Sprint Will Be Phasing Out Unlimited My Way Plans

28 September, 2014 17:07 CST6CDT

I made an attempt through Sprint's on-line chat support to switch to their 'for a limited time' $60 Unlimited Plan - unlimited text, calls, and data promotion.  Without the plan change being rejected, I was shown the small print that states those on a contract are not eligible for the temporary promotion or some may face a monthly prorated fee based on the time left on a contract.

After seeing all the Sprint and iPhone ads during a Packer game this evening, especially the iPhone ad with unlimited text, calls, and data for $50, I decided to make a voice call to attempt to change my on-contract plan to the limited time offer.  The iPhone plan is a limited time promotion in addition, though $50 versus $60 compared to all other smartphones is the best they could do (a good job no doubt) to beat their Unlimited $60 promotion.

I decided to call the technical support department at Sprint as they have always been able to help in some way.  Even while on contract, and the limited time plan fine print saying I could be taxed, I was switched over to the promotion regardless saving $30 $20 per month starting on the next billing cycle.  This is great!

While on the phone I made the comment that "I am glad I called" and was told the Unlimited My Way plans are being transitioned out and in about "one month" they will be removed as a carrier plan completely.  I am unsure of what plan current Unlimited My Way customers will be switched too if switched automatically at all, however Unlimited My Way will not be an option in about a month from this post.  I didn't dig any deeper as I was rather gitty of the substantial amount of money I will be saving each month and I wanted to get back to the game in addition.

The data plan limitations that come with the Unlimited $60 plan I consider normal.  No 24/7 full speed downloads/uploads, misuse of network technologies that would inhibit the use of the network by others, do not use for Spam or sending out mailing lists, and lastly don't use your phone to participate in a DDOS.  I can live with these terms.  This offered promotion ($60 Unlimited Plan) ends 10/16/2014.  I assume new on-contract plans will align in a similar way to the promotional plans in terms of closing a price gap.

A year ago I was writing...

Pre Octoberfest Maple Leaf Parade in La Crosse Wisconsin
It is Squirrel Thursday? - The Damn Humans

Article & Comments Tags: Day to Day

The Morning I Turned On World News Now And This Happened

09 September, 2014 03:12 CST6CDT

I have a problem with broadcast and cable television stations.  Broadcast television is the most problematic for myself while I watch horrifically bad commercials halved with news or else content branded as entertainment.  I don't last long before switching swiftly to an entertainment device for movies, Netflix, music, and the like.

This morning I was visually educated with magnificent scenes of lava and a tidbit of how what I was watching was even more acidic than a car battery.  I thought wow, a volcano of molten rock and crystal more acidic than a car battery; the adventurer only having to visit the edge of one more volcanic ocean for a five out of five.  Wait!  It's not the fact that a car battery is not that horrific, but where is this acid in the video that was spewed forth onto my eyes?

Wikipedia's 'Lava' page doesn't reference any preceding acid* so I was back to the search engine results and landed on USGS's 'Volcanic Gases and Their Effects'.  The gas not mentioned on the television or visualized dramatically for our not so far reaching imagination, as it might be overbearing, is referenced in this article as "gases spread from an erupting vent primarily as acid aerosols (tiny acid droplets)".  It was so simple yet so aggravating searching for the "ahh".  I hate TV, so I turned on Kodi.

A year ago I was writing...

La Crosse Technology Weather Station - Weather One

Article & Comments Tags: Bullshit

Webalizer Search Engine List

19 August, 2014 23:14 CST6CDT

updated 2014-08-19

'The Webalizer' is an HTTP server log file analyzer that generates visual output with statistics and graphs for your Internet website(s) and visitors.  One of the features of The Webalizer is the search engine Search Strings (keywords, search text) logging.  Each search engine uses a URL parameter that contains a query or a search string from the referring site that could direct traffic to your website(s).  Webalizer uses the search query parameter to generate a list of 'Search Strings' that may be viewed and referenced by rank, hits, and percentage of hits.

SearchEngine name variable

Allows the specification of search engines and their query strings. The name is the name to match against the referrer string for a given search engine. The variable is the cgi variable that the search engine uses for queries. See the sample.conf file for example usage with common search engines.

