Friday, April 17, 2015
I installed this in a virtual machine both to take a look at 10, but especially to take advantage of updates to Windows PowerShell, which are available only with Windows 8 or later. I'm happy to say the start button is there.
The start button leads to the tiles left over from Windows 8. Maybe this can be re-configured to avoid the tiles? Didn't Microsoft get the memo that people working on business-class desktop computers DON'T WANT TILES! At least not the default ones, with videos, the stock market, etc.
OK so you can right-click and delete a tile. I can imagine configuring this as a standard operation when deploying a new desktop computer to a co-worker.
If you look in the document explorer the new icons are even more cartoon-like than than before. It makes me nostalgic for the old "cartoon-like" icons of Windows XP.
Thursday, April 09, 2015
The front end of our web store is hosted with Shopify. Sales that are made through the web store are passed through to Brightpearl. Along the way we charge credit cards through Authorize.net, and have implemented a number of custom plugins or "apps" to modify both the Shopify store, and the Brightpearl application, notably from ShipRobot and Bold Apps.
The store took some time to get up and running. We had originally contracted with an outside consulting firm. After it became clear that they weren't smarter than we are, we brought the implementation in-house, and worked directly with our cloud vendors at Shopify and Brightpearl.
One of the trade-offs of cloud-based computing is that an application of any complexity can easily rely on code from multiple providers, so that some of the time saved in not coding, is spent on "vendor management". We have good relationships with our vendors, all of whom have provided timely tech and implementation support.
We replaced a system that used a web site hosted by a local programmer which fed the MOM Mail Order Manager program. Although we launched with a full suite of capability that matched our original specification, it is very feasible to launch a less elaborate site with Shopify, and add functionality as your needs grow.
Friday, March 06, 2015
Except for iDevices. At least for Dropbox,
Even with the Dropbox app installed, the familiar syncing process that works so smoothly on desktops and laptops isn't present on the iPad. The reason for this is that on actual computers Dropbox maintains copies of all files on all devices and the cloud. On the iPad that might be both a problem with storage space, and also a problem with the amount of data that is transferred.
This has come up with FileMaker files that are opened using the FileMaker Go app on the iPad. I'd prefer to go to the Dropbox app, find my FileMaker database file, and "Open in FileMaker Go", which is, in fact the procedure that one uses to download and use the FileMaker file on the iPad for the first time.
1. Here's the file shown in the Dropbox App. It is called UCHealth.fmp12 and it is an exercise tracking application.
Here FileMaker isn't shown, but if you tap the "Open In" application icon ....it will bring up additional options:
Tap the FileMaker Go icon, and the file is downloaded from Dropbox, and will be displayed in FileMaker Go's file listing for local files on the iPad
However, once the file is opened, it is copied to the iPad and it stays on the iPad. Changes to the file (new records, edited records, etc), are NOT synced back to the Dropbox cloud file.
The fix for this is a bit convoluted, but at least it works. It involves a manual copy of the file back to the Dropbox cloud.
1. In Dropbox, Delete the cloud version of the file. (If you are doing this next to your desktop computer you may see a notification on the desktop telling you that the file has been deleted from Dropbox.
2. In FileMaker Go - be sure to close the file.
a. Select the upper left menu, and choose Windows
Close the application window. (in this example, close the UCHealth application.)
That will bring you back to the file browser.
3. In FileMaker Go, choose "Device" This will show the list of files that on the iPad.
6. Choose "Open in Dropbox"
Depending on the size of the file there may be a delay as the file is copied to the Dropbox. And of course, this process doesn't work unless you are connected to the network.
This whole process isn't elegant, and is only workable for a single person moving files around. But it works.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Let's say you are launching an e-Shop. You have the web developer, the graphic designer, the photographer, the shop manager, the back-end developer and the testers working on the project. You have calendar schedules, product photos, text copy, html and .css files all in half-a-dozen sites and places; Google Drive, Trello, your calendar, the file server, the production web site, and the sandbox web site. All this is glued together using eMails with copies to the team... each person has their own copy of the email (you hope), and relevant attachments or links to files on Google Drive, Dropbox, your web server, or your file server. Its all a bit diffuse, and if anyone wanted to come up to speed on the whole project, then it would probably be pretty tough, because everything about the project isn't in one place.
Nine years ago, I was using Basecamp for several projects including grant applications. I have used Basecamp for many years, and sung its praises for writing grants, which is by nature a collaborative process with multiple players. About 2012, Basecamp got a major upgrade which seemed to break my workflow and processes. So, I started looking around at the alternatives, and there are bunch.
The basic unit of Slack is the team.
Teams can create channels. Channels can be for a single department, or a single project. So, for our team we created a channel for each department:
with fonts and bullets.
For current projects that cross individual departments, we created specific channels.
- XYZ Grant Application
- 2015 Audit
Friday, February 13, 2015
The idea of asking for money raises another set of hindering attitudes, which are largely the inheritance of a predominantly Protestant culture infused with a Puritan ethic that affects most Americans, including those who are not Protestants. This set of values conveys a number of messages that influence our feelings and actions. For example, a Puritan ethic implies that if you are a good person and you work hard you will get what you deserve. It further implies that if you have to ask for something you are a weak person because strong people are self-sufficient. Further, most likely you have not worked hard enough and you probably don't deserve whatever you are asking for. Rounding out this series of beliefs is our deep distrust in the ability of government to solve social problems and a general convictions that the government wastes our money in unnecessary and inefficient bureaucratic red tape.
All of these beliefs can be found among people on both the left and right sides of the political spectrum as well as across age and race lines and different religious orientations. Where these beliefs will not be found is in two places:
- Other countries. Although many countries have various taboos related to money, none have as many contradictory ones as the United States. Our taboos about talking and learning about money are not universal.
Our beliefs about money are learned, and therefore they can be unlearned. The wonderful writer Ursula Le Guin once said in a lecture, "I never learned much from my teachers, but I learned a great deal from my un-teachers; the people who said to me, 'You shouldn't have learned that and you don't need to think it anymore.'"
- Children. Children have no trouble asking for money. They do not subscribe to the idea that self-sufficiency means not asking or that polite people don't ask. They ask, and the ask again and again. Our taboos about money are not natural--we are not born with them.
Fundraising for social change is in part about raising the money we need, but over a longer period of time it is also about creating healthy attitudes toward money, and many people find that aspect of fundraising to be most fascinating.
I'd love to quote the entire chapter, but that wouldn't be a blog post, it would be plagiarism! Instead, I suggest you check out the book yourself, her other books, and resources.
Thursday, January 08, 2015
/sbin/service httpd reload > /dev/null 2>/dev/null || true
Reading the logs for user log-ins.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
I'm trying to sell a few DocBoxes. These are industrial-strength Mini-Itx machines originally sourced from Logic Supply. The have AOpen cases and motherboards, using Intel Celeron chips, with 1 meg of memory, a 60 or 80 Gig hard drive, and a CD or DVD-ROM. I originally had them loaded with Windows XP embedded, or Windows 7 embedded, but have reformatted them to use Xubuntu, which is Ubuntu configured to use the XCFE interface, a lightweight front end which seems to work well with the limited 1 meg of RAM on these machines. The best thing that I liked about this was a stock installation of Xubuntu automatically found the wireless network interface, and my wireless router and my printer. With XP and Windows 7 I had to go rooting around to find drivers for both of these things.
Nothing precludes running the boxes on Windows...I've tried it with a stock Windows 7 Professional installation as well as the embedded versions. In their original lives, they were running Windows XP Embedded. The units might have a number of applications:
- Granny or kiddie workstation
- Thin client
- Industrial controller
- Process controller
- Mini file or media server
- Lightweight web server
The picture shows the docbox with a Logitech Orbit camera on top, which was the original configuration. I'm experimenting with how best to advertise and sell these, with a couple options, Craigslist, eBay via Global Garage, a third-party seller, and Do-It-Myself eBay.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
PITA of the week: The new OSX Yosemite transmits search data by default to Apple, Microsoft, and god-knows-where. This is a reversal from previous versions of OSX. There is a fix.
