Fix It Until It Breaks

The deeper I got into the site the more wasn’t working and I was finding stuff no one had found before. It’s not supposed to be like this.

screengrab-blog-redesign.jpgIt’s been like performing dentistry on myself! The goal was to make my life simpler by developing the new look for my website on a server installed on my desktop PC then move it to a commercial server when finished. Maybe it will be easier. It hasn’t been so far!

When I went to move it off the desktop machine to its final resting place the site responded with an error message. Later it was the “white screen of death.” Finally I could see the home page but all links, even links to log in, were dead!

These are the times that try men’s souls. I had achieved Helaine’s oft spoken fear when I delve too deeply. I’d fixed it to the point of breaking it!

In an earlier entry the subject of the “WordPress Community” came up. WordPress is the platform on which the new site will be built. The community was there for me tonight, though not in the flesh. There is a treasure trove of archived forum posts online.
If something can be broken it already has been! I was able to go to school on other poor schlubs.

I wrote what you just read around 3:30 am. Before I could start patting myself on the back things broke so badly I had to stop writing. I didn’t get to bed until nearly 6:00 am.

It’s now after 1:00 pm. Where were we?

The deeper I got into the site the more wasn’t working and I was finding stuff broken no one had found before! It’s not supposed to be like this.

I started deleting plug-ins, which add functionality. That’s the typical response to this kind of problem and it usually works. Not here.
I will spare you my tooth gnashing. The problem seems to be a version of php, a programming language critical to blogging (and other dynamic sites). The blog was built with php5, the current version. My web host offers php5, but defaults to php4. They are not the same–think Latin and Pig Latin.

Worse still, when I finally found and put in the fix (the line “AddType x-mapp-php5 .php” was inserted in a hidden file called .htaccess) I left out the space between php5 and .php! Now the site was so dead I couldn’t even get to the administration screens!
It’s all fixed now and the site is up, but hidden in plain site at a different web address for the time being. There are still cosmetic fixes that need to be made. Sometimes text gets larger and smaller for no apparent reason. Mostly though I accomplished what I set out to do and I hardly pulled out any hair.

The new look debuts this weekend–maybe.

Under Attack

That happened this evening with a DDOS or distributed denial of service attack. disappeared from the Internet for an hour or so.

My web host has lots of different sites on this server. Unfortunately all the tenants suffer if the server comes under attack. That happened this evening with a DDOS or distributed denial of service attack. disappeared from the Internet for an hour or so.

In a DDOS the website is blasted with much more traffic than it can handle. The traffic comes from multiple sources at once–that’s the distributed part. The attackers are often unprotected PCs turned into zombies. The owner of the PC might not notice anything except his computer’s a little slower.

There’s nothing I can do. There’s not much my host can do either. The DDOS might be random, or possibly someone’s upset with one of my server neighbors. It might even be an extortion plot against someone. I’ll never know.

Hopefully whatever it was has run its course and gone away. Hopefully.

Sent Me E-Mail Recently?

Since heading to Las Vegas, my incoming email has has trickled to a dribble. I can’t tell what ‘real’ mail is missing, if any, but my dozens of daily spams have stopped!

My web host, Host4Web, has just switched to a new mail system. Uh oh.

I went to their chat site to get the bird’s eye lowdown on this caper, whatever that means.

Please wait for a site operator to respond.

Thank you for contacting HostForWeb Live Support, my name is Gavin R, how can I assist you today?

Gavin R: Welcome to HostForWeb Inc. How can I help you today?

Geoff: Hi Gavin –

Geoff: Since the switchover to the new mail server,

Geoff: my incoming mail has drastically dropped off


Geoff: longmont

Geoff: is there any way to turn the filtering off?

Gavin R: Yes

Gavin R: Log into your cpanel

Gavin R: And make sure that SpamAssasin is not enabled

Geoff: I’m there

Geoff: it is not

Geoff: SpamAssassin is currently: Disabled Spam Box is currently: Disabled

Geoff: I usually get dozens of spams a day. I am getting nearly none

Geoff: and my ‘real’ mail has also slacked off

Geoff: I’d rather continue to filter for myself

Gavin R: I see

Gavin R: We don’t filter

Gavin R: We have some validation techniques on our servers

Gavin R: But that won’t affect real mail

Hmmm… validation techniques. That worries me. No spam filter is perfect, and I worry about false positives – good mail that gets stopped.

If you have send me email recently and haven’t gotten a response you expected, please let me know. Here’s an alternate address to use.

Isabel Show and Tell

It’s not live on this site yet, but I do produce some hourly, weekly, monthly and yearly graphs showing temperature, dew point and wind speed.

I didn’t set up in time to get the Carolinas, but I do have some interesting wind readings.

The times are CDT because my web host decided, when my machine was restored, to restore it to CDT instead of EDT. I will fix that later.

On these graphs, the lines from top-to bottom are: temperature, dew point and then wind.