In Dribs and Drabs

And the old blog gets another new entry. It runs, though much is stuck. Garage floor rag for gas cap, as if there was fuel to from sloshing. Comments work, somewhere under the hood chewing and taking one helluva long time to post. Human-check captcha device broke, left behind versions ago. Latest comments widget broken. On this day, broken. Wordcount javascript whatever that was, broken. These among the irreparable few. And the last touch to get things going again involved replacing the script-assigned permissions upon publishing, for folders dropping 0777 to 0775 and for files flipping from 0666 to 0664. Eleven replacements and file overwrites in all so that host and republished entries and archives were harmonious again. It’s not sustainable, or rather, not long-sustainable. Sustainable only ever meant for-now-sustainable, anyway.

Last entry made it to IFTT->Twitter. But atom/RSS never seems to have fired, even though XML structure should be hospitable. As such, this amounts to another turn of the key, making sure exhaust reaches exhaust pipe for predictablish circulation.


An old blog breaks down. Stops working. Fails to grant access to even the control panel, not that anyone remembers the username and pissword, anyway. There’s bondo in the basement, duct tape in a kitchen junk drawer (no, the other junk drawer; the junkier drunk drawer). And then there’s some crappy old untended website with versions galore of Movable Type. Yeah, that same Movable Type from over a decade ago. It’s still wheezing around on the internet. Right here! Version 5.2.13. I had to delete a bunch of tags to get it running. Much of it probably doesn’t work. Comments? They probably return errors. When a blog is rattling around with fewer effs to give than ever before, well, whatever there is, work with it. It was always enough before. Why not now?

And if this shows up online? Breaktest passed.

In Other Words, Hello

I read with great interest last week’s announcement from Ben and Mena Trott, co-founders of Six Apart, Ltd., that they had merged their shop with VideoEgg. After the dust settles, the new entity will be known as “SAY Media, a modern media company.” Anil Dash’s “SAY, Goodbye to Six Apart,” for example, sheds light on his part in this transition. I haven’t looked too deeply into what motivates SAY Media; give it a week, right? It’s difficult to really know such things, anyway. Commenters responding to the smattering of Six Apart’s end-times disclosures suggest SAY Media is interested foremost in monetizing blog traffic by way of advertising. My first thought: best of luck.

My next thought is, Earth Wide Calamity!, this blog runs on Movable Type, one of Six Apart’s first blogging systems. If Six Apart disappears, will Movable Type also vanish into thin air? Early, findable answers are exactly what you would expect them to be: no, no, of course not. Movable Type and Typepad are making the transition right along with the Trotts. Nevertheless, there is a bit of anxious buzz floating around that SAY Media is concerned with easing the Typepad subscribers through the transition, but they don’t appear to be especially forthright with promises about Movable Type. The word on Movable Type is, in effect, “mum.” In fact, the SAY Media blog’s latest entry has as its title, “We Love Bloggers, We Love Typepad, We Want to Hear From You,”–a hand-patting “it will be okay” from Matt Sanchez, the new company’s CEO, who, curiously enough, has not himself responded to the comments.

For my own part in this anticipating of the worst, I’ll just hang around, waiting and seeing, until there is more definitive cause for concern (e.g., if this entry does not publish because SAY Media has corrupted my MT installation). Another way, as with much change-anxious worrying, rehearse a dozen times with a succession of deep breaths, “nothing happens.”

Unix Timestamp

A quick entry: It’s getting late, and I teach in the morning, then spend two hours in the WC, and after that, a meeting. Plus, I just looked out the window, and it appears that we live in the snowy part of Syracuse, so chances are I’ll have to remember where I last took off my winter boots back when last it snowed in, what, May?

This weekend I stumbled onto a few limitations for Movable Type and Delicious mash-ups I’d been thinking about for some time.

I’d been plotting for a few weeks a plan to export all 1000-some entries from EWM into a standard bookmark format. After the export, I was going to upload the full index (complete with keywords, notes, and timestamps) to Delicious. Easy, yeah? I thought so. But the problem is that I can’t–yet–figure out how to get MT to output a date in epoch form (i.e., as a Unix timestamp). I even posted on the forums, and the question has had several views, but no answers. MT has a gob of other MTEntryDate output options, but no Unix timestamp.

Without getting into the MySQL (and risking a terrible MesSQL), the most obvious workaround is to output the list of entries and such into a simple list that, with some “text to column” magic in Excel would allow me to select and copy the dates from a long string of entries, run them through a batch converter, paste the epoch-formatted numbers back into place, and switch the text into an editor. It might still require a few search and replace actions, but this process would get it close to the standard bookmark format–close enough that Delicious could import the list, anyway. And that’s the point to all of this.

