SmartPoi going online

Recently due to Covid my focus has shifted from performance to full time programming. I now code for a living, and have done for the past six months.

Since my work project involves server architecture I have come up with a new idea for SmartPoi – what if I could use the full power of the internet on the poi? The idea is to have an online server which the Android app can connect to and retrieve images, timelines, and visualisations. Each Android app could be associated with an account, with private and sharing functionality (so we could share images – a bit like on the visualpoi site).

The first part of this new functionality I am working on is a virtual poi imager (see https://circusscientist.com/Axel_Belhache_Demo/ for an idea of how this could look). This will have a way to upload your own images, and eventually you will be able to create an account and save images there. The long term goal is to connect the online server with the Android app, and make it easier to get new images, and share them. *UPDATE: The test page is now live! Try it out by uploading your own poi images here: smartpoi.circusscientist.com/sketch. Currently limited to 10 images, and they need to be rotated 90 degrees before uploading.. I’m working on it!

As an added bonus, it is possible to send images to the poi straight from a browser (someone asked me about that recently on GitHub), so there could be a web app which would make SmartPoi usable without the Android app. Some functionality is not possible, though, with web alone – such as streaming images straight to the poi. For security reasons (DDOS) web browsers don’t allow UDP sending from the browser. Luckily SmartPoi backup images are uploaded using http requests. This means that standard poi things like offline images will be able to be loaded straight from the website onto the poi soon. Possibly timelines as well. I also hope to add re-sizing of images and text image generation to the list at some point.

Just as a side note – due to personal circumstances I am not able to do any hardware work for the rest of the year. The SmartPoi kit Indigogo launch will thus not be possible this year. Coding work is still very much in progress (I recently updated the app to work on Android version >9. )

As always, if you want to be first to hear the latest news about SmartPoi, you can sign up using the form below. Many thanks to those of you who emailed me with images of your own SmartPoi in action, it’s great to know that my contributions are inspiring people to make their own. We are just getting started. Loads more to come!

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DigitalOcean: Migrating WordPress Websites from Ubuntu Server 16.04 to 20.04

As you probably know (see the banner above) I am a happy user of DigitalOcean for many years now – I host multiple websites on a single server without any hassle. They don’t get that much traffic – 1000 or so hits a month for this one for example – so I’m happy sticking with the $5 per month offering for now.

Ubuntu 16.04 is reaching end of life!

It’s time for an upgrade! According to the DigitalOcean documentation it is not recommended to upgrade in-place (do-release-upgreade in the terminal)… I tried and stuff broke, so that is good advice. Luckily I have backups enabled for an extra $1 per month only, so restoring the server was a one-click affair. Now I have a new droplet and need to migrate ALL of my sites to it one by one.

Migration Notes:

  1. I followed this excellent tutorial: https://medium.com/@christoph.schmidl/how-to-manually-backup-wordpress-daa43e37a9bd to backup the mysql database and wordpress folder (/var/www/mysite) – but used wget on the new server to fetch the archives directly.
  2. I had to revoke the letsencrypt https certification – https://maximef.com/2020/10/21/how-to-delete-certbot-certificate-by-domain-name-lets-encrypt/ – don’t forget to remove old files left behind
  3. In the DigitalOcean dashboard, point the url to the new droplet
  4. Create new virtual host files and enable in apache (a2enmod sitename.com) – to learn more about using apache virtualhost files to host multiple sites on one server see: https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-set-up-apache-virtual-hosts-on-ubuntu-18-04 – it’s the same for 20.04
  5. I had an issue with the WordPress database but found out that all that’s needed is to match the wordpress wp-config.php information to the mysql database and user info. This tutorial was helpful (if a bit out of date, the procedure for creating a user has changed…) https://www.vultr.com/docs/troubleshooting-wordpress-database-errors
  6. Create new LetsEncrypt https cert – see #2 link, using certbot.
  7. And everything works (hopefully)

Tweaking the server:

I had some issues with the Ubuntu Server being a bit slow sometimes – think I used the one click WordPress install. It seems that there are ways to optimize this – here is a great link to some ideas about this:

  1. Add swap: https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-add-swap-space-on-ubuntu-20-04
  2. More settings for swap: https://bitlaunch.io/blog/how-to-create-and-adjust-swap-space-in-ubuntu-20-04/

Now my server is running smoothly, it’s time to migrate this blog. Or have I done it already? I doubt you would notice!