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What’s the Newsletter For?

From the beginning of the Web 2.0, back when I joined Myspace and then Twitter, and then I joined Facebook, I took the time to post podcasts and news articles to them and to various other social networks in hopes of sparking conversation, or at the very least spreading information. After a decade and more of making this effort, with little to show for it, I hit upon the idea of posting the Nuzzel newsletter that came free with my membership on Nuzzel to the various platforms I was participating on. Just posting the newsletter instead of copying and pasting whatever witty thing I wanted to pass along with the article. That gave me one thing to post to each network instead of dozens of duplicates every day.

Continue reading “What’s the Newsletter For?”
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Treating Meniere’s & Its Symptoms

All about Meniere’s Disease. Updated periodically.

When I’m questioned about why I’m retired already; or when someone airs doubts about my invisible disability, are you really disabled? the subject of Meniere’s disease is bound to surface. It is bound to surface because Meniere’s disease is the answer to both questions. If you just stumbled across this article on my blog and want to know, what is Meniere’s disease? I’ve never heard of it. I can understand that feeling. I’d never heard of it before its symptoms wrecked my life. Here’s a snippet on the subject of Meniere’s disease from my favorite resource of first resort.

Continue reading “Treating Meniere’s & Its Symptoms”

The Dreaded Web Host Manager

The next to last paragraph in the first article on this subject went like this,

Going hand in hand with Cpanel is WHM, the WebHost Manager (this will be important in the next section) Their user documentation is here and here. If your web host uses Apache they are most likely going to be using Cpanel and WHM as the control panel and manager for the hosting service. Once you have signed up with a web host you are now dabbling in web hosting, at least vicariously. WHM is your best friend when managing a web host. You should probably get to know your new best friend better.

If your site is part of another site, you might have more to do than just trying to break your new web host’s software. You have real work to do breaking other stuff first. Before doing anything else, even if you have a completely new site, you should probably make sure that you have a clean backup of your current website. This is the kind of common advice that gets a well duh response, but every time there is an unrecoverable oops event, it is because someone ignored the well duh advice. Backing up isn’t the easiest thing to do with a hosted web account. It isn’t easy because a simple duplication of your online files will not give you something that you can restore your site from. Backup in cpanel requires you to backup your files and databases separately if you want them to be available to be used to restore an oops event. So do a backup, and then keep reading.

No, Seriously. Backup!

Done? Good. So now you want to create your new website, right? A personal place all your own to host your blog on. You want to create a separate web site because you are borrowing space from a lifelong companion not known for her neat, organized workspace (Ouch! Don’t throw things at me! It’s true and you know it!) and you’d like to know what part of this mess is yours to deal with. This will require you to access WHM, the WebHost Manager. Since you are creating an account for yourself (or myself, in this case) be generous. But don’t worry, you can change the package and account settings later. As is typical with linux GUI’s, some of the settings will say they have been changed or can have particular values, but the implementation of the setting may fail because of limitations that your web host places on your account. This is the one bright point about hosting for yourself, the thing I told you that you didn’t want to do in the first installment of this series. The only bright spot in self hosting, being able to set any hosting variable to any allowed value. This isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Make sure that autoSSL is included as part of the feature set of whatever package you end up creating. SSL? Secure Sockets Layer. It allows you and your visitors to establish an encrypted connection between the two of you. AutoSSL generates a certificate for you at your new hosting location, so you will want it enabled. If it isn’t, you will not be able to be certified as an HTTPS location on the web, and that is bad on today’s internet using todays browsers. WHM will generate an error if you set your bandwidth to unlimited and disk usage to unlimited when you set up your package, and this error will keep you from successfully creating an SSL certificate. You can set the bandwidth to 100GB if you want (one hell of a lot of data) It just can’t be unlimited. Like I said, not a good thing to be able to muck about with all the settings.

Once you have your package set up the way you want it, the way you are allowed to set it up, create your account from the create new account tab on the sidebar menu. Select the package you just created. If you followed your web hosts rules correctly it should show as green and selectable. If you aren’t planning to resell or offer to piggyback your needy relatives on your web host, you can skip package creation and just go straight to account creation. When you get to the menu for “select package” simply toggle the Select Options Manually checkbox, and you can piss off your web host all over again by selecting values that aren’t allowed while simultaneously creating your account. This will save you the trouble of trying to figure out what your web host will allow while creating the package that you will only need once anyway, but you won’t get to give it that special name if you don’t create the package in advance. For me, naming is important. You may be content to let someone else pick the names you use. To each his own.

