08th Sep 2014

Social Media Reflections

So I’m taking a class on Social Media as part of my MBA program at Gonzaga.  It’s been interesting thus far, but one of the things I’ve noticed is that Social Media is assumed.  I’m fundamentally an introvert.  I can be outgoing when I need to be, but, given the choice, I’d much rather be by myself or with a small cadre of family and close friends.  I don’t take that much pleasure from casual relationships, yet it seems that much of the focus of social media is just that:  casual relationships.

I’m finding twitter fascinating to watch, and I’m enjoying the new ideas and bits of news that I’m picking up from some of the folks I’m following, but I’m not sure I have that much to say.  Does the wider world really want updates on my building projects?   Does anyone care about my thoughts on the ideal product development process?  Does adding my voice to the countless others do more than just create more noise?

I hope, as the course progresses, that we’ll look beyond just what it is, and how to do it, and spend some time on whether it should be done at all, and for what purpose.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should . . .

Posted by Michael under Geek Stuff, Musings | No Comments »

09th Nov 2013

Maybe my sanity will return . . .

My sincere thanks to Mr. Holt.  I sat down to do some serious writing on my Mac, instead of my work PC and kept stumbling into the idiotic behavior of the home and end keys.  This post provided the guidance I needed.  Yes!

For posterity sake, edit (or create) ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBindings.dict and add:

/* Remap Home / End keys to be correct */
\UF729″ = “moveToBeginningOfLine:”; /* Home */
\UF72B” = “moveToEndOfLine:”; /* End */
$\UF729″ = “moveToBeginningOfLineAndModifySelection:”; /* Shift + Home */
$\UF72B” = “moveToEndOfLineAndModifySelection:”; /* Shift + End */
“^\UF729” = “moveToBeginningOfDocument:”; /* Ctrl + Home */
^\UF72B” = “moveToEndOfDocument:”; /* Ctrl + End */
$^\UF729″ = “moveToBeginningOfDocumentAndModifySelection:”; /* Shift + Ctrl + Home */
$^\UF72B” = “moveToEndOfDocumentAndModifySelection:”; /* Shift + Ctrl + End */

Reboot and you’re done.

Posted by Michael under Geek Stuff | No Comments »

03rd Nov 2013

VOIPo & SPA122

For the past few years we’ve been using VOIPo for home phone service.  Honestly, it was a big step down from Packet8, but Packet8 wasn’t doing residential service anymore, and had gotten rather expensive.  When we signed up with VOIPo they included a crappy, unreliable GrandStream VOIP box.  After suffering with this for 18 months or more, I finally got around to installing a Cisco SPA122.  The unit, while old, is pretty cool.  In particular, it will implement a QoS mechanism to keep other stuff from stomping on your phone calls, and it supports dial plans.  For the first time in years I can do seven digit dialing.

I upgraded to firmware 1.3.2, configuring it between my router and my Wisp, Ptera.  This allows the SPA122 to act as a router and do its QoS magic.  I made my first call from my cell to the VOIP line.  Jen picked up, and the unit immediately hung up.  WTF!?  I had her call me.  Worked great.  I looked over the basically non-existent information provided by VOIPo.  Nothing stood out expect the line, “Please be aware that VOIPo is not able to offer any assistance with the configuration or troubleshooting of a third party device.”  Gee, thanks guys.  So much for “Amazing Customer Service.”  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that they can’t support every random device folks connect, but just a wee bit more information on provisioning would have been helpful.

A little more Googling and thinking, and staring at the SPA122 web configuration page, and I decided to simply turn off “provisioning” entirely.  I saved the configuration, and tried my calls.  This time stuff appears to be working like a champ.  I guess I’ll find out over the next week or two, but the audio quality appears to be much better.  Assuming my fix actually works, this may be just the upgrade I was looking for.

