Archive for the 'Tips' Category

[SOLVED] logrotate: error creating state file /var/lib/logrotate.status: permission denied

Friday, June 14th, 2019

TipWhile there are many possible reasons for this error message, here’s why I was getting it. The logrotate utility writes status data to a state file. By default it writes to /var/lib/logrotate.status. My account was on a shared web host, and I didn’t have permission to modify that file. The solution was to specify a local state file via the ‘-s’ parameter. Problem solved.

[SOLVED] logrorate error: lines must begin with a keyword or a filename (possibly in double quotes)

Friday, June 14th, 2019

TipUsing logrotate for the first time, I was baffled as to why I was receiving this error. Looking at the config file, it was clear that the filenames were there. After trying a bunch of things, I finally figured out the problem—I’d created the file under Windows and my FTP program hadn’t converted the newlines to the Unix format. A quick ‘dos2unix’ call later, and the problem was fixed.

So You’re Going to Compete on Forged in Fire?

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

[Note: This list was originally compiled by me then posted on /r/forgedinfireshow, where I made significant changes based on comments from other members of the subreddit.]

Regular Forged in Fire viewers are all too familiar with statements like these:

<when working with canisters> “I’ve never used a welder before.”

“This is the longest blade I’ve ever forged. I’m going to have to make a bigger quench tank.”

“I’ve never used a coal forge in my life.”

The Forged in Fire producers enjoy throwing unusual situations and obscure techniques at their smiths. And learning new techniques during the competition is a sure path to failure. The following list is based on actual mistakes made by contestants:

Practice the following techniques beforehand:

  • Canister Damascus welding
  • Using a coal forge with a manual air pump
  • Forge welding, especially with (1) different metals and (2) a thick piece of cable

Mistakes that have actually happened:

  • Give the Liquid Paper time to dry before adding anything else to the canister
  • You need -both- the red and the blue epoxy containers
  • They supply 5-minute epoxy and 24-hour epoxy—choose wisely
  • Some extremely well-made blades have been eliminated because they didn’t meet parameters
  • If the judges tell you something should be fixed, don’t convince yourself there’s not enough time to fix it

General weaponsmithing:

  • Never quench in water unless you have a very specific reason for doing so
  • For larger blades, the judges take balance and weight very seriously
  • When forge welding, first clean the surfaces that will be welded together
  • Be extremely careful bending hardened/quenched steel, and never hammer it
  • Pro tip: it’s much easier to drill/drift holes before you quench
  • Pro tip: quench a test piece of steel and then break it to see what the metal looks like after quenching.


  • A great blade with a bad handle will almost always lose
  • Functionality and quality of construction are far, far more important for a handle than how good it looks
  • The judges put significant emphasis on how comfortable a handle is and how well it fits their hands
  • Do not get fancy with your handle in an effort to impress the judges—this almost always does more harm than good
  • Knife handle shapes that don’t prevent the user’s hand from sliding onto the blade -must- include a guard—failing to do so is an automatic disqualification
  • Nothing in the handle should have -any- possibility of digging into or cutting the judge’s hand—a bleeding judge significantly increases your chances of being eliminated
  • Round or heavily rounded knife/sword handles look nice but fail to perform
  • The burn-through method of creating knife handle holes is risky and should be avoided unless you’re hard-pressed for time and have no other option
  • The tests apply significant stress to the handle—epoxy alone will not hold a handle together.
  • Pro tip: note the judges’ hand size when you shake hands with them at the beginning of the competition, and craft your handle accordingly

Know the following skills:

  • How to use a magnet to check for proper heat treat temperature (also, bring a magnet with you)
  • How to use a MIG welder
  • How to use a spark test to identify an unknown metal
  • How to use a belt grinder like the ones on the show, and especially how to change the belt
  • How to use a gas forge like the ones on the show, and especially how to adjust the temperature
  • How to correct a post-quench warp without breaking the blade (hint: hammering or bending in a vise rarely works)
  • How to construct a friction folder knife

