Technical difficulties

In doing some routine maintenance today, one of my key plugins, Yoast SEO, started throwing error messages. Yoast issues can cause various other issues, such as new content not showing up on the front page, so this may be a problem.

Yoast’s knowledge base article isn’t helpful, just telling you to get a new web host. I’ve been hosting my own WordPress site for nearly 10 years (and another nine before that using other blogging tools) and this is the first time a plugin author has questioned my competence.

I’ve opened a ticket with Yoast. More than 50 other people have reported similar issues, so I’m thinking this one isn’t me. But at least I am able to publish new content, so I’m having fewer problems than some Yoast customers.

Integrating WordPress 3.2 with Twitter

Rich P. tells me all the cool kids use Twitter now. And that some people, instead of using RSS feeds, want to get blog updates from a Twitter feed.

I’m about four years late to that party, but I’m not ready to become a total curmudgeon yet. So I signed up for a Twitter account–I’m siliconundergro, or is that #siliconundergro? Or @siliconundergro?–and spent a little while figuring out how to get WordPress to talk to it.

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Top posts of 2010: A retrospective

I don’t normally do this, but then again, I’ve never had these kinds of statistics at my disposal either. So I’m going to take a minute to look back at the most popular posts of 2010, and pontificate a little about what I think each one might mean.

I really only have good statistics since October, so it’s a little unfair, but incomplete stats are better than none. I see some interesting patterns in what people ended up reading, some of it surprising, some less so.

We’ll take it from the top, rather than like a DJ.

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Fixing my b0rken WordPress installation

A little over a week ago, WordPress started acting weird. First, it just got dog slow. Then my site stats page started freezing until I scrolled down and then back up again. Then I started seeing a WordPress.com logon screen on my site stats page. I had to look that account up. Thank goodness for Gmail. Then my Akismet spam filter quit working. Then my stats page stopped working entirely.

I lived with it for a couple of days. I figured maybe WordPress and Akismet had changed something. Or maybe my Linux distribution had. And maybe some update messed things up, and some other update would come along and fix it. No such luck. Read more

Sorry about earlier

This site was down most of the day. The storms that hit the midwest today didn’t do a lot of damage in my neighborhood, but they did cause some power hiccups after I left for work, and my network didn’t completely recover on its own. I had to pick up the pieces when I got home for the day.

Such are the perils of running a site on a budget, at home.

Tagged!

I’ve only wanted tags for about 10 years. Tags are little keywords you can use to help categorize blog posts. And the first blog I ever saw use them used them liberally. You’d read a post, and at the bottom, there were links to similar posts.

I found a way to make WordPress automatically tag all 1800+ posts here. Many of the tags are nonsensical, but they seem to work. I’m finding all sorts of related content all of a sudden. Which makes sense, seeing as I tend to write about maybe 20 different things over and over. Due to the many migrations I’ve made with this blog, much of my content was never categorized, let alone anything else. Now it’s all cross-referenced. Finding related content is easy. Depending on the age of the related content, it’s not always enlightening, but often it is.

So I hope you like it. I know I do. Suddenly it’s far, far easier for me to find stuff on my own blog. And I wrote all this stuff. If I didn’t know it was all there, then how will anyone else?

And we have safely arrived in the 21st century.

It wasn’t the smoothest of transitions, but it went a whole lot better than it could have. I’ve moved the venerable Silicon Underground, with its nearly 1,800 posts spanning a little over a decade, to WordPress 3.0.1.

This blog’s been pretty stale for a long time. Some of that is due to the software. Some of it’s my fault. Blogging software has really advanced a lot in the last few years, and the software I’ve been using since 2004 was a bit behind the curve even then. In its defense, in 2004 nothing could do everything I wanted, and the system I chose was one of the few that required login and authentication, which I desperately needed in order to stop spam. But then registration broke, and I didn’t fix it, which meant only longtime readers could comment.

For commenting, we’re going back to username and e-mail address with optional URL, and with some spam analysis tools hopefully filtering out the spam. Users are moderated until their second comment, which will help take care of the trolls. Comments containing multiple hyperlinks automatically go to moderation. And comments will be closed after some period of time, probably 14 days. Discussions usually go downhill as time goes on.

Will I post more now that it’s easier? Probably.

Modern blogs can interact with one another; mine was always an island. Now I can trackback and pingback like everyone else, which will probably prove useful.

I’m sure I’ll be making changes for a while, but this is a big improvement.

I’d like to thank Steve D. and Rich P. (you know who you are) for their help with the migration. It only took me what, three years to go through with it? Four? And then it ended up taking about two hours of real work, if that, spread out over the course of a couple of weeks.

In case anyone\’s wondering why I don\’t run an open forum anymore…

I think David Pogue sums up what’s wrong with online etiquette pretty well.I know I got sick and tired of ducking rocks from anonymous know-it-alls. That irritated me as much as spam. My blog is a hobby. It brings in a little bit of money, but I’m not sure that the money covers the increase in my electric bill. I run my blog because I enjoy writing and because I’ve found a shortage of some types of useful information, so I tried to remedy that shortage when and where I could.

So I started requiring registration. In the process I pretty much ruined the blog, because I ditched b2 in favor of the software I’m using now. Of course, a few months after I made that change, b2 evolved into the lovely and wonderful WordPress, which now everyone and his brother is using.

Then Southwestern Bell started blocking SMTP traffic, preventing my software from sending out registration notices. There’s a workaround out there for that, but I still haven’t convinced myself, two years after I became aware of the problem, that it’s worth fixing. I’m sure I’m losing readership because people who want to be able to sign in and comment can’t, but I find I rather enjoy not having to deal with idiots. The dozen or so people who are left are nice people who say intelligent things.

Don’t get me wrong, I deal with some rude and poor-intentioned people at work. The rudest and most difficult, not coincidentally, are the people I’ve never seen but only spoken with over the phone and e-mail. But even they control what they say a little bit. There’s always the danger that we’ll run into each other someday, after all.

I remember about seven years ago when I wrote something that made the front page of Linux Today. It was a thrill. I even ended up exchanging e-mail with the president of Mandrake, and some suggestions I made for features found their way into later versions of that Linux distribution. Those were fun times.

What goes through my head when I realize that I’ll never make the front page of Digg?

One word: Good.

I still love to write, and I may have even figured out how to make enough money writing to make it worth my while to write regularly again. To be honest, right now I don’t have time to write regularly, but when it’s worthwhile, I can always find ways to make time.

Blogging fits into that equation, so I guess sometime between now and then, I’ll have to figure out some way to deal with the trolls.

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