Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

4/22/2014

WordPress – Blogging, CMS and more

Filed under: Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:17 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

So, my “Tools for Tuesday” posts are getting a bit more challenging for me time-wise and quality-wise.

That’s why I missed last week, actually.  I was just too busy to get a good review post done and shared in time.  And, I think maybe it’s time I start scaling that feature back, just a bit, to one post every other week.  I hope it will let me maintain both the quality and quantity of “Tools for Tuesday” posts.

And, now that bit of house-keeping is out of the way, on with the big show!WordPressThreePointNine-2
Or, at least the main post.  This week, I’m sharing something that is probably familiar to many, if not most, of my readers; WordPress.  WordPress is the blogging software that I use to run this blog, not to mention my other old blog at Fantasist.net, as well as the entire site at JKHoffman.com and my wife’s site at OrganizingDecorator.com.  It will also be what I use to run two other projects that I’m working on developing, Find My Photographer and Find My Decorator.
As you fellow devotees know, this past week saw the release of WordPress 3.9, but I’ve been using this free, open source software since version 1.2!  Before that, I used MovableType like many early bloggers, but with their “great license debacle”, many of us jumped ship and found our way to WordPress.  I know one reason I, personally, chose to go that route was because the lead developer of the project is Matt Mullenweg, who happens to hail from Houston, where I live currently.  I liked the idea that I might run into him at one of the local computer groups that were around at the time.  I never did, but I did go to DEF*CON with someone he used to play in a band with back in 2012.

In any case, I’ve used WordPress for a long time, especially in “internet years”.
Back in the day, it was really only a blogging platform, but it was super easy to setup and maintain.  And, perhaps more importantly to me, especially back then, it was easy to extend.  I haven’t written any plugins lately, but WordPress is so easy to use and code for that even I could write add-ons for it.  I’ve even done some pretty significant modification of themes, and anyone who knows me knows that I’m about as far from a designer as you can get.
WordPressThreePointNineSince those early days, though, WordPress has really grown up!  Now, not only can it handle simple blogging, but it can run your whole site.  There are detractors, of course, who say that it’s not really a full-featured content management system, but they’re wrong.  WordPress has built-in features that make running an entire site easy, like the ability to set a static home page and super-simple page management.  Add to that a completely customizable appearance through themeing, limited only by the designer’s vision and ability and you can see why WordPress runs about 19% of the internet and has been downloaded at least 46 million times.  But, what’s even better is that there are so many people doing add-on development in one for or another that there is a theme, widget or plug-in that will pretty much do anything else you could want that’s not already rolled in.  And that’s really saying something because WordPress “ships” with a pretty robust gallery and media management system already rolled into it.  Other important features include good, reasonably secure user management, a commenting system and an easy to use interface.  Granted, the interface is always being worked on and improved, so it’s always changing, but it’s never been a distraction for me.

WordPressFourPointZeroOther features include autosave, spell check, automatic upgrading, built-in plugin installation, sticky posts, comment threading/paging/replies, bulk management of posts and comments, image editing, a Trash/Undo feature, bulk plugin and theme updating, a multi-site option allowing multiple custom blogs to be run from the same installation, it comes in at least 70 languages and it’s even pretty optimized for search engines!  But, it think what matters most to me is that WordPress has a huge community around it, supporting it going forward, developing for it and making it better, even though it’s free.  I can download the latest version of this beauty any time I want, install it on the webserver of my choosing, and make my voice heard on the internet.  I can build with it or I can build on it to make it do whatever I need or want and anything I create with it is all mine.  No one owns a piece of it and, as long as I write my own posts and pages, I keep and maintain all rights to all the data that I shove into it.  That’s pretty incredible when you think about it.

And, yes, it really is easy to install and use, so if you’re thinking about starting a website, I highly recommend using WordPress to do it.  Don’t listen to the nay-sayers that claim WordPress isn’t up to the task either, because a lot of really incredible websites use WordPress.  You can check some out at the WordPress Showcase.  You might be surprised at some of the high-profile sites that you have already been to that use WordPress!  All that power can be yours, too, if you just take the time to download, install and use WordPress!

9/6/2006

“Cheated Death Again.”

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,GUI Center,Life, the Universe, and Everything,MicroSoft,On The Road,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:56 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

I really don’t mind flying with my boss, but I wish he’d stop saying that.

So, Thursday last week, things started to go wrong with our server in Bellechasse, or, as I think of it, the Sweaty Armpit of the Gulf Coast. First, it was a user who just couldn’t seem to connect. Then, there was another user who couldn’t connect, though that turned out to be a totally unrelated problem. After dinking around with the server and the workstation over the phone, we finally rebooted the server and the problems seemed to be solved.

Turns out, not so much. Friday I got a call shortly after 8:30AM letting me know that now four users can’t connect to the server. So, again, after a few minutes of screwing around with a work station, I had them reboot the server, figuring that what worked the day before should work again. Seems like sound logic, right? Well, it is a Windows 2000 server, so logic probably wasn’t the best tool to apply. Everything seemed fine, right up until the server hung up at the “Preparing network connections” message. We rebooted the server at least three times after that and even tried Safe Mode, but, to no avail. So, I broke the news to my boss who was barely able to contain his joy at having an excuse to fly.

I should mention that I’ve flown with him on several occasions without incident and, as far as I can tell, he seems to be a very fine pilot. Certainly the flight itself has been smoother than most commercial flights I’ve been on. And, being able to bypass any sort of security checkpoints or limited schedules is really nice. It means, generally, that I can fly over, fix the problem and fly back in the same day. All with out needing to fill out an expense report, I might add.

So, well before sunup on Tuesday, we flew over to a little flat spot on the edge of New Orleans they call Lakefront Airport. This trip, I noticed that the same roofs seemed to have the blue FEMA tarps over them, but more yards had the pre-distressed FEMA trailers in them. Not sure if that’s progress or not, but, somehow, it seems like it should be. At least more of the traffic lights were working. Certainly, that has to be considered progress.
In any case, we got to the office about 9:00AM and I walked right to the server and got to work. I started by rebooting, just to see if I was going to get lucky. Naturally, I wasn’t or this post would’ve just ended. So, I cycled through several different boot options and finally, after much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, I got the server into a semi-stable state by booting into Safe Mode with Networking Support, but via the Repair Mode on the Windows 2000 install disk. (No, don’t ask me to recreate the steps because I wasn’t taking notes and I was probably running a fever.)

So, guesses on what was wrong? Out of disk space. Or rather, there wasn’t enough disk space for Active Directory to run properly. So, I killed a bunch of temporary files and cranked down on the size of the virtual memory paging file. Sure enough, when I rebooted into “normal” mode, the server came up and everyone was able to log in and all was well with the world. All done before lunch, I might add!
And, so it was that I humbly asked to be brought an oyster po’boy, dressed, sans tomato, with fries for lunch while I attempted to kill all spyware and adware and other such nastiness. What I got was a catfish po’boy, two hours later, and one machine that still has some spyware remnants on it that need to be cleaned up. How fleeting is glory… Oh, and that’s not to mention the several requests I got that were far, far outside the scope of “fixing problems”, which was, in fact, my stated purpose.

Interestingly enough, when we touched down again in Houston an essential piece of navigational hardware in the boss’ plane locked and threw an error message. Then, up popped the infamous Windows NT “Blue Screen of Death”, upside down on that oh, so essential monitor. Yes, boys and girls, our lives depended on hardware that runs the most unstable, buggy, crash-prone version of Windows I’ve ever worked with.
Yeah, we sure cheated death again. Barely.


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