Upgraded WordPress Hosting To VPS

Since deciding to add the @steempress-io WordPress plugin to my workflow I needed to secure some private hosting in addition to purchasing my domain name – muxxy.co.uk. I decided to go with Dreamhost and originally purchased their shared hosting package. This allowed me to host multiple sites on my server. I decided upon this option so that I could quickly add on domains for other steemians who wanted their own self-hosted blogs so that they too could enjoy the benefits of using the steempress plugin. For this, I charge the Steem equivalent of 20 USD for 12 months. They purchase their domain name, I install their WordPress on my hosting package.

Last week I received an email from Dreamhost warning me that a couple of the WordPress installations had consistently hit memory limits, most likely due to an unoptimized plugin.

At first, I contacted the two blog owners in question explaining the situation. Rather than leave it at that in the hopes that their blogs are optimized, I read the rest of the email that offered me the chance to upgrade to VPS hosting, giving me the first month for free. Using a Virtual Private Server I can scale memory limits and upgrade the RAM, and a VPS is in essence much faster and more stable than regular shared hosting. The increase in cost is negligible.

At the time of posting, I have upgraded to a VPS and Dreamhost is currently moving all domains from shared hosting to VPS. Hopefully once complete, all WordPress blogs hosted by me will be faster and more stable. I will, of course, be able to better manage the memory situation that led to this change.

I will not be sharing the increase in cost to those that use my hosting, and it will remain at $20 worth of Steem for 12 months. Get in touch via Discord if you are interested in taking advantage of my hosting. My username is GMuxx#8276 and you can find me at The Writers’ Block.

Note: this post contains affiliate links for Dreamhost, should you choose to purchase your own hosting.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review

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I have long been a fan of the Note series, having previously owned the Note 3, Note 7 and the Note 8. I was heartbroken when the stories about the Note 7’s batteries exploding started to surface, leading to airlines banning the phone from their flights. It was a fantastic device and I was gutted when they were all recalled. I received a little compensation and was stuck with the Galaxy S6 Edge for a year until the Note 8 was unveiled. The eighth Note was a great device, hampered only by poor battery performance – naturally, Samsung played it safe and put a smaller battery in it. So much so that I had to buy a power bank to ensure that when I needed to, I could have an all-day battery life. The performance was great and the cameras were fantastic.

Here in the UK the Note 9 went on sale on August 24th. I preordered the ocean blue variant – as seen in the first picture – which proved to be the most popular. Therefore, my delivery date was a week later. Having owned the device for around a month, I’d like to share my thoughts on it. First, onto the specs compared with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

Galaxy Note 8

Android 7.1

Octacore 2.3 Ghz

6 GB Ram

64 GB Storage – Expandable by up to 256 GB

6.3″ OLED Screen

1440 x 2960 resolution – 522 ppi

3300 mAh Battery

8 MP Front Camera – Dual Lens 12 MP Rear Camera

Dust and Waterproof to IP68

Galaxy Note 9

Android 8.1

Octacore 2.7 Ghz

6 GB Ram

128 GB Storage – Expandable by up to 512 GB

6.4″ OLED Screen

1440 x 2960 – 512 ppi

4000 mAh Battery

8 MP Front Camera – Dual Lens 12 MP Rear Camera Dual Aperture

Dust and Waterproof to IP68

At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be much of a change, other than the obligatory slight bump to performance and battery size. Yes, the display is slightly bigger and the base storage capacity is doubled to 128 GB. One minor, but very welcome change, is the rear fingerprint sensor has been moved to below the camera unit, rather than in line as with the Note 8. I know I was forever smudging my camera while trying to scan my finger on the 8. It also makes it slightly easier to reach. After all, this is still a large device.

Unboxing

The phone arrived early afternoon, it’s box featuring the bright yellow signature stylus which makes the Note devices unique.

Cellophane removed, the box opens up to reveal a card wallet containing warranty information and the sim tray removal key.

Pulling the wallet out reveals the device itself. Lifting that out and the included fast charger – take note, Apple – USB C to Micro USB and USB C to USB adaptors, charging cable, earbuds and 3 sets of rubber earbud coverings.

The phone is protected by cellophane on the front. It’s always a great feeling peeling it off from a new device.

