Saturday, September 30, 2017

Why don't cows skip leg day? To keep their calves in shape!

A young boy and his dad went out fishing one fine morning.
After a few quiet hours out in the boat, the boy became curious about the world around him.

He looked up at his dad and asked "How do fish breath under water?"
His dad thought about it for a moment, then replied, "I really don’t know, son."

The boy sat quietly from another moment, then turned back to his dad and asked, "How does our boat float on the water?"
Once again his dad replied, "Don’t know, son."

Pondering his thoughts again, a short while later, the boy asks "Why is the sky blue?"
Again, his dad replied. "Don’t know, son."

The inquisitive boy, worried he was annoying his father, asks this time "Dad, do you mind that I’m asking you all of these questions?"
"Of course not son." replied his dad, "How else are you ever going to learn anything?"

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Debian Linux Stretch - Installing The LAMP Stack

This Linux Thing is no more difficult than your Windows Thing.  Let that sink in.

It's an operating system.  You have probably been using Windows since you were a wee brat.  That is bound to be years and years of training.  I've been using Linux since the mid 1990s, probably earlier.

Oh and I am still learning.  I like to learn so that's why I keep coming back.

One very important point - It's all about how good you are at finding the Correct Instructions.  

I spent three hours going through some instructions that were from the Debian Wiki until I hit a road block.  That led me to realize that the Debian Wiki has an incomplete article on how to install the LAMP Stack on an older version of the operating system.  Even if I had read it through top to bottom first, I would not have found that out until I actually started using it.

LAMP is what you are installing.

  • L is Linux.  If you got here, you have it or are researching it.  Debian, or a derivative like Ubuntu.
  • A Is Apache.  That is the actual web server.  You can write basic web pages if you have this installed.
  • M is MySQL or MariaDB.  It's the database so you can write data driven pages.
  • P is PHP or it could be Python or Perl.  That's your scripting language.

"Yeah, I know, me too."  That was basic stuff for people just learning.

At any rate, I went back to the web and found another page from which I am using for my own instructions.  If something isn't quite right with what I am writing below, then check back there.

This is a recipe so I can come back later when I get interested in trying this on another machine.

Importantly, there is a design strategy called "Don't Break Debian".  Don't install anything outside of Debian's Repositories or you may end up with a broken install.  While that is a bit impractical in many cases, and I have gone "outside" Debian, things do sometimes not work or they work strangely. 

If you find an install somewhere that says add a repository, then your caution flags should go up.

On the other hand, it also implies that you should use Debian's information first before you go outside to another site.  Since i am writing this, it shows that I don't agree.  Their info was flawed.

Here are the instructions, as brief as possible:
All commands are done from Terminal as Root.

Prep - Get the Computer up to date.:
  • apt update
  • apt upgrade
  • apt dist-upgrade

  • apt install mariadb-client mariadb-server
  • mysql -u root -p   (add a root password)
  • CREATE USER 'user'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';
  • GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON newdb.* to 'bill'@'localhost';
  • quit

  • apt install php7.0 php7.0-mysql

  • apt install apache2 apache2-mod-php7.0

Testing the Server
  • mousepad /var/www/html/index.php
  • enter this on the first line, save, and quit:  <? php phpinfo( ) ?>
  • firefox localhost/index.php 
  • Result is you will see information about your system in Firefox, or chrome if you must.

  • apt install phpmyadmin
Answer following questions by hitting space and then tab to OK and enter:
  • Web Server: Apache2
  • MySQL Application Password - same as you created earlier
Test with the following to get to the PHPMyAdmin login page:
  • firefox localhost/phpmyadmin

That's it.  You're done.  Took me less time than installing the operating system which was under a half hour.  Granted I'm on a fast computer and reasonable internet speeds.

There is one more thing to consider.  I am not worried about anyone hacking my server because this is not exposed to the internet.  If you are going to proceed with this server serving pages to the world, you will most certainly need to get the security brought up to date.  I don't believe that this server even has a firewall active at this point.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Pee in the pool and nobody bats an eye. Do it from the diving board and everyone loses their minds

Ok, so it's a wee joke with a wee bit of humor!

