Life without Google long-term follow up


creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by jalb
It’s been over two years now, and for the most part my google-free online existence has largely been uneventful. Occasionally youtube tells me that a video is “mature” and requires me to login to prove I’m over 18. So I can live without seeing that particular upload of the Baby Ruth scene in Caddyshack.

Recently (in the past month or so), however, the spam in my inbox has exploded. Bluehost claims to do some spam filtering, but it seems largely ineffective. Lately when I open my email, any where from 50% to 80% of the messages are spam. Thunderbird does a good job of filtering spam when I’m on my laptop, but checking email during the day on my phone or on webmail gives me no apparent filtering at all.

In the long run, I suppose I need to find a new email provider that does a better job of spam filtering. Not sure what I’ll do in the meantime. (And in the time it’s taken to write this post, 3 more spam messages have hit my inbox.)

Converting WordPress Multisite to a single site


creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Packfill
A few years ago, in a fit of ambition and desire to host all the things, I set up my school blog as a wordpress multisite with four separate blogs, three of which had separate subdomains: one for my face to face classes, one each for my online classes, and one for Pedagogy First! (oh yeah, and there’s this personal blog too).

Now, it’s too much. I don’t want to update five blogs. Hell, I’m not even really keeping up with one. Additionally, for some inscrutable algorithmic reason, Google responds to searches by my students for my blog with links to my online class blogs, which have lain dormant for years, rather than to my main school blog.

Enough. One school blog and one personal blog are enough. So how do you go back? (First obviously, you back up, and then you go back. You’ve been warned.)

This wpmudev blog post walked me through it, but I’ll post instructions here as well for  future reference.

I used file manager in cPanel to edit my wp-config.php file (first I copied it to wp-config.old in case I screwed up). I then deleted the following lines:

define( 'MULTISITE', true );
define( 'SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL', false );
$base = '/wordpress/';
define( 'DOMAIN_CURRENT_SITE', 'localhost' );
define( 'PATH_CURRENT_SITE', '/wordpress/' );
define( 'SITE_ID_CURRENT_SITE', 1 );
define( 'BLOG_ID_CURRENT_SITE', 1 );

The wpmudev post called for editing my .htacess file to match the following, but mine was substantially the same, so I left it alone:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /wordpress/
RewriteRule ^index.php$ - [L]

# uploaded files
RewriteRule ^([_0-9a-zA-Z-]+/)?files/(.+) wp-includes/ms-files.php?file=$2 [L]

# add a trailing slash to /wp-admin
RewriteRule ^([_0-9a-zA-Z-]+/)?wp-admin$ $1wp-admin/ [R=301,L]

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -f [OR]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -d
RewriteRule ^ - [L]
RewriteRule ^([_0-9a-zA-Z-]+/)?(wp-(content|admin|includes).*) $2 [L]
RewriteRule ^([_0-9a-zA-Z-]+/)?(.*.php)$ $2 [L]
RewriteRule . index.php [L]

Next, I edited my wp-config file and dropped the following tables from my database. I’m pretty sure there’s room for disaster in all of the above steps. Backup.

wp_blogs
wp_blog_versions
wp_registration_log
wp_signups
wp_site
wp_sitemeta

At this point, the other blogs were gone, and I had a single blog. (And by gone, I mean GONE–this doesn’t merge all the subdomains–it just deletes everything but the main blog.)

One thing left to fix: redirecting the subdomains. I had to create a wildcard subdomain, so when someone goes to [subdomain].learningbusiness.net, it still showed the subdomain in the address bar. In cPanel, I went to the subdomain panel and added an explicit subdomain for each of my former subdomains and then I went to the redirect page in cPanel and added a redirect to my main URL so that if someone types the old subdomain, it redirects to the main domain and keeps the URL consistent. PedagogyFirst posts, on the other hand, I redirected to the EdTech category here on my personal blog where I imported all of my old posts. I’m sure I’ve broken a few links on other people’s posts (sorry!), but my posts are still there to be found with a little digging.

Video

Haven’t had a coffee-themed post in a while, so here’s this.

Coffee 2014 from jayr sotelo on Vimeo.

h/t Scott Wegna

Video

Happy New Year, everybody; happy birthday Country Joe. I resolve to do what I always do.

