ttrss_screen1

tiny tiny rss with my hostgator shared hosting account, part 2

It’s been about two weeks now since I first set up Tiny Tiny RSS and the experience has been brilliant. I wanted to follow up my original post with some added details.

Out of the box, TTRSS will only update the feeds when you click on them. It would be a better experience if they were already updated and ready for you to read when you login. We can do that with a few tweaks and the addition of a cron job.

First, make sure this line is set to true. (line 31 for me)

define(‘SIMPLE_UPDATE_MODE’, true);

This will allow you to set the refresh time, via the preferences, of when TTRSS can update the feeds. By default, it’s set to update the feeds every 30 minutes. The problem is that this will only happen when you are logged in so a cron job is the next task to set.

Like I mentioned in my past post, I use HostGator so will be sharing the job I entered for this service. TTRSS requires PHP 5.3 which is at the following path:

/opt/php53/bin/php

The resulting cron job is thus:

*/15 * * * * /opt/php53/bin/php /home/user_name/public_html/the_path/update.php --feeds --quiet

This cron job updates the feeds every 15 minutes.

I very much recommend setting up the cron job if you are going to use the TTRSS Android app, which is a great addition to reading your feeds.

You can then search the forums for a slick new theme and you’ll be in feed reading heaven.

ttrss3

tiny tiny rss with my hostgator shared hosting account, part 1

With Google’s announcement that they are canning Reader this July, I’m on the lookout for a new service to get my news and blog posts in one location. I am addicted to Google Reader and Google Plus just doesn’t do it for me. So I’ve got some time to shop around and see what’s out there.

My first real attempt at something new was with Tiny Tiny RSS and while they say installing it on a shared hosting account is not supported, I’m trying it anyway. There’s also an Android app which is very appealing to me. Using my Hostgator account that, which hosts this and other websites, was the perfect way to try this little experiment out.

What I’m using

  • Hostgator Shared hosting account
  • subdomain for my reader url

First, create your sub-domain

Your install of Tiny Tiny RSS has to live somewhere so I used HostGator’s subdomain tool to create a new one. I went with something similar to reader.mydomain.com with a root folder of /reader.

After that’s created, I simply FTPed all the files of Tiny Tiny RSS and put them in the /reader folder. Basically, the file index.php should have a folder location of /reader.

Second, create a database and configure it

We need a database and HostGator made it easy. On the CPanel, go to the MySQL Database Wizard and follow the steps to create a blank database with one user. Make sure to write down the database name, the user name and password for later use. I gave the user all privileges as well.

Now to configure the database, we need to import the correct schema. In the schema folder, there are two files, one for MySQL and another for PostgreSQL. Using PHPmyAdmin, I simply navigated the menus and imported the MySQL schema file. Voila! The database is now configured.

Third, Tiny Tiny RSS needs to talk to the database

OK, to get Tiny Tiny RSS to talk to your new database, open the config.php-dist file and save it as config.php. Edit this section in config.php,

config.php

DB_TYPE is the type of database you are using, mysql for me, and the rest is pretty self explanatory. For HostGator, you can leave DB_HOST as localhost. The database name, username, and password, you should have as we wrote it down earlier when we created the database.

I did not have to mess with the port number settings so I recommend not messing with this unless you know what you are doing.

Next, on line 21, you’ll see the SELF_URL_PATH definition. Put in your url that you’ll use for this. I used a value of ‘http://reader.mydomain.com’. This is the subdomain that we created earlier.

Save your edits and make sure they are up on your server.

Tweak the PHP

Now for this to work, Tiny Tiny RSS requires PHP 5.3. HostGator supports this but it defaults to PHP 5.2 on my shared hosting plan. If you have another plan, this may be different for you. Here are some helpful support articles for you.

All I did to use PHP 5.3, after reading the support article, was add the following text to my .htaccess file.

# Use PHP 5.3
AddType application/x-httpd-php53 .php

The change is almost immediate so we should be good now.

Enjoy!

Point your browser to your subdomain and the login to Tiny Tiny RSS should show up. Login in with the defaults of “admin” and “password” and everything is ready to go. I recommend changing your password first and then you can start importing your feeds.

I’m importing several hundred feeds from Google Reader as I write this post so it does take some time. Odd thing is that I got an error when I started the import but it’s running anyway. Things look pretty good so far so let’s hope Tiny Tiny RSS is a winner.

