Category Archives: Business and Technology

In the Office or Work from Home: One Size Does Not Fit All

I’ve previously made my opinions known regarding remote work, or as I like to call it, WFH (Work from Home). I didn’t envision wanting, or needing, to address the issue again, but a recent post that showed up in my blog feed caught my attention and caused me to revisit the topic. I just couldn’t help myself.

This may be a good time to get up, take a break, stretch your legs, refill your coffee, and settle in for my latest rant.

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One week with the Pixel 6a

The back cover of the Google Pixel 6a

After almost four years using the Pixel 3, I decided to pull the trigger and upgrade to the Pixel 6a. It was a tough decision. I’ve really liked the Pixel 3. It has been, by far, the best phone that I’ve ever owned. Unfortunately, it’s not scheduled to get any more Android updates, so I figured it was time to move on.

Here are my thoughts after one week with the Pixel 6a. Given how much I liked my Pixel 3, the new phone has some big shoes to fill.

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Optimizing Apache and php-fpm settings for EC2 micro and nano instances serving WordPress websites

After upgrading an Amazon EC2 instance from PHP 7.2 to PHP 7.4, I ran into a problem – the server would regularly hang. Sometimes it would happen after a few days. Sometimes it would take a month. In either case, websites served by the instance became unresponsive. The only way to get things back online was through a hard reboot, which a few times had to be done at the Amazon console level. It was not a good situation.

Through lots of research and reading, I finally feel like I have things under control. If you’re struggling with a similar problem, here’s what I did to fix it. The server has went over 4 months without requiring a hard reboot since making the changes.

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Sustainable Energy, Self-Driving Cars, Robots, Starships, and AI-Augmented Humans

One of my guiding philosophies is that ideas are cheap. Ideas don’t lead to success. Successful people are those who take ideas and follow-through. They implement them. They make them happen. The bigger the idea, the bigger the success.

If you agree with my philosophy, then Elon Musk’s success should not surprise you. He has taken big ideas like mass-market electric vehicles and reusable rockets and turned them into a reality. Therefore, when he starts talking about his vision of the future, I listen.

Earlier this month, he sat down with the head of TED, Chris Anderson, for an interview that covered a wide range of topics. Musk talked about his vision for sustainable energy by 2050, when autonomous vehicles would be a reality, household robots, armadas of starships taking people to Mars, and his plan to augment humans with AI and why it needs to happen.

It’s a rather long interview at just over an hour, but worth your time if you have any interest in how the future may unfold. Usually I would discount this kind of “crazy” talk, but Musk has a track record of making it happen. I’ve included additional interviews of Musk below that date back to 2013 if you want to see how his past predictions have panned out. Spoiler alert: they were pretty spot on, especially when you consider how big the vision is.

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Fixing ‘Invalid argument supplied for foreach()’ PHP Warning in WordPress

I ran into a problem recently on a WordPress site that I manage where I was unable to disable and uninstall numerous plug-ins. After looking through the error logs on the web server, I found the following warning showing up repeatedly in the PHP error log:

PHP Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /var/www/html/example.com/wp-cron.php on line 117

Here’s what I did to identify and fix the problem.

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Book review: Trampled By Unicorns

Book cover Trampled By Unicorns: Big Tech's Empathy Problem And How To Fix It by Maëlle Gavet

In case you haven’t noticed, the big tech companies continue to grow in power. That growth is allowing them to not only generate massive amounts of wealth for investors but also shape society. When I say big tech, I’m not just referring to the public companies that make up what is known as the FAANG group of stocks that includes Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and of which I would also include Microsoft. My definition of big tech also includes privately held companies known as “unicorns”, companies that have rapidly went from zero to $1,000,000,000 valuations such as Nextdoor, Udemy, Instacart, SpaceX, Stripe, and the like.

As someone who works in technology, it’s great to see companies in this space have success. However, that success has not come without controversy. The more we learn about how these companies operate, how they make money, and how they exploit their users, the more we should be concerned about the impact they have on the world around us. It’s a multi-faceted problem that Maëlle Gavet explores in her book Trampled by Unicorns: Big Tech’s Empathy Problem And How To Fix It.

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Ruthless efficiency

Efficiency, for lack of a better word, is good. Efficiency allows a business to optimize resources. Optimizing resources leads to lower costs and higher profits, which are the foundations of a market economy. Therefore, pursuing efficiency should be a goal of business.

Pursuing efficiency is all well and good until the drive to optimize crosses a line. That line where the benefits of efficiency are no longer distributed equally, resulting in higher levels of inequality between the have’s and have-not’s. At that point, we’ve entered the realm of ‘ruthless efficiency.’ The point where there is a lack of empathy and compassion regarding the effects optimizing has on others.

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Amazon Linux 2: Upgrading from PHP 7.2 to PHP 7.4

Wordpress PHP Update Recommended warning message

I finally got tired of my WordPress installation complaining about the version of PHP I was running. I decided it was time to upgrade.

My WordPress install operates on an Amazon EC2 instance running Amazon Linux 2. I used Amazon’s excellent tutorial, Install a LAMP web server on Amazon Linux 2, to set it up which uses their lamp-mariadb10.2-php7.2 package as the basis for the web server. After reviewing a few resources on installing or updating to PHP 7.4 on Amazon Linux 2, I put the following together that goes through the steps necessary to update if you used their tutorial to set up your server.

If all goes smoothly, it should take less than 15 minutes from start to finish.

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Book review: The Power of Habit

Book cover for The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

My best source for book recommendations are from those who I know well, whether they are family, friends, or close acquaintances. We talk about books enough that they have a good feel for the types of books that I might like. It’s also easy for me to figure out how to prioritize a book by how they describe it to me. It’s how I learned about The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. A couple of years ago, my daughter Courtney read it for one of her college classes and recommended it to me. She even went as far as to lend me her personal copy, which was an old school traditional hardback. Before we dive into this review, I only have one regret with this book – that I let it languish on my book shelf for the better part of two years before opening it up.

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