This morning I was listening to some music in the car. Since my Aux cable is dead (again) and my radio doesn’t have Bluetooth I had to rely on good old USB Sticky McStickface of which the music is rarely updated. Because there’s only good music on there, of course.  Okay, so it’s because I forget to update it or can’t be bothered. Whatever.

By doing so, I listened to the song “Her Name Is Alice” by Shinedown. They’re one of my favourite groups, and I remembered that I discovered them completely by accident. After the Alice in Wonderland(?) movie with Johnny Depp came out, I rather liked the soundtrack.

So I went and bought the wrong sound track. There were two albums for the movie. The soundtrack and an album with songs inspired by the movie. Of which only the not-so-great Avril Lavigne song made it to the (credits of) the movie.

The damage was done, and I decided to give the album a try. I don’t like a lot of songs on the album. There’s maybe one or two that I don’t dislike or skip. But “Her Name Is Alice” was one of them.

I figured that the band that made it had to have some other good songs. That lead me to iTunes, where I found and sampled their albums. Which I’ve listened to countless times by now.

All of this happened because I somehow got the crazy idea to buy a movie soundtrack. Only to buy the wrong one. Talk about a happy mistake!

It’s a whole lot easier now…

To discover new music. Since then I’ve got a Spotify account like everyone else, which allows me to try entire albums before buying them. In the modern age, this “purchase accident” would’ve never happened. But it makes for a mildly interesting story!

If you’re wondering, the last albums I bought since getting Spotify were bought after I stumbled upon a video on Youtube. Yup, more random chance. It’s how I like it.

As some of you might now, InfoSecurity has come and gone this week. My father was at the event doing his thing, and he brought me some stuff. I’m a pen and notebooks guy so I got some of that, but I also a new device from the people of LastPass. LastPass is a password manager, which allows you to… well, manage passwords. Most of it based around storing your encrypted passwords in the cloud and decrypting them on your device.

However, I got my hands on their latest hardware device, which can be used to store and consult passwords when you’re offline. No internet connection is required whatsoever to use this hardware device. The device is surprisingly simple and is very user-friendly. It supports all languages, has an insane battery life and is compatible with a range of other devices I used it with the PaperNote that I had in my office.

The device worked right away, and I didn’t have to go through any setups. Neither did I have to pair it through bluetooth or search the web for any drivers. The device is literally ready to go.  When you are holding the device in your hand, you are only a click away from starting to use it.

It’s so easy to use there’s really no point in reviewing it. I’ll just let the result speak for yourself. You can see the device in action in the image below.

The LastPass Offline password manager, paired with NotesPaper

 

Earlier last week, I got a reminder of how very, very old I am. This quarterlife crisis is sponsored by Xbox. Thanks a lot, Microsoft…

On a serious note, Xbox is celebrating it’s 15th anniversary. At first, I couldn’t believe I’ve been playing on the Xbox platform for so long. I’m still loving it! The only period where I really didn’t like being an Xbox user was after the launch of the One. Not only did we get screwed because it wasn’t available, they also screwed around with features and promises and the selection of launch games was… Well, it was really, really bad.

But this isn’t a post about gaming! Those tweets reminded me of something else. You guys, I’ve been “blogging” for fifteen years now!

I mean, technically maybe it wasn’t blogging. I started my online career by writing for a newsletter. That newsletter still exists, and it looks like the website was last updated about ten years ago.

It all pretty much started with the classic Xbox. I was given one to review, and that’s when I started to review my first games.

I’ve been doing that for a while, until I rebelled against the “restrictions” of the newsletter. They said my articles were too long. None of their readers was interested in articles over a thousand words!

Being the excited young kid I was, I wanted to take my articles elsewhere. That’s when I was being offered the opportunity to write about games elsewhere, for a popular blog. I wrote quite a few articles for them, until I discovered a little piece of software which intrigued me, called “Joomla”. So, I started blogging about Joomla and that pretty much became my main source of inspiration.

Fast forward to 2016 and I have been blogging about Joomla for quite a while now. I have talked about branching out, and while that never really happened the idea is always in the back of my mind. Truth be told, I haven’t been blogging enough to make more than one blog viable, but I’ve got some projects that are almost ready to go should I get that spark that tells me “Okay, now to the other thing.”

One thing I’d like to do, is to get back into reviewing video games and technology. However, that requires connections that I don’t neccessarily have at this point, and it’s hard to compete with Youtube which, if you’re asking me, is a far mor interesting platform for video games and technology to be showcased. A video says so much more than a thousand words and a picture or two.

Keeping that in mind, I’ve recently started experimenting with video. The first result(s) are online over at the Joomla & More Youtube channel. I’m still not convinced I have what it takes to use the platform (mainly I hate the sound of my voice to the point I don’t want to listen to the audio), but it’s a start.

Here’s to another fifteen years of blogging. Maybe we’ll be creating newspapers that people can read using their VR set in the next ten years. Time will tell.

Dear writers of technical documentation,

Today I’m writing this open blog post (unlike those closed, diary blog posts where I complain that life isn’t fair and then lock away?) to make a small request.

When you’re writing documentation (which is awesome) it’s great when you provide sample commands. It really makes it understandable what I need to do to perform that bit of dark Linux wizardry. A sample command alongside with the command itself is basically perfect, since it explains me what to do, and then gives me a real life application.

Some of you, however, and I’m looking in the direction of a lot of MySQL documentation pages, seem to think that it’s a good idea to only use the sample command when explaining something. And that’s bad. Why? Because if I landed upon your page, looking for a magic spell to make my server do my bidding, and you are using a sample command without context…

I have no idea what is going on, or what goes where.

