On Thursday Tim and I recorded yet another Reclaim Today episode, and I have to say this may be my favorite to date. Not only because we are beginning to see some of the fun possibilities manifest with the Reclaim TV Studio in this production, but it might mark the beginning of a truly awesome project. Tim and I have no shortage of good ideas when we get going, but Tim has really hit on some gold in his recent quest to bridge time and space to make sure Reclaim Arcade stays weird. He’s a genius, and I love the madness. But I might be getting ahead of myself here a bit, but the short version is he discovered this very cool site called Telemelt by Andrew Reitano, which is a way to play emulated NES games (amongst others) latency free online with friends. With the simple click of the spacebar you can switch who controls the game, and it is remarkably seamless, totally free, and a by-product of our current locked-down reality.
And to this equation Tim added another dimension, me and him playing them together in the proverbial and very real console living room in Fredericksburg with him in person and me on the robot. The combination of playing seamlessly via the browser and then “being” in the same space as a robot was quite remarkable. Which led him to the idea of what if we can replicate this latency-free game play for the Reclaim Arcade cabinets and have folks come in via robot and play with others that are in the physical space? A fleet of robots occupied by folks all over the world playing games in Reclaim Arcade….CAN YOU DIG IT!
I am sure I’ll have more to say about this, but it is also worth noting that this was our first stream using multiple-scenes with green screens and a little OBS Ninja action. I’m not gonna lie, I am loving our new streaming overlords
At Reclaim Hosting we take pride in our customer support, with our fast, responsive and empowering team, we’re always happy to help! Whether you have a question about FTP, email, your domain registration, or installing an application, we’ll be there to take a look and teach you about the world of web hosting.
As a small team of 7 Reclaimers, we’ve taken some different approaches to how we man our support team than other web hosting companies to make sure that you’re able to see the best experience possible on Reclaim Hosting. This includes scheduled business hours and offered support through email rather than over the phone.
Reclaim Hosting is based on the East Coast of the United States and we’re open for business M-F 8am-5pm. We strive to respond to your ticket within 1 hour of submitting during these hours and within 24 hours when a request is submitted outside of those hours.
We do have Reclaimers working different scheduled hours so you may receive a response outside of our scheduled hours but subsequent responses may be delayed.
At this time, Reclaim Hosting does not offer any phone support. As a small company, we’ve invested in building out our support infrastructure in a way that is scalable to our customer base primarily through email support and community forums.
As part of this, our approach to support involves sending along with screenshots and detailed step by step instructions as well as manual work on Reclaim Hosting’s end to teach each customer that reaches out. We’re able to efficiently work with our customers to solve any issues through email support.
The best way to reach Reclaim Hosting for help is through email. Reclaim Hosting manages their support primarily through email, using Zendesk to handle the management of tickets.
You can email us directly at email@example.com with any questions, issues, or comments you may have and we’ll be happy to take a look!
Reclaim Hosting’s Community forums are another great option to get in touch with us! Not only do we have extensive documentation across all aspects of Reclaim’s products, but this is also the perfect place for you to interact with the Reclaim Hosting community! You can bounce ideas based on what project you’re working on, you’re also contributing to the community by asking your question.
Another great way to get in touch with us is through a few of our contact forms on Reclaim’s website. Not sure where to get started? Need help moving content over to Reclaim? Want to ask a question about setting up Domain of One’s Own at your Institution or even a Managed Hosting server? We’ve got the right forms for you! Here are some of the forms on our website:
While you’re working in your cPanel account, you’ll see a widget down at the bottom of the screen that will give you access to submit a quick ticket to Reclaim. This is extra helpful if you have a quick question while working within your Reclaim account.
You have a few options to submit a ticket directly within your Reclaim Hosting account. You’ll see a few options to access these tickets, first through the Support menu item at the top of the screen. You can click to submit a ticket, view previous tickets, access the Reclaim Hosting Community Forums, and check on your server status.
You can also click the blue Support button below the menu to access all tickets and create a new one. You’ll also be able to respond to any open tickets here. You’ll see a number in this box if you have any open tickets.
