Fixing and Database Connection Error

When the site throws the error: Error establishing a database connection, this usually means there is miscommunication between the database and the files in the file manager. What I like to do from here is open up the Files and Tables section in Installatron.

You’re  going to compare the four sections in red to the database file in the File manager.

Open up the file manager and navigate to where the site is installed, in this case, it’s right in the public_html folder. The database file that’s within the installation can vary depending on the application. Since this is a WordPress installation, you’ll work with the wp-config.php file:

You can edit the file right within the File manager, click Edit in toolbar across the top of the screen.

From here just make sure that the database name/username, password, and host all match to the Files and Tables section in Installatron. If any are incorrect, you can change them directly in the wp-config.php file. Once they all match, click Save Changes and reload the site.

ReclaimVideo Nightmares

It took a bit of time, but ReclaimVideo has moved out of the possibility stage into the planning stage. We will be working on building out the storefront space from January through March, with hopes of a grand opening this Spring. Timelines are flexible, but there will be a brand new video rental store opening up in Fredericksburg in 2018. Expect nothing less than the trailing edge of innovation in all things Reclaim—the first name in retrograde technologies. More on that as the store progresses, but right now we are in the fun stage of purchasing movie titles and equipment on Ebay and beyond.

A secret stash of betamax tapes from the UMW Console

We have probably purchased around 100 VHS tapes already, and these have been mostly 70s and 80s U.S. sci-fi, horror, and action/adventure titles. We plan on branching out when it comes to other genres and national cinemas, and it’s our hope that we can get folks from all over to contribute any videos they own and want to find a permanent home for, or even buy and ship a favorite or two from their youth. But that’s fodder for another post, and we’ll be sure to make the call out to folks sometime soon. Of course we recognize this will be predominantly a labor of love on our part, and any contributions are simply a bonus—but the community contributions to the UMW Console made that whole process that much more special.

 

As it happens, one of the purchases I made this week was a result of a spam comment on an old post here on the bava. Back in the Summer of 2008 (when bavatuesdays was at the height of its EDUPUNK powers) I wrote a post about an episode of a fairly obscure horror anthology movie from the 80s called Nightmares (1983). The episode was called “Bishop of Battle” and starred Emilio Estevez as a videogame playing punk (just a year before his role in the legendary Repo Man).  I provide a detailed overview of the episode in that post from almost a decade ago, so I won’t rehash it here. But this small bit sums up my ongoing fascination with not only that particular episode, but the medium more generally:

It’s a film’s ability through the visual to capture the actual spaces of an arcade during the 80s, which are for the most part gone, as well as the clothes, hairstyles, and the music of a moment that remains the true pleasure of the return to a movie like this.

Absolutely, and this is why the acquisition of Nightmares for ReclaimVideo is in some ways symbolic of the project, and what it means. It’s no coincidence that the few remaining video stores around the US are becoming non-profits and converting to lending libraries. These spaces represent liminal zones of commerce and cultural value for many, including myself, who saw these independent establishments as spaces of wonder and possibility. Many of them, before the advent of Blockbuster, were defined by knowledgeable proprietors that actually knew something about cinema. And these same folks were often ambassadors of the new, deeply exciting technology that was VCR (many of these early stores rented them before they became ubiquitous in homes). And then, of course, the colorfully cluttered walls filled with rectangular boxes containing countless stories yet to be heard—granted we would soon learn they were unevenly crafted tales. ReclaimVideo is in many ways the next metaphorical evolution of Reclaim Hosting, re-creating the moment when “video kills the radio star” a time that opens up a brave new pop-cultural currency from everything from videos stores to cable television to music videos to arcades—all buttressed by a looming sense of unchecked consumption and nuclear apocalypse. Why do this?  Well, because it promises to be a bit of much needed fun, and sometimes that is reason enough.

Workshop Clip: DNS

Clip from my session on DNS during day one of Reclaim’s Administrator Workshop. During the 45-min talk, we covered DNS basics, types of DNS records and how to edit them, handy DNS tools & strategies, and frequently asked questions.

If you missed the workshop clip on Supporting DoOO, you can find that here.