Powershell is turning out to be pretty amazing. There is an entertaining introductory video series from Microsoft Virtual Academy which includes Jeffery Snover, the original PowerShell author who explains why they do things the way they do.
Ozzie Zehner is a green-technology skeptic, in the sense that he suggests that our infatuation with alternative energy like photovoltaics and windmills really perpetuates the energy status quo. His top suggestions for committed environmentalists; empower women and girls.
Green Illusions pioneers a critique of alternative energy from an environmental perspective, arguing concerned citizens should instead focus on walkable communities, improved consumption, governance, and most notably, women’s rights.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I put together a grants database screen (click to view full size) to consolidate information for funding sources, and to track dates and interactions.
It is definitely an evolving project, but contains the basic information need to contact the funder, the deadline dates involved, the funder's areas of interest, and the typical range of a grant award.
So far, I've been concentrating on foundation funding. Many foundations typically ask for a letter of interest before you put together a full proposal. So, I've included multiple date fields, a deadline for a letter of interest, a deadline for a full proposal, and a date when they announce their award.
Originally I thought that this database would be mostly for research, but after working with the online grants database, Grantstation, I think I will reserve this database for funders that I really expect to submit to. Some ideas for future enhancements include:
- Links to standard "boilerplate" paragraphs that are used in an application.
- Links to edit the proposal or letter directly in Word.
- Links to the PDFs of the proposal.
- Reports that create a grants calendar.
GrantwritingGrantstation is a subscription-based database of grant opportunities. You can purchase a l year Grantstation Membership for $99.00 per year if you are a member of TechSoup, on September 23 and 24.
The free Grantstation 1-hour orientation webinar is well worth the time. I learned, for example that their federal grants database is a front-end using data from Grants.gov.
Tech Soup is also sponsoring a free webinar by the CEO of Grantstation Cynthia Adams on September 18th.
Funding Rural America :
When has it ever been easy to secure funding for nonprofits and libraries in rural communities? Is there a way to level the playing field so organizations in small towns, counties, or boroughs without large metropolitan areas can compete for both government and private sector grants? What are the other options for financially supporting a rural project? Are collaborative efforts worth the effort? And, of course the biggest question: who is funding rural America?
These, and other relevant questions, along with current trends affecting rural funding will be addressed in this free, two-hour webinar presented by Cynthia Adams, CEO of GrantStation.
Finally, it is rare that we find a Grantmsanship Seminar in our neck of the woods (northern New England). But there will be a five-day Grantmanship training seminar located in Barre VT. December 8-12, 2014
Hardware and SoftwareInterconnection.org is another possible source for refurbished computers, (or a place to donate your old gear). They are one of the refurbishers for the Techsoup Refurbished Computer Initiative.
Techsoup has wonderful deals for software. A one-year subscription to FileMaker server is $209, and a subscription for FileMaker Pro (the desktop version that runs on a Mac or PC desktop) is $65.00. Visio Professional is available for $29.00.
MiscellaneousHere is an interesting academic discussion of luck, and how to have more of it. Thanks to Jeff Duntemann for the link.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
You want to execute this from your Windows computer.
The target computer runs CentOS 5.6 This is an (ancient) Red Hat Linux derivative, running (ancient) mySQL and Apache.
I ended up using PLink called from a Windows .CMD file to execute a bash shell script. The shell script looks like this:
# Rebootolator - Reboots Apache and mySQL on a target Server
# LK Microdesign June 25, 2014
echo 'Rebooting Apache and mySQL on myServer'
echo 'Restarting mySQL'
echo 'Restarting the Apache web server.'
echo 'Reboot procedure completed'
Note this script is not stored on the target server, but simply put in the same folder as the windows cmd file on my windows box.
