It's Alive!

July 1st, 2010

Sorry for the unscheduled hiatus.

All posts, comments and tags have been restored. Assuming that the site doesn't explode when I press the 'Post' button, I can now turn my attention towards:

  • Fiddling with this theme;
  • Tidying up the sidebar;
  • Working out how many of the plugins I had in my old installation I really want to reinstall;
  • (Most importantly.) Posting some content again.
    I've got a lot of posts that I drafted while the site was offline, so I'll be going through them later today to decide which ones are still worth posting.

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F*ckw*t Spamming B*st*rds!

June 6th, 2010

I discovered a few hours ago that my WordPress install appears to have been infested by spammers. The front page displays OK, but following what should be on-site navigational links – particularly when using the on-site search feature – sometimes redirects the user to various sites selling C**l*s and V**gr* and the like.

It's not clear to me at this moment whether the problem lies in a trojan PHP file, a rogue plugin, a hacked .htaccess file, something lurking in the MySQL database or some unholy combination thereof: whatever the cause, I won't be posting again until I can fix the problem.

I'll almost certainly have to take the site down completely at some point to clean out the underlying infestation and reinstall everything from scratch. Thankfully, I do have backups of my content, so no posts or comments should be lost.

I can but apologise for this interruption in normal service and ask regular readers to watch the front page for updates.

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October 25th, 2009

Just a quick note to say that posting is likely to become even more sporadic than usual over the next few days/weeks as I'm having severe connectivity issues with my internet connection at home and it's unclear at this time when (or how) they'll be resolved.

Watch this space…

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January 20th, 2009

As you may have noticed, the site has been offline quite a bit over the last 48 hours. This is due to what I can only describe as a horribly botched server migration by my web host. Although they are now claiming to have fixed the most immediate problems and to have plans to reconfigure their infrastructure to prevent a recurrence of the problems of the last couple of days, I'll believe it when I see it.

All of which is to say: normal posting will resume once my web host can keep this site up for more than a couple of hours at a time. If the site goes down again, please be patient and try again in a few hours.

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Comment moderation

December 14th, 2008

There have been a few problems with comment posting over the last few days, with some comments being marked as spam incorrectly and at least two commenters reporting error messages when they try to post. I've rescued the comments in question from my spam bucket, but until I can identify the root cause of the problem I need to make some changes around here. Diagnosing the problem hasn't been made any easier by the fact that my web host has suffered intermittent down time this weekend, making it harder for me to spot what's going on between the welter of 503 errors I keep getting when trying to access the site.

As of earlier this afternoon, I've disabled Spam Karma 2, the WordPress plugin that I've been using to deal with comment spam since shortly after I switched to WordPress. Clearly I can't allow the F*ckw*t Spamming Bastards to have their way with my comments1 so I've turned on comment moderation.

What all this means, unfortunately, is that until I can either fix the problems commenters have reported over the last few days or find another automated comment moderation system that I can live with the posting of legitimate comments may will be delayed, sometimes by several hours. I can only apologise, and promise that I'll do my best to keep up with the comment moderation queue.

In the meantime, if anyone posts a comment and sees any strange error messages could they please email me and let me know the wording of the error message, or simply post a comment reporting the error.

  1. While I've been typing this post nine comments have been posted, every one of them spam.

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Spamming Bastards!

May 29th, 2008

I'll not be posting anything for a day or two, and the site may appear to go offline for a while. I've just discovered that for at least the last couple of days my WordPress installation has been hijacked by spammers who have inserted their clients' links into the footer of pages at this site and into my RSS and Atom feeds. I've found some of the code they inserted into my site, but not all, and it's clear that I need to undertake a root and branch cleaning of the site to eradicate this crap.

Unfortunately, I wont have the time to do this tonight and due to the pressures of other commitments I probably won't have time to do this tomorrow night either, so it'll be Saturday at the earliest before I post again.

Don't be surprised if my site disappears for a while pending my coming up with a long-term solution.

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Theme problem

May 25th, 2008

Regular visitors will have noticed that the site looks very different this morning. I was tinkering with my usual theme and something went horribly wrong, so until I figure out why grey-incite self-destructed at the press of a button1 I'll be using the default WordPress theme.