Documentation guides that I wrote for this talk are linked below:

DNS Full Category
DNS Summary
Handy DNS Tools
DNS Frequently Asked Questions
Editing DNS Records in cPanel
Editing DNS Records in WHM

Reclaiming SPLOTs

I already blogged this summer about my growing excitement about the possibilities for SPLOTs (which is an acronym for simple teaching tools) for Reclaim Hosting. But after a recent trip to Colgate University, I’m ever more bully on these tiny teaching tools. SPLOTs piqued a lot of interest during a workshop and presentation I gave at Deakins University and Charles Sturt University in July, so Lauren Brumfield and I decided to integrate them into the two-day workshop we were running at Colgate University around their Domain of One’s Own setup to see if we got a similar response. We did. 

The response to SPLOTs amongst the small group gathered to administer and introduce the campus community to Colgate Domains was quite enthusiastic. We spent day one providing a system overview of Domains, with a deep-dive into managing cPanel, WHMCS, etc. Day two was focused on using Domains for teaching and learning, and showcasing some of the possible applications both within and beyond WordPress. It was during that second day where we decided to dig into SPLOTs—although we did introduce them briefly the day before when talking about syndication sites. Rather than having a pre-defined script around SPLOTs, we decided to wing that part of the workshop and have everyone in the room try and build a portfolio using the SPLOTs Alan Levine designed on StateU. In fact, this month it has been Alan’s turn to play the SPLOT Warrior, and I have no doubt he’s already got the revolution Down Under in full effect.

Image credit: Alan Levine

We introduced two of Alan’s recent SPLOTs to the good folks at Colgate: Big Picture (a portfolio theme) and SPLOTPoint (a web-based presenter tool). The idea was pretty interesting because while we knew of these tools, and knew Alan loaded them on StateU for his workshops in Australia, we had never played with them. So, we decided (kind of on the fly) to do an experiment and see how easy they really were to figure out and setup for a group of people who had never used them before. It was a risk, but we framed as a kind of test of authenticity—how simple are these damn things?! Well, they did pretty good. Lauren narrated her exploration at the front of the room, and everyone else chimed in what they had discovered and within 15-20 minutes everyone had a solid handle on how to edit and customize their own portfolio theme. That sold everyone in the room, including me….again. 

We did the same thing with SPLOTPoint, and that was even easier given what we learned using Big Picture. It was eye-opening for Lauren and I. The workshop attendees immediately saw various uses, and they were not limited to the templates Alan designed— but those example tools provided an amazing jumping off point. Colgate requested a sandbox with Alan’s SPLOTs so they could start playing, and it also led Lauren and I to ask each other why we are not doing more of this for other schools. Well, we can change that right quick, and Lauren’s recent post about sharing SPLOTs with Colgate is a good first step.

One of the things I get immediately excited about is Reclaim working more closely (hopefully) with Alan Levine, Brian Lamb, Tom Woodward, and maybe even Martha Burtis (I am thinking specifically of her awesome giffing.net, ds106 Assignment Bank, and the database work on survey.umwblogs.org) to figure out how to offer their genius creations to more folks. But also, to visiting schools and building workshops and training around getting ed-techies at various schools to try and build their own. One of the things that blew me away was the instructional designers at Colgate immediately saw how a particular flavor of one of these SPLOTs could be used by an Art Historian or Biology professor for widely disparate projects. This is possibly the furthest you can get in edtech from defaulting to the LMS (without going rogue hippie and claiming it is not about the technology), and the idea of cultivating more of this at a wide-range of schools while building homegrown capacity on the ground would be pretty awesome. Whats more, why couldn’t we find a way to make these various tools available to schools across the web. It would be glorious to see an explosion of small, targeted tools that folks share and play with, and it would be a practical and productive  response to the perceived erosion of options beyond the LMSs of the world. Why can’t we have nice, small, cheap, and out-of-control things in edtech? I’m not sure these tools even need to be sustainable, what if they are disposable by default? What if their singularity (wrong word? 🙂 ) is their beauty? What if scaling SPLOTs were less the point then cloning and mutating them? 