Now for the Windows command file:
Reboot.CMD:: Batch file to restart services on myServer
:: Restarts mySQL and httpd
:: Uses the Rebootolator shell script
:: LK/Microdesign August 12, 2014
plink -ssh firstname.lastname@example.org -m rebootolator.sh -pw mypass
pause >nul | echo Press any key to exit.
So, lets deconstruct the Windows Reboot.CMD file.
The first four lines are comment lines. Turns out, you can use two colons to preface a comment in Windows, (who knew?) instead of REM.
Line 5 turns off output to the screen.
Line 6 clears the screen.
Line 7 and 8 put in blank lines.
All the work happens on line 9, using the PLINK command. PLINK is the command line version of PUTTY, a free open source terminal program for Windows workstations. Both PLINK and PUTTY are pretty wonderful and highly recommended if you need to access Linux machines from Windows.
-ssh means "use the secure socket layer protocol to log into this machine"
email@example.com is a administrator's account on the target machine, probably the root account.
-m rebootolator.sh is the name of the shell script (above) that needs to run on the target machine.
-pw mypass is the password for the account used to log into the machine.
Deconstructing the Rebootolator.sh script:
#!/bin/bash -p just means this is a BASH script
The two commands that actually restart the mySQL server, and the Apache server are:
The rest, (the echo commands) write out what is happening at the command line. The Term command is my attempt to avoid a harmless error message that occurs when the script starts to execute.
Since I didn't realize I could host the Rebootolator.sh script in my Windows folder, I originally though I'd have to log into one Linux box, and then execute the script on the target box. Turned out the whole thing was simpler using PLINK, which is the equivalent of SSH and SSHPASS programs used to access remote machines from the Linux command line.
Thursday, August 07, 2014
Random FileMaker-related resources:1. You can create an alternative icon for FileMaker 13. When you have multiple FileMaker versions installed, it sometimes is difficult to distinguish between them. FM12 and FM13 have virtually identical icons with the same color schemes. Here are alternative icons that can be installed, for both Win and Mac from HomeBase Software. HomeBase has a ton of of technical information on their web site.
3. Coding Standards for FileMaker
4. Modular FileMaker: is shared library of FileMaker functions. There are huge community-developed libraries for other languages such as PHP and Python. These folks are attempting a similar idea for FM. I've downloaded their JSON module, and am experimenting with it. Other examples include a nifty SQL query generator, and and another interface to Mailchimp.
Custom Functions are a way of adding small chunks of user-defined code that can be called within a FileMaker script. Brian Dunning is the guru here and curates the largest library of custom FM functions on the web. He also has sample data sets available for the U.S., Austria, Canada, and the UK. Five hundred records are free, and a million records are available for ten bucks.
5. If you need a 100,000 records or so, you could also download the database of public and private schools available at the National Center for Education Statistics. This includes demographic data as well as mailing and location addresses for schools. The data is fun to play around with. You can give yourself some sample exercises in FileMaker. For example:
6. What percentage of public school students are eligible for free or reduced lunch in your state? It is 38% in mine. Poking around in some other states, it looks like that isn't unusual; in many states it is 40-60% or more. The lunch program is often considered a proxy for the family poverty rate. But maybe that's another discussion.
I originally had OutLook eMail synced to my Google Apps email. Then I wanted to also use the Outlook calendar and have changes made there reflected in my Google Apps calendar which is the group calendar that we use in the office. A quick search found the Google Outlook synchronizer, an application that sits outside of Outlook and runs interference between Outlook and Google apps.
The nice thing about this is that that it doesn't require you to put in all kinds of IMAP information into your Outlook profile...you simply give it your Google Apps eMail address and off it goes and downloads everything from Google Apps, creates a new profile within OutLook, and then uploads everything into mailboxes in Outlook (see screenshot). If it works, it will great. I includes your contact lists, shared calendars, co-workers calendars, notes, and tasks.
