Thursday: 29.March.2007

Making final tweaks to new YaBB forum software (v2.1)

YaBB = Yet another Bulletin BoardMaking final tweaks to the new forum. Installed two new mods today [making a total of 4]. One: admin mod, which will give us more control over the forum...

... and (2) an email mod, which will give us tools to help combat spammers, should we be attacked again, like we were last spring.

Also finished combing thru the Ghost guide and changed all links there that were pointing to threads at the old forum, to the same threads at the new forums.

today's entry continues here

Also finished deleting all memberships at old forums .. except for a handful (50 or so).

If you happen to be getting this message in IE7 when posting in new forum: "Do you want to allow this webpage to access to your clipboard?" .. see this thread for a fix.

Received a few emails about configuring URL re-directs from old to new forums. Looking into that .. options & limitations. I want to be able to do something like this (very specific) .. not merely a whole-sale re-direct from everything from old forum to home page at new.

It would be better for a searcher (looking for specific information) to get a specific thread at the old forum .. than to get the home page at the new.

Posted by Rad at Thursday: 29March2007

Tuesday: 27.March.2007

Dialing-in new YaBB forum software (v2.1)

YaBB = Yet another Bulletin BoardStill dialing-in the new forum. I tried to capture much of my experience (lessons learned, both good & bad) in Sunday's blog entry...

.. so others who might attempt the same endeavor (converting existing forums to a new URL) could glean insights from someone with first-hand experience.

There are certainly challenges associated with "upgrading" a forum (more accurately described as a > new installation & subsequent conversion) that involves a new URL .. which I hadn't fully appreciated (having never before attempted it).

All in all, I'm glad I did .. cuz many of the forum's new features are cool. But it's not something I'd want to do again anytime soon.

I'm also glad I waited for v2.1, which contains many bug fixes & improvements to v2.0. It's like waiting for the first service pack from Microsoft before installing a new operating system.

The biggest surprise .. is I don't think I'll be able to delete posts at the old forums .. at least not any time soon .. since so many links still point back to posts (threads) at the old forum.

today's entry continues here

Another factor to consider > search engines still use links to the old forums (which have been at the same URL since June 2001). It will take a while (months?) for them to "spider" their way thru posts at the new forums, and figure out those are active forums.

For example, right now, I see there are currently 32 Guests visiting the old forums. No doubt they found their way there (primarily) via search engine queries.

Speaking of links pointing back to the old forums, I'm currently updating the Ghost guide, which contains tons of links to threads in the old forums. Stayed up late last night working on that, changing the links to point to the new forums. I'm about have way done.

I'm also in the process of deleting everyone's membership at the old forums, so no new posts can be made there. I'd like it (eventually) to be a read-only archive. I have less than 1,000 more memberships to delete (started with 5K). Taking forever.

Still trying to determine the best way to "lock" it from new users. Maybe chmod (change permissions) of key directories to read-only.

For more along these lines, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query > yabb forum installation upgrade change new url

Posted by Rad at Tuesday: 27March2007

Sunday: 25.March.2007

Upgraded & Converted Rad Community Forums to YaBB v2.1 (new URL)

YaBB = Yet another Bulletin BoardWe have a new URL for the (upgraded) Rad Community forums > http://radified.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl

As of 9:45 AM PST today (Sunday) I converted all members & posts to the new forum.

But posts made to the old forum URL *after* 9:45 AM PST today will *not* convert over to the new forum (v2.1).

The installation of the new forum software (which is the hard part) went flawlessly, without a hitch, but I had trouble with the conversion (the easy part).

Once I figured out however, that the convertor wanted (needed) the *absolute* path [/home/radif2/public_html/cgi-bin/YaBB] to the old (v1.4) files, the conversion worked beautifully (took ~ 5 or 10 minutes .. truly a thing of beauty).