Anyway, we’re hell bent on Reclaiming the SPLOT, and WE WANT YOU TO JOIN THE SMALL, NOT SO SECRET, REVOLUTION. 🙂

 

Sharing SPLOTs Between Servers

During a recent trip to Colgate University (another post on that coming soon), Jim and I had a chance to meet with folks on the ground floor and discuss their visions for Domain of One’s Own at their campus. By the afternoon of Day 2, we were focusing pretty heavily on SPLOTs, a concept developed largely by Alan Levine and Brian Lamb. (He talks about them in depth here.) Though this is hardly a new topic of discussion, its brand new for this little web space so I’ll go ahead and explain: A SPLOT, or Smallest Possible Learning Online Tool, is essentially a template that can be added to a fresh WordPress installation. Think of it like importing demo content with a new WP theme, but it’s done automatically when you install WordPress. So for folks that have never used WordPress before, splots are a helpful starting point. They allow users to see the potential of their WordPress site before even beginning.

Here are a few examples of splots that Alan created, taken from our Demo server, StateU.org:

^Each splot is actually an individual install of WordPress aimed towards different uses: portfolios, course sites, class collaborations, archives of writing, etc. He configured each WordPress install with different sets of themes, plugins, images & dummy text, setting customizations, and pages & posts. Once complete, we were able to ‘save’ the install as a template that other users can see at the point of install. Below is a screenshot of a WordPress installation page where the user could install a number of templates or continue with a clean WordPress dash:

Upon showing this to the Learning and Applied Innovation Team at Colgate, they were thrilled and immediately began thinking of ways in which they could use this templated-splot idea on their campus, personalized for their community. Perhaps they could be organized for departments and/or majors? For instance, an English major looking to publicize his work may a text-heavy site. But a biology major may want to communicate her project findings to her classmates on a password-protected site without formally “publishing” the content for all the world to see.

This discussion was not only eye-opening for the folks at Colgate, but also for Jim and myself. Simply put: why aren’t more schools taking advantage of this? I’ll save my rant ideas about this for another post, but for now I’ll take this post back to its original purpose: to share the steps I took to move Alan’s splots over to the Colgate server. It is their hope/our hope that this will give the newly appointed Domain of One’s Own Admins with a starting point for building out their own splots.

It was cool to begin to think through what this might look like since WHM doesn’t have a super seamless way to sync templates between multiple servers. In the event that splots continue to gain popularity at other DoOO schools, what would be the process for sharing these templates? What if a DoOO school has more than one server? Or what if University A wants to use templates that University B has created? Does someone have to manage the sharing, or can it be a ‘hands-off’ experience?

In no way do I claim to be the first to think of these questions (in fact, splot.ca already has a repository for a few of Alan’s splots) though the steps I took this morning definitely got the creative juices flowing. Here’s how I ended up sharing splots between servers:

1. Whitelist Demo server’s IP address on Colgate’s server

This is done in the ConfigServer Security and Firewall section of WHM. Quick Allow and Quick Ignore the IP address.

2. Copy Account from Another Server

In Colgate’s WHM, search ‘Copy’ in the left-hand search bar. Select Copy an Account From Another Server With an Account Password. Uncheck Restricted Restore, add the demo server’s IP address, along with the username & cPanel password of the account where the templates reside. Click Copy Account.

If all goes well, you will see the account transfer over on the next page:

3. Import Installatron Apps

Log into the Colgate server via terminal and type the following command:

/usr/local/installatron/installatron --send-update-report --user cpanelusername

^make sure to change cpanelusername to the account’s actual cPanel username.

4. Rename Account

Using this method, rename the domain name by clicking modify account in WHM. In this instance, I renamed it to splots.colgate.domains.

Now whenever Colgate admins want to create a new template, they can work directly in a splot-specific account that’s organized for their needs.

5. Making SPLOTs Live!

When the team is ready to roll out splots to all users on the server, they can do so by searching Installatron in the left-hand sidebar, clicking Installatron Applications Installer, clicking Templates, and then clicking create application template.

Search the new splots account in the search bar on the top right:

And simply ‘star’ the WordPress installs that you’re ready to make into templates.

Give the new splot a title & description, then click Template.

Now when anyone on the server goes to install a fresh copy of WordPress, they’ll have the option to install the new splot!

Workshop Clip: Supporting DoOO

Clip from my session, Supporting Domain of One’s Own, during day one of Reclaim’s Administrator Workshop. During the 45-min talk, we cover strategies for approaching support tickets, user FAQ’s, and common errors.

