Wednesday, March 31, 2010

VaultPress and WordPress backups

VaultPress is in interesting WordPress plugin/service.  You install a plugin and then their services offers the following features:

  • Automatic backup of your content that is hosted in WordPress

  • Automatic patching of your WordPress install


I think that the automatic backup of content is interesting, especially since the backup happens as soon as you add content.  I am not sure about the automatic patching of the WordPress installation.  I would be concerned about the plugin patching the WordPress installation to one that has a problem, without my knowledge.  For example, WordPress 2.9 had a problem with certain version of the curl library in PHP, and the 2.9.1 version fixed it.  When performing the patch manually, you have the opportunity to make sure that there aren't any reported problems.

Also, I am interested in seeing how a restore would work with this plugin.  For example, if my database got corrupt, how would I restore.  Also, how many previous revisions are kept in the backup.  Since they are saving any change made in the WordPress installation to the backup, this could also mean that any accidental/malicious deletion would also be automatically propagated.

Currently, I am just using the WordPress Database Backup plugin, and just having it email me the dumps of the database tables.  If I need to restore, I would just need to restore the database from the backup that I want.  The things that are not being backed-up in this process are any uploaded photos or the installation itself, but that is covered my my hosting provider.

[via Matt Cutts]

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Friend Face

This is a great video from The IT Crowd television show, for the Friend Face social network.







Now, who wouldn't want to sign up for this?

Monday, March 29, 2010

FriendFeed account non-delete

As I mentioned in this previous post, I deleted my FriendFeed account.  I followed their directions to delete my account, got confirmation of the deletion, and I confirmed that I am not able to log back in.

The problem is that it appears that even after I deleted my account, new entries posted to my Twitter account are still being posted to my Facebook account, using the FriendFeed facebook application.

I had configured my FriendFeed account to import my Twitter feed, and had configured the FriendFeed facebook application to post my FriendFeed entries to Facebook.  But, I expected that when I deleted my FriendFeed account, that no more entries would appear in Facebook, especially since my FriendFeed account is supposedly "deleted".

FriendFeed should fix their service so if my account is deleted, they should stop processing any updates that had been associated with that account.  Until they fix it, make sure that you remove the FriendFeed Facebook application when you delete your FriendFeed account.

Moved to hosted WordPress

I have decided to move my blogs to Godaddy's host that comes with WordPress preinstalled/preconfigured.  Management is very easy, and I am now able to use WordPress' built in plugin update mechanism.  Also, Godaddy will manage update the WordPress install.

I was easily able to export the posts from my the WordPress installations on my Virtual Private Server, and import them into the new installation.  I was able to test the new setup, before changing my DNS records, so I was able to make sure everything was working before I made the switch.  

Deleted FriendFeed account

I just deleted my FriendFeed account.  When FriendFeed first came out, it was a great service to aggregate my online activity into a single feed.  I used this feature to aggregate my activity and post it to twitter and facebook.

I never really used the collaborative or social features of FriendFeed, mainly only a small subset of my social circle actually uses FriendFeed.

Now that pretty much any site, that I want to share activity from, supports Facebook or Twitter directly, there is less of a need to use FriendFeed.  In addition, sharing directly with Facebook from each site allows me to specify different permissions for each activity type.  For example, I can have my Netflix activity shared with my friends, and I can have my YouTube activity shared with everyone.  When using FriendFeed, I can only set the permission for all activity that is share via FriendFeed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Archiving Documents

A few months ago, we took a look at our filing cabinet in our office.  We have a lot of documents that we have saved, just in case we had a need for that information.  Unfortunately, over time the amount of paper continues to increase.  So I decided to look for a solution for me to digitize all of this content.

The Evernote blog had a post about Pixily/OfficeDrop.  This is a service where you can mail your documents in and they scan them and run OCR software.  Then they host the files in a digital locker, where you can search or organize them.  This seemd like a reasonable service, but it works best for scanning documents as you receive them.  In order for use to scan through our backlog of documents, it would have cost several hundred dollars.

We decided not to go with OfficeDrop, not only because of the cost of scanning our backlog of documents, but also for the cost of the service.  The amount of storage that you get, I feel, is not worth the monthly charge.

We decided to do the scanning ourselves.  We bought a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M document scanner to do the scanning.  This scanner will quickly scan a batch of multiple side documents.  The included software has some pretty useful features:

  1. Automatically detects the number of printed sides on a sheet

  2. OCR and creation of searchable PDFs


Comedy Central shows with PlayOn

I have been very happy with our setup now that we have cancelled our Comcast cable TV service.  For the shows that are not available on terrestrial television, the selection of content available on Hulu has been great.  Unfortunately, Comedy Central decided to pull their content from Hulu.

Today, I got an email from the PlayOn team, mentioning they they have added support for playing Comedy Central content, in addition to content from NCAA March Madness, MLB and Pandora.  I installed the update, and it works great.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Moving to hosted blog software? [update]

I am thinking about moving my blogs to a hosted blog software service like Wordpress.com or blogger.com. This would reduce the amount of work that I would need to do to keep the software up to date.  Currently, I need to manually upgrade my installation of WordPress when ever a new version comes out, or if new versions of the plugins are made available.

Also since don't have the ftp server enabled on my server, this would make adding/upgrading plugins a lot easier.

I am leaning towards WordPress.com, as it is an easy export of my blog into that server.  (I have already done this.)  I would just need to pay $10 to have my domain pointed to their servers.

Update:  I am going to stick with running WordPress on my own server.  There are several things that are missing from WordPress.com:

  1. You can't have a custom permalink format

  2. You can't upload themes or plugin (Adsense and Bad Behavior plugins are not available)

  3. If I don't want their ads, I need to pay an extra $30 a year.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Windows Media Center Setup

I have now been using my Windows Media Center setup without cable television signal for a few weeks now, and I am pretty happy with it.  I am not missing anything not having a cable source.  This is the description of my setup.

Over the Air Content


HDHomeRun


We are using a HDHomeRun Dual for our ATSC source.  The HDHomeRun allows me to keep the antenna in the attic, and the PC downstairs, without having to run a antenna drop down the several floors.  It will also be possible for us to add an additonal HDHomeRun if we want to add extra tuners.  The tuners on the HDHomeRun can also be used on other computers in the house, though I am not currently using that feature.

My recommendation for anyone using an HDHomeRun is to use Gigabit Ethernet for the drop between the main network switch and the Media Center PC.  When recording two 19Mbs ATSC streams, you will want to leave enough network bandwidth, so if anything is happening on you network, the video quality is not affected.  For example, on our Media Center I want to make sure that I can record two shows, while the Media Center is backed up, movie that is stored on the Windows Home Server is being watched one the Media Center, and some recorded content from the Media Center is being watched on one of the Media Center Extenders.

I was seeing some degradation of video quality when using 100 Mb Ethernet, but haven't had a problem since upgrading to Gigabit Ethernet.  I haven't upgrade my whole network to Gigabit, but that isn't a problem as most of the other devices can barely saturate a 100Mbs drop.