Below is a list of holidays Reclaim Hosting observes. Users will experience slower response times during these holidays.
New Year’s Day (on or around January 1)
Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Third Monday in January)
Presidents Day (Third Monday in February)
Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)
Independence Day (on or around July 4)
Labor Day (First Monday of September)
Columbus Day (Second Monday of October)
Thanksgiving Holiday (Fourth Thursday in November)
It was a fun episode chock-full of cool stuff, and what’s awesome is that Reclaim Today is starting to find its groove. I’m finding the episodes are tighter and more focused on our experimentation. What’s more, they are proving a whole lotta fun! It helps that we have a dedicated TV studio now—which was an investment—but it is quickly proving quite useful, not to mention really fun to play with. As I was telling Tim after this episode, I get most excited when I wake up these days thinking about broadcasting to the radio or figuring out another angle of the streaming video puzzle than just about anything else. I have a talk coming up in a couple of weeks that I want to try an apply some of what we are playing with in order to see if we can make the virtual presentation experience more fun, engaging, and interactive using a few of these tools, I guess we’ll see if all this fun has a real purpose or not
It started out as an innocent enough ticket into Reclaim Hosting from Dr. Laura Morreale, whose work involves transcribing and translating texts from medieval manuscripts using online digital facsimiles, asked if we can run eXist-db on her cPanel account in shared hosting. In particular she needed to run TEI Publisher, an open source application that is described as follows in this documentation:
The motivation behind TEI Publisher was to provide a tool which enables scholars and editors to publish their materials without becoming programmers, but also does not force them into a one-size-fits-all framework. Experienced developers will benefit as well by writing less code, avoiding redundancy, improve maintenance and interoperability – to just name a few. TEI Publisher is all about standards, modularity, reusability and sustainability!
A quick look at the basic installation documentation for eXist-db told me it was a Java app which is a hard no for cPanel. But avoiding hard NOs when someone comes asking for help is one of the main reasons we started Reclaim Cloud. A cursory search for a Docker container for this application led me to a container that seemed out-dated. I responded suggesting we could try installing it on the Cloud if they had a current Docker instance, which I was not finding. Turns out I wasn’t looking hard enough, it was linked from the eXistDB homepage right in front of my eyes. I was wrong, and Dr. Morreale responded suggesting she was becoming increasingly frustrated trying to get this application running online saying, and I misquote for comic effect: “Dammit Jim, I am Medievalist, not a server admin!” She was right, and this was why we started the Cloud in the first place; I needed to try harder. What’s more, I appreciated the fact she was so determined to make this work. So much so that soon after after the last email I sent to try and get this working, she sent sent me a link to the right Docker container on the recommendation of the folks at eXist-db:
That was all we needed, I simply searched for this container in the Docker area when creating a new environment in Reclaim Cloud:
Click “Next” and add the subdomain of this test environment, in my example teipublisher.us.reclaim.cloud (now deleted), and then clicked “Create.”
And within moments I was able to access the site at at that subdomain:
The eXistdb splash page redirects to a suite of tools, including TEI Publisher!
A click on that icon brings us into that application:
While there are a still few things to work out in regards to user management for the application, it seems like we may have a winner with this Docker container. In fact, Dr. Morreale’s struggle highlights a pain point for many humanities PhDs that need to run an application that demands a bespoke server environment. This is when the value of containers is extremely evident. In this case, running a Java server environment that can provide an application that provides a stable and citable publication venue for a Medievalist’s transcriptions and translations is a perfect case in point. In fact, Dr. Morreale was kind enough to furnish me with some insight of her work, process, and challenges for this post:
Like a growing number of humanities PhDs, I am an independent scholar who maintains relationships with several programs and institutions. I am currently affiliated in an official capacity with Fordham, Georgetown, and Harvard Universities, and am also engaged in ongoing projects with partners at Stanford and Princeton Universities. My medievalist practice has always been characterized by a physical distance from both the repositories that hold sources which I study, and the institutions where my scholarly work finds its home. For this reason, digital methods have offered me a solution for my scholarly work when I had few others.
