Gofundme campaign setup

Earlier this week (Yesterday, or was it Thursday) I setup a Gofundme campaign to get some funds (maybe) for upgrading our equipment to better produce videos.

Guess what?  It came with a video…

This video has the basic setup for the Gofundme campaign.  The information which shows up in the video has been greatly updated from the time that video was created.

I really do recommend when if you are going to setup anything like this, try to set it up without putting a lot of information into it, rather than setting up everything from the beginning.

I had tried to set this up right from the beginning just exactly how I wanted it, but due to a number of problems, I ended up just tossing it.

After having tossed it, I decided to look for some stuff that would help me figure out what might be better for me.  It really seems like with a lot of things, you either need to be technically inclined, in that specific field, with that specialized language, or you just accept stuff which really people don’t much need to know anything to figure out (ie. lay people who really only peripherally know stuff).

I am looking at possibly setting up a separate campaign to get some other things together.  Right now this is looking good.

This post (though the post itself is short, and even the video is) is supported by Patreon.  Thank you all you Patreon supporters.

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News News News…

Really there isn’t a whole lot of news to put here.  Not a huge amount of stuff has really been going on here, or much with the whole overall business, but let’s look at what might be going on.

  • LedgerSMB
  • Matrix
    • Synapse publicly installed
    • Vector er Riot privately installed
      • Note, not sure about a public install right now.
    • IRC Bridge thoughts
  • Open Psychology Project moved.
  • SSL issues
  • DMP Develop work
  • Linode gentoo install news
  • Patreon updates

LedgerSMB

We have been working on getting LedgerSMB up and running.  Currently we are running two different versions, and have been finding (and reporting) bugs we find.  I think a lot of what we have needed to do, has actually been done.

We have been trying to find a way to have a pretty easy install of LedgerSMB on Gentoo.  This may be difficult to really do beyond being able to provide enough to know that you have what is needed to run LedgerSMB, but we are working on it.

Matrix

This is something that we’ve been working on for some time.  Initially we started playing around with the Matrix Chat Protocol mostly because LedgerSMB has been working on their dev/user chat (but a lot of it is dev, not user) on Matrix.

I had been using Slack for the “business end” chatting stuff, and it looked like Matrix could replace most, if not all of the things that Slack was doing for us regarding that.  And, it was trivial to setup registration for our own server once we got it up and running.

Synapse public install

Synapse is what Matrix calls a “home server” or maybe a “homeserver”.  It is the server which the chat services are run off of.  I have a Synapse server setup on DMP Develop.  It is a bit of a tricky setup.  And “rightly so” it requires a SSL certificate which we have decided to get from Let’s Encrypt.

I have recently upgraded so that the server now is supporting end-to-end encryption (if the client supports it, which only Vector Web Riot Web supports right now as far as I know).

Vector Web Riot Web install

I installed Vector Web locally (gentoo server on LAN), which I recommend for most people.  I believe I will be able to provide packages which will allow people to install it locally, possibly even without any kind of webserver at all (as long as they can get your client to open the necessary file).

My reasons for not offering a publicly hosted version of the client, is it opens up to what is usually called “Cross Site Scripting” or XSS.  What this means is that there can be ways that code can be injected into a web page which poses a security issue.  Specifically JavaScript often.

I will be looking at seeing if the built versions actually can be successfully used by other people.  It would be helpful to actually have a few people willing to test some of this out.

IRC Bridge thoughts

I have been wanting to look into getting a bridge to IRC up and going.  There is one channel in particular that I would like to run the IRC bridge to.

I really don’t know what will be involved with this.  But I think I will be giving it a go in short order.  I’m not exactly sure though.

Moving Open Psychology Project

I have moved the Open Psychology Project website from the existing site/server which was hosted on one host, and was probably “further away” than I had intended, but that host was closing that datacentre, and was making it so we had to move our servers either to Europe (Luxembourg, or Paris, France), or move to another host entirely.

My first site I tried to move (and did successfully) was the dmp-develop.com site.  I found that the process was a huge pain the the backside (I tried to do it 8 times before I managed to get it successfully transferred) and am feeling that I would really rather not be hosting sites which are largely used by people in North America (as best I can tell) in Europe.

