Help MediaGoblin take back the web!

MediaGoblin is a publishing system for the web, it can host all your media of any kind (like a YouTube + Flickr + SoundClound + more that anyone can run!). Plus it’s free software, so you can run it and adapt it to your needs. Want to help the project towards federation and privacy features? Check out their fundraising campaign!

All the files! FAQ

Here are some answers to common questions about ownCloud and personal clouds (ha, I used that term!) in general, and All the files! in particular.

Just to clarify, you are providing an ownCloud front end which I can use with the backend storage in my own Rackspace account?

How it plays out is that I am hosting an ownCloud instance, and you get a gig of space. Then you can mount your own storage as a directory. I point that out, because it means that your storage is at least one directory in.

I have the same setup, and I mount multiple containers in Cloud Files (Rackspace’s branded Swift service), for different things like photos and music. In case you were wondering how serious I am about running the site, I share my photos directory with Susan through ownCloud so she has access to all our babby photos. ^_^

I would like to host ownCloud on a Raspberry Pi. Is that possible?

It certainly seems like it is possible. If you want to try that out, make sure to check out Pagekite, for putting it on the web.

I am thinking of dropping Flickr for ownCloud. Advisable?

That depends on what you are using Flickr for, but there is only really one scenario that ownCloud replaces Flickr: if you are sharing private photos with a small group of folks.

If you want to share photos with folks on the public web, you want MediaGoblin. I run an instance for my family (soon to include our tribe), and I use Rackspace Cloud Files for storage.

If you are looking for a backup solution for your photos, then I recommend using your operating system’s preferred backup software. I use Duplicity (found in many GNU systems) to backup my files to a local server at my house, which I backup to a Rackspace container. I do that because we also backup other computers, and it is easier to have those backups at home for our setup. Before that I just backed up my computer directly to Cloud Files.

Check the next question for more on backups and ownCloud.

I have a ton of photos! Can I back them up on

Nope! ^_^

You should not use my instance of ownCloud for backing up files; it isn’t a great way to do it. ownCloud is great for sharing files between private groups, and even has some features that let you publish it publicly. However, there should be a backup system under it, and I do only the basic amount of that, in part because my files are already backed up elsewhere. If you want to use ownCloud as part of a backup system, you should set that up, or you can pay me to do so.

There is another reason that you shouldn’t use All the files! for uploading a huge amount of files to your own mounted storage backend: I pay for the bandwidth. If you upload 40 gigs of photos and then sync that to another machine, then I end up paying for 160GB of bandwidth (40 to my server, 40 to your backend, and then again the other way). I would prefer not to do that. I don’t think it will be a problem, and if anyone uses so much bandwidth that it catches my attention, I will just ask them to stop. Not a huge deal.

I am looking into how exactly the backend storage system works, to see if we can get around that, but that is how it stands at the moment.

If you have any other questions, please contact me or leave it in a comment. ^_^

Learning to code

I’ve wanted to program for years, most of my life, actually. The furthest I’ve gotten is some tiny BASIC programs, and bash scripting. Someone mentioned to me that for a person with such strong opinions about software, it is odd that I don’t write any. I agree.

Choosing a programming language to learn is tough. Everyone will like their language, which means that there are very few people who could assess your interests and make a recommendation. It is also compounded by the fact that I have dealt with various languages for a long time in my webcraft, so I have my built-in biases as well.

I’ve gotten my list down to a few, all of which I intend to learn at least the basics. They are, in order of focus: JavaScript, Lua and Python.

JavaScript, because I feel like I can get by okay without writing my own code, but it would be neat to step up my game in webcraft, and start applying it to other platforms, aka webapps on mobile devices. Every vendor is trying to make the web feel like it is native to the device it is on, and I would like to be in on that. I have ideas for games that can be done by the technologies we mean when we use HTML5 as a buzzword. Also, I think node.js is really cool, and makes it so JavaScript has a pretty complete feature set for me.

Lua, because it is used in a lot of games, is becoming a scripting language used in MediaWiki, and what Prosody is written in (I’ve always wanted to write a jabber dice plugin, nothing works the way I want it). I have a lot of ideas for using Semantic MediaWiki data, and Lua is another tool, and potentially very powerful at that.

And of course there is Python. I want to learn Python for various reasons, but the most important one is probably because it feels like something a hacker knows. I use it everyday, a surprising amount of GNU/Linux desktops use a lot of Python just beneath the surface. There is also MediaGoblin, pygame, and Ren’Py, all of which I would like to contribute to eventually.


My reservations are that coding makes my life difficult, specifically, I can’t sleep. My hope is that therapy and perhaps medication will help me get pass the early barrier where I can’t focus on a language any more, and have to stop to get my life together.

I am able to point that out because since we found out were we going to be parents, I’ve been researching my brain (well, various brain sciences, not mine in particular) to figure out why I am the way I am, and how I can mitigate some horrible traits of mine so they aren’t transmitted to Clover.

Well, it turns out that they aren’t horrible, and that I have various symptoms of ADHD, as well as the behaviors that come from compensating for them (like low self-esteem, or the feeling that I am too lazy or stupid to learn how to code).

I am learning JavaScript first, because it is something that is strongly integrated into my daily work, I am somewhat familiar with how it works, and I hope that helps me ease into it when I am feeling desperate and stupid.

If you know me, and you know any of these languages, I could use the support when I ask questions, and recommendations on where to start. So far I am doing the JavaScript tracks on Code Academy and going through Eloquent JavaScript, which I find easy to read and understand.

I hope one day I look back on this post and am all like, “d00d, you killed it! You made that one awesome game, and you mentor others! And it all started here.” Because I like totally talk like that. ^_^

Ack, photos!

I take a lot of photos everyday. It is part of being a parent, I am sure. What I mean is, I take a lot of photos of Clover every day. I haven’t really posted any since August. That means hundreds of photos that need to be processed. This post will be how I publish/share them, and another one will be how I tag and store them.

I have this MediaGoblin site. It is great, and always getting better (and could use your help with a donation, by the way!). The thing is, it doesn’t have a specific feature that I need, which is the ability for folks to comment without having an account. My instance is kinda borked as it is, I honestly don’t even know how to create new accounts, but I don’t want to either, because one day it will federate, and I want folks to go get their own instance (and by that I mean I want to install it for them ^_^).

There is also the matter of content; I don’t want to post every photo I take on that site. I want it to be partly stream of delight, but also kinda be the best of the best. It makes more sense when you realize that I basically make stop-frame animation with the sports action setting. Capturing a magic moment of an infant/toddler requires 5 shots a second! I don’t want to flood the site with so many photos that look the same if one squints at them.

Taking those together, and influenced by my work/play with WordPress, it made sense to set up a site with those multi-shot sessions in mind. And so A daily dash of Em came into existence!

A quick aside, I frakin’ love wordplay, as much as typography! ^_^

The two sites have different foci. The MediaGoblin site I’ve described above. For emdash, I wanted to use it as a daily journal capturing Clover’s development, but also leveraging all the great gallery tools that WordPress has for posting photo sequences. Like for when Clover drinks water.

I think MediaGoblin will get there one day, with the galleries and all that, but it isn’t a journaling tool in the way I need, and that is what I needed for keeping up with this little one. I am sure I will figure out how to merge the two sites so it is easier to find all the photos of Clover.

In my next post I will talk about how I allay my paranoia about losing photos using complicated computer skills that will likely not be very helpful to other folks. ^_^