It’s alive! IT’S ALIVE!!!

It's Alive

It’s Alive

Yup, still alive and kicking. As noted earlier, I’m in the process of moving all of my sites onto a small VPS instead of having them scattered around the net. Been having problems as I’m also using the experience to install Nginx and learn it as it’s a webserver I’ve not used before. Setting up the basic server wasn’t too hard although php kept crashing every time I turned away from it. (That was those Bad Gateway errors folks were seeing.) Getting cgi’s to run on Nginx wasn’t fun either.  Thanks to all those who emailed to let me know that there was a problem.

Part of the reason why I’m doing this, outside of a legal opinion that got handed down to me concerning my hosting and what I get in trade to host some sites, was that I really need a proxy to view the web here in the library.  They just censor too many sites and I have to keep firing up Tor to get around their blocks when I’m trying to help folks. (OK, that last link only had a single return but I hope you get the idea.)

All of my sites should be working again although there is the occasional issue.  Search and the tags here don’t currently work since I’m having problems with the rewrite rules. (Note to self: Post about it to hopefully get some help.)  Nginx’s error logs are empty but I did find the fix for that.  I added a bunch of photos to the Gallery install if you want to check them out.  Hopefully I can re catalog them shortly.

Please let me know if you see something broken.

We’ve moving

Greets:

Just a quick mention that I’m moving sites around today.  I bought myself a small VPS for my Christmas present this year and am spending the day moving the sites over to it.  Things may be broken for a bit.  Just a heads up. 🙂

thanks,
-drmike

edit: Quick Web got back to me to let me know that they have a coupon for a 25% discount recurring for the life of the account.  If you pick up a XEN VPS, be sure to enter XEN25 during check out. (I think it says so on their site but just to throw that in there.)

Getting Paid to Ring the Bell

shirley temple bellringer

shirley temple bellringer

Yup, it’s almost Christmas time again. Where has the year gone? I’ve already started thinking about ringing the bell for the Salvation Army again this holiday season.  This makes the sixth year I’ll be doing so I believe.

And, yes, I get paid for doing so.  Before you get upset about that, I’ll point out that what I make gets used to keep me going and afloat.  I don’t make much during the year and most of the other bellringers, many of them area homeless, don’t either.

Not sure where I’ll be this year.  I’m shooting for the Macy’s again since there’s a library near by and it’s a location I can walk to without much issue.

What got me thinking about this, besides some of my local clients asking about it, is this recent post about bellringers.  The following is the comment I left about my experiences.  I copy it below since it appears to be a WordPress blog and I don’t want to lose the comment due to any Akismet censoring.

Just to clarify, some of the bellringers do get paid for their time.  I’m one of them.  Being a three time stroke survivor, my doctors will allow me to do little physical labor.  While I do a little webhosting and consulting that pays the rent and medical bills, this barely covers my expenses during the year.  I actually look forward to the 6 weeks with the Salvation Army every year as 1) it gets me out of the house and in the public interacting with folks and 2) what I earn myself helps me out greatly.  Most of the rest of the bellringers are area homeless men and what they earn helps them out as well.  New clothes and shoes, leasing a storage locker for a year, a new radio, bus passes for a few months, presents for their own children, etc. are some of the things that these men buy with their money.

Not every market is like this.  They do it like this way here in Charlotte every year because there aren’t enough volunteers to cover.  One a typical day, we have 60-100 spots with buckets with maybe 1 or 2 manned by volunteers.  Saturdays are better but still there’s less than a half dozen groups.

Most folks assume that I’m a volunteer.  Many of the bellringers fool folks into believing so but if asked, I tell the truth, explain why I do so and mention the lack of volunteer coverage.  There’s usually some shock when I first mention that I’m paid.  Either that or an assumption that I’m actually a Salvation Army officer who’s just out of uniform.  After taking the time to explain, I’ve yet have a single person get mad at me though.

I have two beefs though.  The first is the Target situation.  I’m assuming that the company you discuss in your post is Target.  Most folks praise WalMart for allowing the Salvation Army to contain to ring in front of their stores but this isn’t cut and dry.  Five years ago, they were allowed to ring each and every day during the season.  Last year, we had a total of 5 days.  I’m not privy to numbers but this is thousands of dollars lost in their fund raising.  Next time you visit a local WalMart and notice there no one is ringing, please take the time to mention your displeasure that they days have been reduced.

The other beef I have is with folks who brag about their bellringing.  I’ve lost count how many times I’ve had to listen to “I had to ring for two hours three weeks ago in front of a supermarket.” from folks and how they expect me to kiss up to them.  I ring for 9 to 10 hours every day for 31 days.  For my normal spot, I have to go into the mall about through half of it to reach a bathroom.  They come prepared with coffee but mine gets cold after a bit and I have to pull myself away from the kettle to go get another cup.  They spend most of their time talking on their cellphone while I keep mine off so I can do what I’m there for.  They don’t show up while I’ve missed only a single day in the 6 years I’ve done this.  They’re standing next to the kettle having a smoke where a homeless man would be fired if an army officer caught them doing that.  It’s really sad that I have a supermarket across the street from where I’m usually stationed and, when they have volunteers, they don’t put any real effort into doing the best that they can.  The homeless men who normally get that spot outdistance themselves and pull in a lot more money then those volunteers, even after pulling out their pay.

Thanks,
-drmike

I rambled for a bit.  Please excuse any typos.

