A design anachronism within WordPress.

This blog is being hosted by the “WordPress.org” Content Management System (configured for one user) (:1). Yesterday I lost a night’s sleep, trying to figure out why this software was having problems. Tonight, it’s still a little early, for my night’s sleep to start.

Here’s the problem. If we follow the documentation to set up this software, it tries to create a configuration by which the personal contents of a Blog are stored in Linux folder ‘/srv/www’ .  This is a tad confusing, because according to other documentation, it could be setting this up in folder ‘/var/lib/wordpress/wp-content’. At the same time, the components of the page which display, that belong to WordPress and its CGI scripts, are set up in ‘/usr/share/wordpress’. The user is given rough guidelines, as to how he can set up his Apache server, to have an Alias according to his configuration file, which points to the General Location from a URL, which is a Parent URL to the one, whose Alias points to the Personal Folders on the hard drive, the latter located under ‘/srv/www’ when the initial confusion is solved.

What can happen next is that the page seems to display in a not-so-neat way, until the owner tries to upload a photo or something, at which point he finds that his browser can no longer even view that file, getting a ‘403-Forbidden’ error. What’s confusing about this situation, is that the user is likely to look very intensely at the configuration file which defines the Virtual Host, or which defines this set of URL-Aliases, as the probable cause fw Apache is not giving access to the browser, to the content folder. This turns into a waste of time, because aside from some semantic quibbles, there’s really no error there.

What happens is that in the Apache configuration folder, there is  a Main Configuration File named ‘/etc/apache2/apache2.conf’ .  It’s located right next to the files, which tell Apache to create the aliases specific to each Web-site the user has. Under modern versions of Apache, this main config file allows the server – and thus all the pages – to access anything under ‘/usr/share’ and under ‘/var/www’ by default, but explicitly forbids any of the other config files, from accessing other folders, especially ‘/srv’ .  This has been put as a security measure, to prevent hijacked Web-sites from doing extensive damage on the host machine. That same config file can easily be edited, to include ‘/srv’ as one of the allowed folders.

But, because none of the troubleshooting attention goes there, it can take time to find this problem. As I wrote, I lost a night’s sleep over this mere annoyance. Once access has been granted to all Apache’s hosted sites, to access ‘/srv’ as well potentially – still according to their own config files – we also see that the page itself displays in its full style and splendor, and that uploaded photos now download to the browser.

There’s a deeper problem with this sort of bug. It can undermine the confidence the user has, in the ability of the provider of the software to program well. I have in fact heard of WordPress, and yet initially, based on the errors I was getting, was not getting a good first impression of it. And the fact that the Style which my Blog displays in, has elements of my personal preferences in it, which were not accessible at first, also made the pages ‘look ugly’ at first, again undermining how well WordPress might be programmed, according to my first experience with it.

This happens often in computing.

And, it also happened too often in my past, that I eventually solved such issues, but that I never left a detailed account to myself, about how I had solved them. Now that I have a micro-Blog, I can rectify this last point.

BTW, Finally WordPress does come across as good software, very functional. And the fact that the software is very functional is confirmed more strongly, by the fact that it was at first even able to display my Blog partially, in spite of not being able to access half its folders.

It’s deprecated under Linux, to store Web content under ‘/srv/www’ !

Dirk

Edit 01/18/2016  1:)  It was only after having installed WordPress.org, and having started my Blog, that I also learned that this package is different from WordPress.com .  But this initial gap in my knowledge is of course also tied to the fact, that with the .org product, users “need to get their hands dirty, to make it work”.

 

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Beginning of Blog

logo-dirk_testHello.

I’m a single, 51-year old man, who is unemployed, but essentially financially independent. I live by myself, and have decided that at this stage of my life, I’ll want to keep doing so. Even though I’d be willing to go on dates with single Women, in fact there are few girlfriends who’d be willing to accept even these terms. I’m speaking from experience. And so my future may become one of celibacy, which I’m willing to endure, with only my computers, and certain personal Friends, for company.

I’ve never blogged before, but have decided that rather than to try rewinding my story to my distant past, I should just jump in and write about events in my life as they happen.

My life usually revolves around my computers these days, but maybe also around photography, around gadgets, around food, and around some select Health Subjects. I go to a drop-in center.

All in all I’d say I’m contented, but also suffer from moments of anxiety, which I seem to be able to manage.

I have to add that I’m an atheist, but not one with a capital ‘A’. Atheists with a capital ‘A’ are the kind that feel, that the only crime they can commit is to get caught. I believe in doing the right thing, in observing moral standards etc., but not because of any fear of eternal punishment after my death. I think that when I die, I’ll simply cease to exist.

Sure, There Is more to life than that, but actually to explain my many viewpoints would take some time. One of my viewpoints is that I must respect other people, even if they don’t have the same opinions as I do, about God, about Ideology, about sexual orientation. And I feel that while material reality is highly important, it’s also important to keep in mind, that sometimes a question can be looked at from different directions, and that doing so can lead people to unexpected realizations. In that regard, I actually have an open mind.