So I started asking around.  I found that linode was well respected amongst the community I connected with through Matrix.  So I decided that when I started looking at other sites being moved, I would give it a try.  In fact I posted about moving this site (before I’d got it completed), and was really quite happy with it.

One issue seems to still remain with the Open Psychology Project which I haven’t managed to have addressed.  That is that the “JetPack by WordPress” plugin is not able to talk back and forth between the site, and the “team” seems to be on retreat until Friday (or maybe Monday)?

SSL issues

Been looking at SSL certificate issues.  Currently this site is not running any form of SSL/HTTPS, as the previous one had expired, and I have not managed to get the current one up and running.  So, if you actually care, everything you are sending to this site, is probably being sent as “plain text”.

This actually is not a huge issue for most stuff.  But if you are sending anything which you consider “personally identifying” please consider how valuable you consider that information.  It seems unlikely that it’s being sniffed except maybe for anyone who is on an “unknown network”.  Which includes all unsecured networks, as well as any which are using WEP protocol.

DMP Develop work

I know this really isn’t all that newsworthy.  I have managed to create a bit of a roadmap in terms of direction for the dmp-develop project.  It has been a bit of a trudge getting to this point.  Still, every little bit actually does help.

Currently most of what we are looking at is figuring out how to handle installation, including handling of the database.  And then, probably looking after we manage the basics of that, will be working on “package installation”.  If things go well, by this time in October I hope to at least have a little bit of an actually working site going…

Linode Gentoo install update

After having plugged away at Linode gentoo install, I am now feeling that there probably is a good reason to actually tackle this more manually in the future.  It feels that if I install on pretty much any virtual machine, I should be able to get gentoo to successfully install, but that likely will be a while before actually having it happen.

Patreon updates

It feels that September so far has been a “slow month” for Patreon supported posts.  And it has indeed been such.  I will be putting a “Why support me on Patreon” post up fairly soon, which I hope to accompany with a video.

If you would like to support us on Patreon, we would be very happy.  Even if you are going to simply support us at a $1.00/thing level that would really be helpful for us right now.  And if you want to go well beyond that?  Well, we certainly won’t at all be complaining.  Thank you for taking the time to read, or at least look at this…

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New Topics?

Thinking of some new topics.  I will post a new “new topics” page each time I come up with some new ideas of what to write about:

  • Previously considered topics:
    • Adobe CS4 on El Capitan (still need to figure this out)
    • Technical perspective on Activism stuff
    • Sound working on new computer (got it working rather nicely finally)
  • New topics:
    • Web Site Security
      • Cross Site Scripting (XSS)
      • SQL Injection
    • Matrix Chat Protocol
    • LedgerSMB
    • Gentoo
    • Server Security
    • Local network security

That’s it for now.  That really is plenty of topics to really consider.    Really would like to have a few more topics to post about, but for now, I think this is probably enough.

Please consider supporting us either here, or on Patreon.

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Switching servers *now*

This post might not actually successfully post.  Right now…  I have set the server up to be moved…  But…  It might happen before this has been posted.

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Initial steps moving server to linode

Last night I started to work on getting this site moved over to linode, and have some comments to make regarding:

  • pricing structure
  • responsiveness of admin site
  • responsiveness of updating server images
  • server locations
  • image availability
  • process with regards to gentoo on linode

So let’s go and look at those topics at least at some level.

Pricing Structure

With our current host (GANDI) we love the granularity of the pricing structure.  If I have something which is very processor heavy, but doesn’t use much hard drive space, or memory, I can easily build a machine with that focus in mind.  That really is a great way to get systems which are really ideal for specific purposes.

The problem there is in order to provide that kind of granularity of pricing, you end up with a situation where it can become difficult to actually handle all the complexities of setting that up.  On GANDI, we are currently spending about $125-200/month on the hosting for 3 different sites (on 3 different servers).

So, while I initially saw the linode pricing structure of machines based on set bundles as being a bit of a problem, looking a little closer I think that even for the same server sizes, there is about a 20% reduction in price, and I think that their current smallest servers will do well enough (right now) for current needs for each server.

