Switching host: Update 1

I have been using open-source web-based photo album organiser Gallery for a long time, starting (around 2003) with Version 2 and now on (the final) Version 3. In fact it’s been so long ago that I have forgotten why I made the decision initially, except vaguely recalling something along the lines that I was looking an application based around PHP and MySQL (around the time the term LAMP stack was coined) photo gallery software Gallery, and there wasn’t anything else as feature-rich and user friendly at the time. My needs are fairly basic so I have not re-evaluated other choices since upgrading to Gallery 3.

Now, due to the recent decision to move host, I discovered two things while attempting to migrate Gallery. One is that Gallery has not been actively maintained since 2014. The second thing is that the MySQL dump from Gallery apparently exceeded the file size limit (50MB) for uploading to my new host using phpMyAdmin and the command line route is also out (certain errors during importing that I could not track down). This led to the slightly annoying situation of needing to find a new photo album software. By the way, although briefly experimenting with Flickr (which has also become history, as they say), I am more for keeping content on my own server.

A quick Google search showed I was not the only one having the same predicament. Taking the easy (ie. lazy) route I decided to follow the advice of more knowledgeable users such as the below and migrated to Piwigo. I must say, it’s been good after a week’s use.

  1. Serge’s consideration when migrating to Piwigo, with his wonderful Gallery to Piwigo migration script and GreyDragon theme
  2. Migration to Gallery to Piwigo
  3. Another user’s migration (to Piwigo) experience

A new lease of life for Mi Pad

Xiaomi’s Mi Pad was launched in 2015 to the global markets with above average specs. Unfortunately being a 4-year-old product means sooner or later development and support for it was going to end sooner or later – another consequence of the fast-paced nature of smartphone-tablet market. The last official build was MIUI 7 based on Android Kitkat (China version was supported up to MIUI 9).

Frankly, although the Mi Pad sported the decent NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor, paired with a measly (by today’s standard) 2GB RAM and 16GB ROM (now THIS is terrible…), it does come with a high resolution 1080p IPS screen (326PPI). This makes it a rather good media consumption device. A few months ago, I decided to dust off a couple of Mi Pads that I had and started to look for third party ROMs that can extend Mi Pad’s usefulness. Below are the steps which I used to flash LineageOS Unofficial 15.1 (Android Oreo), for my own benefit when reflashing in future. It’s a combination of steps I found from multiple sources, combined with my own experiences. For those who may be unfamiliar with this Android Distribution, LineageOS is the successor to the custom ROM CyanogenMod.

Downloads

Files that need to be downloaded (links can be found online):

  • mocha_repartition_1_2GB_RahulTheVirus.zip: Keep as zip. This is needed to merge the two partitions, or Gapps can’t be installed.
  • TosForPSCI-0.1: This needs to be unzipped to img, for flashing using fastboot.
  • recovery-03.11.2018.img: For some reasons, newer versions of TWRP recovery didn’t seem to work reliably so I am sticking with this slightly older version.
  • lineage-15.1-20181228-UNOFFICIAL-mocha: Keep as zip file, install from within recovery.
  • Gapps: I have found one tablet, pengapps-pico (needs to be arm, not arm64) worked but not on another, but MindTheGapps worked consistently so I am sticking with this version.
  • SmokeR24.1-stable(31.12.2018-12.56): Keep as zip, install from within recovery. This must be installed at the end or touchscreen won’t work during initial set up.

Once custom recovery has been flashed, I’d suggest pushing items 4-6 to /sdcard for faster installation.

adb push filename /sdcard

Installation

  • Change active system to partition 1.
  • Go into fastboot mode, and flash tos and TWRP custom recovery.
  • fastboot flash tos your-path-to-tos.img
    fastboot flash recovery your-path-to-recovery-03.11.2018.img

  • Reboot to recovery. I found it was necessary to hold on to the volume button for another 5-10 seconds after Mi logo has appeared.
  • fastboot reboot WHILE holding vol+ button.