Posted by Michael under Geek Stuff | No Comments »

04th Jan 2009

Consolidated WordPress

This blog hasn’t gotten much love since the 52 Churches project started.  I was really tempted to just delete it.  Quite frankly, keeping track of multiple installations of Word Press gets old.  Don’t get me wrong, I love WordPress.  We’ve been pretty happy with our hosting service from BlueHost, and the blog has been a good outlet for Jen, but maintaining 4 (now 6) of these monsters was getting old.

I needed a better solutions.  A little digging on-line came across an approach at This n’ That for modifying wp-config.php to adjust the prefix. It was close, but not quite what I wanted.  Basically, Mr. Kaplan was advocating adding some PHP code to the wp-config.php file that looked like:
// table prefix, for hosting multiple installations in the same db.
$table_prefix = ereg_replace('^(www\.)', '', $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST']);
$table_prefix = ereg_replace('\.', '', $table_prefix);
$table_prefix = $table_prefix . '_';

What this does is throw away the www and any periods (full stops for those of you inclined towards the Queen’s English) in the domain name and use the rest of it as the prefix. This is fine, but it’s suboptimal when it comes to long domain names. MySQL has a limit of 64 bytes for the table name, but that would have to be shared with the stripped down FQDN and the native WordPress table names. If you have a domain name like schoolsareforfish.garriber.org, you start pressing into that limit pretty quickly. Nonetheless it gave me the inspiration I needed for the solutions I was looking for. My thanks to Mr. Kaplan for his insight.

My other complaint is that it ended up making a multi-line change in a WordPress source file, albeit a configuration file. I wanted something substantially more self contained. My solution was this: create a php file in the wordpress root directory that does the prefix determination and have it return the desired prefix. For example, you could create a file called prefixgen.php. That file might look something like this:

< ?php
#figure out *which* site we're hitting
if(preg_match("/subsite1/", $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'])) {
elseif(preg_match("/subsite2/", $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'])) {
else {
return $prefix;
? >

Note: I’ve put spaces between the ‘<‘ and the ‘?’ to keep from confusing the computers

This does a pretty sloppy match. If the domain the user hits contains subsite1, it will map the prefix to ‘ss1_’. This is useful as it lets users go to www.subsite1.mysite.com, or direct to subsite1.mysite.com (assuming your DNS mappings and hosting provider are set up to support both). It does the same thing for subsite2. If nothing else it falls through to the main site (prefix ‘main_’). In this way, any DNS entry that resolves to your installation and gets to the right directory, but doesn’t map to a subsite, will go to your main site.

The update to wp-config.php becomes trivial. Change the prefix line to read:

$table_prefix = include 'prefixgen.php';

Presto! Clean and self contained. I’m a very happy camper. I now have a single directory with a single set of WordPress files serving all of our different sites. The sites are all stored in one database which makes for easier server side backups.  My “installations” at my hosting provider have become symbolic links to a single WordPress directory and, best of all, instead of having to manually update multiple WordPress installations, I just update one to upgrade.  Maybe I’ll let Jen keep this blog.  Maybe I’ll just take it over instead.  I could change the tag line to “Bits, Bytes, and Querries”

Posted by Michael under Geek Stuff, Zeteo | No Comments »

25th Oct 2007

Family Culture

I don’t think that unschooling means ditching your family culture.

Some families find their adventure enhanced by staying up all night,
watching a lot of television, playing every new computer game, and
revolving meal times that run the full gamut of colourful convenience
foods, carbonated beverages, and corn syrups.

Some family cultures place greater emphasis on consistent family
connections (sitting down to dinner together, for example), work done
together, more time spent in the “adult world,” and dietary
restrictions (because of religion, health, or even simply budgetary or
sustainability reasons).

Our family culture, for example, includes very little television, but
a whole lot of interaction with the woods, with animals, and with
heavy machinery (at last count: a mule, a road grader, a D-6, a
43-horse tractor, a CNC router, and a sawmill). Alaetheia, 11,
attended strawbale school with us, has nearly finished her house
plans, and plans to break ground on her house come spring.

