Site Updates: March 2009

Some new updates to the site have gone into affect. I don't know how often people frequent the downloads area but that's where most of the work has been done recently. I have expanded the category listings to show summary pages for the files which are uploaded. These can contain thumbnail previews of the content as well. It seems to be working ok for the moment. Which leads to the next issue.

In the process of consolidating comment code into one place for reuse in other modules, it appears I made a booboo in handling comments for non-members. The Akismet check was trying to act on a variable which no longer exists and thus any non-member comments were dying before they got posted. Or at least I think they were since I got the error emails and that normally won't happen if the page survives the exception checks in the code.

The downloads area and the gallery are both undergoing other changes too which are going to result in some funny looking layouts. I got bored with looking at the CSS. They function but look less than nice right now. I'll get there though. There may also be more bugs lurking so if you see something clearly broken and don't get a nasty error screen, let me know.
.........................
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil

Well. I guess that's that then.

       
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Posted on Mar 19, 2009 5:40 pm by Samson in: | 19 comment(s) [Closed]
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I'll watch for any of those bugs to let you know about them

As for the akismet, there are definitely times when having it block all anonymous comments for manual review might actually be an improvement. ;)

       
The comments weren't being held for manual review though. The site errored, the comments were lost. It didn't even get noticed until last night because everyone who has commented on something since I hacked up the code is a member :P

       
Oh, well that's a little different.. in that case: oops! ;D

       
So. Right about now anyone who is paying attention will note I've replied to a months old post that should be closed now. If all has gone right that's because I've now made it possible for registered members to reply to any post, regardless of age. Hopefully the existing registration security is enough to keep spambots from taking advantage but if they do I can always bump the privilege up to only be accessible to privileged members.

The only exception to this being posts which have been manually forced closed for whatever reason, such as the MudBytes Backstabbers post. Those will remain closed to all.

       
Sounds like a pretty good modification to me. :)

       
Sandbox is the blog software? If so i should check it out as im thinking of starting a blog of my own to share my gaming experiences while playing Eve Online, which is where i have been a lot lately, anywho hi all and bye. In the mean time i will wait for Samon's blog on the Copenhagen Summit. LOL.

       
Heh. You may be waiting awhile on the Summit blog since I haven't really been paying attention to what the Obamassiah is up to there. Unless you mean the hacked email thing :)

And one of these days I suppose I otta package up where this software is at and release it. The previously available package got left in the dust awhile back and probably wouldn't be worth using anywhere.

       
Unless you mean the hacked email thing :)


Actually im totally out of the loop with MB and all its happenings, its been about 4 weeks since i proxied in there to see whats going on and its been even longer since i trolled Crat or had much to do with anything or anyone from muds, all i know about it is from the very brief and accidental re-opening of the MB thread here.

I was talking about the actual summit, seeing that its plastered all over every bit of news i thought it might make your radar and become an Iguanadons worthy topic. I dont think there will be any Obamassiah at Copenhagen, i got a sneaking suspicion that its going to be the Chinese who steal the show.

Back on topic, you will have to make a nice fresh package of the blog software for me to use then if the old one is crud, i dont really want to use something heavy weight when all i need is something light and simple.

Anywho Peace Out All.

       
I'm easily as out of the loop on the mud stuff, sadly, since I've been stuck out of town for the last three weeks.

I hadn't really heard that much about the summit either beyond that the Chinese had somebody who was going to be there. Lately I'd been hearing (reading) more about Roman Polanski in the news, not that I care in the least about him either.

Actually, Fury, the original Sandbox wasn't really bad, it just lacked a lot of the nifty changes Samson's made to his personal copy of it, kind of like a copy of Smaug versus a copy of AFK. ;) As for heavy weight, well, honestly I expect that Samson's version of Sandbox is probably the heavier weight of the two, but it does also have a lot of fixes and very nice additions that are probably well worth having. I had switched from Sandbox to QSFP for my own blog site quite awhile back (talk about heavy weight), but I've still got my copy of Sandbox installed and running and I even occasionally go back and play with it but there haven't been any official updates to it since Kiasyn kinda lost interest in it.

       
Actually the hacked email thing was referring to the leaked emails from the global warming scientists which are making a lot of hay right now due to the admissions in some of them that the whole thing is a complete scam. I'm surprised that hasn't gained enough attention to get noticed down where you are. I don't give a rat's ass what goes on at the Summit, that's just routine political junk. The emails though, that's a juicy topic and one worthy of mention here at some point.

I'll definitely have to make the current blog package available. Even if I'd rather wait on overhauling the back end interface. Other people have asked about it which indicates there's at least a small amount of public interest again. Kiasyn hasn't done anything with it since way before I started tinkering. You know how he is. Jumps into a big project and then loses interest partway in. He's left behind a whole lot of stragglers for all sorts of things.

       
Oh, wow, somehow I missed that one. Nice to hear that the truth is finally coming to light though.

I'd download a copy to play with. :)
The sad part is that he's really quite good so a lot of those stragglers were pretty good ideas that never quite saw completion. *shrug*

       
Once more I've been prodding.

The observant will notice now that images which get comments will start showing up in the recent comments box. That doesn't happen often, and I think partly because nobody really looks there much, but in case someone has something to say, you'll see it now.

The even more observant will note that in various places where image thumbnails are displayed, any with comments will indicate this with a number following the caption. Like (2) or (4). I don't want to make it too big, or try to stuff it onto another line so that'll have to do for now.

