Grant

Grant

Food fanatic, IT professional, Cloud Computing Expert, Software Developer and Travel fan.

 

Wednesday, 04 March 2015 08:33

New updated site coming!

A while back I updated some modules on this site and the template broke (so no more green guy caricature in the header). After spending a little time trying to get it all back in order I decided that it's time to upgrade ALL software to the latest releases. Joomla! has end-of-lifed Joomla 2.5 on December 31st of 2014 which also worried me somewhat as I wouldn't be getting regular security releases etc.

After digging into the database of grantmcwilliams.com I was shocked to realize how long I've been maintaining this and how old the database was. It appears that grantmcwilliams.com has been online for over 9 years! We started with Joomla! 1.0 when it was first released and did the migration to versions 1.1, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7 and 2.5. That last jump was a painful one and the database reflects that as there's probably 100 tables in it that are no longer needed. 

When I first put together this site Joomla didn't have hierarchical categories (only a section with categories inside it), tags, decent comments, photo galleries, blogging features, social networking links, link-backs etc.. So I added third party modules like superblogger, embedded Gallery2 and K2 to Joomla! to give me these features. Superblogger (and other blogging platforms) got replaced several years ago. Last year the embedded Gallery2 finally got replaced with a native image gallery (Ignite).  Now I find that Joomla! 3 has added all the missing features so I no longer need K2 around either so I'm migrating off of K2 back to native Joomla Articles, categories and tags. This is a great deal of work because I also need to replace a bunch of other components that I was using some of which don't have Joomla3 versions. 

To make a long story short I have the new site in testing and will be rolling it out in the coming week. I'm excited to clean up the cruft of a nearly 10 year old database and be running on the newest, cleanest version of Joomla yet. This also means I'll feel comfortable about adding new content on a regular basis again. 

Stay tuned!

We've been doing massive restructuring of the hardware that underlies The Man, The Myth, The Legend.  I'll outline the changes in a later post when I'm done but you'll probably notice that the site has been down multiple times and there's probably a few more reboots to go before I'm done. I have several articles waiting to go up but have been holding off until the move was finished. Later in the month I'm moving more hardware out from under the site but due to the changes I've made this week that will entail one outage and no more (in theory). 

Oh, and there's a lot of stuff that just isn't working right. Feeds are messed up, the "Green Guy" logo is missing, blocks not configured right etc.. I'm putting it all back together as I get time.

Stay tuned!

I have a tendency to keep using the same tutorials of mine and only when I need them updated do I go through the process of writing, testing and publishing the changes. However, when people attempt to use my Xenserver tutorials to install newer versions of Linux I tend to go update them but if nobody asks then they get ignored. You can tell which tutorials I use by which ones are up-to-date. For instance the Ubuntu Automated Install is still stuck at Ubuntu 12.04. That probably needs to be rectified but since I rarely use Ubuntu it's on the back burner (Kali/Wheezy will get update first probably). 

Today's announcement concerns Fedora 20 on Xenserver. I started using Fedora (again) when the wonderful version 17 came out. Then 18 was released with new bugs followed by 19 which had the same bugs and a ridiculous installer. Fedora 20 still has the same odd installer bits with the same usability issues (OK button is either on the top left or bottom right depending on what you're doing) but Fedora 17 just isn't being supported anymore so I've updated to Korora 20 which is based on Fedora 20. Due to popular demand this also means that my Fedora 17 on Xenserver tutorial just got updated as well.

As usual I only use the x86_64 tutorials so I blindly updated the i386 version as well but have not tested it.

Enjoy!

Fedora 20 x86_64 Automated Install

Fedora 20 i386 Automated Install

 

Sunday, 09 November 2014 21:36

Automated install of Fedora 20 VM (32 bit)

Note: updated for XCP 1.5b/1.6 and Xenserver 6.x

Install Type

  • Non-interactive
  • Network boot
  • Commandline
  • Paravirtualized

Prerequisites

  • XCP/Xenserver
  • Access to Internet
  • Working DHCP server
  • Working DNS name resolution

Introduction

This tutorial was originally written for CentOS and has been adapted for Fedora 20. 

Before I started using Joomla! I had a website with a photo gallery for my travel/food/other photos. Due to not wanting to create a PHP photo gallery from scratch I used Gallery1 which did a fine job. Later when Gallery2 became available I migrated to that. At some point I realized that creating my own HTML website was a lot harder than just using a Content Management System so I rolled out Xoops and a couple of other CMSes and each time I realized they were buggy and/or limited. When the Mambo development team forked Joomla! I installed it and thought that it had enough promise to stick around for a while. I went from Joomla! 1.0 to 2.5 over the years (and my other sites - Recessionchef.com, xenapiadmin.com and xenmagic.com are running newer versions still).

