Latest Blogs

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Memorial Day Ride

Nothing really special here as the gopro wasn't working, but I've just spent the last few hours messing around with the conversion for the trail so I'm going to keep it and post it. The only thing slightly noteworthy is the bloody big hill William got me to go up. It's a good job that bike's got good brakes as I had to stop several times and then restart. If the brakes had given way I'd have ended up at the bottom of the hill in a heap rather quickly. Now, that would probably be something worth seeing.

2024 F1 Race Game

A new Formula 1 season is upon us and the race game is setup for all to play. There are very few changes this year, but will the cars perform the same? Let's see how good you are at predicting the top ten each race. The game is really simple, you need to pick 10 drivers that you think will finish in the top 10 positions of each race. In order to play, you must be registered with EastBayRag. You then need to logon (when you try to access the page or any other page that requires logon, you will be taken to the logon screen).

There are literally only two steps to play the game:

1. Go to 2024 F1 Game registration and register.

2. Go to selections for the first race to make your initial selections.

You can leave it there. Your selections will copy over to all the races so you will score points each week. You can update your selections for any race up until the race is locked (set to be two hours prior to the official race start time). You will be able to see practice and qualifying before you make changes to allow you to make any updates for drivers performing above or below what you expect for any given race.

The points system is pretty simple - you start with 150 points. You lose a point for each position each of your predictions finishes away from where you predicted them to finish (e.g. if you predict Lewis Hamilton to finish third and he wins, you lose two points. If he finished seventh, you would lose 4 points). You gain 10 bonus points for every correct prediction making 250 points the maximum that can be scored each week if you guess all 10 positions correctly.

Any updates can be made from your race game account by selecting the appropriate competition.

Good luck!

Now with added emoji 🤠

If you've read the website blog on smack talk you will know that I've just “enabled” emoji's on the website. Stupidly, I thought this would be an easy task as I figured it's just a matter of getting the database (MariaDB) to accept the code for each emoji. It kind of is that simple, but a cascading sequence of events happened that dramatically increased the amount of work needed to get there. I've already done a blog title “I knew an old woman that swallowed a fly” otherwise I'd have used that here.

OK, so what you need to do is have the database and each table allow unicode which I'm 100% sure I'd already done. It's quite possible that I did, but emoji's have become a thing since then and they require a specific unicode. In this case UTF8MB4. Not a big deal, just write a SQL script to change the database encoding then iterate through all the tables changing them.

It failed on about the third or fourth table. I've significantly cut down the number of tables post the LEMP conversion, but there are still 51 left. The reason it failed is that the primary key was too big. Apparently the max size of the key is 767 which is 768 bytes. This is not something Neville told me #blameneville. Obviously converting from the latin character set to UTF-8 means that each letter takes up more storage space. I'm guessing 4x the amount given utf8mb4 is a 4 byte UTF-8 encoding. I have some tables that have a 255 character varchar field as the key - apparently this is a bad thing to do anyway as it creates a huge index which I totally get, but didn't .... #blameneville. These 255 character fields are too big to be keys with the new encoding.

Right, so I could have cut the corner here and just converted tables that were going to store emojis rather than all the tables. But if a job's worth doing ... you really should get someone else to do it for you. Next step then, figure out which tables had inappropriate keys. Some of them were pretty easy - I could just assign an auto number as they key and move on. Unfortunately the biggest issue was the email field that I used as a key for the folks that are registered and to link to the race game and playlists (the latter now hidden, but still exists as I moved RagBox to personal use only).

Sidetrack for a minute. I made the email field 255 characters long because an email can be that long. Actually, I think it can be longer. Can you imagine though if your email address was 255 characters long and having to type it in every time you wanted to register or logon with something.

Let's get back on track - data conversion. The fix is to assign each person a unique ID, then to add that field to each of the tables that was linked via the email address. Iterate through the table and populate that new field with the ID associated with each email. Then make that field required and part of the key (as it would have other bits that make up the key such as the competition number). Then delete the email field as it's no longer needed in the referencing tables.

The structure's now in place and we can accept emojis. Only we can't because every page that puts data into the tables is trying to put an email address in an email field that no longer exists and is not populating a required ID field. This is for things like registering with the race game, changing registration, making selections, editing selections, becoming a member, changing your membership, password resets blah, blah, blah. It's more than you think.

Right, so just change those pages and we're up and running. Err, no. The whole logon process that I created recently uses email addresses as the ID and I changed it to the new ID (which has logged everybody out). This bit is actually quite funny. I knew I'd be logged out, but when I tried to log back in, I was locked out because it couldn't validate me for some of the back end stuff that I need to do to run the scripts to make the changes. So I had to un-code the logon, to push the changes, to then re-enable the logon so I could log back in.

We're done now though and the changes are in. I 💗 data conversion. There's something about just figuring out data structures and what needs to be done that I find really calming. I think it's the sense of putting order to something. Parts of the back end are still broken. I need to fix some stuff with the music, but it shouldn't be too difficult. I just need to finish the mobile friendly responsive pages for the front end first. The joy of hobbies.

Cheap Flights

A great video.

Apple nailed it

I've noticed that my iPad has started to predict what app I want to open. It comes up with a message that based on my location in my house, the app I normally open first is YouTube. Which clearly appears when I'm taking a shit. It does seem that Apple have spent millions trying to figure out when I take a dump. I also like the fact that there's all this talk about China watching everything we do through the technology we use. I think the head of MI6 made a comment recently on the topic that gadgets were being used to monitor everything. It's the use of the generic term “China” given that there's 1.3 billion Chinese. I kind of now have this mental image of 1.3 billion people crowding round a big computer screen thinking “ he's going for a shit again”. If they keep inventing stuff, it won't be long before they can smell it through their technology too.

Blog Topics

The blogs have been grouped with some kind of logic. The recent blogs show the last ten posts for each topic. The history of all the blogs can be found in the archives.

Stuff blogs are articles or comments about things I've come across that I found of interest and decided to share. Mostly, this is where I get to point out silly things that I've heard. I guess you would class these as general interest.

Website blogs are little snippets of information about something that has been developed or is in the process of being developed for this website.

Build Your Own Blog (BYOB) is the pièce de résistance of the EastBayRag blogs. Being even more sad than people give me credit for, I've documented how this website is created and how some of the components work. To be honest, more so that I don't forget and have somewhere to come back and refer to, but if you're thinking of doing something similar this may be of interest to you.

Open Forum is an open place for anyone to post an ariticle. Ever wanted the ability to create your own article without having to create multiple entries. Well, now you have that ability and there's even the option to add a picture to your article if you want to spruce it up. Note, however, these open forums are open so anyone can submit an article. Hopefully this will work and it won't get abused, but we will wait and see. (We are tracking access by IP, so we can find you!!!)


The archives provide a full listing of all the blogs for each of the categories above stuff, website, BYOB and open. Additionally, there are two other topic areas that are no longer being added to.

OBlogs are the ramblings of a mate of mine back in the UK. Originally this was setup mostly to see if I could build a system that someone else could post on. Mr O posted many articles before realizing that the “Book of Faces” was a much better avenue to write to multiple people instead of shouting in the wind here to, well, nobody.

Road Trip America is the story of the sights and sounds from a road trip across the United States that four of us took in 2009. Two of these people being Mr O of the OBlogs and myself.