Get the important stuff right! Check the domain name. Check the user name. Write down the password. Make sure the email address is a working email address. The only default setting that I needed to change on our web host was toggling the recommended setting for mail routing to Automatically Detect Configuration because, again, if if the host can find it, it will find it. If not, you can always figure out what it is later. Hit Create and you are done.

Now comes the fun part, and when I say fun I mean tooth extraction levels of pain. But fun, you know? Since you are migrating your (my) wordpress installation, you’ll have to duplicate the SQL database that makes the installation do what it does in its current location. SQL? Sequel. Structured Query Language. You don’t really need to know what it does (but the link will tell you all about it) you just need to know that you need it. If you only copy the files from the software installation that you are migrating, you may or may not notice parts of your installation working the same way later. You’ll need to access PHP admin. PHP? It’s yet another scripting language (see? Fun!) PHP stood for Personal Home Pages back at the dawn of time, but now stands for Hypertext Pre-processor. I think we’re up to version 7 as I type this. I seriously couldn’t care less. I wish I could work up to caring at least a little. Trying to make Linux work for a decade burned me out on caring about coding, one failed install at a time. AutoCAD Lisp was a walk in the park next to getting Linux to run on mystery hardware. Now I just want the software to WORK, DAMMNIT! I want it to work pretty much 24/7 without my having to do anything about it. It’s enough to make you wish you had the money to pay Squarespace to do this all for you. But I digress.

Accessing the PHP manager will allow you to copy out your SQL commands so that they can be applied to your new account. You’ll want to follow the directions of your web host for doing this. Just make sure you verify which SQL command list is associated with your current install beforehand, then go to the PHP manager, highlight the right one (not expand it) and make sure that, add DROP TABLE/ VIEW/ PROCEDURE/ FUNCTION is selected. This should be in the options section. Export as SQL. Next you will go into your new account, use the SQL wizard to create a new database, associate the database with the user for the account, and then import the SQL file you downloaded earlier. Wipe the sweat off your brow, because that was the hard part of this process.

Time to export all those collected years of hard work. Don’t slip up! Grab your current install of WordPress from the directory that it is in. It should be about twenty-two files, four of which are folders, including one named wp-content. Once you have located those files, zip them up through the cPanel file manager interface, and download them to your local drive. Then you open your new account, go to the file manager, and upload the same zip file to a directory there. I suggest using the tmp directory. That is what temporary directories are for, things you will delete later. move the files and folders from where they land in tmp and paste them to the public_html folder. Verify that the file and folder structure matches your previous files and folders before doing anything else.

Now it is back to coding, again (I’m sorry) You will need to edit your wp-config file in order to modify a few commands so that they point to the new SQL database. This is where writing down your username, password and SQL command list name comes in handy. Open the wp-config.php file in a text editor, like Windows notepad or the native editor in CPanel. Scroll to the lines in the file that say DB_NAME, DB_USER and DB_PASSWORD and then modify the SQL database name username and password with the information that you wrote down previously. Because you wrote it down like I said, right?

Put on your dunce cap, because it’s time for a test! Don’t Panic! This is a website test, you won’t have to cram for the exam. To conduct this test you will need to modify your WordPress config file in the new location, similar to what we did in the last paragraph. There are other ways to test the configuration including logging into the wordpress installation directly and altering the file storage location in settings, and modifying the SQL database to point to the new location, but the test method I chose was modifying the wp-config.php file because I was in that file already. Insert two lines into the code that read as follows, replacing yoururl with the URL that your new installation is currently residing at.

define('WP_HOME','http://yoururl');

define('WP_SITEURL','http://yoururl');

After you do that go back to your original installation location and backup the existing WordPress installations wp-config.php file. After you do that replace the wp-config.php file with an empty text file by creating a new file with that name. This is just a test, and if you backed up like I told you to, you can always revert to the correct wp-config.php if the test fails. Then open your browser and type in your test URL and click on a few links to make sure that everything displays properly.

Nothing sideways? Everything where it is supposed to be and working correctly? Great!

