Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

Failure is in the Eye of the Beholder

I'm late, so you think. I promised you a weekly post this year and I've already neglected to provide you last week's story. Last weekend was a busy traveling hockey weekend for my son and me, but nevertheless you think that's no excuse for having failed you. The old me would have agreed with you. The new me says, that's bull.

By my nature, I'm a very task oriented person. I don't let go until the job is done. Several years ago, I started a 365 Photo Project with the goal of publishing a new photo each day of the year. By March, my joy in taking photographs turned into a miserable experience. With only eight miles between home and work, there just wasn't enough interesting and inspiring photos to take on my daily commute. The year-long project I had envisioned only lasted for three months.  I still can't crack a smile when I look at the photos I took during that project. I labeled that year's resolution a failure and to this day I still feel I owe somebody a couple hundred more photographs.

363 Miles from Home

Here is a fun fact. I've never lived more than 363 miles from home. To be exact, outside of my college years, I've always lived exactly 363 miles from my childhood home in Kansas City, Kansas.

My first job after graduating college landed me a job at a Weather Service Meteorological Observatory in southwest Kansas. My apartment was 363 miles away from my parents' driveway. A couple years later, my next job took me to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. To my surprise, on the first visit from Sioux Falls to Kansas City I found that I added exactly 363 miles my truck's odometer.

I never planned to stay in Sioux Falls and my goal as a young adult was always to return home to Kansas City. After a quarter century of living in this South Dakota city, I've come to realize my plans to return to Kansas are likely to never be realized. But you know what, I'm OK with that because Sioux Falls has treated me well. Now, when I visit family and friends in Kansas City, I refer to Sioux Falls as home. Sioux Falls is where I married, prospered in my career, made great friends, and am currently raising a teenage son. My life would be a sad one if I considered my only home to be where where I grew up and not where I have lived most of my life.

The best part, 363 miles from home works both ways. I've never lived more than 363 miles from my Kansas City home.  I'm also never more than 363 miles from my Sioux Falls home when I'm visiting Kansas City. The number 363 is a magical number to me.

Skip Resolutions, Find Direction Instead

This year, I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions. Every year I promised myself to lose weight, bicycle more, and be happy. Every year, I fail miserably. What good is a resolution if at the end of the year I’m standing exactly where I started? But let’s say I did achieve all my New Year’s resolutions. How much alone do accomplishing these resolutions bring value to a person’s life?

I think making New Year’s resolutions is a distraction from how best to measure one’s life. Life isn’t about completing a checklist but about finding your way in this world. I am at the age in life where I have started to lose older family and friends at an unsettling rate. After their death, I’ve never witnessed anyone reminisce about whether the departed completed their bucket list or not. Instead, mourners focused not on the person’s checklist but instead the overall direction their loved took as he or she lived his or her life.

I think for a life to be of value, there are four positive directions we can choose. We can face the East to greet the Sun and welcome the new day. We can face West to reflect on our day as we seek closure. We can also look to the North for adventure and starting something new or we can head South to relax under the warm Sun and be content for what we have. None of these points on the compass is a bad direction to choose. The nice thing is that on this map you don’t have to go a single direction your whole life but choose your own course and move in multiple directions along the journey.

But I think the worse things you can do is to stay stationary. Stationary is a nonexistent direction. What value is there in life to not move toward something that will bring good to your life? None I think.

A final goodbye to CMS Report

Effective immediately, CMS Report has been shutdown with socPub designated as the website's full replacement.

Two months ago, I introduced CMS Report "Lite" as a slimmed-down version of the original website. Since our rebranding from CMS Report to socPub earlier this year, a number of content management professionals expressed the need to cite reputable CMSReport.com for their information and were uncomfortable with referencing an "unknown" website like socPub. With limited success since bringing this nostalgic website back online, I decided this it was time to: let the past go; redirect all remaining traffic from CMSReport.com to SocPub.com; and to shutdown the website for good.

While I had hopes that mirroring the content would be a win-win for both website...the analytics showed otherwise. I was prepared to see a decrease of visitors at one website in favor of another but in reality most of my intended audience targeting North America, Europe, and Australia continued to view content their content at socPub. CMS Report on the other hand attracted less than 12% of my targeted audience with instead 85% of the audience coming from India in the form of bots trying to look for weaknesses in my content management system. 

Drupal 8.4 Available and Fixes Significant Database Caching Issues

Your hosting account was found to be causing an overload of MySQL resources. What can you do? Upgrade your Drupal 8 website to Drupal 8.4 or higher.

One of my goals in rebranding my website from CMS Report to socPub was to write diverse articles beyond the topic of content management systems. Yet, here we go again with another CMS related article. The Drupal open source project recently made available Drupal 8.4 and for me this version has been a long time coming as it addresses some long standing frustrations I've had with Drupal 8 from the perspective of a site administrator. While Drupal 8.4 adds some nice new features, I'm just as excited about the bug fixes and performance improvements delivered in this new version of Drupal.

When Drupal 8 was introduced it made significant improvements in how it caches and renders pages. That's great news for websites that use Drupal's built-in caching to speed up delivery of pages or page elements. But there was one unwanted side effect to the cache enhancements, excessive growth of cache tables with tens or hundreds of thousands of entries, and gigabytes in size. For my own website it is not too uncommon to see my database reach 4 GB in size. Let's put it this way, it was no fun to receive a letter from my hosting provider that they weren't too happy of my resource usage. Worse they threatened shutting down my website if I didn't manage the database size better. Just in the nick of time for you and me, Drupal 8.4 delivers a fix to the cache growth by introducing a new default limit of 5000 rows per cache bin.