Studio D: Is This Real Life?

When Bekah and I went shopping to buy our first house, we had a dream: to move Category5 Technology TV into its own space.

That dream took longer than we’d anticipated to come to fruition, but it finally has! Studio D is real! I saw it with my own eye bulbs, and even have the key in my pocket right now!

I met with the landlord at 9:30am today to hand off our insurance papers and receive the key. A wonderful handful of people showed up to help clean the place top to bottom, and we finished cleaning in only 3 hours!

There is some water damage from a leak which we thought was a previous leak, but thanks to a good hard rainfall today, we got to see the water coming in. So at least we know right away what we’re up against. We need to rip out a fair bit of drywall and assess the damage, and repair and paint the whole place. It’s going to be a huge job, but so worth it. Thank you to the volunteers who endeavour to make it possible!

I said to Bekah, the strange thing about Studio D is, the more real it becomes, the more surreal it becomes. I can’t believe it’s finally happening!

The owner of a local wireless ISP came by to assess provision of Internet services, and he noted from the roof that indeed their tower is line of sight, and we should have no trouble receiving a good strong Internet signal.

Step one is complete… the place is ours, and clean. Now to do the repairs and paint. At that time we’ll be ready to start moving our gear.

Thanks all!

Robbie

Win a set of Beltone First hearing aids

Category5 Technology TV and Beltone Canada are giving away a pair of Beltone First hearing aids (left & right ear), and including a fitting at an authorized Beltone Centre in Canada–a prize valued at $7,000.

Beltone First is a sophisticated, Bluetooth connected hearing aid that uses an iPhone / iPad app to control your hearing aids, and even take calls directly on your hearing aids.

To win:

  1. Register for a free account at www.Category5.TV
  2. Email contest@category5.tv with the subject “Help me hear“. In the body of the email, include:
    • Your username as per step 1.
    • A short description of your hearing difficulty (or that of a loved one, if qualifying on their behalf).
    • Your mailing address (for shipping, in event that you win).
  3. Tune in to Category5 Technology TV on July 29 to win!

 

My wife gave me kisses.

Aside

I just ate 3 Hershey’s Kisses which my wife had packed for me this morning… and I feel like that was way too much candy. My how my mind has changed from when I’d eat a whole bowl of M&M’s.  I think weight loss is less about the body and more about the mind.

I have a 6-pack. But it’s covered in fat.

I finally got myself a bicycle! Yeah, that’s right… 34 years old and I finally have a bike.

When our first child was born, I simply stopped riding. I had no friends to bike with, and with a baby around, it wasn’t like we could go for a family bike ride… so I gave my bike away.

But now, with this being Tali’s 9th birthday, and she has learned to ride a 2-wheeler (while she waited late to learn, she’s a quick study! Started riding on 2 wheels after just 2 tries!) I decided I needed to get a set of 2 wheels myself.

After around a month and a half searching online classifieds for a bike, I finally sealed the deal … a $40 deal.  :)  It needed a bit of work, but nothing I couldn’t handle myself.

I’ve been trying to lose weight for some time… and making huge headway! I’m down two and a half belt notches.  I’m on the “skinniest” holes of my belt, and getting into my shorts from last year, I’m blown away that the shorts which were snug-but-comfy last year are about 4″ too big for me this year.

It’s about 18 lbs (fluctuating between 16-18 lbs) I’ve lost since January.

So why am I so excited to finally have a bike?

I feel like I’m doing a lot… maybe not all I can, but a lot, when it comes to diet and not overdoing it, but I still don’t get enough “endurance exercise”. I’ve been doing stomach crunches for a few months with great success, but still not seeing the firm stomach I’d hoped for.

And then I read this line in a fitness blog (sorry, I don’t know which one) that I realized had a bigger impact than I thought… otherwise, I would have bookmarked it…

“You have a 6-pack, but you can’t see it for all the fat.”

That’s raw. But it’s true. Stomach crunches are doing wonders, but you can’t see the results like you should, because my stomach is covered in fat.

My hope is that biking is going to help eliminate some of the excess fat and help tone me down to where I should be.

We’ll see!  I may have to blog my progress, if anyone is interested.