It's been a struggle to keep Gallery2 embedded inside of Joomla!. During the Joomla 1.x series I had a connector made specially for Gallery2 but the developer decided not to update the component when Joomla broke the old code with 1.5/1.6 so I had to find a new connector which I did in JFusion. JFusion connects a lot of outside software to Joomla and it was successful in embedding Gallery2 in Joomla!. It wasn't perfect though and Gallery2 was starting to look very old and slow. Web2.0 happened and Gallery2 didn't notice so I started looking for replacements knowing that moving 10,000 photos wasn't going to be easy so I took the job very serious. Each year I'd look for a native Joomla Photo gallery that supported hierarchies and every year I patched Gallery2 up a bit more to keep it running. This year things became critical because the developers of Gallery2 abandoned it. They realized that a complete rewrite would have to happen and there was no reason to do it. This also meant that vulnerabilities wouldn't be fixed. The search intensified. 

This year I ran into Ignite Gallery which is native to Joomla, supports galleries in galleries and looked fairly nice. The download cost was $40 for one year of support and the code is GPL which I'm willing to pay for. After installing it and testing a few galleries I decided to go all the way and migrate Gallery2 to Ignite. In hindsight I should have written migration software to do it for me but it seemed so easy - create galleries, select my gallery2 photos in the Ignite file selector and upload - voila!  Come to find out I had 550 galleries and 11,000 photos. About halfway though I'd invested too much time to quit and I pushed through. Two months later I'm done with the migration. 

As of now all photos have been uploaded into Ignite. There are some issues with the software that I have to work through as well as theming but for the most part I'm happy. The gallery runs fast on the front-end (slow as heck on the backend though) and it's easy to browse. 

So without further ado may I present my photo galleries. 

Travel Gallery

Photography Portfolio

 

Sunday, 12 October 2014 00:00

Going back to Canon

I haven't done a proper review of my Sony RX-100 yet as I haven't really felt like writing about it. I've used Canon Point and shoot cameras for years (s230, sd500, sd870, G7, s90) but Sony just plain outgunned them in every aspect short of one - usability. The RX-100 is a phenomenal piece of equipment with a sensor 3 times larger than the Canon S120 and a much faster lens too. This thing just plain creams the competition in the hardware department and it's small enough to put in my pocket too. 

However, there's that usability issue.

 

I saw DPReview's complaints about it but I thought I'd just customize the buttons and move on. However, it's more complex than that. I'll pull it out of my pocket and it may or may not decide to take photo depending on how it feels. You see, it's a computer with a CPU, memory and operating system and sometimes it's just busy doing something else. Sometimes it will take my auto-exposure bracketed 3 photos, and sometimes it just takes one until it gets warmed up. Sometimes my thumb will hit the help button which brings up the help menu.... when I'm in the middle of shooting and I have to cancel it before I can go on.  Sometimes I want to adjust my white balance with a plain piece of white paper and I haven't yet been able to figure out how. Also why does it have a video mode AND a video button? When you put it in video mode and press the shutter you'd expect it to take a video but it doesn't because you didn't press the OTHER video button. You get all of this for only $700!

This camera drives me insane. I've never had a love hate relationship with a camera before. The RX-100 has truly amazing hardware and truly incompetent software. I've come to the point where I realize Sony just doesn't get it. 

When it comes to buying a new camera I'll be going back to Canon because after several years of sitting on the sidelines they've decided to compete with Sony. The new Canon G7X has the same 1" sensor as the Sony RX-100,  an amazingly fast lens (1.8-2.8) with more zoom than the RX-100.  It's shortcomings seem to be that the battery life is mediocre at best and it doesn't have a viewfinder. I can live with both. I'll carry extra batteries, a solar charger or even drag around a 1982 delorean with a backpack full of plutonium if necessary as long as I can have Canon's wonderful ergonomics.

For those folks who live in Cologne and Dusseldorf and love airplane food you can now get it delivered to your door!

I'm not entirely sure why anyone would want to eat airplane food when they could just go down the street to a real restaurant where the food is made of.... food and cooked fresh. If you attempt going down the street on an airplane you'll create a great deal of havoc when the passenger compartment decompresses and oxygen masks drop followed quickly by you plunging 40,000 ft to your grisly death. This I believe, is the main reason people eat the food their served on airplanes - they have very little choice.

