About the author.

Welcome to The blog of whall

Come on in and stay a while… laugh a little. Maybe even think. Read more...

Hi, This is Wayne. This is my site, my stuff, my blog, blahblahblah. The site itself is powered by WordPress and the Scary Little theme. I thought it was cool, and I still do.

I’ve hit my head against the virtual wall (whall?) more times than I can count over the past few years on something that I suddenly “fixed” recently, and I wanted to blog it for the masses.

In short,

If you’re running WordPress or any PHP-based application on a host that has both PHP 4.0 and 5.0 installed, append the following to your .htaccess file for that application:

Options All -Indexes
AddType x-mapp-php5 .php
AddHandler x-mapp-php5 .php

As an added bonus, I also detail how to upgrade MySQL 4.0 database to MySQL 5.0 on 1 & 1 hosting (see extended entry below).

I use 1 & 1 for my internet hosting, and have since, oh, 2003 or so. For the price I pay and the service I get, I’m very happy. There have been a few glitches, to be sure, and I’ve blogged about a few of them. But overall, I’ve been a happy camper.

I mention 1 & 1 because on all their shared hosting packages, they install both PHP 4.0 and 5.0. Ever since I can remember, I’ve had the dreaded “Internal Server Error 500” on a few things on my blog, like exporting my blog to XML as a backup, or similar tasks. Sure, I can always do the manual MySQL backup because I’m a geek, but it annoyed me that I couldn’t do the XML backup. Also, some plugins just wouldn’t work right, and auto-upgrade almost NEVER worked.

This inability to auto-upgrade also frustrated some of the people I host blogs for. Yes, I host blogs. For those special few in my life (heh) I will set up, install, configure and host a wordpress blog so they don’t have to worry about it. I typically only have them pay for the domain name ($10 a year or so) and I host the site for free. I host more than a hundred domains, including personal blogs, commercial blogs, non-profit websites, and I use WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and even raw HTML (the shock and awe!), wherever appropriate. It’s not a money maker for me, and I only ask that if someone I host gets wildly popular and makes millions of dollars, that they kindly remember me on my birthday.

On every WordPress blog I hosted, the authors weren’t able to consistently install or update plugins, or perform the auto-update feature inside of WordPress. It would either give that infernal Internal Server Error 500 or it would just hang. So, they’d email me, I’d procrastinate, they’d nudge, I’d forget, they’d ask politely a fortieth time, I’d promise to do it, and then eventually I’d manually upgrade their plugins a year later.

I’m happy to say that the above .htaccess file changes have completely eradicated the auto-upgrade errors, and I can perform the XML backups all day long without a problem. Not only that, but my blog actually seems faster. In case you care, the .htaccess lines tell Apache (the web server running on the host) to use PHP 5.0 to process all the files ending in .php instead of the default of PHP 4.0.

I’d do a happy dance if there weren’t so many adoring fans surrounding me, restricting my movements.

For the big WordPress 2.9 upgrade that I’ve been putting off, I was also challenged by the fact that my personal blog as well as a few blogs I host used the older MySQL 4.0 databases instead of the newer MySQL 5.0 databases. WordPress 2.9 required a later version of 4.0 than 1 & 1 had installed, and I was wary of diving into the “upgrade MySQL 4.0 database to 5.0” process.

Until last night.

The database upgrade went quite smoothly (this post was most helpful). In fact, I got it down to a science – take the values from the wp-config.php file (database name, username, and host name) and put it into the mysqldump / mysql commands to pull from the old 4.0 database and insert into the new 5.0 database.

My steps, for those interested and the inevitable Google searches that will land here, are documented in the extended version below.

Once I upgraded my MySQL Database to 5.0 and added the .htaccess lines at the top of the post, the WordPress 2.9 auto-upgrade was a cinch. Not only that, but several of the plugins that wouldn’t auto-update updated without issue. It was so easy and fun that I upgraded a few dozen blogs and their plugins as well.

Needless to say, I was quite pleased with myself. I’m celebrating by actually taking time to blog about it so you can be pleased with me, too!

If geekiness of this nature doesn’t please you, then maybe this Tom Tom Darth Vader behind the scenes video will.