We have literally thousands of posts, and even more registered members, so doing the conversion "by hand" would've suk'ed big time. I love when technology works the way it's supposed to.

today's entry continues here

This is a major upgrade. The previous version I was using (v1.4) was released 2 years ago. Weekends, when site usage is down, are always the best times for major site upgrades. Easier to recover from muck-ups.

I'm realizing, tho, that the forum's new URL is creating some challenges. Even tho all the old posts have been imported ("converted") to the new (upgraded) forum, there are literally thousands of links pointing to posts (threads) at the old URL.

Even many threads themselves contain links to other threads (using the old URL format). And if you're a regular here, you know how I hate to make any Rad-link obsolete.

So I'm in a quandary, trying to find a way to remove the option to register and post new entries at the old forums, without having to delete the old threads. I'd rather leave them there, as an archival source. My head is hurting (and my eyes are burning).

Okay, after considering my options, I've decided to *delete* all currently registered members from the old forums (which will take a while, with thousands of members), so they can't post new entries to the old forums .. without first re-registering.

Attempting to re-register will take them to the agreement, which I modified to notify them of the NEW forum's location. That seems my best option.

If I tried to delete all 5,000 registered members at once, it might choke the server. So I'll do a handful at a time. (Only 4,800 more to go.)

I already installed this mod for YaBB Advertising, which makes it easier to include ads into the threads. See HERE for an example of how (beautifully) ads look in this new format (incorporated into the thread), rather than merely at the top of the page (format used by the old board, which people rarely pay attention to).

It installed & works flawlessly. I'm impressed & pleased. The mod allows you to include up to 7 ads per page. I selected (a maximum of) 2. I also changed (darkened) the background color of the window where the ad is displayed by using this tweak.

I install a forum template called Black_Gray3d. The default white I can hardly stand, yet any registered user can select that template from their "Profile" settings .. if they so desire).

We also added the ability to increase the forum's font size (to both medium & large). Thanks to NightOwl for that. More forum templates (for YaBB v2) can be found here. (I like most of the ones that are dark, primarily black & gray.) I can install any template, but one requires tweaking cuz of my other mods, so less is more.

I also installed a mod called News Fader Colors Update, which allows me to tweak the colors of the news fader (found in the upper-left corner of each page) for each of the different forum templates we offer.

Another thing I've learned that suks about board conversions .. is that all "moved" posts (which were moved back at the old forum, to another board) contain links that point back to the old forum.

Of course, you can always find the moved/converted post at the new forum by entering its title search function, but that's a less-elegant solution then having a direct link. And threads do tend to lose relevance as time goes on.

A major positive aspect of the new forum is its Security featues. Today I turned on (activated) flood/session security, which generates a distorted graphic at log-in, which the registering person must enter, thus preventing bots from registering automatically .. a problem at the old forum. I opted for a 4-character graphic. (Max is 15.)

I also noticed this installation was much simpler than when I installed the original version 1.0 software, which required much more manual editing. By contrast, this installation (v2.1) was far more automated. It searched for and found all the files and directories it needed, and (automatically) configured the forum's settings. All I had to do was verify that the various directories/paths listed were correct, and click the "Okay" button. Sweet!

I have never before upgraded the forum software so that it involved using a new URL. It's becoming clear that the more posts your forum has (mine has ~25K), the more disruptive it will be (to use a new URL).

Also the more *links* to posts/threads (I use a lot in the Ghost guide, which I am in the process of updating now to change the links to the new forum), the more disruptive the "upgrade" will be. At some point, (lots of posts/threads & links to forum), you will start looking very hard at doing everything you can to keep the same forum URL.

Finally, this post > titled New forum feedback contains comments from users regarding their experiences with the new board, both positive & negative .. which anyone performing this upgrade is likely to encounter.

One final thing: you can get from a post at the OLD forums to the same post at the new forum if you understand how the YaBB convertor assigned file names. It's pretty simple. See here for details: Getting to new-forum post/thread from old forum URL

For more on this topic, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query YaBB forum upgrade conversion

Posted by Rad at Sunday: 25March2007

Tuesday: 20.March.2007

First Day of Spring (Vernal Equinox)

First day of spring today. Also called the Spring equinox, or the Vernal equinox First day of spring (here in the Northern hemisphere). Also called the spring equinox, or vernal equinox. The word equinox means equal night.

