Jeff Reifman http://jeffreifman.com Lookahead Consulting, Seattle, Washington Fri, 17 Oct 2014 18:18:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Introducing BirdHouse: A Twitter API Application for PHPhttp://jeffreifman.com/2014/10/17/introducing-birdhouse-twitter-api-application-php/ http://jeffreifman.com/2014/10/17/introducing-birdhouse-twitter-api-application-php/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 18:07:01 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=3984 My latest PHP application lets you manage and build on the Twitter API; it’s called Birdhouse. Here’s a summary of the features that Birdhouse currently offers: Manage multiple Twitter accounts Support for the Twitter REST API and User Streaming API Syncing and browsing the home timeline, user timeline, mentions, favorites Syncing and browsing your entire historical user timeline, mentions (up to ...

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My latest PHP application lets you manage and build on the Twitter API; it’s called Birdhouse.

Here’s a summary of the features that Birdhouse currently offers:

  • Manage multiple Twitter accounts
  • Support for the Twitter REST API and User Streaming API
  • Syncing and browsing the home timeline, user timeline, mentions, favorites
  • Syncing and browsing your entire historical user timeline, mentions (up to 800) and favorites
  • Access to your Twitter history in MySQL (for do it yourself data mobility)
  • Archive favorites to Pocket and optionally unfavorite them on Twitter for privacy
  • Syncing and browsing friends and followers, including their follow counts and Klout scores
  • Managing your owned Twitter lists, creating new lists, adding groups of users to lists and removing members from lists
  • Posting tweets, scheduling tweets for a specific date and time
  • Posting recurring tweets with time randomization
  • Posting tweets via pre-defined echo patterns to increase exposure over a few days, a week or a month
  • Auto-deletion of older tweets older than a certain time range e.g. 30 days
  • Collects email addresses from the bios of your friends and followers.

Browse the whole feature guide. And, there’s more to come. Please check it out.

My other offerings include:

  • Simplify Email – a powerful mail filtering application for IMAP e.g. gmail
  • Simple Monitor App – a do it yourself server monitoring application with smartphone notifications
  • WordPress Quickstart – a pre-configured, pre-optimized installation of WordPress to help you launch sites in minutes

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Healing from Difficult Breakupshttp://jeffreifman.com/2014/10/17/healing-from-difficult-breakups/ http://jeffreifman.com/2014/10/17/healing-from-difficult-breakups/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 17:48:14 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=3981 My latest essay describes simple ways to activate your parasympathetic nervous system to support the process of healing from a breakup: “Studies of fMRI scans show that breakups affect the same areas of the brain associated with drug addiction and withdrawal. The process of ending our intimate connections with loved ones can take a profound physiological toll; no wonder it is ...

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My latest essay describes simple ways to activate your parasympathetic nervous system to support the process of healing from a breakup:

“Studies of fMRI scans show that breakups affect the same areas of the brain associated with drug addiction and withdrawal. The process of ending our intimate connections with loved ones can take a profound physiological toll; no wonder it is among the most difficult human experiences.

The disruption of intimacy and the dramatic change in our routines can leave us in pain and feeling isolated; these abrupt changes literally jar our nervous system. For some people, breakups cause trauma, triggering psychological echoes of earlier wounding. Fortunately, the science of human physiology can guide us on the road to healing.

The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems control many of the basic functions in the human body. Put simply, the sympathetic nervous system manages our fight or flight response which has evolved to keep us safe from predators and the threats of daily living, while the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for resting, digesting, and recovery. Difficult breakups activate the sympathetic nervous system as if we were under an actual threat, often resulting in the agitation, lost appetite, and disrupted sleep that many of us feel during breakups.

My recipe for healing is quite simple: pursue activities that reactivate the parasympathetic nervous system. The more time your body spends with its parasympathetic system activated, the easier it will become to return to feelings of rest and relaxation. These periods of calm will help reregulate your nervous system and return it to its normal, pre-breakup rhythms.”

