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MachinistBlog.com

Plans, projects and how-to's for home machinists

There just aren’t enough hours in the day

I know I haven’t added much content to MachinistBlog lately. I haven’t lost interest or permanently abandoned my self-imposed goal of trying to add at least one new post to the front page each week (on average). It’s just that I’ve been really busy and I have to make this web site a lower priority for now.

I’d love it if you could help me keep it from getting stale by becoming a guest blogger. You can write about almost anything that is metalworking, tool, or workshop related as long as you’re not doing it to promote a product or service. And don’t worry if you’re not a great writer because Nate, our copy editor, just told me he needs more to do. You could also do a photo essay if you want.

I’ve been busy for a quite a few reasons. The biggest one is that I’ve become very passionate about getting a maker space started and I built a web site for one. RochesterMakerSpace.org still has a lot of rough edges and it needs some more meat on its bones. So I wasn’t planning on publicly rolling it out this week but that’s what I did when a discussion about maker and hacker spaces came up in a discussion group I run. And now, ready or not, I need to keep moving forward with the project until we either get something going or determine that there’s not enough interest right now.

I’ve also been busy working on my CNC router again. I neglected it for at least several months and I wasn’t happy with myself for letting that happen. So I’ve been trying, not always successfully, to get at least one small thing done on it each day.

On most days I only have enough spare time to work on either it, this web site or some other project. I usually choose the router because I want to be someone who does things and not someone who just talks about doing things. I’ve finished making nearly all the parts for it and pretty soon it’ll just a matter of putting them all together, like a kit. So you should at least see some pictures of it later this month.

I’ve also been trying to find 6 hours each week for exercise. I ran or biked regularly until about 2 years ago when I quit almost completely because I was too busy with other things. Well, in early December I realized that I felt like crap, looked like crap and was risking serious health issues because I wasn’t exercising.

So I started going to the YMCA 3 times a week and mostly just walked as fast as I could around an indoor track. But it made a big difference in how I felt and a few months ago I started running again.

I’ve been a runner almost all my life but I gave it up about 5 years ago and switched to bicycling because I was afraid running would eventually ruin my knees. I’d never had any problems or injuries but I’m very tall so I already had a poor power-to-weight ratio to begin with, and like most people I was getting heavier as I got older.

But bicycling didn’t do it for me and I really missed running, especially each Spring when the weather began to get warm. So I pre-registered for my favorite 10K and started training on treadmills and cinder tracks because they put less stress on your knees than pavement.

Five years ago I could go out for a long fast run and it wouldn’t affect me very much afterwards. But that’s not true any more because I’m still out of shape, still at least 10 pounds heavier than I used to be and of course I’m older. Now a hard run can ruin me for the rest of the day, tiring me out so much that I spend my evening goofing off instead of trying to accomplish something useful. Hopefully I’ll get into better shape soon and that won’t be as much of a problem.

And finally, the arrival of warm weather brought more opportunities to spend time with friends and family. And I’ve always made doing that a top priority.

A New Netbook With An SSD

I haven’t added much to this blog lately because I’ve spent an enormous amount of my spare time in the last two weeks researching, buying, setting up and tweaking a new netbook to replace my two-year old 11.6-inch Acer Aspire, which was really starting to annoy me with its slowness. If I’d known what I’m about to tell you I could have probably extended its life for another year or two by replacing its hard drive with an SSD.

Update 04/16. I spent some time on the phone with HP this morning. My new netbook won’t turn on and they think it has a defective motherboard. Stuff like that happens and electronic devices are most likely to fail when they’re new. So I’m not going to criticize them about it.

They wanted me to send it to them for repair but I told them no. I specifically bought it from Amazon.com because I’d heard they make it very easy to return defective laptops or even ones you don’t like. That appears to be very true. It only took a few minutes to print out a UPS shipping label for free return shipping. I then went to order a replacement but found that in the last two weeks the price had gone up $35 to $410.

So I called Amazon. Actually, they called me in 5 minutes just like their web site said they would. They’re going to do an even exchange instead and they paid for overnight delivery so I get my replacement tomorrow. The call only took about 3 minutes and I obviously talked to someone located in the U.S. instead of India. Guess who made a very loyal friend today 🙂

I’m not as knowledgeable as I used to be, but I’m still a genuine computer geek and very picky when I buy a new laptop or build a new desk top computer.

My old Acer Aspire netbook was small and light so it was easy to keep it with me most of the time. And I didn’t feel embarrassed to pull it out in a diner and do some writing if inspiration came to me while I was having lunch. So I wanted to continue to own a small and light netbook.

I also wanted a very long battery life. I’d had a very bad experience with my first laptop, which I’d really struggled to buy when I was was young and poor. It was nearly useless because its battery lasted only 40 minutes even though it was advertised to last for 2 hours.

I’ve also been very bored while waiting in airports and on airplanes because I had a laptop with a dead or dying battery because I couldn’t an find an electrical outlet or they already had laptops plugged into them.

And lithium-ion batteries start losing their storage capacity from the very moment they’re manufactured. The amount varies but a good rule of thumb is they’ll lose at least 10% of their remaining capacity each year and it can be as much as 40%. The higher the temperature they’re used or stored at the faster they’ll lose it.

The battery in my old Acer was good for a solid 10 hours when it was new and after 2 years it will still last for at least 6. So I’ve never had to worry about finding an electrical outlet to plug it in to. Continue reading A New Netbook With An SSD

We were down for about 16 hours because of Dreamhost

Update: Dreamhost is still having problems, although not as bad as yesterday.  So I just signed up for CloudFlare.  Once the nameserver changes get propagated it will help keep us online by displaying cached pages if Dreamhost goes down again.  It should also make our web pages load quicker and provide some additional protection against hackers.  

MachinistBlog is hosted on Dreamhost and they had problems, which they still haven’t explained, which caused us to be unreachable for about 16 hours today (Sunday).  I’ve been buying web hosting services since 1995 and they’ve been by far the most unreliable one I’ve ever done business with.  On the other hand, their support’s been good and they provide unlimited bandwidth and disk space for about $9 per month.  However, we get so much traffic that I’ve had to upgrade to a Virtual Private Server (VPS) to get more memory and computing power.  The VPS is currently costs an additional $35-$40 per month and that amount will continue to increase along with our readership.

I’ve already been looking at alternatives but I’m not close to making any changes.  If I had the time to be my own system administrator I’d switch to Linode as my host.  I’ve also been looking at CloudFlare and wondering if I can use Amazon’s “cloud” to carry some of the load.  If you have any suggestions I’d like to hear them.

We got hacked (and I could use a little advice)

We got hacked Sunday morning.  Malicious code was added to our index files, Javascripts were replaced and file permissions were changed.  I noticed it almost right away and was able to fix it quickly.  But I had to delete all my WordPress plug-ins and I still haven’t finished reinstalling or reconfiguring some of them.  So some things may look different for awhile.

I think they got in via FTP and I’ve taken steps to block off that route.  But I would also like to do a complete reinstall of WordPress in case I have a security hole.  It looks like it’s an easy process but I’ve never done it before and I’m very afraid of somehow losing all my content.  I have backups but I also don’t have any spare time right now for fixing mistakes, especially big ones.

I’d really appreciate any advice you can give me about doing a reinstall or making MachinistBlog more secure.  You can leave a comment or email me at rr(at)machinistblog(dot)com.

One good thing did come from this.  I learned that I have a couple of plug-ins that are slowing down the web site significantly.  I’m going to look at whether they’re worth keeping or if there are better substitutes.

Random Quote

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.