Memories… Paint The Corners Of My Carboy…

…yeasty, beery-colored memories….

…of the way we were.

In looking for an email from a particular organization, I came across this 2012 response I wrote to an old HBD contributor, reader, and friend writing an article on beer and social media. (I’m leaving off the name as I did not ask permission to post their query – I actually do respect all y’all’s privacy.) To wit:

Writer: Once upon a time, HBD was the most advanced form of “social media” out there… I am writing a feature on Beer Networking for the <Identifying Info Redacted> and was curious whether you miss “the good old days” when everything took place via e-mail. How do you feel things have improved (or got worse?) My deadline is in about a week, thanks in advance.

Me: In terms of the modern-day internet, the HBD is a museum piece. Email was long ago supplanted by other web media methods. Relative to that change, there is a vast quantity of information available to brewers today with an immediacy of access with which a daily mailing list could never compete. On the bad side, little care is required due to both the wealth and the immediacy of these information sites, and the same questions are asked over and over, from site to site, and even within the same topic on a single site. The “signal to noise” ratio – a metric in which the HBD had always been top-notch – is pretty dismal in most of these new forums. Questions asked on a modern internet discussion site will usually garner tens to hundreds of answers, some very valuable, some absolute draff – and the person asking the question is left to sort it out from among the competing voices. Here, too, some sites are better than others in terms of that S/N ratio. And, unfortunately or otherwise, many of the better S/N sites are run, either openly or surreptitiously, by folks having a financial interest in what answers the poster eventually sees.

Do I miss the old days? Sometimes. It was neat to see something you had your hands so deeply into thrive. It was great to have an active role in promoting and influencing the craft as well. On the other hand, as quirky as the internet was back in the HBD’s prime time, the frequent service outages used to drive my blood pressure through the roof while, usually in a panic, I worked with its various ISPs to restore the service. Then came the onslaught of SPAM, and the moderation task became more than one person in one time zone could contain. The technologies developed and employed to combat this SPAM also, in some cases, throttled legitimate traffic. It was around this time that we began to see the traffic to the HBD dwindling, and the traffic to web-based resources begin to surge. The rest is, as they say, history…

Frankly, I miss the community that the HBD represented, but I cannot say that I find myself jealous of the continued evolution of brewing on the internet. The HBD list still exists; the server is still running, and the content generated over its ~26 year run is preserved in the archives. Occasionally, a conversation will break out on the email list and it will be alive again for a brief moment – it is much like watching the dying embers of an abandoned campfire; the remnant of a community that stayed awhile, but had to move on. Some day, those embers will grow cold and the HBD will blink out of existence – but the vast collection of information that made the HBD what it was will, I hope, be preserved.

How apt it was.

OK, enough pining for halcyon days of old. I am still working to get the Recipator back up. I know it has been a long, long time in the making, but this is volunteer work, and my personal and professional lives have been taking precedence. But, as GOT fans are used to hearing: winter is coming. And I am back in the US and at home after quite the long time.

I have a “test bed” set up on a local server running the same OS as our VPS (but without the VPS Management software and the restrictions on root access) upon which I intend to rebuild Recipator to find out where it is going awry with the VPS security model – unfortunately or otherwise, their logs are fairly useless.

In the meantime, I am investigating other modes of throwing the recipe-sharing community a bone to chew on whilst they await the freeing of their recipes from this overlong, unfairly imposed imprisonment.

And, as always, if anyone knows where Mark Riley got off to, he could probably set this ship aright in minutes, relative to my futzing around with the code. After all, writing C is not like riding a bike, and the last time I actually wrote a functioning C program was back in University, more than a few decades ago – not to mention that it’s always more fun trying to decipher someone else’s coding style…

Cheers!

-p

Information Request

For those of you who have been users of The Recipator, I have a question. The Recipator home page has links to the following (what I assume to be) widgets and pages:

  • Hydrometer Correction
  • Carbonation Calculator
  • In The Brew Kettle
  • Links

Can anyone tell me if these were functional on the old server? How long ago since you remember them working? The reason being: the links on the old server were pretty convoluted. In running down what the links suggest to be the path to these files, they don’t exist. Rather than wasting time chasing ghosts on the old box, I just need to know if they were actually there.

