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Domains 17 Interview with Martha Burtis: “Web literacy is cultural literacy”

Last Friday the Domains 17 organizing committee got to sit down and chat with Martha Burtis, keynote for the Domains 17 conference, to get a preview of what she’ll be presenting in June. There’s a lot to process in this 50 minute gem, a conversation that ranges from everything to how domains got started to the posts tagline “web literacy as cultural literacy” (one of the many gems from the conversation) to the ongoing work of making digital fluency a foundation of higher ed. It’s a great look at what’s in store, and listening to Martha riff on this stuff really made me miss the 10 years we worked together on all these issues and more.  Few people frame it better, and this conversation underscores the fact that NOBODY thinks domains like the Burtis!

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New Projects With Reclaim

Well I’ve been at Reclaim for 6 weeks now! I can’t even believe it, it feels like I’ve been there for months. I’m really enjoying my work and I’m definitely getting the hang of things when answering support tickets. I still ask Tim a ton of questions throughout the day because there is just so much to learn. But in this post I wanted to talk about some new projects I’m tackling for right now, one I started before my spring break and another just this week.

Just before break (so two weeks ago) I started learning a network protocol called Secure Shell or SSH. SSH is a cryptographic network protocol used to navigate through servers remotely, that means you don’t have to log into your account in your browser like you would normally. You use a separate program entirely. On the Mac its called Terminal. Its a very quick, secure, and efficient way to view files and error logs. This comes in very handy for numerous tickets. One ticket came in where the user was having a problem accessing their site at all giving a HTTP 500 error. That usually means that some aspect of the site is broken thus completely breaking the entire site. Using SSH we can go into the site and clear out the bad file to fix the site. Another ticket came in where the user was having trouble with their storage quota. SSH can read the error log right in the program and that allows us to figure out what went wrong. I’m actually struggling with SSH quite a bit however. My brain and code do not mix at all. So its difficult for me to wrap my head around this new type of navigation. But I think I’ll get the hang of it slowly but surely.

 

I started the second this past week. I am now tackling documentation on the community pages. I’m going through all of the articles to update screenshots, and rewrite a few if the process has completely changed. I’m enjoying that as well! Back in the summer of 2015 I tackled that same sort of project for the Digital Knowledge Center. The DKC was in the process of migrating its documentation to another site and I was in charge of creating a style guide and rewriting the documentation accordingly. So I felt like an old pro going through the other documentation at Reclaim. Its very different though. There is a lot more information to understand and a ton of different topics. Its actually helping me learn a lot about other topics that I didn’t know at the DKC, like nameservers, domain management, and other open source platforms.

I also wrote a new article on the community page, for installing themes to an Omeka site. That was a lot of fun, I’ve never used Omeka before and I had to experiment with it before I could write the article. Omeka is relatively intuitive so I was able to write the article very quickly.

On another note, I continually run into a problem when I’m answering tickets. At the DKC we tutor WordPress, which means we can help students edit their website, but at Reclaim the support we provide stops when it comes to actually editing the clients website. I’ve had a few tickets where clients want help actually editing their site and I’ve had to tell them I can’t. I want to help but its out of Reclaim’s wheelhouse. I guess I’m still getting used to the fact that the DKC and Reclaim are two completely separate companies.

But other than that I’m still having a ton of fun and I’m learning every time I step into the office. Stay tuned for more posts!

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Domain Sessions

I’m excited to announce that the schedule for Domains 17 is now up and online. It is going to be a pretty awesome two days, and fresh off-the-press is the abstract for Martha Burtis’s keynote “Neither Locked Out Nor Locked In: Finding a Path Through Domain of One’s Own”:

Four years into Domain of One’s Own, I wonder if we are at an inflection point, and, if so, what we will do to respond to this moment. At its onset, Domains offered us paths into the Web that seemed to creatively and adequately address a perception that we weren’t fully inhabiting that space. Our students could carve out digital homes for themselves that were free of the walled gardens of the LMS. Our faculty could begin to think of the Web not as a platform for delivering content but as an ecosystem within which their teaching could live and breathe. In doing so, perhaps we would also engage our communities in deeper conversations about what the Web was and how we could become creators rather than merely consumers of that space. But in those four years, as in any four years, our popular culture, our technical affordances, and our political landscape has continued to march forward. How does Domain of One’s Own grow into and with these changes? Where do we take this project from here so that we continue to push the boundaries or our digital experiences? How do we address the ever-looming tension between building something sustainable while also nurturing new growth?

From there we have a wide variety sessions broken into three tracks: Pedagogy, Domain of One’s Own, and Tools. The categories blur for sure, but they helped us pretend there is some kind of cosmic lattice of coincidence. Sean Michael Morris, Tim Klapdor, and Keegan Long-Wheeler are providing three different lenses on the role of the learning management system on day one. Lora Taub will be framing the Domains project at Muhlenberg as spaces for “transformational resistance.” Brian Lamb, Grant Potter, and Tom Woodward will be running an API audio party, while a cadre of presenters from Michigan State University will be talking about how their digital presence and public scholarship initiative. And did I mention Jon Udell will be joining us too?  And that’s just day one!

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A WHMCS Invalid Token Error and the glory of blogging

I woke up this morning to find that our WHMCS portal for Reclaim Hosting was having some issues. WHMCS is software that enables you to manage the business of cPanel, effectively provisioning, invoicing, billing, renewing, etc. without it people can’t sign-up for new accounts, pay their bill, or access their client area. They can still access their sites through theirdomain.com/cpanel, but they would need to use their SFTP credentials to login their, so it would get bad quick support wise. So, when I discovered the 503 Service Unavailable error I knew I needed to fix this immediately. It happened at both a good and bad time. Good because it was late night in North America, so the demand was not peak. bad because my Reclaim partner Tim Owens was fast asleep ? But, in fact, that might have also been good because I tend to lean on him for this stuff given I’m afraid to mess shit up.

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Reclaiming Europe with Kraftwerk Server

Concert in Zürich, 1976. The photo comes from the collection of Kraftwerk photos made by Ueli Frey.

Last week our newest server went live in Frankfurt, Germany. This is our first shared hosting server in Europe, and we were able to do it thanks to the fact that Digital Ocean has block storage available in their Frankfurt datacenter. We named the server after Germany’s electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk. And if you are new to this band, the song “Computer Love” off their 1981 album Computer World could double as the soundtrack to the story of how computers have re-defined our society over the last 3 decades since its release.

The Kraftwerk server was spun up on the heels of the Devo server  last month given how quickly the spudboy server was filling up. What’s more, we have been pushing to move our older shared hosting infrastructure to Digital Ocean, which means we needed to spread the now retired Hotrods server across both Devo and Kraftwerk. The Hotrods migration was finished up last week, and Kraftwerk is fully operational with over 300 accounts.

We figured this might also be a good time to offer anyone living in Europe (or elsewhere outside the U.S.) the option to be transferred to this server. If this is something that interests you just fill out the migration form and be sure to specify you want to move your existing account on Reclaim to the Kraftwerk server.

And for more Kraftwerk goodness, check on this BBC interview with the robots themselves: