Server Fun

FYI, if you noticed and were wondering why my various sites have been down so much … there is a story.

I noticed lots of reboots starting this afternoon, and this evening I found that the site would only stay up for 1 minute at a time. It would reboot so much that Linode would stop trying and leave it powered off.

I filed a support ticket and then tried various rescue mode things. I fsck the disk, I did the whole chroot thing and updated all packages. The tech handling my ticket noticed the console.log was full of apache2 processes spinning up, running the VM out of memory and then kernel panicking. I configured apache2 to allow for a lower number of max processes.

When I did that, the server stayed up long enough for me to get to my home directory and do a multi-tail on every access log of every site on there. When I did, I noticed that one obscure site was getting hammered on its xmlrpc.php, to the tune of multiple hits every second from three IP addresses. This was the culprit. Three iptables DROP rules later, all this nonsense was gone.

This wasn’t the most fun evening I’ve ever had (and this shit consumed the ENTIRE evening) but it probably has a positive outcome. This Linode server has always rebooted more than I like, daily at times but is seldom up more than 2 solid weeks. That has probably always been a problem with the apache2 default configuration being more than this small VM can handle. By configuring it to have a lower max usage, that may solve the rebooting issue.

Dog Days of Podcasting 2015

cropped-DogDays

The Dog Days of Podcasting challenge for 2015 began yesterday. In this, a group of podcasters (23 this year and climbing) spend the month trying to podcast every day for 31 consecutive days. This will be my third year on the challenge and I did succeed at it both of the previous years in that I had no missed days or even many under-the-wire days.

This year as the previous two, I am subscribed to the master RSS feed for the challenge and am listening to every show published down the feed. Some are shows I am already subscribed to and some are shows I wouldn’t regularly listen to but in solidarity with my co-participants I am listening to everything.

One wrinkle that is new this year is that BeyondPod on Android is my podcast client with a more mature setup. One of my favorite things about it is the “Smart Playlist” feature. This allows you to set up a playlist made of components, and I have it set to put in up to 20 episodes of podcasts from my “Timely” category, followed by up to 50 from the regular categories. I can also define different update schedules per category, so I have it checking “Timely” every two hours. Because the Smart Playlist keeps the currently playing show at the top, when new shows come in they slot right in behind what I’m already listening to and keep going. It is actually pretty sweet and a better listening experience that I had in the previous years. It is enriching my listening experience as I hear all the shows coming down the pipe.

My theme this year is listener questions, and I have gotten a good load of them. I haven’t counted if I have enough to fully cover the month already, but there will be plenty of time to answer more. Ask em if you got em!

As always, thanks to Kreg Steppe for originating the idea and running the website. Rock on.

Antony Johnston and the Incomparable Network

robot-corner

I am a fan of Antony Johnston’s comic The Fuse and have read some of his work on series like Daredevil. I listened to the episode of Surviving Creativity on which he was a guest, which was how I found out about his podcast Unjustly Maligned on the Incomparable podcast network. I love the high concept, which is that he gets a guest to defend something that is widely considered to be crap. I can’t wait to eventually hear Scott Kurtz defend Garfield.

The other surprise – other than Antony doing this podcast – is that there is an Incomparable network. I was a listener to the show on 5by5 for a relatively brief time. I can identify the episode that caused me to unsubscribe: 191, which featured a draft of old computers. I didn’t like the draft mechanic at all, and it felt at the time like scraping barrels to find things to draft so I unsubscribed. I had no idea that Jason Snell had broken away and used that program as the flagship of his own network. It seems like 5by5 has birthed more spin off podcast networks than any other source other than maybe TWiT (I haven’t checked these stats.)

There is no danger in my resubscribing to the main Incomparable podcast but I am listening to my first episode of Unjustly Maligned and I am enjoying it. My subscription list is like the tide, shows come in and shows go out. I’ll listen to this as long as I enjoy it, long may that be.

Evil Genius Chronicles Patreon Hangout

The first Evil Genius Chronicles Hangout will be this Thursday, July 9th at 12:30 PM EDT. This is the reward for the Patreon campaign reaching $40 an episode. That seems like a phenomenal success and I am super appreciative of every single one of our Patrons.

The Hangout will be broadcast live as a Hangout On Air, also on YouTube and will be available as a video later on. Come watch and see what crazy shenanigans occur! You can go to the event page on Google+ and RSVP there if you like. It will also be streamed via the embed on this post when it actually happens.

Happy Anniversary Skepticality

iTunes-Skepticality-icon-1400x1400

I am currently listening to an episode of Skepticality from March and on the show, Derek mentioned that as of that recording, it was almost the 10th anniversary of the show which would be on … May 7th. So congratulations to Derek and Swoopy for ten solid years of putting out the show. They have survived and thrived through some incredible, near-death setbacks (talking literally here, not metaphorically.)

I’m glad the show is still going on, that Swoopy still makes the occasional appearance that always leaves me wanting more. I’m glad they are my friends and that there is a framework that allowed us all to meet each other.