Making a few changes, hopefully for the better

Site Under Construction.gif I’ve been sitting here for nearly three hours converting a movie from avi format into something I can burn to a DVD. I’ve been doing it for a local client of mine since he can’t. The annoying part about this is the program I use to convert movie file types maxes out my laptop’s processor so I can’t really do anything else but let the conversion software run.  Lots of fun.

Anyway, I’ve made a number of changes to the blog, hopefully improving things:

  • I’ve fixed a number of broken layout issues that I’ve noticed over time. Had to track down a couple of them but I believe I got them all. I need to make the content area a bit wider though. The older images along side the Google Adsense forces the content text into too narrow of a space.  The lists in the footer got fixed as well as well as the Next and Previous Page links found at the bottom of most pages.  I also changed the permalinks to be the actual title of the content instead of being a separate link.  Have to admit that I found that rather silly, like how Movable Type does their comment links.
  • ShareThis is now found on every Post page.  I had tried it previously on a few, not to much success, but I desided on rolling it out anyway.
  • I’ve turned on gzip on a trial basis. I know that the webpages served are rather large, almost as large as some WordPress blogs I’ve seen. I’ve noticed a drop in the bandwidth used so hopefully that’s an improvement. If you have any issues, please let me know.
  • I’ve reduced the number of posts found on each page from 10 down to 6. Again, the size of the page served was a factor to this but also too much information was being displayed that made it a bit confusing for folks. At least that’s how I felt.
  • Related to that, the category, monthly and daily pages now only show an excerpt of each post, similar to WordPress’ the_excerpt() function. Wish I could leave images in there but I’m not going through the code to fix that.
  • I’ve installed a Related Entries script. Hopefully you’ll see it right after the content on some Posts. Unfortunately this means I have to go back through and retag every single Post here so it may take a bit for folks to see it. If you really want to see it in action, the posts I’ve written about Apple and the iPhone is where I tested it.
  • Oh, I’m just sigh of 1,400 posts so I updated the tag in the header. Comments stand at about 460 in case you’re interested.
  • I’ve made room for a list of Favorite Posts in the footer. Haven’t listed any since after adding that bit in there, I started to give some thought about also putting in a tag cloud down there as well. Something for the next round of fixes I guess.
  • The Category and Monthly pages now have Page Counts in their titles. I did that since Google was complaining about similar titles on many of my pages. That took some fixing of the Paged Archives plugin I installed previously.
  • I fixed a number of 404s and broken links.  Hopefully this will be less of an issue for folks.  I still have a list that I need to go through some time soon.
  • Oh, and I’ve also installed iMT, a Movable Type plugin that allows me to Post from my iPod Touch. Doesn’t allow for more categories than a single one and it won’t allow me to include any photos but it’s there in case I need it.

I think that’s everything.  My notes are kind of messy.  If you see anything broken, please let me know.

How do you celebrate Christmas?

star-wars-kotor-cover.jpgYes, I’m this far behind on my posts.  Oh well. 

I was looking over Sue’s blog over at EduBlogs for something and came across this post about Christmas traditions. 

Usually folks remember that folks are in need on the holidays so the
churches and organizations that I normally help are flooded with
volunteers so I have to find myself something to do.  I usually dig out an old Star Wars computer game to waste the day.  This year, it was the original Knights of the Old Republic.  I finished it once playing the Light Side a long time ago when it first came out.  One of these days, I’ll play the Dark Side just to see how it plays.

Haven’t finished it yet.  Need to someday.

So what did you do on the holiday this year?

I’ve officially become a techie

ipod-touch.jpg

If you’re not one of the people I’ve emailed from this thing, I received a special Christmas gift from my attorney this year.  She sent me an 8gig iPod Touch.  She had wanted to send me an iPhone but there was no way I could budget the monthly connection fees. 

I have to admit that I really like it and use it a lot.  It’s a pain to dig out the laptop whenever I have to check email or server status.  Being able to listen to some music while I do my walks is a plus. (The 2gig I picked up recently just didn’t cut it.  Plus not having a menu was a pain.)

Typing on the digital keypad although I’m getting better.  Hitting the right key is kind of hard for me.  My fingers slide around too much.  Still trying to figure out how the directions work with starting at your current location.  I’ll work it out though.

I really like Stanza though. I’m plowing through books like crazy.  Recently read the March Upcountry series by David Weber. (Man, that was a pain to find a decent link for that.) Currently going through the 2001 series by Arthur C. Clarke.  The screen seems fairly small but it’s not too hard to read.

The only real problem I’m having with it, outside of the keypad size, is not being able to listen to video while walking.  Usually when I’m walking, I can lock it so touch the panel won’t stop the music or upset it.  Can’t do that with video though.  If you lock the iPod Touch while video is playing, the video stops.  Kind of annoying.

I’ve dropped it like 9 times so far.  The bottom left corner’s chipped.  I have to find a cover for it someday soon.

So what did everybody else get for the holidays?

afk

afk.png

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’ ve been rather busy.  Bellringing is taking a lot out of me and my doctor has upped my walking schedule.  Spent last Sunday just trying to relax.  Only a few more days and I’ll be back.

Image from here.

Look at the Pretty Pictures

100_0991.jpgThe gallery is fixed and back on line.  Had to give it a new subdomain as I couldn’t get the hosting panel software to reuse the old one.  Feel free to take a look.

I’m getting a lot done today. I do need to give them descriptions one of these days.  That and figure out how to turn on comments over there.