An old couple celebrate their 50th anniversary at a restaurant that they used to regularly go on dates to.

It was a particularly fancy establishment and a few drinks into their visit, the elderly husband stood from his seat, looks around and asks his wife, "Do you think we should go behind this place and relive our first time here, like against the fences?"

With a smile and a nod, the wife agrees and they venture outside and into the alley around the restaurant.

Not long afterward, a bike patrol cop rolls past the alleyway and hears the most intense love-making session known to man, the couples' shouts echoing into the street.

He flashed his headlights onto the couple just after they had finished and with a puzzled look, he asked "What are you two doing? I don't think I've ever seen a couple go at it with such passion and intensity in all my years."

The old man, pulling his pants up and buckling his belt, replied, "Yeah, well fifty years ago this place didn't have electrified fences here."

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Thermos is the most intelligent thing in the world. It knows how to keep hot things hot and cold things cold.

The thermos.

A guy (MAN A) walks into a diner, sits down, and pulls a thermos from his backpack. Across the room, a man at the counter, (MAN B) noticed the man.

MAN B: "Hey you! What you got there?"
MAN A: "It's called a thermos, it keeps hot stuff hot, and cold stuff cold!"
MAN B: "Wow! I gotta get me one of those!!!"

The next day, the same to men, (A and B) walk into the same diner.
MAN B: "Hey look! I picked me up one of those thermos things!"
MAN A: "Great! What did you bring for lunch?"
MAN B: "2 hotdogs and a popsicle for dessert!"

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Is Anyone Writing Documentation Anymore?

So the last exercise I had done before Hurricane Irma hit was to take a computer and completely install a new operating system onto it.

I will be doing that again today, from my own instructions.

Sure, it's a bit esoteric, some people are good at reading between the lines. 

The problem with that is that you end up spinning your wheels and finding that something you assumed, you assumed wrong.

For the record, when I write documentation, I write it as I do it.  That way I know it actually works.

It may have taken 26 steps once you had all the pieces, but if you had my hardware and the right software, you'd have a nice happy laptop running Debian.  Thinkpad Laptop, X201 or fairly similar, although the version of Debian I used (Non-Free) was fairly liberal with getting what you need for many more laptops.  Evil Wifi Drivers not withstanding.

The next step was to find documentation to install a web server.

The trick with installing complex software these days is that you basically have to find the right documentation. Or to be more precise, the correct documentation.  Documentation that is complete and actually will work.

Oh and of course you personally have to read and understand what you are reading.  No distractions allowed.

However, it is rare that you will find exactly the right documentation to do what you want.  Often software is updated and that documentation you used two years ago to do that exact thing no longer works.

Highly common in the open source world, some very minor tweak will change where the files are and you are back online doing a search for what you were looking for.

In the consumer software world, you have a similar situation where the documentation was only partially updated since it was originally released.  Think Windows XP vs Windows 8.1 vs Window 10.  Things just moved around drastically within Windows itself let alone functionality.

I got "caught short" with trying to install a web server.  Did it before.  No problem.  Since it is an open source project, you get what you pay for sometimes.  Following the wrong guide I got the entire web server working.  I just don't have any passwords for anything.

As they say on a football field:  Drop Back 5 and Kick.

That would be American Football.  I never played Soccer, at least not for any length of time.   All that running around annoyed me.

So at some point I'll re-attempt that mess.  FInd another tutorial that promises to install the LAMP stack and write down what I did.

Or I will find that one bug and fix it all.  My choice, after all.  

That is why I keep this blog.  Many times I need to do something more than once.   Create a Linux Web Server, save it off, then reproduce the results on a different computer a year later.

So when I post a long diatribe on how to do this and the other thing, I'm doing it for Future Me.  So I don't end up banging my head on a wall.

Like Today.  I got it wrong.  Happens.  Time to start over.

For now, I'll just go look for the football.  Maybe the dog will chase it around the yard.  Blow off some steam.  Finish my Spanish for the day. 

Try, Try again.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

As I suspected, someone has been adding soil to my garden. The plot thickens.

