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Mid-September Review

Bug Martini

It's halfway through September, and things have been less than calm. Ever had one of those days where nothing goes right and you pretty much have to change everything in order to fit one request/demand/requirement? Yeah, stretch that over about a week, and that is/was my past 2 weeks.

Here's the rundown:

Server Downtime, Transfer, and Remodification


Over the past week, I had to majorly downgrade/upgrade the primary hosting server for Shadow Dev. Since our primary hosting environment was costing us $200/qtr, we were looking for an alternate hosting environment. The requirements were simple: Linux hosting environment, ability to SSH into it from a remote location, and root access. You'd be amazed how many services out there offer a "Windows/Linux" environment for a much lower price, but no Admin/Root access. I'm sorry, but I need direct control over the server, and shouldn't be waiting on the hosting service to perform updates (especially security updates).

So, we had a partner company help us out. Over the past few months, we transferred all of our primary data to their hosting server, since they were helping us out. Things were going smoothly. Our old VPS system ended their service on September 1st, and we weren't going to renew. Things were going as expected.

Since our primary hosting environment was hosted semi-locally, I split off my personal stuff and the business stuff. I modified the DNS servers to point home so I could host my personal website (this one), and have the business stuff on a "business dedicated" server. Meanwhile, my plan was to relaunch the main Shadow Dev site with a new design and direction on September 1st, but that had to be delayed by a few days.....and then the problem started.

Do you recall my previous blog posting about the "Server Connection Confusion"? On September 2nd, I was trying to SSH/FTP into the server to update some business pages and could not get through. I could access the server via Port 80 (HTTP), but not 22 (SSH) or 21 (FTP), which meant that I could view what was on the server, but I could not modify it in anyway. There was one option: I could access Port 10000 (VirtalMin backend management) and download/upload one file at a time, but I had about 200 files to download, modify, and upload, so that would have taken forever. I kept trying over the next few hours with no success.

On September 3rd, I tried to access the server hoping that the Port 21/22 issue was just a fluke (as it sometimes happens). However, I could not access any part of the server. SSH, FTP, HTTP, VirtualMin backend, Email, anything (which meant that my primary email server was down as well). I sent an email to the company that manages the physical hardware and said that the server was down and if they could look into it. Their response: "Yes, it is down, [they] will boot it back up. You will need to start paying for this server or remove your content from it. Out accounting software has placed a hold on it. As we have decided our relationship has not been mutually beneficial." Long story short: our "tradeoff" was not paying off. The tradeoff was "website service" for "hosting space". I should have realized something when the person we were talking to said "You have creative freedom." In an inexperienced mindset, that means "YAY! I can do anything without limits and they will like it!" In an experienced mindset, that translates into "I don't know what I want. Read my mind, or I will turn down any ideas/suggestions you have" which, in a "web designers" standpoint, is a huge red flag. It also doesn't help that we only had one informal meeting about a new site for them.

Anyway, in my response to that email, I said "If that is the case, then we will remove our content from it. In our current state, we cannot afford $1200/year for hosting, as we were paying $800 before. / Please reactivate it so I can move all of the content from it within a reasonable timeframe, then you can do with it as you wish. / I wish our relationship could have been more beneficial."

Afterwards, I tried to re-login to the server (as I was told they would boot it back up). Same result: nothing.

I waited and tried to re-login to the server over a few hours. That turned into the next day. I sent another email to the company restating "Please reactivate the server so I can move all of the content from it within a reasonable timeframe".

Once again, nothing. This downtime was really starting to mess with our uptime records, which we try to strive for a 99.9% uptime record. This was not helping. However, I did get an idea; get a cache of our main site (CSS3 and minimal design concepts only), modify my home server to act as a proxy-hosting server, and get the uptime records going. It took about 3 hours to get (since the primary hosting server was pretty much "blocked"). Thanks to CloudFlare's uptime caching, I was able to get the egg, the egg shadow, and the CSS3 that I used to make it move. I made the DNS changeover, and our uptime was back up and going. It wasn't the full-fledge hosting server, but it's better than nothing.

Day 3 of primary server downtime: I sent yet another email to the hosting company and said "I have tried to be patient with you, but my patience is wearing thin. I have asked nicely in my previous emails to reactivate the hosting server so I can transfer our content off of it. I have not heard back from you since my email on the 3rd. Since it seems like you are holding our content hostage, we are facing our 52nd hour of downtime, and our clients (and ourselves) are suffering that have their sites hosted on this server. In addition, any one who has email being handled by the server is not receiving any emails, including myself, which is causing panic since the emails are not bouncing or anything." Seems like a mostly professional message, right? (By the way, we had about 25GB that we needed to get - note to self: don't have the primary hosting and backup services by the same 3rd party)

I received a response within minutes: "You patients is thin? It is your actions that caused your problem by not producing anything. If you are that poor of an admin and do not have a backup of your content sounds like a personal issue... However I have issued the boot command to your server. Remove your content asap." (yes, misspellings and typos are maintained). I will say that 'Yes, we did not have a primary backup, because you said that you were going to enable that for us, but never did after many months of saying you would.' Regardless, situation has passed.

Anyway, the server was booted back up, which meant that I could get the files....or so I thought. I tried to SSH into the server, but for some reason (whether through my own doing of automating a port blocker or not), I could not. After many hours of fiddling with system and network settings, I came to a conclusion: my IP address was being blocked via Port 22 (SSH). This meant that I could not SSH into my home server and initiate an SCP transfer (Secure Copy - basically a command-line FTP between two Linux-enabled boxes). However, FTP was still open, so I initiated a primary backup to my home desktop (not the home server). I had the max system simultaneous downloads set at "2". I increased it to "3". Yay, things were going faster. I increased it to "4". Even better. I increased it to "5", and things crapped out. I could not SSH/FTP/HTTP or anything into the remote server. Which meant that I was back at square 1.