Now I realize you can’t really see the screen in this video– oops. Hoping we’ll be able to fix that for next time! Still wanted to share this clip as I think it does provide useful information & discussion for DoOO admins.

Documentation guides written for this portion of the workshop are linked below:

Supporting DoOO Full Category
• Fix for Changing Site URL in WP Dashboard
Approaching a Support Ticket
Unblocking/Blocking an IP in CSF
Common Troubleshooting Fixes
HTTP 500 Errors
Understanding .htaccess
Fixing Permissions

Photobook: Reclaim Team in NYC

A few weeks back, while reminiscing about last year’s trip to Portland, Oregon (originally what was for a cPanel conference), we realized how valuable that trip had been for the Reclaim team. Though only a group of three at the time, having the opportunity to step away from our daily routine and “vacation” together allowed us to think broadly about the future and cultivate relationships past our computers. Since Meredith just came aboard not too long ago and we knew Jim was coming to town for Workshop of One’s Own, it felt like the perfect time to get away again.

After the Reclaim team finished the workshop, we took a quick plane ride to New York City for a long weekend. While in Portland, the idea of Domains17 came to life, so I think we all had this question of what big idea would come from this trip to NYC. Over the course of those two-ish days, we took a ferry ride to Staten Island (where I saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time!), had some of the best Chinese food ever, saw a Broadway Show, walked through the Chelsea Market, hung out at an arcade bar, and yes, came up with our “next big idea”. The Reclaim team left the city on Monday with a newfound excitement for 2018.

Omeka S Installer Now Available

We were very excited yesterday to see that the great team at Omeka had rolled out the official 1.0 version of Omeka S (in addition to a gorgeous new website that highlights both S and Classic versions of the software). We’ve been following the project with anticipation for quite awhile now and we know a few users have installed the software manually while it was in the alpha/beta stages. An installer has always been on our radar but we wanted to allow the Omeka team to provide a clear line of support and feedback loop for their product while it was still in beta via their forums (which continue to be a wonderful resource for support of the software with the developers very active there). With the software reaching maturity now and being publicized more widely it was time to make it easy for any Reclaim user to give it a go.

So what is Omeka S? If you’re familiar with Omeka for exhibits and one-off projects you’ll find that Omeka S is a better approach for managing multiple repositories. You have one set of code, plugins (or modules as they’re called now), and themes that are shared across the sites you create. In many ways this will remind you of WordPress Multisite versus standalone WordPress. For institutions or organizations tasked with managing more than one Omeka install this opens the door for an easier workflow. And Omeka has rebuilt their codebase from the ground up.

As of today the installer has begun rolling out to all of our servers (both shared hosting as well as institutional Domain of One’s Own systems). You’ll find installation incredibly straightforward. Simply choose the location you want to install to and fill out a few brief fields setting a name, email, and password and you’re off to the races. Here’s a quick screencast showing what that looks like:

Not ready to run it on your own domain yet? Omeka has provided a sandbox environment for you to play in so you can test the software without setting up any accounts of your own.

We could not be more pleased to continue supporting CHNM and the Omeka team as well as the larger DH community by making this available. Give it a shot and let us know what you think!

Back in the USSA

I’m sitting in Frankfurt’s airport after a pretty intense two-week trip back to the good ole USA. My post title references the fact that as I was entering the country around Halloween the indictments surrounding Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion charges was heating up with the promise of indictments. The current U.S. political drama is insane no matter how you slice it, but oddly a bit less painful (at least for me) when actually in the country rather than watching it from abroad. Who knows, I try and turn the volume down on that bullshit as much as possible, which reminds me I need to finally extricate myself from Twitter and the other rat nests of social media I’m half-heartedly holding on to. All I need is my blog and this thermos!

Anyway, that was not what I wanted to write about, although it will come up again later on in this post. But let me start at the beginning. I was heading to the States for three main reasons: a Workshop of One’s Own, the Reclaim Annual Retreat, and a two-day training session at Colgate University. It was a full agenda to begin with, but it also provided me an opportunity to catch up with friends and family in NYC and Long Island, which is always a treat. 

