Blake's blog

Server Updates

LISNews is pretty much settled on the new server over at Lottadot. This is the first time in several years LISNews isn't on a sever I have 'root' on, so it'll take some time to get used to the loss of control. So the failed move to a new server ended up costing me a couple hundred bucks, but I'm now paying $140 less than I used to pay for LISNews, so in the long run this will be a good financial move for me. There's still a few files missing, a couple of images, and a few other little bugs floating around, but so far I'm very happy with the new-new server. Today I'll be killing the old-new server, may it burn in hell.

So this all means I just have to worry about one server, the LISHost server. I'm happy to have a little less to worry about. LISHost needs a couple new drives soon, as we've hit about 80% full on the main drive. I'd also like to move MySQL to a separate drive.

I'm still considering the direct marketing I asked about a few weeks ago. I'm afraid of 2 things that are still holding me back. 1. It'll work, and I'll get too many new accounts. 2. It won't work at all, and I'll have wasted a bunch of money for nothing. I suppose that's the risk all entrepreneurs are faced with. Having never owned my own business this is all new to me.

I also need to do something about the .com / .org domain name thing. What I really want to do is just redirect all .com traffic to the .org index page. But that's going to break allota stuff. I should whip up a bunch of mod_rewrite rules and atleast preserve some of the rss feeds and other important pages.

I should be...

Kelly's asleep, and I should be cleaning the kitchen. I should be cleaning up LISNews bugs. I should be answering email. I should be painting the basement walls. I should be finishing up my Fedora install on the linux box. I should be... oh hell, there's a million things I should be doing.

Instead, I'm trying to organize the 7,321 digital camera pictures that have accumulated on three computers. I'm not even sure how to get started, so I'll just write about it for awhile here and hope Kelly wakes up. I also just relized that there's about a dozen CDs full of images that aren't on the computers. I need a librarian to organize all this stuff.

The New LISNews Stats

The new server is doing a helluva job so far. There's a few missing pages & images floating around, and a couple other small bugs, but I think things are running very well so far. The new server handles stats very differently, so you can check out the LISNews Web Stats for yourself from now on.

Thanks for all the bug reports, I'll get to them all as I have time.

I Need A 25 Hour Day

Kelly is in the middle of an unusually long nap. It's been about an hour and half, long enough for me to get caught up on my "fire list" and now I actually have time to pick what to work on next. Trouble is there's about a million things I can work on. Clean the house? Write something? Work on the bathroom wall? Clean up the logs on .org? Work on the LISNews marketing section? Gah. There's too much to do, I'm not sure where to start. My back hurts, this chair is awful (Can't wait til Christmas to get a new one) so maybe I'll get up and work around the house.

Decisions, Decisions....

The new server just isn't working out, but I have made a decision. I don't know if it's me, or the server, but it's not handling the load at all. It reboots itself several times a day and anytime I do *anything* it runs out of breath. So that's the bad news. The good news is one of the Slashcode guys hosts slashsites for $50 a month. For those of you keeping track at home that's about $130 less than running my own server, with far fewer headaches. So towards the end of the year I'll be moving LISNews to yet another server. I hope that will fix all the speed/uptime issues we've been having.

56 days left of my 87 day weekend and I just realized I haven't once looked at my write file. I have a couple half written essays, and a response to Walt that I really need to get posted at some point. Maybe I need to start waking up before the baby and doing some work then?

Shhhh...Nothing could be finer than sleeping baby!

And The Winners Are...

For the past several weeks everyone who submited a story had chance to win. The Renaissance Library Calendar 2006 features two libraries which have been honoured with UNESCO awards in 2005. Biblioteca Palafoxiana, (the Palafoxiana Library) in Puebla, Mexico, dating from 1646, and the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp, Belgium, including its extensive library, dating from 1563. If you didn't win don't be afraid to go buy one, tell them LISNews sent you so we can do this again next year.