[UPDATE]

Make sure to read Part 2.

time lapse chronicles – 2013 first night

Raleigh’s New Year’s Eve party on Fayetteville Street, called First Night, had a few rides set up. Since we planned to hit the NYE parties late I decided to run to downtown and get some footage of the ferris wheel and “big drop ride.” (whatever it’s called)

I’m pretty happy with the result. Here’s all the raw footage, three scenes and some background sound, put together.

Time Lapse – Raleigh First Night 2012 from Leo Suarez on Vimeo.

I don’t know why the audio keeps going after 2:00 minutes. It should end but I do not feel like looking into it right now. :)

I wish I had a wider lens for this, as well as other situations, so I can compose for 1920×1080 resolution. I need all the pixels this time to get the most in the frame so that will come at a later date.

Hectic street scenes like this can be challenging because you have to just get out there and set up right in the middle of the fray. Finding a good spot to set up the tripod for 30 minutes took a little time but I found that people will just walk around you. You get a lot of comments too when you are snapping away at every second.

I didn’t want people to look too ghost-like so I wanted a faster exposure time. I moved up the ISO to 800 so I could shoot faster and I think this did the trick. The movement is smoother and there isn’t any motion blur because this was taken at night.

I need to improve on capturing audio but that may be an entirely different topic to cover and requires some new toys.

time lapse chronicles – shimmer wall sunset

Time Lapse – Shimmer Wall from Leo Suarez on Vimeo.

One thing I’ve been curious to see is how Raleigh’s Shimmer Wall looks during a time lapse video. Jen and I set up on the sidewalks along McDowell Street and shot the video above on a brisk December afternoon.

On this shoot, the shimmer wall wasn’t too impressive. We were talking about it and a slow motion video of the shimmer wall is probably more dramatic because of all the little changes happening so rapidly.

One dilemma I ran into here is that the time lapse runs through golden hour and as the sun sets, the exposure gets worse and worse. As expected, since I was shooting in manual and had exposed for a brighter image, as the sun set, the results were dark.

In the future, I may have to expose on an object that won’t change much and try Aperture Priority mode. This resulted in some camera flicker as soon in the Raleigh Winterfest time lapse shot earlier.

I’m also going to use Vimeo for all these time lapses as I think they present them better and maybe I’ll pop for a pro account so I can upload HD videos once I get better at this.

time lapse chronicles – intro and raleigh winterfest

The Time-Lapse Chronicles are posts about making time-lapse videos. For years, I’ve been in love with time-lapse and have always wanted to make them myself. Life is busy however and I’m not a photographer so I only occasionally get out, set up the tripod, and capture thousands of photos to later sequence together. These posts are my way to keep notes of each time-lapse shoot and show what the results.

Last weekend, Jennifer and I headed down to the Raleigh Winterfest Festival where they were kicking off the opening of the ice skating rink. They set this up each year in Downtown Raleigh and it’s a big success.

With plans for a ferris wheel, I thought it would be a perfect time to try my hand at capturing some time-lapse.

The settings:

  • Aperture priority
  • f/ 5.6
  • ISO 400
  • 24 mm
  • Interval: 2.0 seconds

The result:

Biggest mistake I will ever make is to try and do time-lapse in aperture mode. It should have been manual all the way. Dumb mistake.

Do you notice that the sky gets “flashy?” This is most likely from the camera readjusting the exposure time because of the lights from the ferris wheel or something else, resulting in a different look.

Next time, I will make a note of that and lock in the exposure with manual mode. I’ve made a time-lapse check list in my Evernote app in order to try and remind myself of each thing I need to set before I let the camera do its thing.

running the gauntlet to feed my creativity

I had a pretty productive week at work. Actually, work has been very productive these last few months. I have figured out what work flow is best for me and have delegated numerous tasks to my teammates to make us all productive. We have to keep up with the constant call of doing more with less and I’m trying my damn hardest to keep my team on top of our game.

What hit me kind of hard this week was the fact that I believe my job and the job of my teammates, fellow engineers, is turning into less about doing things better and more about just meeting deadlines and churning out more product. There are some great people that I work with and we have some amazing ideas on how to do things better. The problem is that we need time and resources to make these innovative ideas happen and the support and culture just isn’t there.

“As long as you get your work done, I’m fine with you working on that” we’re told. Realistically, I don’t have time to implement my ideas or get a group together to make it happen. So it never gets done and people either forget about it or in my case, they stay on my to-do list, which is my whiteboard where I write down all my ideas that I should make happen.