Three men were driving through a desert while on vacation when all of a sudden the car breaks down.

The three men get out to see what the problem is only to find out the engine block cracked so they agree that they have to go find help and to meet back at the car by nightfall.

They all go to the trunk of the car to see if they have any provisions for their walk and find a jug of water and a loaf of bread.

The first man quickly grabs the jug of water explaining to the other two that if he gets hot he'll just drink some water and keep walking until he finds help and starts to go on his way.

The second man grabs the bread and explains to his friend that if he gets hungry on his journey that he'll just eat some bread and keep walking until he finds help and leaves going a different direction.

The third man is left alone and realizes he has nothing to help him survive the desert so he unbolts the car door and starts walking into the desert in a different direction from the first two.

A hour or so later a desert soldier who was on patrol noticed the first man and asked him if he was ok.

The first man explained his situation and assured the soldier that he was ok because if he got hot he could just drink his water.
The soldier pointed in a direction and told him to head to his headquarters for help while he searched for the mans friends and headed out again.

A couple of hours later he found the second man still searching for help.
The soldier asked him if he was ok and the second man told him he was because he had his bread to eat whenever he got hungry.
The soldier explained that he found the first man and to start heading toward the car as help would soon arrive and headed out again to try and find the third man.

The soldier found the third man in no time but was confused as to why he was carrying the car door.

When the soldier asked the man why he casually explained that it gets really hot in the desert and if he gets too hot he can just roll down the window to cool off.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Girl are you a newspaper? Cause you’ve got a new issue everyday.

Since the storm has passed and people are running around cleaning up, how about a little toilet humor.

Just a little.  Suitable for all audiences, of course.

Bobby has to use the restroom.

Realizing that he has to, very badly, he raises his hand.

"Teacher, can I use the restroom?"

His teacher looked up from her desk, where she was going through the lesson plans for the day. "If you can say the alphabet correctly, then you may." she replied.
Bobby shook his head. "But I have to go, really bad!" he said.

His teacher was adamant. "Not until you recite your alphabet."
Bobby looked desperate. "A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z."

His teacher shook her head. "Bobby, you forgot P."
"No, I didn't." Bobby sighed. "It's running down my leg."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hurricane Irma, The Wait For Power

Really.   If I can sit here on a Wednesday Morning and bust out some blather about the electricity being out and that's about it, then I will survive.

The one story that keeps coming through my mind is a woman on Barbuda in the Caribbean.  She was one of 1600 people there.  She was watching a baby and a tornado hit her home.  The baby was sucked out of her arms.  Baby found dead later when the storm passed.

Really.  So, count your blessings.  If you are reading me, you are better off.

We are without power.  The gasoline supplies are very low, we're waiting on the coast guard to allow tankers into Port Everglades to refill.  I guess we join a long line to fill gas cans like many others.

But we're intact here.

I caught news that the west side of the state, Naples, Fort Myers, and the like got slammed by this horrible storm.  Here, not so much.  We didn't have a predicted 9 feet of water in a storm surge come in.  We did have white-out conditions with rain so strong that I couldn't see the wall of a building 250 feet away briefly.

The eye of the storm crossed Cudjoe Key.  Call it MM 52 - 52 miles East of Key West.  As well as they prepared, anything not nailed down is now not in the house.  Those folks will need help getting onto their feet.

So I'll return to putting the plants back out and scooping my neighbor's tree leaves out of the pool.  Not unscathed, just a bit muddy.  Not really even worth taking pictures of it.

A cycle of running the generator an hour, then waiting three hours to run again.  It keeps the bags of ice in the freezer frozen and the refrigerator cool.

Much better off than many.

Yes.  This is global warming.  Anyone that tells you otherwise is a fool and should be returned to their medications.  Anyone who makes laws or votes to the contrary is a damn fool and probably should not be allowed to effect other's lives.

But after all is said and done.  A few observations.

Gasoline.  I suspect the state has been pretty much drained of this stuff.  We're ok for four days now, after having gotten some.  I'm sure many won't be as lucky.  Some of the lines were blocks long.  Police were thankfully directing people around.

