Recently in nfoCentrale Category

Scampo has been my main desktop system since it solved an emergency for me in September 2005.  I don’t think of it as an old machine, since I have also kept machines (all from Dell, now that I think of it) operating successfully for over ten years.  That left me with some guilt over planning its replacement with the now-arrived, waiting-to-be-installed Astraendo desktop, a Dell XPS 9100.

I’m not ready to cut over to Astraendo just yet.  It is a Windows 7 system and there are a number of migration issues for me to resolve, especially for my web development procedures and practices.

Morning Sickness?

But Scampo is dying on me.   I don’t know if it is a cyberspace counterpart of sibling jealousy, but Scampo has been sickly since the carton with Astraendo arrived.  The problem occurs mostly in the form of morning sickness:  The system has difficulty responding to power on, it often fails to boot up completely and has to be force-restarted, and so on. 

One of these mornings, I may not be able to wake Scampo up for our daily work together.

So I shall not shut it off tonight until I have established the following safeguards:

Backup Preparations

I will have a current backup on the Windows Home Server before I shut down.

I will also migrate as much data as I can off of Scampo onto shared space on the Windows Home Server.  This will be available to all of my other systems, and to Astraendo once it is brought up.  The data will continue to be used from the shared directories, so that it is current whenever I start using it from another of my SOHO computers.

An important case for sharing consists of my Windows Live Writer Drafts and Recently Posted collections.  I will place those in a shared location so that I can switch to authoring on Quadro the moment Scampo becomes unavailable.  Some other shared materials will probably not be used on Quadro much, even though available there, but they will be immediately available when I have moved operations to Astraendo.

I will also perform an inventory to ensure that I have everything I need to move operations to another computer.

Bring On the Stand-In

My Tablet PC, Quadro, is still running Windows XP SP3.  Although the machine does not have the capacity or the performance of Scampo, it can easily take over my essential functions:

  • FrontPage 2002 for continuing web development without requiring Scampo.
  • VSS 6.0d client, also for web development.
  • Tortoise SVN for other coordinated versioning, particularly for SourceForge and OASIS projects.
  • Outlook 2007.  I have Office 2007 Ultimate on Quadro.  I need to move my Outlook PST files to Quadro and perform all e-mail functions there until I finally move to Astraendo.  I can continue to share contacts and calendars via Windows Live and Outlook Connector, but I need my collection of e-mail archives to be at my fingertips and available to desktop searching.
  • My latest password set brought from Scampo to the password vault on Quadro.
  • Zune PC so I can synchronize my Windows Phone from Quadro.
  • Microsoft Money, since I continue to use it in its off-line unregistered desktop form.
  • Other tools on Scampo that may be important to have on Quadro for interim operation, although I much prefer holding off until I can do more on Astraendo.

I won’t bring over anything that requires the higher performance of either Scampo or Astraendo.  No photographic and no audio software will be brought over.  I probably won’t be watching Netflix on Quadro either.  Nothing that really requires a larger screen than the Tablet PC 1024 by 758.

Preparing for Migration

To abandon Scampo successfully, I will also need to find upgraded software for operation on Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit.  That is particularly important for my E-MU devices and audio dock.  It will also matter for my printer and scanner.  The Scampo inventory will help me to plan the necessary staging of software and device connections.

Returning to Normal

I will continue retiring Compagno and moving Web Development to the Windows Home Server.  At some point down the road, this will include switching to Expression Web once I have determined how to operate with the IIS FrontPage extensions properly for web-page check-out/-in and how to work around the lack of direct support for design-time FrontPage functions that I rely on quite stubbornly.

 

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I did it.  I have placed an order for a SOHO desktop and developer system to be named Astraendo.  It is a Dell XPS 9100 and delivery is expected before New Year’s Eve.

Because it is not an Alienware Aurora, I thought of changing the name from Astraendo to Eo (or E0 for you old mainframe hackers).  But, I figure, a good category is silly to waste.  In addition, I realize that the desire to return my attention to abstractions and foundations of computing inspires me.  I’ll keep the name.

I must resist premature retirement of Scampo.  I can’t switch to a Windows 7 machine until I have figured out how to support my web site development using IIS, FrontPage Extensions, and Visual SourceSafe.  The problem is having Expression Web and Windows 7 be able to do check-outs and check-ins properly.  Until I have that resolved, I need a copy of Windows XP running Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003.  Beside rearranging the SOHO Layout and cabling, that is the critical-path prerequisite for the development-system upgrade.

