Drush for drupal updates


I have a bunch of drupal websites that I have to update today. Obviously I’ve been pretty lax on updating their code. It’s a pretty common problem for most drupal developers to fall behind in updating the code, because it’s a really boring task, and the updates come in almost daily. It’s also not an emergency if you leave a site be, and rarely update it. I learned how to do it manually, but it is a pain to download all the updates and manually add them. I wanted a way to do this automatically… then I found this:

This gave me some hint that there was a solution called drush. A module that is not a module. oooOOOooo… Like a secret spell of sorts that had a mystical command that would do the job auto-magically. A command is more difficult than a button to click, but for the time saved I wouldn’t mind a command. It takes a really long time to do these updates, and it’s a management nightmare for me because I have dozens of websites to maintain.

The drush module page was of very little help, as was the readme.txt file. However, at least I know that it does more than update. The only thing that I could discern was that this wizardry would get me access to a tool that I could type “drush pm-update” and my troubles would be solved.

Then I found this link: http://ignoredbydinosaurs.com/2010/07/installing-drush-media-temple-grid-server. Ah directions are cool!

I knew I could slide over to the Linux box and make this work after pounding my head against the screen for a while. However, I think that putty would work better. Putty is a sweet little tool for accessing ssh back ends in a command line. However, it’s only for windows, and a pretty advanced tool. It’s a little old looking, and doesn’t require an install, but it’s a pretty awesome little tool for those who can use it.

Great guns, I was inside my server using commands like “cd” to navigate around the directories. Awesome! Now I really needed to install this thing on a test site so that I know it works correctly. So I navigated to one of my sandbox websites. One that I keep on the production server just for funny purposes like this… new tools. Note that, every time I have to test a new tool out on a site live, or development server It’s best practices to have the all the code and modules be up to date.

The problem is that I host multiple websites on the server, so some of the instructions in the first link were a bit off for me. Then I found this, and watched it: http://civicactions.com/blog/2009/jun/10/drush_20_released_screencast_1_installing_drush_and_getting_started

For a host that has multiple sites, it gets a little more involved. Installing drush system-wide is a bit more difficult and involves adding a symbolic link that turns it into a command able to analyze any “folder” that may contain a drupal install. Another way of saying this is that – it is installed system-wide. Yet another way of saying this, is that all I have to do is navigate to any drupal install by typing “cd *folder*” and then type the magic command “drush pm-update”. Obviously installing it on the test website was a bit of a bad move.

I couldn’t be more happy. Now all those guys that chide me for using drupal (most of them use wordpress) will have one less complaint. I have a simple way to update all of the websites without going through the long arduous task of downloading and uploading… simply to update.

Next time I have to do a system wide update I’m going to figure out how to get it down to a single command… maybe a bash or something. The ultimate would be figuring out how to get it to run at regular intervals, or alongside cron. Well, I’ve got to think about that for a while… However, I don’t have time for now. It’s good.


1. Download drush module
2. READ Readme.txt – just read up man!
3. Install drush (system-wide OR single-website)… use you’re ftp client maybe, or whatever tool you normally use to install modules.
4. Download putty.exe
5. Set up a putty profile for logging into your production server
6. use putty to get access to server command line.
7. use command line to update *scary for most*


EVE, automation… How to.

I occasionally play this game for uber-nerds online. It’s called EVE and it’s kinda slow sometimes, and very difficult to play. So here’s the plan to make it a little easier to play.

Step 1: Install Virtualbox an awesomely powerful software.

Step 2: Set up a windows virtual computer. I had to make it a 20 gig virtual computer. You’ll have to figure the software out, and this step may take you a few hours if you’re not familiar with the software… It took me 3 tries to get it right. This is the most difficult step because you’re going to have to obtain a good copy of windows that you actually do own.

Step 3: Configure the virtual computer to run in seamless mode. Yeah, I know this one is a little esoteric, but hey it helps not having to click that dang right control key every time you want to use it.

Step 4: You’ll run into some difficulties with the graphics, so you’re going to have to figure out how to get the video drivers to install properly. I had to boot the virtual machine in safe mode and run an install of some software that connected it to the hardware so that it could display the eve client… but I forgot what it was. Just remember that the client won’t run unless you figure out how to get it access to the hardware. Also, make sure the settings gives the virtual computer at least 64 MB of video memory, 512MB of ram, and 3d acceleration.

Step 5: Install EVE, this may take an hour or two.

Step 6: Make sure that EVE can run, you may still need to do *blank*. Your grapics card may not be supported or some random problem that makes the client not run, or run incorrectly. You’ll probably spend a long time banging you’re head against a wall… but eventually your forehead will break bricks.

Step 7: Install Autohotkey

Step 6: Configure the virtual computer, install updates, just clean it up a little. It’s like a brand new computer running on your desktop. Make it easy to use.

Step 8: Start building AutoHotKey scripts to do all those damn tedious tasks in EVE that you don’t want to do, and set them to hot keys.

Now you’re set, you can play eve in the background… albeit, it will reduce your productivity because multi-tasking is so 90’s.



Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a skill that seems like magic to many. I’ve been through a lot of efforts recently to improve it on some really old websites. It takes a lot of time to figure it out if you are not using a Content Management System (CMS).

So if you’re interested in doing some SEO research for your site, it’s going to very difficult if you’re not using Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, or some other CMS. Obviously I use Drupal, and it makes life really easy.

1.) The nodewords module let’s you easily add/change your keywords, and even alter the update interval with search engine spiders. It also

2.) The robotstxt module allows for easy editing of the robots.txt file. However, many people forget to delete the default robots.txt file. Also, editing the robots.txt file is fairly easy even for a non-CMS website.

