Saturday, 02 October 2021 22:35

Going Mad!

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In general, I enjoy fiddling around with Joomla and the website.  There are times, however, when it is maddening.  Last week the site went down.  At first, I blamed the domain server for pointing to the wrong location.  Then I figured it was the NAS box I use to host the site.  I thought I had it nailed when I found it would not update the web location and synch with the domain server.  I spent too much time trying to get it to talk to the Synology account to update the web location.  Then I noticed that NAS box had lost its time sync.  Again.  It's' happened before and I suddenly get fake malware notifications as the system realizes that hackers have gotten into the system to change my computer's time... so evil... the notification goes away when I correct the time.  Apparently, it can nuke my web page too.  Talk about the domino effect.  I really have no idea why my NAS box can't keep time.  Maybe I should add an atomic clock;)
Monday, 22 March 2021 21:34

Not Even Two Legs to Stand On

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I had some minor surgery on my foot about a week ago.  Nothing serious, just an outpatient procedure.  I have to stay off of it for a few weeks during recovery.  My job has allowed me to work from home for the duration.  Fortunately, I am allowed to walk enough to go to the bathroom and the kitchen but most of the time the foot should be up.  My job has allowed me to work from home for the duration.  My kids have still managed to step on every part of my foot except the part that has the surgery on it.  Am I paranoid or are they really out to get me?

Monday, 13 July 2020 11:59

Three Sheets to the Page

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Working with Joomla doesn't make you an internet guru by any means. In fact, one of my friends mocks it as a crutch that keeps you from the really powerful tools. Joomla isn't alone, he mocks all the content management systems(CMS). While I don't completely agree he does have some good points. You can actually make some really good looking pages with just html, css and java. It's just a lot of work, especially for large webpages or interactive pages. Getting good with these three tools is even recommended by people who work with Joomla too since it allows you to do some pretty powerful modifications of the basic Joomla pages and the modules themselves.

So, why do I even mention this? Well, I am limited in how much I can write with screaming children roaming in the wilds (the living room, the bedrooms, and the dining room) so I turned towards some things that I can mostly put down and pick back up when the wave of children has passed. So I picked up some books on HTML, CSS, java, and Linux and have been going through them. Most of it makes sense though the actual implementation can get messy. Browsers allow you to inspect the Styles that define the webpage's look but trying to pin down a change has been challenging. Fun and frustrating in turns. Also as I make more changes I have to ask myself if I actually made my webpage look better or just messier.

I think I picked up the basics of HTML pretty quickly, though the fancy stuff is beyond me writing it from scratch. Though I can usually follow it if it's given to me. CSS also wasn't too bad. Writing your own CSS is easier than trying to slip in your own changes in someone else's CSS code. I have literally spent hours trying to track down the correct class name to use. Java is much harder. The basic language looks simple and then you see a shortened bit of code that does what your four lines did and you are back to "Huh?"

The Unix training book has been slow going too, but that's okay. As some may recall I set up a Synology NAS box a while back and then discovered that the box was a real Linux computer that could run almost all Linux stuff and set up my Joomla website on it. My friend (the same jerk) mocked it as... you got it, a "crutch" that keeps you from working directly with the Linux command line and really taking control of your system. I was mostly okay with that since I wasn't ready to dig too deep into the rabbit hole at the time. Since then Synology messed up a few times and figuring out why has been a pain in the butt. So I got the book, set up a Ubuntu Virtual box, and started to practice on the command line. Then I got a Rasberry pie and practiced on its command line. While I still need a reference book to get the command's syntax right and absolutely use Google to do the fancy stuff, these days I can understand what the commands do and the file structure and permissions don't seem to be written in code (though technically they are....). Yay!

My wife and kids are out at the inlaws for a few days so I'll probably take a break from learning to actually write a bit.

Friday, 05 June 2020 12:28

Its a Bug Hunt!