The poor mans's Exchange Server?If you use Google Apps in the office, and have Windows computers, you could have this running on each machine, and essentially use Google Apps as a back-end Exchange Server.
Monday, July 28, 2014
SmartyStreets is a web-based address validator for U.S. addresses. Using the US Postal Service official address database, SmartyStreets will validate any address that you send to it with varying amounts of correction. Addresses are classified in a number of different ways, including:
- Nomatch The address is invalid.
- Mailable The address is valid and can receive mail.
- Mailable-Vacant: The address is valid but vacant
- Match-Inactive. The address is valid but inactive.
|Click to Enlarge.|
Friday, June 13, 2014
Thursday, June 12, 2014
We got several "really good deals" from NewEgg, for refurbished Lenovo desktop computers at $214.00. These appeared to be of "office quality", included Windows 7 Pro, and were nicely finished. Unfortunately, we have had 2/3 of the Western Digital Blue hard drives start to fail at some point. This has created no end of extra heartache for the users and an enormous amount of work for the IT staff.
NewEgg has been fine on returns, however, providing UPS shipping labels, and RMA procedures over the web.
OK....so much for NewEgg. We're looking at alternatives. (we have more time than money).
Techsoup has Dell refurbished computers that are prepared by a third party. For example:
One advantage here is that if you need licenses for Windows 7 and Office, they are included in the price. You would spend the $286.00 on those if you bought at retail, and maybe quite a lot less if you have a Microsoft Open, agreement. But, it like getting the hardware free.
The Dell Outlet looks promising with several machines in the $315-$390 range which still include Windows 7 as opposed to Windows 8, and have at least 500Gb drives, and 4 Gigs of RAM. These have more up-to-date processors than the Techsoup machines, and are certainly not as old. Most Dell Outlet machines were either not delivered, or were taken back within the warrenty period.
I've had solid results with Dell Outlet computers at the workstation and server level; mixed results with standard desktop machines, and a real disaster with older SX-series Optiplexes. The best seem to be the larger ones; towers or mini-towers. Smaller machines, "mini-desktops" may have suffer from the suboptimal cooling, and the older components may have reached their design end-of-life earlier than those installed in a larger case.
One thing we have often found is that dual monitors are wonderful, and this is something that I would recommend for anyone as a matter of course. If you need an extra monitor card, these can be found from NewEgg starting at around $35.00. Best to wait until you have received the machine, because there can be variations in the slots, and the available adapter space that aren't evident from the web page.
On the Mac side, I've purchased several Macbooks, iPods, iPads, from the Apple Store. These have always worked flawlessly. The Refurb store has a 21.5 inch iMac for $1099, which is the model from September 2013. The cost is only $200 or so less that of a new, similar iMac. It includes 8 gigs of RAM, and 1 terabyte hard drive, and of course the Mavrick OS, and iWork. If you've got more money than time, and just want to get to work, this might be the way to go.
Tuesday, May 06, 2014
1. Create a data table. I call it SQLWB. Give this table two text fields: "Query" and "Result". Both of these will be text fields.
2. Modify the layout I call it SQL Workbench.
3. Resize the two fields to show a larger amount of text. I add a scrollbar to the end of each field
4. Create a scripts to run the query. I call it RunSQLQuery.
Set Field [SQLWB::Results; ExeuteSQL (SQLWB::Query;"";"")]
5. Create a script to clear the two text boxes. I call this script ClearResults.
Set Field [SQLWB::Query;""]
Set Field [SQLWB::Results;""]
6. Add two buttons to the layout; one for each of the scripts.
The result will look something like this:
Note that this isn't a full-blown SQL implementation, it will only respond to SELECT statements. (You can't INSERT or DELETE, for example. Also, if there any problems with your SQL syntax, the result box will only show a question mark.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
I've been upgrading my Dell Optiplex 620, (this of the noisy fan and the overheating case which always needs to have the top left off. ) from Windows XP to Windows 7. I used an image downloaded from the Microsoft licensing web site, and, I think this must be original version of Windows 7 that came out in 2009 or whenever, because it has applied over 150 updates, to the newly installed version, which has taken over four hours to have ready to use. Cripes, haven't they even heard of version control, or Git?
