Category Archives: Computers

Comment woes continue

[Update: I made several changes this morning, including changing the WordPress “theme”, and suddenly several of your test comments have come through properly. Could it be fixed??]

I’m still working through suggested solutions to the ongoing problem with comments.

Although a few comments are getting through, most reports I’ve received concern comments that were entered but then just disappeared, or nothing happened when attempting to leave a comment.

Here’s where you can help.

Take a moment to write a brief comment and submit it, then let me know what happens. At some point I’ll hopefully stumble into the solution and it would be good to know when the whole comment machinery is working again. You can email me at ian(at)

Apologies for the disruption.

It’s a major pain in the you-know-what.

Understaffing causing more city problems

Two different news stories point to more problems in Honolulu due to understaffing at the city. The understaffing seems to be undercutting the ability of the city to deliver essential services.

Trash pickup was the focus of Gordon Pang’s story on Saturday in the Star-Advertiser (“City crews are catching up on garbage collection backlog“).

Pang reported that regular trash pickups were missed throughout many parts of urban Honolulu, from Hawaii Kai to Aliamanu.

Green waste wasn’t picked up on its scheduled day here in our part of Kahala this week, and our regular Saturday pickup of the standard gray bins didn’t happen. Bulky items and green waste have had problems keeping on schedule recently.

Apparently this has been happening across Honolulu.

Pang reported:

The delays in trash pickup were touched off by a shortage of refuse operators in the Solid Waste Division’s Honolulu yard, Owens said. Typically it takes 35 operators to run the Honolulu routes, but there currently are 25, he said.

As a result, an unknown number of collections were delayed by up to two days, he said.

And a similar issue has disrupted bulky-item pickup as well.

Again, Pang reported:

…bulky-item crews recently fell seven to 10 days behind schedule, Owens said.

An employee shortage is partly to blame, he said. There are no workers assigned specifically to bulky-waste pickup, but a crew is selected from the pool of manually operated truck operations that service about 20,000 households islandwide.

That pool is also contending with a shortage.

And last night KHON reported the city has been unable to keep grass mowed along public streets and in some public areas, an issue again blamed on staff shortages.

“The Dept. of Facility Maintenance is challenged with staffing right now,” said director Ross Sasamura. “We have roughly one third of our positions vacant. We don’t see any immediate resolution to that issue….

The city’s response? Artificial turf (“City says synthetic turf is solution to wild-growing grass problem“). It’s a solution that ignores the underlying problem of a lack of staff.

It’s time for a candid assessment by city officials. What will it take to actually get the city’s necessary jobs done?

The story of getting knocked offline yesterday

When I got up Thursday morning, I discovered that my blog was “down.” It didn’t load if you wanted to view it, and I couldn’t log on as “administrator” to try and figure out what was wrong.

So I sent a quick note to the support staff at Hostrocket, the hosting service that I’ve used for well over a decade.

The answer that came back was surprising, and less than satisfactory.

In essence, their answer was that my site had been shut down without any notice because it was exceeding certain arbitrary limits set for demands on the server.

Here’s the key paragraph of the reply from Hostrocket:

At this time, all accounts are limited to 1GB of memory across all scripts that they are running. This limit represents a significant portion of the server’s available memory. While I understand that you may not anticipate your account/websites to be particularly resource intensive, in many cases the volume of illegitimate/unwanted traffic to sites can account for much higher resource usage. Regardless of the legitimacy/intention of the traffic, any requests hitting a site generate PHP/MySQL processes which eat away at server CPU/Memory/Disk IO resources so I’m sure you can understand why this becomes a problem even though you may not realize it.

Translated into english, here’s what I think that says:

“Your site is being attacked by a high volume of illegitimate/unwanted hits and our servers aren’t properly designed to fend off external attacks, so you’re on your own. Oh, and by the way, since your site was the victim of such an attack, we shut it down overnight. Our protocol doesn’t include notifying you of this action.”

Okay, Hostrocket. That sucks.

I ran their response past a friend who is far more savvy about such things than I am.

His blunt response:


I use GoDaddy unlimited hosting, and have never gotten a response like that from them. I currently host 83 WordPress sites in that account, along with a bunch of static sites.

He suggested several security plug-ins I could add to augment my installation of WordPress. For those of you who are interested, here’s his list.

State sites use:

iThemes Security

All my own sites use:

Wordfence (set to Lockdown, and with Falcon caching enabled)
Bulletproof Security
Jetpack (with Photon photo caching enabled, and Protect mode enabled)

But while considering these plug-ins, I thought about what Hostrocket said about those illegitimate outsiders taking up server resources even if my site successfully repels them.

So I’ve ended up trying a short term fix–I signed up for a service that first routes all visitors to this site through a separate screening process designed to reject illegitimate users before allowing direct access to this blog.

That will hopefully keep the draw on Hostrocket resources below their new limits, while keeping my site secure.

But isn’t this something that a major company like Hostrocket should be doing to protect its own servers? Or are they just packing too many users onto each of their shared servers, so that the servers can’t keep up with the load?

