Back up and running

I swapped out the home server this morning from a Mac Mini core solo to a 2009 Mac Mini core 2 duo that I picked up on eBay. The transition wasn’t quite as smooth as I had planned (postfix issues), but things are back up and running (you’re reading this, right?).

If you notice anything amiss with the site, email, or anything else related to, please let me know.

This should keep things humming for a few years more. It’ll also allow the old computer to replace the (even older) one upstairs in the loft. Not bad, when you can get a two-for-one upgrade like this.

Why didn’t anyone tell me?

I discovered the magic of Google Analytics over the weekend. I had heard of it many times, but never got around to setting it up. Phssh, a click or two and a small piece of javascript to add to your site and you start getting some really nice site tracking. It’s generally intended to be used for determining advertising rates, but I just like the idea of know who is visiting my site and what they’re looking at.

The coolest feature is an overlay display which they’ll show  your site and put the percentage of click-through for each link. With that you can get a good idea of what is getting people’s attention.

I’m using the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin by Joost de Valk which automatically takes care of things for a WordPress blog. I’ve added it to all the sites I administer (including this one, of course).

For those of you that knew about it but didn’t suggest it to me, harrumph. I could have had so much data by now and you know it’s all about the metadata.

Twitter Plugin working again

I’ve been using the Twitter Tools plugin by Alex King and have really enjoyed the features and functionality. Unfortunately, for quite a while, it hadn’t been working. I thought it was due to me upgrading to Worpdress 2.5 but I was able to get it working again simply by re-entering my login information for Twitter.

Maybe I reset my Twitter password? I forget.

Notice anything wrong?

This blog is run using WordPress and they released version 2.5 which represents a significant improvement. I decided to upgrade my blog to that version (making complete backups first, of course).

So far, it all checks out, but if you notice anything wrong, please let me know.

Easily adding pictures to a post

I’ve been having fun working on my WordPress install for this blog and just added a new plugin called PhotoDropper which was originally shown to me by my most beautiful wife.

In the compose window, a new section allows you to search Flickr for Creative Commons tagged pictures that can easily be added to your post.

Here are some examples:

Creative Commons License photo credit: mrbaseball2usa

Creative Commons License photo credit: ericskiff

A change of scenery

 A kind friend of mine, shared a few new WordPress plug-ins with me for integrating a blog with a Flickr feed: Slickr Gallery and Slickr Widget. I had previously set up Gallery on my site and do have several pictures uploaded, but I liked the idea of leveraging the largest web sharing photo site around. Now, I can simply export any picture I want to share from iPhoto to my Flickr account and they are displayed on the sidebar to the right. Click on a picture and pull up a nice flash-based display of the pictures.

I’m planing on setting it up with the email access option, so I can easily post new pictures when out and about. I’ll be working to migrate the gallery pictures to my Flickr account but will likely leave everything in place until I have to worry about migrating it. That way, my previous posts are still valid.

Can you tell I had a nice time this weekend relaxing? Now, I just wish I didn’t feel like I’m coming down with the same cold that Brian and Becky had last week.

Operators are standing by

 I’ve heard about GrandCentral a few times, but never had the chance to take a look. I’m impressed. The service which was acquired last summer by Google, has a very interesting concept of a single phone number for life.

How it works is this, you pick a phone number in any area code you wish (not necessarily where you live or work), and then register your other phones (e.g., home, mobile, and work). When somebody calls your new number, all of your registered numbers ring simultaneously. You can limit which phones ring based on the designation of the caller (family, friend, work or unknown). You can even register a SIP phone like Gizmo Project or an Asterix service. Now, you can hand out a single number for all folks and not worry about giving a more private number and they can still get a hold of you. If you don’t answer, GrandCentral will take a voicemail and can email and/or SMS you with the notification and link to get the message. You can also customize the greeting for each caller which certainly make it more personable.

A cool feature is you can switch between any of your registered phones by pressing ‘*’ just like if you switched extensions in your home.

Lastly, and perhaps the geekiest feature, is the WebCall button you’ll find on the home page of my blog. You click the "Call Me" graphic, enter your name, and the number you can be reached at and click "Call Me." What happens next, is your call-back number will ring and when you answer, my extensions will ring and connect us when I pick up.

I hope I’ve given a reasonable description of the service. For me, I plan on using it specifically for work for a single contact number when our network operations center needs to get a hold of me and for those occasions I need to give a number to somebody but don’t want to worry about staying at a number or leaving the line open.

If you’re game, give me a call at 760-444-0399. I’m planning on using it from now on.

Server changes

With the release of OS X 10.5 (Leopard), I decided to take advantage of my work’s enterprise discount to purchase a license of Leopard Server for use at home. As a result, all of the services (dns, mail, and web) have been moved from the kids’ Mac mini upstairs (running Tiger client with hand-managed services) to the media Mac mini downstairs.

I believe that I got everything moved over correctly (e.g., this blog as well as the one for Kaelyn and Becky) as well as the mail services. I haven’t yet fixed my Gallery installation but should have that fixed shortly.