I’d encourage you to integrate unschooling into your family culture,
not try to integrate your family’s culture into someone else’s picture
of unschooling.


Posted by Jen under Musings, Zeteo | No Comments »

19th Oct 2007

Sir, I exist!

Apparently, my internet connection is channeling the Universe via Stephen Crane today.


A man said to the universe: “Sir, I exist!”

“However,” replied the universe,

“The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation”

Stephen Crane

Posted by Jen under Uncategorized | No Comments »

16th Oct 2007

Moving servers

garriber.org is moving off of our trusty Pentium M server and to an external hosting provider. As much as I love having my own local server, the ongoing energy consumption is a problem. The downside of this: fewer pictures. The upside: more likely to be on and available if you pop by to say hi.

Note:  as part of the this transition all of the old pictures are broken.  If you come across an old post that seems to imply a picture and has a lovely 4 digit number where one ought to be, engage your imagination and assume that something context appropriate used to be there.

Posted by Michael under Geek Stuff | No Comments »

06th Sep 2007

Reading to Little People

I was recently asked for reading suggestions for a family who tried Grimm’s with their 3yo, but didn’t care for the violence and death.

My intital list is as follows:

The Hundred Dresses by Estes
Stuart Little by White
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Cleary
Charlotte’s Web (White again)
The Wizard of Oz (the series–which I’d rather poke my eyes out with sticks than read aloud, but my Dd, then 3 and 4 absolutely LOVED).
Holes by Sachar
The Wind in the Willows by Grahame
The Fledgling by Langton (Dd LOVED this book . . . but was very distressed when she concluded she couldn’t learn to fly)
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Snicket (these are immensely fun to read aloud)

Posted by Jen under Musings, Reading Lists | No Comments »

29th Aug 2007

John Taylor Gatto on Libraries

As it turns out, it’s Gatto, not Holt, who has the library analogy.

by John Taylor Gatto

“Begin with the setting and social arrangement of a library. The ones
I’ve visited all over the country invariably are comfortable and
quiet, places where you can read rather than just pretend to read. How
important this silence is. Schools are never silent. People of all
ages work side by side in libraries, not just a pack of age-segregated
kids. For some reason, libraries do not segregate by age nor do they
presume to segregate readers by questionable tests of reading ability.
Just as the people who decoded the secrets of farming or of the
forests and oceans were not segregated by age or test scores, the
library seems to have intuited that common human judgment is adequate
to most learning decisions.

The librarian doesn’t tell me what to read, doesn’t tell me the
sequence of reading I have to follow, doesn’t grade my reading.
Librarians act as if they trust their customers. The librarian lets me
ask my own questions and helps me when I need help, not when the
library decides I need it. If I feel like reading in the same place
all day long, that seems to be OK with the library. It doesn’t tell me
to stop reading at regular intervals by ringing a bell in my ear. The
library keeps its nose out of my home, too. It doesn’t send letters to
my mother reporting on my library behavior; it doesn’t make
recommendations or issue orders on how I should use my time spent
outside of the library.

The library doesn’t have a tracking system. Everyone is mixed together
there, and no private files exist detailing my past victories and
defeats as a patron. If the books I want are available, I get them by
requesting them – even if that deprives some more gifted reader, who
comes a minute later. The library doesn’t presume to determine which
of us is more qualified to read that book; it doesn’t play favorites.
It is a very class-blind, talent-blind place, appropriately reflecting
our historic political ideals in a way that puts schools to shame.

The public library isn’t into public humiliation the way schools seem
to be. It never posts ranked lists of good and bad readers for all to
see. Presumably it considers good reading its own reward, not
requiring additional accolades, and it has resisted the temptation to
hold up good reading as a moral goad to bad readers. One of the
strangest differences between libraries and schools, in New York City
at least, is that you almost never see a kid behaving badly in a
library or waving a gun there – even though bad kids have exactly the
same access to libraries as good kids do. Bad kids seem to respect
libraries, a curious phenomenon which may well be an unconscious
response to the automatic respect libraries bestow blindly on
everyone. Even people who don’t like to read like libraries from time
to time; in fact, they are such generally wonderful places I wonder
why we haven’t made them compulsory – and all alike, of course, too.