However, if you long for those wonderful little plates of textured vegetable protein poorly pressed into familiar shapes resembling McDonalds' attempt at a chicken pattie then you're in luck because the catering arm of Lufthansa Airlines has announced that residents of the two aforementioned cities can order the very same food and have it delivered to their door. I have an idea, how about having Lufthansa carry out the reverse and have land food delivered to your airplane while in flight. Now you'd have something news worthy.

https://www.allyouneed.com/magazin/airfoodone_menukalender

Thursday, 14 August 2014 23:48

Automated install of CentOS 7 VM (64 bit)

Install Type

  • Non-interactive
  • Network boot
  • Commandline
  • Paravirtualized

Prerequisites

  • XCP/Xenserver
  • Access to Internet
  • Working DHCP server
  • Working DNS name resolution

Introduction

This tutorial was written in the spirit of my CentOS 6 virtual machine (64 bit) installation on Xen howto. In that tutorial I created a disk, downloaded a kernel, kickstart file plus a xen config file which installed CentOS using the kickstart file. This has proven very popular since you can't install a paravirtualized domain using an install disk. This has been a very nice installation howto because you don't have to download any install CD/DVDs and you could create VMs using nothing more than a commandline login. It's also very nice because it can be mirrored locally if you're doing a bunch of them just by rsyncing a CentOS mirror locally then downloading my files and editing them.

I now use Xenserver and it's a very different animal indeed. However, I still needed a system of creating CentOS Virtual Machines in that same manner. I didn't want to download a CentOS install DVD or need a graphical login to install the OS thus this tutorial was born.

This tutorial is for CentOS version 7. 

 

Monday, 12 May 2014 23:09

Jolla smartphone case

I've had my Jolla Other Half for a couple of months but I've held off on using it as my main phone due to my Nokia N9 still working fine and the Jolla is super slippery. Yes, the phoneback might as well be made of ice. I'm fairly sure that if I carried it that way it would last all of a week so I set out to do something about it.

Introducing what the guys at work call my "hipster phone" - a faux leather covered Jolla Other Half! It turned out pretty good and I hope to put up my pattern if anyone else wants to do this but it will have to wait until I have time to finish it.

I've never had a phone that got so much attention as the Jolla and that was BEFORE I skinned it. To me it looks like a big flat rectangle, not that exciting but for some reason people are drawn to it and people ask me several times a week what kind of phone it is. It goes something like this

Me: It's a Jolla

Them: A what?

Me: A Jolla, it's a Finnish company

Them: I've never heard of it.

Me: It's new, they just started making them last November and they became available in Europe in January.

Them: I've never seen one before.

Me: They're not sold here yet.

Them: Is it Android?

Me: No, it's SailfishOS but it can run Android apps

Them: <confused look followed by silence>

That's pretty much how it goes. A couple of times I've gotten so far as explaining that a bunch of folks from Nokia started a new company called Jolla. Twice I got that it was Linux based out and once I got to show them how the back comes off and that it's modular who which they exclaimed "That's flippin' cool!". Yes, yes it is but currently it's more of a gimmick than anything as there's not much to plug into it.

 

Saturday, 21 September 2013 00:00

New Orleans - Day 8

Our last half a day in New Orleans...

We had a short list of things we didn't get to do like going to the St. Louis Cathedral and picking up souvenirs for kids back at home. I also wanted to try a beignet at another restaurant because I wasn't willing to give up on the idea. The ones we had at the oh so famous Cafe Beignet were pretty bad. I have a hard time believing the little desserts that people rave about were just fry bread with sugar on them.

But first, breakfast at the Ruby Slipper. I've mentioned before that I'm not much of an American breakfast type of person but I'm starting to get a bit attached to this place. I had the Eggs Blackstone and Kris had the Chicken St Charles Benedict which she loved.

After breakfast we were off to the Cathedral to see if it was any more interesting than any other church we've seen. It's painted white with gold trim inside which is a bit nicer than the normal concrete blocks. As far as churches go it's nice I suppose but I have some issues with gold laden churches in cities with poor folks which I won't get into here.

We strolled the normal tourist shops to pick up the obligatory t-shirts and spied a Beignet shop that's only open on the weekends. We saw it earlier in the week in the Jackson Brewery building but it never seemed to be open so we figured it was closed for business. Come Saturday it was open and doing a brisk business so we stopped in. It pays sometimes to be relentless as these Beignets were what I expected them to be - light and delightful.  Sorry I was in a hurry and didn't take photos. Now that we'd found decent Beignet's it was time to head to the airport and say goodbye to the Big Easy and more specifically the Frenchman Hotel and Balcony Music Club where we spent several nights listening to music.

 

 

 

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