Just Plain Bad Service

I almost lost two of my domains this week – a registrar / hosting company that will not be named decided to close them off without any notice – no email, letter or even a phone call.

15 minutes in a phone queue as the “next to be answered” and a debate with the tech on the other end finally got me the registry keys for both – I certainly won’t be renewing with them or asking for the accounts to be reopened, I’m already transferring them to my GoDaddy account.

Given their focus on “customer service” (even their technical support staff are “e-business consultants”) this is a MAJOR blot and I won’t tolerate it – no more business from me! It’s bad enough that they’re double the price of most offshore competitors but to close down accounts without notice is just plain intolerable.

The irony of the situation is that I worked at that hosting company for years and on realising this the tech at the other end started to agree with my assessment of the situation 🙂 Additionally I still know their systems better than some of the folks there now! (I talked him through the process of getting the keys)

I was quite pleased to see a WordPress 2.8.1 upgrade hit EPEL quite quickly – new features and a security rollup all in one and before I felt the desire to roll one up myself. Cheers Adrian! This release was rock solid and the upgrade the most painless on record.

My own packaging is slowing up a little due to so little out there that is a) not already packaged or b) not really ready. One I have given a test run is the Miredo client for IPv6/Teredo tunnelling. IPv6 tunnelling is widely available – many places will even have native connectivity – but for those cases where you are behind a restrictive NAT (or just want to tinker like I do) it’s an interesting alternative. Fedora packages from my usual repositories.

Revisting Nagios for monitoring – I can’t just walk over and look at a server several thousand miles away –  brought back a few memories, it took a bit more dusting off of the old knowledge  (I use Zabbix at work, they’re dragging me into using Xymon which I don’t like as much) but it’s working quite well and the EPEL/Fedora packages are kept well up to date. With puppet / func it’s even simpler to roll out the NRPE checks (which were always tedious when done by hand)

The SmokePing package has also been a boon in the workplace – I used it to successfully convince our network administrator that the packet loss we’d identified wasn’t our imagination and lo, it got fixed as we could track performance. Again it wasn’t hard to install and the configuration makes sense after a pint or two 🙂

My girlfriend and I have been getting back into yoga – “hot” yoga, which is the standard fare, just in a 35+ degree heat – and the timing is perfect; It’s been freezing here in Brisbane (10-20C on average, which is brisk for this part of the world) and I needed something to keep my mind in check. To my surprise I even held my form despite being away from it for a month or more 🙂

Presto, We Have No Gallery!

Fedora / Linux stuff:

For those users of my package set, you can now use yum-presto to grab deltarpms of my packages for Fedora 10 and 11. This should make your life easier – I know my upstream link isn’t always fast so the less traffic over it the better for you guys – it’s a good thing I don’t do 120+mb packages like Danger From The Deep anymore eh? :-). Feedback welcomed as always.

The last push of Fedora updates hit my local mirror and mostly played nice, except Gallery2 which leads me to:

General Non-Linux-Specific Stuff:

… the gallery, which has borked itself. Oh Gallery2, why do you mock me?

I used to keep a bunch of old photos – taken or just collected, under /gallery.

As some were of an ex-acquaintance of mine, Tina Wallmann, they proved quite popular and widely linked to (she’s a bikini model and has large *ahem* tracts of land :-))

But they’re old, we’ve long since parted company (have not seen her in a couple of years and she seems disinterested in old friends back here in Brisbane, having moved on to a different crowd in Sydney) and it tends to detract from more interesting content on the site, I’ve decided to let ’em go. I’ll get less page impressions, but it’s quality not quantity I’d prefer. Gentlemen will just have to look elsewhere for their “evening private entertainment”.

The remnants I’ve pushed up to Flickr and integrated into my WordPress install via Fidgetr. It’s a decent compromise I think.

Some updates, and a little “open sermon”

  • I’m in the unusual position of being inside, yet rugged up with a jacket and scarf with what feels like a cold. I can’t say I’m happy about it.
  • Upgraded WordPress here to 2.7.1 (Fedora 11 RPM rebuilt for F10) without too many hassles. It kept retrying the database upgrade(!) but disabling the plugins and a little bit of tinkering (clean cookies, rebuild config, even restarted memcached / set SELinux to Permissive) got it working. I suspect clearing memcached was the trick.
  • Sorry to my Planet readers for some cruft in the RSS, the Related Posts plugin needed to be *ahem* disciplined. It should be fixed now.
  • Loving the Leonidas release – the adventure during upgrade (died partway, restarted, left behind most of F10 for some reason) seems to have cleared out a lot of stuff I didn’t need or use and the rest is a definite improvement. Well done to all concerned!
  • Disappointed that our local news sources are running the front pages with soft non-news pap, when there’s rioting and apparent vote fraud in Iran. Their people are suffering and getting shafted, and you’re running crap about actresses doing nude scenes to get ahead…

To our dear Fedora users:  Please don’t attribute  malicious intent where it’s not warranted. I’ve had one comment here and just responded to a thread on fedora-list from users making some frankly melodramatic claims around how / why decisions are made and features disabled/changed/not kept up to date.