Read the full post: Using Science to Heal from a Difficult Breakup

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How to Install the Ghost Blogging Platformhttp://jeffreifman.com/2014/09/30/install-ghost-blogging-platform/ http://jeffreifman.com/2014/09/30/install-ghost-blogging-platform/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 22:03:03 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=3869 Getting Started This tutorial describes how to install the open source Ghost blogging platform on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS at Digital Ocean. You’ll want to have a domain name or sub-domain registered for the app, e.g. http://yourghostblog.com. If you don’t have a registrar or need more information, I recommend NameCheap. Creating Your Server Instance Sign up at Digital Ocean now, the process is simple and only ...

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Getting Started

This tutorial describes how to install the open source Ghost blogging platform on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS at Digital Ocean. You’ll want to have a domain name or sub-domain registered for the app, e.g. http://yourghostblog.com. If you don’t have a registrar or need more information, I recommend NameCheap.

Creating Your Server Instance

Sign up at Digital Ocean now, the process is simple and only requires your email and password:

signup-do

Digital Ocean’s cloud instances are called Droplets. Once you sign up, you can create your first Droplet using the selections below. You’ll want to have a hostname (domain or sub-domain name) chosen for your site in mind. Here’s the main menu at Digital Ocean:
Create your droplet at Digital Ocean for your Ghost Blog

Select Create Droplet and type in your domain name as the host name. Choose the $5/mo. option to begin:Create Your Droplet

 

 

Select the geographical region nearest to you:

Select the Region for Your Digital Ocean Droplet

 

Select the prepared image for Ghost 0.5.x on Ubuntu and click Create Droplet:Choose Application Ghost 0.5 on Ubuntu

You’ll see the Droplet creation progress bar:
Creating Your Droplet

Creating a droplet only takes a minute. Digital Ocean will email you your IP address and root password. You’ll arrive at the Console page for your new Droplet:

The Digital Ocean Droplet Created Screen

Once you have your IP address, you can begin the process of mapping your domain name to the droplet e.g. yourdomain.com to your IP address. Visit your domain registrar’s DNS settings and change the A record for your yourghostblog.com to the new IP address e.g. 54.234.124.117.

Wait until your DNS changes propagate (sometimes up to several hours or more – check them here), try to connect via SSH using your domain and the password provided in the Digital Ocean email. Visit your domain name in your web browser and you should see the new Ghost home page:

Ghost Blogging Home Page

 

Visit the administration page to set up your Ghost blog e.g. http://yourghostblog.com/ghost:

admin-setup

And, you’re ready to start blogging with Ghost. Next, read the Getting Started with Ghost documentation. Also, follow my Tuts+ author page for my upcoming tutorial on Ghost 0.5.

Please feel free to post corrections, questions or comments below. I’d be especially interested in alternate approaches. You can also reach me on Twitter @reifman or email me directly.

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My Experience with Seattle PD Response to Property Crimehttp://jeffreifman.com/2014/09/26/experience-seattle-pd-response-property-crime/ http://jeffreifman.com/2014/09/26/experience-seattle-pd-response-property-crime/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 21:38:34 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=3861 Here are my personal experiences with the Seattle PD’s capacity to respond to property crime: 1. September 2014: Current holder of my stolen MacBook Pro with serial # verified by Apple support is heading to South Center at 6 pm for a Genius Bar appointment. The option I’m given is to call the Tukwila non-emergency # and ask for an officer to accompany me ...

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Here are my personal experiences with the Seattle PD’s capacity to respond to property crime:

1. September 2014: Current holder of my stolen MacBook Pro with serial # verified by Apple support is heading to South Center at 6 pm for a Genius Bar appointment. The option I’m given is to call the Tukwila non-emergency # and ask for an officer to accompany me to retrieve the laptop. I’ve also handed contact details of the support call to Seattle PD to follow up (the laptop holder provided a phone#) / response pending.

2. February 2014, the burglars who broke into my home used a credit card to buy gas that evening. I provided Seattle PD with the transaction details and manager contact at the convenience store with the surveillance video. They didn’t follow up on it.

3. Early 2000’s. Home burglarized. Expensive (at the time) LCD monitor shows up on eBay. Police unwilling to follow up. Credit cards used at a nearby OfficeMax. When thieves try to return the merchandise they purchased for cash, store employees whom I’d spoken to take photos of them and their license plate. By the time Seattle PD detectives follow up, they said they believed the thieves have left town.