Some of the most rewarding efforts which have in turn informed much of my traditional analytical work, involve transcribing and translating texts found in medieval manuscripts using online digital facsimiles. Using a tool called FromThePage combined with IIIF image technology, I can now easily choose digitized manuscript images from any online repository, upload them, then immediately begin to transcribe the text from the medieval source. I can also translate my own transcription after it is complete, and I have undertaken both individual and collaborative translation projects using this method. Right now my projects include corpus of early 13th century aristocratic legal codes from Crusader Cyprus, a rarely-cited history of Florence that was buried in a late 14th-century letter from a father to his son, and a little known work by Renaissance Florentine Leon Battista Alberti, found in a larger manuscript that has broken up, with parts of it now housed at Harvard’s Houghton Library.
The one difficulty has been to find a stable and citable publication venue for these transcriptions and translations. I have tried several different programs over the years, but could never easily publish all the work I had done to bring more attention to these texts and manuscripts. Using Reclaim Hosting and a program called TEI Publisher allows me to create the kind of edition I would like, and to allows me to integrate images, notes, and other explanatory materials into my online editions.
In the end, the fact that we could help Dr. Morreale get what she needed fairly seamlessly is a thrill, and it highlights everything we hoped Reclaim Cloud would be. I am planning on turning this Docker container into a one-click application for the Reclaim Cloud marketplace so that other folks can hopefully scratch a similar itch. And special thanks to Dr. Morreale for so generously sharing her process and work to complete this post. Avanti!
This past Tuesday I attended the second Indie WebCamp generously hosted by Chris Aldrich focused on Domain of One’s Own. The format is a more focused 10-15 minute talk around a specific technology, in this meeting Tim gave folks a walk-though of Reclaim Cloud, and then opens up to the 21 attendees for anyone to share something they are working on. Tim shared the Cloud, and not only was I thrilled to see Jon Udell in attendance, but it’s always nice when one of your tech heroes tweets some love for your new project. Even better when you know they’re not one to offer empty interest and/or praise. Thanks Jon!
It was also very cool to read Will Monroe write-up of the session, and like him I found it a “very friendly group” and I realized while attending that this kind of low-key chatting and sharing is one of the things I have missed these days. Folks like Will who want to explore what’s possible in their classroom with Domains and beyond is a big part of what I miss about the day-to-day work of an edtech in an institution. And while I’m not necessarily chomping at the bit jump back into that game given the current circumstances, the ability to share and chat with folks who are interested in Domains is always a welcome opportunity.
During the sharing portion of the meetup Jean Macdonald, community manager at mico.blog, turned me on to the Sunlit project while I was bemoaning the dearth of open source alternatives to photo sharing apps like Instagram. Soon after I finally took the leap and signed up for a mico.blog to explore that platform. That platform has been a indieweb cornerstone for many folks I respect like John Johnston, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, and Dan Cohen to name just a few. So I wrote my first post:
What was even cooler was the fact that while writing this post I logged back into micro.blog and discovered a few folks had welcomed me to the micro.blog community, including Jean Macdonald and Dan Cohen—that makes all the difference.
I’m sold, so the IndieWeb meetup was a total win for me, and I look forward to the one next month. I am going to start getting serious about headless WordPress development for my new website at jimgroom.net, inspired by Tom Woodward’s talk for #HeyPresstoConf20
It occurred to me yesterday after finally listening to Terry Greene‘s interview with Bryan Mathers for the Gettin Air podcast that I never blogged about our Reclaim Cloud artwork. That needs to be rectified, and I will share the awesome below, but before I do I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the interview between these two. Possibly the coolest part was when Bryan started interviewing Terry in order to see if he could “draw” out of him some ideas that he could refactor as a visual for the podcast, and voilà Gettin Air has a new logo!
I dig it, especially given I have returned to snowboarding these last few years, but even better was Bryan getting Terry to talk about his idea behind the name, his articulation of what he’s doing and why—it was all so effortless and real. It was a beautiful demonstration of how the interview can become the thing it wants to share. So genius, well worth a listen if you have some time.