Here’s another angle to consider: the library never makes predictions
about my general future based on my past reading habits, nor does it
hint that my days will be happier if I read Shakespeare rather than
Barbara Cartland. The library tolerates eccentric reading habits
because it realizes that free men and women are often very eccentric.

And finally, the library has real books, not schoolbooks. Its volumes
are not written by collective pens or picked by politically correct
screening committees. Real books conform only to the private
curriculum of each writer, not to the invisible curriculum of some
German collective agenda. The one exception to this is children’s
books – but no sensible child ever reads those things, so the damage
from them is minimal.

Real books are deeply subversive of collectivization. They are the
best known way to escape herd behavior, because they are vehicles
transporting their reader into deep caverns of absolute solitude where
nobody else can visit: No two people ever read the same great book.
Real books disgust the totalitarian mind because they generate
uncontrollable mental growth – and it cannot be monitored!
Television has entered the classroom because it is a collective
mechanism and, as such, much superior to textbooks; similarly, slides,
audio tapes, group games, and so on meet the need to collectivize,
which is a central purpose of mass schooling. This is the famous
“socialization” that schools do so well. Schoolbooks, on the other
hand, are paper tools that reinforce school routines of close-order
drill, public mythology, endless surveillance, global ranking, and
constant intimidation.

That’s what the questions at the end of chapters are designed to do,
to bring you back to a reality in which you are subordinate. Nobody
really expects you to answer those questions, not even the teacher;
they work their harm solely by being there. That is their genius.
Schoolbooks are a crowd-control device. Only the very innocent and
well-schooled see any difference between good ones and bad ones; both
kinds do the same work. In that respect they are much like television
programming, the function of which, as a plug in narcotic, is
infinitely more powerful than any trivial differences between good
programs and bad.

Real books educate, schoolbooks school, and thus libraries and library
policies are a major clue to the reform of American schooling. When
you take the free will and solitude out of education it becomes
schooling. You can’t have it both ways.”

Posted by Jen under Musings, Zeteo | No Comments »

02nd Aug 2007

Unschooling Parent as Librarian (a metaphor)

My daughter has the most wonderful relationship with the reference
librarian at our local branch. The librarian is just tickled to have
this little elf march up to her and say things like, “I really like X
books because of Y. Do you know of something similar?” or, one I
overheard the other day, “No, I’m sorry, I didn’t really care for Z .
. . I prefer fiction with more . . . character development.”

The librarian looked over her shoulder at me, and I shrugged back at
her–the kid knows what she likes. So the librarian (I love this
woman), went back to it . . . trying to find something that the kid
would like.

We got a copy of the _Gateways to the Great Books_ the other day. She
decided to read Hemingway’s “The Killers” to me the other day. I’d
never considered Hemingway for the Jr. High set . . . but it makes
sense that she’d take to it. The thing about Hemingway that annoys so
many people (the short sentences that take a while to get there) is
what makes him very readable, especially aloud.

I think it’s Holt (it’s Gatto) who has a developed metaphor about libraries and
unschooling . . . the librarian (unschooling parent) doesn’t tell you
what to read, what order to read in, doesn’t quiz you after you’ve
read . . . the librarian helps you find things that are of interest to
you, helps you lay your hands on things you want, gives
recommendations of things you might want in the future. The librarian
doesn’t tell you the book is too easy or too hard for you, doesn’t
make you read the whole book of gardening when all you’re interested
in is the chapter on composting, and doesn’t ask you to read aloud to
determine your level of comprehension. The librarian helps you find
other people if you want to start a book group, other works by an
author you like, and information on where to go once you’ve outreached
the capabilities of the library or the librarian.

Posted by Jen under Musings | No Comments »