Now to start on the next 10 years!

Editing Fun

I am working on the podcast with my friends from Beyond the Wall. It is a big scale, long duration job editing a 150 minute conversation with five people. Additionally, at patron request I am for the first time adding in chapter marks for the conversation. That’s another big job as well as completely new functionality to me. It’s a job on its own separately from trying to cull all links for the show notes and fixing any sound glitches.

Despite all that, just listening back to this is making me about as happy as I was recording it in the first place. I will really be interested in listener feedback on this one. I can’t tell if this is objectively good or if it is just a memento of getting to spend an evening discussing a subject I enjoy with people I enjoy. We shall see. For those that like it, you will get a lot of it to like. Lengthwise this episode is to my typical episodes as Song of Ice and Fire is to ordinary fantasy series.

The one thing I am pleased with is how well the conversation went with such a large panel. By being explicit traffic cop and directing the question to specific people as it went, there is way less talking over each other than you’d expect in this situation. I expected I would have to fix some crosstalk as best I could, but there has been practically none. Color me pleasantly surprised.

My Audacity Wishlist Feature

Audacity-logo-r_50pct

If I could get a FOSS genie to grant me one wish in the open source world, it would be for Audacity to have pitch correction on the playback so that when you listen sped up you can do it without the chipmunk effect. Especially as I am reviewing and editing a 2.5 hour file that is a panel of 5 people, I can’t differentiate most of the voices when listening faster than nominal speed because they all blur together. I’m not looking to permanently alter the file with “Change Tempo” (or even temporarily) but I just want to be able to review at higher (or lower) speed with the original pitch. My podcast player can do this, given enough resources I’m sure someone could do this. I saw that 2.1.0 was just released and I downloaded it with limited hope that maybe this feature was in this version. Alas, it was not.

The real question is do I want this enough to download the code, set up an Audacity development environment and try to figure this out for myself? Possibly not. I need one more project like an aperture in my cranium.

Jimmy Dore on WTF Podcast

Here’s a funny quote from Jimmy Dore on this episode of WTF:

“One day my brother out of nowhere starts complaining about the estate tax. ‘Hey, we got to get rid of this estate tax.” I said, ‘Phil, what are you talking about?’ He said ‘That’s when you die and you have millions of dollars, the government just takes half of it.’ I said ‘That’s horrible. Let me know when that becomes a problem for you but until then maybe you should turn off your AM radio and get invited to your own life. I’m sure the estate tax sucks but I’m pretty sure estates don’t have two cars that don’t work on the front lawn. You should be worried about the t-shirt tax at WalMart, you dickhead.’ ”

This episode is funny and I like Dore’s stories. The one part that was a drag was when they discussed Dore starting a podcast before Maron and how he was a “pioneer” and “one of the first guys doing it.” This is 2008 they are talking about. There were at least 50,000 podcasts by then. Even though I listen to a lot of podcasts from the comedy world, it always bugs me how they consider everyone outside of the comedy podcast world as non-entities. Forget us dumb schmoes who just built the entire infrastructure that makes what you do possible, nothing much counted until standups got involved. You’re welcome.

Tonight on Nutty Bites

Tonight at 9 PM EDT or whenever I can get there, I will be a guest on the Nutty Bites podcast. It will be streamed live via Google Hangout and YouTube so you can watch real time.

The discussion will be about Crowd Funding and Patreon. I will discuss my recent experiments in my Patreon campaign and more I’m sure. It looks like the Q&A module is turned on so you can ask questions if there is something you’d like answered by the panel. I’m looking very forward to this discussion. Come join us!

Bill Gates on Nerdist

I am listening to Bill Gates on the Nerdist podcast. I know it is one of those things that is a “good get” for the program in that he’s an extremely famous person. However, the first time the handler jumped in to steer the conversation back to the Gates Foundation, I thought very hard about hitting the skip button. I understand they have a message they want to push, but it if you think the only way to spread that message is with Soviet level control, you may not understand the modern mediasphere as well as you think you do. That doesn’t make me feel better about the thing you are pushing, it makes me feel like the handler is pushing me around.

The only upside of the tight control from the handler is that it kept Matt Mira from trying to steer the conversation to what Gates thought of Frazier.

Kickstarter Hatred

I am currently listening to Episode #2 of Ditchdiggers with Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace. They are discussing the Stacey Jay Kickstarter fiasco and how the YA community gave her enormous grief about asking for readers to support the creation of her work. Which is the basis of EVERY KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN EVER!

On Thursday evening at 9 PM EDT (or whenever I get there after child bedtime) I am going to be a part of a roundtable for the Nutty Bites podcast talking about these issues. I am really looking forward to the conversation and hearing what everyone else has to say. I will just note here that although I didn’t know about the Stacey Jay situation when I recorded my Patreon video, there is a reason why it was done with me pretending to smoke a pipe and affecting a highly exaggerated pomposity. I was trying to preemptively short circuit exactly that line of thinking.