So this appears to be my kid’s favorite Xmas present:

20131226-141023.jpg

Sugar Cookies

Claire’s been reminding me to blog this one for awhile. The recipe makes a big batch of cookies (5 dozen!), but you can freeze some of the dough for later.

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 400F.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
If you want to use cookie cutters, roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and cut into shapes. For round cookies, you can also roll the dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and cut into slices (hint: to save some for later, divide dough into fifths, roll each portion into a 1 1/2 inch cylinder. Wrap four of them in foil and freeze. When you thaw them, just slice into 12 pieces and bake).
Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets, and bake 6 to 8 minutes.

Based on a recipe from Allrecipes.com

Biscuits

IMGP0264 by ted_major
IMGP0264, a photo by ted_major on Flickr.

Went to make biscuits for breakfast this morning, and I realized I’ve never blogged by biscuit recipe. Based on a recipe from The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup lard (use shortening if you must, *sigh*)
  • 1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400F.
Mix dry ingredients in a a large bowl and then cut in the lard with a pastry blender. Add milk (you may need just a splash more to moisten all the flour). The dough wil be sticky, so flour your hands and the counter well. Knead a few times to make sure everything is mixed, but don’t go overboard or you’ll develop the gluten and get a chewy, tough biscuit. I’ve given up on the traditional roll, cut into rounds, roll the leftovers and cut again method. Instead, I pat them out into a rectangle 3/8″ thick, and then cut into 12 squares: no risk of over kneading & no wasted dough.
Bake 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Home fries

Home fries by ted_major
Home fries, a photo by ted_major on Flickr.

Until recently, I’ve never really been able to make great home fires. I mean, they were okay–you can’t really go too far wrong with fried potatoes as long as you’re somewhere between under-cooked and burned. Thanks to this technique from Cook’s Illustrated by way of Smitten Kitchen, I have accomplished sublime home fries. (Unlike Smitten Kitchen, I think mine come out better in cast iron than nonstick; YMMV) The keys are to pre-cook the potatoes and cook the onions separately.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 Yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Put the potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl with 1 Tbs butter and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave about 5 minutes, shaking halfway through. Beware the steam build-up under the plastic wrap.

Meanwhile, sauté the onions in 1 Tbs butter over medium heat. When they’re soft and just starting to brown, turn them out of the pan into a bowl. Add another 1 Tbs of butter to the pan and cook the potatoes over medium heat until browned, stirring occasionally. Add the onions, salt, pepper, and optional smoked paprika.

Delicious with poached eggs.

Poached eggs

Poached eggs by ted_major
Poached eggs, a photo by ted_major on Flickr.

Techincally, they’re not really poached because they don’t come into contact with the cooking liquid. However, there’s no vinegar taste from the liquid and they keep a nice shape. (The pan also doesn’t need washing.)

  • Eggs
  • melted butter

Bring a pan of water to a simmer.

For each egg, you’ll need a square of plastic wrap and a piece of kitchen twine. Butter the plastic wrap and lay it into a ramekin or coffee cup. Crack an egg into the plastic wrap and then twist it shut and tie off with the twine. I like to leave just a little air space so that it floats–without the airspace, it can sinke and the bottom of the pan can melt the plastic wrap.

Put the wrapped eggs in to simmering water and leave them for about 6 minutes (less if you like a runnier yolk, longer if you like it firmer). Pull them out, cut the string, and turn out onto the plate.

Pumpkin biscuits

Pumpkin biscuits by ted_major
Pumpkin biscuits, a photo by ted_major on Flickr.

I was going to make a batch of sweet potato biscuits this morning, but the can of sweet potato I had expired last July (and it truly was expired–yuck). I decided to sub pumpkin instead and they turned out very well–even my kid munched on them.
Ingredients:

    • 1.5 cups flour
    • 2 Tbs sugar
    • 1.5 tsp baking powder
    • .5 tsp salt
    • .5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
    • 1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
    • 4 Tbs butter (1/2 stick), softened (30 seconds in the microwave at 40% power does it for me)

Preheat oven to 425F (use convection if you have it.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix pumpkin puree and softened butter and add to dry ingredients. Stir to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured counter and knead a few times, then pat out into a rectangle 3/8″ thick. Cut into 12 squares. Cut into rounds if you prefer, or pat into 2 rounds and cut into 12 wedges like scones if you prefer, but cutting into squares is quick & easy and avoids re-kneading and re-rolling the dough.

Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned.