Book Review – The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Neil Gaiman writes GOOD monsters. Oh, and good protagonists. And don’t forget he writes amazing mysterious supporting characters. Were I qualified, I’d say this is an excellent example of Gaiman at his usual finest. Simple on the surface, but subtly deep so that you’ll be thinking about it for months after. Not quite enough to excite me to 5-stars, but I highly recommend it. A timeless book destined to become a classic.

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Book Review – Cibola Burn

Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m a fan of the Expanse series. The books typically have a sweeping, high-stakes story arc with memorable characters and epic, movie-ready scenes. The realistic details of space travel (inertia, false gravity, etc.) alone give this series a special place on my shelf. And I have to admit, the fantastic TV adaptation now in its second season on SyFy causes me to view past reading experiences of the series with rose colored glasses (they couldn’t have cast the show better).

But now for a break from our regularly scheduled programming. The crew of the Rocinante enter our story for very contrived reasons and are essentially the only good thing about the book. While Captain Holden and co have some great moments amidst the drudgery of the main plot line, it doesn’t entirely make up for the uninteresting new POV characters, mundane little bites of crisis and boring obstacle, and generally forgettable events. I wonder if the authors regret doing huge, intense story lines before that have apparently become tough acts to follow. I’m personally glad this book came after more solid entries in the series, as it makes it easier to forgive and move on to (or wait for) the next.

In addition to our main characters from the previous books being wonderful as always, large swaths of redemption flow from the interludes and afterword. They remind the reader there’s more to the Expanse universe than this strange bad luck, low stakes side tour.

3.5 stars under a normal rating system (it was a fine book with some high points here and there) but 2.5 under Goodreads’ inflated system. Rounding that 2.5 to a 3 because of an old character who got to make some big appearances.

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Setting Up .htaccess With Let’s Encrypt

After installing WordPress on my Raspberry Pi LAMP stack, I was unable to get permalinks to work. WordPress had appropriate permissions to .htaccess and was able to edit it, and mod_rewrite was installed and enabled in Apache. I checked my AllowOverride settings in 000-default.conf and that was right too, so I was very confused.

It turns out that since I installed Let’s Encrypt to provide TLS encryption on my site, I needed to add the following to my 000-default-le-ssl.conf file (not 000-default.conf):

<Directory /var/www/html>
                Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
                AllowOverride All
                Order allow,deny
                allow from all
</Directory>

The more you know!

Once More With Feeling – Blogging and the Indie Web

I’ve worried about data compatibility and posterity since I was old enough to type.

My cousins had IBM-clones while my school had Apple //e computers. My closest friends’ families got Holstein-patterned Gateway 2000 towers while I had been begging my parents for a Macintosh (which quickly changed to pleas for a Power Macintosh 7200/120 with an Intel PCI card capable of running both Windows and Mac OS at the same time).┬╣

My typed journal entries from my angst-ridden early-teen years were carefully saved to a 3.5″ floppy disk in Rich Text Format, as I wanted to be sure I could open them decades later┬▓ on whatever futuristic software had replaced Microsoft Office in the 21st century.

As I aged and the internet grew bigger and more media-rich, my desire to keep data free and compatible grew with it. To share videos and pictures of our children, I secured a domain name and web hosting for a blog. No need to force grandparents to sign up for Facebook or YouTube, just send them our URL. It worked great and I was proud of it.

But years later my wife and I got smart phones. Now content didn’t need to go from a digital camcorder or camera to a computer, where it was then just as easy to post to our blog as to web service. Now we could post straight from our phones to Google+, YouTube and Twitter. We were busy with young children and welcomed the ease of sharing content with relatives who so eagerly asked for more. We explained this migration to Google+ on our family blog and it’s still the most recent post almost five years later.

But the internet is always changing, and it’s more and more owned by corporations that will shut down or change products and services with little warning. The World Wide Web is littered with broken links to non-existent pages as content owners rise and fall and change.

Don’t get me started on the death of RSS.

Continue reading Once More With Feeling – Blogging and the Indie Web

Fresh Raspberry Pi

This blog is running on a Raspberry Pi 2 in my house. I’d used the Pi as a Minecraft server for my kids, and later as a FreeNAS controller, but then it was only collecting dust. I experimented with the Ghost platform, but prefer having comments saved on my own server instead of a third-party comment service. So I installed a LAMP stack and WordPress and that’s what you’re seeing now.