Responsiveness of the admin site

Repeatedly when working on the GANDI site, I have wondered if my click had gone through, and I simply was waiting for a response from the site, or if I failed to get the click to it.  With linode, I have had no such issue.  The server is so responsive that I actually wonder sometimes if I did actually do anything because rather than my usually expected “clear change” something minor just pops up, and is responding to what I asked it to do.

Responsiveness of updating server images

Here is something which I felt was really bothersome with GANDI.  When I updated images, I ended up frequently feeling like I might as well go off and do something entirely different for twenty or more minutes.  I knew I couldn’t really do anything with the machine for that long.

On linode, I am finding that even though I manually shut down the server, manually make the changes, and manually reboot the server, I can usually do so with a minute or less for the entire process.  It also is very clear about where in the process that is.  So I would say even that will make it at least feel snappier rather than “operations in process” which doesn’t really tell me anything.

Server Locations

One of the issues with GANDI which has lead to me feel I really have wanted to move away from them, is that the servers which I was running in Baltimore are getting shut down at the end of November, and that was where I had them located.

I might have been not overly bothered by this and less inclined to move the servers if they provided an option for a more or less “one click” migration, or better yet given the heads up, allowed people to migrate as they wished (one click migration if they wanted to just move the existing image etcetera, but manual migration if they wanted to modify the server), but their migration is entirely manual, and one issue I repeatedly ran into was when creating a new server, or new disk or whatever, it defaulted (for me at least) to the Baltimore data centre, and that setting was not really noticeable enough that I made sure I was doing the right thing.

Linode has servers in North America, Europe, and Asia.  Further, on creating all of my server instances, I have pretty much noticed where they are.  Once my instance was in the wrong US city, but not a big deal, in part because when I notice it, I can recreate it in another datacentre in about 2 minutes (probably less).

While I’d really like to have my servers in Canada, I can’t say I’ve been able to find any host which isn’t really expensive to handle what I am wanting with this in Canada.  Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Image Availability

The server images which are available on linode are pretty diverse.  There are 9 of the top Linux distributions including my favourite gentoo which really surprised me.  I saw that the gentoo image was on the old side, but I went with it, and that may have been a mistake, but after having the server up and running for more than a day, mostly working on getting it to “current gentoo” (most of it the issue that gentoo always takes a long time to setup) and having already figured out about 3 different issues where the install is not working correctly, and why, I have decided to continue to plow ahead.

I do not recommend gentoo unless a person really wants to get into the depths of Linux, or if they have some issue with the politics of certain big names along how certain things are done (systemd comes to mind) as gentoo tends to be for power users.  While it does end up compiling pretty much everything that can be (certain packages are split into a -bin and the usual with no -bin as they are such large packages) and this is claimed to potentially improve performance, I am not entirely convinced that is indeed the case beyond minor improvements for most users.  Though if you are using certain older hardware or whatever, gentoo can allow you to do things you may not be able to on other systems (not tried it on any of the iMacs we have as they have all either been “in use” or “dying”).

Gentoo Server Creation

The gentoo server image which is available on linode is almost 2 years old from what I can tell.  Gentoo does not really do “releases” in the sense that a given release is using a given repository, there is a common repository for every release.

This works great when gentoo is maintained relatively frequently, and you usually end up with hardly any issues most of the time.  When working with gentoo on a system which hasn’t been maintained, you will often have to manually handle a number of issues, in order to get everything up and running in a reasonable manner.

In doing the updates on this, I have run into a number of issues, each one required me to look at why things were not updating the way that I wanted.  First off the first couple of updates were not even attempting to do anything as one package ended up blocking another package.  This can be a difficult situation to figure out, if any of the packages are in the “packages being updated list” (command line options, which can include either explicate packages or one of two (or maybe more) “sets” of package lists) it can be tricky if you try to uninstall a package listed there, especially when using the @world or @system keywords as if the package is listed in either, bad things can happen which are hard (very hard) to back out of once you’ve gone and changed certain things.

Then once I managed to get the system so that it is at least attempting to update @world, I quickly run into problems that certain packages can’t be updated as they are blocked because the package management system doesn’t support them (the system is called portage) so in order to update those packages I’m going to have to see about updating that first (no problem).

