Tag Archives: Tech

More Tech Tsuris

After all the hoorah I just went through to get my site up and running it turns out that the little Publicize bit doesn’t work anymore. It’s supposed to automatically post to my Facebook and Google+ fan pages as well as a brief blurb on Twitter. It saves saved me oodles of time.

But I think I’ve figured out a workaround, and this post is the test of it.

Push the button, Frank.

High Tech Hell

angry boy blowing steam
source: pathdoc/fotalia

There’s nothing like a little cascading failure to keep the blood pressure up.

Some months back the WordPress app I use on my tablet started misbehaving. At first it was simply a matter of the preview function. If you were working on a draft post and wanted to check out how it looked in the browser it would, for whatever bizarre reason, try to find it on the server. Since it was a draft, the server had no idea what you were looking for and sent out a 404 error. This was annoying, but could be gotten around with only a moderate hassle. As the problem had started directly after an upgrade I figured it was just an “oops!” at the coding end and waited patiently for the WordPress folks to fix it. They’re pretty good about such things.

But time passed, and several updates too, with no joy in Mudville. I found myself moving into the semi-patient realm rather quickly. I started posting only new gigs on my calendar. It’s handled by a plug-in called GigPress and it has to be run from the browser since the app doesn’t really recognize it.

And then, the pictures (from the posts that had them) stopped appearing in the preview post listings in the app. They were still appearing on the website itself, so there’s that I guess, but my cussing increased. Weren’t computers supposed to ease our workaday world? Then why was I wasting so much time just trying to keep the tech up and running? Not to mention useful.

The final straw… or what I thought was the final straw, was when it decided it couldn’t save to the server anymore. At all. Just locally. I pretty much put the whole idea on the back burner, hoping I’d calm down enough to dig in and fix it later.

So time passes and I notice a friend of mine has announced a little local tour of house concerts. There are 4 or 5 of them lined up in less than a week. I’m wanting house concerts, bigtime. So I wrote him for advice on how to get hooked up with the scene. He told me no problem, send along my contact details and he’d pass them along to the folk he knows who host house concerts (and, I’m assuming, would like the style of stuff I do). Bless his little cotton socks!

So I go check out the Hobbit & Hare page to make sure there’s no egregious mistakes on it and, lo!… my entire site is hosed. Absolutely none of the fancy page formatting was coming through. It looked like a web page from the early 90’s. Argh!

Nope. That wasn’t the last straw yet.

I thought I’d just login to my hosted control center and see if I could figure it out from there, but either something had gotten goobered up at the server end or I’d forgotten my login details. I was betting on the latter but it turned out to be a little bit of both. Got that adjusted but nothing looked amiss from there.

In the meantime some of the problems were taken care of by simply upgrading WordPress itself. But that’s the place where the login was goobered up by someone other than me. So we go through the “reset password dance” there. Twice. Now many of the problems have gone bye-bye, as well as many hours taking care of all this crap. Not all of the WordPress app problems, mind you, and I was still left with a site that looked like something from the 90’s.

While I’m poking about in the WordPress dashboard I go to my Themes section, thinking maybe a setting in the theme I’m using got messed up. (Themes are what make the WordPress pages look all pretty.) Nothing was apparent in that department, but I had a half dozen or so other themes installed so, just for grins, I chose another and activated it. It worked! It didn’t work exactly well since I’d set the site up for a whole ‘nother theme and the feature set didn’t match but, OMG! there was light at the end of the tunnel. So after an hour or so searching and testing out different themes, I found one that was visually very close to the hosed one. Now I’m up to like 98% working. And the angels did sing.

There were (and probably still are) some funky stuff going on with a few of the links, but I’ve figured out how to fix the vital ones and am now reasonably comfortable sending my contact info and trying for some of those house concerts. And after only most of one day troubleshooting.

Did I mention Argh!?

I guess the last test is to publish this post and hope that the Publicize thing I have running auto shares it with my Facebook and G+ pages (like it’s supposed to). It looks like it’s still set up correctly, but there’s really only one way to check so…

…Push the button, Frank.

