Comments Turned Off

Sorry but I’m sick of deleting 30 comments a day from some Chinese guy trying to spam about headphones or some crap like that, and considering I don’t get enough actual comments (or traffic that isn’t spam) to worry about it, you know you can just send me an email or something.

Bah, stupid internet.

Turned off Commenting

Turned off comments on the blog here cause the last few weeks has been nothing but spam crap through them, the generic “you write an awesome blog” type stuff with a URL for viagra or watch repair or whatever BS they’re selling. Just got tired of clicking the ‘report as spam’ button every half hour. Only a couple of people comment anyway, so sorry to disappoint… I might turn it back on if I bother to install some better anti-spam stuff, or figure out how to close the comments for all but the last month or something. Or convert over to wordpress, which seems to have a far better handle on anti-spam stuff, if I can figure out how to keep all my links.


New Location

In addition to some hardware juggling, I’m finally moving my blog off of my cable modem connection and onto the server. If this is up and you’re seeing it, then that means it’s all over and done and DNS is updated and I haven’t blown it all up 🙂

Some Blog Cleanup

Few things new and changed here. If you read the actual page instead of the RSS feed you’ll see a lovely grey theme (unless I change it again) picked as it’s mildly pleasant and not too annoying. Note that if anyone out there wants to fix me up with something better I’m open to that too 🙂 Also I’ve enabled a bunch of comment spam protection. I’m fairly sick of having to mark 30 “pending” comments as spam a day, so I setup a Captcha as well as a couple of other anti-spam protections after Dana mentioned he was moving his company blog to TypePad to save himself from the spam and attacks.

I’ve tested it here, seems to work, please mail me if something is broken. If you are already an “approved” commenter (ie: one of the three people that read this site) most likely the captcha won’t even kick in. However if you’re a bot, hopefully your crap won’t hit my inbox anymore.

Comments Now Fixed

Apparntly for the last few months comments on this site have been broken… no notifications came to me, and I had to really poke and prod the server to get it to show the comments that are there! Stupid MT 🙁 It also looks like something with the new MT has made the ‘continue reading’ link come up regardless of if there’s an extended entry…. sigh

Anyway, thanks to anyone (Erik, Shaggy, Dee, etc) who did comment in the last few months!

The MovableType 4.0 Upgrade that Wasn’t

Similar to the Ubuntu upgrade that wasn’t, the MovableType 4.0 upgrade didn’t go all that well. The install itself, was amazingly easy… two clicks total, outside of copying the new files to the server (and backups of course). The new interface is…. different, but has some really cool features that someone like me can see as being useful:

  • Auto-save while you’re typing like gmail does
  • Quick reply from right in the interface
  • Syntax highlighting in the template editor

The issue really came when I wanted to publish. Seems the template system has been given a major overhaul, and my old setup just didn’t fit in. I was playing with the (again, nice and new and sexy) instant-apply style switching system and found that sometimes it just didn’t work. It was due to my templates not following the new standard. So ok, easy enough, find the Movable Type 4.0 default templates and copy the new index template in.

That’s where trouble started 🙂 I figured out how the main index template works, and how it has sub-templates embedded in it called modules. I faithfully copied these in from the MT site. Then I was prompted to create modules with names like <var _translate=’Header’> instead of just “Header”, which I did to allow my site to be published. Basically the same issue as this guy.

End result was I managed to find the various modules and templates that were needed, but my site ended up having, instead of proper headers (like “Archives” on the page like I have now) I got <var _translate=”Archives”>

At that point I restored from backup, nuked the database and re-imported it from backup, and wrote this article. I do have a fresh MT4 install that I can probably move templates around from, but that’s for another night…. though I do wish I’d thought of that before un-doing the upgrade!

Adventures with WordPress

I set up a blog for Iambe and decided to play a bit with the WordPress blogging engine and thought it was pretty slick compared to Movable Type and started looking at using it for this Blog.