Now I am getting a list of all the packages that need to be updated on the system.  This isn’t looking too bad at all.  So I go ahead.  I notice some aren’t updating, but decide that for now I can just skip them.  It actually gets most of the system updated.

Now let’s try again.  Sometimes the issue is as simple as the fact that packages got updated in the wrong order, and just restarting after ending at the “nothing to do” will just fix it.

Sadly, no…  So I see what I need to update (and the failing package is a key package (glibc)).  Oh nice clean error message saying that the version of gcc (also a key package on gentoo) doesn’t reliably compile glibc.  Simple.  Just update that…

Once done, try to update what’s still there…  And right now, it looks like we’re good to go.  At least in terms of having the system up to date.  Loads of configuration I’ll need to work on.

Patreon Supported Post

This post is supported by my Patreon supporters.  If you like this, and would like to see more, I’d love to see you head over there and let me know.  Even “support” me there.  Amanda Palmer may be someone who says things I can’t really say in the same ways I can.  So there is a link there to something I feel she has said in a way that I really can’t.

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Gentoo QEMU/KVM install

I am currently working through the Gentoo QEMU guide and so far have rebuilt my kernel and rebooted…  Now…

I am currently updating my @world with the command:

emerge -uv --newusue @world

And this latest update has 10 packages. Still not emerged quemu and am seeing a couple of use flags I’d like to enable before doing that. sdl2 and gtk.

Now that we have the emerge running (with some graphical front ends), we are waiting for 33 packages to install.

As of now, I will leave this here.  Too tired to go further.

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Developing ebuild for Gentoo

I am currently working on the development team for the accounting package LedgerSMB and I have got to a stage with that development that I am looking at getting a working ebuild (or possibly several, due to dependency issues) for LedgerSMB on gentoo.

These are the steps that are probably going to have to be done (though temporarily things can possibly be done somewhat different order):

  1. Create a development image of a clean install of gentoo.
  2. Create overlay for LedgerSMB
  3. Test Test Test…
  4. Make Changes
  5. Repeat from 3…

I will be documenting these in time.  It looks like I may well be looking at the development virtual machine in short order.

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Some updates about our activities…

This is a quick post about what has been going on here.

  • Site downtime
  • One site moved
  • Expiring SSL certificate
  • Need to move two other sites
  • Possibly moving another site

Site downtime

A bit of bad news first.  Two of the sites we host (the two which need to be moved still) went down for 4 hours yesterday.  It appears that the hosting company had issues with their data centre which caused a number of sites that they host to go down for up to 5 hours.  There was at least partial downtime for two of our sites (including this) for about 4 hours.  At one point in that 4 hours I checked the sites out, and was able to get some activity from them, but not the usual level that I have been used to.

One site has been moved

One of the sites which I was hosting the same place as these two which went down, got moved.  I will probably write a more complete post about doing that shortly.  It ended up being a bit of a pain for a number of reasons.  It may have actually been easier to have moved to an entirely different hosting provider.  But now that I have done that, and have ironed out many of the issues which caused so many problems with doing it, it should be easier with the next two.

SSL certificate here is expiring shortly

The secure certificate for here is expiring shortly.  My decisions as to how I will handle that will probably end up being a bit of playing around with different ideas.  I am thinking there are probably two ways which I may go.  With a certificate issued by my hosting provider, this is what I have been doing.  Or, I might end up going with a certificate from Let’s Encrypt.

The last time I installed a new certificate, I installed one from Let’s Encrypt.  With doing that, even though it was for a different type of service (Matrix Home Server) I feel I probably could do so again.  I’m not sure if that will be any different from using the hosting provider’s.  It appears that it might actually be easier in many respects.

Need to move two more sites

This site, and the Open Psychology Project site, still need to be moved.  I am hoping that moving this site will allow me to reduce my “credit consumption” by at least 25%.  Though it is possible that the other one will increase consumption a small amount.

Possibility of moving a client site

I have a client who has had a site hosted on WordPress.com and I would like to see if we can move the site soon enough to make it worthwhile.  Client initially said that they would like to move it, but then changed mind.  I’d like to know what they would like to do with the site, but it seems that I haven’t been able to get this conversation started, at least not in a very helpful way.