4. Late ’90s. Girlfriend’s car stolen. Police pretty much disinterested. Someone found her stuff in West Seattle, when I went out there to pick it up for her, I came across the thieves driving her car … only then did the police respond (and they did make an arrest). I think the case was ultimately dropped because the police didn’t show up to testify (but I am not certain).

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Apple Continues Support for Stolen MacBooks and Deviceshttp://jeffreifman.com/2014/09/26/apple-continues-support-stolen-macbooks-devices/ http://jeffreifman.com/2014/09/26/apple-continues-support-stolen-macbooks-devices/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 20:59:55 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=3859 Apple has no policy of reporting stolen computers brought in for support to the police. In fact, they continue to provide warranty care and service. My home was burglarized in February. Over the last few days, Apple’s systems notified me that someone with my MacBook Pro 15″ Retina made a Genius Bar appointment and provided their phone number for support ...

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Apple has no policy of reporting stolen computers brought in for support to the police. In fact, they continue to provide warranty care and service.

My home was burglarized in February. Over the last few days, Apple’s systems notified me that someone with my MacBook Pro 15″ Retina made a Genius Bar appointment and provided their phone number for support calls. I’m waiting to see if the Seattle Police department will follow up on this information, in my experience, their track record on property crime leads is quite poor (I have several stories).

However, in speaking with Apple, they do not have a mechanism for device owners to submit police reports that identify stolen devices by their serial #’s. So, instead of reporting to police when stolen devices come in for support, they simply continue to provide warranty support.

I don’t feel sorry for the current holder of my Macbook Pro who is now having problems powering on the device, according to Apple, but it’s likely Apple will give him a brand new MacBook today when he shows up for his Genius Bar appointment.

I would request simply that Apple provide an email address for owners to submit police case reports with stolen serial #’s and that Apple report support requests for these devices to local law enforcement. It’s surprising they have not done this.

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There will be NO DANCING to Pomplamoose at Neumos!http://jeffreifman.com/2014/09/02/dancing-pomplamoose-neumos/ http://jeffreifman.com/2014/09/02/dancing-pomplamoose-neumos/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 02:46:58 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=3817 Apparently, there is no dancing allowed at the upcoming Pomplamoose show in Seattle at Neumos!!! NONE! And you thought those stories about Washington’s tax collectors scouring Yelp to tax night clubs while granting billion dollar tax breaks to Microsoft were a joke.

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Apparently, there is no dancing allowed at the upcoming Pomplamoose show in Seattle at Neumos!!! NONE! And you thought those stories about Washington’s tax collectors scouring Yelp to tax night clubs while granting billion dollar tax breaks to Microsoft were a joke.

No dancing at pomplamoose.

NO DANCING!

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How to Install Four Google News Reader Alternativeshttp://jeffreifman.com/2014/08/31/install-four-google-news-reader-alternatives/ http://jeffreifman.com/2014/08/31/install-four-google-news-reader-alternatives/#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 00:46:44 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=3768 2015 may mark the rebirth of the blog. This year, Medium’s raised $25 million, WordPress raised $160 million and Dave Winer is trying to help Facebook tear down the wall around its garden. I thought it might be a good time to revisit alternatives to now defunct Google Reader, its popular web-based news reader. Certainly there are pre-built options, but I’d like to walk through ...

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2015 may mark the rebirth of the blog. This year, Medium’s raised $25 million, WordPress raised $160 million and Dave Winer is trying to help Facebook tear down the wall around its garden.

I thought it might be a good time to revisit alternatives to now defunct Google Reader, its popular web-based news reader. Certainly there are pre-built options, but I’d like to walk through four do it yourself, self-hosted options.

Below, I’ll walk through the installation of four newsreader apps using a cloud instance at Digital Ocean running Ubuntu 14.04. Digital Ocean instances, called droplets, cost only $5 per month and run on fast SSD drives for high performance.

