Willow Quotes

That was a quote from Willow Rosenberg, btw; it’s evil Willow from the “third season”:http://www.tvtome.com/tvtome/servlet/EpisodeGuideSummary/showid-10/season-3/ episode “The Wish”:http://www.tvtome.com/tvtome/servlet/GuidePageServlet/showid-10/epid-43/ . It goes with “This is the part that’s less fun. When there isn’t any screaming.” :-)

There’s a Willow fan site titled “Bored Now”:http://www.borednow.envy.nu/, and I found sound clips at “Willow Sounds”:http://dogwood.phpwebhosting.com/~tvshrine/willow.htm.

posted at 9:35 am on Thursday, February 12, 2004 in Site News | Comments Off on Willow Quotes


“Bored now.”:http://blog.cfrq.net/chk/archives/000233.html

posted at 9:53 pm on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 in Site News | Comments (6)
  1. David Brake says:

    Sorry it’s boring you – what would make it exciting? More comments? ;-)

  2. Greg Wilson says:

    For twenty-five points, what 80s pop lyricist wrote:

    “Life was easier when it was boring.”

    As for “bored now”, yeah, I think blogs need to scratch an itch. Raymond Chen keeps writing “The Old New Thing” to explore how we got here (where “here” is the current tangle of Microsoft technologies). Jon udell blogs because he gets paid to write about the bleeding edge, and the only way to do that is to play there. Miles Thibault (student of mine at U of T) has just started a blog (on my orders) where he’ll write about his explorations of C-Python’s implementation, and so on. So, what’s your itch?

  3. Debbie says:

    (The Following Is A Completely Unedited Response Dictated Through Viavoice; Lack Of Editing Was Prompted By The Unfortunate Discovery That “Press Delete” Is Sometimes Misinterpreted As “Press Escape”, Which In Livejournal And Mt Comments Has Disastrous Consequences. Apologies In Advance For Incomprehensibility. )

    Now that was interesting; why would ViaVoice capitalize that macro?

    Anyway, I’ve been blocking for about seven years knell endive fine to the my interest comes and goes. I have found that adding photos makes it more interesting for me, as well as giving myself an assignment topic.

    For me, however, one of the major incentives (before my tendinitis made it hard to write as quickly as I think because I have to use ViaVoice) Was to improve my writing and my ability to write even when I didn’t feel like writing. the latter is an extremely useful skill for someone who writes for a living, especially magazine writing.

    what are your favorite kinds of entries, the ones you most in choy writing? Perhaps you could focus on those kinds of entries.

    Wow, I have no idea how much of the above is going to be understandable. :-)

  4. Debbie Ohi says:

    Apologies for this completely contentless comment whose sole purpose is to enable me to enter my correct personal posting information for future use.

  5. Debbie Ohi says:

    and of course I entered it incorrectly. Here’s another attempt.

  6. Debbie Ohi says:

    While were on the topic of movable type comments, have you had any problems with spam postings in your comment sections (not counting mine, of course :-)). I’m starting to encounter them more, comments masquerading as actual remarks about my blog, but in truth are just links to commercial sites.

Minor redesign

A couple of recent weblog entries finally inspired me to get a round tuit and make the text on my site resizable. I’m also playing with CSS image replacement techniques to bring you the sunrise (set?) banner. The old pretty borders with offset text boxes were fun to lay out, but I’m bored with them now so I’ve removed most of the borders in this revision. Finally, I was tired of having separate “layout” and “colour with layout” stylesheets, so I’ve collapsed them back into one file.

* “Full Page Zoom”:http://simon.incutio.com/archive/2003/11/09/fullPageZoom gave me the idea to use box sizes and margins in ems instead of pixels. The min-width: attribute on the sidebar works in Mozilla (to truncate the little graph) but fails miserably in IE 6, so don’t make your fonts too small.

* “font size rounding”:http://www.nedbatchelder.com/blog/20031118T075030.html gave me the trick I needed to make the font sizing the same in IE and Firebird.

posted at 1:11 pm on Saturday, November 22, 2003 in Site News | Comments (1)
  1. joy says:

    ooh ooh I like the new title image. It rocks! (Canadian of course ;-P )

Comments RSS feed

I’ve implemented a comments RSS feed, should anyone want to see reader comments to my weblog…


Enjoy :-)

posted at 3:46 pm on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 in Site News | Comments Off on Comments RSS feed

Welcome, Greg

“Greg Wilson”:http://www.third-bit.com/~gvwilson/ now has a “weblog”:http://www.third-bit.com/~gvwilson/blog/.

posted at 10:47 pm on Friday, November 14, 2003 in Site News | Comments Off on Welcome, Greg

Excellent Service

Late on Thursday afternoon I strolled off to Maxtor’s warranty website, entered the particulars of the failed drive, and requested that they send me a replacement right away. I did it this way so that they would ship me the new drive in an “official” drive box so that I can return the failed on the same way.