Once you are satisfied that the new installation is working correctly, you can reedit the new locations wp-config.php with your real URL name, and then redirect your URL to point to the new location on your web host. You do this from within CPanel in your old location, deleting the URL from the Domains menu, and then adding the URL to your new location. Once you have successfully moved the URL to your new web host location, you are done. Log back on your site and bask in marvel of your unique genius and programming wizardry. Unless of course, the site doesn’t come up like it is supposed to. If not, go back through the steps and make sure you hit all the points correctly.

If all else fails, even the cheapest of web hosting sites will have some form of chat available to paying customers. Log on the chat and see if they can help you. Just don’t panic. It’s just electrons whizzing around in space. It isn’t the end of the world if the website is down a few days. You’ll get it back up because you made a backup, and you didn’t delete the old installation yet.

Wait. You did make a backup, right? Oops?

Dissemble

to hide under a false appearance

Merriam-Webster

I went looking for this word the other day. I was trying to express the desire to voice complete agreement when what I really felt was agreement with some minor variant of what was being said. A purist might call that a lie, as the Merriam-Webster article I found the word defined in does. But saying lie means dissemble is to erase the subtlety of the word.

Well, I’ll put it on, and I will dissemble myself in’t; and I would I were the first that ever dissembled in such a gown.

Twelfth Night

To dissemble is to disguise. You dissemble every time you say I’m fine when asked the perfunctory “how are you?” that passes for greetings everywhere in the English speaking world. You don’t take the time to express every ache and pain that a truthful response to the query would require. The questioner doesn’t want that and would consider that kind of oversharing to be rude.

So you dissemble. Is that lying? Only if everything is black and white.

I said dissimilate first. But I knew that wasn’t right. So I looked it up. The definition seemed so close to what I heard when I heard dissemble in my head. If you had been assimilated then you could dissimilate and not be a part of that group any more. If you dissembled your previous assimilation, pretending you never had to dissimilate, you might be concealing something, but would anyone ever know? Having never known, would it make any difference? I could say I don’t care, but that would be dissembling, and I wouldn’t want to fib.

Facebook Video

Just another reason I don’t spend much time on Facebook and will not be writing or sharing much of anything original on Facebook in the future. I hate Facebook. The only reason I’m still on it is because of the rest of you people being there. Two billion of you. It’s the biggest social gathering in the world, and it’s also the most dysfunctional. Makes my family experience growing up look like Leave it to Beaver by comparison. At least none of the family murdered anyone else in the family and hid the corpses in the backyard. Can’t say that about Facebook.

We are safe from Facebook taking over the world only because they are so incompetent at being able to figure out what we want to see and do. If they ever figure that out, we’re all fucked.

President Pence? Unlikely

So, if impeachment IS a coup as Republicans say it is, well, then the primary suspect behind this illegal power grab wouldn’t be Nancy Pelosi or Adam Schiff or Hillary Clinton.

No. It would be the guy who ends up in power. That’s how coups work.

You want to call it a coup? Maybe wonder where the fuck Mike Pence has gotten to lately.

Stonekettle Station

Because Pence is implicated in Trump’s crimes, he can’t serve either. I’ve heard that scenario run down on Today, Explained, The Nine Impeachment Scenarios

Continue reading “President Pence? Unlikely”

Keep Austin Weird

I ran across some click-baity article on Facebook in one of the groups I’m a member of. The click-bait worked, because I clicked on the article and learned more than I wanted to about the website and the oversized beer packaging that they said proved the new slogan Keep Austin Weird was right on par.

Wait a minute. New slogan? Clearly not written by an Austinite. Keep Austin Weird has been a saying in Austin for pretty much as long as I’ve been here. Longer ago than 2000, the date cited in this wikipedia page. That may be why the competitor’s company was able to trademark the brand and sell merchandise. Because the phrase was in common use before the initial claim was made. I’m not sure why everyone can’t use it, then. Shouldn’t be anyone’s trademark.

In any case, an oversized package of beer is a pretty pedestrian thing to salute as the paragon of weirdness. Most Texans would go for that and it would make stocking the cooler for a barbecue easy-peasy. Just take a look at what passes for weird on the Wikipedia page and remember that those aren’t even the weirdest things in Austin, most of which can’t be captured on video to be shared in the first place since most of the weirdness happens in your head.