Based on my previous experience, I knew that I could log in to the server via SSH using my phone (thank you ConnectBot) and the 4G connection. I did so and tried to initiate an SCP connection from the remote server into my home server (for some reason, incoming SSH connections from my IP weren't getting through, but outgoing's a whole new story - and before you bark at me, yes, I did check the iptables for an Incoming blocking rule. There were none. Anyway, I let that run since I thought things were going a bit slow, but better than nothing.

After about 30 minutes, ConnectBot just quit. No reason, no message, no disconnect dialog boxes. It just quit. Which meant that I couldn't SCP for more than 30 minutes, which was a problem.

I tried to FTP into the server again, and was able to. I decreased the amount of simultaneous downloads to "4" and let it run. It took about 8 hours to transfer everything, including the primary MySQL databases.

After everything transferred, I ran a rm -rf command in the /var/www/vhosts/ folder. I know it's not completely secure, but at least it gets rid of things on a first level basis (installing a secure command like shred was possible, but the documentation didn't say anything about shredding a folder - it was only 1 file at a time, which for 25GB, will take a very long time). I also dropped the primary MySQL database and let it. My last words: good riddance.

So, I had the primary hosting files on my home desktop. Now to begin the mega-upload to the home server. 3 hours later, transfer complete. Now for the fun part: setting up the "Linux Desktop" to operate as a "Linux Server" (which, by the way, is not GUI based anymore, so all of this was done via Command Line), to be able to handle multiple domains and subdomains, import the huge MySQL database dump, setup the permissions for the databases, files, and folders, and re-initiate the cron jobs to run. Let's just say that I'm 99% done all of that as of now.

One of the hardest portions I had to deal with was separating out all of the domains. Let me explain: on the old hosting environment, all of the domains (except for the primary shadowdev.com domain), were managed and recorded under one central apache2.conf file, which Apache looked for and loaded for all of the domains. My home server, although the same operating system, didn't like that. Therefore, I had to go into the primary apache2.conf file and separate out each domain into it's own file under /etc/apache2/sites-available/[site], then run sudo a2ensite [site] to make it enabled, then sudo service apache2 restart to allow for the webserver to reload and reread the configuration files. Yeah, that was fun.

I still don't have the Postfix/Dovecot system completely operational yet, but the server can now receive and forward emails. It can't 100% send emails yet, but I'm working on it. I also have some finer points of the cron jobs to figure out. Aside from that, the server (hopefully) should be back up and operational.

Liquidation Sale Troubles


On a related note, we had our Liquidation Sale on the 31st for the office. Let's just say that apparently this town doesn't like any "Liquidation Sale" signs around the area. I posted a few around town, hoping that they would allow them for just a few days (since the event was on the following Saturday). I can understand taking down signs that are for an event a few weeks away, or for personal services or hand-written items that are pretty much illegible. However, after checking on all of the signs I put up, all of them were taken down. Now, I want to hope that it was because people liked the event and wanted to make a note of when/where it was. Based on the attendance record of Saturday, it was obvious that the signs were removed. We only sold $110 worth of stuff, 1 buyer, and 2 browsers. I mean, it's better than nothing, but I wish that we sold more. Now, the agreement that I put in with the landlord was "Anything that we didn't sell on the 31st is free-for-all for any tenants." That didn't translate quite as I expected. It turned into "We [the landlords] will keep what we think is ours, but you have to remove everything else." So, I get a large box from Walmart and try to remove a bunch of the small stuff. I receive an email a few days later saying "We have a tenant that would like to move in, so please remove all small items from the office." So I have to get another box (luckily they are cheap) and go back and get the rest of the small stuff. So much for getting rid of all of the small stuff.

Let's just say that our home is overflowing with office-related stuff. I'm just glad that we don't have to bring any of the BIG stuff home - I have no idea where we would store it. So yeah - our nice, professional, dedicated office is now sitting at home.

Getting the main site back up


The new Shadow Dev site
Meanwhile, I got the new Shadow Dev site up and going and wrote a State of Shadow Development Address for the public. Basically, it says that "We did our best, it wasn't good enough, so we are changing directions to pursue new ideas." That's pretty much it summed up. You can read the rest if you want.

I've been working on finishing up the touches on the new Shadow Dev site (like cross-browser compatibility, improving it's performance on other connections, and finishing up the content distribution with the database. It's coming along a bit slower than I had hoped, but working at home has it's own pros and cons to it.

Personally, I'm having a hard time dealing with the major downsizing and removal of partner services. What I had to do 7 years ago in my dorm room (where I had the main hosting server sitting in my dorm and I was managing all of the services via Command Line Interface (CLI), I'm doing yet again. Although I'm more experienced in how to handle the technology, and the technology is a bit easier to handle, the amount of responsibility needed to make the server work like it was before is no short order.