On Friday, the RMA tracking website claimed that my new drive would ship within the next two business days. “Pretty good”, though I, as I was expecting a longer turnaround.

Well, the new drive arrived this morning. I’m impressed…

posted at 7:01 pm on Monday, November 03, 2003 in Site News | Comments Off on Excellent Service


At about 8:30 AM on Thursday October 30th, the hard drive failed. It was reporting itself on the bus, but with a garbage manufacturer string and a size of 0; not terribly useful.

Fortunately, I had a backup; I use rsync to keep a copy of the server filesystems on a machine at home. I even had to restart the backup by hand on Wednesday morning, so we only lost about 24 hours worth of stuff (the Thursday morning backup was still in its early stages when the disk crashed).

Unfortunately, I lost all of my MySQL databases. Most of them are replaceable, but it’s still annoying. It seems that @mysqlhotcopy@ “knows” that a list of tables fetched from the database is not quoted, so it does quoting itself. Unfortunately, a newer version of MySQL (or @DBD::mysql@) appears to be quoting table names. Net result:

bq. DBD::mysql::db do failed: You have an error in your SQL syntax near ‘` READ, `apachelogs`.“access_blog_org“ READ, `apachelogs`.“access_fywss_com“’ at line 1 at /usr/bin/mysqlhotcopy line 438

So, no MySQL backups… *sigh.

Anyway, 40Gb drives were on sale at ICCT, so I ran out last night and picked one up, restored the backup, and replaced it in the server this morning. The old drive is about 15 months old and is still under warranty; Maxtor is sending me a replacement even as we speak, so I’ll end up with a spare drive at the end of this whole mess.

Moral: keep good backups :-)

*Update*: There’s some evidence that the last complete backup was actually on the 26th of October. I’ll have to investigate, because I know it’s been _running_ every day since then…

posted at 2:07 pm on Friday, October 31, 2003 in Site News | Comments Off on Crash!


So I patched my MovableType and set up the cron job to use “mt-publish-on”:http://www.mplode.com/tima/archives/000324.html. It runs, and switches the state on my articles from “Future” to “Publish”, but never actually publishes them (the content pages remain unchanged). I haven’t done much debugging yet, other than to figure out that mt-publish-on really does call the same MovableType functions that are used internally to publish new pages… *sigh.

posted at 10:08 am on Sunday, October 26, 2003 in Site News | Comments Off on mt-publish-on


If you can read this, It means two things. First, that my Movable Type setup can cut ‘n’ paste UTF-8 strings, and second that your reader works with my UTF-8 blog.

# Ħäřáŀđ Ķòċĥ (eight-bit, upper code page)
# Наяаλδ Κόςн (multi-byte)

Inspired by “Ned Batchelder”:http://www.nedbatchelder.com/blog/200310.html#e20031017T081251.

posted at 4:05 pm on Friday, October 17, 2003 in Site News | Comments (1)
  1. joy says:

    It works in Safari.

Comments SPAM interlock

So another comment spammer took down my server this weekend. It seems that it takes Movable Type over 8 seconds to rebuild the blog.org pages after a comment has been posted (the category pages are large, and get re-written to update the comment count in the summary). If a spammer tries POSTing to several comments pages at the same time, or does so over a relatively short period of time, I get a whole bunch of mt-comments.cgi scripts running simultaneously.

At 8Mb (of working memory) each, it doesn’t take long for them to max out the memory on my wimpy 128Mb box, at which point paging starts, slowing everything down and making the problem worse. As more HTTP requests show up, and cron scripts run, the box starts thrashing (i.e. spending all of its resources moving pages in and out instead of accomplishing useful work). I couldn’t even SSH into the box; the SSH negotiation was timing out after a few minutes.

Usually I have to ask my host to physically reset the server, but this time it was a long weekend. Fortunately I had a remote shell lying around. But it took two _days_ to run su, type my password, and kill off the offending httpd and mt-comments.cgi processes. In the meantime, many other important daemons had been killed due to out-of-memory, and the box was completely ignoring web requests and e-mail sessions; in short, the machine was a mess.

MT-Blacklist is due out today, and I intend to install it, but it won’t help this problem; by the time mt-comments.cgi is being exec()ed, it’s already too late.

So instead I wrote a simple locking wrapper for mt-comments.cgi. It’s in C, so it’s tiny (working memory is 306Kb instead of 8Mb; still way too large, but much better). It grabs a lock file before running mt-comments.cgi, so that only one instance is running at a given time. I’m hoping this will prevent the box from falling off the ‘net the _next_ time a comment spammer shows up.

I’ve also dropped the value of MaxClients in my Apache config, to prevent too many simultanous Apache processes from starting up (since this will also eat the virtual memory system for breakfast).

