Monthly Archives: April, 2008

Dapper to Hardy in 23 painful hours

I I finally set about upgrading my home server1 from Dapper to Hardy yesterday. I had been hoping for a less traumatic experience then upgrading my desktop computer from Dapper to Gusty2. Unfortunately I once again ran into problems. First off, it’s been nearly a week since Hardy was officially released but when I tried to run the official upgrade tools they all initially told me I was running the latest version. According to the documentation, I should have been able to run either sudo do-release-upgrade or sudo update-manager but neither worked. I was only able to start the upgrade process by running sudo update-manager -d and my understanding is that “-d” tells the program to grab the latest development version. Weird, but oh well. Then the process just dragged on and on and on and on and on…. I eventually went to bed leaving it running. The only reason I stayed up as late as I did with it was the excellent book I was reading.

When I got up this morning, it was still running but was hung up on a question I needed to answer. I clicked through the question and a few more before heading off to work. When I got home, again the upgrade was hung up on a question. I worked my way through answering all the questions and let the upgrader do its job. Unfortunately the upgrader eventually failed on these packages: gnome-applets-data, gnome-applets, ubuntu-desktop and update-manager. I clicked through the errors and then the upgrader said:

Could not install the upgrades
The upgrade aborts now. Your system could be in an unusable state. A recovery will run now (dpkg –configure -a).

I clicked ok to the error, something flashed up and then the upgrader died/vanished/went away. I tried running:

  • sudo aptitude update but it sat there for far too long for my sleep deprived and impatient self.
  • sudo aptitude upgrade, only it said there wasn’t anything to upgrade.
  • sudo aptitude autoclean, *shrug* it's part of my standard script for updating my systems.
  • sudo aptitude dist-upgrade, only it said there wasn’t anything to upgrade.
  • sudo dpkg --configure -a, it said there were unconfigured packages but it couldn’t fix them automagically. It mostly complained about gnome-applets-data.

I ended up running sudo aptitude install gnome-applets-data gnome-applets ubuntu-desktop update-manager and that fixed up those errors no problem. For giggles of insanity I tried running sudo aptitude -s -f install to see what else might be left to update3. It found another 111 packages it wanted to remove but some of them I want to keep, so I’ll have to look into that more closely. Most likely all these errors were caused by my own foolishness, as at one point I was testing some stuff out on the machine and enabled some 3rd party repositories to install unsupported apps. *blech* I don’t think I’ll be doing that again. I was able to reboot the machine and connect to it via SSH and SMB, but HTTP seems to be broken at the moment. *bugger* Apache is one of the packages sudo aptitude -s -f install wanted to remove. I guess looking into that just got bumped up my priority list.

1 An old Dell Dimension desktop with a PII-400 CPU and 256 MB of RAM.
2 Never fear, Fritz (my desktop PC) is next on my list of machines to upgrade.
3 More accurately, I found some instructions when upgrading my desktop from Dapper to Gusty that recommended doing that to ensure all apps got updated.

Now-Reading Tweaks

I use Rob Miller’s excellent Now-Reading plugin to track all the books I’ve read and am reading here at CoffeeBear. After my recent site upgrade I decided to tweak the single book template for my library. I noticed that the latest version of Now-Reading allows you to note who read a given book on multiuser sites. As my wife occassionally posts here I wanted my reads to be marked as mine, but the default output of the function Rob implemented only displays the user’s login name. Seriously Rob, what were you thinking? If you did not want to give end users the option to select how they want their name to print out why wouldn’t you go with display_name?

I looked at the code Rob used and with a little help from the Practical PHP I hacked together my own function based on Rob’s. By default print_reader2 works the exactly the same as print_reader1 but by feeding it an additional parameter, you get your choice of what to use to display as reader’s name:

  • 0: Prints out the user_login aka the username you use to log into WordPress.
  • 1: Prints user_nicename, appears to simply be an all lower case version of the user’s nickname2.
  • 2: Prints display_name, from the “Display name publicly as” field in your WordPress profile.
  • 3: Prints first_name, from the “First name” field in your WordPress profile.
  • 4: Prints nickname, from the “Nickname” field in your WordPress profile.
function print_reader2( $echo=true, $reader_id = 0, $display = 0 ) {
	global $userdata;


	switch($display) {
		case "1": if (!$reader_id) { get_currentuserinfo(); $username = $userdata->user_nicename; } else { $user_info = get_userdata($reader_id); $username = $user_info->user_nicename; }; break;
		case "2": if (!$reader_id) { get_currentuserinfo(); $username = $userdata->display_name; } else { $user_info = get_userdata($reader_id); $username = $user_info->display_name; }; break;
		case "3": if (!$reader_id) { get_currentuserinfo(); $username = $userdata->first_name; } else { $user_info = get_userdata($reader_id); $username = $user_info->first_name; }; break;
		case "4": if (!$reader_id) { get_currentuserinfo(); $username = $userdata->nickname; } else { $user_info = get_userdata($reader_id); $username = $user_info->nickname; }; break;
		default: if (!$reader_id) { get_currentuserinfo(); $username = $userdata->user_login; } else { $user_info = get_userdata($reader_id); $username = $user_info->user_login;};
	if ($echo)
		echo $username;
	return $username;

Side note: WordPress 2.5.1 got released today and it includes a security fix, be sure to update your blogs!