First up is the Workshop of One’s Own, which was our first real focused workshop for Domain of One’s Own administrators. We had 6 admins from various institutions to the Reclaim Headquarters in Fredericksburg for two intense days of training around administering Domain of One’s Own. I would go on in detail, but you won’t have to listen to me drone on about it because Lauren Brumfield already blogged the hell out of it! She provides a detailed look at what we covered as well as linking to the documentation we created in preparation for the event. The documentation alone was worth pushing ourselves to run the workshop; we now have a rich trove of resources for Domain of One’s Own admins. But for me the real gold was having the Reclaim team all together taking folks through Domains.

I was blown away with the preparation and execution of the various sessions, and in particular Lauren and Meredith’s adept facilitation of their sessions on everything from DNS to .htaccess to migrations —not easy topics to discuss for an hour. I’ve already talked about building capacity at Reclaim, but it occurred to me while watching them go is that we are also building expertise—and that is awesome. But not only amongst the Reclaim Hosting team, but also in the folks at the various schools running Domains. The work we are doing is not just about cPanel or WHMCS, it is about our platform which is the web. So this workshop is a deep dive into understanding how servers work, and by extension the very infrastructure of the web. I think it went off quite well, and after our first run I have no doubt we can do even better next time.

After the workshop the Reclaim Hosting team headed to New York City for the weekend to hang out. We did something similar for the cPanel conference in Portland, Oregon last October, and we found spending a few days together just hanging out was tremendously useful and productive. It proved to be the case yet again. We had a general check-in on where everyone’s at, as well as shared dreams of what we want to see next year. All the while we ate good food, saw inspiring museum exhibits, played 80s arcade games, took in a broadway show, and rode the Staten Island Ferry. Not bad at all, NYC never disappoints. Meredith wrote up the trip on her blog (look mom, they’re blogging!) and it’s cool to get her take on it given she’s only been full-time for two months—although it feels like more given how quickly she has become indispensable.

We didn’t come into the weekend with any expectations that we would get something tangible out of it, but we did. In fact, we have a full blown plan for the next six months at least (more on what we’re doing in future posts), and I feel deeply inspired creatively going into 2018 as a result. So it was a total boon for me. The idea was for us just to enjoy ourselves and have fun with hopes that would lead to good things, and I truly believe it does. I think that was part of the success of UMW’s DTLT during the 10 years I was lucky enough to work there, and I think Tim and I are intentionally trying to cultivate some of the looseness and fun that framed those years that allowed us to explore wildly, while at the same time remaining committed to a culture of support and presence that made the work sustainable. Trying to figure out that balance and what makes a team successful is both difficult and interesting, and while I don’t pretend to have any answers, I feel Reclaim Hosting is starting to click in some very important ways when it comes to the work.

After New York City, Tim and Meredith returned to Fredericksburg, while Lauren and I went to Colgate University for a two day workshop to get them up and running on their Domains pilot. This is the second time Lauren has joined me on a trip to a school, last October we went to Muhlenberg College. The previous event was focused around a talk and various workshops, which is often the case when I visit campuses (the Muhlenberg students were a blast on Twitter.) But this trip was a bit different because Lauren and I were co-facilitating the two-day workshop at Colgate to train instructional designers and system administrators on how Domain of One’s Own works. This piggy-backed nicely on the work we did for Workshop of One’s Own the previous week. Additionally, we were very intentional about treating this as preparation and experience so that she can start visiting schools solo in the future. We’ve been making great strides in building capacity and expertise at Reclaim this year, and this is but another example. It also helped that Jeff Nugent put together a great cast of characters for us to work with during our time there. It is nice to see Jeff land so well at Colgate continuing the fine work he did at VCU.

I’m definitely gonna go into greater detail about this workshop in another post because it deserves it, but let me just say that Lauren and I were able to balance a cohesive structure and spontaneous play that kinda mirrors the emerging Reclaim ethos I was trying to explain above. We had the workshop planned out quite well and day 1 ran like a tight ship. But during day two we were able to read the group a bit better and actually improvise on our plan. We responded to their interests and were able explore some of them in real-time together. They were very enthusiastic about SPLOTs, so Lauren and I improvised for an hour and a half having them build their own SPLOTs as part of the morning and afternoon sessions. The coolest part of that was both Lauren and I were new to the tools we were demonstrating (SPLOTpoint and Calling Card), so it was an experimental modeling of something we didn’t know, and the sense of shared exploration and purpose was exhilarating—a highpoint in workshopping for me. What’s more, it only reinforces the fact that SPLOTS and Reclaim are a match made in heaven, but more on that when I write that post. 

