Thanks and Updates

What, I haven’t posted here since January? I’m composing this offline in 24-point bold. I’ve had a serious vision issue since last August. It wasn’t correctly diagnosed until October. We have almost eliminated the main issue, and then we can talk about vision changes, cataract surgery and and new eyeglasses. Still, I’ve been inattentive to when I could at least have posted some of those little “card” quips I share o Facebook.

My real social world is on Facebook, where, with visual aids and text-to-speech, it’s all too easy to read and share information and personal life with friends all over the country. Many years ago here on, I tried several :Chat” and comment plug-ins for WordPress which all proved vulnerable to hackers and spammers. Keeping up with the swarm of daily deletes , for the sake of the few legitimate posters, proved too high-maintenance. I ditched the experiment completely.

I do still use the built-in “comment” system. It queues all posts for an administrative approval, and that’s me. I’d like here to thank the legitimate folks who leave helpful comments and information, wondering whether their comment will ever post and if someone will think to reply and thank them.

I have a lot of legacy content on my site, plan to add new content, and to keep online for a long time to come.



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Legacy Site Stats

I stumbled on this image capture while poking around for a “Back” button for a CGI script. It goes all the way back to the old HTML website days. Couldn’t resist sharing ~~ Alex



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Summitlake Site Move Updates

My site move posts of November 23 and 24 (scroll well below this entry) hasn’t been updated since February 4. We do have new Photos posted, and hope you enjoy them. Here is the current status of tweaks and fixes at our new home at ICDSOFT:

  • December 20: I emailed a friend in November that our PHOTO department photo galleries were no longer loading, and the JavaScript so old it was not worth trying to fix. Not true. Apparently I was seeing another artifact of the domain transfer process; all pages load fine. Here’s a link to my 1979 Matterhorn Peak gallery folders. Enjoy, and Season’s Greetings to you all! Matterhorn Peak 1970.
  • The site stats and sidebar ephemera are working (top of right sidebar). The stats database is still being manually updated. I’m still working on new Perl code for automated updates.
  • The code change was essential as our new server runs a more recent version of Perl, 5.020002. Most date and time functions are now built-in, so calls to deprecated CPAN modules were failing. Since site statistics are all about dates and times, there was no quick-fix workaround, so I decided it was time to just rewrite and restructure 10-year-old code.
  • I borrowed time from the Perl project to investigate the broken RECIPES and HUMOR departments this morning. The fix was to just upload missing data files and graphics. They are working again.

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You’re reading this on our new home server at web host ICDSOFT. We’re moved on  from our old home of 17 years.

Friday November 4, 2015

  • Most core Perl and PHP scripts are working.
  • Automated scripts up update site stats: in progress
  • Counts since 1999 are accurate, currently still being maintained manually.
  • New posts are working.

Wednesday November 25:

  • Got yesterday’s day of week right on entry title 🙂
  • Got the core site stats PHP code working on the sidebar (top)
  • Perl and PHP date-time functions work differently on this system. Look at the sidebar dates under SITE STATS. Sidebar displays are not being refreshed daily yet as there is a date dependency to get yesterday’s data. Currently working on that.
  • Have a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow!

Tuesday November 24:

  • Links to are working on this site. It may take longer at your ISP.
  • RSS has been disabled on the server. We we getting hundreds of thousands of RSS requests, which is the normal equivalent of one year’s page visits. Cause: undetermined.
  • ICDSOFT tech departments have been very helpful.  Their guaranteed 15-minute response time is real. Their responses are proactive, clearly and professionally explained, and very specific: all recommendations have worked on the first try.
  • By my count, this is my fifth site move, migration and conversion since 1995, including 12 years at the previous web host. There are always some problems and anomalies to work out, but so far I’m very pleased to be hosted by this provider.
  • We’ll continue to update this page as we test and bring utility features online. See below fortemporary caveats.
  • Department Links Now Work (Astronomy, Commentary, Computers … WRITING). We had a problem with this big “multi-site”Wordpress installation that I solved by “Upgrade Network.”
  • Sidebar Perl/PHP widgets will remain inop for a week or so as we bring the code online and reconfigure as needed.

As of Nov23 345PM PST, this front HOME page loads, but links (still pointing to the transferring domain) do not work.

There will be site disruptions and inoperative features as we bring the new site live. Although the transition has been relatively seamless so far, sidebar PHP widgets are going to be inoperative until we get the new PHP and Perl hit counters working again.

Thanks to you all for your support and readership over the years, and may we enjoy many more!