There should be FrontPage Server extensions on WHS, my Windows Homer Server operating on a Windows Server 2003 base.  Assuming that there is a standard configuration of IIS 6.0 (which is already used for web functions of WHS on the HP MediaSmart Server), it is straightforward to install and enable FrontPage 2002 Server Extensions (and WebDAV for that matter), and I have done that.

If I need to revert to an IIS 7.0 Server on Windows 7 or Server 2008 at some point, I’ve just gone by the use-by date for IIS 7.0 FrontPage Server Extensions.  However, there is an independent source.

Once I have the extensions, I need to create a site in addition to the ones already there.  I then need to see if I can have the site, with FrontPage Server Extensions, integrate with Visual Source Safe.  After confirming that I can get check-in and check-out working properly from FrontPage 2003 on Windows XP, I need to see how to get it working from Expression Web from Windows 7.  At that point, serious migration of functions can proceed.

I remind myself of that here because I must stifle myself and not go overboard installing and cutting over to Astraendo until this is accomplished.

 

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I must declare bankruptcy for the timeline and work items of “Got SMRs?” and my 2011 nfoProjects Launch Sprint.  I have completely fallen off the cliff into the rapids and that timeline and its work items are DOA.  I will update the current spreadsheet timeline documents to reflect that sorry state.

All of the activities are relevant, but I have been completely distracted from them.  Furthermore, it is clear that I don’t have the capacity to forward them in parallel.  This may have to do with having too much work in progress as well as lacking a sustainable pace (a major discrepancy between my vision and my perfornance).

I shall tear down my planned structure and create a fresh one with an honest and workable critical path.  That means finding what there is that is essential and indeed critical.   One problem is that there is only one resource (me), so moving something off the critical path means putting it beyond the essential immediate.  The dependencies must work for that.  I suspect that means creating technical debt and I will have to risk-manage that too.

In particular, I am still shifting gears in 2011, and the support for that includes straightening out the blogs, web sites, and the development procedure for them.  Now to identify and work on the critical path for that, with the critical end point being whatever that much takes.

Onward …

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Got SMRs?

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Whenever I write “SMRs” I think of smores, the Graham cracker, Hershey bar, and toasted-marshmallow confection that my family learned on my sister Carol’s return from a Girl Scout Brownie outing.  I think our mother already knew of them, but my recollection is that’s when they entered my experience.

That is, perhaps, my playing with the notion of Specific Measurable Results, the outcomes in reality of defined, actionable tasks.  SMRs as tasty morsels.  I did not realize how much the term has been taken over by business-coaching lingo.  I confess to first hearing the expression in 1993, from Landmark Forum Leader Linda Zraik, and it was already a catch-phrase in that setting.

The combination came up for me today when I realized that my nfoProjects Launch Sprint is too airy and lacks SMRs for me to chew on.  Consequently, it is easy to let days go buy without measurable results.  That was happening here:

Noticing that everything slips with no SMRs to produce each step of the way.

I noticed this because there were no simple actionable work items that led to SMRs, even basic, produce-this-today ones. 

Looking more closely, the labels on the stages that the boxes represent are conceptual.  It made sense for envisioning and looking at opportunities in the available time, but that isn’t concrete enough.

Today, I have been stepping back to create SMRs for the stages themselves, and then for those individual results that I will produce on the path to the SMR of the stage.  

Although it would be wise to start at the end point of the Sprint and work backwards, I will fudge and start by looking closely at the stages that I am managing over the current fortnight.  I won’t go long without filling the gap from the objective back to what’s next right now, but I am forcing in some small immediate activities to ground my effort in the meantime.

The tracking spreadsheet is not going to include all of that detail.  I will use my Personal Kanban board to manage them in a fluid way and also ensure that I provide supplemental envisioning, planning, and reflection on a weekly basis.

Worthiness.org is [reserved] on the list of domains that I am renting for nfoCentrale.  Here’s what that is about.

David Weinberger (via Wikipedia)When I was acquiring the domains for the TROST project, I was also looking for anything related to trustworthiness.  That was too much to hope for (as was trust itself).  But worthiness.org was available.  That put me immediately in mind of the way David Weinberger uses self@evident.com.