The install of the latest version, WordPress 2.1 was super-easy, unzip, put in the database login information, go to a page and it’s pretty much done. Very slick. The Admin UI is a bit complex looking at first, but it’s got things nicely set up, fully WYSIWYG editing, some sexy AJAX effects, etc. It can even import movable type importer.

Couple of major gotchas though. First of all is performance. Unlike Movable Type, WordPress uses dynamically generated pages. MT creates static HTML pages and has to “rebuild” the site when new content is posted. Dynamically generated pages of course are easier because it’s, well, dynamic of course, but static HTML has a huge speed advantage.

On my webserver (dual CPU 1.13ghz P3 with 2G of ram, Apache2 and MySQL 5.0.26) my default WordPress 2.1 install gave me approximately 2.5 requests/second, which is a far cry from MT’s 1700 requests/sec, though not surprising due to the dynamic vs static. It also pumps the load up to 29 and keeps both CPUs pinned. This is tested with “ab2 -n 100 -c 10 http://testsite/blog/index.php”.

A couple of tweaks to MySQL as described here I got the speed up to 4.14 requests/second. The next thing was to install wp-cache 2.0. This didn’t seem to do anything. In fact, I’m not even sure that it’s working as none of the comments that are supposed to be appended to cached pages show up.

Some other tips I found on this page and this one didn’t seem to do much, or were impractical or not valid in this situation. I had high hopes for the persistant object cache, but enabling it didn’t do anything either.

I finally fixed this…. turns out that you have to add the WP_CACHE line into the middle of the file or it won’t work (but the plugin will still load and be enabled. I was finally able to get 60 (cold) to 200 (hot) requests/sec with this.

The other (minor, kinda) issue is that it manged some of my older posts, translating carriage returns into <BR> tags. Probably fixable with a plug-in or configuration change, still, a bit of a PITA that I’ll have to dig into.

Upgraded Movable Type

Upgraded to MovableType 3.3 (finally). Seems to work quite nicely, and the upgrade routine was pretty easy, other than a minor PITA with a static files directory setting having to be changed (the directory with all the javascript libraries and such, causing the admin interface to basically not work).

Notable improvements are lots of little tweaks in the UI, inclusion of some nice new built in plugins like StyleCatcher, which lets you change your site look in a click, by downloading/using CSS styles off the net (if you were watching closely you’ll see I was messing with this today… RSS users, go about your business 🙂 Of course, after a lot of playing I ended up back where I came from, not because I think that this theme is overly great, but it’s liquid and seems to work on the site….

Other than that I don’t see a huge number of really visible changes other than the security fixes that are apparently present.

More Movable Type Themes

So I discovered StyleCatcher, which is a nice and easy way to put in new themes for your blog (as long as the underlying code hasn’t been too radically changed. Only problem is that the default page they give you are pretty slim pickings. Anyway, I found that if you throw the URL for the theme contest that Sixapart put together,, you get a lot more choices. I’m experimenting with a few now. They also seem to not suffer from the ‘right hand column at the bottom of the page’ syndrome that the styles on the default MT styles page gives you.

My only issue right now is figuring out a way to make the theme I do find or like to be “fluid” (colums adjust based on browser width) instead of static (columns are a set width).

Of course as I’ve been playing over the last 20 min or so after I posted this it seems that most themes are a fixed width because they use a graphic as the background to create the funky effects. Bah. Oh well, keep on experimenting I guess…

I have no idea if it’s ok to use these themes by the way.

This is also a note for myself as you don’t seem to be able to change the setting for the starting page 🙂

Database all Fixed Up

OK, I think I have this thing fixed. The database curruption wasn’t that bad, I had to basically dump all the entries from this blog, create a complete new Movable Type install and a new database to go with it, import the entries into it, then reset my original install to point to the new DB. Lots of fun. There are still some other issues, and I’m sure I can work through those. I’m also looking to spice up the look (again, for non-rss users) from SixApart’s style library.