We’ve been lucky the past few years: summers have generally been wet, gloomy …and fire-free. Not so this year, however. Fire has come uncomfortably close:

The black area is where the fire has burnt: we’re the little red X in Pheasants Nest.

I realised this was going to be a watch-and-prepare sort of weekend when I set off for work last Friday. I could smell smoke the minute I woke up, but seeing this at the side of the freeway was a bit of a surprise nonetheless:

It’s not a very good photo, obviously, but since that’s only about 2km from home, as the crow flies, I decided it might be a better idea to return home and start packing. Which is what we did, and the emergency evacuation boxes -containing passports, Nixon’s autograph, insurance policies and other essential documents and items of sentimental value- are now ready to load into the car at a moment’s notice.

Yesterday, things were calm enough that we went down to the fireground (a 5 minute drive at most) to take a look:

The air was (and remains) thick with smoke, and plenty of trees were still alight, as this one was.

Today is promised to be hotter and windier than yesterday, so we watch and wait once more.

Linode, CentOS 6.x and Postfix, Dovecot

I have been busy playing with my new Linode virtual private server, and it’s been great fun! It’s also already managed to show me how much I don’t know :-)

Specifically, I wanted my new server to be able to act as an Email server. That means running Postfix and Dovecot on top of CentOS …which isn’t exactly difficult if you know what you’re doing, but can be tricky if you, like me, are a novice. There are lots of guides around the Internet: lots of them do Postfix and Dovecot on Debian or Ubuntu, which isn’t exactly right for CentOS users. Some of them actually use CentOS… but mostly version 5.x, which isn’t right for us 6.x users. Then, too, a lot of people seem to use MySQL as a repository of which email users exist and what passwords they have… which looked like overkill to me. So those configurations aren’t right either.

If you piece bits of all of them together, though, and throw in a splash of original guesswork, you might end up with something like my new ‘Setting up your own CentOS 6.x Email Server using Postfix and Dovecot, but without using MySQL’ article.

Blogging with Dokuwiki

In addition to moving this site to a new host, I’ve decided to stop using WordPress as my ‘content organizer’ and instead switch to using the venerable Dokuwiki platform.

The main reason for doing this is simply that WordPress stores all its content inside a MySQL database and Dokuwiki stores everything in plain text files. That makes things easier to backup and recover, should the need arise. Additionally, Dokuwiki serves pages a bit faster than WordPress, because it’s not trying to be such a fancy content manager. It isn’t as flexible as WordPress, for sure: but I think that makes it a better document writing tool.

The drawback is that every single blog piece and article I’ve ever written has to be converted into Dokuwiki format… and there’s no actual conversion tool! Instead, you simply cut-and-paste the text across and then hand-edit it so that bolds, italics and hyperlinks are all re-created from scratch. As you can imagine, it’s not the fastest job in the world (though making you go back and read what you wrote three years ago has its uses!)

The plan was “Blog first, articles second”. And with the Blog now complete (or very nearly so), it’s now on to the articles. Only when everything is in place will I switch the domains around, so that ‘’ points to the Dokuwiki content directly.

(Note: this post was transferred from the old Dizwell dokuwiki website. Its content may no longer be relevant).