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Server Reboot February 9

Our host advises it will be performing a server update and reboot next Monday, sometime after 10PM Pacific Standard Time, lasting about one-half hour.

“This maintenance window will occur on Monday, Feb 9 between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. MST. It is estimated that the maintenance will take no more than 30 minutes.”

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New Posts for 2015

It’s not a full-fledged “new year’s resolution,” but I neglected this site in December, with only two posts – an all time low, I believe, since 1995. I can do better!

I had cataract surgery in November, the fastest and safest procedure in the world. All went well, but any such procedure seems to take the wind out of my sails. I pampered myself, slept outrageously (but it was glorious), and re-thought how I’d been pursuing a massive Perl project I’ve had on my mind for some years. You know what that means!

430PM Update: new Quotes database installed. Links updated!

It involves our venerable “Quotes” database, accessed from the front page of this site for years. I don’t have a counter on it, so I have no idea who else uses it, but I use it all the time. With about 6,000 quotations amassed over the decades, the database has only one keyword field.

Take this quote, for example:

Bumper sticker seen on "Support our Teachers" auto: 
"Why is money always available for war, not for education?" 
Our guess: there's four whole syllables in 'education', 
only one in 'war'.

With only one keyword, I’d assigned the keyword “war.” Should that have been “teachers?” Or “education?” Why not all three?

No, no, the NEW quotations database and app is not available yet. It will be, much sooner than I’d expected:

A former manager used to tell us, Simplicity comes at the end, not the beginning.”

I rewrote all the Perl code and supporting libraries in connection with the project, in addition to adding four keyword fields. I created two new apps for my own use, Entry and Update (so I can add keywords, among other reasons). The first two months of coding were a minefield of unsatisfactory trials, mistakes, and “almost pretty good” results. I took the core program apart and worked on each piece again, then put them all back together. Voila, mon ami!

So it took about 2-3/4 months to work up the three prototype apps that finally worked perfectly. And then, only an hour or so each to convert them to “production” apps. That’s “portable!” You should see the new Quotations database version 81 in a few days.

In the meantime, as if this makes up for December’s lapse, I’ve today posted a new photo by my friend Swan, and a short personal recollection of a remarkable candlelight dinner in the Mojave Desert. You can see the short excerpts and links to the post pages below.

May 2015 bring happiness, laughter and friendship your way!


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Legacy HTML in Menus

I was looking for an old article called “Talking Crow” today, and, horrors! Our tried and true old HTML file listing, called by a PHP include, didn’t work!

I rarely if ever write new content in HTML, so I hard-coded a current cgi autolisting and put it into a WordPress page.

You can find it in the main Menu above here, and in Computers, La Parola, Outdoors and Writing. It’s a static page, so it’s fast.

The listings represent the best gems of ten years of writing for our old HTML website. You’ll also find embedded listings for Recipes and Humor, which are currently linked in our menus.


~~ Alex

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Something Old and Something New

I’m declaring our site conversion to WestHost 4.0 to be officially over. I’ve pretty much run out of known bugs to fix and enhancements to older programs.

I was looking for a certain photo in my graphics collection and I found this screen shot instead, from 2002:


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Welcome to 4.0 (topic closed)

Monday May 20: We are LIVE on the new server under WestHost 4.0. The conversion happened today while I was on the road. This will be brief because I’m still unpacking.

UPDATES and Bug Fixes

  • Tues 5-21: There are still intermittent outages on our new site as the DNS change propagates through the internet.
  • Tues 5-21PM – fixed WordPress config to allow access to all our departments.
  • Tues 5-21PM – DNS propagation should be done or very close. Haven’t seen a site blackout in several hours. All summitlake mail accounts are operating. Fixed home page counter.
  • Thurs 5-23AM DNS connectivity continuous, site stable, and conversion seems complete. Links on HTML files updated sitewide. I expect minor ongoing site maintenance for some time.
  • HUMOR and RECIPES broken, both fixed. For the curious, php does not support the “php virtual” command when installed as a CGI under Apache. I made a workaround. Arghh!
  • 05-26-2013: Considering the site to be stable and normal. We’ll resume posting new discovery, outages or bug fixes in our Site Status Log as we’ve always done.
  • Comments are closed.

You may find some department level cgi’s that still aren’t working, but WordPress was here to greet me and that’s working. OK, what actually happened is a klunky “under construction” index page was the first thing to greet me. I admit it. Horrors,  I deleted that right away, and our main page is working fine.