The following is a list of search provider names and their corresponding query variable for generating Webalizer search strings statistics.  I will update these periodically.

SearchEngine    aolsearch.      q=
SearchEngine    ask.com q=
SearchEngine    bingj.  q=
SearchEngine    bing.   q=
SearchEngine    facebook.       q=
SearchEngine    .google.        q=
SearchEngine    fastbrowsersearch.com q=
SearchEngine    image.youdao.com        q=
SearchEngine    kvasir.no       q=
SearchEngine    m.yahoo.        p=
SearchEngine    search.aol.     q=
SearchEngine    search.alot.    q=
SearchEngine    search.comcast.net      q=
SearchEngine    search.conduit. q=
SearchEngine    search.lycos.   query=
SearchEngine    search.pro      q=
SearchEngine    search.yahoo.   p=
SearchEngine    webcache.googleusercontent.com  q=
SearchEngine    altavista.com   q=
SearchEngine    eureka.com      q=
SearchEngine    hotbot.com      MT=
SearchEngine    msn.com         MT=
SearchEngine    infoseek.com    qt=
SearchEngine    webcrawler      searchText=
SearchEngine    excite          search=
SearchEngine    netscape.com    search=
SearchEngine    mamma.com       query=
SearchEngine    alltheweb.com   query=
SearchEngine    northernlight.com       qr=
SearchEngine    sensis.com.au   find=
SearchEngine    frontier.com    q=
SearchEngine    pavlovmedia.com q=
SearchEngine    zoominternet.net        q=
SearchEngine    yandex. text=

Article & Comments Tags: Software, Projects

Zenphoto Lighttpd Rewrite Rules

09 August, 2014 07:35 CST6CDT

Zenphoto rewrite rules for Lighttpd works similarly to NGINX rewrite rules.  Most URL resources are passed directly to index.php for processing.  Their are a few exceptions to index.php handling for resources which I will detail here.  These are the steps to enable friendly URLs for Zenphoto using Lighttpd as a web server.

The following Lighttpd configuration assumes Zenphoto is located in the root web path.  If not, you may simply prepend the /path/ to the rules.

$HTTP["host"] == "zen.zenphoto.org" {
   url.rewrite += (
     "^/(admin|albums|cache|cache_html|themes|plugins|zp-core|favicon\.ico|robots\.txt).*$" => "$0",
     "^/(index.php)?\?.*" => "$0"
   )

   url.redirect = (
     "^/admin" => "/zp-core/admin.php"
   )

   server.error-handler-404   = "/index.php"
}

The first rule above bypasses rewriting, retreives content as an absolute location for the admin, albums, cache, cache_html, themes, plugins, zp-core directories and favicon.ico & robots.txt files in the installation path.

In the second rule, any requests for content using the conventional method of index.php will be handled as normal and will not be rewriten.

The following redirect rule (third rule) is a simple shortcut to the administration panel.  In this case http://zen.zenphoto.org/admin would redirect you to http://zen.zenphoto.org/zp-core/admin.php.

The fourth rule, and last rule, the error handler, passes all URL requests not handled by the previouse three rules to index.php for content.  This is similar to the NGINX example shown in the Zenphoto user guide.

Now that Lighty is able to handle clean and SEO friendly web pages, you need to enable URL rewrite in Zenphoto.  Navigate to admin->options->general, enable mod rewrite under URL options, and use ".html" for the mod_rewrite suffix.  Now navigate to admin->plugins->admin and enable the rewriteTokens plugin.  Friendly URLs should now be enabled for Zenphoto using the Lighttpd web server.

This was tested using Zenphoto 1.4.6 and should work on subsequent releases for any foreseeable release.

Article & Comments Tags: Software

XBMC now Kodi on the Raspberry Pi B+ First Impressions

01 August, 2014 19:41 CST6CDT

I have been using a WD TV Live for my media center for the past few months. Before that I was using XBMC on a desktop with a very long HDMI cable. I just picked up the new Raspberry Pi B+ model and installed RaspBMC (XBMC) on it, purchased a VC-1 and MPEG-2 license, and the machine works better than I had imagined - better than my desktop performance of XBMC.

