Cat Beds!

Today while at Petco I saw a window bed for cats that I thought about buying one online; so I looked them up and found one with suction cups that you could use on any window. I disagreed with the price so I headed down to the hardware store and picked up what I thought they used to make the bed.

PVC Pipe ($2.00 for 10 feet – got 2.75 beds out of a 10′ pipe)
Elbows (4 for each bed at .49)
Chain (box of 15# chain $6.00 – about 15 feet in the box)
Suction cups (4 x $2.00 each – 4 for each bed)
Fabric (had it laying around; was going to use a pillow case)

It took about 15 minutes to make the frame and cut the chain. Then whipped up the fabric and walla; cat beds!

I’m on the lookout for cheaper suction cups; but everything else seemed really reasonable.

The dimensions are:
24″x10″ on Linus’ bed
18″x10″ for all the others
I didn’t measure the chain but I think they are around 15″ each.

Here are some pictures of the cats in action (Black cats are 6 month old Julius and Vincent, Furry big yellow tabby is Linus and the bitchy orange tabby is Pumpkin). They all took to the bed instantly by the way.

Cat in window bed.
Pumpkin being bitchy in the window.
Two black cats in a window bed
Our baby kittens snuggled and sleeping in the window bed.
Big cat in window bed.
Our big boy testing the suction cups (they were fine until our daughter hugged him with all her weight).

If I remember tomorrow; I’ll make one more and take pictures as I go and load them up on Instructables.com. Of course I’ll link to the page when I upload my tutorial.

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What’s Inside?

I know most people could give a rat’s ass about what is behind the web pages they visit; but I thought I’d go ahead and post some info on what runs a web server in my house (This site is served from an old, circa 2006 HP desktop computer in my basement utility room, at my home in East Layton, Utah).

The first post I wrote; once I got the server back online, was explaining a little about the operating system I ended up using. Debian GNU/Linux is the true name of the operating system since Linux is the kernel inside the operating system; everything is built on the kernel (Even in Windows and Apple).

With out the goodies that ride on the little kernel, you would end up with a pretty useless piece of computer hardware. On top of the kernel, you need utilities to handle the data between the processor, bus, video, audio, input etc.. In other words, there is a lot to an operating system. What I’m going to show; are the pieces of software I’ve chosen to use on my personal web server for your viewing pleasure.

Apache, PHP and MySQL

First, and probably the biggest player on the entire world wide web as you know it is, Apache. It is the software that handles the web server behind the pages, and where I go to tell it what site to show from what directory when a URL is received.

Most of the sites you visit are written in a plethora of code (HTML, XML, AJAX, PHP, XHTML and many more) but one of the most versatile is PHP. Almost universal as a scripting language for web servers, PHP is prominent all over the web. MySQL and PHP play very well together keeping the databases up to date, synced and quickly delivering the links you click.

MySQL is a database application that has undergone many changes over the last few years. I’ve tried to move on to another more open-source related database application but MySQL is what I know (Damn, I sound like a Windows user now). I have also tried to run a database on a separate machine (more to teach me how to do it than anything) but it was hard to keep up with and seemed to slow things down a little bit.

ProFTPd Banner

Another application I keep going back to but don’t use a lot is ProFTPd. It is an FTP application that allows the upload/download and edit of files over any network (size isn’t a concern with FTP like it is with HTTP or e-Mail). I’ve always had a hard time getting FTP setup correctly so I mainly use it when I update WordPress or the plugins it uses.

WordPress

For this server, I’ve been sticking with WordPress. It isn’t nearly as powerful as Drupal or Joomla, but it is much easier to use, seems to handle “most” of my needs, and has been as stable as my hardware (I’ve had a lot of hardware issues). I’ve tried my best to get to know Drupal and Joomla (Really wanted to because they are a true content management system).

A few things I rely on that you will not see from your end are Munin, ClamAV, Motion (sometimes), OpenSSH, Screen, Aptitude, and Conky (Like Munin; but different). I’m still a fan of Gentoo Linux, Ubuntu Server/Desktop and Arch Linux but at this time my server is going to be running Debian until another piece of hardware fails (I use old hand-me-down hardware).

Thank you for your time,

Justin

Educational Conundrum

I’ve been tossing a few things about school back and forth. To go for a second bachelors degree, or try and get a graduate degree in a field unrelated to my current bachelors degree (IT/Multimedia Visual Communications). My job is in no way related to either avenues I’m thinking about; but in the moderately distant future I hope to move into a field with in the civil service that allows me to do something I enjoy vs doing what I have to do to support my family and pay the bills.

I’m also looking to change schools (I graduated from the University of Phoenix); but stay primarily online for my education. I work nights so taking night classes aren’t an option and I go to work early enough that taking traditional day classes isn’t practical. Online programs mixed with once in a while traditional classes may work (that’s how I finished up my Bachelors degree).

The options for online degrees are seemingly endless. The school I would like to attend (at the moment) is Arizona State University because they offer degrees online and have a campus here in Utah (about 35 minute drive away). I started to take classes with Southern New Hampshire University online; but after the professor basically ignored my e-mail questions I dropped the class. The class also didn’t seem to work correctly with the browser we use at work (worked great on my Linux boxes). I’ve thought about contacting the education office here on base to see what they’ve got to offer; just haven’t been to the office yet.