Please weigh in via the comments.

Thanks.

Pat Babcock
Chief of Janitorial Services
HBD, Inc.

Tick-Tock…

My apologies to those awaiting The Recipator – and thank you for your patience. My experience with the C programming language is decades old, and, unfortunately, time has been very tight recently – active work life and family life occasionally interfere with my volunteer life.

As stated in a previous post, I have narrowed the issue down to the user security model of our host vs. how the program was designed to execute. I have replicated the site on a local machine, and am s-l-o-w-l-y making my way through the programs to better understand their structure and intent.

Again: thank you for your patience. Just wanted to pop up a status report so that you know where I’m at.

Cheers!

Pat Babcock
Chief of Janitorial Services
HBD, Inc.

Aaaaarrrrghhhhh!

As promised, I have spent some quality time alone with The Recipator code and the html error logs on the VPS. In this continuing saga of me vs. The Recipator, I’ve now found that the entire user model under which it is written is incompatible with the enforced (ie: I can’t change it) security model of our new host. (For those who, for years, chided me that a VPS was where the HBD belonged: told ya so!)

It will be a while longer as I now have to find a way around this problem, and then recompile the code. Bear with – I’m learning a lot about the structure of The Recipator (this is a good thing!) and I AM working to make y’all whole again.

Cheers!
Pat Babcock
Chief of Janitorial Services
HBD, Inc.

Phwew!

OK. Got THAT straightened up. Still no idea what caused the theme to collapse like that, but at least I know how to fix it in the future!

Cheers!
Pat Babcock
Chief of Janitorial Services
HBD, Inc.

Something is amiss…

Well, now. I thought it was on my computers, but it seems something has gone wonky with the HBD.org site. Will see what there is to see, and do what there is to do to make it whole again. In the meantime: bear with – the menus are at the bottom of the page…

On a happier note, I think I have figured The Recipator out, and should be able to bring it back online shortly. Lots of editing to do…

Cheers!
Pat Babcock
Chief of Janitorial Services
HBD, Inc.

A happy discovery!

While monkeying around with the list server provided by our new host, I noticed that the response it sends to a poster includes the ability to cancel said post. This feature is similar to the “cancellize” feature that was contained within the old HBD scripts, and part of the reason why there was always minimal hostility and a high information-to-detritus ratio on the old ‘gest.

I don’t know that I can implement the same “deadman switch” moderation as the Digest had; however, since it allows the posters to cancel their post before publication, I think that’s enough to make me willing to use this system to serve as a new HBD mailing list server. Not that I expect it to roar back to life again, but I still field subscription requests now and again, so it may still have some value as a tool in the online homebrewing community.

It will, of course, still be a once-daily mailing as, without such a throttle, it has been proven to quickly get out of hand (not to mention that there is no way to moderate it in “real time,” anyway…). I will keep you posted through this site as things develop!

Cheers!
Pat Babcock
Chief of Janitorial Services
HBD, Inc.

FTP HBD Archive Is Back Online

The g-zipped ftp-connected archives are back online. ftp://hbd.org will take you there. I kept the same structure pretty much as was on the old server – digests are stored in annual folders, and the path is pub-hbd->digests->{Year of interest}. I did make one change for “presentation:” I added a hyphen to the start of the index files names so that they always appear at the top of the list.

Enjoy!

Pat Babcock
Chief of Janitorial Services
HBD, Inc.

Houston? We have a problem…

Still plugging away at The Recipator. Turned out to be a little more than I had initially expected when I set out to do make it compatible with the new site. Still plugging away at it (when not at work, fixing toilets – what’s up with all the dag-nabbit toilets lately?! – or other stuff around the house, and doing other HBD janitorial and family husband, son, and dad kinda things). It will yield to my programming prowess. Eventually…

Pat Babcock
Chief of Janitorial Services
HBD, Inc.