Regarding your home forge:

  • Before you leave, triple-check your equipment to ensure it’s in perfect working order
  • Equipment failures happen—be prepared
  • Some of the weapons you have to make are unusually long or wide—you may need a bigger forge and/or quenching tank, so obtain the materials for that beforehand

General philosophy:

  • Stick to the basics; don’t try to be fancy and impress the judges
  • Stick to what you know; this is not the time to be experimenting
  • Stay calm—getting rushed affects your decision-making and is the best way to be eliminated
  • Many, many contestants have been eliminated because of poor time management
  • When things are going badly, it’s often better to just abandon what you’ve done and start over
  • No matter how bad you’re doing, there’s always the chance that someone else is doing worse

Quick & Easy Guide to Accumulating Darkmoon Faire Prize Tickets

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

NOTE: This guide was written in early 2019 and was correct and up-to-date at that time. Things change, however, so please leave a comment if anything needs to be added or changed.

How to get a large number of Darkmoon Prize Tickets with a minimal amount of time and effort:

[80 tickets] There are nine Darkmoon dungeon artifacts that can be turned in at the Faire for rewards. They give 5, 10, or 15 prize tickets apiece, and you can redeem one of each type per character per Faire. All can be purchased on the Auction House, usually for reasonable amounts if you wait until the prices drop.

[10 tickets] Kill Moonfang. Use the premade groupfinder to find a group. Can be done once per character per Faire.

[20 tickets] Do all five profession quests. They give 4 tickets apiece. Can be done once per character per Faire.

[120 tickets] Pet battles (guides here). Win both and you get 15 tickets. Can be done once per account per day.

Honorable Mention

[100 tickets] Fish up or purchase 100 Darkmoon Daggermaw and buy the Faded Treasure Map. If your classic fishing skill is high enough, fishing them should take 30-40 minutes. Can be done once per character.

[SOLVED] Why is my Uploaded YouTube Video Such Poor Quality?

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

Video CameraI’ve recently been uploading videos to YouTube. Usually I’m waiting to send the link, so I upload the video then immediately view it on YouTube to ensure it’s good. Often I find that the video quality has been significantly downgraded, sometimes to the point where it’s unwatchable.

When researching this I found a large number of potential causes and solutions, but the actual answer is quite simple:

  • Just wait for 30-60 minutes.

When YouTube first publishes a video it does everything it can to quickly make the video viewable and, as such, does the least amount of processing possible and starts with the format that can be watched on any device. So the initial format is the lowest resolution and bitrate. After publication, however, YouTube continues to perform processing in the background and subsequently adds higher-quality versions of the video. If you wait for a bit and then refresh the page, you’ll get a much better version of the video as the default.

DPS Calculation Explained: Active Time vs. Elapsed Time

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

Two players can do the same total damage during a fight yet have significantly different DPS numbers. You may be wondering how this is possible.

In most cases DPS is calculated by dividing the total damage by the total elapsed time. “Elapsed time” is just the length of the fight. Most DPS calculators will subtract time you spent dead, and some will start the clock from when you entered the fight instead of when your group entered the fight. But if you stay alive and pull with the group, DPS calculation is done by using the duration of the fight, which I call elapsed time.

WoW, however, has a metric known as “active time“. For DPS this is essentially the amount of time you’re attacking the target. It includes time spent doing the following:

  • Channeling/performing a TYPE_DAMAGE ability
  • Waiting for the global cooldown to finish

Some DPS calculators in WoW, and most prominently the Recount addon, default to using active time instead of elapsed time when calculating DPS, thus changing it from “damage over time” to “damage over time for those times you were attacking the target”. When defined this way, DPS becomes an indicator of how effectively you can damage, but it’s not as good for judging how well you do in a fight overall.

