California road-trip 2013 : Day 1, south, north, south

Just spent a week in Austin, Texas on a business trip, that I might also describe as a teaching and learning trip.  I was down at SailPoint, learning all about their enterprise identity management product called IdentityIQ. That whole trip deserves a blog of it’s own, so I’ll focus here on the family-vacation.

The flight back from the USA went fairly smooth : AUS to SFO to YYJ.  The transfer in San Francisco was a little tight, with only 40 minutes between landing and take-off.  My bags made it, and so did I, into YYJ at 11:40 PM or so.  Shared a cab into downtown, so home shortly after midnight.

Just enough time to put on some laundry, and re-pack the bags.  Also did some household chores, and hit the sack at 3:30 AM or so.

Managed to rise about 5:30 AM to put the dog out, and then decided to stay up and keep packing.  Oh yah, needed a trip to the bank downtown, and the grocery store for last minute pickups.  Not feeling too bad after that nap, but I’m sure it would catch up with me later.

Managed to pack the fam into the van, and arrive at the COHO dock around 9:20 AM to secure our reservation.  Full-on sunshine for the trip south, and we spent most of the voyage on the outer-decks running up and down the length of the ship.  Kids with beans for sure.

Quick stop in Port Angeles for groceries, then a gas-up just past Sequim.  The usual stop at Hoodsport Coffee for ice creams, and americano.  I see they have a sign in their window : Thinking of Retirement – Business for Sale.

We ended up in Vancouver, WA, slightly east of downtown at the Best Western.  The indoor pool and hot-tub did the trick for an hour or so after we landed.

The fatigue never really caught up with me, and we had a pretty good trip down the 101 and the I-5.  Onward, and southward tomorrow!


Hangin at the beach

Long weekend, sunshine, and sand. Here we are at the beach, making like it is summertime.  Ok, so more like spring-time in BC, and it is a hot day.  And, while I was down at the beach, I posted this entry using the WP app for iPhone – pretty slick I say – something I’ve wanted since oh, 2003 or so – real device-based blog-authoring.


WordCamp 2013 notes

I attended WordCamp 2013 (Victoria, BC) this past weekend, my first time at the event.  As a WordPress enthusiast, I was looking forward to meeting some like-minded folks, to network, and learn some techie stuff about WordPress.

I really enjoyed the Experts Panel which was a solid un-moderated hour of Q & A.  I have an interest in how to build out WordPress network sites that can handle a lot of concurrent read and write traffic.  There is a lot of information online about clustering WP, setting up caching servers, database performance tuning, webserver tuning, etc.  At the panel I learned that:

  • high-volume sites are often hosted using nginx, instead of Apache (does that turn LAMP into LNMP?)
  • there is the web site
  • object-caching can be performed with memcached and APC
  • there is some debate about fastcgi mode WP
  • among the core WP developers, Mark Jaquith has online info about scaling WP, even on a budget.
  • another core WP developer of note to research scaling WP is Pete Mall
  • there are consulting agents out there that can provide scaling skills, who have been there and done that
  • HTTPS configuration in WP is not necessarily a slam-dunk.  You may have to resort to hacking plugins, as the whole framework is not necessarily united on how to provide HTTPS links
  • lots of talk about HyperDB for database scaling

I also enjoyed a session by John Overall on 10+1 essential plugins for WordPress.  That is where I learned about the LoginRadius plugin for social identity integration – a neat Canadian SaaS startup!  John posted the slide show on the Meetup site I think….

Ben put up a blog post with his notes from the session here.

getting wpa2 wifi going on Acer Netbook with Linux

I’d like to issue thanks to everyone in the world who has posted anything online that relates to getting an Acer Aspire One Netbook, running any Linux distro, connected to an enterprise WPA2 wireless segment.  Turns out your mileage may vary, depending on if you want to get it working “out of the box”.

With the goal to have it “just work”, I went through 3 distros in 3 days, finally landing on Ubuntu 11, where things just worked.  Ok, I had to select the correct CA cert, but got that sorted out fairly quickly (used /etc/ssl/certs/Thawte_Premium_Server_CA.pem)

I gave it a go with the latest crunchbang linux distro, and that failed on connecting to the SSID segments I was trying here at UVic, both EDUROAM, and UVIC.  I got connected to UVicOPEN segment, with a Cisco VPN tunnel, so that was a work-around.

On trying Ubuntu 12, I ran into some known issues with the level of openssl packages that are installed with the distro, so backed out to Ubuntu 11, and that worked for me.