3.) The xmlsitemap module makes editing the sitemap a breeze. I usually refuse to manually edit a sitemap, but that’s just me.

That’s really all there is as far as basic tools. Keyword research is something you should google if you want more info.


Tabs, Rethinking the Web Browser: Mastering Firefox like a Ninja 4

I can remember long ago when I didn’t use tabs. I can also remember that it seemed like a stupid idea to use tabs. I doubt I will convert anyone over to using tabs, but I will lay out a very detailed set of reasons on why tabs are very necessary. There are a lot of standard things that can be done using tabs. I will also suggest a few radical ideas on how to use tabs that may help in some tight spots. There is no way that one can become a ninja of using a browser without fully mastering the use of tabs. It may seem like a very banal subject, but when actually looking at our habits when using tabs, we can save little bits of time in a variety of ways.

Please skip to Intermediate if you actively use tabs when you browse.

Tabs simply allow your browser to browse multiple websites at the same time. A New tab can be used to quickly look up a word/term that is not understood, then return to the page. Listening to pandora is difficult when not using tabs. Some tabs can be used for quick reference material. It is almost impossible to use google products, research a stock, lookup sports statistics, make date plans, or find an answer to a difficult question, without using multiple tabs.

Novice: Rarely uses tabs while browsing

It may not be clear to the internet browsing novice what tabs are:

Tabs are the “tabs” on the bottom of the top menu. They signify different pages that are loaded. If you didn’t know what they were before then becoming a ninja will be a long hard road.

It may also not be clear to experienced internet browsing novices when to use tabs. Tabs are supposed to be used to browse multiple websites/pages at the same time. This sounds easy, but figuring out when it is needed is a very subtle trick for a novice. Some see fit to open to much into new tabs, and ruin any organization that would help them save time. Others stick to the old way and incessantly switch back and forth between websites opening as few tabs as possible. It is difficult to say how to use the tool, but it would be more of a subjective area than an objective decision. One of the most basic ways for a novice to experience tabs, would be to sign up for Pandora and try to play music on one tab, while browsing on another. A good rule of thumb would be: 1 purpose to one tab, and 15 tabs max.

A good example of a website that is not up with the tabs concept is TheDrudgeReport . All articles open in the same tab as the website, thereby directing traffic away from the website. This lends itself more to the users who do not use tabs, typically Novice, Internet Explorer, passive, users. As this may be bad for some websites, it works very well for Drudge. More advanced users might choose to right-click>Open in new Tab for several selections from the main drudge site, and then read each of them on separate tabs. This manner of browsing would save the user much angst in navigating back to the main site and into another link, but it is not immediately apparent to a novice.

Intermediate: Uses tabs significantly for a variety of browsing tasks

One might conceive of a scale that would grade the skill required in the use of tabs. At the bottom end would be making piecemeal of Drudge, in the middle would be tasks that require a significant amount of tab judgment, and at the top would be only the most esoteric uses for tabs. Tasks that would require significant amounts of tab usage experience:

-Using google products becomes very cumbersome without setting tabs to each task you are going to use (home, mail, docs, calendar).

-I almost never make a stock/derivative trade without extensive amounts of research on that stock

-Looking up sports statistics

-Finding out all the information on a babe (cyber stalking)

-Making plans for a date is sometimes a very difficult task. I usually find that winging it is better, but sometimes it’s special.

-Sometimes you’re only one of a few people ever to have asked the question and you need to use tabs to search in different ways.
“how do i turn off the seatbelt alarm in a 2006 prius?”
“is there a nokia n95 compatible program that would allow me to remotely turn on my phone without a sound and listen?”

Planning a daytrip can also be much more pleasant when knowing how to use tabs:

Ninja: Using tabs in combination with other tools

It’s so great to make use of tabs while browsing doing every day things, but there are other more involved tasks that require more skill to ply. There are three scenarios here: setting up a reference guide, quick loading a workspace, and watching something.

Setting up a reference guide:

Here’s the scenario in short. I worked on a project where all that it required was for me to reference the same 5 documents incessantly. All but one were pdf’s (the odd one was a word file). I would incessantly have to load one, find something and close it. What I found was that I could set up a reference guide that loaded each document in a different tab. This saved me the discomfort of searching for and loading the documents one at a time. All the documents were right at my fingertips, and I could answer any question I had almost instantly.

HOW: Make a profile -> Set a Hotkey or a Shortcut to that Profile -> Right Click on the PDF files and load into the browser-> make sure that you save the session when closing->Word documents required me to use google docs.

Quick-loading a Workspace:

This one is very basic, there’s a cool thing about Delicious, all of the bookmarks under a tag can be loaded at once. While I don’t recommend loading a google finance tabs of all the stocks on the Dow Jones Industrial (DJI), or the S&P 500, it may be nice to load half a dozen of your usual suspects when browsing the web. Also, I have to load a different set of tabs for when I’m blogging versus when I’m just surfing.

Watching Something:

When you’re on the edge, it sometimes is hard to watch simple things like the weather, a stock price, or the number of new emails you have. It is very nice to be able to simply look at the title to a tab, and see what’s going on. This requires nothing but observing what the title menu’s do, and when they change. Most websites and pages are not going to do this but the occasional page that does is awesome. I love gmail for this.

Projects & Links

Colonize the Moon
About moon/mars/asteroid colonies and space stuff

Computer Dungeon
linux/raspberry-pi/bitcoin and computer stuff

A video upload server I coded myself