There was a total of 176 submissions that survived in the queue, So to make things fair, I let MySQL descide who won:

mysql> select email,name from submissions where time > '2005-11-1%' and name not like '%Anonymous%' order by rand() limit 5;

+------------------------------------+--------------------------------+
| email | name |
+------------------------------------+--------------------------------+
| | Redcardlibrarian |
| http:// | mdoneil
| http://librarian.lishost.org/ | kathleen |
| http://younglibrarian.blogspot.com | Katie |
| http://search-engines-web.com/ | http://search-engines-web.com/ |
+------------------------------------+--------------------------------+

That's probably not going to display very well here, but Redcardlibrarian, mdoneil, kathleen, Katie, and search-engines-web.com came up the first time the list had 5 unique names.

17k

I just noticed birdie posted the 17,000th story to LISNews this morning. Wow, we're only a few away from 20k now.

LISNews RSS/RDF/Atom/XML Feeds

Blake Carver Is Out Of The Office

And so begins my 87 day weekend. I'm taking a few months off to take care of my baby Kelly. I grabed what I needed from work, and I'm heading home. I have all my mp3s and any other files I might need, access to email from home, and a pile of papers to work on. I am 90% excited, 10% worried. I'm not really sure how well I'll do without the normal work schedule, now I'll be living with a schedule set by an 11 week old baby. So, for the next 2 months, just call me Mr. Mom.

Even though Kelly really is a perfect baby (and of course the cutest baby in the world), I don't think this will be any kind of vacation, I'm sure that I'll have my hands full. She's already sleeping about 8 hours most nights, so at least I'll probably get a good nights sleep most of the time. Hopefully I'll have some more time during the day to devote to fixing up LISNews. I'm hoping I'll have time for short tasks during the day, and a few hours each night to devote to those things that require more attention. I'm not really sure how I'll be spending my days now, it'll be fun to develop a new schedule!

New Site/Server/Domain Name

The new server is now handling all LISNews (.com and .org) traffic. It's a slightly bigger/better/fast server, so it might serve up pages quicker (or will it do things more quickly?). The old server was rarely slow, so you might not even notice a difference.

There's still more than a few things to do, but it looks like most of the major functionality is working. Let me know if you spot anything major. Some of the feeds are probably not updating, the journals box doesn't appear on the index page unless you're logged in, the colors are wrong, none of the sections urls work (something I have no idea how to fix at this point) and some of the CSS seems to be a bit messy. There was big issues with the new topic setup, but I think I got that ironed out last night. I don't think I'll have the mailing list ready to go until next week, and the footer doesn't pull quotes from the quote Db yet.

Well, I could go on and on, but let me just leave it at that. The only thing left on the old server is my email and assorted old files which I'll be cleaning up and moving over tonite just before I turn it off.

Allota Work Left To Do

The new site/server seems to be running. There's much for me to do still, but it might be good enough to make the cut over before Wednesday like I had hoped for. I haven't messed with the colors or anything else on the front end yet, I'll be working on that tonite.

LISNews Numbers For October 2005

Busy month, mostly thanks to mdoniel's tale of winning a fax battle.

Total Sessions 417,829.00
Total Pageviews 1,248,102.00
Total Hits 3,219,288.00
Total Bytes Transferred 33.61 GB
Average Sessions Per Day 13,478.35
Average Pageviews Per Day 40,261.35
Average Hits Per Day 103,848.00
Average Bytes Transferred Per Day 1.08 GB
Average Pageviews Per Session 2.99
Average Hits Per Session 7.70
Average Bytes Per Session 84.35 KB
Average Length of Session 00:11:59

The Move Is On

I started the move this evening, grabbed a new server, updated DNS for LISNews.org and starting working through the perl modules so far.
It's going about as well as I thought it would.

Update: after two hours I've got it almost running. Template::Toolkit is giving me trouble, but other things have been fixed. So far so good I guess.

Update #2: Went much better than I'd hoped for. Lots of little CPAN and Perl Module bugs, and a few install issues, but looks like it worked. I'm not 100% sure yet, but Slashcode seems to be running. If all goes well I'll have things running this weekend. My plan is to flip the switch next Wed for our birthday. And yes, I'll move over everything, including user accounts. Must get some sleep.

