Typo in Sphider 2.2 install script

A typo has been discovered in ‘install.php’ for Sphider 2.2.0 (classic). This will affect those who have 1) already downloaded ‘sphider-2.2.0.zip’, and 2) are trying to do a clean install. Any downloads after right now already have the file corrected.

This does not warrant a new release, but simply instructions on how to fix the problem if you have it.

Line 23 currently has:

error_reporting(E_ALL0../settings”;

Change this to:

error_reporting(0);
$settings_dir = “../settings”;

This does NOT affect the PDO edition.

Sphider 2.2.0 released

Sphider 2.2.0 was released today in both the Classic and PDO editions.

There are currently no plans to release this update in PostgreSQL or SQLite editions. Those remain at 2.1.0. There seems to be little demand for these.

Sphider 2.2.0 has the search interface redesigned to be more mobile friendly. The code was rewritten to be more responsive to CSS instruction, made to detect the use of mobile browsers, and present a mobile friendly version of the standard template.

A minor security problem was also addressed, as well as the ability of the administrator to easily switch between the tabbed search (traditional, RSS, and image) and just the basic traditional text search.

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There are plans for the next release (February 2019 ???) to expand this ability so that the administrator can pick and choose which search interfaces to present. If they want both traditional and image, but not RSS, they will be able to do so.

Also, the templates will be reworked so mobile browsers can experience friendly versions of ALL the templates.

World Space Flight website pages

The World Space Flight pages are anything BUT mobile friendly! That is a sad fact.

The good news is that that will be changing. The changes will be gradual, a few MAJOR changes coming first, followed by more general changes. The first big change which will be rolled out will involve the menus on the left side of practically every page.

As it is, you have to enlarge the area just to read it, much less actually click on something. America in Space already has the beginning of that change on MOST of the pages.

Once the menus have been adapted, then there will follow changes in the content layout. Be patient. Things will be getting better.

The customer service rep…

Sometime back, I was talking on the phone to a customer service representative about some product or another. He needed to snail mail me some information.

Now the conversation went something like this (names changed but not the concept):
Customer Rep: Can I get your name, please.
Me: James Piper.
Rep: Diaper?
Me: No, PIPER!
Rep: Diaper?
Me: NO! PIPER! P as in Paul, i-p-e-r!
Rep: OH! Okay. Thank you.

A few days later I got the information in the mail. It was addressed to Paul Iper.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sphider 2.2 is in the works

The subject(s) has come up recently about the use of html tables, css, and mobile browsers.

Looking at the Sphider search pages, there is room for improvement. So work has begun to alter the code to do away with html tables and expand the use of css. The result is that the appearance of the search page layouts using css is nearly identical to look using html tables.

The kick is, it makes it easier to customize the look from template to template. Even a new template has come about. Named “mobile”, it is much easier to see/use on a mobile device. The search page will also detect the use of a mobile and force the mobile template even when it is not the template set in the configuration and seen by anyone NOT on a mobile.

The changes have already been made and will now undergo a period of testing. Most likely, Sphider classic will see the new version first, with PDO a short time later. If this will also carry over to the PostgreSQL and SQLite variation has not yet been decided.

Core functionality will have no change. This new release will be for benefit of the user’s clients, the people who actually use the search feature.

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To get an idea how the mobile template will work, first visit
https://www.worldspaceflight.com/sphider/search.php
with a desktop or laptop. Then visit the same link with a mobile device.

Feedback appreciated.

NASA announces date maiden flight of Crew Dragon

NASA recently announced that an unmanned test of the SpaceX Crew Dragon to the ISS will take place on 7 January 2019. The Boeing Starliner will have a similar test sometime in March.

If all goes well, The first manned flight of Crew Dragon will be sometime in June with the Starliner doing so in August.

But there are no guarantees. Both vessels do have issues. With the Crew Dragon, there are parachute issues and, more importantly, concerns about the high pressure helium tank. Remember the tank failure on 1 September 2016 that took out the Falcon 9 and the entire launch pad?

Personally, I am concerned about SpaceX’s procedure in which the crew is boarded BEFORE the Falcon 9 is fueled. The crew has to sit atop the rocket while fueling takes place. I know SpaceX fuels at the last minute because they use super-cooled propellants for added power. But I have to ask, is a little extra efficiency more desirable than a reduced risk to human life? For purely cargo or satellite launches, go for it. But when lives are at stake?