After casting around for a cloud-based web hosting company, I'm leaning toward Linode. To start with, their documentation is terrific.
And, speaking of Git if you are trying to get your head around it, here is a great beginner tutorial that describes the theory of Git and doesn't just give another rundown of all the commands.
Visual Inspiration at Urban Sketchers.
Trello is an uncomplicated way to manage projects. There is an e-Book about Trello, Trello Dojo published by Daniel Root and published by Leanpub
As a professional nerd, occasionally I’ll run into a website, utility, or service that has potential to help the day-to-day lives of people not only the IT field, but in about any line of work. Or, perhaps even people in no line of work. Trello is just that sort of service. Their website describes it: “In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.” Being free, easy to use, and constantly updated, giving Trello a try in your next project or process is a no brainer. You have almost no risk and a lot to gain.
The book comes with pointers to more than a dozen Trello templates; projects that are already set up. There is also discussion of feeding a Trello board with inputs from other sources, such as an RSS feed or eMail. An example of such an application is the Poor Man's Customer Service tracker, which takes eMails sent to your customer support web address, and automatically creates a Trello card for each issue.
Sunday, April 06, 2014
Shopify provides an API (Application Programming Interface) to their web site which allows developers to add extra functions to a customer's web shop. Entry to the API is
provided in several different ways:
- External Apps: Shopify calls an external function hosted at a publicly available web address. Presumably the same app provides functions for multiple customers and shops. There are bunch of these advertised on the Shopify web site. Some are free, some are supported by Shopify and some are built by third-party programmers, who make them available for $5.00 - $60.00 per month.
- Internal Apps: These are similar to internal apps, but are available for a single store.
- Embedded Apps: Haven't quite figured this out yet, but my guess is that somehow this allows an app to be embedded in a single store, and hosted within the Shopify web server, thus obviating the need for a separate web server, and public web address.
It is a little ironic that some of the best PHP programming tools seem to exist primarly in Windows versions, but that most of the deployment of PHP happens on Linux/Apache web servers. Ideas:
Notepad++ The favorite of my boss, but as I said to him, "its like writing with a stick in dirt". I use it all the time though for general editing of ASCII files.
JetBrains phpStorm I have the thirty-day trial for this, which also runs on the Mac. Looks promising.
To create the publicly available web address that will host my app, I got an account with Heroku
To examine calls to and from web services, I downloaded the the Firefox Plug-in HttpRequester.
To examine the web traffic, I use Fiddler. To see web traffic in greater context (and to see all the data you're sending to the NSA...) I use WireShark.
All of the above are Windows applications. Other suggestions cheerfully accepted. (For example, on the Mac, WiresShark uses an external Xquartz graphics library, which has to be launched separately. The whole thing seems a little flakey, but it works, all the same.)
Friday, March 21, 2014
We received the unit promptly, and as I unboxed it, I noticed that it appears to be an IBM-branded unit built by Lenovo of about vintage 2009. This is a little older than I would have hoped, but the Windows 7 setup seems to be going smoothly so far. The unit has a Windows "Microsoft Refurbished" sticker on it which has a valid Windows 7 code. There was also a "Made for Vista" sticker on the case, which I've scratched off. Yikes.
So far, main irritation is that the case is so small that there is no room for a full length expansion card. We normally have dual monitors for everyone, so expanding the single VGA motherboard connector may prove to be a challenge. Still, a machine with the hardware specs above, and Windows 7 for a little over $200.00... that is inexpensive. Comparable new machines were in the $600 range.