Update #3: 24 hours later (no I haven't been working the entire time) Back at it, so far so good I guess. I blew everything out, started over, found some errors, fixedm', down graded to an old version so I can then upgrade, and import. No, makes no sense to me either, but that's what they say to do. So if all goes well, we'll have a mirror of .com on .org tomorrow. One more update later tonite to let you know how it goes.

Update #4: Forgot to update last night (Friday) I was just too tired. Worked till 11pm and got almost nothing accomplished. Started again at 10am today (Saturday) and have made some progress. Still having some issues, but at least I'm moving forward.

Update #5: Forgot to update ya'll again last night. I worked for about 12 hours yesterday and accomplished exactly nothing. It's now 10am on Sunday, starting again.

Update #6: 1pm on Sunday. Finally, I can report progress! I don't know why this didn't work the first 20 times I tried, but I've managed to load the old data from this server, into the new server and a newer version of slash. It's a "newer" version, not the newest one yet. That's next. Not sure it'll be done tonite, but I'm hopefully I'll have it done within a couple days at least.

Update #7: Sunday night: It's sorta kinda moving along still. I can't seem to fix a couple things, but I feel like I did make some progress finally. Blah. What a weekend.

Teachable Moment

One simple story to illustrate why I think libraries are in trouble. One simple story that should scare the shit out of you, especially if you're in a public library.

Yesterday my wife caught the tail end of a local TV news broadcast she thought was her mother's, friend's, son's daughter dying in a car crash. She immediately went to the station's web site and found nothing. She searched Google, again found nothing. She tried the Buffalo News site, again nothing. She called her sister who looked in the paper, she saw nothing. He sister tried some internet searching, again nothing. Had enough yet? She then called her other sister, who tried something else, and may have even called someone else, again nothing. This went on and on for most of the day I guess.

Smart, very well educated people trying to find one simple small piece of information and failing. It turns out she lived and died in a small town near the Pennsylvania border. The local newspaper was indexed anywhere online, nor did the Buffalo papers carry the story. Why it was on the Buffalo TV news I have no idea.

So when I got home I heard the story (it was much longer and more interesting than what I wrote) about how she thought someone died, but she can't find anything about her. It wasn't in Google, so she thought she might've been dreaming when she saw the story on the news. Lucky for her, she married a librarian! My first thought was to call the library out in the town we thought she lived in, and ask them to look in the local paper. These are not stupid people. The reaction was the same from both my wife, the MBA, and her sister, another MBA:

"You can do that? Libraries can answer questions like that?"

They thought of Google (first), they thought of TV, they thought of newspapers, and they even thought of other people. It never occurred to them to ask a librarian. And one of them is married to a librarian.

LISNews Will Move Soon (Hopefully)

This is a pretty big if at this point, but IF all goes well, I'll have the newest version of Slashcode up and running on a new server and new domain name for LISNews this weekend [available for beta testing]. LISNews will hopefully be LISNews.org within a couple weeks. If that goes well, I'd expect to move everything over to the new server the first weekend in November, just in time to celebrate our 6th anniversary.

You know how when the IT department does a big conversion they always say they expect a smooth transition? And then when they make the transition everything goes to hell? Well, I expect everything to go to hell when I make the move. So let me apologize now for whatever is about to go wrong. It'll probably be ugly for at least a couple weeks till I get everything worked out.

The move will go something like this:

1. Buy new server
2. Update DNS and point LISNews.org @ new IP
3. Uninstall Apache 2, install Apache 1
4. Install new Slashcode, hack mailing list and footers
5. Make it look like LISNews
6. Import all the old data from .com
7. Update DNS to point .com at .org
8. Write some mod_rewrite thingies to get all .com pages redirecting to new .org domain
9. Kill old server
10. Celebrate

It looks so simple! I expect big problems during steps #3, 4, 5, and 6, and other problems with every other step. I hope I'm wrong, but I can't put this off forever, I've been pushing it back for over a year now.