The Four Do It Yourself News Readers

Of the four readers, two are free open source PHP-based readers (Selfoss and Tiny RSS), the third is an open source Python reader (GoRead) which runs easiest on Google App Engine and my favorite, Fever, whose PHP code costs $30 but can be easily self-hosted. All of them import OPML files – which is handy for migrating from another reader application.

1. Selfoss. A free, open source PHP-based news reader named after a beautiful waterfall in Iceland. It has a nice interface, it offers a plugin system for extensibility, it provides a mobile web interface, it imports OPML files and is fairly easy to install and configure. Install it.

2. Tiny RSS. A free, open source PHP-based news reader which offers an Android client. Install it.

3. GoRead, as close to a clone of Google Reader as you’ll find. It’s free, open source and Python-based. The latter makes it a bit more difficult to self-host. However, it is fairly easy to run at Google App Engine. And, it also offers an Android client. Install it.

4. Fever. A $30 PHP-based news reader that I’ve been using for the past year. Of the four, it’s my favorite. And, there are third party apps available for it, such as Ashes for Fever ($5.99) and Sunstroke (which recently missing from the App Store). Install it.

Let’s get started…

cloud hosting wordpress ssd virtual servers

News Reader Installation Guides

Configure Your Server Instance

digitalocean-home

Digital Ocean is an easy to use, economical hosting option with very fast performance. This tutorial describes how to install the four news readers on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS at Digital Ocean for only $5 monthly. You’ll want to have a domain name or sub-domains registered for your newsreaders. If you don’t have a registrar or need more information, I recommend NameCheap.

Sign up at Digital Ocean now, the process is simple and only requires an email and password:

signup

Digital Ocean’s cloud instances are called Droplets. Once you sign up, you can create your first Droplet using the selections below. You’ll want to have a hostname (domain or sub-domain name) chosen for your readers in mind. You can also select any region closest to you or your typical reader e.g. San Francisco or New York. Under Select Image, choose Applications: LAMP on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

Creating a droplet only takes a minute. Digital Ocean will email you your IP address and root password.

Once you have your IP address, you can begin the process of mapping your domains and subdomains e.g. yourdomain.com to your IP address. Visit your domain registrar’s DNS settings and change the A record for your yourdomain.com to the new IP address e.g. 54.234.124.117.

Wait until your DNS changes propagate (sometimes up to 24 hours or more – check them here), try to connect via SSH using your domain and the password provided in the Digital Ocean email.

ssh root@yourhostname.com

You can also use your IP address until your domain name is active:

ssh root@xx.xx.xx.xx

Change your password when prompted, or use:

passwd

There are a few things you’ll want to do to get your droplet ready for installing the newsreaders.

sudo apt-get install zip
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo a2enmod rewrite

It’s also best to run through the script for securing your MySQL server installation:

mysql_secure_installation

If you’re using the $5 512MB RAM droplet, you may want to create a Swap file for your LAMP stack  to operate reliably:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile bs=1M count=1024
mkswap /swapfile
swapon /swapfile

Edit the fstab file:

sudo nano /etc/fstab

Add this line:

/swapfile swap swap defaults 0 0

Verify the swap file is active by typing:

free

Installing Selfoss

Selfoss

Selfoss

Installing Selfoss is pretty easy. Sign in to your Droplet via SSH as shown above. Download the code:

mkdir /var/www/selfoss
cd /var/www/selfoss
wget http://selfoss.aditu.de/selfoss-2.11.zip
unzip selfoss-2.11.zip

I had to manually create the .htaccess file as it didn’t unzip properly.
Visit https://github.com/SSilence/selfoss/blob/master/.htaccess and click raw. Copy the file to the clipboard.