Lunar Progress


Crystal Blaze
I'm trying to channel some creativity and write some storylines for Lunar Productions' mangas. I did create a new site for them using the old Shadow Dev design, and ramped up the interactivity and information distribution (see beta.lunar-productions.com for a preview), so that helped a bit. However, I can't launch the new site yet until we get some final items down pat. I did, however, completely revamp Death Rose into a new series. Any storywriter will tell you that there was a part in a story (or even the story itself) that seemed to make the storyline go off-track. Well, Death Rose wasn't going anywhere, and I was getting tired of forcing myself to write storyline that didn't fit. So, I revamped the whole thing: the primary storyline, the storyline concepts, the characters, the antagonists, the setting....everything! It's now called Crystal Blaze. Let's just say that it's like Sword Art Online/Matrix/StarCraft/Accel World/Star Trek mix. Yeah, I know it's a lot, but it is making sense, because I'm already on Page 19 of script. The story is unfolding in my head, and sometimes my fingers can't keep up to type the story fast enough. I will say that the beginning of the story is a bit slow, so I am thinking of adding some concepts in the beginning to make a more enticing "hook" to the story. We'll just see where it goes.

Wedding Ups and Downs


Colonnade
On a positive note, we have the Colonnade! (For the wedding, not permanently) The final "OK" was put forth by Keat's parents and we were able to sign the contract and put the downpayment in. That's just 1 of the multistep process that is wedding planning. (see more details at (temp site) kk.shadowdev.com - actual domain to come later) I will say that I knew the whole wedding planning process was going to be tough, but I thought the major disagreements and compromises would be between Keat and myself, not Keat and myself vs her parents. No matter how much planning we/I put in (I am saying "I" here because I have been self-designated as the primary planner since Keat is finishing up her last year of school. As anyone will say, "Put Education First". She's already taking 18 hours of classes, and my schedule is not set, so it's pretty much been put upon me to do most of the calling/negotiating/researching/quoting/etc for this event), it seems that her parents have some minute detail that they must demand. For example: the reception. During our discussions, Keat and I talked to the event planner at our location. She gave us a packet that outlined all of the details, prices, and items that would be provided for the reception. I had a few follow-up questions to clear up any non-clear items (like "when does the 4-hour reservation start: when the guests arrive, or when the crew starts to set up" and so on), and things were going well. Suddenly, Keat's parents demanded to have custom beer and wine at the event. They even "suggested" (kidded? I hope) to have a keg at the reception. I'm sorry, but if this was a frat party, a keg would be acceptable. At a wedding reception? I may not have been to many nor planned many, but I find a keg unacceptable.

Anyway, we asked our location how much it would be to have "a local microbrewery supply beer and a remote winery supply the wine". According to the planner, they had to purchase it because of their liquor license. Okay, understandable. I don't want to impede the liquor liability on any one unnecessary. After 2 months of asking that question, we finally received an answer: the microbrewery has to bottle their beer and ship the bottles. Our cost: $10/bottle. HOLY CRAP! $10 a bottle? That beer must be made of gold or some super rare gems! We still hadn't heard back about the winery question, so I contacted the winery directly. Within a few hours, I received a response and forwarded that to our planner. Still haven't received a response (I think at this point, they are starting to hate us and may force-cancel our penciled-in reservation with their location). After waiting so long, Keat's parents said "Let's forgo the custom wine and beer and just go with what they have. Can we get an itemized proposal for this?" At the absolute end of my frustration, I sent a calmly-worded email to the planner and asked the question. She pretty much responded with the exact same thing that the packet says that she gave us. The location, the DJ, the setup/cleanup, China, Silverware, chairs, linens, tables, etc, etc, etc, for the set price (tax and gratuity included as well). If they were getting mad at us, I don't blame them, but please don't kill the messenger. We're just passing the message along to get the check signed.

What we would like
We've also talked to the cake company that was highly, highly recommended and received a quote from our tastings. $800 for a custom, high quality, delivered day-of cake. Not a bad price. We told Keat's parents, and (I quote) the response was "Keep looking! That is out of sight!!!" Based on the amount of cake companies around here charge, yes, that is a bit high, but we're dealing with a high-quality cake here, not a "Let's go to Walmart and order a cake" kind of thing. Yes, Walmart makes great cakes. We even got our 7th Anniversary Cake from them, but I don't want to go to them for a wedding cake. That's like having a keg at the reception. At this point, it's either "go all in or get out" kind of deal. I don't (and Keat doesn't) want to compromise on a lower-quality cake that we will wish we could have improved 20 years from now just to save a few bucks. So, I contacted other cake companies around here and once you add in the amount of guests we will have along with the design concept we want (along with their delivery fee), it pretty much averages out to $800. (We had a "phone conference" (although if you call Keat's parents on 1 phone and Keat and I on another a "phone conference") about the overall budget. Basically, Keat's dad was mad that we had multiple versions of the budget. I thought he would be happy that I split the budget up into 2 categories (Estimated and Actual), then subsplit that into what Keat's parents would pay, my parents would pay, and we (Keat and I) would pay. That seemed acceptable, but he had made some adjustments that we didn't know of until he sent us his copy. I sent him our latest version (since we were the ones doing the research), and he seemed to get upset that there were multiple copies floating around, so he claimed "his" copy the official one, which means that any additions that we find due to research, we have to let him know instead of just using our own copy. I thought I could simplify things by using a Google Docs copy that would allow for simultaneous edits from multiple users, but that seems to have majorly backfired as they do not know how to use Google Docs, so we are back to "his copy being the only one that should ever exist" scenario. Yay.... I have, however, asked on multiple occasions "What is your optimal budget? What would you like to spend on an event like this? Therefore, we can stay within that range and know what the limits are." Seems like a reasonable question, right? I mean, we're trying to shoot for a $10k budget. Keat's dad is acceptable with a $15k budget (in passing conversation), but we aren't trying to spend millions upon millions on this thing. Heck, we're even below the average cost for a wedding Haywood County ($16-24k). The only answer we have received is "We don't have a set budget - we just want to make you happy", which means (yet again) "Read our minds or we'll turn down every idea and suggestion you have". Great.....)