The example in question is a bit of MySQL wisdom that is found on this page. Being the eager beaver I am, trying to clone that gigantic database, I ran into authentication problems. Because I wrongfully assumed that the command was to be taken literal. Only on a second pass and doing some more Googling did I realize that instead of root:root I had to provide the actual username and password. I’ll admit that I didn’t pick up on this “hint” because I never used the password “root”. I’m told it’s a capital sin, the sins of all sins, so to see it in documentation surprises me a bit.

Now, I understand that writing things like I did in my notes can be a shore. For reference, I translated it into this:

mysqldbcopy –source=(user):(password)@(server) –destination=(user):(password)@(server) (database):(databasecopy)

The funny thing is that, when you click the reference to the mysqldbcopy page, they’re using an example that’s a bit post clear, by using –source=root:pass@localhost instead.

Maybe I’m just nitpicking or trying to shift the blame, but some context of sample commands are nice, especially if you dive head-first in using example settings.

About twelve months or so ago, I got really into photography. As is the case with many people infatuated by their hobbies, I thought I needed the latest and greatest equipment. Knowing myself and my impulsive behavior, I managed to keep costs low by not spending money on fancy equipment I’d never use.

I do, however, have the feeling that I wasted a lot of money on my NAS.

We all know  it’s important to have back-ups of important files. And sometimes, back-ups of those backups. That’s why I figured that investing in a NAS was a good idea. I could use it to keep all my photos. It’s a NAS! What can go wrong!

Well, for once I’m fortunate in being impatient, because I always stored my pictures to my computer first, then made a back-up to my NAS if I felt like it.

That might sound like a bad idea, but since buying it my NAS practically “died” on three separate occasions. Each time, the useless black brick that was supposed to keep my pictures safe said “You know what? I can’t read those hard drives anymore. I’m just going to ask you to wipe them.”

This happened for the third time this weekend, after I got back from France. Disk 1 and Disk 2 no longer exist. Want to format disk 3 and disk 4 and start over?

A back-up of the back-up

Fortunately, I’ve got a back-up of my back-up. I bought a €99 external HDD after I got tired of the shenanigans. I’m considering buying a second HDD, because compared to the plastic brick sitting in my “nerd corner”, it’s got the following advantages:

  1. It costs a fifth of a new NAS.
  2. It doesn’t take forever to boot, despite being as empty as the Sahara desert.
  3. It doesn’t MAKE AN AWFUL LOUD NOISE when it’s sitting there, doing nothing.

Fingers crossed that I can still get my money back.

A while ago, I made the decision to cancel my subscription to a soccer magazine. I received both a paper and a digital version. I just wanted to keep reading the digital version. So, I cancelled my subscription with the plan to renew it through the iPad app.

Today, I did just that. I opened their Kiosk app, and subscribed. iTunes did it’s part and the subscription popped up in my “subscriptions” space, which is refreshingly simple: it ends on X, auto-renew on X or not? Easy and straight forward like most Apple stuff.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said on the other end. Despite my subscription I can’t read the newest magazines. Every time, the app greets me with a “Subscribe for $29,99” message, or it suggests I buy single magazines (the ones I’m entitled to since the subscription started.

There’s a button for “subscribers” to the magazine to log in, which is where it gets messy. It requires an account with the publisher. While I still have one, it asks me for my subscription number.

Which is usually printed on the magazine’s wrapping which I don’t have.

Or my payment statement. Which I don’t have either.

So, now I have to leave the “app logic” and mail them, and hope that they know what the situation is. At this point I regret not just renewing the subscription, if I have to go through their system anyway…

On Sunday, I made a 25-second video to review a not so great product. The process beyond the video made me realize that I probably need to kiss my Youtube career goodbye. Making a video was on my to-do list for a very long time. I high-fived myself for uploading it, but I’m not doing it again soon. Probably. Here’s why.

A significant time investment

I am not a patient person. I’m an impulsive content creator. When I have an idea, I go from “idea” to executing it pretty fast. That usually translates to “Writing the blog post, with little preparation”.

With the video, that concept was thrown out of the window. I had to source the material for the video, make a recording, then edit it and finally upload it to Youtube. It took me a long time, mostly because editing the video was harder than I thought. Who knew that recording the audio and trying to make the video quit was a backward way of doing things?

I can only imagine that creating longer videos means “a lot more work”. Creating a script for the video, more recording, more editing.

For someone as impatient as me, that’s a lot of time!

My voice isn’t a radio voice

I’m not sure if I have a radio face, but I definitely don’t have a radio face. I just can’t stand listening to my own voice. Irrational as that might be, it does mess with the process. Recording audio was painful, and listening to the audio wasn’t fun at all. It’s something I should probably work on, either way. But it makes making videos ‘not fun’, and I don’t want every video to be an exercise.

Solution creep times ten

I’ve probably made the term “solution creep” up. It’s where you’ve got to achieve one thing. When confronted with all the possible solutions, you get overwhelmed and can’t choose, meaning you don’t get anything done.

Now, I’ve managed to pretty much narrow that down for blogging. “Just use WordPress. Don’t buy another domain name”.

But when recording a video, there are so many things you need to think of.

  • What recording software are you going to use?
  • How are you going to record the video?
  • What equipment are you going to use for audio? And to record your radio face?
  • How are you going to edit the video?

I came up with a complex solution, after a lot of deliberation. I used Quicktime, iMovie and the stuff I had lying around. Logical solution, because I wisely decided not to make a financial investment.

Conclusion

I’m a fairly good blogger because it’s a simple platform. Write, add an image, publish. But I don’t think I’m ready for video yet. There’s so much involved, including some things I’m super bad at. Maybe later.