Here on the Left coast, the exact time (when the sun crosses the equator) is > 5:07 PM (8:07 Eastern).

Nature lovers the world over will be out celebrating, banging their drums and enjoying the day. I'm gonna try for a bike ride later, ~ 5PM, so I'll be out at the exact moment. (I don't have a drum, but I'll find something to bang on.)

Perhaps I should note that day & night are not exactly equal on the equinox .. for reasons detailed here > US Naval Observatory, and also at National Geographic.

today's entry continues here

Interestingly, the earth is actually closest to the sun on January 3rd (called perigee & perihelion, 91.4 million miles away), and it's furthest from the sun on July 4th (called apogee & aphelion, 94.5 million miles away).

So distance to the sun seems to have little effect on seasons & temperature. See here > Windows to the Universe

Good day to get out for a walk. You know what Nietzsche said: All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.

Today's perfect balance of day & night (equi-nox) allows you to balance an egg on end (today & autumn equinox only).

By the way, regarding previous entry (18.march), I had no coffee today. That's one day and counting. Feeling mellow, serene. No headache (yet).

For more on this subject, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query > spring vernal equinox

Posted by Rad at Tuesday: 20March2007

Sunday: 18.March.2007

Caffeine Addiction & Thoughts on Fatherhood (Motivation)

Let's begin with good news today. My shoulder feels better (after months of being sore). Normally, shampoo'ing my hair hurts it worst (kills me). Today was the first day a shower brought no pain.

I've stopped lifting weights and took up bike-riding instead, in an effort to give the shoulder a chance to heal. I also carry the bug with my other arm (or on my shoulders). Seemed like that pain would never go away.

On a less-positive note .. you may recall back in November (the 7th), I mentioned a desire to quit drinking coffee (caffeine). So how's that coming? you ask?

Coffee never tasted so good as when I decided to quit. I drink espresso, and I've been drinking more of it than ever. ("Quadruple-shot, please.") Seems the more determined I am to quit, the better it tastes.

today's entry continues here

I've always felt I could quit at any time, and that quitting would be no big deal .. but I'm beginning to think I might really be addicted. I find myself saying things addicts do .. like > "I'll quit tomorrow." (Junkies always promise to quit tomorrow.)

And if I ever spill any (espresso), it's usually followed by a horrified gasp .. as if I just spilled the most precious substance known to man.

My goal > is to quit for 3 months, and see how I feel. So can I quit? Sure. No problemo. Piece of cake. I'll start tomorrow. =)

Speaking of coffee .. I was sipping my morning espresso at the local coffee shop this week, when I heard a (male) voice ask, "Where the little guy?"

I looked up from my LA Times to see an attractive couple standing there. "I don't get him today," I said. "I get him tomorrow."

A few minutes later the girl sat down at an adjacent table. "My husband came home from work last week," she shared, "and said, 'I saw the cutest little kid at the coffee shop this morning'."

People are going home, it seems, and talking about the bug. (Maybe they want one of their own.) This isn't the first time something like this has happened.

Of course, I'm a proud papa, so I'm biased as they come, and I (naturally) think he's the coolest. But it still surprises me when others confirm my sentiments. Wish I could post some pictures for you, but I can't.

When the guy sat down a few minutes later with their drinks, I introduced myself and told them the bug's name. "He'll be here tomorrow," I said.

My focus these past two years have been to pour into him as much good stuff (love, affection, attention, fun) as I can .. in the limited time I have him each week.

Experts claim the first 2 to 3 years are the most important (developmentally), and he just turned two. So I'm feeling a sense of accomplishment .. or at least as best one might imagine, under the circumstances.

After the first few years (experts claim) it's more about maintenance. But deficiencies early on can plague us our entire life.