So, if this whole wedding thing was a TL;DR for you, let me sum it up: we have the Colonnade for the ceremony, I think our Reception location hates us, we need to find a high-quality custom cake for less than $800 total, and the budget seems to be out of our hands.

Additional Money Needed


So, in order to gain some additional money in order to pay for this "seemly outrageous wedding", I decided that I should try to apply for some part-time work (heck, since I don't have to "go into the office" any more, my schedule is pretty freed up). I found out that there was a Trader Joe's opening in Asheville, so I tried to drop off an application last Tuesday. The website (which isn't 100% working) said that they were accepting applications Monday-Friday, 10-7. No problem, right? I arrived at 4:12pm on Tuesday. There was a whiteboard out by the front door that said "Accepting Applications: Tuesday - Thursday, 10-4", which meant that I was 12 minutes late. Well, that's pretty much a trip to Asheville wasted. However, thinking ahead of this process, I thought "Why not apply to Kitchen & Company?" (it's a kitchen supply company that offers a whole lot more than Walmart or other kitchen companies. Keat and I found a lot of good quality stuff in this store during our previous trips). I tried to contact the store via their website, but their careers section was on their parent company website (which was a pain to find), and they only have 1 job posting available. They said "Please contact our Admin offices to inquire about other positions", so I sent them an email inquiring about the question in hand. Within 30 minutes, I received a response basically saying "Walk into the store and bring a resume." Seems simple enough, right?

Well, I head on over to the store and start to walk in. Little did I know that there was a sign on the front door that said "Part Time Sales Associate: Must be energetic, ability to multitask, and passionate about cooking" (I may be paraphrasing here). Seems like my kind of day! (Since I do most of the cooking at home anyway). I walked in, asked for an application, filled it out, and talked to their manager. Since he saw that I had previous experience at Staples, he said that this would be pretty much the same thing (I hope so too). Although, if there is a "Kitchen Quiz", I should be ready. Questions like "How many teaspoons are in a tablespoon? What's the difference between a Santoku and a Chef's Knife? What does a 'sharpening steel' actually do?" and other questions should be easy, thanks to Alton Brown. I don't know if there will actually be a quiz, but can I say that I kind of hope so? Anyway, I received a letter in the mail today from Trader Joe's saying "Thanks for applying, but you have not been selected for an interview." Basically saying "Thanks for coming in, and we appreciate your interest, but we don't need you right now." Oh well - my dad did say to stay out of the Grocery business. I guess this is the Universe's way of keeping me out. No biggie - I have higher hopes for Kichen & Company anyway.


New Anime: Accel World


Accel World
In order to blow off some steam, I thought I would give "Accel World" another try (in laymen's terms: Accel World is by the same author as "Sword Art Online", but set about 20 years in the future (from SAO, so about 2046) where all of the <15 year olds have a digital device that allows them a "virtual environment" to type, send messages, view emails, save video, and even enter their own VR world. 'Accel World' is an advanced version of the VR world that heavily relies on a software called "Brain Burst", which allows your processing power of your brain to be increased 1000x. The (semi) downside is that in order to use it, you need to build up some "Burst Points" by fighting in the "Accel World". The theory seems legit). When I first tried it, I got about 5 minutes in and had to stop. I didn't watch the series again until this past Sunday. Throughout the week, I watched all 24 episodes (and got some great ideas for Crystal Blaze) up to Thursday evening/Friday morning.

I will say that it had some flavors of Sword Art Online, and I liked how it wasn't exactly the same (as the author wrote this post-SAO and submitted it first to a writing contest, where it won first prize) as SAO. The concepts portrayed in the series were unique enough to hold their own, but also reflected some traits of other series like Bleach), so I was able to find those traits and mold them into what Crystal Blaze (and other series) should offer. I was never in any "Creative Writing" classes, but I believe this gave me a better understanding of how to write a compelling storyline (although I still have the fan-crush on Asuna from SAO. Accel World didn't really have any characters that I could really connect with, but that's not necessarily a bad thing).

Is this the end?


That's it for now. I believe that 27,000 characters is pretty much my max limit on a blog posting like this. However, I hope this gives a better insight to what one chaotic, crazy week I have had.


Tags:#swordartonline #accelworld #wedding #colonnade #vr #kitchen&company #traderjoes #altonbrown #beer #crystalblaze #lunarproductions #shadowdev #design #server #hosting #sale #apache2 #sudo #scp #ftp #http #css3 #email #virtualmin #port #bug

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Bachelor for a Week 2013: Day 3

First, since Keat's in Colorado, here's an airplane joke (special relevance since Southwest allows you to pick your seats):
XKCD


I was able to sleep in this morning, but it was a little odd again having the big bed to myself. I can't say it was comfy, but it was almost....to comfy. I didn't actually get out of it until about 2.

The weather decided to have some different plans (as March always done) and it sprinkled about 1/4 to 1/2" of snow today. I would have driven into work, but based on the extremely low amount of cars that I have seen/heard on the road in front of our house, I'm guessing that traveling was not the best option.

So, I got comfy in my chair at ("in") my home office and started working on the "First Steps" section of the site. I've been making a lot of progress on different sections loading internally of jQuery's framework. It sounded like a challenge at first, but through the process, it has become a whole lot easier.

While I was working, I also caught up on my TV shows: Once Upon a Time, Community, American Dad, Family Guy, Malibu Country (which I found out that Lily Tomlin was Ms. Frizzle, which blew my mind), and Last Man Standing.

Also, I found out that Volume 2 of my Star Trek/Doctor Who: Assimilation 2 compilation has been shipped and will be here soon. In addition, my Raspberry Pi (which I assumed was extremely backordered and would ship in on the 29th) apparently shipped out today and is on it's way.