Other cities have now started trying to mimic Austin’s weirdness, too. The sincerest form of flattery. Here’s hoping they draw off the plague of Californians we are currently suffering under with their new advertising campaigns.

Happy Birthday World of Warcraft

Every year on the anniversary of the launch of World of Warcraft there are in-game perks for logging onto the game and playing the current game content. Pets and mounts and extra quests that test your knowledge of previous iterations of the game.

This year there are even more rewards than usual. Log on and pick up your breadcrumb quests, then head to the Caverns of Time and join in the amusement and general chaos that is a world event in World of Warcraft.

Happy now, Rush?

I got bonus loot while doing the Memories of Azeroth raid that is part of the celebration. A mount that I had been trying to get to drop off of Ragnaros for several years now in the Firelands raid was in the loot I got off of defeating Ragnaros in Memories of Azeroth. I can now cross the Pureblood Firehawk off of my want list, making Memories of Azeroth doubly worth my time. The only way the experience could have been better is if Invincible’s Reins had dropped off of the Icecrown instance. No one got that one in our group, making Arthas’s stallion still one of the rarest mounts in World of Warcraft.

Part of this event is looking back on these fights and feeling that nostalgia if you were there, or seeing the building blocks of WoW if you weren’t. It’s a chance for an old vet like me to pull up a chair on my porch, sit down next to a youngblood, and regale them with tales of honor and horror. “I remember when Lady Vashj’s Tainted Elemental phase wiped my entire raid over and over for hours. The flasks and food wasted are the stuff of legends.” Memories of Azeroth feels like it was targeted at me.

USGamer

OK Boomer

Population keeps on breeding
Nation bleeding, still more feeding economy
Life is funny, sky is sunny
Bees make honey, who needs money, monopoly
I’d love to change the world
But I don’t know what to do
So I’ll leave it up to you

Ten Years After

I ran across the retort OK Boomer in a podcast once. I’ve since forgotten which one it was. I’d never heard it applied to anyone until Jim confessed to his cardinal sin on Facebook. It fits perfectly. Sadly, it fits all too well when describing our current state of affairs and the despicable hand-waving that the I’ve got mine, get yours set engages in almost daily. Hand-waving designed to deflect any attachment of fault to their ill-gotten gains. I’ve done the best that I can to make the world a better place over my lifetime, and that time ain’t over yet. It ain’t over for the Boomers as a group, either. All they have to do is stand up and be the best people they can be, rather than allow the narcissists and their defenders to be the voice of their generation. If we leave it up to the millennials to fix our shit, we deserve to be disrespected with the phrase OK Boomer.

Ten Years After – I’d Love to Change the World

You want respect from the next generation? Well, then you should have left the planet in better shape than you found it. Simple as that. And we didn’t.

Stonekettle Station

I, of course, was accosted with OK Boomer as a response to this. Too bad I’m not a Boomer.

Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z Explained

Generational cohorts are defined (loosely) by birth year as the article goes into in depth. One might think that because my birth year is before 1964 that I would be considered a boomer. The Wife, who was born a few months after me, identifies as a boomer. I’m not a Boomer in any sense of the term other than birth year. I am Generation X. Solidly Generation X.

How is that? Like so many things boomers (and other average humans) believe, generational cohorts is just another thing that they have wrong, if they think that what makes up a generation is absolutely defined by the year of birth. The reason why you can’t set years and dates to separate generations is because the influences that make up the generation vary from household to household and from town to farm to city. I was the child of parents born after the start of World War II. My parents were born during the war, making them both too young to be boomers but too old to be counted as part of the Greatest Generation. I was the elder of a large family, all younger than me, so their influences were largely my influences.

The Wife was the only child of parents who fought in World War II. Her parents were of the Greatest Generation. She is a Boomer in every sense of the word, in every way the Boomer cohort is measured. Her parents stayed married, my parents divorced. Etcetera, etc, etc. You can go down the list. Everything aside from year of birth makes me a member of Generation X. I really don’t like Boomers, aside from the Wife and other RL friends. Too many self-important assholes in that group.

…aside from which, I own an electric car, I compost and recycle, and I’ve been recycling since the 70’s. I’m poor and I admit it. The OK Boomer retort does not apply to me. But thanks for thinking of me anyway.