Egret at Back Bay, Newport BeachThis week he saw his first egret (at the Back Bay, here in Newport Beach). I try to focus on giving him a variety of new experiences, teaching him new words, making sure he gets plenty of exercise .. outdoors, where he can run around and play (plenty of fresh air).

"Did you ever imagine you could love someone so much?" is a common comment I hear. But it's not really like that for me. I mean, sure I love the little guy. But that's not why I do what I do. My primary motivation comes more from a sense of duty, than anything else.

Does that make me weird? I dunno. Commitment. Obligation. Responsibility. These are words that come to mind when I think about my motivation. Admittedly they're less romantic, yet effective nonetheless. Because I don't always feel like pouring so much into him, yet I do it anyway .. out of a sense of duty, which is always there.

The only time I missed a visitation was when a doctor advised against it. Even the back injury didn't stop me.

Sacrifice .. is another word that comes to mind. Of course, he will soon outgrow his need for many of the things I currently do for him. So my sacrifice will likely diminish as time proceeds, making it (more or less) temporary .. like a window of opportunity.

"They're only small for a short time," is another common theme I hear. Already it's clear (sadly) that I can no longer carry him the way I once did.

Posted by Rad at Sunday: 18March2007

Sunday: 11.March.2007

No blog entry in 10 days: What gives?

No entry in 10 days. That hasn't happened in many moons. The last time was probably back when I backpacked the mountains of Yosemite (& grew a beard). So something is up.

I need to feel an entry before I can write. I rarely write just to add words .. which seems trivial, if not phony.

In trying to understand this recent silence, I feel (not sure) it stems from a combination of the back injury and increased co-parenting contention.

Custody battles, as you know, are notoriously emotional. And when trouble befalls (as with the case of a debilitating injury), my instincts are to put emotional things on hold, and deal with the crisis sans emotion (to avoid distracting from the issue at hand).

today's entry continues here

This method of dealing with crises (sans emotion) dates back to my early days in the Navy, when I rode a nuke sub, where I ran a reactor plant. Unlike the nuke plant, unfortunately, I know relatively little about parenting. (But I'm-a learnin'.)

The military trains you (via endless, elaborate drills) to handle emergencies in a manner that is logical & methodical (calmly). Emotion has no place here. If you're freaking out, paralyzed with fear, or overcome by some other emotion, you won't likely (the theory goes) be very effective at dealing with a crisis.

I think this is why (shifted out of a feeling mode) I haven't made an entry (here) for so long. That back injury kicked my butt. Thru me for a loop. Major-league sukage. Pain, after a while, becomes oppressive. Every movement a struggle.

This week was the first time I woke to find that my back actually felt good. That same night, coincidentally, I woke during a dream where I was crying (real hard, like little kids do .. altho about something embarrassingly silly).

I woke feeling dramatically refreshed (both physically & emotionally) despite the fact the cry was only in a dream. (Weird, huh?) So it seems my emotions were whacked .. after being suppressed a month.

I've been dealing with increased co-parenting challenges recently. In addition to attending co-parenting classes, I now (after more than a year of this) have acquired plenty of (first-hand) experience.

One skill they teach at these co-parenting classes (and one which happens to embrace the military's method of handling a crisis) is that, when you find yourself getting angry, realize that adrenaline is being released (which instills the fight or flight instinct). In arguments, adrenaline tends to make a bad situation worse.

It has been difficult to bite my tongue when a 'discussion' begins to degrade into an argument. But I'm improving. I've learned (the hard way, unfortunately) that no amount of discussion (argument) is ever going to lead to resolution.

These co-parenting classes teach the anger-management technique of avoiding (saying or doing) anything for ~20 minutes, cuz that's how long it takes for an adrenaline spike to dissipate.

Surely you realize, that if you live with someone for any length of time, that person likely knows how to push your buttons, how to spin you up. (And vice versa.)

It has become clear (this past year) that the (negative) emotions associated with custody disputes require a (positive) outlet .. in order to "process" them.