Create /var/www/selfoss/.htaccess and paste the contents:

nano /var/www/selfoss/.htaccess

Set the file permissions for Selfoss:

chmod -R 777 /var/www/selfoss/data
chmod 777 /var/www/selfoss/public

Login to MySQL. The password for your MySQL Server is usually shown when you login to your Droplet.

mysql -u root -p

Create a database for Selfoss and grant permissions:

create database selfoss;
grant all privileges on selfoss.* TO "root"@"localhost" identified by "your-password";
flush privileges;
exit;

You’ll have to provide these database settings in the defaults.ini file:

nano /var/www/selfoss/defaults.ini
db_type=mysql
db_host=localhost
db_database=selfoss
db_username=root
db_password=your-password
db_port=3306
db_prefix=

Next, we’ll create an Apache configuration file for the Selfoss website:

nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/selfoss.conf

Paste in the following – replace your sub-domain or domain name:

<VirtualHost *:80>
ServerName selfoss.yourdomain.com 
   DocumentRoot /var/www/selfoss
   DirectoryIndex index.php
      AllowOverride All
      Order Deny,Allow
      Allow from all
</Directory>
</VirtualHost>

Activate the site and reload Apache:

a2ensite selfoss.conf
service apache2 reload

We’ll use cron to configure a background task to regularly update our feeds:

crontab -e

Paste in the following line – replace your domain (this will update every ten minutes):

*/10 * * * * wget -O /dev/null http://selfoss.yourdomain.com/update

Visit your website e.g. http://selfoss.yourdomain.com and you should be able to start using Selfoss. You can import your existing OPML file at http://selfoss.yourdomain.com/opml or add feeds by hand to get started (click on the cloud in the lower left).

Installing TinyRSS

TinyRSS News Reader

TinyRSS

Installing TinyRSS is a bit more difficult than Selfoss. The installation guide is here.

Sign in to your Droplet via SSH as shown above. Download the code:

mkdir /var/www/tinyrss
cd /var/www/
wget https://github.com/gothfox/Tiny-Tiny-RSS/archive/1.13.tar.gz
mv 1.13.tar.gz tiny.tar.gz
tar zxfv tiny.tar.gz 
mv Tiny-Tiny-RSS-1.13/ tinyrss

Set the file permissions for TinyRSS:

chmod -R 777 cache
chmod -R 777 feed-icons
chmod -R 777 lock

Login to MySQL. The password for your MySQL Server is usually shown when you login to your Droplet.

mysql -u root -p

Create a database for TinyRSS and grant permissions:

create database tinyrss;
grant all privileges on tinyrss.* TO "root"@"localhost" identified by "your-password";
flush privileges;
exit;

Next, we’ll create an Apache configuration file for the TinyRSS website:

nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/tinyrss.conf

Paste in the following – replace your sub-domain or domain name:

<VirtualHost *:80>
ServerName tinyrss.yourdomain.com 
   DocumentRoot /var/www/tinyrss
   DirectoryIndex index.php
      AllowOverride All
      Order Deny,Allow
      Allow from all
</Directory>
</VirtualHost>

Activate the site and reload Apache:

a2ensite tinyrss.conf
service apache2 reload

Updating feeds in TinyRSS is a bit more complex. Here are their updating instructions and options which I’ll summarize below:

Install the PHP5 command line interpreter so that TinyRSS can run updates in the background:

apt-get install php5-cli

Configure a cron task to run the update daemon:

crontab -e

Paste in the following command:

*/10 * * * * /usr/bin/php5 /var/www/tinyrss/update.php --feeds --quiet

Configure your database through the web interface. Visit http://tinyrss.yourdomain.com/install. You should see something like this:

TinyRSS Configuration

Configure Your Database for TinyRSS

Visit your website e.g. http://tinyrss.yourdomain.com and you should be able to start using TinyRSS.

Add individual fees or visit Actions -> Preferences -> Feeds -> OPML to import OPML files:

OPML TinyRSS

Import OPML into TinyRSS

 

Installing GoRead

GoRead News Reader

GoRead

GoRead is a Python app which makes it a bit more difficult to host. GoRead’s been designed to easily run in Google AppEngine, which it does. However, if you want to use your own domain name, you’ll need to configure and run SSL. Here’s the GoRead installation instructions on Github, as a Python and AppEngine newbie, I found them unclear at first. But, after a while, I succeeded at launching my AppEngine instance of GoRead.

