Welcome to the 69th edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal, the official letter of the perennially virid online writing magazine, The New Leaf Journal. As always, this newsletter comes to you from the waterproof keyboard of the administrator and editor of The New Leaf Journal, Nicholas A. Ferrell.
Today it is more apt to call our project the Move Leaf Journal. In last week’s newsletter, I explained that I planned to move The New Leaf Journal to better hosting due to our having outgrown our shared hosting plan on Bluehost. The move has now been completed - and while there may be some unforeseen technical snafus here or there, everything looks clean on my end. In this post, I will recap the week that was (although not much happened beyond moving the site), offer links from around the web, and provide an overview of how we moved our growing project.
There were only three new articles published during the last week. One of those articles was nothing more than an alert to readers to potential downtime on February 4 and 5 (we had almost two hours of downtime from 11:30 to 1:30 on February 5). Before that, I did publish two substantive articles - which you will find discussed below.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. January 31, 2022.
I reviewed what was a busy month in January before our shared hosting began to crack in the final week or two. Since I discussed our site move in the post, I have appended a small update at the top for readers who find the review late.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. February 1, 2022.
This adorable poem has many punchlines, but perhaps the most clever is the fact that the poem features a kitty, but "Kitty" in the title refers to a young girl named Kit.
While both my January review and my re-printing of Kitty's First Pie were riveting content (in my humble opinion), I will concede that they will probably not occupy more than 10-15 minutes of your time. To be sure, I had a very good excuse for my lack of publishing this week, but I figured that I'd make up for it with a few extra recommendations from around the web.
Kate Gray. February 4, 2022.
For those who are not in the know, Steam is the biggest platform for digital computer games. Steam is producing a handheld game system called the Steam Deck that can play computer games. I discussed the Steam Deck tangentially in my article on gaming on Linux because the Steam Deck will use an operating system based on Arch Linux.
Now, while Steam Deck is a fine idea, I am not purchasing one because I have no use-case for it. But I assumed that in light of the fact it was a "handheld" console, it would not be monstrously large. This article disabused me of that notion. That, my fair readers, is not a handheld device. The Wii U pad comparison is telling for anyone who has held one of those things.
Pedro Delfino. February 2, 2022.
The Nyxt web browser is a light-weight and very-configurable browser that can be navigated with a keyboard. This post describes its new note-taking functionality. I have Nyxt installed and have been meaning to give it a spin - but that will have to wait until I have time to sit down and figure out how to configure it. If you want to try, it can be downloaded for free for Linux, Windows, and MacOS (or if you're ambitious - you can build it from source).
Dark Pattern Games.
This project distinguishes "dark pattern games" from "healthy games" - with a focus on games for Android and iOS. I have not reviewed all of their choices (and for whatever it's worth, I'm not a phone gamer), but it looks like an interesting project and on the surface - I do not see much to disagree with on the dark pattern categories. I may return to this in the future for an article.
Louis Matsakis and Olivia Solon. February 1, 2022.
Good. If the farm equipment repair effort passes, there are plenty of other things that need some attention in this area.
Master Blaster. February 1,2022.
There have been times when I know that I need to write something but do not have a clear and distinct prompt that fits my time constraints. Knowing the feeling, I cannot help but admire how the staff of SoraNews24 can generate its own content. All jokes aside - it is a fun and original piece.
John Huggan. February 2, 2022.
Mr. Mickelson featured in an article that I wrote several months ago about the oldest golfers to win major championships (Mr. Mickelson now holds the record after winning last year's PGA Championship at age-50). Here, he indirectly weighs in on a power struggle in professional golf stemming from Mr. Greg Norman's effort, backed by Saudi Arabian-businessmen, to create a rival tour. It's an interesting story even if you do not follow golf closely, and the article links to other relevant materials.
Andy Greenberg. February 2, 2022.
With the caveat that I am not sure the gentleman hacker's story has been fully verified, it is a terrific story described well by the headline.
Codeberg, a git repository for free and open source projects, announced that it now offers static website hosting from its repositories. I may be taking advantage of this later in 2022. The process should be familiar to anyone who has used the more well-known GitHub or GitLab for the same purpose.
Joseph Nuthalpati. September 18, 2020.
Mr. Nuthalpati was looking for an alternative method for saving articles to read on other devices to server-based solutions such as Pocket, Wallabag (which I am a fan of), and Instapaper. I had actually been trying to come up with a way to accomplish the same thing myself. Reading Mr. Nuthalpati's post led me to begin implementing my own solution which you will surely read about once I finalize the workflow.
Let's dig into our archives...
Nicholas A. Ferrell. February 5, 2021.
One year ago to the day, I published a short article on peculiar "BLOB DYLAN" graffiti in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The post turned out to be an unexpected success, but less so than my follow-up post on the same subject.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. September 29, 2022.
The story of a woman who gets the important questions out of the way early in the date.
I list our most-visited articles of the previous week in each newsletter. In keeping with our newsletter schedule, these “Newsletter Weeks” begin with Saturday and end on Friday. The statistics come courtesy of our local and privacy-friendly analytics solution, Koko Analytics - which I reviewed on site.
Our last week was our worst week in terms of page-views in several months, but given the kinds of response times we were having, I can see why. Now that the site is super-charged, I hope that people will discover more of our new and archived content.
While we did make a big move, our statistics came with us. Below, you will find the five most-read articles of the fifth newsletter week of 2022.
