June was a very busy month, with three major projects taking up most of the worktime:
- Purchasing and setting up a new Dell PowerEdge R720 server.
- Preparations for moving the server software to the new server.
- Animation of the Soyuz “Pod-Staging” sequence for Lunatics.
For Lunatics itself, I worked on recreating the “pod-staging” shot for the Soyuz Flight sequence. An earlier version of this shot had issues with the model’s rigging, which limited how far we could go with the pods. The new model corrects this, and also has additional texture detailing, but the sequence needed to be re-animated. I have now nearly completed this.
I caught up on project updates for Patreon and the Production Log, as well as drafting some new, not-quite-ready articles about the needs for better funding mechanisms, and some ideas about how to get there.
Fixed the series/episodes test for LunaGen, which involved updating the video embedding code for YouTube, Vimeo, and PeerTube.
I have not yet published LunaGen sources, due to them still being tangled up with our landing page source code.
The big project for this month was to get our YunoHost-based “virtual studio” site ready to be moved.
A major goal of mine has been to move off of Misskey, probably onto Calckey [EDIT: Calckey was rebranded to Firefish in late July]. I was hoping to be able to preserve my social graph, but Misskey does not have the “migration” feature that Mastodon and Calckey have.
After about a week of struggling with it, I decided this is either impossible or just too hard to be worth it. So I will instead be moving and manually letting people know about the move.
The other side of this project is to purchase and prepare a new server for co-location, to which we will be moving the “virtual studio” in the near future. After discussing the requirements with a co-location provider, we opted to purchase a used Dell PowerEdge R720 [archive] server and install our platform on that.
This has been a huge learning experience, and fairly frustrating, as the server is more different from desktop/workstation builds than I realized. However, I think at the end of June, I’m finally on track to get this working.
I have initially installed YunoHost directly on the machine, although I suspect it will actually be smarter to install ProxMox, a Debian distribution and virtual machine environment. Then, YunoHost will be installed as a virtual private server on that machine. I hope to try out that configuration in July.
We finally decided that our studio is going to need better heating and cooling. The portable air-conditioners we had been using are not very efficient.
So we have purchased a do-it-yourself mini-split air-conditioner and heat pump. This is expected in July, and then I’ll have to do the installation (which is fairly complicated, even though it’s designed for DIY install). This is something that was not available until recently, due to environmental regulations. It had previously been necessary to have mini-splits installed by professional contractors, the same as large central-air installations. This greatly reduced the cost-effectiveness of purchasing a mini-split, even though it is clearly the best option for our situation, from an engineering perspective.
Apparently the innovation was a more foolproof, pre-charged refrigerant line that avoids the system-charging step of the installation (which is the point at which refrigerant CFCs might be leaked into the atmosphere by mishandling).
I am very frustrated with the recent spate of politically charged decisions from the US Supreme Court. The most personal of these was the court striking down President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program.
This program would have made a huge impact on our household, as we have three college age kids, one out of college, one partway through, and one starting. Even though they all attended or are attending public colleges and universities, we were still obligated to take out loans to get them through. All told, this was about $30,000 of debt, which would have completely vanished under the program (I’m counting the debts of my adult children, but their fortunes affect ours, as we’d have the obligation of helping them out — I have to include this possibility in my projections. In a country which despises safety-nets, the family is the only safety-net).
That’s about 75% of our household income for a year, and would have just about trebled our “disposable income” for the next few years.
Some of that would’ve been invested in new equipment for the studio, as well as time-freeing things like purchasing an extra car, which would’ve allowed us to drive less and burn less gas (this may seem paradoxical, but dropping someone off means double mileage and gas as them driving to work on their own), or paying for additional housing improvements that would save time and make me more productive.
Some alternatives have been proposed by the Biden administration. I hope these will help us out, but right now, I’m pretty upset.
Worse, enrollment is down at the college where Rosalyn works, which has been our sole source of reliable income for the last decade, and this has raised the possibility that she may lose her job. There have also been some rumblings of political changes there, possibly related to the enrollment issue. It’s even possible that race is an issue as there is definitely some favoritism going on in the college’s administration (which particular bias is in play is not really clear, as is often the case, but considering recent Texas politics, I don’t rule out such things). This is very unnerving.
So, indirectly, this will have an impact on Anansi Spaceworks, Film Freedom, and Lunatics Project. I’m going to have to be more cautious about expenses. And of course, I just spent a considerable amount of money on an air-conditioner, right before this decision came through. I was too optimistic, I guess.
Video Worklog Summary
JUNE 2023 Project Report (Music, No Commentary)
In June, I continued working on the Soyuz Pod-Staging animation, and in particular, I finally got to the bottom of why the flame plume controls weren’t working to separate the pod flames from the core stage flames. Fixed now, and animated.
Building on the work from last month, I got the LunaGen “Series/Episode” test case working in my functional tests. This was really the functionality that justified writing LunaGen in the first place, so that’s pretty important to me!
I learned a lot more about how YunoHost servers work, and in particular how to go about backups and restores. And how to use those mechanisms to move onto a new server or merge components from one server into another.
I successfully moved my Pixelfed server to the main YunoHost cloud server (I had set it up on a different one, and at this point, it was the only thing left on there). This allowed me to shut down the extra server and conserve my hosting costs.
Unfortunately, the attempt to migrate Misskey to Calckey in-place was a failure, even after many hours of work. I have now decided that this is more trouble than it is worth, and will simply have to start over again. I’ll most likely make this transition along with changing from cloud hosting to co-location in a local data center.
We also made the first concrete steps towards moving to co-location: I purchased an older Dell PowerEdge R720 server. This a pretty old server, but for that reason, it was cheap. It was also easy to find one that would support 3.5″ hard drive bays, which was important to me, as a major motivation for moving to a dedicated server was the simplicity of keeping production data files locally on the server, rather than in object storage, which has proved to be annoyingly slow.
I added face-in-box commentary on the Space Bunny Ragdoll Rig screencast that I finished in April, and uploaded this to our PeerTube.
I received a few purchases: a lamp I want to try using for additional commentary videos to fill in shadows (and possibly dramatic lighting?), a fan I need to repair my laptop, and a self-published booklet from Andrew Roach on producing low-budget “DIY TV”, which is what he’s been doing with “New Ellijay TV” (using PeerTube live-streaming).
00:15 “Lunatics!” Soyuz pod-staging animation
05:10 “Lunatics!” Fixing isolation problems in flame plume rig
08:36 LunaGen Dev: Video embedding & Episode-list functional tests (now passing)
11:07 Backup/Restore/Merge YunoHost Virtual Studio server components (successful!)
11:35 Merged Pixelfed server into main server (was previously on its own VPS)
11:44 Misskey-Calckey in-place migration attempt (FAILED)
13:09 Removed the fake “affiliates” bar from the project landing website
13:16 Misskey exports for migration
13:39 Dell PowerEdge R720 purchas for migration to co-location service
14:30 Installing operating system – Debian/YunoHost 11.
17:44 Creating a staging environment for server testing / local DNS with Technitium
17:54 Migrated cloud YunoHost to Staging Server (local DNS with /etc/hosts worked)
19:17 Added commentary to the screencast of the Space Bunny Ragdoll Rig (from April)
19:56 Received and tested a “Sunset Lamp” which is a small RGB LED color-changeable lamp
20:13 Also got a fan to fix my Lenovo Thinkpad T-410 laptop (I hope)
20:20 Received Andrew Roach’s “Community Media: A Handbook for Revolutions in DIY TV”