Stress, I'm sure you know, is a killer. And custody disputes tend to engender tons of stress. How to deal with this killer stress? That's the question.

Friends, who can lend a sympathetic ear, are the #1 way. (Exercise is a close second.) The ability to talk about your troubles and express your feelings can be (as Freud discovered) therapeutic, especially if you have someone sympathetic to listen.

I have two friends (1 male, 1 female) who I can tell anything. They listen remarkably well, and know my whole story .. from day one, so I never have to rehash details.

A few other folks I can talk to, but aren't on the same level as the primary two. I can't blame these others for not being on the same level as the other two. My story is admittedly depressing. Heck, I wouldn't want to listen to someone as depressing as me.

In fact, I have stopped strangers mid-sentence, raising a hand and saying, "I'm sorry, I have so much negativity in my life right now that I simply can't listen to another word. I'm saturated." (We all have our limits.)

Now if the negativity is related to another custody dispute, then I *can* hear that (cuz misery love company). In fact, I sometimes feel guilty that I get so much enjoyment from hearing the tales of woe of others. I have even apologized, saying, "I know I shouldn't take pleasure in your misfortune .. but your story really makes me feel better."

The stories many of these guys have to tell are much worse than mine. I can't help, sometimes, but laugh out loud, as they relate their misfortunes. The fact becomes clear: my situation could be worse (much worse).

Well, I've shared enough on this topic. I'll conclude by relating something the bug did this week, while we were waiting at a traffic light. (He sits up front, beside me.) While holding one of his sandals, he said, "Here dada," holding it out.

When I tried to grab the sandal, he jerked it back and laughed outrageously. Then he repeated the offer, only to jerk it back again when I attempted to take it from him. This obviously caused him great joy.

"Are you teasing dada?" I asked. "Are you fooling me?" Again he laughed, this time squeeling with delight, before re-offering me the sandal.

This was the first time my two-year-old played me like that. Not sure whether this represents a rad developmental milestone, but it was a first for him.

We also watched Finding Nemo this week (another first), a great father/son story, inspired by (as you might expect) the challenges of parenting.

Posted by Rad at Sunday: 11March2007

Thursday: 01.March.2007

Rad Community Forums break 25,000 post mark

The Rad community forums broke the 25,000 post mark (with some individual threads logging more than 80,000 page views).

The Rad forums specialize in backing up your hard drive (the ultimate way >) with an imaging/cloning program called Norton Ghost (distributed by Symantec). A back-up image can help you sleep better.

Everybody at the forums has their own bailiwick of troubleshooting expertise, and there aren't many problems we haven't already seen (dozens of times).

There are several different versions of Ghost which folks are using .. including Ghost 2003 (which I prefer, for reasons detailed here), along with Ghost 9,.. Ghost 10, and now Norton Save & Restore (which is sometimes called Ghost 11, but close in features to Ghost 10).

today's entry continues here

Those last 3 versions (Ghost 9/10 and S&R), which are functionally similar to each another, now have their own dedicated board.

If you Google the query > norton ghost, you'll find the (world famous) Rad guide listed among the first few returns. (Only the Symantec site itself is ranked higher.) It remains the site's most popular feature.

I used to offer a downloadable PDF version of the guide, which contained all 15 pages (in a printer-friendly format), but it became a hassle to keep current both version (PDF & online).

The *best* way to back up your hard drive is to a (physically) separate drive .. for reasons explained here > Caveat .. which means you would need (at least) two hard drives (one external for laptops).

But burning to DVD will also work (tho can be slow), or transfer images (across the internet) to an online back-up service, which is pretty cool, tech-wise .. so if your house is ever vaporized, the image remains safe & intact.

The optimum method remains imaging one fast, internal drive .. to another (fast, internal drive). That's as good as it gets .. long as you follow a few basic Partitioning Strategies.

Much of what I learned about Ghost (sad to say) came the hard way. I've made most every mistake one can make with the program. =/ (but only once)

Posted by Rad at Thursday: 01March2007