If all goes well you'll never even notice, LISNews will just be a .org at some point. If things go really wrong, LISNews will vanish for days at a time, and I'll go crazy trying to get it going again.

On Finding Interesting Reading

A rather perceptive LISNewster dropped me an email this weekend to ask why I didn't point to something over on LJ last week they thought was a good fit for LISNews. In the ensuing email conversation we talked about how little I point to from "real" library stuff (magazines, journals, etc.) and how much I point to newspapers and other news sources outside of our little world. I'm not sure I have a really good reason, but I think it's largely because of 2 simple things.
1. I don't read much librarian stuff any more.
2. You should already be reading that stuff.
3. I'm not the only author, just the most obsessed.
My current gig as a solo "special" librarian working in an industrial environment doesn't require much study on librarianship. As a matter of fact, about the only thing that keeps me connected to the profession on a regular basis is LISNews. That and a bi monthly lunch with the library director of the college next door, and a conference or 2 a year are about the only things that keep me from drifting away completely. My philosophy with LISNews has always been simple. We point to things we find interesting, if you agree, then today's your lucky day. Primarily I find interesting things from reading about 200 Google alerts a day. I find other interesting things in the blogs and web sites I read on a regular basis. What I read when I'm looking for interesting things to post is outside of the LIS Press. The good thing is it doesn't really matter what I do, because I have lots of help here. LISNews isn't my site, its run by the dozen or so authors and the 4,000+ other members. Anyone in the world can suggest a story, leave a comment, or write in their journal about what ever they want. LISNews' greatest strength is its openness. Calls for me to clamp down on the community fall on deaf ears.

So, I'll just repeat here what I wrote in one email. I read LJ regularly but I rarely feel the need to point to it. Not because I think it's bad or not worth of note, but because I've always operated under the assumption that we all read LJ, and there's no need to point to it, or AL, or most other popular librarian publications. Maybe I'm wrong?

13 Bands You Might Not Know

I thought I'd change things up a bit and talk music. Now that I'm able to listed to music all day again I've discovered and rediscovered some good tunes I thought I'd share. I won't try to describe any of the bands here, I'll just point you to their sites (if they have one) and let you have a listen. My current favorite on the list, Tugboat Annie, broke up several years ago, but I'd highly recommend checking your favorite source for music and having a listen. There's a great accoustic version of "The Wishing Song" they did at a radio station here a few years back that is fantastic. You might find that floating around in cyberspace somewhere.

So for your listening enjoyment, here's Blake's "13 Bands You Might Not Know"

  1. Bishop Allen
  2. Bree Sharp
  3. Dada
  4. Darling Buds
  5. Elliott
  6. The Fire Theft
  7. Local H
  8. Muse
  9. Possum Dixon
  10. Reel Big Fish
  11. Tugboat Annie
  12. Sheila Divine
  13. Wheatus
  14. I showed you mine, now show me yours. What new bands should I be listening to?

    A Week With Bloglines

    Here's a poorly kept secret: I don't use a feed reader. I was writing feeds when you were still in diapers. I run an entire site devoted to feeds. I run another site that has several dozen feeds. My experience has been almost 100% supply side for RSS.

    Steven M. Cohen will be so proud! I've been using Bloglines on a regular basis for about a week. I loaded a bunch of feeds last week, including all the feeds from LISFeeds thanks to my new secret LISFeeds OPML file. So all week I've been hitting my Bloglines account a few times a day. It's been working well for some feeds, and not so good for others. There will still be sites I continues to visit via the good ol' web browser, and, if I stick with it, there are a few sites I won't. I don't think I'll ever be gaga over aggregators, to me they are just one more tool that, if used correctly, can help me learn more. I'm not entirely sure they even save me much time. I don't read that many sites to begin with, and I don't really have the time or curiosity to read that much more.