The rear of the device is glass, and this too is protected by cellophane. I’ve hidden the IMEI number here, as it comes on a sticker on the rear of the phone.

Powering up the device for the first time is always exciting for a gadget addict like me.

For a while now, Samsung has had a feature that allows you to plug your old device into your new phone in order to restore all your data and settings onto your new phone. Using the USB C to USB adaptor, I connected my Note 8 to my new Note 9 and transferred all my data.

Although I have not tried it yet, apparently you can do the same from say an iPhone to a Galaxy device. This took just over 10 minutes. A quick reboot later and all of my data from my previous phone was on the new one, along with all necessary accounts.

Even though it’s still a large device, the Note 9 is still very sleek with the display taking up 83.4% of the front of the phone. The side bezels are very thin, wrapping around the edges slightly less than the previous Note. The top and bottom bezels are smaller too but, thankfully, do not have the stupid looking notch you find on the latest Apple devices.

The display is crisp and colorful, and more than bright enough to read in full sunlight. The iris scanner works a lot quicker and more predictably than on the previous generation, this time working in tandem with facial recognition. Of course, you can also unlock it with your fingerprints, and again this works quicker and is more predictable than before.

The performance of the phone is also noticeably better, particularly in regards to multitasking. Here I have Youtube open on the left, Discord on the right.

Cameras

Photo quality is slightly better than on the previous generation. It has the same cameras as on the S9 series, and these feel quicker to capture images. Here are a few examples of the photo quality.




A welcome upgrade from the Note 8 is that sound now comes from the bottom speaker and the ear speaker, so watching a movie on the Note 9 is a better experience with stereo sound. It is also louder and fuller than previously.

S-Pen

This time around, the S-Pen has a new trick up its sleeve. The stylus now includes a very small battery to power the side button, which is now Bluetooth. The battery is charged within the body of the phone and is good for 30 minutes continuous use. Even if the battery runs out, however, the stylus itself still works to jot notes or what have you.

The Bluetooth button allows you to use the stylus as a remote. For example, you can open the camera, set up your phone somewhere, stand back and take a photo with a press of the stylus button. Like this.

Dex

Another use of the button is as a remote to switch slides on a Powerpoint presentation. Now, I know what you’re thinking: yes, the device is quite large, but it’s not THAT big, surely? Well, no, but since a few generations ago Samsung has had a feature called Dex. This used to require the purchase of a docking device to be able to connect to an external supply like a monitor or projector. This time around, all that is needed is a USB C to HDMI cable.

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In Dex mode, you have a desktop-like experience. Once you have a mouse and keyboard connected via Bluetooth, you can use the device more like a conventional computing device. Unfortunately, it’s not that well supported yet. Microsoft Word, Powerpoint etc work full screen, as do the email and browser apps, so it’s good enough for basic office tasks on the go. A lot of apps however just open up as a window.

Final Verdict

You may have gathered by now that I am a Note fan. Yes, I very much enjoyed the Note 8, but was always conscious of battery life. With it’s increased capacity, the battery on the Note 9 easily lasts me all day. The cameras are improved, performance is better, the sound is now stereo and the remote stylus is a handy new feature. The base storage has now doubled from 64 to 128 GB and the overall experience of using the phone is much smoother. On paper, the improvements don’t look like much, but in hand, it certainly feels much better.

So, any downsides? Well, yes. Of course, nothing is quite perfect. First, the price. To buy outright without a contract, the phone is in the top tier price bracket. Fortunately, I was due an upgrade, so this did not have much bearing for me. Also, Bixby – yes Samsung, it’s a great idea. Apple has proven how a built-in AI assistant can be useful. But Siri works. Bixby is still not ready for the mainstream. Therefore it makes little sense to me to have a dedicated Bixby button. Thankfully Samsung has listened to users and pushed out an update that enables you to disable the button, so accidental presses are no longer a thing. It would, however, be better to be able to remap the button, as currently, it sits redundant on my phone.

Hello Steem. I’m Muxxy, and I’m Back!

It has been a while since I last posted, a little over a week in fact. I feel I should apologise. After all, everyone says that you should post consistently, but sometimes life just doesn’t go that way. This time last week I had just returned from Toronto where I attended the Steemcreators conference along with @rhondak, @ShadowsPub and @Jasonbu. We were there to introduce @thewritersblock to the audience, our future plans and projects. I also did my very first public speaking, introducing @steempress-io.