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These last few weeks I have been hunting down bugs on my Joomla website.  I had two web addresses due to the service Synology offers.  So I kept having an issue where parts of the address would be mixed up.  Joomla has a redirect module but it doesn't have a default wildcard redirect.  So I did a little research on htaccess files and, more by trial and error than skill, figured out how to redirect everything to the main address.  So I think most of the 404 errors are fixed.  Googles robots are still sniffing around the old addresses but they should eventually figure things out for themselves.

I have brought my old fanfiction back onto this site.  I cleaned it up and added a chapter to it.  I have another chapter I'll add once I check it a few more times for errors.  I never get them all.  I added an Archive of some surviving records from older games.  Its a bit dry but for me, it's very nostalgic.

I also added a UPS to protect my computer and Synology NAS.  It hosts this site so if it goes down so does it.  There aren't too many power outages yet but it should be good for an hour or so.  Of course, PG&E threatened days of power outages so there isn't much to be done about that.

This is a copy of my authors notes from the fanfiction's last chapter.  Since it says most of my thoughts I didn't want to retype something similar:  As some may be aware of I wrote a few books, a children's book that pretty much dead in the water, as well as another story where I was experimenting with the litRPG genre. However, through this, I have been distracted by the thought that I never really finished my first (and only) Ranma fanfiction. I was also distracted by two screaming six-year-olds (even now, one is crying in my ear), but I can only solve one of them. So, I decided to come back to this and see if I could finish it. I am close to the end so it would be a shame to leave it unfinished. I have gone through the previous chapters and fixed a lot of grammar errors. As with most of my works, I am limited in my proofreaders, and proofing your own stories is a losing proposition. It seems every time I read through it I find more things. Grammarly and Microsoft Word are getting better but each time they find new things. It's pretty weird.

An amusing side story is that a long time ago (over 20 years), I wanted to continue this story after the Old Ones story was wrapped up. Ranma was going to go to China and learn Immortal Cultivation. Palladium's old China books hinted at this by name dropping "Internal Alchemy" but didn't actually go into any details about it but what they did hint at sounded extremely awesome. In fact, they dropped the entire martial arts concept until its later "new" China books that went in an entirely new direction. I didn't even really realize what "Internal Alchemy" was until I got into Wuxia and Xianxia a few years ago. Then I was "Oh! That's what that is. How cool, Ranma would totally go for that!" Anyway, I will barely finish this series, let alone a sequel but if anyone knows a story where Ranma does Cultivation let me know. I would soo love to read that.

Oh, one of my kids loves the Ranma anime and the other one hates Ranma but loves Sailor Moon. I was telling them about crossover fanfiction where they meet but I don't think they understood.

Children's Story Update: See the WP blog to the right to see my original update of this.  Since then I have published the works I completed on the "Books" part of this site.  It also includes the audio of me reading the original version, complete with the Evil Mrs.Potatohead.  My girls saw me working on this and actually remembered it!  They offered to draw in the Princesses themselves and furiously started drawing for at least fifteen minutes.  Then they got bored and as they left for greener pastures they commanded me to include a Prince in the story.  This must be mommy's influence because if I have my way they won't be seeing any princes until they are least 30;)

Friday, 07 February 2020 02:11

Can You Hear Me Now... again

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Can you feel the deja vue?  I do!  I published a blog with this name a few days ago.  Then I had an issue with the permissions of the main config file and had to restore a backup. I am pretty sure that when the backup program reinstalls the system it re-sets the permission.  Thus it's an easy way to avoid trying to fix the issue the hard way.   I thought the backup was up to date but it was missing my latest post.  So...this is mainly from memory.  It should suffice.

So... I installed a lot of features into the web site.  Community Builder you all know about, right?  Of course, you did.  Basically its a set of modules that allow you to put in a profile and connect to other people on the site.  It's a neat little thing, I was vaguely hoping my gamer friends would use to organize their games, schedules and chat about the game.  Usually, we send back and forth about 50 e-mails about the game between sessions and this seemed a decent way to communicate.  One of them actually records the events and I have been posting his recap under his name (with his permission).  It hasn't caught on yet but the dream hasn't died.