Anyway, that whole process reminded me I have not yet shared the work Reclaim Hosting did with Bryan this summer to get started on the Reclaim Cloud aesthetic. Given Reclaim Cloud is premised on a container-based architecture, we initially explored if we wanted to go down the road of shipping containers, and we have some initial sketches from Bryan that I absolutely love.
The containers are actually VHS tapes! A point made clearer in the heavy lifting image that follows:
I still love that poster, in fact I have a stamped copy of it framed and hanging on the wall behind me as I write this. So we got to talking a bit about it, although Tim was a bit reluctant given he is not a Star Wars fan, but through conversation the idea of a retro-futurism aesthetic began to emerge a la The Jetsons.
And Bryan’s rough sketches had us very intrigued:
The idea of scaling your domain was fun, and the way Bryan mapped that onto retro-futuristic housing and was brilliant. In the final image the beginnings of a logo/cloudlet begin to take shape already. This was our aesthetic, and we kind of knew it during the discussion, but the seeds of the sketches sealed it.
The final option was to stick with the music/video metaphor we already have and push it further with mixed tapes. But it just felt forced, and I think Tim and I both wanted the freedom to jump out of that metaphor and explore something new, and I am really glad we did.
The next conversation after deciding on Cloud City was to scout the internet for some ideas for our next conversations, and that is when Tim landed on industrial designer Arthur Radebough’s Closer than We Think comic strip from the late 1950s through 1963. The way in which the art incorporate an explanatory panel and then the actual art incorporates various explicit arrows illustrating the future gels nicely with our idea of introducing Reclaim Cloud as a way of highlighting for higher ed what’s possible in this new space. So, we got to talking, and the first round of art was amazing:
I really love the industrial logo for Reclaim Cloud which is itself an encapsulated container, a cloudlet if you will, and this idea of self-contained cities became a bit part of our aesthetic. And the fact that Bryan Ollendyke said it reminded him of Bioshock on Twitter just sealed it for me
We were sold after this image, a kind of brochure for Cloud City which enabled us to start exploring the idea of what it would mean to try and create a series of vignettes of the different options for anyone interested in moving to the Cloud. It was just too fun, so the follow-up discussion was to explore the Closer than You Think comic strips to highlight some of the one-click applications we have for courses, organizations, and digital scholarship:
Pure magic! The way in which the container has become an organic part of these images is just so awesome. I love the one outside the window of the home classroom. This idea that it is all connected yet separate is one way to understand the cloud, and Bryan really brought it home. And as amazing as all the art is, I think his breakdown of the various elements of a Reclaim Cloud container that could incur costs in a fullblown masterpiece:
This sphere is everything, literally. I just love the way the aesthetic has evolved and the final bit is thinking through how we’re going to highlight what is happening within each cloud. This led us to the idea of “What’s in your Cloud?” wherein we talk to folks to provide us a peak into their Cloud, what are they running, how, etc. The following image is a placeholder, but we are thinking through ways of trying to capture the individual nature of folks’ cloud for each episode, and Bryan mentioned some kind of comic-like avatar, like my Cotton Mather avatar in a spacesuit hold my Cloud sphere, which would be awesome!
Anyway, I think that brings us up to date, and to be clear this has only just begun. We are thinking of Reclaim Cloud as a long-game. We know it will not replace cPanel hosting; we have plenty of time to experiment with the possibilities; and we can slowly start moving our existing infrastructure over as we become increasingly comfortable with the environment. Not to mention it has forced us to dig in and learn a lot more as a company, and as much as I was kicking myself given I was just start to feel a bit liberated from the day-to-day, in the end I love it. We’ve been dreaming of this kind of infrastructure since we started Reclaim Hosting, and in 3 short months we went from nothing to a pretty full blown product that provides some concrete solutions for academics wanting to host something outside of the LAMP stack. And this retro-future aesthetic is our way to start experimenting in this space without pretending there aren’t also real problems baked into every solution—we’re here to explore right along side you.