I did some research and tweaking on my RSS feeds for my personal blog and company blogs, and found out that my original RSS importer was not working. Therefore, I found a new one, which I highly recommend: RSS Graffiti , which is an app via Facebook. So far, it looks pretty sleek and works efficiently to import the RSS feeds into Facebook.

The first of 3 articles I wrote yesterday went live this morning: shadowdev.com/blog/article/extra-links-on-google-what-are-they-and-how-do-i-get-them (the next 2 will go live on Wednesday and Friday)

Also, I finished Enterprise tonight (this morning?). Overall, I give it a rating of 8/10 stars. It has some unique qualities of it's own, and has some TOS mixed in. Jeffery Combs does a great job in his own role, but I kind of wish the crew was a little more dimensional. Season 3 and 4 were better than the first 2, especially since Season 3 had a whole dedicated arch to itself, which reminded me of DS9 and the dominion war. At least the Xindi arc had a little more depth than the Dominion war.

Now, here's a(nother) Star Trek related comic:
Bug


That's it for me. 'Nite!


Tags:#bug #xkcd #plain #startrek #enterprise #doctorwho #raspberrypi

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Early Bird get the....you know the rest

Good morning world! Yes, it is 3:47am here on the east coast, and what am I doing? I am at work! Not because someone forced me to be here at this ungodly hour, but because I wanted to. Yes, I am that insane.

Don't believe me? Here's a photo I took about 30 minutes ago:


Actually, I'm not that insane. Most developers work best at night, and since Keat is out of town for 24 hours, I thought it would be a good chance to come in and get some work done without the distraction of home (and since Netflix doesn't (completely) work on Linux, I can't stream it from the office. Pandora on the other hand is a joyous pleasure).

Usually at this time, I have been up for 12+ hours and have been drugging away all day with the standard day-to-day activities. This time, I've turned the tables. I went home after work yesterday, got some dinner, finished "Rules of Engagement" (at least, Season 6 on Netflix), slept from 10:30 till 2:30, got dressed, had breakfast, fed the kitties, got all of my materials together, came to work, loaded up Pandora, got some tea ready, and I'm working! YAY!

I don't want to jinx the day so early, but I would like to estimate that today looks like it will be a good day.

Anyway, my expectation is to get a lot of development-specific work done during these wee hours. We'll see how things go.

On the brighter side (ha, get it? Because it's before sunrise.......), I thought I'd post a few comics here to free up my un-used collection. Enjoy, and Good Morning!









Tags:#goodmorning #shadowdevelopment #keat #dilbert #bug #kitty #linux #netflix #badjoke

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Webinar-mania!

Bug

Not quite sure how this comic fits in to today, but enjoy!

Today just seemed to fly by - literally. I arrived at the office shortly after 11am this morning to attend a RingCentral webinar for reselling a service to offer toll free numbers to our customers. Still need to verify some final information before the service is offered, but I think I have a good idea on how to revamp our program to reflect the best opprotunity on how to offer this to customers.

Anyway, that webinar was supposed to last about an hour. In reality, it lasted about 2 hours. However, I was able to ask an important question about direct and indirect calling of the 800 number to our employees and direct calls to our cell phones. Finally, after months of searching, I finally found an answer, and cleared up a very confusing situation that dealt with people calling my personal cell phone and (for some reason) forwarding to Tom's phone. I believe that has been resolved, and when people call the 800 line (with extensions or not) the 800 number will show up on the cell phone, so therefore we know if a professional call was made and how to process it.

I also received a free meat pie from Joan from St. Andrews Square bakery down the hallway. I have 1 thing to say about that: GOOD!

After I finally found out the issue with the phones, I attended a "Merger & Acquisition" webinar at 1pm, discussing the trends of the industry, what the peaks were in the vertical and horizontal market, and who bought what (company-wise) in the past year. It seemed like a lot of information, but I think I took away a lot of good information.

I wished I could be at CES this year, but based on two of the presenters that were at CES, it's a madhouse (although, that seems like a standard there) and the cell signals were jammed.

On a related note, here's this:
Bizzaro


That seminar was supposed to last 1.5 hours, and about an 1.25 hr in, I called it quits since it was Q&A time. A client was supposed to show up around 3:30, but did not due to other obligations. Tom was supposed to stop by as well, but he got a little too busy and didn't have a chance to show up. It's kind of a good thing, since I had a few things to take care of in the afternoon.

I filled out the tax form for the county, called my car insurance company to get some information, went to the post office to send off the tax form and pick up some stamps, stopped by my car insurance company and spent around 45 minutes there getting an answer to my (what I thought was a) simple question. In reality, it was worth it because the staff at the car insurance company were more-than-friendly and gave me a lot of information to use.

It didn't occur to me until I started to leave the office that I didn't open PuTTy and modify any file on the server. Make-shift CEO day?

After that, I came home, got some chili from last night, and watched Mythbusters until Keat got home. She and I discussed some topics that needed discussing about Shadow Dev, and even though things got a little tense during some topics, but I think it was because she had a headache and things weren't getting across correctly. Aside from that, we are on the same page.

Afterwards, Keat and I watched a bunch of episodes of The Big Bang Theory (time does fly while watching these, doesn't it?). She hit the hay and I plan on getting some coding done as the night goes on.