My return trip took just over twenty-four hours. @Jasonbu was to drop @rhondak off at Toronto Pearson International Airport mid-morning in time to catch her flight. Although mine wouldn’t leave until after 11 that evening, I felt it too much for Jason to have to make the trip twice, as it was a roundabout journey of two hours for him. We said our goodbyes at terminal 3, shaking Jason’s hand and giving him a Muxxy man hug. Throughout our time in Canada, he was an awesome host, guide, and driver. Besides all that, he really is a cool laid back down to earth guy. It was great to meet you dude.

Keen not to miss her second flight ever, Rhonda and I exchanged hugs and goodbyes too before she made her way through security. Luckily this time my allergies weren’t playing up and my eyes were not moist at all. This was the second time in a few months that we have met, and we will likely meet up again at Steemfest. My evening flight was to depart from Terminal 1 so I made my way to the monorail.

Silly Muxxy didn’t pay attention to the first shuttle he caught as it took him in the opposite direction to where he was supposed to be going… Not to worry though, I had ten hours to kill. Hopping back on another shuttle I soon approached my destination. It felt like the world’s slowest and least exciting rollercoaster as it weaved over and under roads.

Finally, I reached Terminal 1, but it still took a while to reach departures. Luckily the airport is populated with many travelators making the job less tiring for some.

I, however, am a big child, and whenever I get on a travelator, I still walk at full speed to get the feeling of walking super fast. One day I might grow up…although, at this point, I doubt it very much.

After the obligatory walk through duty-free, where I picked up a few gifts for the family, I eventually reached my destination. At that time of the morning, around 11 am, it wasn’t all that busy. I had a little wander around and found my go-to coffee place since arriving in Toronto – Tim Hortons. Equipped with coffee and donuts, I found somewhere to while away the hours.

All of the seating areas had comfortable chairs and tables equipped with iPads to use – all linked to local eateries from which you could order food and drink to be delivered to your table – and power points including USB sockets. At this point, I was chatting with Rhonda while she was in the air, as she had paid for internet access during her flight. Naturally, she needed to receive a photo of me with my Timmy’s. She hadn’t asked for it but I felt the need to remind her she was Tim Hortons free. Not long after I had caught up with Steem, my Discord, and emails, I received a message from Rhonda to say that she had landed. Great, only another eight hours for me to wait for my flight…

Before I left the UK, I made sure I had some movies downloaded to my Surface Pro. I donned my headphones and settled down to watch two, taking a break in between them to stretch my legs, visit the bathroom and stock up on more Tim Hortons. I promised myself to read some fiction work I had been sent and even went as far as loading it onto my Kindle. Alas, although I had the time, I started to flag and listened to some music instead. The hours trundled by and departures became much busier.

There’s something about spending hours somewhere like an airport, just people watching. Over the past twelve months, I have done plenty of it. Stories form in your mind, imagining where they are traveling to or from, who that person next to them is, do they know them, what goes on in their lives, are they serial killers or potential serial killer victims? Like I said, I was becoming tired and slightly delusional.

Eventually, the time to board dragged its sorry ass on and I queued up like a good Brit. We are experts at queuing. Even though we don’t enjoy it, we still keep a stiff upper lip about the whole affair.

The 11.10 flight AC842 bound for Dublin began to board just after 10.30. I totally ignored the fact that by now Rhonda had reached home and was probably settling down for the night with her pack of dogs and a raccoon. Although I have done much flying over this past year, I still get a little nervous, especially during takeoff. Nonetheless, I looked forward to getting some sleep during the seven-hour flight. Despite the many planes I have boarded, I still enjoy a window seat and, as we took off, I began snapping away at the Toronto skyline. For the next half hour, we experienced some of the worst turbulence I have ever felt, the plane lurching up and down at it tried to gather height.


I was sat next to a very pleasant young lady and as we began chatting I put my neck pillow on. I was terribly embarrassed a few hours later when I woke up when asked which meal I would like: I had fallen asleep while talking to her! She laughed off my apology, I ate most of my meal, drank a little wine and promptly fell asleep again. The sound of the flaps engaging on the wings woke me up. I opened up the window next to me and was blinded by daylight as we were heading in to land in Dublin.

