Backend Update to Deep Sand

 Software, Technology  Comments Off on Backend Update to Deep Sand
Aug 042009

We did an update today to a new version of WordPress. This was a significant upgrade that involved a lot of updates for the plugins that add so much functionality to the site.

WordPress now has an automated “in-place” system for updating the core files. There have been automated in-place updates for the plugins for some time. Some people reported some issues with the update, so we created a development blog that replicated the Deep Sand environment.

To create this development site, we download the entire set of files for Deep Sand. We create a test database, and change the special WP Configuration File to match the test database. Then we upload the entire set of files to the sub-directory housing the test site.

We create a complete backup of the database using the WordPress Database back-up program. I open it in a text editor and do a find and replace to replace to the URL for the main site with the URL for test site. I import the modified backup file into the the test database, and you’re pretty much ready to go with an exact replica.

It’s a good thing we did some testing, and there were some issues with a couple of the plugins we use that haven’t been updated in a while. We changed a few to start using plugins that seem to be updated more often, and found some workarounds for a few of the other issues. It wasn’t anything major, and you really can’t expect every plugin developer to support their plugins forever. You just hope they are engineered enough initially to stand up over time.

We had a lot of plugin updates with the newer version of the core software, so when I did the upgrade on the production system, I deactivated all the plugins, did the update, then deleted the entire plugins directory. I had previously downloaded the entire plugins directory from the test site, and just uploaded it to the production site. Brought all the new plugins online and implemented the few changes we had to make to accomodate the minor issues, and Deep Sand was back on-line in no time.

The folks responsible for WordPress, Automattic, do an outstanding job, and have put a very powerful publishing tool in the hands of millions of users.

Spiffing up Deep Sand a Little

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Jun 292009

I’m taking this week, so today I gave myself a little time with my hobby, Deep Sand. If you’ve watched the stream, you noticed a number of posts sort of catching up on some movie reviews, and I still have a couple to do. I also incorporated some new functions into the front facing parts of the blog.

To start with, we can now keep the featured posts “featured” for a little longer. We’ve added a java script “slider” that will scroll through the four most recent posts to the featured category. This took some work, and I had to learn a little more about programming, as I wanted to incorporate another plugin into the scrolling plugin. This captures the first image attached to the post and automatically converts it to a thumbnail and displays it in the featured area. I think it’s kind of cool.

I also added a Social Stream page which catalogs all my social site activity such as Twitter and Facebook. Why, I don’t know…mainly because there was an intriguing plugin that does that, so I decided to play around with it.

I’ve also cleaned up the side bars a bit using an according tabbed widget plugin. I hope you like what we’ve done.

A Rambling Blog

 Election, Featured, Politics, Technology, Travel  Comments Off on A Rambling Blog
Jun 142008

I don’t get a ton of traffic on this site, and have always been disappointed with the lack of comments. I get a few, but I know I have opinionated friends, and would expect a little more from them. I suspect one of the reasons is that this blog is so far ranging in the topics I write about.

I’ve read some good articles lately on blogging, and most say to narrow the focus of your blog. The people writing these articles do have very widely read blogs, so one must give them their props. I can’t say I disagree with them, but one of the things I notice is that most of them maintain multiple blogs, and each blog is for a different topic. So, like me, they write on a wide range of topics, but do so on a multitude of blogs.     Continue reading »

A Big Day at Deep Sand

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Mar 282008

We’ve been busy here at Deep Sand over the past several evenings, and you will probably notice one  of the biggest changes right away, as we have implemented this new look to the site. We really loved the older theme, “I Feel Dirty,” and it’s still there for us, but this Zeke 1.0 theme offered a great look, along with some newer features. We also worked on what goes on behind the scenes as well, and while things are pretty much back to normal as far as you’re concerned, we still have a bit of work to do.

Continue reading »


 Business, General, Software, Technology  Comments Off on AWOL
Jul 132007

Man, this past week has been rough at work. We had two major proposals to get out, and I have been chained to this desk for 16 hour days the whole week. Thank heaven for client imposed deadlines. They are both out, so the pressure is off. Hopefully next week won’t be so bad.

In the background, I have been working on planning for a major upgrade to the software that runs this site. They’ve made some major changes to the functionality, so most all the plugins will have to be updated. We use a lot of those here at Deep to give you the best possible experience, so that has all take some time. It’s also time for a major clean-up of the site files and the database, so the testing process has been extensive. I think we’re about ready to migrate.

If all goes well, you won’t notice a thing except some performance improvements. I also hope you’ll notice more posting now that I’m not so under the gun at work.

Personal Technology – Series Introduction

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Apr 052007

Over the past year or so, I’ve made a concerted attempt to get all my technology integrated to the extent that is reasonable, and actually helping me manage my life…rather than getting in the way. I think I’ve had a small level of success, so I’m going to write an irregular series on the “technology” I personally use day-to-day.

In some cases, this may be the software I use, other times I’ll write about gadgets I’ve incorporated into my life. I may also use the series to periodically rant and rave about how I or others abuse technology sometimes, and allow it to take over our lives.

I would classify myself as a bit of a gadget head. I like trying new gadgets, but I’m not afraid to return them if they don’t make my life better. However, I make no claim to have “automated” every aspect of my life…nor do I want to. I use desktop and mobile technology myself, and I may, from time to time discuss technology I might use out in the world.

I guess I should start with the pieces of the technology that make this blog possible. First, the site is hosted on my personal web hosting account at I started out using a hosting service that was purchased by a larger company. They more than quadrupled the annual cost, and reduced the services. Not until I canceled the account did they contact me to offer to “grandfather” me in. I hate companies that play games like that. From there I moved to a company called No Monthly I won’t even provide a link to them, as they were pretty poor service providers. I frequently had problems with their e-mail, and there support was fairly arrogant and unresponsive. I moved to Bluehost about six months ago, and have been pleased so far.

