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Month: November 2006

Congratulations to Tiago Dias on his First Book Publication!

Congratulations to Tiago Dias on his First Book Publication!

On behalf of Pixel2life staff, I would like to congratulate one of our members on his outstanding achievement of releasing his first professionally published book! A big shoutout to Tiago Dias (aka FunkySoul) who has just released From After Effects to Flash – Poetry in Motion Graphics.

Book Cover

Book Description:

As a Flash 8 designer, you have discovered the power of the video tools in the application. The new filters and effects and ActionScript classes allow you to create a variety of stunning visual effects in Flash. What you probably haven’t discovered is how easy it is empower your video hundreds of times more by combining the many effects and tools in After Effects 7 Professional with Flash!

This book, the first to explore the potential power and creativity boost that can be unleashed when After Effects and Flash are used together, is designed to get you up to speed with working in these two applications while hitting you with some creative innovation. You will discover how effectively you can use After Effects to create video and animation effects that were either extremely difficult or impossible to achieve in Flash.

By the end of this book, you will have created a variety of projects ranging from text effects, masks, and alpha channel video to 3D effects and audio visualization. All are designed to show you the potential available to you with these two powerhouse applications, and, more importantly, to expand the arsenal of creative motion graphics tools at your disposal.

Who is Tiago?

Tiago Dias, who was an original Twodded tutorial writer and is an active Adobe Community Expert is also a P2L Premium Publisher and is currently among the group of beta testers helping us tweak the upcoming Tutorial Publishing System. His streaming Flash MP3 XML tutorial is among one of the most highly recommended tutorials on P2L and his other online publishings are nothing but truly professional. He is also active on our support forums helping many of our fellow members with follow ups on his tutorials and general questions on Flash, After Effects, and anything else Adobe related. He’s truly a class act and I can’t thank him enough for his constant contributions to this site and the community. We wish him all the success in the world, he definitely deserves it!

His new book can be purchased at the following online shops:

Amazon US
CompMan UK
Springer US
Barnes and Noble
Bookpool US

You can also order this book through local shops using ISBN 1590597486.

Congrats Tiago! We all hope you rake in the BLING!


Expecting a baby? Check out my large ticket item auction for baby items!

Expecting a baby? Check out my large ticket item auction for baby items!

Pack Logo

I’m selling a bunch of large ticket items now that my daughter is a bit older and we no longer use these items. None of these items are older than 3 years and they are all in excellent, well cared for condition. I’m looking for someone to buy these for a local pickup, but I can also ship this stuff out although it will be quite costly.

Auction link: eBay Link

Here’s what you get:

1. Plush rocking horse with sounds and music ($50 retail)
2. First Years portable high chair with detachable tray and adjustable angled seat ($35 Retail)
3. Winnie The Pooh car seat organizer ($15 Retail)
4. Bertini Bidwell Steerable Stroller ($500 Retail)
5. Disney Princess Tricycle Canopy Trike ($100 Retail)
6. Cosco Funsport Playpen and Portable Crib ($100 Retail)
7. Peg Perego Prima Pappa High Chair ($180 Retail)
8. 2 solid wood expanding baby gates with custom stair well attachments ($40 each Retail)
9. Side Guard for Twin bed ($40 Retail)
10. 2 toddler toilet lid adapters and miscellaneous toys and foam mats ($100+ Retail)

If you’re interested in this auction and have questions about the items, drop me a line via the blog or via eBay.


How to Restart cPanel from terminal SSH connection

How to Restart cPanel from terminal SSH connection

As I continue to work on my Unix skills (Never thought I’d see the day) I thought I’d share some of the quick little tricks I am learning as I go. To manually restart cPanel services from SSH, simply type the following at prompt:

/etc/rc.d/init.d/cpanel restart

Hit [enter] and you’ll see a series of OK messages pop up as the various cPanel services restart and come back online… it only takes a couple of seconds under normal circumstances.

The Numbers are IN! We Have Success!

The Numbers are IN! We Have Success!

After a lot of sweating and swearing, we’ve had time to track our stats for the last couple of days since our coding and server tweaks and updates, and the numbers are pretty clear:

Load Graph

You can see the highest peak is lunchtime (12PM – 2PM approx) Nov-11 and that was more or less the reflection of the high loads we were getting on the box. Later that night, you can see it dropped when we began the initial tweaks to the Apache configuration and we added additional caching to the site. As you can see on the 12th to 15th, load was still high, but it was already better. You can see the 9 hours of downtime when the load was pretty much dead from the eAccelerator pooch job. Then on the night of the 15th we did additional tweaks to the search system and upgraded Apache and PHP and the scores dropped again by a huge margin. You can see the peaks for the 16th and 17th are much lower than previous days.