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Accounting Software

I have been in the process of testing an install of the accounting software which I currently am running.  The version I have been running (in part due to the fact that I am not really in need of it that much) has been in beta the whole time.

I have been running LedgerSMB.  This is an open source software which is mostly written in Perl.  I am running the current version on a gentoo box, and it is working well enough for my needs as far as I can tell right now.

My needs have been fairly modest really, mostly I want basic bookkeeping, which as far as I can see it does, the ability to invoice clients, which it does, and the ability to receive payments, whether or not this is working I’m not sure.

I will be looking to see if I can get things working on a new install of the system shortly.  I’m not quite sure how I will end up handling the new system.  I am not really interested in wiping out the existing system which I’ve been tweaking and building for some time, so I will either be looking at doing a dual boot, or finding some way to create a gentoo virtual machine.

Future Plans

We are looking at getting some things with this working better:

  • Install on “clean” system.
  • Create an ebuild which will do that.
  • Ensure existing system really is meeting needs.
  • Transition the ebuild for the 1.5 beta, to 1.5 release (once that happens).
  • Start working on ebuild for future 1.6 beta.

That really looks like a fair amount of work, but this in part depends on a lot of the work which ends up being done on the development team.  I understand that my end of things will allow the team to work better on seeing what is, and what is not working.

Build on clean system

This has a few different things which I will need to handle before managing to do this:

  • Decide on way which to install it:
    • Virtual Machine
    • Dual Boot
  • Create new system which is “clean” to install from
  • Research what needs to be done to create an ebuild.

Decide how to install

I am currently thinking that getting a new Gentoo system up and running in some virtual machine, would be the best option, as a dual boot, would mean I would end up losing access to the existing system, while I am working on the new one.

Virtual Machine

That reason is probably almost enough to be looking at getting it on a virtual machine.  One potential disadvantage is that often on virtual machines certain aspects actually end up being handled by the hypervisor rather than by the computer hardware itself.  Though I don’t think this will be an issue.

Dual Boot

I see a number of issues here.

For one, as already mentioned, it means booting into one or the other system at a time.  Which removes access to the existing system, while the new system is running.

Another issue which I am thinking about, is that this will really need to have a separate partition, disc, or something which to boot from.

Create new “clean” system to work from

Due to the fact that I am likely looking at potentially working on a number of different systems to work from, I will probably create a nice “base” system which I can then clone, and then build new test suites on it.

I am not really sure where this will go from there.  I will likely have to decide on what virtualization environment to work with.

Right now, I feel that this is about where I can start looking at this process for now.  So the future information about this will end up going in other posts.

How we are funding this

Currently the content is funded by a combination of means.  One clients who are paying for the work which we have been doing, have been part of how we have managed to keep things up and running and we love all the clients very much.  Unfortunately due to a lack of client base, and a lack of being able to draw new clients the content creation has been funded by our Patrons on Patreon.  If you become a patron through there (for as little as $1.00/thing, with so far never more than 4 things per month) you will be able to further support our activities.  To reach our next pledge goal (while I’m writing this) I believe we only need an additional $7/thing pledged.  It would be super awesome if you did that.

Oh, and a note on “patreon only content”.  Currently I am noticing that a good, and rather important thing is to actually produce content which people really can access.  That may change as there is more patreon support, or I am producing more content period.

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Moving Servers

My hosting provider sent an email which let me know that they are shutting down this datacentre, and that I will have to move the servers to another datacentre.

Currently there are 3 servers which I am running out of the datacentre which they are talking about closing, this one, the “dmp-develop” server, and the “open psychology” server.

My current plan is to go through the process of moving the dmp-develop server first.  I don’t know if doing so is going to end up being the best, as it is the one which is most different from the other two.

But, it is also the one which is least critical if it happens to “go wrong”.

I do not know if doing so will end up being an easy thing, or not.  There are going to be a bunch of things which have to be in place for each server.

But it could be as simple as “moving the disk, and setting up the server on the new datacentre, and then setting up DNS to point to new server.”

Well, it hopefully can be done with some variation of that.

 

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