The Mystery of Sōseki and Tsuki ga Kirei.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. March 14, 2021.
Last Week: #1.
2022 Top Fives: 5 (5 in first).
Notes: 22 consecutive weeks at #1.
Recommended F-Droid FOSS Apps For Android-Based Devices (2021).
Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 27, 2021.
Last Week: #3.
2022 Top Fives: 5
Installing Ubuntu Touch on an Asus Nexus 7 (2013).
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 5, 2021.
Last Week: #2.
2022 Top Fives: 5.
How to Find Substack RSS Feeds and Other Notes.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. June 19, 2021.
Last Week: #4.
2022 Top Fives: 5
The Story of Billy Possum, President Hoover's Pet Opossum.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 30, 2021.
Last Week: Outside top 25
2022 Top Fives: NEW
Notes: First top-5 appearance
The quintet that featured in the first four top-fives of 2022 was finally broken up. Out was Victor's 2020 review of protective masks. In was former President Herbert Hoover's pet opossum. That was not the article that I expected to break into our top-five, but you never know how things will shake out. I did receive via our contact form an interesting "Billy Possum" tip that may lead to a follow-up article. Other than the surprise at number-five, the top-four should be familiar to regular newsletter readers, with my post on Tsuki ga Kirei approaching six consecutive months in the top spot.
Do you see what I just did there?
Puns aside, I will give a brief overview of how we moved The New Leaf Journal.
Early last week, I had to complete a couple of real work assignments with hard deadlines. For that reason, I was unable to finalize my plans for moving The New Leaf Journal until Wednesday.
When I initially resolved to move The New Leaf Journal, I planned to use a hosting provider called Cloudways which manages a Digital Ocean, Linode, Vultr, Google Cloud, or Amazon Web Services instance. This would have been a temporary solution until I could set up a VPS and run it myself.
However, after a bit of research, I decided to cut out the middleman and go straight for an un-managed VPS. I purchased a VPS plan from Hetzner, a German-based VPS provider, and made sure that I carefully filled in all my information so I would not get flagged as malicious and have my account cancelled.
On Thursday, I set up my VPS server and performed some clerical tasks. On Friday, I used a spare domain that I own to set up Cloudron, which doubles as a one-click server app installer and control panel. Finally, today (being Saturday, February 5), I changed the nameservers for "thenewleafjournal.com" from Bluehost to Hetzner, installed WordPress, and undertook transferring the site.
We had about 1 hour and 45 minutes of downtime instead of 15-20 minutes due to a couple of issues in the porting. Firstly, the initial backup-restore plugin that I tried did not work properly. It transferred all of our WordPress plugins, but not our databases. While I was trying to trouble-shoot the issue, I may have accidentally locked myself out of my WordPress install. At that point, I decided to reinstall WordPress and try plan B - but the second backup-restore plugin also had an issue.
Fortunately, I had four sets of backup files - my third attempt used the free version of Updraft Plus, our long-time backup plugin. This worked - and I successfully restored The New Leaf Journal on the new server from a backup. Hooray! Unfortunately, I did not read the date of the backup carefully, and may have restored the site as it was on January 6, 2022, instead of February 5, 2022. However, I took advantage of the fact that Updraft Plus had also restored its own backup to retrieve the correct backup from my storage and restore the February 5 backup from the restored January 6 backup.
With that, The New Leaf Journal was back after a very short time offline. I wonder if anyone ran into my temporary maintenance page.
I wil l dedicate this week's recommendation to UpdraftPlus, on e of the most popular backup plugins for WordPress. I have been using the free version of UpdraftPlus since May 2020, although I only restored an update from it on one occasion. The free version allows users to manually backup their site to a storage location of their choice (the premium version offers more location options). From there, one can also download backups for offline storage.
Prior to moving The New Leaf Journal, I downloaded a backup that I took on the morning of February 5, 2022. After the dedicated backup-restore solutions failed, UpdraftPlus came up clutch and worked for two site restores (granting the first was unintentional).
However, I must note that using the free version UpdraftPlus to restore a site on a new server only works if the site's URL is unchanged. Moving the site from one URL from another URL would require a premium UpdraftPlus plugin (or an alternative solution). Since we are using the same thenewleafjournal domain, the free plugin worked for restoring the site from a backup in the new location.
The early returns on The New Leaf Journal's move look promising. Once we are settled in, I will explore some enhancements to the project that would not have been possible on our earlier hosting. In the immediate term, I plan to re-design our header and footer menus and improve the structure of our right widget area (mobile users see the widget area below the content). I will also keep diligent backups of the site just in case some issue pops up with the VPS provider in the next couple of weeks.
If you happen to notice anything strange about the site or its behavior (other than the content), please let me know via the contact form or at naferrell [at] newleafjournal [dot] com. Some issues may be resolved by flushing your browser cache (I doubt any issues will arise, however).
Most importantly, we will need some good content to recapture the momentum we built in the autumn and early winter before the site's performance took a turn for the worse in January. With things settling down, I hope you look forward to some proverbial blockbuster articles this February.
The Newsletter Leaf Journal, however, remains blissfully unaware of all the excitement at its sister publication, for it is hosted elsewhere with Buttondown.
Thank you as always for following The New Leaf Journal and The Newsletter Leaf Journal. If you have not done so already, consider subscribing to this humble newsletter via email or its RSS feed.
Until next week,
Cura ut valeas.