I really dig the EDUROAM connectivity, so just want that to work with a minimum of futzing.  Yes, I still truly enjoy Linux futzing, and all the learning involved, but find myself with less time for such things than when I was running Slackware in the 90s.

Anyhoo, it’s all good for now…thanks all!

2 step OAuth app registration process

Decided to upgrade to Echofon Pro Twitter app for iPhone. Why not, only $4.99 and is one of the most-used apps on my device. To authorize the app to access your Twitter timeline, you:

  • authenticate to Twitter with your account
  • retrieve a one-time PIN code that you then load into Echofon

Nice and easy. Went back through my authorized applications list in Twitter, and pruned out those apps that I am not using anymore, a good thing to do if you want to maintain a privilege of least access approach.

self-serve online registration processes

I’ve got an interest in self-serve, web-based registration processes. It just comes with the IDAM territory.
I’m just signing up for another web-based service right now. Self-serve, web-based, and had to submit an email address, self-selected username, and password. I tried a phrase with spaces, but that was out of scope for their password policy, so I backed off the spaces. Up to 64 chars MAX. They’re sending me an activation email, so they can be sure that I am me. Oh yah, I also had to pass a CAPTCHA.
Got the email in near real-time. I could click on the embedded Confirm Registration button, or enter the Activation Code on the site. I clicked on the Confirm Registration link, and it kicked an HTTP request back with GET params, including username, and unique activation code.
They also created me a personalized email address that is connected to the account. If I wish, I can email stuff to that address, and it will gateway the content into the back-end storage connected to my account.
See, boot-strapping the identity takes a number of shapes. In this case, they don’t have to request too many attributes from me, and don’t have a high burden of verification. They’ll issue the activation email, and if I get it, I’ll do something about it. If I don’t I imagine the account would get stale, and they would flush it.
Welcome to Evernote.

I want music, and a story

As mentioned last time, I’m on the lookout for cool streaming radio experiences.  Over the last couple of nights, I’ve ended up in the “Podcast” menu of TuneIn Radio pro on my mobile device.  Under the “Classic Rock” sub-menu, is quite a variety of choices.  Last night I played a few episodes of  the “Get the Led Out” podcast, which features brief Led Zep facts and trivia.  Also sampled Alice Cooper’s radio show, before flipping over to “Get It On with Bryan Burnett”, all the way from Scotland.

Tonight, I locked into the “Just Four Guys” radio show from Martha’s Vineyard, and selected the March 20/2012 episode “Beatles and The Beach Boys”. That show provides a 1-hour look at what the Beatles and the Beach Boys were doing in the mid-60’s, and how they were musically influencing each other’s work. Cool tracks, a bit of song-dissection, and great back-stories, courtesy of the host, Ray Whitaker.

Got back home to visit the web site, and noted the archive goes back quite a few episodes, so I’ve got some catching up to do. I’ll probably wind up making a donation

to Italy and back

Milan, Duomo

Duomo di Milano

Thanks to the gang at, I recently made a trip to Italy, and have made it back to Victoria safe and sound.

I’m a believer in listener-supported radio, so I support radioparadise, monthly. With a small electronic cash transfer, from my vault to theirs. That helps them pay the bills, and provide a top-tier Internet streaming radio experience.

Among the many cool things about the station is that they hold prize draws for their supporting listeners. And they have awesome prizes, like the AUX Box speaker system. In the April/2011 monthly prize draw, I won the AUX speakers.  The extra-special value-add to the prize was the trip to Northern Italy to go and pick up the speakers!

I’m just now getting the media offloaded from the various devices, and have now got a few pics to share, like the one here of the Milan Cathedral.

I’ve never been to Europe before, so going to Italy was quite an amazing experience.  I’ll try to get some more pics up here, to share a bit of the adventure.

My relationship with radio goes back a ways.  I ‘d say I’ve been plugged into radio for most of my life, having grown up on AM-talk radio with Mom.  And FM-rock radio with Dad.  Radio has always been around, in the background, or the foreground.  In the house, in the car, and at work.  I’ve got lots of really great radio-listening experiences that I remember, because they made me feel something.  And I did a bit of radio in the 90s, the Perpetual Motion radio show – on CFUV.  1 solid hour of techno, trance, ambient, and house.  With live, spinning vinyl.  We were right after  the reggae show, and before the rappers came in to take charge.  These days I do Internet streaming radio all the time.  I’ve got my favourite stations, and I support 3 of them with cash donations.

So I’m over in Italy reflecting on how the trip all came together.  Quite a huge win, I must admit.  I decided that I’ve always been on the lookout for unique radio experiences.  Experiences that are vivid, and that really capture you. is more than just a unique listening experience…