This was quite confusing to me at first. Many people in WoW are adamant about how it’s better to look at total damage than DPS. Normally there’s no difference between the two—DPS is simply the total damage with a common scale factor applied and the two can be used interchangeably. But if you’re used to the numbers given by Recount, that is not the case.

Unlimited Pet Leveling with Sir Galveston

Monday, October 1st, 2018

NOTE: This guide was written in 2018 and was correct and up-to-date at that time. Things change, however, so please leave a comment if anything needs to be added or changed.

Sir Galveston is a pet master in Dalaran – Broken Isles who periodically appears for a world quest. He’s great for leveling an arbitrary number of pets, for the following reasons:

  • Sir Galveston remains after the world quest is done and can be fought repeatedly until you leave the zone, leveling as many pets as you wish.
  • The carry pet takes no damage and can be any level.
  • The required pets are fairly inexpensive and easy to obtain, assuming you have revered status with Court of Farondis in Legion.
  • Rewards significant pet XP, even for a level 24 carry pet.
  • Reliable: I’m seeing about a 1-2% failure rate.
  • Well-scripted: the only variation is whether or not you repeat the final action.
  • Fairly short: typically less than 90 seconds.


How to Get a Water-Walking Mount

Monday, September 24th, 2018

NOTE: This guide was written in 2018 and was correct and up-to-date at that time. Things change, however, so please leave a comment if anything needs to be added or changed.

With the advent of the Battle for Azeroth expansion and its lack of flying, many people realized they needed a mount that could walk on water. Here’s a quick guide on how to get them.


How to Fix Windows 7 Unable to Create or Find a System Partition on an SSD

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Windows LogoMy primary hard drive died, and I decided to replace it with an SSD to help speed up my system. When I tried to install Windows 7 on the new drive, however, I kept getting this error message: “Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the Setup log files for more information.” (<RANT>And just WHERE would these log files BE?!?</RANT>) Most of the “solutions” on the web dealt with correctly configuring the disk partition. I had used the Windows installer to set up the partition, but just to make sure, I booted into Linux and set the boot flag for the partition. Didn’t work. So I used DiskPart from the Windows recovery console. Didn’t work either.

Finally I came across an article that mentioned BIOS settings, and that did the trick. The SATA Mode (that’s what it’s called in my setup program but it varies) was set to IDE and needed to be AHCI. After making that change the install went smoothly. The article also said that you should not use Intel® Smart Response Technology, which is another BIOS option.

When to Purchase the Cheapest Airline Tickets

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

ShopperDid you know that when you purchase an airline ticket can have an impact on the price? Buying tickets on Tuesdays or over the weekend can get you a better deal. Also, purchasing them seven weeks before the trip will usually get you the best fare.


Tips For Optimizing an SSD

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

Tip JarSolid-state hard drives (SSDs) are quite different from regular, platter-based hard drives. And many of the techniques that optimize normal drives, such as defragmentation, are either unnecessary on SSDs or can actually decrease performance or reduce the drive’s lifespan. The linked article has several tips on optimizing the performance of your SSD under Windows.

Thanks to John from Boulder for this link.


How to Fix the “This page can’t be displayed” Error in Internet Explorer 10

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Windows LogoHaving just set up a new install of Windows 7 two days earlier, I learned that Internet Explorer 10 was now available for that OS. So I downloaded and installed it, only to find that it didn’t work. Every URL gave the same error message: “This page can’t be displayed.” My other browsers worked, so it wasn’t the network or the connection. After searching for a while, I found the answer from the linked article. To summarize:

  1. Click the cog wheel towards the upper right part of the IE10 window. This will open a menu.
  2. Select “Internet Options” from the menu. This will open the options window.
  3. Select the “Advanced” tab.
  4. Scroll down to the “Security” section.
  5. Check the “Enhanced Protection Mode” option.
  6. Save the options and restart the computer. Problem fixed!


UPDATE (10/30/2015): For a technical explanation of why this works, please refer to this article from Microsoft. For a less technical explanation of what “Enhanced Protection Mode” does, I recommend this article.