I busied myself by searching for my shoes I had slipped off during my sleep and by packing my Surface Pro and headphones away.


We landed with quite a bump, but nobody seemed too worried. I shrugged my shoulders as we slowly taxied to the terminal. Once more I got to play superhero while riding the travelators. Many tuts followed my path through the terminal. Luckily I only had just over an hour to wait for my connecting flight back to England.

Showing the others how it’s done, I queued once more before boarding. The difference between this flight and my previous one was very stark as Ryanair is a very budget airline. They cram in as many people as possible so legroom is an issue for somebody as tall as me. Thankfully it was only a brief flight across the Irish Sea, taking less than 45 minutes. Once through security back in Birmingham I made my way to the train station and caught the first of three trains back to my hometown.

Since coming to Steem I have very much enjoyed the opportunities and excuses for travel that it has afforded me. Travel is great, apart from the time it takes to do. Still, I wouldn’t swap any of these experiences for anything. Thanks for having me Toronto, it was a blast.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

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I do my best not to be scared of many things. Sure, a recurring nightmare I have is spiders…flying spiders….not just regular old flying spiders, oh no. Flying spiders that spit fire. Yes, I kinda doubt that they will ever become a reality. Unless some mad scientist genetically engineers some, I don’t know. But, I digress…

I mean, regular eight-legged hairy bastard creatures with multiple sets of eyes and pointy teeth are bad enough, but flying fire-breathing ones? Just, nope. Although I really do loathe the little buggers, I still have to play the hero and rescue my little girl from their evil stares, sat up in the corner of the room looking all spidery.

Now, fire? Yup, a recurring nightmare is being trapped in a burning building only to end up engulfed in an inferno. I blame The Towering Inferno and in particular Steve McQueen and Paul Newman for that one. Would the lack of oxygen get me first or the smoke inhalation? Hopefully, either one before the flames got to me. Gee thanks, guys.

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We all have fears, some are even totally rational like the fear of heights. I don’t fear heights. Gravity, yes. THAT’S what kills you in a fall. I admit that the aforementioned aerial arachnids are probably not quite so rational. But the take away is we all have fears. But we shouldn’t let them rule our lives and, ever since arriving on Steem over a year ago, I have tried to push through some of my personal fears and boundaries.

Some might call into question my fear of talking online, considering the many different Discord voice conversations I have taken part in. It was real. Yup, lil’ old Muxxy had a fear of speaking online. I pushed through it and enjoy interacting in the communities now. @mspwaves became a thing on PALnet and DJs were called for. Me, talk on the radio? Before Steem I would have never entertained the notion. However, I pushed through it and appeared on the Shane and Muxxy Show with @swelker101. Was I nervous the first time? God, yes. But it became easier the next time and every time after that.

Before Steemfest 2017, held in Lisbon, I had never traveled so far on my own. A friend was originally going to accompany me, but he had to duck out. I really agonized over if I should cancel the trip. I have my health issues, so could I manage the trip without anybody looking out for me? What if I got lost, or lost my ID and money? Missing my flights was a possibility, anything could have happened. However, I thought to myself ‘NO! This is a great opportunity!` So I did it and really enjoyed not only the event but also the traveling solo across four countries. A few months back I made my way to The States for a Writers’ Block meetup. Today I am in Canada and I have worked out that by the time Steemfest 2018 is over and I have returned home, I’ll have taken fifteen flights. Pre Steem, it would never have been on my radar.

So, where am I going with this, and why the title of this post? I am currently in Toronto attending the Steem Creators and SMT conference, organized by the awesome @steemcafe. The venue is the YWCA on Elm Street. An apt address to face a fear. Not only am I here promoting @thewritersblock, our direction, and forthcoming new front end, but I was honored to be able to represent @fredrikka and @howo’s project, the WordPress plugin called @steempress.io.

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Ok, so where is the nightmare? I’m getting to that. One of my biggest lifelong fears is standing up in front of other people and public speaking. I lack the confidence and am not that sociable in real life. To actually be in front of a crowd, the center of attention and give a presentation was – to me – the Sum of All Fears (thanks Mr. Freeman and the Affleck guy, one of your better ones Ben). This was to occur just after lunch, or so I learned just yesterday. EEK!