  • Merge system partition
  • Reboot to recovery. A couple of times this took up to 20 minutes to restart. Keep Mipad charged in the meantime.
  • Full wipe: system, cache, data, dalvik
  • Flash current LineageOS build
  • Flash Gapps
  • Flash touchscreen hot fix
  • Reboot tablet.

Switching host yet again

A couple of months ago, I was informed that my current web hosting company Webfaction was merging with GoDaddy, although it sounded more like a take-over frankly hosting issues would be handled by GoDaddy since moving forward. The whole process was set to be finalised in a month or two. Since GoDaddy has never been high on my list of web hosting companies, I started to shop around for a new home for the few domains that I own.

The final decision was reached after reading these few articles:

  • https://justfreethemes.com/best-hosting-services/
  • https://winningwp.com/shared-vs-managed-wordpress-hosting/
  • https://www.codeinwp.com/blog/best-wordpress-hosting/
  • https://www.codeinwp.com/blog/shared-vs-managed-wordpress-hosting/
  • https://hostingfacts.com/hosting-reviews/siteground/
  • https://www.shivarweb.com/7970/siteground-hosting-review/
  • https://www.websitehostingrating.com/siteground-vs-bluehost/

I guess it’s kind of obvious that SiteGround was ranked highly but I still had some reservations about the renewal price, seeing that I am mostly dealing with WordPress sites plus the occasional trials of other software.

Use Asana for planning

As a follow up to the previous post, I wanted to quickly share this video on how to use Asana for planning. This makes use of a neat feature in Asana where you can assign multiple projects to the same task. Incidentally this is also the same trick that allows me to see projects in both List and Kanban views.

There are more productivity tips by the author, so check out the channel for other videos if you are interested in the topic.

Online task management tools

Ever since I started using smartphones (the iPhone Gen. 1 being my first!), I have been on the lookout for a good task management tool, for both work or personal use. During this time, many apps were trialed – this was also when the GTD fad appeared – and gradually I got to know features that suited my needs. Eventually I settled on Trello which has three features I consider essential to this day:

  1. Online, and preferably can be used inside a browser.
  2. Must be able to synchronise across devices: PC, phone, tablet.
  3. Allows collaboration, but has public and private areas.

Trello is especially notable for its visual approach (the Kanban presentation) and allows me to easily switch between devices (add/edit tasks, checking progress on the fly, etc.) As a matter of fact, I have been using Trello on and off since its initial release in 2011. Apart from managing personal to-do lists and work tasks, I used Trello to manage the volunteere project http://donorweb.org for Red Cross (no defunct), organising meet-ups and events for Google Developers’ Group, Singapore chapter. However increasingly I found the Kanban structure insufficient for my use, especially in the last 3 years or so. My biggest gripe with the kanban format was that while it was good for workflow and projects with a clear chronological/progression-type ordering, it became unwieldy when you were running multiple projects or simply have too many upcoming tasks. For example, you might end up with a super-long list of boards under To Do but only a few under Waiting/Doing or vice versa (inefficient use of screen space).

This leads to my current favourite app Asana. I have only just discovered Asana and I am really loving the tool. The main features that have impressed me so far compared to Trello:

1 Flexible in that it can list projects in list view or Kanban view (with a neat trick).
2 Sections in in list view.
2 Each task can include sub-tasks.

Kanban or Board view

List or Task view with sections

It goes without saying that Asana also satisfies my three basic features: online, a mobile app, allows collaboration. As yet I don’t have an urgent need for Gantt Charts (a paid feature) but who knows, it may be needed in the future.

Finally I want to add that I still consider Trello to be an excellent product, and the free features should already satisfy the needs of many people. However if, like me, you need to be able to switch to List view from time to time for certain projetcs then I would certainly recommend giving Asana a try.

By the way Monday.com also seems a worth competitor given this comparison Monday.com vs Asana. As a disclaimer I haven’t actually given Monday.com a try but it certainly looks very interesting from this review.