After an exhausting, but very fulfilling, two days in Colgate, Lauren and I parted in Syracuse and returned to NYC to round out my trip with friends and family. One of the great fortunate coincidences of this trip was that the CUNY mafia was running one of their famous CUNY Pie pizza tours of NYC that Friday night, so I tagged along. 

It was as awesome as it sounded, and a special treat was seeing and talking with Boone Gorges. He is an elusive one on the world wide web, but just a short time with him reminds me how both inspiring and hysterically funny he is—I do miss his presence. We talked about his and Darcy Norman’s initial reclaiming efforts in 2012 and 2013 that gave Reclaim Hosting its name, and also about his continued diet of a social media free internet. I have to say his arguments are pretty compelling, and he looks and sounds no worse for the wear of being off the internet map. I deeply love the CUNY folks, I can trace pretty much my whole career back to a handful of people at the Graduate Center, many of whom were at that table eating pizza. For me, returning to NYC is always an exercise in resisting the urge to daydream about trying to move back. It’s a strong drug.

 

Fly like an eagle, boys!

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

After that, I hung out with my family in Long Island, enjoying high school football games, great diner food, and catching up with my extended family whom are awesome.

 

Some Sunday fun with family.

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

And as a cherry on top of an already amazing trip, I was able to grab breakfast at Mike’s Diner in Clinton Hill before heading to JFK with Twitter rockstar Sava, who will soon be leaving the NYC bubble. We had a lot to talk about in that regard, and it was nice to catch up before she begins anew.

And with that, I’m here in Germany waiting to fly to Verona and then train to Trento and dig in for the next couple of months to hang with my special lady friend, enjoy my wonderful children, and return to my hiking routine. Back home, oddly enough.

Fall 2017 DoOO Workshop

Workshop of One’s Own, Reclaim Hosting’s first administrator-focused intensive workshop, has come and gone. And I don’t use the word “intensive” lightly here- it was a dense two days, packed with information that would make even the most qualified admin exhausted, but was amazingly helpful nonetheless.

For this workshop, the Reclaim team really wanted to focus on creating an initial knowledge base of documentation that speaks directly to the Domain of One’s Own administrator. While the DoOO Community Forums can be helpful for certain categories, and there’s a template of DoOO support docs floating around for the community, we felt that there really wasn’t a source for administrators. We realize bringing Domain of One’s Own to a school can feel like a massive undertaking in itself, so if we can help even just a little bit with the onboarding process for new admins, then we’ll consider that a win!

So that was the mindset going in: a workshop for folks that would land somewhere between the Reclaim team coming to the university for in-person training, and the new admin putting in countless support tickets with us as a form of learning. Since this was a new event for us, we reached out to folks personally that we thought might benefit from the training. Though the attendees came from an array of backgrounds, titles, and experiences, we were really pushing to get people that, at the bare minimum, had experienced DoOO at their school for a couple of months. That way they had some familiarity with the platform, had time to come up with questions & knew in advance where their school wanted to take the project.

Jim talking through the three systems that make DoOO.

On Thursday morning, the first day of the workshop, we met folks at Reclaim’s office in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We introduced (or in some cases, reacquainted) ourselves over Panera bagels, and then jumped right into a platform overview at 9 am. Understanding how the platform works and being able to conceptualize how the three main pieces work together is crucial for supporting a community, so we felt like this was a strong start to the workshop. And as Meredith mentioned in her post, having only 6 attendees quickly made the environment feel intimate and comfortable.

I loved the “hands-on” feel. Notice Tim Clarke in the back writing on our feature request wall!