What I want for trust@worthiness.org is a digital signature that can be used as part of certifying (usually via countersigning) that an open-system component is developed and confirmable in a manner consistent with the TROSTing principles around open-system trustworthiness.

I also saw the site as a way of providing a cataloguing of components that had been so identified and what versions of those were, how to find out more about them, etc.

This is not well-thought-out, and you will notice that there is no http://worthiness.org site at this point.  I shall remedy that, after determining whether I can make more add-on domains under my current web-hosting service account.

As I was setting up Windows Live Writer and the nfoCentrale Status blog site for uploading images, I realized that there were some useful adjustments I could make.

Previously, I had simply set up a single images/ directory per blog and allowed images posted through Windows Live Writer to accumulate there.  

A SLIGHT PROBLEM

Windows Live Writer creates a subfolder, with a name chosen by WLW, to hold the images uploaded for a particular post.  In looking for straightforward ways to back up these folders and images, I realized that it is cumbersome to have these images-per-post sets accumulate in an ever-growing, potentially gigantic single folder. 

ANTICIPATING BACKUP ARRANGEMENTS

To provide separate backups, I want to save compressed archives of the image sets.  The single archives will not reduce the space requirements by much, but they are easier to manage.  I can also include them in my source-control more easily than treating the individual folder sets as projects.  (This is a convenience for the continued use of Visual Source Safe; with other version-control systems, this part is easier.) 

The use of the source-control system is primarily a way to achieve versioned backup.  It is easy to expand a Zip archive back to the original folders.  And archiving the Zips as checked-in revisions provides a means for recovery in the event that older materials on the site are corrupted or lost in some way.

SUBDIVIDING BY YEAR

My initial solution is to annualize the images/ folder.  I will initiate that with images/2010/ and continue with images/2011/, etc. 

If even annualizing becomes ungainly, I am thinking that I will not drop down to a monthly level.  Instead, I will segment the year as needed.  For example, I might end up with the progression images/2010/, images/2010a/, images/2010b, …, images/2011/, etc.

ADJUSTING WINDOWS LIVE WRITER

For Windows Live Writer, I don’t need to change the FTP permissions I have already provided.  Those permissions already start at the images/ subfolder of the blog.  Any additional subfolders, such as images/2010/ are already accessible.

First, I prepare subfolder images/2010/ the same way I prepared images/ originally.  I will do this each time I need a new annualized folder.

Changing Windows Live Writer to use the new annualized image folder Secondly, I instruct Windows Live Writer to use the new location for all future image uploads. 

When I edit the blog settings for uploading pictures, I will need to provide FTP account credentials again.  Then I can browse to the new location on the server and confirm that new location.

At the time I did this, there was already an uploaded-image folder at the images/ location the FTP account starts at (and where ftp.nfocentrale.com is pointed in this case).  That folder is allowed to remain, since there is a blog post that uses images from there.

Once I selected the folder, Windows Live Writer confirms the settings it will be using.

There is no further action to take until a new annualized folder is to be started.  Every January 1, if not sooner, I will repeat this process to start the next annualized group.  I can also adjust the backup procedures to begin preserving the new folder at that time.

 

WLW Confirmation of the FTP Configuration for Uploading to the Annualized Folder

[update 2010-08-23T04:14Z I realized, when posting about additional web-development categories, that I can seed the unseeded subcategories simply by using the seeding post: this one.  This repost is strictly to accomplish that.]

As part of the nfoCentrale anchor-site stabilization, I am seeding all of the new categories I have established.  This will cause each category subfolder to be created and populated as part of the nfoCentrale Status blog structure on the hosted site.  I will then bring those folders under the construction-structure management of the nfoCentrale anchor site.

I have been quietly repaving the nfoCentrale anchor, as part of bringing a systematic sites cleanup and repaving under a single coordination point.

I will also be experimenting with alterations of Movable Type templates here and on Spanner Wingnut in preparation and confirmation of the stages to be undertaken in the systematic re-animation of my now-dormant blogs.

Although this seems to be a diversion from the task of restoring blogs, and I have this pent-up urge to be posting anew on them, this repaving work is crucial for providing me a place where I capture my experience and arrive at a guide that I can follow systematically.  This is also a precaution against any future situation where I need to do more of this, whether because of upgrading to new releases of Movable Type, porting to a new hosted site, simply adding more blogs, or integrating with new, now-unanticipated content-management facilities.

