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Tag: website

Updates and changes to my ThinkPad T420i

While I haven't been doing much posting recently, I have been doing behind-the-scenes work on this website. The main thing was that I changed quite a few images from being hot-linked (when sites were okay with that) to being hosted; this was done after realizing some web filters were not blocking my website but were blocking a bunch of the images that were hosted off-site.

I've also made some substantive changes to my laptop: I am no longer dual-booting Scientific Linux and Windows 7, so no more posts about Linux and this computer. Instead, I am running Windows 7 on my laptop and running other operating systems in virtual machines inside of that (using VirtualBox). Most of the time I use Windows 7 as a guest (yes, on a Windows 7 host), but I do also use WatchOCR and Xubuntu. The reason why I virtualize Windows 7 on Windows 7 is so recovering from a catastrophic incident (e.g. computer stolen or destroyed) is quicker: just move the Windows 7 VM with all of my work on it to another computer and continue working.

Of course, simultaneously running 3 VMs is tough on a computer, so I upgraded to 16GiB of RAM. I specifically used 2x Centon 8GB DDR3-1333 (PC3-10666) 204-pin. The specific part number was R1333SO8192, pictured below. (RAM can be finicky, so I figure giving more details about what worked for me is better than too few. Also, the 8GB is what is on the package even though it should be 8GiB - I just don't want to be called out for inconsistency. </pedantic>)

I used two of these Centon sticks in my computer, and they seem to work great.
I used two of these Centon sticks in my computer, and they seem to work great.

I also replaced the hard drive with a Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD (MZ-7PD256BW). It works pretty well, and I utilize the whole disk encryption, though I don't really notice any benefits over my previous Intel SSD (other than increased capacity).

Of course, it's not all good news: with all of these changes to my computer, my battery life has taken a substantial hit. When it was new, I was comfortably getting 8 hours. Now, with battery capacity at 62% according to the ThinkVantage Toolbox, I'm getting about 2 hours. I'm not often away from a plug, but virtualizing OSes may not be such a great idea if you need long battery life. Or simplicity in many other ways - but my complex system works well for me.

(To help those using search engines, my ThinkPad T420i is model number 4177-CTO.)

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Even more minor updates

A few more quick updates to stay on the Monday/Thursday update schedule. I'll try to get some actual content up next week, but it might end up being placeholder comics.

I went through and updated all the media links from the website reorganisation by hand. There was probably an easier way, but I wanted to get it done.

Mendeley has been working well for organizing PDFs. I'm getting close to deciding to start relying on it. (I still want to try out some more features, though.)

The projects I'm working on for my REM courses are slowly coming along, as is updating the artwork for my advisor's grant. The DokuWiki I set up as a research logbook is working well. A little clunkier than I'd hoped (particularly with regard to tables), but I'm getting the hang of it. I've found a couple of useful plugins, and there are quite a few promising ones out there. I'll likely do a post about my research process in a few months as I settle in to a productive routine.

Lastly, this seems as good a time as any to mention a statistics comic that might be of interest. On 23 July 1994, Dilbert was about the median. It is a pretty decent comic that I've used before in teaching. However, I'm not able to post it here. I've secured permission either implicitly or explicitly to post all the comics on here, but Universal Uclick, the company that syndicates Dilbert, charges $50 to license the comic for use on a blog. This seems pretty reasonable I suppose, but I make nothing off this website and can't justify the expense. I would link to the comic, but Universal Uclick has a linking policy with which I have a philosophical disagreement. It isn't too difficult to find, though, and it is a good comic for teaching.

Also,  Happy Thanksgiving.

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A few quick updates

I don't have anything exciting to post today, but I do want to keep up with my Monday/Thursday update cycle which dictates that something be posted today. So, here it goes:

Current Projects

  • I'm currently just doing some minor work for my advisor's grant
  • I'm working on a simulation study for class (quasi-experimental design)
  • I'm working on a proposal for a simulation study for a class (item response theory)
  • All of the other little side projects I'm always doing

Website Updates

  • I had originally install WordPress into my website's root folder. I finally got around to reorganizing the public_html folder this weekend.
    • I followed the instructions here and it worked pretty seamlessly. I was pleased
    • I also created made the path public_html/www.douglaswhitaker.com/wordpress and was able to make things work pretty easily by changing subdomain options in cPanel.
    • (Edit: I see some dead links and images now because wp-content is now at wordpress/wp-content. I'll update those later tonight.)
  • I installed DokuWiki at logbook.douglaswhitaker.com as private research logbook (works in progress, notes, etc.). It seems to work pretty well so far. I went with this over something like MediaWiki because the idea of plain text files storing the content was appealing (as opposed to a not-easily-read-by-humans database such as MySQL).

Other Quick Thoughts

  • I'm installing Cygwin with the hopes of being able to use curlftpfs+rsync to automatically backup my websites (I'm currently just periodically logging in via ftp and copying files over). We'll see how this goes. (Inspired by this thread on StackOverflow.)
  • I really dislike how Cygwin doesn't have broad-but-not-every-package groups of packages to add. I keep having to re-launch the setup.exe and add things in that I overlooked because of my inexperience. Only way to learn I guess.
  • Wikis are awesome. DokuWiki seems to work well for this goal (particularly because I might want to use it for collaborations in the foreseeable future), but for a single-user, offline Wiki I've had success with TiddlyWiki. I don't use it much now, but that's more for a lack of time to do the projects I was using it for and less to do with the software (which was quite good).
  • I'm trying to use Mendeley Desktop to organize my references. So far it is promising, but I'm not sold yet. (Not thrilled that it isn't open source and that one needs an (albeit free) account to use it.)
  • I judged a middle school science fair. It was... almost what I expected. Not many students seemed to understand variability or sampling error (about what I thought), but three of the 20 or so projects I looked at were really phenomenal. I'd love to keep doing this judging if I have time.
  • I've got some larger posts in the works, and enough comic posts in a scratch file to keep me going for a while, but I prefer to do comics no more often than every-other-post. But still, whatever it takes to keep the Monday/Thursday update cycle going.
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Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

Because my new department doesn't provide web hosting in the same way that my old department did (and does), I decide to make use of a hosting I bought last year. Back in 2011 Hostable.com offered three years of unlimited hosting for $0.99. I caved and signed up, but haven't used it yet.

Hostable.com uses cPanel, an apparently popular website manager. It seems simple enough to use, and installing WordPress.org (the open source platform for blogging that many sites including WordPress.com use) was a breeze. Importing and Exporting my WordPress.com site was also easy. I picked a new theme (Catch Box), and tweaked a few settings (display name, permanent links, etc.). Nothing fancy.

Some things I did change were making the Pages based on "Disable Sidebar Template" and instead of "Default Template" (using the Screen Options, Discussion Checkbox) disabling comments on the pages. Also, pages are ordered using numbers that are all defaulted to 0. Quick Edit from the All Pages... page is the way to go for this.

Oh, don't change the WordPress URL and Site URL options if you don't know what they do. I did, and broke the site. I ended up uninstalling and reinstalling, which went quickly. Also, make backups when things are working.

Moving on, I updated the DNS servers at GoDaddy.com (where I bought my domain name) to point to Hostable's (ns1.hostable.com, ns2.hostable.com) and used the "Add on domains" option in cPanel. Now, douglaswhitaker.com redirects here. Changing the WordPress Address (URL) option in the settings page to http://douglaswhitaker.com and... nope, that doesn't work yet. Apparently Site URL had to change, too. Either way, it's working now. So, yeah. New website. Updates coming soon. Maybe.

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