Now, to bring an important topic to mind: comic copyright. I just want to go on the record to say that all comics posted here are copyright and under ownership of their respective owners (also mentioned in the footer on every page). I do not modify any comic (except for one, since it had the F word in it) and do not take credit for any comics, unless they are drawn by me, which probably won't happen. I follow an artist on DeviantArt.com who talks about the issue in detail about a Facebook App that scrapes the internet for comics, takes the copyright off, and shows them. His journal can be viewed at http://tompreston.deviantart.com/journal/Facebook-Art-Theft-App-279043179 - just thought I'd bring that up.


Tags:#bug #bizzaro #webinar #ringcentral #bigbangtheory #comics #deviantart #ces #insurance

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End of a busy week

Bug

Yes, this marks the end of a very busy week. Although a lot has happened, a lot is still going to happen next week.

I know I didn't blog yesterday, but don't think of it as "I missed a day" - think of it as a break from my usual ranting. There - I said it. Enjoy.

I'm working on developing a new Customer Relationship Manager for Shadow Dev. The plans were drawn out nicely, and the design and database setup are going well. All I have to do now is put in the hours to develop it. Why am I developing something so intricate? Mainly because our new sales person has brought in so many potential clients that I've almost lost track of them. So a CRM was created to manage who, where, and what has been done with the potential and current clients. So far, we have 8 potential clients on the list, and I just had to write them down so I'd remember who they were.

I've also started watching TNG from the beginning. Yes, the video quality sucks, mainly because it was filmed in '88 (and I guess transferred from VHS quality), but it's the classics that bring us home. "Encounter at Farpoint" was a little different than I remember, but I'm glad I'm watching the series from the beginning.

Speaking of VHS, how's about a class Calvin & Hobbes comic:
Calvin and Hobbes


Anyway, I've also been implementing the new security feature for the Apache Killer issue, and I think things are coming along nicely. Had to install mod_security first, but it's okay.

I'm also happy that our friend Janet is still having her Sushi night on Sunday. Can't wait for that! Yum yum! Too bad it is going to be the last Sushi Night that she is offering. Maybe she'll have one at her new place....who knows.

Dr. Hughes also dropped off our brochures yesterday! They are lookin' nice! And we have 1000 of them that we can put wherever we need. I sent 10 to mom and dad today, so they should be getting them in the mail soon.

I had to miss my Meetup meeting last night due to some unforeseen circumstances, but it's okay. I got to spend time with Keat and things turned out well.

That's it for me this week. I believe I've put in around 35-40 hours or so - eh, who's counting?

I'm just glad I'm not like this......yet:
Working Daze


Tags:#workingdaze #bug #janet #apache #brochures #sushi #crm #tng #vhs #calvinandhobbes

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Bachelor for a Week - Day 5 - Almost Over

PvP

Keep in mind that the above comic has to deal with the Ren. Fair(e). I thought it was appropriate since I'm watching Voyager and active in the SCA.

Anyway, this week is over and I've defiantly surpassed 40 hours this week. The server says I logged on this morning at 9:57, so up to now, I've been working about 7.5 hours. Add that to my current work load, and I've worked 42.5 hours. Not bad for a week of Bachelor-ism.

Keat comes home tomorrow (YAY) and my Bachelor-ism will be over. I can't say it's been all great. The majority of the week has been: get up, go to work, come home, watch some tv, go to bed (+10 points if you can get that reference). Literally, I've gotten up (usually around 9), arrived at work around 10-ish, worked all day, went home, watch a movie (and feed the kitties), and went to bed. That was my week in a nutshell.

ANYWAY, I worked on the WHCC page a lot today, and should have that up by Monday as promised. I also worked on the Shadow Dev Beta site again, and things are coming along nicely. I should be able to meet that September 1st deadline with no problems.

I had a meeting with WHCC early this morning to go over some documents, and had the cleaning lady come in after that. Let's just say that what she did (and her daughter) in 20 minutes would have taken me a whole day to do in the office. $15 for a thorough cleaning is well worth it. She even offered to dust and more, but I thought I'd better start off small since this is her first time. She will definitely be back in 2 weeks!


I'm going to call it quits early today and head home to take care of some of the chores that I was supposed to do over the week. I did a few of them, but I have a lot to go. Good thing I don't have any Lumbergs around!

Although I did watch Dinner for Schmucks last night. Some people may have thought it was bad, but once you accept that it is "Steve Carrell"-funny, then it makes more sense. Overall, with the amount of comedy, dirty-ness, follow-through storyline, and cast of actors (including Jeff Dunham), it was a really good movie.

I've also watched: Mortal Kombat Annihilation (crap), Star Trek Nemesis (ok, but I'm starting to like it better once I got past the "Data died" part), Star Trek Insurrection (eh...), and The Karate Kid (yes, the 1984 version - I finally saw it all the way through and it was pretty good).

I'm gonna go home and work now....wait, what? Oh well.

And just for kicks, here's another Star Trek related comic:
Bug


Tags:#officespace #lumberg #cleaning #whcc #beta #keat #deadline #startrek #voyager #sca #pvp #bug

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Easter Egg Comics

Here are two comics I saw that I wanted to share:
Bug
Who woulda thunk it?


I Can Has Cheeseburger
Thought this would be appropriate since I am technically self-employed


Later!


Tags:#bug #ichc

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Mustard

xkcd
What if Wikipedia existed during the Magic School Bus? That'd be a short series...

Wow, has it really been 2 weeks since I posted last? It's been a super-busy 2 weeks and a lot has happened. Here's an overview (without too many details):

  • We moved into the new house! YAY! We're still moving in stuff and getting it organized, but we are now living there and it's great to be right down the street from downtown and the office! It did take a while to get things packed up and moved, and we're still doing it

  • We had a dispute with one of our clients: NSMT. Apparently, some communcation got crossed/lost/misunderstood and things got a little hectic, but now it's better and we're working our butts off to get their stuff done ASAP!