After the first session, Tim & Jim took the folks through an in-depth look at WHMCS (client manager) & WHM (server side). The initial homepages of these tools can feel quite intimidating if you haven’t worked with them before, so this felt like the natural next step in the itinerary. In WHMCS, the two covered ‘active’ vs. ‘pending’ orders, deprovisioning accounts, email templates, account ownership, creating Admin roles, and understanding logs & general settings. In WHM, Jim & Tim discussed settings in Installatron, hosting packages, account management, cPanel feature manager, addon domains, storage quotas, and changing domain names. Whew- what a list!

From there I spoke about the actual supporting of DoOO. We’ve learned from early on that Domain of One’s Own is nothing without people that use it, so understanding how to support the community is well over half the battle. I have videos of the talk that I’m currently working to get online, so those should be coming along soon. I covered strategies for approaching a support ticket, top 5 most common support requests & their fixes, unblocking IP addresses in WHM, .htaccess files, HTTP 500 errors, and quick database fixes.

Somehow in the mix of topics and sessions, we were able to fit in a quick lunch– courtesy of Chipotle. :) (Group order links FTW!)

Day two of the workshop was probably my favorite– we picked up right where we left off, continuing to talk through support scenarios by discussing hacked websites and how to clean them up and prevent them in the future. Tim walked folks through strategies, tools to use, and necessary steps to take. I summarized his talk in my blog post, Workshop of One’s Own: Notes on Hacked Site Session.

Meredith talking to attendees about Domain Transfers.

After that, Meredith spoke on Migrations, Transfers, and Databases. Quite the feat for someone who just joined Reclaim full time in September! She discussed migrating folks to a Domain of One’s Own platform, transferring them off DoOO after graduation, requirements for domain transfers, EPP codes, the lifecycle of domains, the importance of database migration, nameservers, and domain privacy.

Before lunch, I jumped into all things DNS, continuing the theme of supporting Domain of One’s Own. DNS has always felt like a hefty topic for me, so I only covered relevant content regarding the projects of those sitting in the room with us. We explored what DNS actually is and does, types of DNS records, how to edit records from WHM & cPanel, and common DNS errors and fixes to be aware of. I’m hoping to get the video of this session up shortly as well!

With Benny’s Pizza as fuel, Workshop attendees were given a ‘breakout room’-like puzzle during their lunch break. The group had to work together to solve a pretty involved support ticket with fixes that were covered over the last day and a half. They were given 3 escalations or ‘lifelines’ where they could submit a support ticket to ask the Reclaim team for help, but only ended up using 1 lifeline. It was awesome to watch them work together, and to hear their thought process for finding solutions. Everyone had come to the table with different levels of understanding and experiences, so they were able to play on each other’s strengths and weaknesses. When all was said and done, the group of 6 solved the ticket in under an hour by: editing DNS records, correcting a .htaccess file, manually turning off a faulty WordPress plugin, installing an SSL certificate, and editing database files to fix a broken WP dashboard. Not too shabby!

By the afternoon on day 2, everyone was feeling pretty drained but motivated for the last stretch of the workshop. I continued with a discussion about Exit Strategies for graduating students, and spoke on handling migrations, deleting old accounts, and the instructions to give students. From there, Tim conducted the last formal session of the workshop by talking about the potential of APIs in a Domain of One’s Own instance. It was nice to switch gears from more of a formal training of ‘how-to’s’ to an overview of ‘here are things that you could be doing’ approach. He talked through WHMCS hooks, taking advantage of cPanel features without accessing the cPanel interface, additional APIs in Installatron, and different API tools.

The last hour of the workshop was left for an open discussion- we answered any outstanding questions that had arisen, and then tackled more user/project-specific requests.

All in all, it was a jam-packed, successful event. We’re hoping to do these workshops regularly- potentially once a semester- and are so thankful for the folks that decided to come out and help us kick it off. The Reclaim team has already agreed that future workshops should include more interactivities besides the group lunch event on day 2, as they really do help liven things up and allow the group the opportunity to apply what they learned. And though we did take frequent breaks, I’m thinking future events should require additional stretch breaks, or potentially an activity or two where they have to stand up and walk around the room. (Haha!) Regardless of how helpful it can be to dive into dense tutorials on the big screen & follow along on computers, I think we could have used more reminders to get our blood pumping.

Whew! If you’ve made it this long, thanks for reading! Be on the lookout for future Workshop events at reclaimhosting.com/workshop.