Here’s how I install my own instance of GoRead within Google AppEngine:

apt-get install git mercurial

Create directories for GoRead and Google AppEngine and download the code for AppEngine:

mkdir ~/go
mkdir ~/go_appengine
cd ~/go_appengine
wget https://storage.googleapis.com/appengine-sdks/featured/go_appengine_sdk_linux_amd64-1.9.10.zip
unzip go_appengine_sdk_linux_amd64-1.9.10.zip

Edit .bashrc to set up paths:

nano ~/.bashrc

Paste the following at the bottom:

PATH=$PATH:~/go
PATH=$PATH:~/go_appengine
export GOPATH=~/go

Run source to update:

source ~/.bashrc

Let’s install GoRead locally:

goapp get -d github.com/mjibson/goread
cd $GOPATH/src/github.com/mjibson/goread
git checkout master

Copy the settings files and configure them:

cp app.sample.yaml app.yaml
cp settings.go.dist settings.go

Now, let’s go sign up for Google AppEngine, if you haven’t already. Visit the AppEngine Developer Console. Go through the steps to add a project for GoRead and Enable Billing.

You’ll eventually see something like this (at least, you will after successful deployment):

Google Developers Console for AppEngine

Google Developers Console for AppEngine

Next, edit app.yaml with the Google application name:

cd $GOPATH/src/github.com/mjibson/goread
nano app.yaml

Edit application with the application name from the Google developer console:

application: your-google-app-name
version: 1
runtime: go
api_version: go1

Then, deploy the application to Google AppEngine:

goapp deploy

During the deployment process, it will request your Google AppEngine email and password. Enter the account you use with Google Developer Console.

However, when you try to activate and login to your AppEngine instance, Google will block you and report suspicious activity on your account. You need to visit Google’s Security dashboard and approve access. I had to repeat my requests a handful of times before Google finally relented. It did not work in a logical way – I had to keep trying over a period of a half hour before it began working.

google-access

Visit https://your-project-name.appspot.com and you should see this page when it’s up and running successfully:

GoRead Home

GoRead Home

To begin using GoRead, you’ll need to login via your Google account. GoRead is multi-user capable, which is pretty cool. So, you can invite your friends and family to use it as long as they share in the costs. Don’t publicize your URL though – as strangers could use it and inadvertently run up your bills.

Keep in mind, Google App Engine will bill you for time and usage, so it’s helpful to set a budget for your GoRead instance. You can do this from the project settings page (it’s a bit hard to find, because well, Google):

Set a budget appengine

AppEngine Budget Settings

Installing Fever

Fever News Reader

Fever

Installing Fever is very easy and fairly well automated. Sign in to your Droplet via SSH as shown above. Download the code:

mkdir /var/www/fever
cd /var/www/fever
wget http://feedafever.com/gateway/public/fever.zip
unzip fever.zip

Set the file permissions for Fever:

chmod 777 /var/www/fever

Login to MySQL. The password for your MySQL Server is usually shown when you login to your Droplet.

mysql -u root -p

Create a database for Fever and grant permissions:

create database fever;
grant all privileges on fever.* TO "root"@"localhost" identified by "your-password";
flush privileges;
exit;

Next, we’ll create an Apache configuration file for the Fever website:

nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/fever.conf

Paste in the following – replace your sub-domain or domain name:

<VirtualHost *:80>
ServerName fever.yourdomain.com 
   DocumentRoot /var/www/fever
   DirectoryIndex index.php
      AllowOverride All
      Order Deny,Allow
      Allow from all
</Directory>
</VirtualHost>

Activate the site and reload Apache:

a2ensite fever.conf
service apache2 reload

We’ll use cron to configure a background task to regularly update our feeds:

crontab -e

Paste in the following line – replace your domain (this will update every ten minutes):

00,15,30,45 * * * * curl -L -s --user-agent 'Fever Refresh Cron' 'http://fever.yourdomain.com/?refresh'

Visit your website e.g. http://fever.yourdomain.com and you should see the web interface for configuring Fever. Enter in your database settings and click check privileges:

Fever Compatibility Check

Fever Compatibility Check

You’ll see something like this:

Fever Post Boot

Fever Post Boot

Now return to the FeedAFever website to purchase a license, which you can enter on this screen. Fever’s automated installation process will take it from here. It’s quite easy.

Conclusion

I hope you’ve found this useful. Please feel free to post feedback, corrections, questions or comments below. You can also reach me on Twitter @reifman or email me directly.

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