Below the chart you can see the current load averages, which are right on the money with our target goal.

So congrats to Elvio, Nick and Jamie on a job well done!

Battle of the Evil Server Goblin… There can Only be ONE!

Battle of the Evil Server Goblin… There can Only be ONE!

I refuse to concede defeat against the evil server goblin that has been stalking me around cyberspace, using my server as a cudgel aimed directly at my un-offending (keep the guffaws to a minimum) skull. That green little bastard is GOING DOWN!

What green server goblin you ask? THIS ONE:

Server Goblin

What’s that you say? It’s merely a Photoshopped (Photopainted actually) photo of my daughter’s latest McD’s Happy Meal toy? NONSENSE! What you are looking at is a 100% pure mean green server piss off machine, and it’s out to get me.

All I have to say is thank God for my brother-in-law Elvio (owner of and probably one of the smartest, no-nonsense grep-heads you could ever meet), and for the quick turn around times from the P2L coding talents of Nick and Jamie.

Here’s the latest scoop on what’s been happening… I left Server Seed awhile back due to another disappearing act and I have been through a rather spectacular list of service providers looking for someone to simply give me what Server Seed had in terms of performance, but with some degree to available support when things go wrong. Well up until recently, it seems like I just can’t get those two together in a single package unless I want to bend over and let Media Temple be my daddy. (MT has great shared hosting prices, but their true dedicated hardware pricing is nothing short of laughable). My latest setup is a box I purchases directly with Softlayer and I bought some management from a third-party provider.

Since then, I am getting great service, but loads on the box are VERY high compared to what I’m used to and performance, in my opinion, sucks. So I’ve been chasing this new management company about it and I’m basically getting nowhere. In a recent request, I asked that SSL be disabled along with imap and some other ports/services I didn’t need and were open for nothing. I won’t get too deep into the response, but I was told that Apache would have to be recompiled in order to shut off SSL. Ummm… no.

So, I asked Elvio, master of all things Unix, to snoop around on my box and check out the settings and see what’s what… I think it was the whole Apache recompile thing to shut off SSL that had him seriously worried about what my server looked like from the inside. Well needless to say, it was a dog’s breakfast, so my tutelage in Unix command prompt began. He basically had to rebuild the config, recompiled Apache and upgraded it to version 2 (yeah, Linux 1.3 on a multicore, multiprocessor box… that wasn’t a great idea) and upgrade PHP, plus clean out a bunch of other crap. That was finally done tonight actually.

Next up was to basically study the server’s performance and resource usage… and to accomplish this, he installed an AWESOME package called Cacti. This is a freeware based network graphing solution with a sweet user interface that even I can figure out in under 5 seconds. Check it out at


By studying cacti’s reports and staring at the regular top processes and MySQL top processes, we started to identify coding related areas that could be improved to run more efficiently. Once again Elvio made some suggestions based on his analysis on the logs and Nick and Jamie went right to work kicking CPU ass! In fact, load was shaved right down by improving the caching system, combining includes into single files and tonight, Nick re-worked the Boolean search query as per Elvio’s search method and has cut down search times BIG TIME! For those of you with fast connection’s, you may remember the average search time for a tutorial was about 5 seconds or longer you were searching during a peak time. Well I’ve been search this evening with the box on an average load at results were coming back pretty much instantly!

So, things are definitely improving in terms of server performance and we hope people are enjoying the site as we look to speed things up and get the server back to being reliable and stable. That damn green goblin is GOING DOWN!

In summary, here’s what I’ve learned lately:

– Be wary of server management companies… they seem to go to pieces when things go beyond simply restart Apache.
– You don’t have to recompile Apache to disable SSL (Actually I knew this… I just can’t believe that’s what my management company tried to tell me)
– Disabling imap doesn’t affect POP (See previous note about management company)
– You don’t have to run DNS Server services to run your email properly (See previous note again)
– Top and MyTop are your friends
– Nagios is for monitoring, Cacti is for reporting (both rock)
– Multithreading is a feature added to Linux in version 2+
– Natural Boolean results already return results sorted with correct scoring… if you get query results back with 0 scores, your query is screwed. You should not have to re-sort them for correct score values. (Hey, I’m not a programmer, how the hell would I know?!)
– Elvio, Nick and Jamie are EXTREMELY patient… to the point of impossibility even.

That’s it for now guys! 1AM and I’m tired. Battling green server goblins is tough work… gnite!


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