(Edited to add: Nope, didn’t share. I think I have that fixed now, so I’ll manually get this one shared and do another test post later.)

A New Video And Its Saga

OK… maybe not this much new lighting

Back on the 11th Hobbit & Hare played at the Gathering Grounds coffeehouse in Sultan, WA. My sweetie went along and snapped some pictures of us (using my phone) as well as getting a video of our last song. I had intended to give her the proverbial high sign a few times while we played in order to get more video, but I forgot.

Fortunately, she remembered.

Quick note for you tl;dr people. The video is at the bottom of the page.

Unfortunately, the lighting in the place wasn’t quite right for the video camera and the vid turned out really dark. I figured I’d sniff around on the Play Store for a video app that would let me jack about with the brightness and contrast so I could fix these sort of issues when they, inevitably, arose again.

So I sniffed around, downloaded several that showed up in my search, but it wasn’t until the third one that I found brightness and contrast adjustments. I tried it out and it seemed to work fine, except that when it came to saving, you got fed off into an ad. What joy! Not going to buy the thing if I don’t know whether iMovie will deal with the output. I kept searching but with no more luck.

I decided to give the close one another try. I reinstalled, did the adjustments, and lo! It actually saved the thing. Furthermore, iMovie agreed that it was indeed a video file it could chew on. The only drawback is that they’d put these big, broad, white stripes at the top and bottom, with a watermark in the bottom one.

No big deal. They’d made it plain that this was just the trial version. Certainly the ugly watermark shtick would go away with the “pro” version, right? So I uninstalled yet again, searched up the pro version on the App Store, paid my $9.99 (plus tax), and hit another reinstall.

Now it’s time to fire up the program–hey! cleaner UI, no ads!–load the video, do the adjustments, and save it out. It all went well. Now we’ll open it up in iMovie and… drumroll, please…

It still put the two damn white bars on the thing! But that’s not enough. Oh no, kids! On closer examination in iMovie, it turns out that the other program basically shrinks the video size down by half (in both height and width) and, to frost the fucking cake, reduces the definition. Even going back in and cropping the video doesn’t work. It just sticks the white bars and grey space back on.

So… several days have gone by now and I’ve edited the video three times. I finally decided just to make it a plain, one camera angle thing. At least the dark video has been mostly rescued.

It. Should. Not. Be. So. Difficult!

All the code to do all this stuff already exists. But the app writers are bent on a path of dumbing down the software to meet their idea of how dumb the users are.

OK. Thanks for putting up with my rant. Here’s the video. Check it out and let me know if it’s worth the trouble next time. If you like it, please share!

If for some reason the embedded video isn’t working you can watch it here.

The New “Workstation”

iOS and Android, happily sharing a keyboad
iOS and Android, happily sharing a keyboad

My little brother just passed on our mom’s old iPad2 to me. After spending about $35 on it, most of that for the power cord but also about $7.50 on software, I now have a portable way to make videos.

The “workstation” is said iPad plus my older Samsung Galaxy Tab A. Both of them are hooked up via Bluetooth to the Logitech keyboard. The rotary switch on the upper left of the keyboard allows me to switch back and forth between the two devices as needed. Mainly I was using the Samsung to search up “how tos” on iMovie, so that I could have the instructions on the Samsung’s screen and iMovie on the iPad’s screen simultaneously.

(The old science fiction geek in me is tickled fairly pink by having so much computing power in such a small space.)

I’ve mostly used an old version of iMovie on a rather elderly Mac G3 to produce my videos. I’ve experimented with a number of apps on both Android and Linux, trying to get rid of the G3 because it takes up a lot of space in my small room, but have only had limited success. Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with the G3, it’s just that it’s eating space and I only do videos on it.

The version of iMovie for the iPad/iPhone does more of what I want than the version on the G3. It also does it easier. It’s not without it’s glitches, but I’m learning quickly.

It is my extreme hope that this will mean I can turn out more videos on a more frequent basis. Wish me luck!