• Category Archives Tales from a Tech
  • I am a Computer Tech by trade, and sometimes have some great stories to tell.

    Tales from a Tech Archive

  • TRC 9: Possible Breakthrough

    The last week, I’ve been on a roller-coaster with trying to plan out my upgrade for TRC.  I sat down to look at going from Drupal 7 to 8 yet again, and pretty much drove off a cliff.  Drupal 9 is due out in 2020.  And support for both 7 & 8 will be ending in 2021.  To get to 9, I’ll have to go through 8 to get there.  This gave me a splitting headache, so I decided to grudgingly look into WordPress again.

    And I think it MIGHT actually work out in the long run.  I’ve got a laundry list of testing to do before I can be certain, but the first important test actually worked!  I found a way that I can insert my custom PHP code and it WORKS!  I mean, its going to need a mountain of tweaking to get it to look right, but the actual code actually flipping works!

    This discovery was brought to me by my time spent fixing some broken parts of TRC the other day.  The Town Crier and Three Rivers News section on the historical society page had broken due to PHP upgrades.  I found a method to fix those, and it will miraculously work for TRC’s nefarious purposes as well.

    This really is just the first glimmer of a light at the end of the dark tunnel, but I’ll take it. Let’s just hope it isn’t another oncoming train.

  • TRC 9: More Setbacks

    Three Rivers Community – www.trcmaine.org

    I sat down today and dusted off my notes on the Drupal 7 to 8 migration process.  I went to run the handy Migration Tool again, and quickly discovered the website it uses is broken and doesn’t work. This means I’ve got to go through all the modules by hand and check compatibility. I liked it better when the plugin just gave me a list 🙁

    I set that aside for the time being, and looked into the more important features such as getting my custom built calendar and directory into the new version.  And then I hit a massive road-block.

    Drupal 8 does not support the PHP Filter I used to include my custom php scripts.  Apparently its a security hole to let php code run like that.  This poses a MAJOR issue for me, as the calendar, obituaries, directory, and tons of other little bits of the site all use custom php code.  I’m really not sure what to do about this…

    The approved method of doing such things now is to write your own Custom Module.  I’ve never done such a thing, and looking into it has given me a headache.  Its far more complex than what I want to deal with.  My only other option would be to find existing modules in Drupal 8 to replace the functionality of my custom-built stuff.  I’m just really torn on this!  I wrote these things YEARS ago and they’ve survived through 2-3 version of the site, ALREADY!  I love my calendar and I’ve never found a module that did it as well as mine.

    I guess for now I’m back to the drawing board.  I really don’t know how to move forward aside from just leaving the site running Drupal 7.  The problem there is they’ll eventually stop supporting it 🙁

    I’m open to thoughts and suggestions.  Anyone?

  • Setbacks with TRC 9 Plan

    After some extensive research, I’ve had to grudgingly rule out the idea of using WordPress for the new version of TRC.

    I was hoping to use a plugin called Multisite to use WordPress to replace the aging TRC website. I figured I could use it to more easily let different users have access to editing pages and what-not.  After setting up a dummy set of test websites, the overall concept worked.  I just ran into a major issue that blew up my plan: I can’t easily show posts on the sub-sites on the main news feed. I looked into several options, but it was going to get far too complex.

    I guess this means I’m back to the original scary plan of upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.  I mean, I love WordPress as I use it on ALL of my other sites, but Drupal just gives me so much more control over doing what I want to do.  I’m still not looking forward to the upgrade though…  I need to sit down and re-group.  My notes on the upgrade process are from the last time I looked into it – November 2018.

    At that point in time, I put the whole thing on hold as there were still several modules and things that weren’t going to work in the new version.  I need to go through it all again and see where we stand now on compatibility.

    Look for more updates in the future.

  • Server Reconfigurations

    I am the proud owner of another “server” now!  Perry came over yesterday, and we spent the day setting up a new stand-alone server to migrate Minecraft onto.

    Minecraft was starting to run slow and choppy on my big server, so we figured giving it a dedicated machine would improve things. It didn’t like playing with Plex and my Windows 7 VirtualBox on the big server.

    We started out with a case and motherboard Perry had procured, but ran into issues pretty quick.  First it refused to boot EFI, then it randomly did.  Still haven’t figured that one out.  Once we got Debian shoehorned in there, we ran into “out of range” errors on the monitor.  It was a bit of a shit-show.  One computer was almost thrown out a window.

    Then we calmed down, and regrouped.  I had an old HP desktop I had acquired as a spare a while back, that was just sitting around.  We did a comparison on processors, and found it was actually better than the setup we were having issues with!

    We did a quick change of plans, crammed the HD and RAM into the HP and voila, working Debian!

    We got everything setup and configured, copied Minecraft over to it, and ran some tests. It actually seems to be running noticeably better!!  We than ran into a kerfuffle.  The Minecraft server itself isn’t very huge size-wise, but the flipping  DynMap is ENORMOUS.  74 GB of about 5 million tiny, tiny files.

    I tried copying them to an external drive from the old server, but stopped that pretty fast as it was gonna take 11 hours thanks to USB 2.0.  Then we tried copying over the network, which was going to take 33 hours into Monday so that was scrapped as well.  We eventually settled on zipping the folder on the old server, then copying.  We started the zip last night. It finished sometime early this morning. I then copyed the 74 GB zip file over the network in about 30 minutes.  That was about an hour ago, and I’m still unzipping at this point – its about 2/3’s done 🙂

    Now if this silly archive would just finish expanding, I could get the server back up and actually running.