I've had mixed results with refurbs at least with Dell. A couple of Dell SX series went belly up, and one was dead on arrival. A recent Optiplex 620 series seems to overheat. I've had two full tower refurbs from Dell which have been just fine, as well as an Inspiron laptop. So, let's hope the Lenovo, er, IBM is solid.
But back to XP. Isn't it odd that although Microsoft is trying to entice users to move to the cloud, and subscription-based software, it can't seem to be in a position to offer a subscription-based support plan for $20.00 or $50.00 a year for XP. John Dvorak outlines a plan here.
I always thought Microsoft was in the business of making money. If you are a shareholder, go to the next meeting and ask the bigwigs why Microsoft is leaving what can amount to billions of dollars on the table regarding Microsoft XP.
Microsoft is too dumb to realize that it can effortlessly monetize Windows XP using the beloved software subscription/rental scheme the company keeps discussing, but apparently has nothing but trouble trying to implement.
I am going to describe a multi-billion dollar idea that Microsoft must consider.
There are still approximately 500 million XP users—an estimated 29 percent of the computers in the world. Many do not want to upgrade to anything new. They are happy campers.
These folks, according to a variety of reports, include many banks and most of the ATM networks. Smart corporate money knows that if you have something that works great for a single application you do not swap it out. You run it until something comes along that would save you enormous amounts of money. This is not happening with banking software.
Friday, March 14, 2014
ClearOS is a combination of a core Linux distribution based on Red Hat and CentOS. It includes a complete set of applications to provision an entire office. Perhaps the main advantage is that it takes what are usually a number of several different disparate Linux-based programs, and it puts a slick web-based management front-end them. ClearOS is very modular; you can make things as sophisticated or simple as you want.
To get a closer look, I downloaded and installed the ClearOS Virtualbox demo. (The only glitch was a problem with the 64-bit demo; I re-downloaded the 32-bit version and that installed perfectly on Virtualbox on my iMac.)
Setup is accomplished by a wizard that walks you through a sequence of steps to install the software, connect to the internet, configure the firewall and configure additional services.
If you want to see how ClearOS looks without worrying about the installation, you can "manage" a virtual server with a Live-Demo.
The screenshot shows options for backing up local workstations.
ClearOS offers a number of different versions and support levels. You can download and run the community edition for free, a choice that I might consider to replace a Windows SBS 2011 server if there are no processes on the server that are dependent on Windows. You can install it and run it on your own dedicated hardware. (They don't recommend running the whole thing in a single virtual machine).
Or you can run it on a ClearOS hybrid appliance. These require the ClearOS Professional version which is a subscription-based support plan. The supported version can also be run on your own hardware. It includes certified and tested versions of all of the applications so that they are guaranteed to work together.
Years ago there was the Cobalt Qube, a single box which provided eMail, file and print services in a single cute box. (You can still find them on eBay). It was a great way to get an "instant network", and I was sorry to see it discontinued. The ClearOS options provide a similar instant network, and would be suitable anywhere a Windows Small Business Server might be considered.
Friday, February 28, 2014
The combination of the virtual machine, Vagrant and IPython Notebook obviates the need to document and maintain all the possible permutations of each platform (Mac/Windows/Linux) and version of Python, all the related ancillary libraries, and whatever is needed to install and maintain updates.
1. Download and install VirtualBox if you haven't already.
2. Download and install Vagrant.
3. Establish an account on GitHub
4. Download the GitHub client. This includes two applications, the GitHub terminal, and the GitHub GUI Manager.
5. Using Git, "Clone" the GitHub directory for Mining the Social Web Second Edition. This makes a copy of the GitHub directory on your local machine.
6. Start a command line session, and CD to the MTSWSE directory (whatever you've named it) Run vagrant up. This starts the creation of the virtual machine, and the full provisioning. It is about a twenty minute process. And, to be sure, given all of the output that it generates, it looks as if a multi-hour job has been automated.
A couple troubleshooting tips. If Vagrant looks like it is installing "the default VM", or if you see a reference to PROCESS32 you've somehow missed the GitHub part... maybe the directory is wrong? What you should expect to see instead is PROCESS64.