And Gasoline is beginning to flow in which is a major plus.  It will take a while before we start to see supplies even out in South Florida.  There was a report that in Tampa, simply forget it.  Again, Thankful but that could be "helped".

Traffic.  We drove down to Davie about 10 miles off.  I have to say the roads work better with fewer lights.  I've heard a saying that "Every Traffic Light Means Someone Died Here" but I have to question if streets aren't just badly designed and enforcement of traffic laws are simply not stringent enough.  If you follow the rules, you'll have a better time of it.  If you drive a car like an idiot, you'll wreck it for everyone else.

A Traffic Light that is out is considered a Four Way Stop by the universal vehicle code.  Yes, Even For you.

We did make it to Wawa in Davie.  The line was untenable.  Close to 100 cars waiting for fuel.  Might need to get up in the middle of the night to attempt it next time.

Count your blessings.  If you can read this, you're better off than many others.  Now, go talk to your neighbor.  They just may need something.   Mine just put out another bucket of Avocados.  There are plenty left, go and enjoy.

If I could just figure out how to eat the darn things other than sliced on a bagel!  I am thankful even for avocados, weird though they are!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hurricane Irma, Slogging Through Saturday Into Sunday

But hey, I still have power...

At least through Sunday Morning, I have.

It wasn't until 4PM here that I saw the first rain that left enough water on the ground to sheen the streets.

The county declared a curfew from 4PM through.  I'm guessing the duration.  I don't know when that is.

The only thing that has bothered me is a few power pops here and there.  When power does go out, we're sunk.  I can't say that they'll be by to reconnect us at that point, because there is some wind speed that they stop work at.

I seem to remember 35mph.  We are over that now.  44 was the last check, although it's been gusting faster.

Then you're on your own, cowboy.

Net's up.  Power's up.  Water's flowing.

This isn't a whole lot to deal with compared with Antigua, Puerto Rico, the DR, Haiti, and Cuba.

Now the Florida Keys.

It could be worse, I could be in the Keys.  The Eye of the Storm right now is crossing into the lower keys, and they're still predicting that trip through Key West and up the west coast of Florida.  My heart goes out to them since I can't say I would want up to 9 feet of salt water piling up on my house.  That's going as high as 270 CM.

This map is of the expected storm surge.  Those pink areas are where the 9 feet of salt water comment comes from.  Naples, Marco Island, north up the coast.

I grabbed that map from the NWS Miami Twitter Feed.

I stocked up on rechargeable batteries a while back.

I've also been harvesting old laptop battery packs.

Why laptop batteries?  Each one is a larger and longer cell configuration so they will not fit inside of a standard radio or flashlight.  They also put out more voltage at 3.7 VDC compared with 1.5 VDC for a D, C, or AA Cell.


Each one puts out between 2 and 4 amps.  Connect four together and you get 14.4 VDC.  Run them through a voltage regulator like that cigar lighter thing to charge your phone in the car and you now can recharge your phone a couple times.

So those 18650 batteries will charge my flashlights for months.  Battery operated fans for weeks.  Radios will play.

The air conditioning may not work due to power outage, but I will be able to listen to crappy music.

If you want radar?  Follow this link.  Remember that the highest point in the Keys is on Key West at 18 feet.  The map showing those islands should be considered a suggestion since most of them will be overwashed by storm surge.

That "9 feet" again.

But so far, for me, I'm lucky.  Not even anything worth taking a picture of here in Wilton Manors, and I thank my lucky stars for that.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Hurricane Irma, Burgers, and Cream Biscuits

Ok, on Saturdays I usually put up jokes.

Nope.  Not today.

You may have been reading about this monster storm.  If you're in the path of Hurricane Irma, stay safe, and stay under cover.

At one point the path for this beast had landfall in Key West - 200 miles away.
At one point the path for this beast was literally 3 blocks away from me here in Wilton Manors, Suburban Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Then it moved into the ocean between us and the Bahamas.
Then back to us.
Then to where it is, now, Friday evening.