    I've been quickly taking feeds out that aren't in English, and others that seem to post too much crud I don't want to read. I've learned using an aggregator is a bad way to keep up with general news. There's just too much going on for me to ever get caught up. What I do like is having very small niche topics with just a few sites in each.

    I've discovered how much I still like the Motley Fool. I'm keeping up with several "lifehacks" sites that I really enjoy. I see a lot of overlap between sites, more than I thought was out there. I think I need to take out allota more feeds. There's too much in there already, and I'll never be able to find good stuff in the endless piles of posts. A few other bits: It's great for comics! Bloglines is surprisingly slow, all the time. I don't really feel like I've learned more, even though I've been reading more.

    Most importantly, I've been seeing LISNews through a reader for the first time and I can see how I can make some improvements. My strip_tags is stripping too much formatting out of the feed, it can use a new image, and more useful information might make them more, uh, useful. So hopefully I'll have some time this weekend to work on adding more things into our many feeds.

    LISNews Numbers For September 2005

    Date Range: 09/01/2005 - 09/30/2005
    -----------------------------------
    Total Sessions 369,876.00
    Total Pageviews 1,053,283.00
    Total Hits 2,552,961.00
    Total Bytes Transferred 26.18 GB
    Average Sessions Per Day 12,329.20
    Average Pageviews Per Day 35,109.43
    Average Hits Per Day 85,098.70
    Average Bytes Transferred Per Day 893.47 MB
    Average Pageviews Per Session 2.85
    Average Hits Per Session 6.90
    Average Bytes Per Session 74.21 KB
    Average Length of Session 00:12:58

    RSS hits on journals now outnumber hits to the HTML versions by about 100:1.
    Most popular journals:
    slashgirl, Walt, Blake, Daniel, nbruce, mdoneil, GregS*, Bibliofuture, Samantha, birdie, show, djfiander and Jay.

    The article.pl page was our most popular, hit about 162,000 times, followed by the lisnews.rss (110,000), index.rss (70,000), / (48,000) and journal.pl (21,000).

    Nothing interesting or unusual in the referral or domain logs at all. We had hits from about 45,000 unique IP addresses.

    IE made up about half of the hits, Firefox about 15%, followed by the always mysterious " Mozilla Compatible Agent" and about 13%. Safari and Netscape had about 1%.

    That's about it from the Apache logs, as reported by Urchin.

    Numbers from the Slashdb for September
    Busiest Authors:
    Blake: 223
    Rochelle: 62
    Bibliofuture: 15
    birdie: 12
    John: 8
    Amke: 6
    bentley: 4
    Dan G.: 3
    Samantha: 3
    Curmudgeony: 2
    Mock Turtle: 2
    Ryan: 1
    Louise: 1
    Tania: 1
    Steven: 1
    Bill Drew: 1

    Total Number Of Articles:
    345

    Total Number Of Submissions:
    209

    Number of Accounts logged in:
    441

    Total Number Of Comments:
    700

    Total Number Of Commentors:
    102

    10 Busiest Commentors:
    Anonymous Patron 106
    GregS* 56
    mdoneil 54
    Fang-Face 38
    nbruce 25
    Daniel 24
    Rochelle 22
    Blake 21
    leeb 18
    tomeboy 17

    10 Busiest Journalors:
    nbruce 22
    Daniel 15
    slashgirl 14
    mdoneil 9
    Durst 8
    Bibliofuture 8
    Jay 8
    GregS* 7
    Blake 6
    Debra 5

    Total Journal Entries:
    132

    Total Journal Comments:
    132

    Total Metamoderations:
    727

    Total Moderations:
    458

    Distinct Annonymous Patrons Comments:
    50

    I Ripped Them All, Finally

    3374 MP3s
    239 hours and 40 minutes
    13.33 Gigabytes

    That's the final count for my CD collection I've finally finished converting to MP3s. I've just been doing a few each week, I started ripping them back in February, and finally finished last night. I'm not even sure how many CDs I have, probably about 400. It's nice to have them all ripped again. I'd actually done this a few years back, but the hard drive I had them stored on blew up.

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