-Robbie

Being a jerk never got you anything but burnt grass…

Aside

I found this funny. We had a new neighbour move in next door. Our front yard is shared, but small. With our previous neighbour, it was never a big deal… if I was mowing the grass, I’d mow the whole yard. If they were mowing the grass, they’d mow the whole yard.

But our new neighbour is petty.

It was a bright, hot, scorching day on Saturday. The kind of day where you know not to do anything outside beyond drink a mojito or chomp down on a freezie pop. That was the day the neighbour got out their lawn mower.

They mowed their half of the yard, with a perfectly straight mow line down the middle of our tiny lot. My wife and I rolled our eyes and thought, that’s so petty. Just one week earlier I handed him one of my beers which he downed while watching me mow both sides of the lawn. But here we are, 7 days later, and he wouldn’t have it: this is my lawn, that’s his lawn… split down the middle.

So, things cooled off the next day, and I went out and mowed “my side” of the yard.

It rained the next day, and my side of the lawn looks lovely and green. Remember how hot it was the day he mowed the lawn though?  The “neighbour’s side” of the yard is entirely sun scorched! It’s brown and yellow and dead.

Part of me is glad my neighbour is petty. My side of the lawn looks great.

-Robbie

Multi-Factor Authentication to be added to @PasswordBox within the next few weeks.

PasswordBoxPasswordBox will be stepping up their own security with multi-factor authentication in under a month.

In an interview on Category5 Technology TV held Tuesday May 13, 2014, François Proulx, Security Engineer for PasswordBox, revealed that the popular cloud-based password management system will be introducing sophisticated multi-device multi-factor authentication in June 2014.

While no specific date was given, Mr. Proulx’s statements make it clear that the important security feature will be coming soon.

“It is literally a few short weeks away from now, I would say our goal is to put it in production in our products in June [2014],” says Mr. Proulx. “We’ve pretty much completed the design aspects of it. I’ve reviewed the security. We are just right now dispatching the various tasks to each and every team. Obviously we don’t want to rush things too fast because we want to ensure the quality of our product. But it is coming very, very soon.”

“One thing we’ve announced recently is integration with the new Samsung S5, which has a fingerprint scanner. So that already exists for the Android version of our app. Also, we’ve announced integration with the NYMI bracelet which detects your heartbeat,” explains Mr. Proulx. “Biometrics as an area of research is something we’re putting a lot of focus on.”

Mr. Proulx didn’t go into a lot of details as to the available options that will be coming to PasswordBox in order to provide multi-factor authentication, but stated, “Let me just say that it will be very, very similar to what Google does. So if you look at the way Google does it, or Yahoo, it will be modeled in a very similar fashion.”

The interview, which was geared toward advanced viewers, covered a wide gamut of topics surrounding the functionality of PasswordBox and how it ensures your passwords are safe from hackers and even Government agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA).

“What is stored in our database for each and every user’s accounts is only encrypted data,” explains Mr. Proulx. “The critical assets, such as the password assets and also all the wallet items … those are all encrypted in a blackbox manner. So what we receive on the server side is an opaque blob that we then store and then later sync across all the devices.”

He further explains in excellent detail that due to the architecture of the PasswordBox system, only a person with your master password can then decrypt this blob of information. Therefore, nobody at PasswordBox, nor the NSA or any other government agency has access to your data.

PasswordBox recommends using a very strong master password to ensure this is the case.

You can watch the full interview on YouTube:

Edit: May 22, 2014 – Added quotes about the methods of multi-factor authentication (such as the fingerprint scanner or NYMI).

Mobile Site 4.0 … Coming Soon

A new mobile site rewrite for Category5 Technology TV will soon be gracing your smartphone and tablet!

I received a note from one of our viewers who recently found us on Roku, but wanted to take Category5 on the go with him…

Well, that’s kind of annoying for BlackBerry users, isn’t it?

I had a good close look at the mobile site back-end, and man-oh-man, it’s getting old.

I think as a developer, it’s hard not to want to go back and rewrite everything you’ve created about once per year. That’s how fast the technologies change it seems, and the way I was coding a year ago is much different from the way I code now.