Comments are turned on temporarily for this post. There are more of you than me out there. 🙂



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Important Notice (topic closed)

Over the next few weeks, will be moving to a new server within same web host provider. There will be service disruptions.

I will have time to upload our existing files and databases and rough in the new configurations before  the switchover. I’ll concentrate on mail and this WordPress installation first. Most users just viewing this and other linked WordPress site pages probably will not notice many changes or broken links.

Temporary outages can probably be expected in some department-level Perl cgi services. Major apps accessible from the HOME page, like Quotes, Password, and Site Stats will be up and running. Some article, legacy HTML and photo links may have to be changed. Due to the overhead of syncing the new site to the existing site, I will probably not plan many posts during the transition. Some server file changes have dependencies that can’t be tested until the domain switchover to the new site.

The new server is reportedly faster, and should be easier to maintain. When it is live, the URL (address) will be the same; you will know you’re there because the front page site name will then display as 4.0.  Please see progress updates below. Thanks for your support and patience.






  • 04-30-2013: Progress in new setup and configuring server files. Est 40-50% complete.
  • 05-07-2013: Estimating 80% of the way to switchover.
  • 05-10-2013: Over 90% complete. Switchover should be in less than a week. At that time, DNS changes take 24-48 hours to propagate throughout the Internet. We will likely experience some downtime during this period.
  • 05-15-2013: Looks like it will be next  week May 20-24.
  • 05-16-2013: there was a site outage this morning of unknown duration. Dedicated server restarted successfully about 925AM PDT. This was not related to our coming domain switchover, which has not been triggered yet.
  • 05-26-2013: Considering the site to be stable and normal. We’ll resume posting new discovery, outages or bug fixes in our Site Status Log as we’ve always done.

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Tigra Menu removed from top of all pages

We today removed our venerable javascript menu bar from the very top of our pages. Beginning with the new Wordpress release 3.0 “twentyeleven” theme, submenu entries on the Tigra menu would slide UNDER our page-wide banner graphic – not convenient!

I discovered this had also disrupted page rendering of our site on the iPad, and presumably on other mobile devices.

Instead,  I expanded WordPress’s own built-in menu. This eliminates custom javascript, which should allow faster load times anyway:

Under the banner image of each department is a menu starting with the word HOME in the left-most entry. Clicking HOME from anywhere on the site returns you to our home page. Additionally, on any site page, you will see submenu links to each site department when you hover your mouse over the HOME link.

All department top-level links continue to be listed in the righthand page “sidebar,” so you can navigate with whichever system happens to be most convenient at the time.

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Summitlake User Registrations Disabled

We finally disabled the new user registration process at today. There’s no earthly reason that we can see why our readers would need or want to go through the process.

People have long registered, no doubt wondering what the added benefit might be (we wondered too, as there are none), only to abandon their new user identities through disuse. Managing new registrations as a courtesy became a high-maintenance task with no tangible benefit to either site or users.

  • Anyone can submit a comment for moderation. Registration is not required and comments still go into the moderation queue.
  • This site doesn’t enable addition of new blog-spaces for registered users.

If you want to share a different point of view, we’d love to hear from you.

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Site Upgrades Complete

We’ve completed the changes begun with our July 6 upgrade to WordPress 3.2 and its new ‘twentyeleven’ theme. All departments are on the new theme (except Humor and Recipes, which are rendered in HTML, not WordPress). As noted in the previous post on Tigra menus, you can use the top NAV menu bar to navigate from any department to any other department as before, but the menus are much shorter.

The new theme uses larger 1000×288 pixel header images. To take advantage of the higher resolution of the larger format, most departments have new high-def static header images to show off:

  • Commentary – starlings exchanging information in the community palm fronds
  • Computers – hi-def of a 2006 MSI motherboard upgrade project
  • La Parola – patriotic 1974 Gay Pride photo (print scan)
  • My Notes – hi-def bloom, Mexican Bird of Paradise (Phoenix)
  • Outdoors – reduction of the huge Matterhorn Peak panorama photo
  • Photos –   foliage macro, Honeysuckle (Phoenix)

We upgraded the images in Miscellany and Writing, and added new images to the randomly rotating images used on the HOME page. As always, if you notice any problems with page rendering or navigation, we’d appreciate using the Write Us button to drop us a line. Cheers!