After this experience, I guess my intermediate-term fix is to take my business to a different hosting service. But that requires planning and additional work, given the 15 years of history packed into this site. I’ll have to study up on how to make such a move without creating more problems.

In the meantime, I hope this stays up and running. I’m optimistic, but not confident.

Computer issues may delay posts for a few days

I didn’t need to have a glitch with my main computer while much of our collective lives are still in boxes in the garage, including much of my troubleshooting software, backup drives, etc.

So resolving those issues will take a little longer than normal.

Luckily, I’ve got a backup computer mainly used when traveling, so I’ll be able to get the basics done.

But if I’m a bit slow in posting or moderating comments over the next few days, please be patient.

I can get to comments via my phone, so will try my best.

And did I mention internet access, or more correctly, its absence?t

We have decided to switch providers to Hawaiian Tel, after much review and discussion. I’ll have more to say about that later.

We were scheduled to have the whole Hawaiian Tel service package installed last Friday, but hit a snag. It seems our renovated house is now nicely wired for…Oceanic’s cable, and not ready for the Hawaiian Tel’s fiber.

To avoid drilling to run wires through the new walls, the Hawaiian Tel technician advised us on the alternative. This involves installing Hawaiian Tel’s equipment in an external, wall-mounted box sort of like the electrical meter, which then feeds into the already installed cable that runs through the house. The intermediate equipment translates from fiber to the coax cable, as near as I can figure it. So now we’re waiting for our electrician to get the box ready, and then reschedule our Hawaiian Tel installation.

In the meantime, I’ve burned through data using a mobile hotspot that normally gets minimal use when I need internet access and no wifi is available.

So that’s another factor in the delays of the next few days. I’ll try to post when I’ve got access to wifi, which will mean an irregular schedule.

Ah, moving!

The Star-Advertiser facing continued printing woes

The Star-Advertiser’s woes with its expensive, high-tech printing plant just seem to be going on and on.

This must be a huge blow. The computerized printing operation was built by Gannett for more than $75 million, and was a prize part of the buyout and merger with the old Star-Bulletin.

But, it turns out, there “high tech” can be too high.

At first, the problem was treated in low key fashion.

Here’s the first notice: “”Because of production delays, this morning’s Star-Advertiser will be delivered later than normal and will be a partial edition in certain areas.”

A reader emailed to say that his “partial edition” lacked a front page.

Early Monday morning, a follow-up explanation posted by Frank Bridgewater said that the problems were expected to persist on “subsequent days…until the press problems are resolved.”

And much of Monday’s paper, such as it was, came from the company’s press on the Big Island.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser was unable to print most complete copies of the Sunday edition because of problems with the computers that operate the printing press.

Monday’s paper is smaller than our usual papers, and subsequent days also will have fewer pages until the press problems are resolved. These papers will not include some features that normally appear. Monday’s paper was printed on the West Hawaii Today press on Hawaii island.

Bridgewater’s note also said the full newspaper would be available online.

But yesterday I received this email from a reader describing his experience.

So like everyone else yesterday (Sunday) I only received 1/2 the paper, but I went on line and had the whole edition.

Today (Monday) I received the abbreviated version along with the rest of Sunday’s paper. So I go online, using the papers app, and all I see is what was delivered. So I call the paper and after a 5 minute wait talk to some guy who’s out at the press. He tell’s me that’s all there is, period. I ask him why not the whole paper on line? And I get the same answer. Nothing more was produced-everyone gets the same thing. I don’t get mad at this guy because obviously he’s not the one calling the shots.

Then this:

Issues with the Kapolei press limited its production capability, so Sunday and Monday Star-Advertisers also were printed on Maui and the Big Island. Newspapers from the neighbor islands did not arrive on Oahu until 8 a.m. after their delivery was interrupted when they were grounded due to the storm. The Maui flight carried 40,000 Sunday papers, which will be delivered to subscribers Tuesday who did not receive complete papers Sunday, and the flight from Hawaii Island had Monday Star-Advertisers.

Then, according to KHON on Monday evening, it’s looking like the problems are far from over.

Here’s part of their story.

Officials at the Star-Advertiser say this problem has cost them half a million dollars.

Kennedy said they spent hours on the phone with the machine’s manufacturer in Germany, but didn’t get the problem fixed, so they’re hoping to fly in an expert from Australia to help.

“We’re going to be okay until we have to print Sunday,” he said. “We’ll have to see how it goes. Hopefully, we can get everything up and running,”

Kennedy couldn’t give any guarantee that the upcoming Sunday edition will come out as usual. There are also issues if this week’s edition of Midweek, another property of Oahu Publications, will be printed this week.

The newspaper also prints Midweek, and I learned officials don’t know how they will handle that this week.

It’s hard to imagine the havoc this is wreaking with their business operations, which will have to account for ads not run, newspapers not delivered, etc., etc. And how about the private jobs the high capacity press was also contracted to churn out?

And if the press guy’s statement above was correct, the staff that would normally be churning out a full newspaper daily are not, well, not doing that.