The base package is nice but it isn't configured, so it took a little work to massage it into place.  It has the profile, blogs, and articles for the registrants and connects nicely with the site forum and IM modules.  Then I got the addons such as Video and picture galleries able to add to the profiles and then there are the groups.  Basically groups are clubs, hobbies or interests you join and can post blogs, galleries message boards and private forums.  Then I got an instant messaging module to chat with other members logged in.  I may have gone overboard but it was fun. there's a more detailed breakdown of the features and how to use them under the Community top menu

Finally, to the title reference... I fixed the Amazon blog reference that pointed to my website blog (as opposed to the Wordpress blog).  So you can now hear that if you want.  Though you might be hearing double on this post.

Monday, 27 January 2020 11:14

To the Pain!

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There's been an issue with the site for a while that forced it to use PHP 5.6.  If you know what that means... Congratulations!  Basically it is an old standard that hasn't been updated in ages.  Think Windows 7. Initially, I thought that my Synology NAS just couldn't change to PHP7.3.  Then I found out after chasing my tail for over a year that it actually had been (but I didn't think it had since there was no indicator but every time I changed it to the newer PHP version the site would go down.  It was very confusing and frustrating and confusing.  

As I was fiddling around with the webserver settings I read an article on how someone had fixed a similar issue in Wordpress by uninstalling WP in Synology and then restoring a copy of the installation without going through Synology's installer. So I uninstalled it but when I tried to re-install it through Akeeda I found Akeeba had lost permission to create folders. Oops. Okay, I tried to reinstall Joomla. Somehow the Synology installer had lost permission to install it. ?!?!? Next, I used Hyperbackup to reinstall the original Joomla setup but now I lost connection to the database even when I was in PHP 5.6. I went into PHPmyadmin and although I could see everything I didn't have permissions to make changes. It also forced me to add special character to my password.

So I fiddled around with the install since I still have no idea its the database. I mess things up but no big deal. I have Akeeba, right? Its permissions got fixed when I restored the install with Hyperbackup. But... it warns me that the database may not accept my special character... the very same one that MariaDB forced on me. The restore fails. Can't connect to the database. Well, now it has to be a database issue so I go into PHPMyAdmin and I can't even log in. I reset the passwords from the front of Maria and it still doesn't work. I uninstall Mariadb 10 and PHPMyAdmin and reinstall them and the same thing happens. So I install MariaDB 5 and PHPMyAdmin. I can't log in as a user but I can login as the root. I change the configuration.PHP to the root user and suddenly everything works. In PHP 5.6 AND 7.3.

So mostly fixed. I am not happy about using the root identity but I can't log into the user no matter how many times I change the password. I suppose I may work up the courage to reinstall MariaDB 10 again but...ugh.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019 03:46

To Go Where No Man Has Gone Before

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So RPGs have been a hobby for me for years.  A cousin introduced me to the Palladium Fantasy RPG and the Palladium world in its various incarnations has been my favorite ever since.  Today Palladium has an entire Megaverse of content but that old Fantasy RPG has its place in my heart.  However, I moved and it's been hard to get a Rifts game going either as a player or a GM since then.  Setting up a webcam and Skyping just didn't work.  Years passed again.  For a while I played various incarnations of D&D with my local friends in my new home.  Every other week I'd troupe over to a friend's and we'd sit down at the table and roll some dice.  But time passed, we got old, had kids, moved out of state and had various mid-life crises.  We tried long-distance playing again.  Again the webcam came out and failed.  After some fumbling around we started to use an online gaming platform called Fantasy Grounds combined with Skype.  It started out a bit clunky but after a few years the D&D ruleset and more specifically the 5e ruleset because very polished.  It's endorsed by Wizards of the Coast, which seems very wise considering I have pretty much bought all the content at least twice so I could have the hard copy AND play online with the reference material.