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The Tigra menu is our custom menu Nav bar at the very top of our posts and pages. It is not part of the WordPress publishing package. Starting with WordPress release 3.2, we had to truncate the menu dropdown to a limit of 2 items. This is because the new  page header layout code contains JavaScript functionality which interfered with Tigra functionality. When a chain of Tigra dropdown menu items was long enough to superimpose over the page header area, the linked items were visible, but no longer worked. Since Tigra submenu items duplicated links that are already available in the sidebar on the right side of site pages, the solution for now is short dropdowns.

There are still a total of 11 Summitlake ‘Departments,’ and you can navigate to or from any of them using the black Tigra menu nav bar. The longest dropdown is now two items long (‘HTML’ contains ‘Humor’ and ‘Recipes’). Most departments now have a single dropdown, ‘Articles’, a quick and easy way to see a complete list of each department’s posts at a glance. I reviewed sidebar links in all departments to make sure links to major features are displayed. Remember, as discussed in our Site Nav article, you can always browse for content by Article, Archive (by month), Category, Tag or plain old sidebar links.

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New Look for HOME Page introduces the new WordPress “twentyeleven” (2011) theme for our HOME page. WordPress rolled this out Sunday with their version 3.2 upgrade. I hope you enjoy our new layout. I think its new font and use of white space make pages a little easier to read, and positions content for easier browsing. I’d be very interested in hearing your reaction.

The banner images are random and they’re a little larger. I assembled a large collection of these banners from my own photographic images. The new layout is a little narrower than last year’s “twentyten” theme, so there’s some uncertainty how the occasional oversize image posting is going to “wrap” on its page. So currently, all the other departments remain on the twentyten theme as we get used to the slightly different format.

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Add Link To Facebook

We’ve added a new way for Summitlake readers to share a link to content they like with friends. It uses the familiar Facebook ‘Like’ button. Of course this is only useful to readers who also have Facebook accounts! But today that’s a surprising number of us. Your comments on this new feature are most particularly invited. Continue reading

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… to our HOME page. See each DEPARTMENT for full posts in the menu above. Over 7.4 million pages served. Hosted by and Talking Crow Productions, on ICDSOFT. We excerpt large posts here and link to the original post in its department. Follow any announcement link to the full post. You can write us using the Reply form at the bottom of each standalone post, or the Write link in the blue graphic at the bottom of this page. Thank you for visiting us. ~~ Alex Forbes, webmaster

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New Site Links

Hi, you’re viewing our new installation of WordPress 3.o (multi-site). Multi-site went online Thursday afternoon, July 29, 2010.

Links to the 10 old site departments should automatically be redirected to the new URL addresses. Read more below.
Continue reading

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Found It

I found the cause of the formatting issue sooner than I expected. Without pointing any fingers, the plug-in upgrade of Recent Posts from 1.13 to 1.2 had the unintended consequence described in my earlier post.

We’re running under the new WordPress 3.0 major upgrade, but using an older and highly customized theme. The new default theme Twenty Ten is way cool, but it will take months for us to convert and take advantage of all the new features.

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WordPress Formatting Issue

The blurbs you read on our home page are called excerpts. Something in all the installations has changed since yesterday 7/23, and we don’t know what it is.

We used to put basic HTML markup in the excerpts so you could click a link and go straight to a new post in any Summitlake department. Now, as you can see below, WordPress displays all the markup tags instead of formatting the links and such. Continue reading

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On The Air came back online sometime in the early hours of Monday morning. Our web host provider took it down around 830PM PDT as previously announced, as part of a much larger data center move. It appears the move was successful and our site is functioning normally.

A quick site check found no problems or issues so far. Site content appears up-to-date, so the data center server was reloaded from a real-time or current backup. The fact that you are reading this WordPress post shows that HTML, PhP and the mySQL database are all functioning.  Everything appears normal. Ten-four, good buddy …

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Heads Up – Sunday

Our web host provider has provided a scheduled outage advisory for this Sunday, June 13. During a four hour period, will be completely down and “off the air” for web and e-mail.

As a reminder, the following account is scheduled to be moved between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. MDT on Sunday, June 13. You should expect approximately 4 hours of downtime during that window.

I interpret this to mean a four hour outage can be expected to begin sometime after 700PM Sunday (Pacific time), and end before 500AM Monday (PDT). The purpose of the outage is to move client sites to a larger secure facility. Our provider expects the transition to be seamless.

I expect to monitor Network Status and check data for credibility and currency as soon as it becomes available again. I have current local HTML and SQL backups if needed to jump-start any recovery process. I plan to report here with an update post as soon as the site is up and an initial assessment can be made.


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