By my reconing, it would be coming ashore about mile marker 30, the Seven Mile Bridge in the Keys, just West of Marathon, FL.

A second landfall would be east of Marco Island, and then North up the state.

Enough Naval Gazing.

A power outage here can happen because a butterfly farted on a power line.
I have become convinced that the infrastructure here is made from old abandoned barbed wire that was sourced from fence posts on a farm in the Southwestern US.

You know those pictures of rusted barbed wire stapled to a weathered piece of drift wood?

Thanks, FPL, power goes out on a Thursday here.

So I spent the day debating and went on a cooking binge.

Made up 20 hamburgers for the dog because it would free a space for another bag of ice in the freezer.  It's now about 2/3 ice in a freezer that is about as tall as I am.

I'm a big guy.  Tall, built like a gym teacher.

Then I started looking at the fridge.

Found Cream.  Specifically Whipping Cream.

Made 2 and a half batches of:

Cream Biscuits.

2 cups Self Rising Flour.
1 1/4 cups of Whipping or Heavy Cream.
1 tablespoon of table sugar.

Mix, then knead until it becomes semi sticky.  Like modeling clay.

Divide into 10, and bake at 450F for 11 minutes or until golden brown.

Sorry for only Imperial Units, I actually weighed everything to the gram and annotated the weights in my recipe book, but it's late and ...

Hey if anyone wants my metric measurements, Ask!

See, the point is that cooked food has a longer shelf life when the power goes out than "raw".

The other point is that you really do have to analyze your every move in a hurricane for preparation.

So this weekend no jokes.

If I get to have power tomorrow morning, Saturday, I will go through the normal morining rituals which includes putting up jokes for Sunday.  Then I'll write something for the next couple articles.  Nothing fancy.

"If you're reading this, my blog is on auto pilot, blahblahblah, Hi There!"

If no connection to the internet because power is down, well folks, think well of me and I'll get back to you when everything comes back.

When Hurricane Wilma hit here in 2005, my own block was without power for 2 weeks.

If Hurricane Irma goes on that path that will do so much damage to South West Florida, the storm will not be quite as strong as Wilma was.  We here will be safe.

I'll be back then.

Stay safe, no matter where you are reading this from in the world.

Help your neighbor if they need it.  Mine did.

Save your prayers, get off your collective butts and do something that positively changes the world.  Vote for people who will actually DO something to reduce carbon emissions and stop Climate Change or Global Warming.  Millions of people doing small acts of improvement will move the world the right way, away from having two 500 Year Storms in one month.

As the old CB Radio jargon said - See Ya On The Flip Side!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Debian Linux Stretch - Installing the Operating System

This process took me all of 20 minutes.  It will take you longer to read this blog article.

I have made this into a "recipe" format where you can follow things step by step since I wrote this as I was doing it.

It is wordy, but complete - and it worked for me, step by step.

I need a new server.   I had an old netbook that I used for a couple years to move files around.  It's too slow for me now, I will eventually be updating this new install to include a file server and a web server.

The blog sits on Blogger and Wordpress.  Two places.  I need to make the Wordpress side look "better".  I have a client that I had developed a website for and I am not happy with the way it looks.  So I want a playground to see how tough it will be to get it where I think it needs to be.

So why not build a server.   You can skip to the break if you want Just The Steps.

The background is that I use Debian Linux here for almost everything I do.  I have a Windows computer that I almost never use.  Microsoft has turned Windows into an unpleasant operating system where you are sending data back at every turn of what you are doing.  Who ever made the decision to grant themselves that should be fired, mocked, pilloried, set in the stocks, and ...

Never mind, there's Debian.  It's stable, it is predictable, and because it isn't spying on you, it runs faster and is much more secure.

Oh and it's free.
And there is so much information about how to use it that it is insane!
And it's secure.
And it lets me do everything I want.
And it has a long list of software that has everything I need.
And I can use it for web development, audio and video authoring, file servers, surfing, document processing, ...

Get the picture?

Ok.  Surf and do a little reading.  Come on back when you're done.  I'll be here.

