February 17th, 2011
Over the past few years, I have been dabbling with different ways of offering various web services to help my family share content and stay in touch. I originally started with a so-so wiki that didn't work that well (mostly my fault). I then moved to Drupal where I intended to have a story and biography area, photo gallery, and discussion forum. The stories area did okay, but none of the other parts of the site caught on. That was probably good in the long run since I have had a love-hate relationship with Drupal in the past and wasn't up to spending tons of time to massage the interface.
Now, I have decided to install various open source web apps that have a focused goal and perform their narrow function well. Currently this includes Gallery v3 for sharing photos and videos, webtrees for compiling/sharing our family's geneology, and a MediaWiki install for various documentation, news, and stories/bios.
The biggest hurdle with implementing several sites is supporting some form of central login. It is hard enough to show family members how to use some of these sites, and would be hopeless if they had to manage different logins for each. I am currently using LDAP as the central authentication backend. This works okay with a Gallery plugin, but I'm having to work a bit to get LDAP working with MediaWiki. Webtrees doesn't have LDAP support currently, but it has been discussed as a desired feature.
December 24th, 2008
Christmas Eve has arrived, and I find myself in Pennsylvania in the company of good friends and warm homes. I will be traveling to see my Grandma, parents, and family in a couple days. I wanted to take this time, though, to tell you about Andrew Metz. This 18-year-old family friend of ours has recently been diagnosed with a form of Leukemia just as he was entering basic training in the Air Force. Andrew now needs to find a bone marrow donor. YOU can help by reading Andrew Metz's story, donating to support his medical expenses and marrow donor registrations, and registering yourself for testing as a potential donor. I have created a website to tell Andrew's story where his family will be posting updates as the time passes. Check the Andrew Fund website regularly for more ways to help. Have a Merry Christmas, and pray for those who face tough times this holiday season.
October 8th, 2008
The server that epkphoto.com is now hosted on is up to 45 days of uptime with no end in sight. I am used to reaching 180 days or so with my past servers before needing to restart them for some reason (usually heavy software upgrades or hurricanes). Keep on tickin', KerbyServer…you rock!
September 14th, 2008
As I mentioned earlier this summer, I built a new server to power several pieces of my network at home as well as my website and email services. After much testing and careful planning, I can now happily say that the epkphoto.com website is running on this new server. The site is now much more responsive thanks to larger memory and other resource allocations than it had previously. Luckily, this transition happened with very few issues, so most would not have noticed the change until this announcement. Read on for more details about the server.
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July 10th, 2008
For those interested, I am building a new server that will end up hosting epkphoto.com and many other services within the next couple months. I have already put together a decently powerful computer that is running CentOS 5 and allows for multiple virtual machines to run simultaneously. These virtual machines will replace the following existing hardware and server instances: my webcam server, my home web server, my home router/firewall server, and my virtualized web/email server currently hosted by RimuHosting. More info to come on this little project! I hope to share more details on my final hardware and software configuration.
May 12th, 2008
As promised, I have implemented a new design on epkphoto.com! The home page is pretty much set for the time being, but many of the other pages have quirks that I will be ironing out over the next week or two. Going from a totally dark, black layout to this new bright, white layout comes with a lot of changes, so I appreciate your patience as I fix everything. Let me know what you think of the new look!
May 9th, 2008
In a couple spare hours recently, I have been working on a total makeover of the visual presentation of this website, epkphoto.com. The new design is nearing completion, so I felt it may be a good idea to post this little warning before I make it live. So, in the next few days, don't be surprised if you come to epkphoto.com and the site looks totally different. This new design will include a white background, so that will likely be the most shocking aspect of the change. Most of the content will be in the same places, so don't worry about me dropping any sections or radically moving around pages. Think of this as a simple visual refresh :).
April 29th, 2008
This past weekend, I upgraded the server that runs this website to the latest version of Ubuntu, aka 8.04 Hardy Heron. The upgrade was not without its flaws, but thanks to some significant planning and test upgrades on my part, I was able to pull it off with limited server downtime. This experience was much improved from my last upgrade about 6 months ago. Fortunately, the server is running smoothly now…you probably didn't even notice the change. In the larger scheme, though, it looks like Canonical, the folks behind Ubuntu, are pushing hard to prove that their Linux offering can hold rank with products like Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise. That makes me happy because Ubuntu has been powering my public web and email server for more than one and a half years now, and I do not see that changing anytime soon.
January 5th, 2008
Apparently I've been running this website for four solid years now. That's right, today, January 5th, marks the 4th birthday of epkphoto.com. Every year this day comes around, and I feel like doing something special, but I never get around to it. Well, this year is different. Today I'm making my new photo gallery system live! In the past weeks I have been working on building a new underlying infrastructure to manage my mounds of photos stored on this website. So take a look at the newly redesigned epkphoto.com/portfolio/ to try out some new things. Other than the layout, not much has changed from a user's perspective. The fact that many photos are tagged and drive the tag cloud display is certainly new, but it is only a hint at what lies ahead. Now that I have a better database-driven engine to manage my photos, in the future you'll be able to select your own favorite images, add tags yourself, view the most popular photos, and a host of other cool things. In my usual style, all this is hand-coded, so let me know of improvements I could make as I go forward! Enjoy 🙂
October 23rd, 2007
For those interested, I am now running the latest version of Ubuntu (7.10 aka, Gutsy Gibbon) to power this server. Unfortunately, the upgrade took way more effort than I initially planned due to some unforeseen issues. My upgrade attempts from Ubuntu Feisty continuously failed with unending segmentation faults, probably caused by some lower level corruption that I had inadvertently caused with some earlier manual package installs. Eventually, I succumbed to a clean install of the server. This worked nicely thanks to my thorough backups, and all is well again at epkphoto.com. Thank goodness that upgrade is behind me. Also, a big thanks to the support staff at RimuHosting for performing my clean install very quickly!