The nerves kicked in. My lunch consisted of a smoothy, I couldn’t stomach anything to eat. As I slurped and worried, I went over my notes and slideshow. Was it good enough? Would I do justice to the Steempress project? Would I completely freeze and make an ass out of myself? Would I just explode into a shower of nerves and worry?

@rhondak, me and Jaime. Thanks @shadowspub for the photo.

My time in the spotlight came all too quickly. Thankfully @rhondak joined me to lend moral support and @thehoneys Jaime kept things ticking over by asking me relevant questions about Steempress and its benefits. Time stretched but as it went on I realized that I could do this! I may have stuttered, held the mic a little too far from my mouth until Jaime pushed it closer, but I did it! I then handed off to @fredrikka who joined via video conference on the screen behind me to fill in the crowd with further technical details and some announcements.

Although sweat was dripping down my back, I felt good. I had pushed through and overcome my worst fear – yes, so much worse than fictional eight-legged freaks. The empowerment this gives is electrifying when you realize that your preconceived ideas of how much you are actually capable of are just plain wrong. I got awesome feedback from the attendees who were now excited by the idea of using Steempress. Job done.

Today I joined Rhonda and @Jasonbu to present The Writers’ Block and our witness team @noblewitness – the team is comprised of me, Rhonda, @anarcho-andrei, and @sircork. Witness votes appreciated, thanks. Yesterday’s nerves were now little flutters and, although I wasn’t giving the presentation, I felt comfortable chipping in where I could.

Jaime kindly imparted these words of advice to me on my arrival back at the venue this morning. The crowd wants you to do well. They are not out to murder you. They are there to listen to whatever it is you have to say. They are on your side, they are not the enemy. Jaime and his wife Amy of @thehoneys are professionals at this and I am grateful for how I was put at ease and for the wisdom shared.

So, to conclude, don’t doubt yourself and let fear cripple your potential. Face your fears. Be the best you that you can be. It could be worse. Flying fire-breathing spiders are not real. Not yet, anyway.

 

Not More Travel? Why yes, bring on Steemfest3.

So here I was yesterday, formulating my latest post and discussing all the good fortune I have had since joining Steem and traveling around the world. At least I didn’t have a Steemfest to contend with this year, right? But no…along comes @rolandp today and announces the dates for the third fest, this time in Poland. Seriously dude, really? It will shortly come to a point where I have traveled aboard more planes than cars this year!

In all seriousness, I am somewhat glad Steemfest3 is being held in Kraków, Poland. I have checked the flights and hotels, and Polish prices are smoking hot! Last year’s event, held in Lisbon, was fantastic for me. I got to meet other Steemians and people I had spoken with online. I also made so many new and awesome connections. It was great for me personally and for my Steem life. This year will be even better I predict as I hadn’t been on the platform that long last year. Also, in November 2017 The Writers’ Block was a mere two months old. This time we have a year under our belts throughout which we have expanded, grown in scope and focus on our future with our front-end project and the publishing house.

To this end, @rhondak, my fellow admin and co-creator of The Block, is considering getting over her phobia of flight and joining me in Poland to network our community and connect with investors and interested parties. Rhonda will be having a trial run in September as we both fly to Toronto for the Steem Creators and SMT conference. In addition to my Canada trip, I have a 12-day family vacation on one of the Canary Islands in early October.

The Details

This year’s event begins on the 7th of November and runs through to the 11th. As mentioned previously, it is being held in Kraków, Poland. This is one of Poland’s oldest cities and is its second largest. At one time the city used to be the capital of the country. It lies in the southern part of Poland on the Vistula River, at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. A quick flick through Google images reveals a beautiful medieval city.

Two official Steemfest Hotels, the Qubus Hotel and INX Design Hotel, both four stars, are available for pre-booking rooms – make sure you use the steemfest promo code to get slightly reduced rates. Failing that, the city offers many hostels, apartments, and hotels in all price brackets.

I am so looking forward to again meeting many other Steemians and to reconnect with last year’s attendees. It also presents a brilliant opportunity to share our project – @thewritersblock – with the wider community and potential investors.

Are you considering attending? Maybe we can meet up. Let me know in the comments below.