Edited to add: Problem resolved. For some reason the style sheet was saved as a zero byte file, so after a quick restore-from-backup followed by a couple of minor style sheet edits to tweak one or two settings it's back to normal service.

  1. By which I don't just mean that it started looking odd: I tried saving one minor change to one line of the style sheet and WordPress suddenly decided that the entire style sheet was gone and dumped me in a screen full of database errors. I'm glad I downloaded my latest set of database backups within the last 12 hours.

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New look

February 9th, 2007

I haven't got any links to post today because I've spent my evening experimenting with different themes for the site. I think I'll stick with this one, called Gray Incite, for a bit, but I've got some more tinkering to do this weekend:

  • There's too much wasted space in the page header.
  • I want to tinker with the font sizes for some page elements, such as the date displayed for each entry and the Comments and Category block that follows each post.
  • I'm not wild about the styling of hyperlinks: the theme defaults to no text-decoration at all, so you can't even tell there's a link there unless you roll your mouse over it. I changed that to an underline, but I don't like the way the underlining of the post title clashes with the line that separates the title from the post content itself. I'm toying with making links show up as bold, or possibly using a change of background colour to highlight them. Or perhaps I'll just create a different CSS class for links in post titles, so that they don't get underlined but other types of hyperlink do.

If anyone comes across any problems with the layout please leave a comment or just email me.

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Temporary outage

January 26th, 2007

If you tried to access the site over the last couple of hours the chances are you saw all sorts of bizarre error messages or half-formatted versions of the page you requested.

I decided to upgrade to WordPress 2.1 about three hours ago, only to discover to my horror once I'd already deleted a whole bunch of files that my chosen Secure FTP client couldn't cope with uploading non-empty subdirectories. (At that point I could have just restored from the last full backup without losing any content, but I'm stubborn about these things: once I'd started, I was going to finish the damned upgrade no matter how long it took.) I ended up having to upgrade my installation one empty subdirectory at a time, then fill every subdirectory with the correct files and folders, so the process took a while.

Anyway, everything has been reactivated now and at first glance I can't seen anything acting broken. If you come across anything that's not working please either post a comment or (if the problem is stopping you from posting a comment) email me and I'll get right on it tomorrow morning.

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Linky Love

December 4th, 2006

There's plenty of fine reading to be found in The List of The Best Blogs of 2006 That You (Maybe) Aren't Reading. Nobody will get something out of every single site on the list, but I'd be amazed if anyone who reads my site regularly wouldn't find at least a couple of sites worth following on that list.

I've added Pruned, History of the Button, Corpus Obscura and 3quarksdaily to my feed list; regular readers will have the pleasure of watching me pilfer links from every one of those sites for weeks to come.

[While I'm on the subject of linking to worthwhile sites, I'm acutely conscious that this site has been lacking a blogroll ever since I switched to WordPress. The primary reason – other than my laziness – is that I have yet to find a completely satisfactory way to automate the process of transferring my feed reader's subscription list to my sidebar. There are a couple of solutions that will render an OPML file and turn it into a sidebar list, but they can't cope with those sites without an RSS or Atom feed that I pick up using a Ruby script that integrates them with NetNewsWire. Seeing a list like this makes me think I really ought to redouble my efforts, because there are all sorts of sites I read every day/week but don't often post links from and I should give them the credit they deserve.]

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Back online

November 8th, 2005

Just a quick post to say that as of about two hours ago I'm back online again. Normal posting should resume tomorrow night.


Absent Without Leave

October 13th, 2005

Just a quick post (made via a BT phone kiosk) to say that due to the effects of a power surge which took out (among other things) my iMac and my DSL modem/router it will be some time before I can post here again, or even have convenient access to the internet to read comments or anyone else's site.

I'll see you all when I see you.


Change of RSS/Atom address

August 1st, 2005

Those of you who have been reading the site via my WordPress RSS/Atom feeds can ignore this post. Those of you who've been subscribed to the old feeds from my Movable Type installation are probably quite surprised to see my feed spring back to life after so long: welcome back!

I fully intended to sort out my feeds after a rather sudden forced migration from Movable Type earlier this year, but there was all sorts of work in getting WordPress up and running the way I liked it and, in short, I dropped the ball. I was reminded of this today when I posted a comment elsewhere and was greeted with surprise as the blogger in question had assumed I'd fallen silent months ago.