The 3rd tweak is behind the scenes. I added a DB table and interface to handle the random quotes up at the top of the page. Eliminating the static PHP file I was using, which was prone to errors. It also lets me take advantage of Firefox's spellchecker. I'll probably toss up a link somewhere soon where the curious can poke it to see the entire list of random quotes I've assembled, 76 in all so far.

And you might also notice the title on this post was changed. I'm going to look into doing the query by title when friendly URLs are in use, rather than through regex parsing at the Apache level. Supposedly making Apache do all the work is a bad thing.

       
I think I knew that one could comment on images, but had forgotten all about it since it happens so infrequently. Are you going to add them to the comments rss feed too now that you've added them to the recent comments box?

That sounds like a pretty reasonable caption addition, as long as none of your M$ slave friends (er, Windows using friends) mistake it for meaning that it's the second/fourth (to follow your example) copy of that image.

Sounds like a nice addition too, especially the link to the full list. How easily can you add to that list? (I have several thousand old taglines in files floating around my hard drive from the days when email was sent by fido that I'd be happy to share...)

I never really did quite get why it was considered a bad thing to make Apache do its job rather than shunting the load to SQL, but if it offers some level of improvement with little effort then I suppose it's a good idea.

       
Well apparently it's because URL rewriting is an intensive task, and if you keep asking it to do that repeatedly it causes a drain on resources. Which from what I can gather doesn't seem to bother the SQL server at all. So if there's a way to remove that barrier, why not?

Adding things to the quotes list is ridiculously easy. Though there's no method for adding thousands of them at once :P

       
Guess it's not something I've ever done enough to notice the difference on resource usage, but I can't argue the logic. If it doesn't take that much to fix, and you know how to fix it, you might as well.

Ah, perhaps that's a good argument for the older flat file method instead then.. on the other hand, once you've switched them over to the database table, couldn't you just do an import to the table from a flat file as long as each one was on a separate line? As fun as it was back in the late 80s and early 90s collecting them, I really don't think I'd want to manually retype them all either. *L* On the plus side, because they were all meant to be email signature taglines, they're all something like 76 characters or less each, so putting them all into a single file with one per line would be easy enough. On the other hand, some of them probably contain ansi characters other than standard alphanumeric and I don't know how well SQL deals with those. *shrug*

       
Well in my case the static file was a hackish PHP module that I added a line to each time I wanted a new quote. It was starting to get unwieldy, and didn't handle typos well, especially where quotes and apostrophes were concerned. Entering them through the AdminCP is less prone to stupid mistakes because the code will format everything nice and neat for storage in the DB.

Now then. I promised people RSS updates and have now delivered. They were rather broken before but should be working as I want them now. Check em out and let me know if anything goes weird. Firefox, Opera 10, and IE 8 all seem to be happy.

       
Ah, but you're still talking about adding them manually via the administrative control panel, I was thinking, especially for a bulk addition, of just using something like phpMyAdmin to import the whole batch at once from a simple text file (that you'd ideally already spell-checked in something else). Though for just adding a single new entry to the table (or even just a small handful of them at a time, I can definitely appreciate the benefits of being able to add them through the AdminCP).. does it also sort the list once you've added a new entry for you so you can find them all alphabetically or some such, or do they just stay in entered order?

I didn't know that there was a problem with the RSS updates before, they appear to still be working as always to me in Opera 10.10. Maybe if I knew what had been wrong with them, I could tell you if it appears to have been fixed, but without that knowledge I'll just have to take your word for it that something changed about them.

       
Broken as in not producing a valid feed, so if you're seeing it, it's working fine :)

No, the listing on the ACP isn't sorted other than showing the most recent addition first. Alphabetic sorting of the list wouldn't really be all that helpful.

As far as adding thousands to the list, I doubt I'd really want to do that as I've spotted info around the net about the SQL RAND() query being a resource hog on a large table. Right now it's nothing because it's a small table. Though I strongly suspect the people bitching about the performance don't know what they're talking about in this case or are using it on systems with limited resources anyway.

       
Hmm, the only change I'd noticed with the RSS updates over the last few months or so has been the addition (today or yesterday) of comments to images, but I'd been getting the feed very regularly for quite some time now without fail. In fact, it's how I've known when there were new posts/comments to read, especially with the slew you'd gotten from the mudbytes blog post. (It's also how I'd chosen to "bookmark" Dwip's and your comments regarding what to get for Oblivion, in Opera I've got it set to only display unread RSS entries so I just marked those comment entries as unread.)

I suppose if that works best for you. I was thinking that, if you had more than a few dozen it'd be helpful to be able to sort them alphabetically so it'd be easier to spot duplicate entries. (That's what I used to do with my tagline files when I was still collecting them, I'd sort the whole list alphabetically (my email client added them randomly or by specific selection anyway) and see if anything doubled up on me.)

I can't imagine, even with a couple of thousand (in fact, even with 32k) entries in the list that SQL RAND() should be that big a resource issue.. on the other hand, I suppose if you got enough hits and enough entries for it to randomize for each hit, eventually it could become one.. I'd just think you'd need to be working with much larger tables and a much wider audience for it to really matter... Either way, I imagine many of the old taglines wouldn't be as amusing now that they're so outdated anyway, so I could easily see quickly parsing the file down to a couple hundred or so... I'll have to give it a try once you release the updated version of Samson's modifications to Sandbox and let you know if it really has a significant impact. (Install the Sandbox and add maybe a hundred entries and run it for a few days (or at least hours) to record the resource strain then add the rest and see how much heavier it seems to get. In fact, just for the sake of stress testing, maybe even add the whole lot a few times over specifically as duplicates just to push the total entry count up and see what that does to the resource monitor too.)

       
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