And yet... and yet... what about the game system I actually gave a darn about?  Well, Palladium is still coming out with content but without people to play with, I really haven't kept up.  Every few years I would sit down with a serious face at my computer and Google up a storm trying to find some way to play Rifts online.  Roll 20 had some online games but I had invested too much energy in Fantasy Grounds to redo it all in Roll 20. SO fast forward a few weeks ago.  I sit down, do another search and I get a reference pop up.  Someone named "Damned" had made a very flexible ruleset for Fantasy Grounds.  It's not perfect but with a little bit of spit and polish, it may just work.  I dug into the tutorials for extensions, stumbled around a bit in the xml and lua files and came up with a slight modification that I think will work with Fantasy Grounds and Damned's MoreCore ruleset.  Fortunately, Damned is very responsive to questions.  I feel a bit guilty for wasting his time but with his help, I have something I put together with an online tutorial on YouTube.  I still don't actually have a campaign to play but it was fun to put together.  If this interests you check out my Youtube tutorial!

Friday, 21 June 2019 21:27

The DiskStation Shuffle

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The DiskStation I had... died.  I was even notified of the time of death since Synology tells me when my DiskStation is offline.  This only really matters since I have this website on the darn thing.  I only had it a year but I bought it used, so I was pretty worried when it went down.  Amazingly Synology is pretty awesome when it comes to replacements as long as its within the warranty period.  If your reading this you may have realized that it is now up and running.  Everything was saved except the internet/network settings.  Unfortunately every time I mess with those I want to throw the darn thing away.  Entering various settings over and over until one finally works is one definition of hell.  Finally, I switched two cables around and I was live.  I guess I lack some basic understanding of the details;)  Hopefully, it will be a few more years before it goes down again.
Monday, 28 January 2019 19:07

Better Late than Never, Right? Right? Featured

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I was late.  I completely missed my December publish date.  I almost missed my revised date of late January but I barely made that one.  All of these dates are self-inflicted so I suppose there is no harm.  Moving into the new house has been a roller coaster.  It required a huge change to my lifestyle, which I won't get into, but has generally been positive.  Except on my writing schedule.  It has definitely hit that harder than I thought.  Back in June, I was writing very quickly.  In fact, I had started two other projects (a children's book and a litRPG story)and had been making great progress on everything.  My latest schedule hit was due to both my girls being sick and having a water leak (which turned out to be in the yard).  The girls are actually easier to take care of when they are coughing and listless, except for keeping mommy and me up all night.  The flipside is that since they are coughing on us I expect we'll be sick in about a week.

I haven't touched my website in several months, so I was worried that I would completely forget how to use it.  Having worked with it for a few days I can thankfully say that it mostly came back.  I even found that Goodreads has new widgets that allow your book reviews in Goodreads to be viewed on your website.  That is more than Amazon allows.  See my blog for a slightly more in-depth description of my tears of bitterness.  

On the downside, I realized you can't blog directly in the Joomla editor because if you take too long you get logged out and you lose your blog/comments.  Yes, this is my second attempt.  If you are reading this and you want to leave a comment...remember to write in WordPad or something and THEN copy the test into the comment field.  Just saying.

Of course since the last time I used Joomla it has started saying that PHP 5.6 is outdated and to switch to PHP7.2.  I installed this and have been trying various tricks to get Joomla to use it.  Unsuccessfully.  Running a server on a Synology box has been fun and educational but it has moments of frustration.

Sunday, 26 August 2018 14:42

Growing Pains

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I moved to a rental house about two weeks ago.  Talk about a real pain in the butt.  Aside from the packing and unpacking and hauling stuff around in a truck having a Joomla website and NAS has been more of a pain than I thought.  My new provider is AT&T.  I moved in on a Wednesday and had internet service for about a day.  During this time I wrestle to get the port forwarding to work.  I thought it was a heat issue.  The router was in the garage with a temperature of over 105 degrees F.  AT&T came out about four days later and moved it inside.  It was up for about a day.  Four days later AT&T comes back out and changes all the wiring from the service connect to my house.  Service is up for about a day and then crashes hard.  Four days later AT&T comes out and changes the router and tracks the issue to the connectors at their service.  I am finally up.  Yay.  It takes about a week to get the NAS and Joomla up due to some odd issues on the brand spanking new router they gave me.  I feel like AI spent weeks playing wack a mole but everything seems to be working.