While I was messing around with this, I also learned that Delicious limits the earliest timestamps to 1989 or something. I guess this isn’t all that big of a deal, but it does introduce a problem if, say, we were ever to attempt to use Delicious with some sort of date-stamping method for chronologically ordering bookmarks for a journal archive dating back to the early 1980s.

It’s good to know about these limitations, I suppose, well in advance of experimenting with them on a larger, more consequential project.

MT 4.2

I just bussed in all of the upgrade files for Movable Type 4.2, so I had to
hustle together an entry to see whether it lives up to the
especially the faster page-creation times, which had become downright arthritic
with the latest releases (e.g., 4.x).

So far, I can offer the following (exclamation-style, so as to keep
with the mood of 4.2’s release):

  • the upgrade was a cinch. That’s good!
  • my search form is broken. That’s bad!
  • the basic templates held up. That’s good!
  • I will have to install a dummy blog and ransack its templates to
    troubleshoot the search error, and I have no time for that. That’s
  • a full site rebuild took less then seven minutes. Good!
  • posting this entry took something like four seconds. Faster than before!

I still haven’t read any of the release materials closely enough to figure
out the difference between MT 4.2 and MT Pro. For now, my justification is
not only a case of the late-summer lazies, but also a principled objection to
the "Pro" designation, which, for my purposes, would be better if it were "Am"
or, on the best of days, "Pro-Am."

Spill, Aisle 4.0

Expecting it to take no more than 30 or 40 minutes, I attempted to upgrade to Movable Type 4.0 early last evening. With all of the hubbub about the new release, I thought there was a chance the process would go somewhat more smoothly than it did. I backed everything up and FTPed over the new files. But when I attempted to initiate the upgrade, I kept getting 500 Server Errors. Icdsoft customer service is usually very helpful, but this time they pointed me right back to Six Apart.

Continue reading →

Trouble Shot

Even if the following fixes are only useful to one or two people, posting
them to the blog makes them differently available for searching and bookmarking.
Since I installed MT3.34, I ran across a couple of small snags. Nothing
too off-putting, really. Just bumps along the up-gradual way.

First, the new tagging features in MT3.3+ are, as I’ve said before, really
slick. But I was having trouble with the interface that allows me to merge
tags. Say I have two tags I want to merge, like "method" and "methods."
Okay? I click on one or the other and I the tag becomes editable. After I
apply changes, I can select "Rename," in which case it will summon the database
to see if the new tag already exists. If it does exist, a java popup asks
whether I want to proceed with the merge. If the revised tag doesn’t
exist, it goes ahead and applies the change. The other option, "cancel,"
does just that. Simple, eh?

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Up- or Down- A Grade is a Slope

It was upgrade weekend for the blog, meaning I had my eyes turned under the
hood and my fingers in the blog code Friday into Saturday (today, all reading,
responding, and figuring grades).

I was running MT3.2, growing every day more envious of those who were putting
to use the tagging features built into 3.3+. The upgrade was a cinch.
Just FTPed the files into place and logged in. The config file didn’t need
any changes. Well, it didn’t require any changes, that is, until I also
converted the database from MySQL4 to MySQL5. For that, I had to add a
DBSocket line to the config file. I had not a clue about it at the time,
but the support folks at are remarkably good.

That’s a hearty new cumulus tagcloud over at the left. There’s a lot to
be said for MT’s tagging features built into the latest versions. Now I can merge
tags across the entire weblog, sort by tags (for editing or adding new companion
tags), and grade the tags with a max="x" setting. That’s the statement I use
to come up with ten levels for the tag cloud. And I’ve set the CSS to
display:none for the bottom five (#6-10). That way only the top five levels show
up, and the cloud isn’t the size of Lake Michigan.

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Custom Fields

I spent enough time on this earlier today that I figured an entry was due.
Most of the support forums were a disappointment, too, so let this serve as a reference
for desperate souls like me who are hunting around for clues about how to
integrate the Movable Type Custom Fields plugin in their weblogs. What
follows will probably only be of interest to MT users. It’s not entirely
self-serving, though. I think we’ll soon be using custom entries for
Online, and I wasn’t having any luck getting it to work here until now.

Continue reading →


I’m dropping in MT 3.2 today and monkeying with the templates. So if the whole works appears to be coming unglued, it’s because EWM’s a-morphing.

Later on: Everything seems to be working. It looks like 3.2 allows me to keep my templates from 2.65, which means that the style sheets don’t require any urgent doctoring (except, of course, if you’re viewing this weblog in IE for Mac, in which case…quit it, it looks terrible). I still have to figure out the Stylecatcher plugin and the “Refresh Template” function. But there it is; took about 40 minutes and the weblog’s more or less revamped.