A large chunk of us are not on the Red Hat payroll,  we’re volunteers. Why do we do this? Because we enjoy what we do and are passionate about it. These users should remember that we use it too (“eating our own dogfood”) and want to deliver a top quality distribution.

However you can’t please all of the people all of the time – but just because a feature / change doesn’t suit you, doesn’t mean that the developer / packager  is out to get you

The distinct advantage of an open community is just that: it’s an open community.

If you don’t like a feature, suggest/contribute changes and/or send a patch. If the documentation is lacking, why not write up a how-to and publish it, help update the wiki or the distro documentation? Likewise if the art isn’t to your taste,  I’m sure the Art team welcome volunteers. If you’re fairly knowledgeable, share it with other users on the lists / IRC / forums.

A “This is broken, you guys suck and out to get us” attitude is not helpful, please let such attitudes die off.

Cheers,

A user, packager, infrastructure hacker and occasional developer (since Red Hat 5.1)

Murphy is my co-pilot.

After moving what seems to be several mountains at the workplace over the last few weeks, I’m finally on holiday. Additionally, my girlfriend is back from interstate, which makes me even happier.

Alas, nature doesn’t like us and lo, as soon as she stepped off the plane it started raining – and it hasn’t stopped. It knows when I’m trying to chill, I tell you, it’s some sort of celestial conspiracy.

Aside from pottering about my apartment while it pours and she rests I’ve whipped up a couple of quick packages for the WordPresss user: WP-Syntax and an updated WP-Supercache (the latter is a bit experimental) – they’re in the repositories for all versions / arches I support. I’m using the former here so you should be able to put code snippets in comments (and I in posts) now.

(Fedora contribs: These plugins are very easy to package; I’m happy to contribute a spec template to rpmdev or even submit them for review if there’s sufficient interest)

I’m also having a crack at gluster – It builds on Fedora OK sans Apache/Lighttpd module support, merely needs a bit of init-script massaging. I’m happy to provide an eat-your-brane build for the keen/brave.

De-stressing

Hey Yaakov, make that four users once I’ve set it up, I certainly do like the looks of it. A good tool that makes any job easier is a winner in my book, and that looks like a good one indeed.

This weekend was a long one in my neck of the woods, being the Labour Day holiday.

Saturday was mostly a relax-around-the-house day, with a fairly quick and painless upgrade of my old doorstop-server (an old PII 233 that graced an ex-employer’s datacentre as it’s first backup server) – I’ve had mainly good experiences doing a  “yum upgrade” between Fedora releases (9 to 10 in this case) and this was even cleaner than last time (just remember to relabel if using SELinux per my last post, mkay? :-P)

The Drupal update for dotprofileconsulting.com went very smoothly too – but some attempts to streamline WordPress for thatfleminggent.com weren’t quite so grand, some of the themes I’d tried didn’t seem to like the 2.6.5 install (any chance of 2.7 for F9/F10?) so I stuck with the tried-and-true, even if it is a little “busy”

It was also the Buddha’s Birthday celebration here, so a stroll down to South Brisbane to see the sangha and what was on offer was in order. I admit not getting to the Zen talks this year but took in the opportunity for some zazen (sitting meditation), some much needed kinhin (walking meditation) as the old legs were a bit too stiff for the full lotus and even a bit of tai-chi (which I’m unused to as part of my practice but can certainly see the benefits of)

It’s a practice worth considering if you’re in a high-stress position (developers and systems people, I’m looking at you..) – even just sitting quietly, counting the breath and letting whatever thoughts come and go is a good start – and not complicated; you “just sit”. Sit often enough and the rest takes care of itself. 🙂

My friends and colleagues are still a bit mystified by a “taught to walk by a bald nun” (the kinhin practice mentioned above) Facebook update but I’ll let them ponder a bit more 🙂

Supercache and I…

I’ve turned off the wp-supercache plugin on my site (I packaged and installed 0.9 last night) as it was throwing random 500 Internal Server errors.

I’m not sure why though, the logs weren’t telling me anything useful. I’m running the APC PHP cache and mod_security on top of Apache if anyone’s curious. I’d be keen to hear of a solution if it exists.