Ratings Systems

For my own sanity, I feel that I need to say something about ratings systems and how to rate entertainment fairly. Specifically, rating movies fairly, although the descriptions for the basis of giving a particular rating can be more broadly applied to more than just movies. But it is movies that I’m going to talk about here.

Full disclosure. The Wife’s latest film project has just been released. It is the fourteenth film she’s worked on, the second that she has produced. The title of the film is Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains. No, it is not that kind of movie. It is a horror-comedy with strong female leads, a reasonably well-known director and a reasonably well-known leading actor. I give the film a solid eight out of ten stars on IMDB, four out of five everywhere else.

Why did I give it this rating? There is a logic to it that most people should recognize. First off, I liked the film. When I got to the end of it, I didn’t feel like I had wasted my time, and I didn’t feel like I had been sitting there for too long. If you look on Netflix you can see that logic reflected in their star rating system. For those who don’t have a Netflix account, I’ll go through the generic descriptions using my own language.

One star – I hated it. A one star rating goes on films that you can not even sit through, or that if you do sit through it is simply to grasp the full extent of the filmmakers crimes so that you can testify to them later. If your eyes aren’t bleeding after fifteen minutes of viewing, the movie is probably not a one star experience.

Two stars – I didn’t like it. I made it to the end and for whatever reason, the movie didn’t make me feel the way I expected to feel at the end. This is not to be confused with feeling sad when the film is a sad film (See Schindler’s List) paranoid when the film induces paranoia (see the Matrix) Or angry when the film wants you to be angry (pick any work by Michael Moore) If you need happy endings, stick to solid hollywood releases. They are the movie creators that will feel compelled to leave you with a happy ending.

Three stars – It was OK. There was no particular reason why I couldn’t watch the entire film. It didn’t feel too long, it worked the way I think the creators wanted it to work, but it didn’t make me want to recommend it strongly. Most films are going to rate a solid three stars because most films are made by people who want the average moviegoer to feel like they weren’t wasting their time watching the movie.

Four stars – I liked it. The movie spoke to me in a way that was unique to the movie. A four star movie is one you can remember, and you can remember it fondly. A movie you might even watch again with a friend so that they can experience it too. This is perhaps the most unambiguous rating because most people know when they like something. Either they do or they don’t, there isn’t any uncertainty about it.

Five stars – I loved it. The film is near-perfect in execution. The soundtrack adds to the film, the cinematography is beyond reproach, the subject matter is something that people will relate to in later generations. You feel compelled to tell people to watch the movie, because it is just that good. For me, it’s hard to rate a movie five stars that I don’t feel was a singular experience. Few movies will rate five stars in my estimation. The vast majority of them simply do not measure up to that high standard, not even films made by a lifetime companion who could kill me in my sleep if she wanted to.

For a ten star system like IMDB, you double the star rating you would give it on a five star system, with some added granularity. Five instead of six stars because I really did feel like the movie lost me somewhere. Seven instead of eight stars because there were some technical flaws that I just can’t get past (see the duplicate droid scene in the original Star Wars) nine instead of ten stars because you don’t think the film will be that timeless, but it was damn good all the same.

You don’t, for example, give a film a one star rating and then offer a wishy-washy description of why the film was so bad that you felt like you had to gouge your eyes out rather than watch it. Either you hated it, and you can describe why, or you are trashing the film because the mood struck you and you went for it. Or you are simply an idiot that doesn’t understand what the correct star rating for the movie you just watched was. For those of you who made it to the end of this short guide, you can now be excused from the class of idiot that doesn’t understand what the star ratings mean. You are welcome.

I’m just sorry that I wasn’t in time to save the idiots that gave Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains a one star rating and then said I thought it was meh. Meh is three stars, moron.


I half-jokingly tell people that it’s kind of autobiographical. I had written a script called Creature From Blood Canal, which was an entry and official selection at the NoLa film festival screenplay competition, and that’s where I met [director Paulo Biscaia Filho]. Now Creature was a $100 million script, and I couldn’t get anyone to read it, and Hollywood wouldn’t read it, so basically that’s the same thing that Shane says in Virgin Cheerleaders.

Gary Ganaway in the Austin Chronicle the author of Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains.