibrant community

A few posts ago I wrote that I had “rediscovered” WordPress.  To be more exact, I discovered a very vibrant community where people actually express real feelings!

I’d like to expound a little more on that previous post because I’m still very enthusiastic about this “discovery.”  

On the web, and just like in real life, we can become stagnant, accustomed to going to the same old places, seeing the same old people, thinking about the same old things.  This was me on the web for the past couple of years.  I had a very strong love affair with Facebook which was at times a bit too intense looking back.  I just really enjoyed connecting with just about everyone I had ever known.  For me, I could pick up an old relationship as though we had just seen each other yesterday.  I remember things very vividly and remember not only the events but also the feelings, the way of thinking and am very comfortable picking up exactly where we left off.  

I quickly learned that most people cannot do that when you get to my age which is in the thirties.  My old connections have forgotten much and some haven’t even written back when I’ve reached out.  Luckily, I forgive them, they just don’t have as great a memory as I do and I forgive them for that.  

But just like a high school fling that burns hot will soon burn out, so has my relationship with Facebook.  I’ve told Facebook I just want to be friends, and long-distance friends at that.  I’m returning to my one true love that has lasted over a decade which is my blog.  I created my blog, I own my blog, my blog won’t use me for advertising purposes or tell me what I can and cannot do.  The blog is me, I am my blog and this is my life story which since it is run on my own server is physically with me, always.  

As I mention in the About section this blog is to record my own life.  It is the easiest and most permanent method I know of to record my life as it happens.  As Carson from Downton Abbey says “The business of life is the acquisition of memories.”  I wholeheartedly agree and I want to record as much of it as I can not only for my own sake but for my future descendants.  We can scarcely comprehend the heights technology is going to take us 50 – 100+ years from now and I like to think that by creating this content perhaps my descendants will be able to make a hologram of me which will speak these very words.  I mean how cool would it be if you could see how an ancestor of 100 years ago lived, what they thought, and perhaps left messages for you?  I think it is a pretty amazing idea.  

So I suppose if I had to define the purpose of this blog it would be to offer myself some very good reading material when I’m old and want to read about my own life.  Secondly it is for my descendants to learn about Dad, Granddad, Great Granddad, Great great Granddad, and so on and so on and so on.  

The think I need to do now is get back to business and writing things down!  Enough of the fluff of Facebook.  I do still enjoy seeing everyone’s pictures and passively keeping in touch with a like or a poke on their posts but I need more.  

And more I have found with the WordPress community!  

Now, I’ve used WordPress for over a decade but it has always been my own install.  I was vaguely familiar with and that there was a community there but it really didn’t concern me.  I was concerned with creating my own webpage for the entire Internet and writing my own thoughts and opinions, not necessarily reading others.  

But the other day I decided I wanted to read a few personal blogs and blogs I found on!  The first thing I had to do was figure out how to browse the blogs.  I did a quick search and found a hot tags page here.  For the past week I’ve been clicking on “personal” and boy do these people write about personal things!  I’ve never seen a community that is so open and so personal on the internet! 

There is some variety but for the most part I would say that the blogs I’ve found on the personal section are as such:

1.  Young – Lots of college aged people
2. Female
3. Depressed or need to write to deal with something bad
4.  Extremely open – One can often find profile pictures but not real names.  It seems they want to be open with the internet, but would prefer that people they actually know don’t read it.  

After 4 years of being pretty stagnant between Facebook, G+ and the news it is refreshing to see there are real people out there with the same struggles, thoughts, anxiety, hopes, dreams, successes, etc that we all have! seems like the most “human” place on the internet and humanity is something that quickly can get lost here.  

I wonder if you, the reader, have someone you could completely open up to, talk about anything at all, explore the complete depths of your innermost feelings, desires, thoughts, aspirations, basically the real, unfiltered thoughts that make you who you are.  Do you have someone you could speak with about so deeply a topic?  

I do not, I don’t think I ever have.  In fact, I think the only place I could actually do this is on my blog.  But even then I filter because it is on the open internet.  Yes, I guess I could do a private post but what fun is that.  I did keep a private journal for a part of my life but I’m much more interested in keeping it open for the prime purpose which is a record of my life, open to inspection, mostly for the future 50 years or so from now.  

I get the sense that the WordPress community is a place where one can be open like this, because everyone is just speaking to the internet, just throwing their thoughts and emotions out into this cyber void and know that it will be seen but without the fear and filters saying those same things to people in real life would bring.  

To think about it everyone has an expectation of you, how you should act, of who you are, and any deviation from that would be seen as weird.  People have a set image and people are comfortable with set images, it adds stability and a feeling of control to their lives.  However, to really reach into the soul and be able to share with someone else on that level, well, I never have, and even if I’ve come close it was with the help of alcohol and most of it was probably forgotten the next day.  

Furthermore, by writing one can structure their own thoughts, and by writing them down give them form, pluck them out from the stream of consciousness, the ever flowing mind and give them a physical presence.  Make the thoughts immortal.  We think, therefore we exist and by writing down these thoughts doesn’t it make us immortal in a sense?  I’ve written down a piece of my mind in this blog post, a piece of who, what I am and set it on the internet where theoretically it could last forever.  

To me, writing in this blog is exciting, it is a worthwhile pursuit, much more than clicking on some mindless “entertainment” on Facebook, or some stupid list of 10 things that passes for news these days.  

I feel like I’m back home and to my surprise there are others.  I can’t believe they were hidden from me all this time.    


I am not alone

ATB – You’re Not Alone (Official Video HD):

Just rediscovered the WordPress blogging community! I’ve kept my own blog for eons but it is my own install and I never really sought out a wider WordPress community. The other night I felt like reading others personal blogs and found a way to browse an almost unlimited amount of personal blogs using the WordPress website tag cloud.
This comes at an opportune time as I’m tiring of Facebook. I need posts with more substance, to experience others lives and feelings through well written blog posts. For me, Facebook is now just a way to keep in touch and keep updated through pictures on my friends lives. Other than that there is very little substance.

I plan on becoming a much more active member of the wordpress community. When I rediscovered it last night I thought of the song above. There are others out there with a need to write about their lives. I am not alone!