And yet the reader may find that most of my future blogging, should I choose to continue with it, will revolve around material issues in my life, such as what the caveats are of using a specific gadget I bought, of AI, and of sundry other subjects that tend towards the technological.

Dirk

 

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I use a Garmin Vivofit 2.

Together with “My Fitness Pal”. Again, I’m trying to make up for the fact that maybe I’m a bit complacent in the real world, by still trying to keep my weight under control. My Fitness Pal tracks my calorie intake, while the Vivofit 2 keeps track, supposedly, of how many I burn. And during times when I’m accurate at actually logging all my food intake, I find that the results are good predictors, of whether that dreaded dial of the scale will increase during the coming days, or decrease.

Dirk

 

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I recently acquired a Robot Vacuum Cleaner.

It can sometimes be a bit tedious for me to keep sweeping and vacuuming, and mopping. And so I felt that I must show the effort in other ways – i.e. by buying one of those vacuuming robots.

I had read that there was one model, which “moves across the floor more slowly, but which on the average vacuums a room in less time, than the others”. And so I chose that model: A “Neato XV Signature”.

(Photo Added 1/21/2016 : )

Neato XV _1

I’m very satisfied with it so far. My only real disappointment, was in the fact that this bot, which is D-shaped, only came with 6.5 feet of magnetic boundary marker. I needed to buy 3 more rolls of this magnetic strip, which were then 15 feet long each, and which can all be cut to size with a heavy pair of kitchen scissors.

I get the impression from observing it doing some of its first runs, that the logic with which it’s programmed is very good. It has a cupola, under which a laser spins with a mirror, to give it one input of obstacles. It has a front bumper with a mechanical switch on each side. And it has a magnetic sensor for the strips, in each front corner as well. The programmers seem to have made a great effort, to prevent this machine from getting into idiotic traps, as machines will do, since machines still don’t have common sense. But in spite of everything the possibility still exists that this robot can get trapped.

When it approaches a wall, by default it prefers to turn left, and then to trace this wall in that direction. It starts by tracing the perimeter of the area it’s supposed to clean counter-clockwise, and then makes rectangular sweeps at a faster pace, of the area inside this perimeter. When it’s making its faster sweeps, it has the capacity to recognize and deal with islands of barriers inside what it first saw, again by turning to the left, this time clockwise… And in dealing with obstacles it can sometimes turn right.

But the situation can still arise, that it will approach a walled-in area from the left, pass through a narrow entry-path, and then according to its sensors, when it approaches that same spot from the other side, and this time from its right, that spot may no longer look passable. And once that has happened, the machine is stuck. It will continue to run in rectangular patterns, counter-clockwise, which never repeat themselves exactly, but which also don’t lead to an exit, as when it finally reaches the point through which it came in, it turns left again, instead of turning right.

Also, one must be careful when laying the magnetic strips, so as not even to leave as much as a 1-inch gap. If it has decided to use its front-right magnetic sensor to trace along a strip, it ignores what its front-left sensor is telling it, or vice-versa. This was probably meant so that of it does slip over the magnetic boundary marker with one sensor, it won’t get caught when the other sensor crosses the same strip, as in ‘get caught with one sensor on each side of the magnetic strip’. But then the trade-off for avoiding one trap in this way, is that a 1-inch gap in the strip is enough to let it pass through all the way.

Also, it’s extremely important to me, not to allow this unit to enter my computer room – to forbid this via a magnetic strip – since it could try to march through extension cables and other cables, and possibly pull a device off the table that way, before the robot will recognize that it’s stuck. If it does get immobilized, its behavior in the past while supervised has been, to shut off all its motors, and to show a glowing red light, at the spot where the problem occurred, and to wait for help.

And so what I was doing at first, was zoning off certain regions next to my walls, with sets of two diagonal magnetic strips, that formed little triangles facing away from each wall. And I was not realizing that at the tip of these triangles, there was a slight gap each time. I replaced all those designations, with rectangular ones that leave no logical opening for the unit to slip through.

My computer room was never really in any danger, because I measured the doorway into it carefully, and fit magnetic strips into them in a straight and flush way. And by now I’m confident that the other zones I created in my living space are also secure.

As advertized, if this unit runs low in charge while cleaning a larger area, it will suspend its cleaning and return to its base unit, which must be placed along a perimeter wall and 1 meter away from any obstructions in each direction, in order to get a full charge and then go cleaning again. And I found that it was able to work for 50 minutes, after which it only needed to recharge for another 50 minutes, before it could resume.

Also, because of the high price of this toy, it’s not worth it just to let it run once per week. I have it programmed to run 3x per week now, since once it’s set up, all I’m wasting is the time of a little machine. And this way, when I get back home with dirt and snow under my boots, I find each time that the floor is magically clean. This way, it will merely assist me in my overall cleaning chores, by keeping my environment cleaner than it was before – noticeably even after three days of testing – and by reducing the amount of cleaning I need to do myself. But the day has not yet come, when a robot can do the whole chore on its own.

This unit is also rated well for its sheer cleaning power, as compared to a manual vacuum. I can see how that could be, since it seems to clean well. And it does not seem to miss any spots, thanks to its thorough programming.

Dirk

 

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