I like what SpaceX has accomplished. They are definitely daring. But then again, there is a fine line between between being daring and being cocky. Cocky can get you killed.

 

Sphider 2.1 released

It was found that all variations of Sphider 2.0.* had a flaw in the search capability. While earlier versions allowed wild card searches (*), or not contained searches (-), this ability was inadvertently blocked in 2.0! It seems the work to improve security and block undesirable searches went too far!

This is resolved in all variations of 2.1 – Classic, PDO, PostgreSQL, and SQLite.

A family tradition

It is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. Many families have traditions for Thanksgiving. My family when I was growing up was no different. This is the story of one of those traditions.

It began about 1955 or 1956 when we got our first television set. It was on the first Thanksgiving after getting the television that my father discovered the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. He would turn on the television, set the channel for the parade… and leave the room to do other things, never to return. But God help the soul who, in his absence, attempted to change to another channel! That was strictly forbidden! So every Thanksgiving, we would turn on the television, tune in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, … and leave the room to find other things to do. Nobody had any real interest in watching the thing… but it just HAD to be on.

After I had left home and had my own family, the tradition died, at least in my house. If we went to visit the folks on Thanksgiving, the parade was on… with nobody watching. My father didn’t miss a Thanksgiving Day parade (which he never watched) a single time until he died in the early 1980’s.

Why I hate Microsoft

I have a number of computers. My main desktop machine runs Ubuntu (currently 18.04), but I have another desktop running Windows 7. I also have a newer laptop (which I don’t use much) with Windows 10. I also have an older laptop, which rarely even gets powered on anymore, with Linux Mint.

Well, I have always had nightmares with Windows update. It seems always to need to do something right when it is least convenient, and is problem prone. As a result, I just disable the service and update ONLY when it’s a) been awhile since the last time, and b) it’s a good time for me.

Today, both conditions were met. I re-enabled the Windows Update service and checked for updates. It took nearly half an hour and discovered there were 6 “needed” updates. One was the totally useless Malicious Software Removel Tool, which runs a long time and does nothing. I deep sixed that one that one and proceeded with the other 5. Another half hour went by as the system downloaded 5 updates. Time to install. It worked, and worked, and worked… said it needed to restart. Okay, fine. “Configuring updates”. “Configuring updates”. … You know how that goes. Finally, it’s been “configuring for another half hour and it has reached 98% complete. Then, the very thing I just KNEW was going to happen, did. “Windows was unable to configure updates. Reverting changes”. CRAP! But not the first time I’ve ever seen that happen!

Anyway, while all that was going on, I was over on my Ubuntu box. I use that one every day, so it is pretty up to date. I figured I would check anyway, so I did an “apt-get update”, and there was one for Linux firmware. I installed it… no reboot needed. I went online and made a few tweaks to another one of my web sites, did some surfing, worked a bit in Libre Office…. Meanwhile, back at the Windows ranch, the “reverting changes” was getting underway. I had to go to the bank, which I did. I was hungry, so I went to get something to eat. Got back home and decided to boot up the old Linux Mint laptop. It had been AT LEAST six months, so you can imagine. It needed a gazillion updates, which I proceed to do. It definitely took awhile (no idea how many updates were actually done), but they all completed without any issues. No reboots were needed. I found some outdated apps and updated them. My Libre Office was still at version 5, so I upgraded it. Took a phone call, went back on my Ubuntu machine and did a bit more work. Then I played with the cat for a bit. After three hours of “reverting changes”, Windows was ready.

So Microsoft Windows took between four and four and a half hours…. accomplishing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!

I updated the Windows 10 laptop a couple nights ago, and that took a couple hours. Surprisingly, this time it actually worked.

After years of experience with Microsoft, beginning with DOS 2.11 up to now (I avoided 95/98/ME like the plague and was more into NT 3.51, 4.0, etc. – except Vista/8/8.1), and years with UNIX SYSTEM V, into Red Hat, and finally Ubuntu, I have learned this moral:

The quality of an operating system is inversely proportional to its cost.

Note that Ubuntu is free.

I compose this rant on Ubuntu.

Sphider demo

A demonstration of Sphider can now be experienced at the Sphider Home site demo page.

You can search the sites content and images, as well as a sample of an RSS feed.

You can play around with the Sphider admin console, although naturally you can’t commit the changes. Still, you get an idea of the look and feel of Sphider under the hood.