Good Read: The Great Siege: Malta 1565

Traveling often provides you with opportunities to read, but rarely does it offer good guidance on what to read. A marvelous exception jumped out with my January trip to Malta. As the three of us on the trip stole a little time one afternoon to explore the sites and enjoy an exceptional meal, we each posted some pictures to our social network streams. Matt, the Solutions Architect on the trip, heard back from one of his friends within minutes of his post… Continue reading

Wittz End Radio Live(ish)

I made a vague reference to Icecast and Internet radio broadcasting in my last post. I’m mostly just playing around with one of my oldest, and favorite hobbies…you know, in all my spare time. As part of testing, I have dug-up my old “WET Pod Foo” podcasts from 2006 and am broadcasting them in a continuous loop now. There is only about 8.5 hours of pre-recorded content in these old podcasts, but it is better content (in my opinion) than the old test pattern loop we used at the college radio station in the early 90s during hours of non-operation.

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Linode On-Demand Server to Replace My Dedicated Hosted Server

As we finally got our web hosting clients migrated to using cloud services for communication (read: Google Apps) and more flexible publishing environments for web hosting (read: WordPress), I was left with a decent monthly expense for a Linux box that only served to scratch my itch for occasional tinkering. Even I can admit that this would have been a poor use of funds had I allowed it to go on for too long, so I backed-up the server, and closed a ServerBeach account that had been active since 2004.

Being responsible felt good, but I still had that nagging desire to play at the command-line on occasion…and a real need from time-to-time to do something I only know how to do with thinking with my Linux brain. Whatever would I do? In looking at my hosted options, I considered Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, and several others. At the end of the day, I settled on Linode, with offerings that were affordable, reliable, flexible, and very fast.

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Two-Factor Authentication: “What?” and “How?”

With all the press about the Heartbleed OpenSSL vulnerability in the news, you probably don’t need another recount of why this is a big deal. If you’ve been following closely, you’re probably a bit freaked-out, and at the very least, have checked with all your online account providers to verify they were not vulnerable, have already addressed the issue, or are actively working on it. You’ll want to follow their instructions, and change your passwords if they were vulnerable, are fully patched, and have changed out their certificates. If you haven’t yet caught-up on all this, I’ll wait…then I’ll brief you on the added layer of security, called Two-Factor Authentication, you can add to your Google, Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter accounts to help insure that, even if your passwords are forcefully acquired by some d-bag baddie, your accounts remain safe.

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AX Season is Upon Us

For the uninitiated, AX is short-hand for autocross. “What is autocross?”, you may ask. Autocross is a timed motorsports competition in which drivers navigate one at a time through a course (usually) laid out with traffic cones in an open space, like a parking lot or an unused airport runway. As with other forms of racing, there are different competition classes defined based upon capabilities of the cars (read: modifications) and their drivers. Typically, events also include a “Fun” class for those coming out just to enjoy the experience. Autocross events are usually associated with car clubs, like the Sports Car Club of America (Solo®) or the Porsche Club of America (other manufacturer-specific clubs exist as well), and as Spring erupts, the AX season begins.

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Tasker for Android

Most Android devices, Smart Phones and tablets alike, come with some built-in capabilities for automating different types of tasks. Useful lifestyle enhancers, like being able to set periods of time where notifications and sounds will not interrupt your sleep, turning off audible notification during a meeting, or replying automatically to incoming text messages when driving are all typically covered. The problem with most of the default tools I have used is that they are unable to handle real-world edge-cases. For instance, I may want to mute my sound and disable my notification LED for all applications after 11 p.m., turn them all back on at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday, but on Saturday and Sunday, wait until 8 a.m. When I am traveling, I might want my device alarm clock to set when notifications are turned back on instead of waiting for the pre-defined time for that day. Additionally, I may want to prevent my phone from ringing during my sleeping hours, but allow certain folks to ring-through, because when they call off-hours, it is usually an emergency…or someone from whom I wish to hear regardless of time-of-day. Enter the Android utility, Tasker.

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The “Perfect” Look-and-Feel with a WordPress.com Hosted Premium Theme

As part of my work to update the website look-and-feel, close off some old server infrastructure, and reduce service provider costs, I moved wittzend.com to WordPress.com as its new platform. I had used WordPress as a blogging platform on-and-off for years (most recently, for the now defunct “WET Pod Foo” podcast), but always on my own servers; the old “download-install-maintain” bit. The one downside to self-hosting, having to keep up with a seemingly endless stream of security updates, is handled automatically for you if you allow WordPress.com to host the instance. Since this is a hosting arrangement Witt’z End Technologies has been encouraging others to look at when building new sites, it seemed appropriate to use the opportunity of consolidation to follow that advice for this site. Along the way, I found some issues that required creative work-arounds to get the exact look-and-feel I wanted from a theme…without having command-line access to edit the core files directly.

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