Friday, August 21, 2015

Unable to create directory... Wordpress error (formerly http://unpwnd.com/?p=555)

Friday evening, I was hit by series of errors from WordPress. When uploading images, I was confronted by these error messages:
“Unable to create directory wp-content/uploads/2015/01. Is its parent directory writable by the server?”
“The uploaded file could not be moved to wp-content/uploads/2015/01″
Obviously, my permissions were off, but I couldn't figure out where.
The quick and dirty work around was to log into GoDaddy’s file management tool and create files and upload images via the tool. Back in WordPress, I needed to select a previously existing image and edit the code to match the files and directories I created in the previous stop.
That is not optimal and not advisable. 
The correct answer is to correct the permissions on the server via the file management tool. I made several attempts, but it didn’t seem to work. After calling GoDaddy, I found where I was going wrong.
First and always, log out of WordPress. Second, the items Web Visible and Web Writable need to be ticked on the WordPress upload folder. The directory location is: /wp-content/uploads/. You likely don’t have permission to edit the webroot directory, and you shouldn't give that much permission that high up.
If you select the folder and view the settings you will not see the ticks because the Inherit tick disables those options. Untick it.
The other two become active. You can see the problem right away, the folder isn’t Web Writable. Tick it. 
If you need a quick fix, this is it. Stop reading now, since I don't have any better suggestion to offer. 
If you are still reading, this WILL correct the issue temporarily, but this is not an optimal solution. I contacted GoDaddy 3 times over this issue. 
The first time, the chat agent attempted to reset my permissions, which wasn't the answer at all. I had all the permissions I needed, I simply needed a little more information. I only mention this because you do not want to waste time like this. Don't use chat, they have a tendancy of "escalating" contacts to unnamed people who will effect fixes in 30 minutes to several hours. It never works, don't use chat. 
The second time provided me with the information above. This is also not the correct solution, because it is a quick fix that does not stop the error from happening. I experienced this error more than 40 times from 5 different webpages, hosted on two different GoDaddy servers. I expressed the belief that someone or thing was resetting this one particular permission by accident. The rep said that it was possible, but he did not see that happening. 
The third time, the rep insisted that my use of php based forms was the cause of the issue and it was my fault for using php forms, I need to purchase several things to prevent "php injection attacks". GoDaddy suggested I use Wordpress when I purchased my hosting, because it was very secure and they would be able to address any troubleshoot concerns that I had with it. The last issue is my sites were hosted on a shared server. This is a good cheap solution, but it also means that if someone else has a problem I could have that problem, too. 
The GoDaddy agent was actually suggesting that they have a known problem where people can assess their server with no login credentials at all and modify files at will and not show up on any logs. I had a hardened version of Wordpress, I changed my login ids often and I was not seeing any additional files or files with modification dates that did not correspond to my editing patterns. The changes made by this "intrusion" actually made my site HARDER to attack by removing permissions from a valid function, without making any other modifications.
When I asked for any more information such as server logs, support, etc., I experienced an upcharge menu. Basically, these upcharges highlighted the difference between what I was told I was purchasing and the services I was actually being provided. 
You will notice that I am now on Blogger, a free platform and no longer hosting with GoDaddy. My primary purpose for this change is to get away from the frustration I was experiencing. Let's be real, I was paying under $20 to host 5 websites. For years, GoDaddy provided a wonderful and valuable service for four dollars a month. At some point, quality declined. I was no longer receiving the top end service I had come to expect, likely because I was paying for low end service. I can't really blame GoDaddy for this, but realistically I was paying 20 bucks for headaches. 
I seriously doubt the whole "PhP iNj3cTi0n 4tTaCk!!!!" line the agent tried to sell me on. I do not think they would be in business for very long if they allowed unrestricted access to their servers via the Wordpress install that they provide. That is idiotic. I am more inclined to believe that this is a misguided attempt at security, where someone in house, at GoDaddy is changing settings to be more cautious and more secure without bothering to address the issues this causes with one or more products they sell.
Using GoDaddy for hosting is really not a good option for me. If you are encountering this problem intermittently and it is within your tolerance level, they are a good choice. If not, time to move. I still use GoDaddy for my URL and such. That will not change anytime soon.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Going off the Rails – Part One

Have you ever had a night of gaming go off the rails?
I had a 3 hours session turn into a 6-7 hour marathon of gaming. We should have cut it off, but everyone was having too much fun. The players had reached a remote village and were trying to set up a trade agreement. They offended the villagers and the party tried an Indiana Jones style escape to a rope bridge and escape.
The one magic users who could have stopped the villagers with a spell instead flew to the bridge with axe. He was prepared to cut the bridge after his fellow adventurers made it across. This is when the game exhaustion hit.
All of the players shouted “Cut it now!” And the magic user complied, trapping everyone on the wrong side of the bridge. Note that it was the players that made the request, their characters obviously were to far away. A little meta-gaming goes a long way when injected into the story.
We ended right there with everyone high-fiving and congratulating each other. Only the player who cut the bridge looked concerned and perplexed.
At the start of the next session, everyone was sheepish. With a little sleep, they realized the implications of last session. I started the next session with the characters toweling off from their heroic leap to into the river and swim to safety.
Sometimes, you just have to end with a gag to keep the fun alive. Die rolling and tactics are great, but a story sometimes has to jump to stay alive.


