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Matthew Helmke (dot) Net Posts

Silly date ideas for Valentine’s Day

Well, since everyone responded so well to my last post with a list in it, I thought I would share another. I have been married for more than 15 years to an amazing woman that I love and respect greatly. When you are in a relationship for a long time, it can be easy to get into a rut. Here are some (often silly) ideas to spice things up. Really, this is just for laughs, unless you are with a significant other with a great sense of humor like mine. However, if you use one and it works, please comment…

What is the coolest thing you can do using Linux that you can’t do with Windows or on a Mac?

Someone asked me this recently. I don’t have just one answer. I compiled a list of things I thought of and emailed it to my friend…then I thought I would post it here for future reference. Feel free to add to the list! There is also a forums thread on the same topic, that I remembered as I complied my thoughts, so I stole some of the ideas posted there. 1. Upgrade to the newest version legally and without paying money 2. Have the latest version of the operating system run faster than the previous version on the same hardware…

Automatic MySQL backups using PHP

Okay, as pointed out in a comment on my last post, there are lots of ways to do this sort of thing. Many (most?) real sysadmins would probably choose to write a short shell script. Here’s the deal: I actually like PHP. Anyway, in my last post I shared a way to do site backups using PHP. Here’s a short followup, how to backup a MySQL database using PHP. You can put this script into the same file as the last script, to be run by a cron job, or you can do this at a different time. Like the…

Making automatic backups for your website

I have several websites that I administer. As any good site admin will tell you, making consistent backups is vital. I have a script that I originally got from this site that I use to back my sites up automatically, using cron. Here’s how I do it, and how I have modified the script slightly for my own purposes. First off, create a php text file. I named mine site_backup.php. You will need to modify this with your site and email info. This script will create a archive file with the name backup.<day>.tar.gz, where <day> is the number of the…

Elitism or equality: false dichotomy?

From time to time we hear people talk about equality. I think equality is a nice idea, if it is used to express the thought that every person is valuable, solely based on their existence. To say that every person is equally valuable in terms of their contributions to society, to projects, or to the universe is easily disproven. To say that each person is equal in their abilities, gifts, talents or acquired skills is absurd and not worth the time it would take to disprove. However, to say that we value each person highly, that we desire them to…

Holiday greetings and hyper sensitivity

I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. I love holidays. I love being with family and friends. I enjoy the general atmosphere of friendship, caring, and fun. I absolutely hate the pseudo-religious wars over holiday greetings. Imagine standing in line in a store. The clerk gives a generic “Happy Holidays” to a guest, who rudely responds, “No, it’s Merry Christmas! Don’t destroy my season” or something similar. Hmm. It seems to me the clerk was merely trying to wish the guest peace, love and joy, not start a fight. There is the other side, too. Someone says,…

Users who impose their beliefs on others

Every once in a while in the Ubuntu Forums I get a private message from a user, or we find a reported post, or someone posts something like this in a thread. The following is a direct quote, with some things removed to obscure the specific user and thread. No other editing was done. i would like to report that a user on this forum has offended me very much by using bad language. I know last time this happened and i emailed you guys you did nothing. I am sick of being offended and nothing is ever done about…

The definitive guide to Trolls

We have all seen internet trolls. Some are more creative than others. Some are funny, others are mean. All of them are detrimental to community. I had an experience this week with a troll in the Ubuntu Forums that reminded me of an old thread that I had written. The definitive guide to Trolls was something I wrote in May 2006, partly tongue-in-cheek, partly to instruct forums users on what not to do in the forums, and partly to have something to point to when confronted with trolling. Now, before I get comments reminding me of this fact, I will…

My custom amplifier…yep, I built it myself

When I made my guitar post, I promised to put up a picture of my custom, home-built tube amp. Here you go! Details below. The amp started as a kit from Allen Amps and I built it at the end of 1999. It has since undergone a small amount of modification. The valve complement includes one 5U4G rectifier, two 6L6GC power tubes, and two 12AX7s plus two 12AT7s in the preamp and reverb circuits. The sound comes from two 10 inch Jensen C10Q speakers. I know the real question is “How does it sound?” Think of a vintage Fender Vibrolux,…

Fun With Conky, part 2

As you will recall from my earlier blog entry, I have been having fun with Conky, a lightweight system monitor that displays output to your desktop. Since I have upgraded to Gutsy, and therefore the latest repo version of Conky (1.4.7), I have had the opportunity to play with some newly available wireless variables. These were first pointed out to me by Mike, to whom I give credit and thanks. The new wireless variables make it easier than ever to have specific data output relating to your wireless ethernet adapter. Here is how I have modified my previous setup…see the…