Tech at Christmas

Over the holiday period this year, I decided to get a few things off my to-do list that have been sitting around for a while. I decided the contents of my Christmas geekery would be worth of a blog post and that is the one you’re reading now.

Replicating Replication

After having a number of database servers dotted around the world, with different backup systems and schedules – I finally got around to implementing replication for two of them. This will allow me to immediately roll over to the backup slaves if the main servers ever go down. The beauty of the system is that I can also run some queries on the slaves instead of the masters, which means less sluggyness for the master when I want to generate certain reports. Performance has improved for both the master (less large queries being run against it) and provides a piece of redundancy that I didn’t have previously. I’m considering doing the same for the rest of the MySQL servers I administer too. Duplicating backups of data can never be a bad thing and if one of the backups can be used for a warm start then all the better.

Centralised Syslog

Part of the reason for the large reports is that I’ve recently configured all syslog daemons to log to a centralised server. This means I can track errors more easily and also run custom queries against the syslog database with SQL instead of needing to trawl the log files. I’ve been highly impressed with the system so far and it certainly has made a big difference configuring the replication so that I can run reports against the slaves and see processes that are causing a lot of errors.


I picked up a HTC Wildfire recently too with the aim of unlocking, rooting and replacing the bootrom within the device. I managed to succeed in doing all three of them and it wasn’t too difficult a process. The end result was an updated OS on the slightly older HTC Wildfire than was possible with their stock ROMs. The hardware for the Wildfire isn’t the best spec but the phone works fine and the OS is coming along well. I don’t think I’m interested in making the jump to Android but I’m very tempted by the Nokia Lumia 920. That’s another debate to have. The only other piece of hardware that I had flashed over Christmas was an old Fonera router, which now has dd-wrt and runs the wifi upstairs at home.

The only other hardware related things I got done over Christmas was to replace the screen and digitiser on an iPhone 4S and the HTC Wildfire. The Wildfire screen replacement was easy, one of the easiest I’ve done. Ordering the correct part is that issue with HTC hardware for me as a large number of their phones share the same components and manufacturing identifiers. The iPhone 4S flex and power button replacement was also easy to do but as with all Apple hardware takes an age to do.

PHP Projects

There was a couple of pieces of PHP I cobbled together over the holidays too. One of the ideas for CKEditor that I had was to show a page highlight when you hover over a link, I used the API to create this jQuery Link Preview. The end result isn’t quite right yet, but its not too far off what I’m aiming for. The second project was a system for importing CSV files (although the end product could be used for anything) into a database. I wanted to provide a visual way of linking the data in the CSV against the fields in the database. Enter the domline plugin and a few pieces of knowledge from around the web (Stackoverflow user Bruno Alexaandre> provided most of the legwork). The end result will be a jQuery & PHP CSV Importer. Ideas and thoughts both welcome on these projects.