life wedding

How to be my maid of honor.

So, my baby sister is having a marriage ceremony in October, and I am her Maid of Honor. They were courthouse married in January for all kinds of reasons, which means most of the legal stuff is already done. That means I’m free (and almost required) to focus on the family side of it. I mean, most weddings are supposed to be about the joining of the people. This one gets to be, almost completely, about the joining of the families.

MacOS tech

Modifying file/folder creation date in MacOS

I spent hours and hours trying to figure out what was wrong with my newly rsync’ed music library tonight.

First, the list of problems: I had a large number of greyed out folders that were owned by the user/group of ‘_unknown’ (in ls), couldn’t be modified, and had odd extended file attributes. They looked like this in the finder (I forgot to get a screenshot of terminal, so you’ll just have to trust me):


Breaking stereotypes: my form of feminism.

So, Will helped me fix my car last week. He’s been the one with the tools for almost as long as I can remember. He’s my Guy when it comes to almost anything mechanical. We have done all kinds of repairs together on many cars, in the 15 years that we’ve been adults.

A couple weeks ago the thermostat went on the Charger. I called my brother, and he confirmed everything I was thinking, and we defined when we were going to work on it, and what needed to be done. I also just rolled 150,000 miles on Mr Zeus, and the timing belt hadn’t been done (as far as I know), we decided to make a Saturday of it. The final list of things replaced (after three days and ~50 hours of labor): the thermostat, the timing belt, the water pump, and the idler pulley (which was a victim of an unfortunate accident involving a belt wrench and about 90 ft pounds of tork).

As people have heard about me working on my car, there’s been a variety of reactions, but a stunning majority of them have been in the oh-why-didn’t-you-call-me/my son/my brother/my father-to-do-the-work-for-you to holy-crap-you-are-the-most-amazing-person-ever-I-am-so-impressed family. While I’ve taken all of these compliments as they were intended, they’re troubling me. A whole lot.

And I’ll tell you why.

The intention is kind, but I think society’s expectations of women are far too low if me “working on my car” elicits this much compliment. Just because I can follow a set of directions and turn a wrench doesn’t make me a genius, and it shouldn’t make me that unique. It makes it clear that I’m unwilling to say “Oh, I can’t do that because of $ReasonICannotFathom.” Do I *like* working on cars? No. I also don’t like doing laundry, or the dishes. That doesn’t mean I *can’t*, or that it’s any more or less impressive when I do.

Too, there are TONS of mechanics out there that have next to no clue what they’re doing, and cost people all kinds of unnecessary expense due to their incompetence  but are trusted more highly because they wear overalls.

To be clear, I am also no *less* impressed by any women (or man) that CHOOSES to NOT work on cars (or do the laundry or dishes). Or who don’t do it because they suck at it. I suck at all kinds of things. If I feel something is worth the investment of effort, I put the time into learning it. (linux, for example) IF you decide that car repair is not something you have any interest in learning, then don’t learn it.

I can do anything I need to. That includes working on cars. You can too, with practice.

Credit: To my Dad for teaching me where sexism spawns from, and to my mom for being a role model for what a strong, independent women should be. 

iphone hacks life tech

Adding to AutoCorrect

Apple has done some very cool things with each iteration of iOS, and while I’m excited for iOS7, I still like the little ins and outs of iOS6. This trick was actually one I learned from the ultimate Apple hacker in my life, but I figured I’d post it for anyone that doesn’t have a fanboy in their pocket.

So, we all say things that autocorrrect doesn’t like. This is the easiest way to get around it I’ve found. Have some pictograph directions.

Go to the General section in your settings App.
Go to the General section in your settings App.
Scroll down to the Keyboard settings.
Scroll down to the Keyboard settings.
Scroll down to the 'Shortcuts' menu.
Scroll down to the ‘Shortcuts’ menu.
There will be some here by default, but you can add more with the '+' button.
There will be some here by default, but you can add more with the ‘+’ button.
the Phrase is what you want it to say, the Shortcut is what you want to type to get that phrase.
the Phrase is what you want it to say, the Shortcut is what you want to type to get that phrase.
Using the shortcut is actually significantly faster than typing it, AND you don't fight with autocorrect.
Using the shortcut is actually significantly faster than typing it, AND you don’t fight with autocorrect.
hosting life

Broken hearts.

I quit my job yesterday.

The company I’ve been at for 6.5 years.

The job I’ve done for four of those years.

I am leaving the department I helped build. The company I put blood, sweat, and tears in to.

The most common question I’ve gotten: What made you quit?

It’s making people unsettled how simple the answer: Nothing. It’s just time to move on.


Today there was a little bit of kick-in-the-gut, and panic, as the “omg wat will we do without youuuuuuuu”‘s started to roll in. And I felt sick for a little bit. That kind of sick that makes you think about going back to that terrible relationship, because you can’t possible exists without the lover you’ve just left.