I will still use the WD for proprietary services like Netflix, Pandora, and the like of Android screen casting. $40 bucks ($35 Pi & $5 hardware decoding) for a media center, excluding storage!  Since purchasing the WD TV Live (HD) I had been saying to myself "now I know why people have more than one" while still putting the option of two media devices to the far side of my plans.  Raspberry Pi recently released a new hardware revision, the B+ with 4 USB ports, a dedicated power supply for the analog audio output, micro SD slot replacing the SD standard, additional GPIO pins, and lower power consumption allowing the Pi to run with as little as 900mA via micro USB.  With this hardware revision so fresh off the board I decided it was a good point to grab one and have a little fun.

Since I didn't have a micro SD card of a class that would perform at its best, I went the route of using a USB thumbdrive for the OS and XBMC installation.  A micro SD card is still required to boot from and contains the kernel, kernel modules; the boot process is all done here.  The RaspBMC install of the debian based Linux distribution and the XBMC package all went on a thumb drive for the best performance I could achieve with what was readily available around me.

Right off the bat I disabled services I knew I would not need using the RaspBMC application lauchable from XBMC.  I left two services open, SSH (using Dropbear), and lircd.  For now I could probably disable lirc since I do not have an IR receiver.  I added '-g' to Dropbear to deny root login.  The login user is 'pi' with a password 'raspbmc' as the default password.  The password can be changed using the XBMC RaspBMC integrated program.  The 'pi' user is sudo capable, using 'sudo -s', for root operations.  A couple of the services I disabled include FTP, and an SMB server.  XBMC is capable of accessing SMB/CIFS shares remotely and can act as an SMB server internally aside from Samba.  I found out happily that many of the services are started with the xinetd TCP wrapper.  This is so the server applications are only loaded into memory once a connection is made to a service port leaving more resources available to XBMC.

The only internal change I had made other than adding '-g' to Dropbear in the 'ssh' configuration file for xinetd was to add a local NTP server to the NTPD (network time protocol) and remove a few external NTP server declerations.  I must say that having five NTP servers using iburst from an NTP pool might be a bit overkill.  Other than time, the installation is tight!  Once RaspBMC is installed, their is no need for the general user to worry much about any of my modifications, as XBMC is mostly ready to be pointed to your media locations and rock your entertainment room.  Speaking of media, with the Raspberry now sporting 4 USB ports (3 available in a USB installation), you are able to expand the local media collection with additional hardware.

Before putzing around in depth too much, I sprung for the VC1 and MPG2 hardware decoding keys.  While h.264 and x.264 is an open to use standard, about a 3rd of my library would benefit from the GPU VC1 hardware decoding.  I plan on adding an external DVD drive to playback media so the MPEG-2 codec will be of use in the future.  Both codecs were just over five dollars total.  All that was needed to purchase the licenses was the serial number of the board.  This can be found with 'cat /proc/cpuinfo' in an SSH session with the last line displaying the serial number of the board.  I imagine you can find this through the XBMC program in addition.  The keys may be entered into the XBMC program addon or in the config.txt file located in /boot if you are using an SSH terminal.

The boot-up time with the extra services disabled is around 10 seconds from cold.  XBMC launches and is ready for use in just a few seconds.  Navigation is fluid, as the RaspBMC team has this distribution right on button with minimizing overhead and bloat.  RaspBMC used the HDMI CEC link right out of the box so I am able to use my TV remote for XBMC navigation.  I personally prefer the Android application 'Yatse' for XBMC navigation.  Infrared devices may be added for navigation if they are compatible with lirc and are connected using a USB port or the GPIO pins.  A standard keyboard and a mouse works well also if you so choose.

It was just announced that XBMC is being renamed to Kodi.  The team explains that XBMC no longer represents the software as it should.  XBMC, now Kodi is more of an entertainment center than it is just a media center.  Here is the announcement: http://xbmc.org/introducing-kodi-14/  They touch on the difficulty it will be for this new branding to propogate over the internet.  As I think about this name change, I also think of all the ports adopting a new identity - a difficult change for everyone.  Maybe RaspBMC will change to KodBMC, or maybe not.  I believe RaspBMC will be renaming to OSMC, an appropriate name for a multiple platform XBMC distribution.

A year ago I was writing...

The "92" Percent

Article & Comments Tags: Technology, Software, Projects


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