The current (old) mobile site uses flat-file delivery powered by a database backend. Your mobile device must preload all textual resources, and then it loads the images and videos when you navigate around. But the architecture forced me to hold back some features at the time.

The episode list on our mobile site version 3.1.

The episode list on our mobile site version 3.1 contains the most recent 53 episodes.

For example, the mobile site (versions 1-3) have always been restricted to the past year’s worth of videos. That’s all that was practical since your device would have to preload all the text for each episode.  Loading all 7 seasons was not possible because it would just take way too long to load, and it’s already much too slow for my liking.

I also had to restrict the amount of images and overall weight of the mobile site since many assets were preloaded at launch. Preloading 53 videos is horrible for performance, and this is not a well optimized way to do things.

So, all that said, Tony’s message and my review of the code drove me to want to redesign the mobile site infrastructure and front-end from the ground up.

There are a few things that come into play, but the big one is that I recently developed the entire infrastructure to bring Category5 to the Roku platform. So I am able to tap into new, optimized database functions that didn’t exist even 3 months ago. Features such as separation of episodes by season, and having access to our entire library of videos, including our “Special Features” category which was introduced specifically for Roku, but now can be migrated to other platforms such as our mobile site.

Out the gate though, a rewrite means implementing greatly improved programming techniques such as AJAX data loading on the mobile platform… so I can rewrite the code so each episode’s text only loads after you click on it. I’ll also stop all these videos from preloading. All this means is that we can offer a million videos if we want, and the site will still load just as quickly as if there were only 5 videos. The ability to load data through AJAX has existed for a long time, but my skill-set has grown with regards to its implementation, so I am now capable of much more than I was a year ago.

The greatly improved episode list on version 4β of our mobile site.

The greatly improved episode list on version 4β of our mobile site features all available episodes (345 at the time of writing).

The biggest and most exciting thing to me about this change in programming style is that I can include all episodes in the mobile site.  Not just the past year’s worth. It also opens us up to eventually including other features, such as the aforementioned “Special Features”.

Do more with less. That’s what version 4 represents.

So keep your eyes on our mobile site. I’ll announce it when it’s launched, and hopefully it’ll even work on BlackBerry.  :)

-Robbie

Find the version number of all WordPress installations on your Linux server.

I have a lot of customers running WordPress on our shared hosting servers, and sometimes they neglect to update their WordPress installs. [Rolls Eyes]

I need to know which of these sites are using an obsolete version of WordPress so I may contact the customer and warn them that they need to update their software.

So here’s a helpful little Linux command I whipped up and ran as root to go through my /home folder searching for all WordPress versions. I only had to run it as root because I am checking through all users’ folders, not just my own. If you only want to check your own user, you don’t need root access.

I ran this command from my /home folder on the Linux server:

find . -name 'version.php' -exec grep '$wp_version =' {} /dev/null \; > /tmp/wordpress-versions.log

Breakdown:

  • find . -name ‘version.php’
    Search through the current folder, recursively, for any file named version.php. This is where WordPress stores the WordPress version number.
  • -exec
    Execute a command with each found item.
  • grep ‘$wp_version =’ {}
    Look within the found version.php file(s) in a loop for the term $wp_version = and output the result.
  • /dev/null
    Trick grep into thinking there is a second file, forcing it to precede the output with the filename provided by find
  • \;
    Close the find command.
  • > /tmp/wordpress-versions.log
    Save the results to a log file in /tmp. You can tail -f this file while scanning, or simply open or cat it when you’re done. Leave this portion out of the command if you’d rather have it output directly to your screen.

We want YOU in our next music video.

Category5 TV is shooting its latest music video, and we want you to be in it!

All you have to do is shoot video of you dancing through the entire song, “Happy” from Pharrell Williams. NO, you do not have to be a good dancer for this! That’s part of the fun!

Then, upload your video (we prefer HD if possible) to your favorite cloud storage service (PogoPlug, DropBox, etc) and email a link to live@category5.tv – we will contact you at that point with more details.

Here’s the music and style you’ll want to follow:

Looking forward to your submission!

Submission deadline is Tuesday April 29, 2014 Extended to Tuesday May 6, 2014.

- Robbie