Times like this I wish I was better at math because I would SO love to go for a degree in a Physics related field. I’ve been obsessed with Astronomy, Cosmology, Quantum Mechanics, String Theory and all the other related documentaries for as long as I can remember. What I’m getting at is that my choices for a degree I think I could accomplish or complete is pretty limited. Basically IT related fields come pretty easy to me, I enjoy writing so something along the lines of Technical or Creative writing sounds fun. Maybe a communications degree? I don’t know but I need to get my ass in gear.

I will have the opportunity to move, promote or change careers (with in the civil service world) in the coming year or two, so I would like to have a degree in work, or completed by the time I submit my fresh resume. I can only imagine the grief I’m going to get from my old friends if I end up writing technical data for aircraft (I have had a history of NOT reading the instructions).

A Plethora of Documentaries

I’ve been a documentary whore for a long time. I thought it might be interesting to throw a list of my favorites so others might enjoy some of the same things I like to pummel my brain with.

These are all available on YouTube. I’m pasting the links from the documentaries as they show up in the URL along with the name they use on YouTube. I’ve downloaded most of these to my media server so I can watch them on my home network (usually when I’m going to bed).

Richard Feynman – No Ordinary Genius (My favorite Physicist):

 

The Fabric of the Cosmos (4 episodes) with Prof. Brian Greene:

Hunting the Edge of Space (NOVA):

Infinity (Hurts my head):

Albert Einstein – The Quantum Theory:

Quantum Physics And How We Affect Reality!:

Master Of The Universe Stephen Hawking Episode 1:

Master Of The Universe Stephen Hawking Episode 2:

What We Still Don’t Know: “Are We Real?”:

High Anxieties- The Mathematics of Chaos (There is another one I like better but couldn’t find it):

Monster of the Milky Way (NOVA):

So many more; but you get the idea .. science is insanely awesome, deep, complicated, simple, confusing and interesting. I’ll post more if I remember.

Enjoy.

Thank you Microsoft “NOT”

So I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to get the little icons back when I’m writing on here. Well; turns out it is an Internet Explorer issue. I finally got some time to sit down and tinker with the server and behold; Linux running Google Chrome (or Firefox) works like a champ.

They're back
Internet Explorer IE: Microsoft: SUCKS!

The highlighted parts in yellow show the icons are back and believe me; a welcome sight. Before, I had to move the mouse pointer over where the icons “should” be and see what the alternative text said. Now I can see what I need and “Bing” works like it’s supposed to.

I also fired up my son’s site at dayton.jedisteiger.com . I’m unable to access his site from work, but from what I have done with it today it should be up and running (he has yet to do anything to it). Out of all the sites that run on my web server; this OpenLUG site is the only one the network will let me access when at work.

Take care, happy *nixing and it can usually be done cheaper!

No Dashboard Icons

Below the “Add media” and “Add Contact Form” buttons should be some icons with text that show related details like “Bold”, “Italic”, “Align Right” etc etc .. There should also be an icon next to OpenLUG up there on the top left.

I’ve been searching the internet for a way to correct this, but have been less than fruitful. If anyone runs across the fix I’d love some advice.

I’ve disabled all my Plugins, restarted my web server and installed optional editing tools. I checked and the wp-admin/images directory is fine and accessible and the only .htaccess file I have is simple and doesn’t reach down to the root/wp-admin/images directories.

Wordpress Icons (2)

 

Same Server Different OS

For the last bunch of years I’ve been using Ubuntu Server edition to power this web server. Last night I moved over to Debian for a change of pace but keep a foot in familiar territory.

For those that don’t know; Ubuntu is based on Debian. When Ubuntu was new (back in the early 2000’s) they were basically a re-loaded Debian flavor of Linux and the software that made it up. Over time Ubuntu has grown in popularity (it is now the most popular distribution of the GNU/Linux operating system). With that growth has came a few things that make it a little more difficult to man handle into what you need with out the extra bits and pieces that make it so easy to use. A little analogues to Windows for most computer users.

Windows may be the predominant operating system out there; but it is by no means the easiest or even capable of tweaking into exactly what you need. When I used Gentoo GNU/Linux I learned a lot about what makes a computer tick, how to compile software to the exacting specifications of the hardware I was using and generally loved the manual, hands on approach it brought. The difficulties came when time constraints meant I just needed to get something up and running in an hour or two. Unlike Windows, most of the software you install with in Gentoo’s environment is compiled specifically to your hardware; this means that everything ran very fast, rarely had issues and legacy hardware felt almost as good as contemporary hardware.

Ubuntu packages most of the applications (software) into *.deb packages that have been pre-compiled for you and they often include all the pieces needed to run on a plethora of hardware. Debian does the same; except it is a little easier to compile your own software if that’s what you want to do. I would love to, but with three kids and a career my time is needed somewhere else besides watching code scramble across my screen as I dutifully watch for errors or segmentation faults.

For this server so far it only has the basic LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) installed. I’ve installed the software I need to get FTP (File Transfer Protocol) up and running; I just haven’t edited the configuration files yet. I’ve also installed Munin and NFS so I can monitor my network machines and access my data server’s files. That is about all I “should” install on here. I will probably install a few more things; but for now I’m very happy to have a moderately stable web server so I can share my ideas, thoughts and data with those that might give a shit.

If I have time, I will also load up a few tutorials for things I find useful (like getting the web server up and running). For now, it’s going to be a warm body in a black hole on the “interwebs”.

Thank you for your time and fare well,

Justin