Enjoy 🙂


(more…)

Hmm.  Once Upon A time, on this Windows 7 thing there existed absolutely no Windows Movie Maker.  I use WMM to make my DITLs, so it was kind of frustrating to realize that I was required to do more work just so I could do the work to get it to work.

That’s like me being the dude, playing the dude, disguised as another dude.

Being the savvy and worldly beta user, I decided to google about windows 7 and windows movie maker first to make sure someone else hadn’t accidentally deleted all their videos and set accidental fire to accidental baby kittens from installing the beta version and trying to create new content.

What I quickly found out was the version of Windows Movie Maker that Microsoft makes available is A) part of Windows Live (a collection of many online tools) and B) devoid of many advanced features that I depend on.  For example, I’m not a bit funny by myself, but Windows Movie Maker has that setting where you can make it “decently funny if a bit quirky” and I have mine set to 70%.

However, I also found out soon enough that MS packaged up the Vista version of WMM (2.6) for those of us who still needed the advanced features.  This made me happier than finding out Michael Phelps is more human than I expected and the media is more inhuman than I expected.

While I’m playing with installing WMM 2.6, I thought I’d give Live Writer a try – it’s a blog publishing tool that comes with the Windows Live collection and works with all sorts of blog platforms, including WordPress (which is what I use for this blog).

In fact, I’m actually composing this blog post with Live Writer.

About the only things I care about regarding blog composition that save me time when writing a blog post is A) indenting text (which it seems Live Writer does NOT support) and B) pasting in pictures.  I pasted in the picture above, so we’ll see how it looks.

It kinda looks freaky with the whole picture within a picture thing.  How did it do that?  And how far does it go?  I’m scared.  I’m writing in my blog about writing in my blog, so I guess it’s like two mirrors facing each other.

I’ve used Microsoft’s Word 2007 to publish blog entries before, mainly because it had a geek factor to it and it also supported all my special little styling whims.  I could also compose while offline (like when taking bus to work) and publish later, and I always had a problem with that on WordPress.  This seems like a suitable replacement. Oh, and if your luggage ever gets lost or stolen, Samsonite is also a suitable replacement.

Time Passes…

So now I’ve attempted to publish this entry as a draft on my blog, but I keep getting a 500 Internal Server Error.

I’m too tired busy to troubleshoot if this is a WordPress 2.7.1 problem, a Windows Seven problem, a Live Writer bug or if it could be possibly explained by too much gluten in my diet.  (Wayne, don’t be so silly. Ack!)

I’ve mentioned a few times on twitter that I set up a playground site that anyone can register and use to see WordPress 2.7 (the release candidate version).  You get an author account by default, so you can compose blog entries, login, do comments, see the back-end, etc.

Offer’s still open.   Just visit, click “Register” on the right and voila! you have an account and can post.  Please be nice.  Don’t write about Catcher in the Rye from my blog please.

According to WordPress.org, the new and improved 2.7 should hit the public internet waves sometime this month.  I’ve actually heard it will be tomorrow, which is the same day gays don’t go to work (they supposedly are teaming up together to “call in gay“)  I did an utter on that topic this morning.  Go ahead and listen to it; I’ll wait.

Back?  Good.

One of the coolest out-of-the-box features of 2.7 is threaded / nested comments:

Of course, you have to have a theme that supports it, which is why I was trying out Aeros 1.0.5 since it’s one of the few that does.  It’s kind of a neat theme and I might switch to it.

The new wordpress also has a much faster, much cooler comment management system whereby you can use keyboard shortcuts like j/k and asd (like a unix text editor or some text/java games) to move up, down, approve, spam or delete.  You can also reply individually to comments right there in the admin console!  I haven’t seen email notification TO the commenter, but I’m sure some enterprising author will make one if it’s not built-in.

Actually, that “quick edit” feature right there is very interesting as well, because you edit it from right there inside the page and don’t have to launch another window to edit the comment.  Pretty handy for all you losers who keep forgetting I’m a PG-13 blog! (j/k) (and that means “just kidding”, not “down/up”)

Not only that, you get a neat “at a glance” dashboard showing the content you’ve authored and where the comments are, pending/spam wise

There’s also a new thing called “QuickPress” where you can just type in a quick title, content, tags and media and publish right from the dashboard.  To me, however, this seems a step backwards unless you can auto-categorize your “quickies” differently.  It’s kind of like twitter, but on your blog.  But at a minimum, it’s easy to jot down notes to yourself since it has a “save draft” button – wanna start the idea of a new post but don’t want to actually START a post?  write it in here and save it as a draft.