This site is driven by an open-source freeware software called WordPress. WordPress is weblog (aka blog) software. I employ a number of plug-ins written by other software authors. I won’t elaborate too much here about the technology behind the site, as I have a more lengthy explanation already posted on the Deep Technology page here on the site.

The site is integrated with my Flickr account. The photo galleries are hosted there, but you can view them from within this site because of plug-in I use. This is one of the ways I’ve tried to use the best product/service/software for each thing I want to do, but still have everything as integrated as possible. I’ll write more about Flickr and that integration in another article.

Weekend Update-July 23, 2006

 Friends, General  Comments Off on Weekend Update-July 23, 2006
Jul 232006

Again, the week was somewhat hectic, so I didn’t get to posting much.

This weekend was fairly slow and quiet. Friday evening I did a major cleaning on the pool pump. The pool’s been cloudy a lot lately, so finally I just broke it completely down. Saturday morning I did some cleanup around the yard and the house.

I also spent some time on two blogging projects. If you happened by the blog during the course of the weekend, you may have noticed it having a different look. WordPress, the blog software I use,?uses a “theme” system, and like with the plug ins, lots of people have created some really nice themes. However, I have a good deal of customization done to the current theme. This would have to be recreated in any new theme, and some of the things I use are more difficult to integrate in some of the themes.

I should have a development blog set up to test on, but I just haven’t taken the time, and this blog doesn’t generate revenue or anything, so it’s not that important that it stay up. I have found a couple that I like, but the transition isn’t complete.

Also, I have registered a domain and have some hosting space where I can provide blogs to friends. I’m working on a standard install with a selectable theming system that will allow me to quickly setup blogs for some friends. I have that pretty much taken care of, now I need to write some “how-to” documentation as these friends aren’t technical at all. WordPress has a very extensive Codex, but it is almost too extensive and complex. I need something that is very straightforward with instructions on the basic stuff.

We stayed up kind of late last night watching TV. I had to get up early this morning to pick up our good friends Mike and Jeff at the airport. They were coming back from a vacation that included taking in Madonna in Philadelphia, and then visiting Jeff’s family. We had a late lunch at their house. An ex of Jeff’s, B.R., had taken care of their house and dogs while they were gone, and he had fixed lunch.

After-wards, we went out to the Brandon Mall and did some shopping. This weekend started the back to school tax free days here in Florida. Clothes are included in that week.

Pretty Much Done

 General, Technology  Comments Off on Pretty Much Done
Mar 142006

You might have noticed that posting appears to be lite lately. Actually, I’ve been adding some posts related to my movie collection, and I’ve been doing lots of updates to the blog. In fact, I think I pretty much have it complete in terms of functionality. This included an upgrade to the most recent version of the WordPress software to Version 2.0.2.

I’ve enjoyed learning more about PHP and CSS as I’ve tweaked the files that drive this blog. I’ve done some fairly extensive customization, but mostly it’s some very small things. As an example, if you select a category and get the category archive page, there’s a tag that displays the description of the category. When you display an archive page, it will show only an excerpt from each article.

I have also placed all my photos on the Flickr website service in albums, and have configured a plugin in WordPress that will display those photos here on the blog. As I mentioned above, I also got all the movies from my movie collection posted here. One friend asked me why I’d do that. Mostly, I was making use of a very cool structured blogging plugin that connects to the?Internet Movie Database (IMDB). I also did some extensive customization to control how that category is displayed.

This final run at getting the “back end” of the site the way I wanted including writing a page about the technology that runs the site. I got that completed last night, with some finally design tweaks finished up this evening.

So, I have to admit the blog is mainly for me as a place to express ideas and thoughts, but I hope that, sometimes, you enjoy what goes on here, and I remind you that I leave comments open on all the articles so that you can express your own ideas about a particular topic. I wish more of you would take advantage of that aspect of the blog.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a great week.

Blog Upgrades

 Business, Family, Friends, Technology  Comments Off on Blog Upgrades
Feb 282006

Work was busy last week, and there wasn’t anything exciting going on this weekend. That’s why I haven’t posted much lately.

Another thing I’ve been doing is testing out a new version of the blog software. It is open source software called WordPress, and it is really pretty cool. You wouldn’t believe all the plugins people have written to extend the capabilities of the software. I use quiet a few here on Deep Sand. There is the random quote plugin that generates the quotes at the top of the sidebar. The weather report near the bottom of the sidebar is the result of a plugin. Many of the ones I run you don’t see. One of my plans is to create a page that elaborates on the program that drives this blog.

A recently released version was a pretty major re-write. I built a new blog for a friend as a way to test the software and the plugins. Much of the re-write is “under the hood.” As a result a few of the plugins had to be updated as well. I worked through those, and really liked the results. So, I ran through the upgrade process on my Mother’s blog. That went very well, but I was holding my breath as I upgraded the Deep Sand blog. It is a significantly more complex site. However, the upgrade went very smoothly. There are one or two minor problems that will have to be corrected. I think I know how to resolve these fairly quickly tomorrow. There is?a file up-loader that I use for the photo gallery that isn’t working, so I’ll have to do some research on that. There is an option to it using the Flickr photo system, and there are plugins for that too.

The main differences in this version are the tighter integration of some anti-spam tools for comments. Those are implemented on this site, and already capturing a ton of track-back spam. The other main difference is in the flexibility of the interface, and there is a built in WYSIWYG editor that includes access to a spell checker system and direct access to a plugin I use for collecting the information I use in the movie reviews.

So, that has been my evening tonight, upgrading this blog.