I've set up a "permanent redirect" on the addresses of my old RSS and Atom feeds, so some readers' newsreader software will have updated the subscription address for your chosen feed automatically, and the rest will simply continue to follow the updated feed from the old address regardless. For the record, the addresses of my 'new' feeds are as follows:

I can't apologise enough for leaving a portion of my readership dangling, waiting for word from me for months on end. I'm sure some readers simply unsubscribed (though obviously they won't be reading this!), and I can't say that I blame them.

Still, if you're one of the faithful few who've hung on all this time I suppose you could look on the bright side: you've got more than six months-worth of meaty goodness to consume if you ever get really, really bored one afternoon…


Brief silence

July 25th, 2005

Just a quick post to say that I'll not be posting again properly until Wednesday evening at the earliest.

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Comment spam onslaught

July 11th, 2005

Just a quick note to point out that for the next few days you may find the site loading a little more slowly, or that your comments are subject to a moderation process and don't get published immediately. The site has received several hundred pieces of comment spam over the last 24 hours, and from what I can gather it's not alone.

Since switching to WordPress some six months ago I've had very little comment spam to deal with, so I'm not sure what's triggered this sudden flurry of spam: perhaps the site has showed up on a list somewhere as an active weblog, or maybe someone is googling for WordPress weblogs to see if they can probe their defences. (Oddly, the vast majority of the attempts involve a comment with no URL, just a poster name which incorporates the name of the product the spammer is presumably pushing, trivially masked by the use of HTML entities.)

Whatever the reason, the database that holds my site's content is having to work that little bit harder to decide which comments to let through and which to force into moderation, so please bear with me as I experiment with Spam Karma and try to find an optimum setting that'll deflect spam without placing too much of a burden on the site's readers.


Away message

May 22nd, 2005

Just a very quick post from a BT internet kiosk to say that I won't be posting again until Monday evening at the earliest.

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May 17th, 2005

I've spent the last hour or two upgrading to WordPress 1.5.1, so things are looking a bit different around here. The look of the site and the contents of the sidebar will probably change quite a bit over the next 48 hours as I replace or upgrade various plugins and tweak (or replace) the current theme.

In the meantime, if you find any oddities in the appearance or functionality of the site, either add a comment to this post or (particularly if the problem is that comments won't work) email me.

Normal posting should resume tomorrow night, unless I find myself too engrossed in CSS tweaking or uploading just one more neat plugin to actually visit any sites to post about…

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Database errors

May 7th, 2005

Those of you who tried to visit the site over the last couple of hours or so will have noticed it was only intermittently available. This was due to some problems with the server hosting the MySQL database which holds the site's content.

The explanation given by my web hosting supplier suggests that the similar outage I noted a couple of weeks ago might also have been down to a problem with the server, which was scheduled for replacement in the next few days anyway.

Frequent, automated backups are a godsend.

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Short outage

April 24th, 2005

Some of you may have noticed that all my WordPress-hosted content disappeared in a welter of MySQL error messages some time after 01:00 (BST).

A quick restore from backup appears to have put everything back in place, so fingers crossed that it'll stay that way while I browse log files and generally try to figure out what went wrong and whether it was my fault.

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Off-site image linking

March 28th, 2005

I've just made a couple of small amendments to my site's .htaccess file to stop users on other sites from embedding images on this site in their web pages. I know I don't often post images here, but even so a few of the images I have mirrored here (specifically, an image of the poster for X-Men 2, a screencap of Jennifer Connelly from Dark City and the fake Watchmen poster) seem to attract an awful lot of hits from people who post them to bulletin boards or incorporate them into their own sites. I've no objection to anyone copying the images for re-use on their own sites – it's not as if they're my own original work anyway – but it's reached the point where the X-Men 2 poster alone accounted for just over 17% of yesterday's bandwidth usage for this site. I had to take the Watchmen poster down the other week because serving it to forums discussing the forthcoming film adaptation was accounting for some 25% of my bandwidth usage. Enough, as the saying goes, is enough.

The changes I've made shouldn't prevent users from viewing the images when they're following links from pages on this site. If anyone does find that they can't view an image on this site, they should of course go ahead and email me or post a comment here and I'll see what I can do to fix the problem.

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