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Penultimate Day – 2017

This past year was full of changes.

In January I dropped AT&T U-verse as my Internet provider and went back to cable. Because my wife wanted to keep our landline number, I had to go with my new provider’s gateway device and router. I wasn’t able to configure the house telephone wiring to accommodate the change so were using cordless phones which is working out alright. I had already gotten an Obihai device and set up a Google Voice number. I still have it connected but it doesn’t get much use.

In April, I reevaluated my need for a hosting provider. I’d been having some issues with my POP3 email accounts, particularly when using them with Thunderbird. I’d also had a few DNS issues when they retired some of their DNS servers which causes me some problems connecting with my blogs and web pages. Other than a few WordPress blogs on the site, the only really active Web pages were my genealogy pages.

I had been tossing the idea of dropping the host for a couple of months but when the bill for another year’s service showed up in my bank account at a time when I could not afford it, I decided to end it. I backed up everything down to my PC, updated email addresses, moved the blogs to my WordPress.com account, and ended my relationship with them. and let the domain names expire.

The other big change was upgrading my main PC. My HP 6005 had always been a little temperamental with Linux Mint but by November it began getting a lot more temperamental. I found a good deal at Micro-Center in Cincinnati on a refurbished Lenovo M91p. It was advertised with an i7 processor, 8 GB of memory, a 500 GB hard drive, and Windows 10.

After I got it home, I found that it had a 2 TB drive so I decided to keep the Windows 10 and dual boot it with Mint 18.1. (I still haven’t booted to the Windows partition and activated it. Since I’d previously set up an M91p for my wife with 24 GB of memory, I swapped some memory around to bring hers down to 16 GB and mine up to 16 GB. Once I was finished with the HP, I added its 16 GB to the M91. It’s been working well. I’m quite happy with it.

Throughout the year I’ve continued to improve my BASH scripting skills, developing a few new scripts and making some older scripts more robust. Most of my scripts are for routine tasks. I continued to tweak my conky script.

Recently I found HomeBank to manage and keep track of my financial accounts. It’s capable of downloading QIF files from financial institutions but I haven’t tried it yet. Quicken (on my Windows PC) has been prompting me to upgrade for a while now but once it’s no longer capable of downloading my transactions, I may not up upgrade and just use HomeBank exclusively, keeping my current version of Quicken to access past transactions. When that occurs, I’ll probably move my spreadsheets from the Windows PC to my Linux PC.

Tech goals for 2018? I plan to continue to reduce my dependence on Windows although, realistically, I’ll probably still need it for some tasks. I’ll probably look into running it on a VM but there are some things about VM I still need to figure out. I’ll continue to improve my scripting skills.

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No more host

I received my invoice to renew my hosting for two more years last week and with money being a little tight these days, I had to reconsider my need for a hosted site and email. In the past year I’d had a few problems with the DNS servers and email but my host had always been very responsive in resolving every issue. It was just a couple weeks ago I’d finally fixed all of my email problems.

I took a good hard look at my activity on my sited. Because of the email issues, I really hadn’t been using the email accounts much and I use Gmail for most of my correspondence. Most of the content I had on rbromig.org and mojoreisen.com was quite static and hadn’t been updated in quite a while, to include my genealogy data. Two of the three blogs on the site were about the only content that was active, and I had the conky page which has been updated quite a bit lately.

I had been providing email accounts for my son and daughter-in-law and they’ve already told me it was okay to terminate that. I went through recent emails and changed the addresses for most of the ones I cared about. I backed up the entire site to my local computer so I wouldn’t lose any content. I backed up the blogs and exported the two more active ones to WordPress.com so they’re up and running. I may have lost a few readers in the process but I probably didn’t have that many readers anyway. I created a page on this blog for the Conky information and changed the commands to download the script and configuration files from my Dropbox.

Just after midnight this morning, after I’d shut down my computers, I got an email alert on my phone from my bank informing me that the amount for the hosting invoice had hit my account. My invoice had said that it needed to be paid by the 7th so I wasn’t expecting it to go through so soon. I had hoped to have a couple more days to make sure I had everything ready to close my account. I left a message with support explaining the situation, my intention to close out my account by the 7th, and requested a refund. Within a couple of hours, I received confirmation that the money would be refunded and the account would be closed. When I checked my bank account this morning there was both the charge and the refund pending.

They’ve been an excellent hosting provider and they’ve been very responsive to any problems I’ve had. I evaluated my need for hosted email and content and decided it was something that was nice to have but not really necessary. I would like to have a place for my genealogy information so I’ll be looking to see what I can find for that. Some of the information can be put on my “Official” weblog on WordPress.com. But right now, not having some kind of web site up feels strange. I’ve had a personal web site of some kind for many, many years going back to the days when I had a dial-up ISP. I’m going to miss having a personalized domain name.

Blogs and nameservers

One day last week I found that I couldn’t access the WordPress blog on my primary domain. I put in a support ticket with my hosting provider and they discovered that my required a lower version of PHP than what was on the server. They downgraded it and I was able to access the blog and upgrade it to the latest version of WordPress.

In the course of investigating that problem, they noticed that my subdomain was pointing to an old nameserver and suggested that I contact the domain registrar to have the nameservers changed. When I changed hosting providers a few years ago I got a new domain name as part of the package and I moved my original domain over as a subdomain while keeping the original domain registration.

I also found that I’d been accessing cPanel via the IP address for the server that had been used prior to them migrating my domains to a new server, meaning that I’d been accessing and making changes to old data.  I changed my cPanel shortcut to use the URL.

I contacted the domain registrar to get the nameservers changed on the domain which had me going back and forth between the domain registrar and the hosting provider, and each saying that the other needed to make the change. Finally, someone on the registrar’s support staff provided me with a link to the control panel where I could make the change myself. After reestablishing my credentials, I changed the nameservers.

After giving the change some time to propagate, I checked the domain on intoDNS.com and saw that it was showing the correct nameservers. I opened the blogs that reside on the second domain (that I just changed) and they seemed to be up to date. I checked them at random intervals and it looked good, I hadn’t lost anything.

I still haven’t resolved the problems with Thunderbird on my Linux and Windows PCs. I’m still accessing the hosted email accounts from my Linux laptop. I’m hesitant to delete the accounts on the Linux PC because of all the stored emails. I could delete them on the Windows PC and recreate them, letting Thunderbird find the mail servers like I did with the laptop.

I’m considering letting the second domain go when it comes up for renewal in November.  I can prepare for that by forwarding mail to the account on my primary domain, setting up new accounts and forwarding  for the kids, and moving the blogs to either the primary domain or to WordPress.com. I’ve got a few months think about it. Having two domains on the same hosting account has been a bit of a headache lately.

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