If correct, the provisioning process will end with a line
The real sign of success is to open a web browser and navigate to http://localhost:8888
That will bring up the main page of the IPython book..
My favorite error message to date:
DL is deprecated, use FIDDLE.
The Vagrant documentation refers to another program called Chef. Chef manages the provisioning of servers, and is used especially in cloud,VM and multi-server installations to manage all of the server instances.
Monday, February 24, 2014
The symptoms of the problem showed up in an error message, generated by HeidiSQL:
Connect Error (2003) Can't connect to MySQL server on '192.168.219.107' (10061)
So, more or less in order, I did the following:
1. Create a mySQL user with an identical name and password as the Ubuntu user account. To connect to mySQL, you need to have two valid accounts: a.) a valid Linux user account, and b.) a valid mySQL user account. On Ubuntu, these need to be same....because you only get one chance to pass through a name and password when logging into a server from HeidiSQL. This is done by logging into the mySQL client on the Ubuntu box, and performing the following:
Restart the machine.
sudo shutdown -r now
This reloads everything, including the mySQL daemon so that it listens on the new IP address.
That's it. You should be able to log in with Heidi now.
1. You could probably leave the default networking setting in place, (it is NAT), and the VM will be assigned a NAT address along the lines of 10.0.2.15. You'd still probably want to edit the mySQL file to reflect this address, and you might also want to make sure that you forward the mySQL port 3306. I just haven't tested this, so that I can't vouch that it will work.
2. Of course, in a production situation, you'll want to choose a fixed IP address for the network address. This might involve your main router and firewall, so you may need to discuss this with the sys admins.
Anyway, now that I've actually got this thing running...I've got to get back to mySQL!
Friday, February 21, 2014
2. It takes over an hour to format an 8 gigabyte USB thumb drive in Windows 7. A quickformat will take just a couple of seconds.
3. The Boss took a look at my old Linux books, (copyright 2002) and laughed a mirthless hollow laugh. "Those are really old books". I said, "yes, they are, but they happen to describe your really old operating systems."
4. The object of all of this virtual goodness is to upgrade the hardware on a currently production server that is around eight-years old. The problem is that the operating system, mySQL and PHP are equally old. Our idea was to transfer the existing production server, on to the new hardware, and then worry about upgrading, as we expect that some of the PHP will need to be rewritten. The problem is similar to the proverbial "change a tire on a car at 70 miles per hour". To date, I've been working on several separate scenarios:
- Shut down the server, and do a bit-copy of the old system to the new system
- Leave the server running and do a copy to the new system over the network.
- Create a new empty server with the old versions of the OS (Redhat 7) and mySQL (3.23). Dump the mySQL data off the old server and restore to the new server.
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
/dev/hda1 * 1 191 1534176 fd Linux raid autodetect
/dev/hda2 192 1211 8193150 fd Linux raid autodetect
/dev/hda3 1212 1721 4096575 fd Linux raid autodetect
/dev/hda4 1722 4865 25254180 f Win95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/hda5 1722 1912 1534176 fd Linux raid autodetect
/dev/hda6 1913 1977 522081 fd Linux raid autodetect
Units = cylinders of 1008 * 512 = 516096 bytes
/dev/hdc1 * 1 3045 1534176 fd Linux raid autodetect
/dev/hdc2 3045 19301 8193150 fd Linux raid autodetect
/dev/hdc3 19301 27429 4096575 fd Linux raid autodetect
/dev/hdc4 27429 77536 25254180 f Win95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/hdc5 27429 30473 1534176 fd Linux raid autodetect
/dev/hdc6 30473 31509 522081 fd Linux raid autodetect
Units = cylinders of 2048 * 512 = 1048576 bytes
/dev/hdd1 1 38166 39081968 83 Linux
But Linux remains elusive. That's where Virtualbox comes in; you can rehearse operations and try things out.