Windows Live Writer can upload pictures using the upload features of some blog-publishing services.  It will do that with Blogspot and Windows Live Spaces, for example. 

If you are hosting your own blogging engine, such as Movable Type, or have your own web site where you want blog posts and the images they use stored together, there is an option to upload images via FTP (File Transfer Protocol).  This does not require any cooperation of the blog-publishing engine.  Windows Live Writer posts the images independently, incorporating them in the post that is then submitted to the blog engine.

Another way to incorporate images into blog posts is to have them somewhere else on the Internet.  I often have photos and images on Flickr that I then include in blog posts.  I use this method occasionally, but not for images such as screen captures that are meaningful only in conjunction with a blog post.  Even when there is a Flickr version, I may want to resize and crop differently for the blog version.

Aside from using photos that are already on Flickr, FTP is my chosen method for all blogs that are published on nfoCentrale sites.  I did this when I used Windows Live Writer with Blogger to publish to nfoCentrale sites (also via FTP), and I am creating the same procedure for using Windows Live Writer with Movable Type.

PREREQUISITES

Configuration of Windows Live Writer for FTP transfer of images to a web site is in four steps:

    1. Connecting Windows Live Writer and the Blog.  The blog must already be set up and Windows Live Writer configured to post to it.  If Live Writer can’t log into the blog-publishing engine for your blog, it can’t be configured to upload images.  This step can be performed any time prior to step (4). 
       
      This part of the setup depends on the blog-publishing engine and how accounts for automated publishing through it are managed.  I use a Movable Type configuration on an Apache-based hosting-service account.  The user identification and password that Windows Live Writer uses to deliver posts is determined by that configuration and custom setting under my control.
        
    2. Preparing a Place for the Images.  A web-server location for the images must already be created for use.  This can be accomplished by using web-development software that publishes to a web site.  It can also be done using FTP access to the full web-server account and creating the necessary directories and any initial content.  The result will be a structure such as the one for nfoCentrale Status images described in Part I.
        
      If the site is already published via FTP, then providing additional FTP accounts for delegating limited access to Windows Live Writer may be relatively straightforward.   I use a combination of Microsoft FrontPage, Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), Visual SourceSafe, and FTP as part of a web-site development workflow.  While that’s more involved than many prefer, it also provides a backup and a restoration/migration mechanism for my web sites and the blogs that are part of them. 
        
    3. Creating a LImited FTP Account.  It is desirable to create a limited FTP account that can only be used to upload to the images location in step (2).  While there is little risk that the account credentials can be stolen and abused, I find it to be a consistent practice to create separate, limited FTP accounts that are easy to cancel or to change the password of without disrupting anything else.  This stage is illustrated in Part II.
        
      In my case, I also use computer-generated passwords that are definitely not memorable.  I remember these passwords in a digital safe on my computer.  This helps me to avoid using the same password in more than one place while also making it difficult to attack the password.  This, combined with the limitations on the FTP account limit the damage that can result from a successful exploit against the limited FTP account.  Along with the backup procedures that are kept in place, recovery from an exploit or other damage is also relatively straightforward.
        
    4. Configuring Live Writer for Photo Upload.  The final stage.
       

CONFIGURATION STEPS

Open Windows Live Writer and select Tools | Options | Accounts.  The account should already be set up for publishing to the blog without accompanying images.  (At this point, only images that are elsewhere on the web can be posted.)

Typical Live Writer Tools | Options | Accounts selection

On the dialog for editing the Blog Settings, select the Pictures option, select “Upload pictures to an FTP server:” and then click “Configure FTP …”:

Selecting FTP Configuration for Uploading Pictures

Moving the password from the safe to the clipboard for adding to the Live Writer FTP Account Parameters To configure FTP, I use the settings obtained when I created the FTP account.  I recover the password from its location in my password-safe software. 

This password is delivered to Windows Live Writer and I allow it to remember the account log-in for automatic use from my blog-authoring computer(s).