  • Keat's parents came down for the weekend to help us move. I can honestly say that the tension was so thick, you couldn't cut it with a knife - you'd need some type of chainsaw on steroids! On the good side, they didn't talk about much - just the moving. That's also the bad side: we needed to talk about our wedding plans, and they didn't want to. However, we did get some house repair and needed items (like the blue recycling bags that Waynesville requires). So it's an adequate trade-off.

  • We are in negotations with a few new clients. I won't say much, but here's our potential client list thus far (minus some personal details):

    1. A photo sharing/selling company

    2. An anniversary that has a party and needs an invitation site

    3. A travel and booking business

    4. A local entertainment center

    5. A Psychic person (?)

    6. An unknown person that contacted us at the office and wants to help us (or us help them; I'm not sure)

    7. A local Retirement lodge

    8. A political action group

    9. and a Property management company


  • I just got June's Hello World out today. I know it's the 13th, but better late than never, right?

  • Had a bunch of meetings with current clients and the Exec. Director for SMDC. Along with NSMT, we're also working on Lu's Specialties Foods and Innocent Footprints at the same time (while moving....yay)

  • and a few other things that I can't recall right now. Like I said: it's been a busy 2 weeks.


On a semi-related note, I know the xkcd comic is a little far-fetched, but I thought it would be a good re-entry to the posting. Along with seeing an episode of it (about Heat) on Saturday while eating lunch. Pretty cool!

I have also collected some pretty cool comics while out and about, so I'll be posting those as well to catch up to my quota.

Hey, look! Here's another one:
Bug


I'm gonna finish moving stuff in and get some NSMT stuff done too. My "To Do" list is getting longer everyday....not good.

And I know the title of this posting is "Mustard". I already have one called "Ketchup". Why not add a little "Chili", "Relish", and some "Hot Sauce" while I'm at it? I think I have some titles ready to go for the rest of the week....


Tags:#xkcd #bug #todo #new #clients #house

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Weekend of Unplanning


+10 points if you can correctly guess which episode and series this came from.

Anyway, the main point of this post is to discuss this weekend. Sure it's Memorial Day weekend, and I'm proud of our active and non-active heroes in the military and non-military fields, but that's aside the point.

To start off with, I am currently at Nags Head beach for the weekend. This was not really of my choice. I have a lot of work to do for the business, and it seems like with the way that Keat's parents were acting, we are staying Friday till Monday in the Nags Head area. My parents wanted to hold a get-tigether with both of my sisters and us to celebrate Jinnee's birthday, Jarrod's graduation, and Keat's graduation. It originally was planned for last weekend, which we had open, but then based on Jinnee's schedule, it had to be re-scheduled for THIS weekend, and since Keat's parents wanted us over for Memorial Day weekend, and wanted us over for 2 weeks originally. While we did NOT have 2 weeks to spare, we were able to get it down to about 4 days.

Long story short: Keat's parents are nice and everything, but it seems that the whole concept of "vacation" usually doesn't mean anything to them. They like to discuss things (or as they say: "talk about it") that Keat has issues with (from their standpoint), yet anything that has to deal with us, Keat's dad will only talk to her and not me.

This has been the actual proof-of-concept that proves that Keat's parents know what a "vacation" is. So far, all we have done is gone on the beach and gotten sunburnt (don't remind me). A lot of family is over and it seems like the only way that they can "talk" to us is to pull us aside and out of the way. As they are the "hosts" of this little "get-together", it seems kind of hard for them to do that. In addition, we are also staying at a family friends' house, which reduces the chance of them "talking" to us.

On a semi-related note, my sister sent over a text which seemed like she was super-mad at me. I can kinda understand, since apparently my parents had a special "celebratory dinner" which I was not told about. I sent her a response saying that we were not told about the dinner and based on the original idea of Keat's parents, we were lucky to get 4 days out of the original 2 week plan (and could not get out of it). I haven't received anything back yet which means she understands the situation (either by my text or talking to Mom, who knew our schedule), or she's even more pissed at me, which I'M SORRY for. I would have loved to stay Memorial Day weekend with my parents, even if a few chores are involved, but trying to manage 2 schedule requests for 1 person ain't that easy.

I do have some good news, though. Late on Wednesday (the day before we left), I was flipping through some channels at my parent's place and saw Boomerang playing Swat Kats, one of the best shows ever! Because I was curious, I found that WB stopped selling the Swat Kats DVD's, but that doesn't means that other sellers don't have it. While searching for the DVD set, I also came across another great series called ReBoot, which was one of the first (and possibly greatest) CG series that ever came around.

On a more good-news note: I'm watching a Mythbusters marathon on Discovery channel, one of my favorite shows which I haven't seen in so many months since Discovery doesn't have an agreement with Hulu yet, so I can't watch my missed episodes (and they don't have episodes on Discovery.com/mythbusters yet).

While I try to heal this unsightly and uncomfortable sunburn and work on some of these client projects that are due by Tuesday, I hope your memorial day weekend goes better than mine.

And while I'm at it, here's a bonus comic:


and if you like bonuses, here's another comic (I have a whole gallery that I need to catch up on):


Goodnight!


Tags:#mythbusters #swatkats #reboot #graduation #vacation #xkcd #bug #dilbert

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Time well wasted

Not to knock off Brad Paisley's album, but today was really wasted. With the building's main internet connection going inactive at 11:15 (just as I finished the first draft of this entry, along with getting ready to begin today's work), and just came back at 6pm (as of this writing) - you'll understand more at the end of the post. This means that I couldn't do anything that I wanted to do today that required the Internet (and nowadays, what doesn't?). While the Internet was out, I did get a budget created for the wedding, and also created a master copy of the guest list that Keat and I will be maintaining. Aside from that, it has been a very wasted day. Stupid internet. ANYWAY.....