I wish there was a better way to do load shedding in this context, but I can’t think of one off-hand…

posted at 12:24 pm on Tuesday, October 14, 2003 in Site News | Comments (2)
  1. joy says:

    Sorry to hear about the comment spammer… I was wondering what happened to the box though.

    About MT Blacklist, it appears to work before the mt.cgi is executed in that it checks material in the posting before the posting occurrs. It also halts the posting if there are hyperlinks to dubious sounding Web pages.

  2. Ginger says:

    I was wondering what happened to you. You weren’t here when I checked in Monday.

    I dread the same thing happening to whiterose. You’ll have to keep us posted on how well your spam-combatting measures are working.

RSS + XML trick

“Russell Beattie”:http://www.russellbeattie.com/notebook/” blogged about an “XML + XSL Trick”:http://www.russellbeattie.com/notebook/1004309.html to convert RSS feeds into something that renders readably in modern browsers.

I decided to “try it out”:http://blog.cfrq.net/chk/index.rdf, and discovered in the process just how picky XML is; I had to change my SmartyPants installation to output UTF-8 sequences instead of “HTML Entities”:http://www.htmlhelp.com/reference/html40/entities/. I stopped there; although I intended to see if I could modify the “rss2html.xsl”:http://blogl.cfrq.net/chk/rss2html.xsl script to work for RSS 2.0, I never found the time…

posted at 9:48 pm on Friday, October 10, 2003 in Site News | Comments Off on RSS + XML trick

Eudora SSL help

I’ve updated my “SSL Help Pages”:http://www.cfrq.net/ssl/ to include a description of the steps required to get Outlook Express and Eudora to work with the SSL-protected mailservers here.

The Eudora configuration is a little ugly; there’s a buglet in Eudora’s TLS implementation that means you have to force Eudora to use SSL 3.0, and doing so requires editing the eudora.ini file :-). Also, Eudora can’t configure certificate trust settings until _after_ you attempt-but-fail an SSL negotiation, so you have to stand on your head a bit.

Anyway, the new page is “Eudora SSL Help”:http://www.cfrq.net/ssl/eudora.html. some people might find it useful for connecting to other SSL-enabled mailservers using Eudora.

(After I wrote the page I found another similar page, with similar screen shots, over at “Oxford’s FMRIB”:http://www.fmrib.ox.ac.uk/computing/docs/mailclients/eudora.html. Honest, I wrote mine -first- +before I read theirs+ :-)

posted at 7:43 pm on Wednesday, October 08, 2003 in Site News | Comments Off on Eudora SSL help

We’re back…

A small network reconfiguration at our host site knocked the server off the air on Saturday afternoon, For many different (entirely reasonable) reasons we couldn’t restore service until Monday night.

We’re back now, though.

posted at 9:30 am on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 in Site News | Comments Off on We’re back…

XML Stylesheet and UTF-8

I saw “Russell’s post”:http://www.russellbeattie.com/notebook/1004309.html that discussed adding an XSL stylesheet to the site RSS feed, so that people who click on it get a pretty display instead of the ugly raw XML.

In the process of copying this to my blog, I re-discovered that “SmartyPants”:http://daringfireball.net/projects/smartypants/ was spitting out “HTML entities”:http://www.htmlhelp.com/reference/html40/entities/ in decimal, which look ugly in XML. (HTML entities in their text form don’t look any better). My blog has been XHTML and UTF-8 since I started reading “dive into mark”:http://www.diveintomark.org, so I modified my copy of SmartyPants to spit out UTF-8 sequences instead of HTML entities. In the process, I had to:

* turn off HTML entity processing by movable type, by setting @NoHTMLEntities 1@ in @mt.cfg@. Otherwise HTML::Entities was converting my UTF-8 sequences back into HTML entities…
* explicity set my movable type charset to utf8 (set @PublishCharset@ in @mt.cfg@). This gets used in the Movable Type edit pages, so I can now paste non-ASCII characters into entries and have them come out the other end as UTF-8, instead of as the raw ISO 8859-1 bytes (which aren’t valid UTF-8 characters).
* get rid of a couple of leftover @”charset=iso-8859-1″@ tags in my templates.

Only the “RSS 1.0 feed”:/chk/index.rdf works so far; I don’t have a corresponding XSL stylesheet for RSS 2.0…

posted at 8:06 pm on Thursday, September 18, 2003 in Site News | Comments Off on XML Stylesheet and UTF-8

Comment SPAM

Interesting log entries: - - [31/Aug/2003:04:33:37 -0400] "GET /chk/archives/20030205152634.html" - - [31/Aug/2003:04:35:23 -0400] "POST /chk/cgi/mt-comments.cgi" - - [31/Aug/2003:04:45:06 -0400] "POST /chk/cgi/mt-comments.cgi" - - [31/Aug/2003:04:45:10 -0400] "GET /chk/archives/000203.html"

It took almost two minutes for some loser to type the latest pr0n-based comments spam into my comments form and post it, then s/he spent 9 minutes previewing the comment before saving it? Yeesh.