An interesting feature of Windows Live Writer is its provision for browsing to the FTP account.  This confirms that access works and it reveals what the access reaches.  Take that opportunity:

Browsing to the FTP location checks the FTP parameters

The option to Browse For Folder shows the achievement of access and the structure that is available at that point.  We are (we trust) looking at the place on the web server that corresponds to http://nfoCentrale.com/status/images and that is where we want Windows Live Writer to place the images it uploads:

The FTP access is limited to the folder set up when the FTP account was created.  Nothing else can be seen here.

Technically, the FTP account that I supplied has a base address at the server location publish_html/status/images/ and when we view the server via that account, all we can see is what is under that location.  Even that location is relative to my server-account location /home/orcmid/ but that is not part of the material displayed by the web server as http://nfoCentrale.com/ (although I can access it as part of working directly with software on the hosted account via logging into the Linux server through a remote console).

FTP Browse allows creation of subfolders.  I chose not to do that at this time.  My experience is that unless there is something already there, Windows Live Writer has difficulty confirming the setup.  I have already created an index.htm file in the images/ folder, although it is not visible in the Browse, and it will help confirm that I have found the right place.

After selecting that I want to use the folder that Browse shows me, Windows Live Writer fills in the appropriate base-relative location in its configuration:

The completed and confirmed FTP Server Configuration for Windows Live Writer uploading of images

The configuration is accepted.  Windows Live Writer has confirmed access to the place that pictures will be published to.  The validity of the URL has also been verified, although I do not know if Live Writer has any way to establish that the two places are actually the same.

In any case, the test, now, is to confirm successful upload of pictures inserted into a Windows Live Writer post and uploaded with the publishing of the post.  I accomplished that by writing and posting Part I.

 

[updated 2010-09-01T03:00Z Oddly, this post was not in the blog development/Windows Live Writer subcategory.  That rather interrupted the progression between parts I and III so I fixed that.]

To have Windows Live Writer place pictures and other uploads in a location that I own, I need to create an FTP Account that I will dedicate to uploads on behalf of nfoCentrale Status from Windows Live Writer.  The FTP Account will be to the http://nfoCentrale.com/status/images/ folder that I already created on the hosted site in Part I.

I must create the directory (done in Part I) and the FTP account next, because Windows Live Writer will verify that the account works and that the location on the server exists.

Creating an FTP Account on the Web-Hosting Account

I create an FTP account that has, as its accessible location, the web-server folder that corresponds to http://nfoCentrale.com/status/images.  This location is near the “top” (public_html) on my web-server account, where the material of the nfoCentrale anchor site is hosted.  You can also see that the CPanel administration tool furnished by my hosting service also seems to verify that the directory exists on the server already.

Other hosting services will have their own provisions for creating FTP access to specific web-site folders.  In this case, I am taking advantage of the opportunity to create an individual account that is only useful in uploading to the status/images folder associated with the nfoCentrale Status blog.

 Finding out how to access the FTP Account

On the page where I can review all of my FTP accounts, I can also find out what the correct FTP configuration is for accessing the server location associated with this new account.

The FTP Settings that I need to provide to Windows Live Writer

These are the settings that Windows LIve Writer will ask for.  I will also need to provide the account-specific password as well.

I use a password generator to create strong passwords that I never try to remember.  Instead, I keep the passwords in a safe associated with the name of the account and any other details that I want to have available for lookup.

The Password Safe Entry where I created the FTP Password

When I needed a password for the hosting-service to enforce for the FTP account specific to status/images/ I created the above new entry and generated a password to use.   That is now retained in the safe for use any time I need to provide the account to Windows Live Writer (or another tool) for its automatic use.  I can also create a new password if that becomes advisable at some future time.

 

Prepared folder for nfoCentrale Status  images For all of my blogs, I create a separate images/ folder in the blog directory on the web server that hosts the blog.

For nfoCentrale Status, I prepared the folder as part of my development web site for the nfoCentrale anchor site.  The folder is initialized with an index.htm that I use as a default to carry construction-structure information in the absence of any other default page.

It is useful to have the folder already on the site.  When I train Windows Live Writer to use this destination for new pictures that are used on nfoCentrale Status pages, it will verify the location for me.

I have already gone through the entire procedure.  This image appearing correctly on the blog page will be confirmation that my upload settings are working.

[update 2010-07-09T21:57Z I added the link back to the procedure that had the image on this page be uploaded successfully.]

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the nfoCentrale category.

miser is the previous category.

nfoWare is the next category.

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