The philosophy is to give you (the user) what you need to get your things done, be stable, and stay out of the way.  It is a bit "spare" or "lightweight".  The base operating system is familiar but a bit retro or stodgy looking.  It is also intensely configurable.

I mean INTENSELY.  You can change just about anything which is good because I am tailoring this for a moderate speed boost by using a display manager called XFCE.  My choice, you can choose anything else you want.  KDE, Gnome, XFCE, Mate, or Cinnamon.  Others are available and you can end up with something looking like a Mac, Windows 2000, or even just a blank command prompt for slower computers.

Some background info to be aware of:
Debian is a distribution of Linux that does its best to be as open and secure as possible.  The theory is that if you can modify the actual source code, it will be secure because thousands of eyes will be reviewing the program.  That also means that Debian does not include software that is not "open" and is Proprietary and "Non-Free".  Wifi drivers are the worst offenders, and it is notorious that a Thinkpad will demand a Wifi driver.

The suggestion is that when you move to start the install process, you do so with the computer plugged in, and plugged into an ethernet connection so that it can find whatever drivers it needs.

If the install errors or "fails" it will put up a large notification saying it needs the driver.  That error message will tell you what driver you need, and you can do a search online to find it.  The drivers are always there, I have found, with mainstream hardware.  It means that I have to find the proper package and put it on a second memory stick or chip and let the install program find it.  Since all my computers are Thinkpad laptops, I have the drivers I need on an SDHC chip and an install just grabs it from there.

tl;dr - know your hardware and get the drivers before you start.  Look at Non-Free ISOs first.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

I would tell a joke about chemistry but I'm afraid I won't get a reaction

Two men were going around the park.
One of them dug holes into the ground, then the other would fill them in, they did this for hours, went to a break for lunch, then, as they were about to get back at it, a boy walked up to them and asked why they were doing this.

One of them told the boy "We're planting trees."
"But you don't actually plant trees in the holes" the boy said.
"Oh, that's true! I dig holes, Steve plants a tree, and Bill fills them in." said one of them.
The other then replied "Yeah, but Steve called in sick today."


3 man are standing in a bar and are drinking beer. The more they drink the stronger their stories.
"1 day i walked into the forest and saw a bear right in front of me! I took my gun, aimed, shot and thank god he died."

Pffff that's nothing laughs man number 2. "I once walked into that same forest and saw two bears. And i only had 1 bullet. I aimed, shot and i killed both of them."

Its quit for a while and man number 3 starts talking. "That's nothing. One day i walked into that forest and saw 1 bear. And i also had only 1 bullet left. I aimed, shot and missed. So i run away but in front of me is a second bear. I'm so pumped with adrenaline i grab both of them at their heads and smack them against each other. They both drop dead.

The other two man look at him and say. How is that possible you have only one arm? "A" the 3rd man says" trust me, at that moment you don't think about those little things."

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Three Apple Engineers and Three Microsoft Engineers are Traveling by Train To A Conference

Three Apple engineers and three Microsoft Engineers are traveling by train to a conference

At the station, the three Microsoft engineers each buy tickets and watch as the three Apple engineers buy only a single ticket.
"How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?" asks a Microsoft engineer.
"Watch and you'll see," answers the Apple engineer.

They all board the train. The Microsoft engineers take their respective seats but all three Apple engineers cram into a rest room and close the door behind them.
Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets.
He knocks on the rest room door and says, "Ticket, please."
The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on.
The Microsoft engineers saw this and agreed it was quite a clever idea.

So after the conference, the Microsoft engineers decide to copy the Apple engineers (as they always do) on the return trip and save some money.

When they get to the station, they buy a single ticket for the return trip.
To their astonishment, the Apple engineers don't buy a ticket at all.
"How are you going to travel without a ticket?" asks one perplexed Microsoft engineer.
"Watch and you'll see," answers an Apple engineer.

When they board the train the three Microsoft engineers cram into a rest room and the three Apple engineers cram into another one nearby.
The train departs.

Shortly afterward, one of the Apple engineers leaves his rest room and walks over to the rest room where the Microsoft employees are hiding.
He knocks on the door and says, "Ticket, please..."