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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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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HOME Repaired

There was an 8 minute outage because some idiot forgot to change a table prefix code from ‘ts_’ to ‘wp_’ when we deleted the first new HOME database and reloaded a new one from a test database. I can say ‘idiot’ without fear of appearing small, because it was in my checklist, and I am the only person doing this task.

It’s like losing one engine in a single-engine aircraft. Keep calm. Figure out what to do FAST. At last I am logging heavy jet time with mySQL databases.

This all came about because an excellent plugin utility called Articles went haywire. I realized I had a data integrity issue in the old database – blame it on the old learning curve, not WordPress. You can read more about this in my Computers department post WordPress Conversions.

And now Articles works as designed. Enjoy your new page!

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Coast Is Clear

I cleaned up the WordPress SQL files in all 8 departments. As far as I can determine, everything is OK now. There was a bit of a learning curve involved, and learning is always good, and there’s never anything quite like an emergency to motivate you to learn fast.

  • There was a genuine upgrade conflict, but it only involved one department and was resolved by turning off the out-of-date plug-in.
  • The garbage data characters go back to June, possibly much earlier. I didn’t try to trace back to the point of origin, since I wouldn’t remember what specific event might have caused the text corruption.
  • I completely removed rss feed, as I discovered that huge volumes of comments were being written from other sites into my database files. I suppose reading them all would make them go away, but they’re redundant across 8 databases. If I want to read and subscribe to rss, I’ll use my browser or a dedicated application.
  • I deleted a number of registered user-subscribers who don’t seem to have been active since registering. If you have ever posted a comment on this site, you should be OK.
  • Maybe I’ll finally get to that commentary on the Scientific American article in the next day or two.

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    SQL error – Horrors!

    There was nothing on TV tonight. I turned it off. THAT has to be a first. I read an interesting article in Scientific American, about alternatives to the Big Bang theory. So I went to our Astronomy department to write some NOTES about it. Garbage data! WordPress is stored in a mySQL database, and the database was corrupted. Horrors!

    It has something to do with the new WordPress version 2.3 in conjuction with old plugins and/or old templates or style themes. Well, I don’t use any old plugins or themes, that I know of. What we had here, Bubba, was a Blog Bang Theory.

    The indicated remedy – you’re smart enough to make a complete backup before doing a version upgrade, right? – is to DROP the old database and reload your backup. “Drop” means destroy. I had never done this before, but you can bet I read up on it quickly.

    Now to find out if all those backups I made were really any good for anything.

    They were. Editing, I saw they were simply lousy with funny characters (nope, I don’t want to imbed one here so you can see). That means the garbage was there before my backups. Odd.

    So yes, Virginia, you can edit the backup SQL files in a text editor. Find/Replace got rid of them quickly as far as I can tell.

    I’ve only been through Astronomy and Writing NOTES so far – Astronomy was by far the worst, and wouldn’t even page-load properly. I will have to check them all. The only departments that haven’t received the version 2.3 upgrade are My Notes and this one – What’s New.

    Thank heavens for help blogs on the internet. My “crash” course, if you’ll pardon the expression. I’ll get to the Scientific American article soon enough. Cheers!

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