But this breakup wasn’t caused by a single, angry, moment. It’s just time for us to go our separate ways. And amicable break up means I won’t be gone until May 14th, but I’m no less full of anticipation.

And I cannot TELL you how excited I am to see the open road in front of me. Even if it’ll mean a little broken heart.

hosting tech

WordPress, wp-login.php brute forces, and mod_security



So, there’s finally been a bit of chatter about an attack that’s been ongoing across many webhosts for a few weeks. The most effective solutions that I’ve seen involve identifying patterns in the nefarious traffic, and blocking based on that. Something like this mod_security rule:

hosting pwyw

PWYW music, and amanda palmer.

I’m in love with this. “It’s about a few people loving you up close, and about those people being enough.”

I want to help the music industry. I want to help the artisan industry. I want to help the art industry.

I want to help all of my friends (known and unknown) who want to distribute their art. I have ideas, lots of ideas. And I have resources. But I’m going to start here: If you are an artist of any kind, and you need hosting for your art and for a website, and for distribution, I’m your lady. Let’s make this happen.

hosting tech

WordPress and caching

WordPress is one of my absolutely favorite pieces of software. It’s so simple, relatively intuitive, and knows exactly what its goal is. It’s elegant, one might say. For all of its splendor, however, it can be a serious resource hog. The fact that it is database driven means, given the right conditions, a WordPress site could cause significant load on the server that hosts your blog. You don’t understand what that means, you say? Well, allow me to explain it to you.

Every time you load a website, hosted anywhere on the planet, you are loading a series of files. Sometimes those files can reference other files, or (as in the case of a WordPress blog) databases. A database, as defined by wikipedia, is “an integrated collection of logically-related records or files consolidated into a common pool that provides data for one or more uses.”

While I could write an entire entry about the merits of good database organization (and I may later) suffice it to say: when you load the front page of, you hit the database for this blog (at a quick count in the source code) no less than 15 times, and load at least 5 different files. If my site were popular, with a modest 30 hits-per-minute (hey, a girl can dream!), my server would be serving 150 files, and getting content from the database 450 times, every minute.

That’s a lot.

The reason that’s a lot is not memory use, and not CPU use (though those might both come in to play depending on the plugins used on the site), the reason you will start to see problems with that is a thing called Disk I/O Wait.

Without getting too technical: Disk I/O (or Input/Output) is the writing to, and reading from, a hard-drive. No matter how awesome or fast your harddrive is, it can still only do one thing at a time: specifically reading or writing to a single file. This is where the ‘wait’ part gets involved. The more disk I/O is occuring, the longer a programs wait times become. How long, depends on a lot of things, but the things I’ve seen effect it most:

1) Extremely active databases.
2) Poorly designed slightly active databases.
3) {a large group of other things}
4) Failing drives.

So… with all of this potential fail, how do you keep your server stable, your site up, and your wallet *not* empty?

Enter Caching!

Caching (from wikipedia): “In computer science, a cache (pronounced /?kæ?/ kash) is a component that improves performance by transparently storing data such that future requests for that data can be served faster. The data that is stored within a cache might be values that have been computed earlier or duplicates of original values that are stored elsewhere.”

That’s right! All of the sudden that 150 file and 450 database reads go down to 1: the page that was generated previously and stored in cache. I cannot adequately express how much of a difference caching makes. I have seen servers serving a single site that got Dugg go from repreatedly crashing to serving 7Megs of traffic, just by enabling caching.

While WordPress doesn’t have any built-in caching, a number of 3rd party developers have created caching plugins for WordPress which offer various levels of simplicity and control.

WordPress SuperCache is the plugin that this site uses. You can control how often the cache refreshes and who gets to see cached pages through the wp-admin interface.

From the site:

This plugin generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After a html file is generated your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.

The static html files will be served to the vast majority of your users, but because a user’s details are displayed in the comment form after they leave a comment those requests are handled by PHP. Static files are served to:

1. Users who are not logged in.
2. Users who have not left a comment on your blog.
3. Or users who have not viewed a password protected post.

W3-Total-Cache is for a more advanced user, and gives you more fine-tuned control, and can give you even better performance. It can also be coupled with memcached to drastically reduce your page load times.

The fastest and most complete WordPress performance optimization plugin. Trusted by many popular blogs like:,,,,,,,,,, and others — W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your blog by improving your server performance, caching every aspect of your site, reducing the download time of your theme and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration.

There are more than these two out there, but the beauty of the majority of them: they are generally all easy to install, and will make both you and your webhost happy. When your site gets dugg, or get slashdoted, or gets posted to twitter by Neil Gaiman, and threatens a #NeilWebFail, your caching plugin will save your site, your stress level, and your uptime.