I really think I have a natural thirst to work on side projects in order to enhance what I work on and what I enjoy doing. I work with some who are happy with what they do and whenever the scary word of “change” starts to float around, these people freak out and are unhappy. I call these people obstacles and they are ones that drag down innovation. This is one of the many hurdles I deal with where I work.

The resistance to change will always be out there. I actually think that most people hate change while it is a few that are never happy with the status quo and are screaming for better ways of doing things.

I’ve only been at my company for a little over four years now and I’ve noticed this pattern on how to move up. Doing your job is only half the work. The other half is up to you. How you solve problems as an engineer and how you implement those solutions is what gets you noticed. I figured this out and it has helped me out in a big way.

But I’ve now noticed a problem with this thinking, a huge oversight actually. Why aren’t the results of the new changes being considered?

Where I work, I feel like people are playing this political game to make things happen. They pitch ideas and presentations to managers and change things for the “greater good”. (Hot Fuzz anyone?) The problem I’ve realized is that even though an idea sounds good it doesn’t mean we should carry them all out. What may need to happen is to monitor the results of this idea and judge its effectiveness accordingly.

“Just pitch an idea, implement it and get yourself promoted out of it” is a joke that goes around my office. This really frustrates me.

And then there are ideas that come from those above me. Some third line manager decided to roll out some initiative across his or her organization. The powerpoints are pretty and all but sometimes these ideas are just one extra layer of brush I have to chop through on top of all the work I’m currently doing. Meanwhile, they can put it down as an accomplishment they made happen at the end of the year.

I feel I get this game and could play it but that is just not who I am.

What I want to see are ideas that are sold to people, not ones that are pushed against a defensive workforce. I really believe that all it takes is for just a few people to adopt your idea and if it is truly special, it will spread naturally.

I don’t mind the execution and core base of my job, I really don’t. It’s the potential for other projects that get me excited and really get my mind working. It’s frustrating though these days because my creativity is stifled with all the layers of red tape, the natural resistance to new processes, and a culture that is set in their ways. I come off as a crackpot when I pitch this stuff to my peers.

It really has me down sometimes and if they can’t embrace it, maybe someone else is willing to listen.

its about being lazy, setting up the xbmc remote

Over the many months that I’ve had the HTPC up and running, I’ve tried a lot of different software to satisfy my media needs. Some have stuck, others have been dropped. Windows Media Center and XBMC are the most used programs running right now. With Media Center, I get my Netflix, over the air TV, and recorded TV. XBMC plays my ripped movies, TV shows, and massive music collection.

I do also use Winamp but that is only for quick listening and managing new music; editing ID3 tags and moving songs off and on to the phone, which works so well over wifi I want to kiss a llama’s ass.

XBMC gets much love for its Android app and it is a piece of my dream of playing music anywhere in a house without getting up. As long as I have my phone, which is usually close by, music is close at hand as of today.

Sort of.

There are three main obstacles in realizing this dream:

  1. Using the XBMC app with my music library
  2. Launching XBMC with the app
  3. Turning on my audio receiver with my phone

Step one was the easiest. I followed the directions here and the app worked beautifully. But what is XBMC isn’t running? YOu had to go to the HTPC, turn on the TV, and launch the program every time I wanted to use it. Too much work.

The app comes with a ‘Power On’ option and on Windows, doesn’t work so easily. Doing a little digging on the internet, some other people with skills greater than mine were able to write a program to launch XBMC when ‘Power On’ is pressed in the app. Check out this thread here.

Problem solved and no need to launch XBMC manually! But the audio receiver is mostly turned off and you have to walk over and press the power button and switch it to the correct mode. (its mostly always in the HTPC mode anyway but sometimes you have to change it)

The last step I will save for a long weekend in the future. The goal is to build an app or modify the XBMC app to have a ‘Power On Receiver’ button that will do just that. A couple ideas are:

  • Try to figure out a way to use my Hauppauge TV Tuner IR blaster to send On/Off commands to the receiver and get the commands in Android to talk to this.
  • Use a USB to RS232 cable to tap into the receiver and issue On/Off commands over telnet. Again an app on Android will be needed to issue these commands.

My current receiver does not have RS232 so the IR blaster idea would be the one I could pursue now. (or upgrade soon, possibly?) This will take time to brush up and learn some new coding skills to get this done however. I know what needs to happen in my head its just putting the pieces together and making it work that I’ll need to do.

This is being lazy right?

i do more then just obsess about my city, this is where I put it.