1 At least, I think it does. I’m not a programmer and I only know enough PHP to be dangerous to myself.
2 The WordPress Codex does not appear to define what this field is used for or why it exists, so that’s just my guess.

Library Fixed and Other Changes

The library issues I was having appear to be resolved. When I upgraded WordPress, I simply overwrote the existing files (‘cuz I’m lazy) and then I went into my permalink settings and hit the update button (without actually making any changes). This is supposed to be enough to get the plugin I use for the library to reset the permalinks but that didn’t happen this time. I ended up deleting all of WordPress’ core file, re-uploading them, changing my webhost’s configuration to support PHP5, upgrading to the very latest copy of the plugin and re-saving my permalink settings before I was able to get the library working correctly again.

Other Changes

I also noticed when I upgraded/changed themes last time I forgot to add back in the magic codes to have ads from Google AdSense appear in a couple of places on my site. Those are ads are now back, though I do use another plugin to hide them from regular readers and on current content. Basically, if you are just stopping by (e.g. found me via a search engine) you will see ads. If you’ve been here a few times in the past couple of weeks, then you most likely won’t. Mind you these ads aren’t making me rich1, but they do help offset the costs of my online addiction webhosting.

New Theme

Yeah, I wasn’t a big fan of the previous theme I was using but it was good enough for a short term solution. The current theme2 is better but still needs more tweaks to make it mine. Things are likely to be in a state of flux until further notice around here. Things I still need to do:

  • Add one or more random photos to the sidebar or possibly the footer.
  • Work up a better header image.
  • Style the footer more to my liking.
  • Fix the sidebar formatting issues in IE3

1 I haven’t even had enough clicks on the silly Google AdSense ads to get paid yet
2 In case you happen to be curious, it’s a slightly tweaked version of the Shades of Gray style for the Sandbox theme.
3 Odds of this happening are tiny. I only use IE at work and then only rarely. If the slight offsets in the sidebar offends your design sensibilites, get Firefox!

WordPress Upgrade

I’ve finally upgraded to WordPress 2.5. I’m in the process of getting everything settled in properly and at the moment my library is working quite so nicely. At the moment the link for the library at the top of the page does not work (you’ll get a blank page) however if you go to any of the books in my sidebar you’ll find a working link to the actual library page on the individual book page. Also the nicely rewritten links for the library aren’t working correctly either. *shrug* Not sure what’s going on there, but I’ll post again and/or update this post once I’ve sorted it out. If you happen to notice any other problems with this site, please leave a comment under this post so I know to look into it.


The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good

Some time back my wife went into the doctor’s for a check-up and found out her cholesterol was completely out of wack. Since then she’s been on a restricted diet to fix it and since she’s the better cook, I’ve been on the same diet. We’ve been doing this for roughly 2 months now and this morning when I stepped on the scale, I was quite pleased to see not only have I already shed my “winter weight”1 but I’ve also lost about another 10 pounds.

The Bad

This winter we’ve had ~4x our normal amount of precipitation. Our soil is heavily saturated with water and we’ve been getting more rain as we move into spring. The end result is we’ve been getting water into our basement. Our basement which happens to have carpeting in it. Fortunately, the carpet was just lying down on top the concrete floor but about half the carpet has been getting soaked.

The Ugly

We never liked the carpet down there but hadn’t done anything about it; however since we’ve had so much water down there this winter. We decided we needed to get at least the wet parts of the carpet out of the basement before it got moldy had destroyed our sinuses. So this past Saturday my wife and I put on our grungiest clothes, went into the basement, chopped up the carpet and hauled it out to our garage2. It was one of dirtiest, nastiest jobs I’ve ever had to do around any house. And I’ve replaced entire toilets before, so when I say it was nasty I know what I’m talking about!

1 Every winter where I’ve weighed myself, I’ve put 5-10 pounds which I quickly shed once spring comes.
2 Just until we figure out if we can have the city take it to the dump for us, or if we have to get it over there ourselves.

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