I would have been much less surprised if it had all happened in seconds; Given the initial Google search for “blog 2003 august Name: Email Address: URL: Comments:“, it would be trivially easy to automate posting a comment via movabletype’s CGI interface. I suppose I should be happy that it isn’t automated; I’d have to then write the corresponding automated delete tool… *sigh.

It probably doesn’t matter, but <PLONK> regardless.

posted at 11:41 am on Sunday, August 31, 2003 in Site News | Comments Off on Comment SPAM

site traffic 2

I’ve knocked off 9K, or about 1/3rd, of the size of an average blog entry. I reduced my blogroll somewhat (mainly, I ditched all the A-list blogs that _everyone_ lists :-), I took out the wordcount stuff, and I dumped all the silly icons. It seems to be making a difference, although it’s a little early to tell.

I don’t know why I care, really; “roomie’s blog”:http://blog.org/ is pushing 50Mb/day with his 100Kb category archives :-) Still, a little efficiency here and there never hurts…

posted at 8:12 pm on Friday, August 29, 2003 in Site News | Comments Off on site traffic 2

Site Traffic

In the last week my blog traffic has gone from a sedate 4Mb/day to an average of 16Mb per day, with a peak last Thursday of 32Mb. A quick perusal of the logs shows that “this entry”:http://blog.cfrq.net/chk/archives/2003/08/17/blackout-satellite-images/ is extremely popular; it’s on the first page of Google for several obvious search terms. (My weblog is on the first page for several other interesting search terms too; I wonder what I’m doing to drive this?)

Anyway, while I was investigating, I looked at the per-page byte counts, using my nifty “MySQL-based Apache logs”:http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/000407.html, and I discovered that an empty weblog posting here is around 26Kb in size! This is due to the sidebar (mainly the blogroll and the total word count), and then the HTML overhead. By the time you add in all of those little buttons, the byte count doubles.

Yikes! It’s a good thing that html compresses well, and that most browsers speak gzip; I have “mod_gzip”:http://webcompression.org/ installed, so the actual bytes_sent value is around 8K for most entries not including the buttons). I think it may be time to do some trimming.

There are some easy tricks that’ll get me 25% or so; remove the (superfluous) buttons; the humour is getting old anyway. Change or remove the total wordcount stuff, and trim the blogroll.

One gross hack would be to use frames, evil though they are; then most visitors would download the sidebar only when it changed, instead of for every entry. I don’t think that’ll really help much, since most of my traffic seems to be Google driven. Naughty googlers they are, too; the top traffic generators (after “blackout satellite pictures”) are still:

* “Female Nudity”:http://blog.cfrq.net/chk/archives/2003/01/06/female-nudity/
* “Trends in Playboy Models”:http://blog.cfrq.net/chk/archives/2002/12/20/trends-in-playboy-models/

Strangely, they’ve switched places from “the last time I looked”:http://blog.cfrq.net/chk/archives/2003/02/20/proving-once-again-that-its-all-porn-and-money/.

Anyway, I’m not too worried at this point. Even 16Mb/day isn’t much; we’re doing 8Mb/day of SMTP traffic in each direction…

posted at 4:52 pm on Thursday, August 28, 2003 in Site News | Comments (1)
  1. James says:

    This is one of the reasons I blocked Google from my site. While it did drive traffic sometimes, it also herded a lot of trolls to my doorstep.


We have a “new roommate”:http://blog.org/. Hopefully he won’t play the stereo too loud…

posted at 9:58 pm on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 in Site News | Comments (2)
  1. David Brake says:

    Anything you’d particularly like to hear when I crank up the speakers and put them against the wall? ;-)

  2. Blog.org says:

    In case you didn’t notice…
    … and there is no reason you should – this weblog has left Reid’s machine and is now hosted by…

Stay tuned…

I have 19 entries that are still in “Draft” status, and an electricity rant brewing in the back of my head (and my pocket; I took notes). So over the next week or two I’m going to resurrect some of the old stuff. I just need a couple of material components…

posted at 6:58 pm on Thursday, August 21, 2003 in Site News | Comments (1)
  1. David Brake says:

    I have 32 draft postings dating back to March. Must… blog… more…

A Thank You

A big “Thank you!” to my generous host, who not only cleanly shutdown my server during the blackout (it was on the UPS) but also brought it back up this morning before she went home for the day…

posted at 1:40 pm on Friday, August 15, 2003 in Site News | Comments (1)
  1. Reid says:

    That, I would take it, would be Michelle, n’est-ce pas?

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