It's been almost 2 years since I last wrote about major PHP updates to Reclaim Hosting's platforms. At the time the big move was setting our default PHP to 7.0. The transition from PHP 5.6 to 7.0 was perhaps the biggest breaking change of all and at the time 5.6 had already been deprecated for a long time but software (particularly some WordPress themes and plugins) had been slow to make the transition.
One of the great things about running a site on Reclaim when it comes to PHP is that you aren't limited to the version we run on the server (we have been defaulting to PHP 7.2 for the past year or so). With the MultiPHP Manager in cPanel you can adjust your PHP version allowing you to run the absolutely latest or something older for compatibility. But allowing older versions to continue running does pose a security risk for us and we've had to strike a balance between compatibility and security. At the time of the last post I promised we would likely remove support for PHP 5.6 in 1 year's time. We ended up giving it 2 years but that time has now come and we want to provide enough advance notice for users to test their systems.
As a recap PHP 5.6 was end of life on January 1st, 2019. It has not received security updates in a year and a half. Meanwhile later versions of PHP not only improve on the security front but also have performance benefits. Even WordPress is recommending PHP 7.4. You can find full information on supported PHP versions from the PHP project on their website. PHP 7.2, our current default, is actually only receiving security fixes and no improvements and will be end of life at the end of this year prompting a need for these updates.
On January 1, 2021, Reclaim Hosting will make PHP 7.4 the default version on all of our servers. Users will have the option to downgrade as low as PHP 7.2 but no lower. We will be removing all support for PHP 5.6, 7.0, and 7.1 which have all been end of life for over a year. If your site is currently set to use one of these versions the site will go down when those versions are removed so we recommend spot checking your account now to ensure you are running later versions. It remains our strong recommendation that users attempt to run test and run their software with the latest possible PHP version. If you wish to follow the server defaults you can set your PHP version to "inherit" to use the server version.
Q: I have a really important project hosted with Reclaim that does not support PHP 7.2. Can you make an exception so we can keep the project alive? A: Unfortunately it is not safe for us to make exceptions to our systems for one-off cases like this. The best way you can ensure the long term sustainability of the project is to update the software to be compatible with more recent versions of PHP.
Q: My website is not really used anymore. If I can't get it updated what options do I have? A: For archival purposes you may wish to convert your website to static HTML. There are some great recommendations on this approach in this community forum thread.
Q: Does this policy apply to institutional and managed hosting customers with their own servers? A: Yes, this policy will apply to all servers managed by Reclaim Hosting regardless of customer. To ensure the security of our systems and meet SLA requirements we will not make exceptions.
Q: What about your new Reclaim Cloud offering? A: This policy was already in place for Reclaim Cloud at launch time so it is not currently possible to run a PHP version lower than 7.2.
Q: Who do I contact if I have more questions? A: You can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with all questions.
We’re currently building out Reclaim Hosting HQ’s TV studio, and as a result we’ve been doing more Reclaim Today episodes —which is a welcome change. In episode 21 we discuss what a video kit would look like for remote workers like Lauren and I. The idea being the mothership that is Reclaim Hosting’s office studio would be where all the heavy lifting happens, but Lauren and I would need to have tight video setups that allow us to seamlessly integrate for a distributed stream, not to mention the importance of having a solid rig as more and more events and trainings go fully online.
And we even had a view or two, thanks Simon! So the discussion delineates what a remote kit would look like, and below is the list of the equipment I got for my remote setup (Lauren’s differs a bit based on availability). There was more Elgato equipment available in Italy than the US (the company is headquartered just up the valley in Munich, Germany) as the demand for webcams, portable green screens, microphones, etc., is still peaking given the US is experiencing the never-ending lockdown. So, below is my annotated list of my remote video setup:
Elgato Key Light Air (2x): Lighting, lighting, lighting! One of the big takeaways from our discussion with Andy Rush a couple of weeks back was good lighting is everything. So I got two portable, adjustable desktop lights that I can link and control via my phone. These were $130 each, and I got two that sit on either side of my computer (as pictured above) and they do make all the difference but the app is a bit wonky at controlling both seamlessly, so that is something to consider. But I love how seamless they work on the desk behind my monitor on the left and next to the one on the right.