Chaos Star

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Study in Recreation: Fear Itself

Today’s update is aboutKippers and Jam‘s blog post on recreation. Adrian BK and company has revisited a module called Fear Itself, created back in 1999.
The authors lost the original copy and rewrote it after reconnecting with each other.
The details:
Module: BK1 Fear Itself
Author: Adrian BK
Level: 2-4 (AD&D)
Pages: 18
Price: Free!
You can download a copy from Kippers and Jam. This module features enough leeway to plug into nearly any campaign or play style. Fear Itself features glorious artwork from many artists and professional quality layout and formatting.
Take a look and don’t forget to thank the folks at Kipper and Jam for providing high quality game products.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Camp

This is the first year I haven’t been to camp with my boys. Both have moved up from Cub Scout to Boy Scout and no longer require their parents at camp.
The program run by the Greater Niagara Frontier Council is amazing. Through out the summer, they mentor and guide youngsters to be the best they can. The leaders and counselors work gruelling hours out in the rough, week after week, all through July and into August. Parents and leaders only see a brief 4 day window of camp life. The staff lives it for weeks to make it all possible.
I already miss our 4 day camps. One of my favorite people at Camp Scouthaven is Digger, the camp Ranger.
He is always “on”, he is the face of the camp from sun up to sun down. He works tirelessly to make sure the camp is an amazing experience for young and old alike.
To put a point on it, I went to camp as a child and don’t really have a clear recollection of it. No one really stood out. My daughter dropped in for a closing dinner raves about Digger and his antics. If she remembers from a brief encounter over dinner, my boys are going to have wonderful memories of their time in camp.
If you have the opportunity to camp at Scouthaven, jump at it. If camping is not your thing, be sure to check out the GNFC website for other happenings at the camp, like the yearly sugar mapling breakfast.

The Waterhorse

Another image from my sketchpad, a waterhorse.



I am going to frame this one for my wife. 

Well, that didn't work out. She took it out the frame and got a tattoo. 



Monday, July 20, 2015

The Evil Reversal Hook

The characters have proven their worth to the Horned One. They have pursued the Hand of Light to the edges of the kingdom and captured him in a epic battle.
On this day, they will assume their Mantles of Rank during the ritual of sacrifice. The Hand of Light will be extinguished forever. The Horned One will consolidate his power with the elimination of the weak, as the prophecy foretold.
One last time, before the ceremonial shackles are transferred from the hands of the followers of the Horned One to the hands of the Light One, the enemies stand face to face in the darkness of a cell.
Drums pound as the ritual has begun in the next chamber. The Hand of Light smirks and winks. A guard moves forward to strike him, but a quarrel arrests the motion. No harm can come to the Hand of Light except the final strike in the ritual chamber. The guards grumble profanities at the fate of their comrade, but step over the corpse.
The Hand of Light pushes his way into position at the head of the hooded procession, and the final sacrifice stomps away with the clinking of shackles.
Dim light, smoke and heat pour from braziers around the ceremony chamber. The Hand of Light’s robe is a smudge of white before the altar. The High Priest of the Horned One steps forward but the Hand of Light turns his back to him.
Or so it seemed. The ceremonial shackles click tight as the Hand of Light and Horned One of Chaos turn their attention to the sacrifice of the weak. Guards panic as the room erupts in cloying smoke and the characters struggle to free themselves from the shackles that have secretly held them for many years.
Madness reigns as the struggle for life and death rages in ceremony chamber of Chaos…

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Five years ago… My tech support hell ended

Five long years ago, I quit my technical support job. I couldn't do it anymore.
Me: What seems to be the issue?
Woman: My monitor is broken.
Me: *click* No, it isn’t. It’s just off.
Woman: Yeah, that’s the problem. That green light is bothering me and when I press that little button, it turns off. The problem is, when the green light turns off, the monitor stops working.
Me: That is the power indicator light. It’s on when the monitor is on…
Woman: Yes, you understand!!! No one else understood the problem.
Me: …
I am very happy where I am now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bedtime stories

The kids always fight bedtime stories because bed comes after story.
But I hooked them in the first two paragraphs. This sentence sealed the deal:
“Three children played in the garden; Alta was ten, Jason was twelve and Varina was three hundred and seven.”


The Delikon by H. M. Hoover is one of my favorites and now it has my kids hooked, too.