Cable TV free

We have done it. As of yesterday, we are Cable TV free. Cable boxes were returned, bill adjusted (just $59 per month for Internet & basic cable), and now figuring out what to do next. The price drop is over $70 from our previous cable bill.

So far so good. We definitely have watched a lot less TV, although we haven’t been home much either. When we were home yesterday and this morning, my 4-year-old nephew was over, so I ended up streaming cartoons for him over Netflix. Including the original Popeye cartoon from 1936, which was really neat to watch with him.

While my bedroom TV can see the few Clear QAM channels in HD, my 2007 era living room TV cannot (it only sees the SD versions). This is something that will need to be rectified. I may experiment with a TV antenna just to see what channels are in the area.

I’ve begun to think of what is next. I’m seriously considering a Mac Mini server & home theater computer. Combined with the Elgato EyeTV we could work around the HD issue I mentioned in the previous paragraph, record anything on basic cable worth recording, and also have a centralized server for movies, music, etc. Then use an AppleTV for easy access. Another option would to build a Windows Media Center PC as that seems like fun to play with, although it seems to have its own annoyances.

I also have been wondering whether to get a receiver and start building a home theater sound system. The problem I’ve had so far is that all of the receivers I have found are bulky, have tons of connections & buttons I would never use, and aren’t my definition of simple. There are also very few that are even Energy Star qualified. Where is the Apple of home theater receivers when you need one?

Operation Cable TV free so far appears to be successful. More updates to come.

Maintaining my Internet presence

Yesterday I wrote about my plans to transition this site over to in the near future. Yet an event today reminded me about something I have been thinking off and on about for the past few months. Why should I run my site on my own server?

This afternoon I was doing my usual after work routine online, catching up on my e-mail, RSS feeds, and Twitter. I happen to go to my site ready to jot down a few ideas for a blog post. Eventually my web browser times out connecting to this site. I try my other sites on this server, nothing happens.

I groan, as I know immediately what the problem is. My server (running Ubuntu 9.04), despite several rebuilds and reconfigurations, will randomly spike to 100% CPU usage and become completely unresponsive. Cannot SSH into it, cannot even serial console into it. I have to do a hard shutdown of the server then power it back on, hoping that I did not corrupt the database in the process. Who knows how long the server was down, could have been hours.

This gets me thinking. Is there really a need for me to run the latest WordPress on my own server? Do I have the time and energy to keep this server secure, up-to-date, and with as close to 100% uptime as possible? Do I really want to troubleshoot obscure issues on an OS I know very little about?

My gut says I want the power of WordPress so I can eventually unveil my awesome web site that I keep promising for years, that this server is a great learning experience for not only hosting my own site, but making sure everything just plain works.

My head tells me that I have been promising that awesome web site since I registered , which was 8 freaking years ago. Point the DNS records to Tumblr for and begin fresh there, with a simple blogging platform that does the few things I have ever done with this site. Let Tumblr worry about uptime, security, and providing an awesome site for me. Maybe it will make me write more.

As I ponder this, I did some tweaks to my Apache installation since I did find some log entries that suggest the server ran out of memory. Let’s see if this fixes the problem. If not, I may press the kill switch on self hosting WordPress.

Server update: still working on e-mail support

I am still trying to figure out why my e-mail server software is not working on this server. Once I figure that out, comment e-mails should start working again.

All WordPress plugins are installed and I have done some tweaks to make everything more secure.

We are getting close to a successful move to a new server!

Moving to a new server

You are now seeing my web site on a new web server hosted by the company I work for, DynDNS.

I am slowly moving the web sites I host from DreamHost to a DynDNS Spring Server VPS. As part of my new job, I have to learn how to configure all of our services that we offer. This seemed like a good excuse to move my web sites onto a new server.

One thing I have noticed is this server is so much faster compared to my shared hosting at DreamHost. It is no contest. That should clearly improve the experience of using the various web sites that I host.

Still working on a lot of things here. I obviously haven’t imported my old WordPress database or setup any plugins/themes. Server e-mails are not working yet and I do not know why, although I am sure I screwed up configuring Postfix.