Elgato Wave Microphone: Next up is sound, and I currently have a Yeti mic that has worked for me pretty well, but one of the drawbacks is I tend to keep it off to the side and I find my levels are consistently low and it picks up everything. That said the Yeti may be more than enough for folks, but I wanted to try the Elgato Wave 1 to see if that was different, it just came this morning so I have to follow-up after playing around more, but a potential benefit of the Wave mic is comes with mixing software.
Logitech C920 Webcam: This is the camera I bought after mistakenly getting the Logitech C615, which sucks. While only $15-20 difference, the C920 is far superior. And I think this will be a good solution for most, I am still planning on mounting a Canon DSLR behind and above my main monitor and bringing it in as an input for OBS using Elgato’s Cam Link 4K video capture card. More on this experiment anon, but at $115 for the Logictech C920 (which is $20 cheaper than the Cam Link video capture card, and $1000+ cheaper than a DSLR) it is a very solid and affordable camera for a remote kit.
Elgato Portable Greenscreen: Finally the portable Greenscreen from Elgato officially makes me Elgato brand boy, doesn’t it? I can live with that, I had to pay a few bucks for this from a third-party vendor in Italy given it was sold out here, but not like the price gauging for it my vendors in the US right now. This has yet to come, so I will need to write more once I get it and can play with it, which will invite more posts around actually exploring the possibilities with using a Greenscreen when streaming, some of which Tim highlighted in the this video, and they are so fun!
On Friday Tim and I streamed/recorded episode 20 of Reclaim Today: Reclaim Studio Live! It is a testament to how fast Tim works given little more than a week earlier we sat down with Andy Rush in episode 19 to discuss the studio he is building at UNF. And Andy’s work inspired us so much that we went shopping almost immediately after that chat and started building out Reclaim Studio. The video below is a first look inside the studio and it is already quite tight.
Click image to play video
I do have some camera and green screen envy presently, but hopefully my upcoming trip back to the States will allow me to grab a few pieces for my home office rig What’s more, if you are considering building out a video streaming/recording studio for your own work, Andy Rush posted an amazing compilation of resources to help guide folks getting started, as well as providing links to various people working within the space. I feel like this is the beginning of a whole lot of fun over the next year, and I very much look forward to dialing in my video streaming, recording, and production game. I might even have to get a Youtube account again so you can like and subscribe for more!
You begin the game as Timmy, a young boy visiting a crumbling amusement park known as Midway. But Timmy doesn’t see a pathetic locale where everything is falling apart, but rather a world of wonder, with his thoughts appearing in written form at the bottom of the screen.
The Eaasi platform allows you to start with basic images of operating systems, and then layer on software as well as “objects”. So, for example, you might have an object that is a Word Document a professor wrote in 1998. Instead of rendering it in a PDF, here we can actually take a Windows 98 computer, add Office 97 to it, and then have the document load at boot. A true native environment that is destroyed and rebuilt each time you go to view it in a matter of seconds and renders the object exactly as it was intended to be viewed.
What’s beautiful for us is that EaaSI is a container-based environment for emulation-based archiving that Tim got running on Reclaim Cloud, so now he can playing Solitaire as it was meant to be played on Windows 3.1:
All of which led us to jump on a video call and see if we could get the iso of the Bad Day at the Midway CD-ROM to run in the Cloud, and turns out it is very possible, even if you have to fix a few issues like mount your virtual CD-drive and fixing the monitor colors:
“Wow!” indeed. Running a 1995 CD-ROM game on Windows 3.1 via the web on Reclaim Cloud is a new level of hosting inception I can dig on. It seems similar in spirit to the remarkable work the folks at the Internet Archive have been doing for years to emulate various games in the browser. It’s exciting stuff, and the fact we could host something like this is mind blowing.