Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 290

It was Diane’s birthday today – we celebrated by mostly staying at home (we did go grocery shopping and took a walk). We had a nice call with our son in Boston and a good Trivial Zoom this evening (alcohol was consumed), then we watched the CNN New Year’s Eve special and watched 2020 end on the East Coast.

Happy New Year!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 289

We made another new recipe from the Mercury News tonight, Pomegranate Chicken. I was afraid we were making far too much food, but it looks like we hit our goal of having just enough leftovers for one meal. We may try boneless, skinless thighs next time in the hope that the glaze will actually penetrate the meat.

Other than that, I spent the entire day working on the Toastmasters handover, in particular the scripts I mentioned yesterday to make it easy for people to build their own copy of the website and tooling. There were, of course, a few glitches along the way.

The biggest mistake I made was making the virtual machine’s disk too small and filling it up several hours into the process. I should have just deleted that virtual machine and started again, but I didn’t – instead, I enlarged the disk but somehow didn’t enlarge the filesystem, so it filled up again after several more hours of work. I learned my lesson and rebuilt the machine from scratch (it really didn’t take very long!).

I’m also having a strange problem with networking on the virtual machine – Ubuntu assigns a private IPv6 address to the machine, causing it to be unable to get to to install Python software. If I take the interface down and up, the private address goes away and all is well. I can’t figure out how to keep the private address from being created in the first place, but at least I’ve got an easy workaround.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 288

I spent a few hours working with the person who’s volunteering to take over the back end of the District 101 website; he is primarily a Windows user, so he has had to set up a Linux environment from scratch.

Today, we wanted to get the actual website and development environment onto his machine; fortunately, I’d written scripts to do that the last time I got some help, two years ago. Unfortunately, I hadn’t looked at the scripts since then, and Things Have Changed.

Most of the changes were easy to fix (I’d hard-coded “Python3.7” in several places, which was a bad idea), but one threw me for a loop. As part of the install, I clone the actual WordPress directory from; I decided that it was unnecessary and possibly harmful to bring over the cache directory, so I added –exclude ‘cache/”˜ to the rsync command I use to do the cloning. That worked fine two years ago, but in the meantime, the theme we use on the site (Divi) added a cache directory to its codebase; when I cloned the site, that directory didn’t get brought over.

There’s more to be done…tomorrow.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 287

When I visited the ophthalmologist a few days ago, he strongly suggested I get new glasses because my prescription had changed more than 0.25 diopters in both eyes. I thought about going to Costco in the hopes it would save me some money, and I might have done that in a normal year – but this year, staying out of Costco is high on my priority list. I’ve gotten glasses online with fair success – but I’ve only been willing to do that for special-purpose glasses for golf or sitting at the computer. So this afternoon, I returned to the ophthalmologist to visit the optician there.

I was still interested in saving money, so I brought my current backup glasses to see if the frame could be reused. I never found the answer to that question – the optician explained that I could get a brand new frame for no co-pay with my VSP benefits; I ordered the new frame. The old frame (and lenses) will go to the Lions’ Club so someone will be able to use them – just not me.

Both Diane and I decided we like our new Macs, so we sent our old ones back to Apple for trade-in. For the first time in more than a decade, we don’t have any “Pro” Macs in the house – but we do have two Airs and two Minis.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 286

This blog runs on a Linux server on Linode (referral link). I use the server for a few other purposes, too; one of its tasks is to send us selected items from the paper every morning. It usually runs smoothly, but this morning, we didn’t get the email from the server, nor any error messages. I logged onto the server and ran the summary program at the console; it seemed to work but at the very end, I got a message: “Killed”.

I knew I hadn’t written any such message into my program, so I started digging. I didn’t have to dig far – as soon as I looked at the system log, I saw messages from the “oom-killer” program, followed by a message: “Out of memory: Killed process”¦”.

I ran top and found that my memory was almost all in use, as was my swapfile. I rebooted, and things seemed better – but I did some more web searching and found out how to check the size of the swapfile – it was only 256MB on a 1GB image, far less than recommended.

I stopped the machine and reallocated space to give me a 2GB swapfile; I hope that solves the problem. As of this minute, the system is using 416MB of the swapfile, but there’s also nearly 400MB free main memory – I hope it knows what it’s doing, because I don’t!