Angry Birds via Over the Hedge

I've made some improvements to the blog recently; mainly SEO-friendly URL's. It did require a re-parsing of the feed, but hey, at least the relevant URL's are showing in search results instead of "entry.php?id=48". I think that counts for something.

Last week was certainly a week for attacks, wasn't it? I mean, with our DoS attack on 4/20, then Amazon's AWS network going down (which supplies about 90% of the important stuff on the internet), and Sony's Playstation Network going down, and not to mention the launching of Skynet (for those of you who pay attention to The Sarah Connor Chronicles, although the same thing could be said about April 29, 2010, if you know what I mean), things certainly had a downward spiral last week. On a semi-related note, I just created a CRON job that will scan our secure SSH log, filter out denied access attempts, add the offending IP addresses to our firewall, and email me the report. Not bad for a 15 minute "lets-do-it-now-and-it-hopefully-works" job.

On the up-side, I have made some major improvements to the Shadow Dev mobile site along with the CloudFlare service. It was a bit confusing trying to get the mobile site to update with the CloudFlare proxy DNS set in, but I finally got through it.

On the flip side, the apartment looks like a tornado went through it. Everything that had its own little storage area is now in the middle of the living room, dining room, and part of the kitchen. Why? Because we are moving to Waynesville and we have to get everything packed. Although our original plan was to move at the end of June/July, a friend of ours let us in on a connection to some local landlords and they are looking to have the smallest downtime ever, so with the eviction of their old tenant last friday, they want someone to move in NOW! So we had to move up our move-out date to the end of May (must give current landlords a min. of 30 days notice, as usual). It's not that we don't like Bear Creek, but with Keat going to WCU and the business in Waynesville, the amount of gas alone would be at least $100 a week if we stayed in Asheville. Also, we haven't spent enough time in Asheville to really call it "home" - sure, it's nice and trendy, but we spend more time in Waynesville than in Asheville (really, there are over 200 events, restaurants, shops, and more in Asheville, and we've been to.....4?).

Anyway, I've also picked up the PS2 again and started playing some of my games (the ones that weren't packed yet). I started Onimusha 2 again, and it was pretty fun. I was beating myself up for remembering certain things in certain levels, then trying to figure out how to get them (like the Yellow door at Gifu castle) when in the end, Jubei goes back to those locations and can access them. I beat that in about 4 days (mainly playing between 11pm and 4am). After the boss battle, I switched to Onimusha 3, which (thank god) finally allows access of the left analog stick. I was getting tired of using the D-pad for directional control. I also had my previous save file on my memory card, so I could use Samanosuke's Cowboy outfit (not really appealing, but I thought I'd give it a try). 2 days in, and I'm already at the Zoo level.

On to today's to-do list: working on NSMT's Shuttle system and mobile site, working on finishing Lu's Specialties Foods design, getting Innocent Footprints design planned out (code-wise), finishing Shadow Dev's mobile site, take some business calls for insurance and a potential client, service a friend's computer, create site analysis for competition, write some articles, and see about getting the Wedding site up and going with the online RSVP system. Yay for Monday....

Speaking of the Wedding site, here's a good Bug comic:
Bug


And Monday continues to taunt me with the absence of an internet connection from 11:15 to ??? (although, the college that our building connects through is also down, which means their internet connections, VoIP Phones, teleconference systems, faxes, etc, are all down as well - what luck....). I finish my weekend reader, create a small cron job, reply to some emails, (and write this entry), and as soon as I'm ready to begin my actual work....the internet goes down.

On the up-side (again), I did receive a CloudFlare T-shirt in the mail today (it must have been delievered on Saturday since Friday was a holiday). Thanks CloudFlare, and keep up the good great work!
Webcams suck on quality, and camera phones suck too when there is a lot of background light


Tags:#internet #overthehedge #bug #cron #terminator #apartment #ps2 #onimusha #asheville #mobile

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Headin' to a Party!

Bug

It feels like forever since I posted last, but I thought I'd get an update in before I head to a friend's party tonight.

I've been working on the NSMT alert system, and it keeps bugging me how something works so perfectly on our end (we've even tried to break the system, and it still worked), but it doesn't work on the remote end. I can't really determine the issue and it's becoming harder and harder to figure out what the issue is if the end-user doesn't let us know if something is causing it or what their environment is for their system. It could be anything from a simple security setting to browser restrictions to Admin settings to anything! We don't really provide Tech Support (and this is one of the main reasons). I've been down that road and it baffles my mind how some technology users can be so oblivious about something so simple (it's like someone calling a car mechanic and saying "My car is going WHIRR - fix it!" when the car is sitting in the driveway - impossible to diagnose from remote and impossible to fix if if the problem can't be determined).

I'm also working on some training videos, and found how how YouTube works with privacy settings. I originally uploaded a video and posted it online, but found out that the video was only available to me and my friends. I tweaked that and found out how to make it public, but private. I was also asked how to increase the volume and told them how to increase it via the YouTube application (I told them "we didn't design it, so we can't change it"). I told them that the volume works fine on our end at 30% with and without headphones, so I can't tell what their problem is.

I've also had to push some other client projects back to get this done. It's really irking me to tell these clients "Please wait while we get this done for another client", but what can you do when the company only has 1 developer?

Anyway, I'm gonna call it a night and head to my friend's party in Asheville.


Tags:#bug #videos #fix #nsmt