    History of our Minecraft Servers

    I got thinking about it last night, and realized this is the 5th iteration of Minecraft server Perry and I have had over the last 7+ years.  It all started in 2012 with a server running off Perry’s desktop in his dorm room at UMaine.  When he graduated, the files were migrated to my old 2009 iMac when I lived down in Searsport.  It ran on that for some time, until we bought a refurbished Dell Optiplex 790 SFF to use as a designated server JUST for Minecraft.  That machine was the server for several years, but now its been transformed into my main desktop that I’m typing on right now.  It was replaced by Demonreach, our Dell PowerEdge T300 – the big server.  The small Dell we were using had become overloaded, as it was running Minecraft AND Plex, and we needed more storage space.  The PowerEdge worked great for some time, but the Minecraft server has just grown to ridiculous proportions.  I think its going to do much better by itself on this HP Compaq 6300.  Plex and all my other crap is going to stay on Demonreach and be quite happy with the processor not being maxed out constantly.

    I’m not sure what the name of Perry’s original PC was, but since then the server has been named Anubis, Hereti-Corp, Demonreach, and now – Raftel.  Bonus points to anyone who knows where all these names came from!


  • TRC: Drupal vs. WordPress

    I’ve been working on my vague plans to upgrade TRC again.  I’d been looking at upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, but the concept is just too daunting and insane.  Half the modules I use don’t convert directly, and I’d have to change and redo a ton of the site.

    I’ve now been toying with the idea of converting to WordPress instead of upgrading.  The main reason being WordPress can update itself, Drupal still can’t.  I started looking into how complex the conversion would be as opposed to the Drupal 8 upgrade.

    So far, it seems like it might be the way to go.  I think some of the plugins for WordPress would make managing permissions on the site SO much easier than the way I do it now.  We have “sub-pages” where certain users have the ability edit things, such as the libraries and some organizations.  The setup process for this is actually quite ridiculous. I have to create a new access group, copy permissions from an already existing one, create pages, make blocks a special way so users can edit them, and more.  Its just too much honestly.

    WordPress has a multi-site feature that might work WONDERS for me!  It’ll let me create the sub-pages so that users have mostly full control over them, and the setup is much simpler.  It will also allow me to put the pages on sub-domains, so technically they’ll have their own URL!

    I still need to do a lot more research, and a veritable mountain of planning, but I think its going to be the more sensible option.

    Anyone have any thoughts?

  • Server Woes

    I’ve been busy working on some upgrades for my server setup.  I currently have a Dell PowerEdge T300 under my desk that runs Plex, Minecraft, and my download box.

    Last night I made a full backup of the boot drive, which hadn’t been done in over a year. Yeah, I know, I’m lazy.  I then proceeded to upgrade from Debian 9 to Debian 10.  Took a while, but everything is running great now!

    Then I moved onto the insane project.  I have a VirtualBox machine setup running Windows 7 that handles all my downloading (it lives on my VPN).  I kinda want to get away from Windows 7, as they drop support for it at the end of the year. I figured I’d try setting it up to use Linux Lite instead, as its a tiny system and has very small overhead.

    I got the system all up, VPN was working correctly and everything.  Then came the madness of configuring the file share to the server for Transmission and Sonarr (my TV download app) to operate properly.  I could NOT get anything to cooperate properly.  For the life of me, I couldn’t get the file share to mount automatically.  On top of that, Sonarr was going to need a mountain of reconfiguring all its paths, as Windows and Linux treat things WAY different in that respect.

    After banging my head against the desk for about an hour, I’ve put Linux Lite aside.  I may come back to it, but this configuration is a bitch.  I’m now cloning the Windows 7 VM, and I’m going to attempt upgrading it to Windows 10 and see if that’s a viable option.

    I’m open to suggestions if anyone has some!

  • Laptop Reload

    My aging MacBook Pro has been running really slow and sluggish for QUITE some time now. I decided to reload her yesterday.

    I backed up all the important junk, formatted the drive, and did a fresh install of macOS 10.13 High Sierra.  I spent the rest of the evening installing updates, software, and all that fun stuff.

    So far, so good!  She seems to be running a lot better, not sluggish, etc.  I also didn’t bother reloading half the software that was on there. I don’t use it for gaming anymore, so no need to install all the games.  I also skipped the streaming software, and some other junk I just didn’t use anymore.

    The laptop is much more streamlined now, and running good.  I hope it keeps it up.  This weekend will be her first real test, as I need to stream the Prize Drawing from the Schoodic Lake Ice Fishing Derby.

  • The Day of Printers

    Today was a long day at work.  I got to assist in installing about 2 dozen shiny new printers, and then configure and set them up.  It has been a long day.

    (The picture is not mine, I wish I’d thought to take one when we had them all lined up in the lobby.)

    All the printers are up and running, with only a few minor glitches.  One is printing a random line of gibberish, and I still need to configure the scanning portion of the multi-function printers.  

    I’m pretty proud that I managed to overhaul and update our insane printer mapping script without breaking it!  Not even once! Everyone is getting the correct printers mapped when they log into the server (knock on wood). Its pretty impressive.

    Tomorrow I need to re-claim my office.  Its full of a handful of old printers, and a mountain of boxes of the new computers and laptops that arrived today!

  • The State of the TRC Upgrade

    I had set my day off today aside to work on the TRC 9 Upgrade Project.  After 3 hours, I think I need to hold off on this for a bit more.

    My first step was to research what modules from Drupal 7 would migrate across to Drupal 8.  Most of them are going to work fine, but I came across several needed modules that aren’t there yet, or are only still in alpha release.  Unfortunately, several of these modules are pretty much required for TRC to operate properly as it is setup currently.

    I also looked into the end of life plan for Drupal 7, and it looks like I have a year or two more before they stop supporting it.  Once Drupal 9 is released in 2020, they plan on ending support for 7.  I feel pretty safe in putting off the migration for another few months.

    I’ll take another look in the spring and see where we stand.