Oooh, and on my dashboad, it listed a plugin that I wanted to try, and I could install it right from the dashboard!  OMG!  I just clicked “install” then “install now” then “activate”.  How much easier can it get than that!??

Those are my first impressions, and I can envision me an early adopter, if for no other reason than for the nested comments.  

I even set up a new survey (the plugin I just installed) – have a go!  You can say how you like me. 🙂

If you’ve found out other cool features of the new WordPress, leave’em here.  And don’t forget you can get your own wordpress trial account on my test blog.

November
17
2008
9:37 am
Categories:
Tags:
Post Meta :

Get some love.  er, luv.

First, if you’re not listening to my Utterz, you should consider doing so.  I speak my mind more than a few times per week over at Utterli, and the latest ones are shown over in the sidebar to the right.  One thing I really like about Utterli is the telephone interface – it’s a good way to fill up the commute with semi-worthwhile activity.

You could hear me sing a little Def Leppard over on the above utter or maybe hear about the low low price of gas on this one.  Sometimes I geekout to the extreme.

heh, sometimes.  I crack myself up.  “sometimes”.  HA!

Secondly, Andy Bailey over at CommentLuv is giving away lots of prizes, and you can win.  

Have you noticed on my blog’s comments how it lists someone’s most recent blog entry and puts a little heart symbol?  I don’t type those in manually – oh no!  That work is done by the CommentLuv plugin for WordPress.

Here’s all you need to do:

 

  • Register your blog, if you have one, over at commentluv.com and have it verified.
  • Enter a profile description
  • Comment on my blog somewhere
The more you comment, the better your chances, but you cannot spam.  That’s like calling into a radio show just for the prize.  Well, no, strike that – it’s WORSE than calling into a radio show because, well, I don’t have a radio show. I have a blog.  This is all about me.  Don’t spam my blog, man.
If you don’t have a blog, I don’t think you can win.  Sorry, them’s the rules.  But you can get a free blog over at WordPress or Blogger (or tons of other places).  So go do that, then register, and woohoo! you could win.
August
14
2008
3:51 pm
Categories:
Tags:
Post Meta :

Last night was so funny.

gullible logo

Before our pool league, we were discussing “rumors” or “facts” about this teacher or that teacher at our daughter’s new high school.  She was saying what she heard about teacher X or teacher Y and we (my wife and I) challenged her on whether or not she should believe other students, or at least not completely believe everything she hears.

My 14yr old daughter cocked her head, put on a faux-insulted smirk and said “Dad, I’m not that gullible…” and our niece Kaili said “What’s ‘gullible’?”  And you KNOW that as soon as someone asks THAT QUESTION, they’re in for a little ride.

I was too slow to respond (yeah, I know! impossible, right?!!?).  Caitlin pointed up at a patch of ceiling right above our niece’s head and said “There’s a gullible right up there.” 

I was barely able to contain my shock that my daughter knew a NEW way of pulling “the gullible trick” on someone.  So we went along with it and looked, pushing Kaili to look as well.  And look she did.

Wait, where?” Kaili inquired.

Right up there.  There’s a gullible right above you,” Caitlin responded.  She was reveling in her enjoyment of verbally torturing Kaili with her superior vocabulary.  She glanced over at mom and me, with her all-knowing eyes saying “look at me, I can trick her!”

At this point I needed to chime in.  I told both of them in a severely matter-of-fact manner, “you know, they removed the word ‘gullible’ from the dictionary a couple of months ago…” and Caitlin, who had been the instigator and predator in this particular word battle, opened her eyes wiiiiide and said “they did?!?!  Why did they do that?!!!!”

Oh, we had some fun with that response for the three seconds it took for her to realize she had been had.  Her expression went from the look of sheer elitist contentment to awe and surprise at having a word removed, to indignant mock offense at being taken.  In the same way she was taking someone else just a moment ago.

A quick shout of “DAD!!!!” and a playful slap to the shoulder let me know she knew her place, and was appreciative of the lesson.  Then she looked over to Kaili and said “being gullible means you’ll believe anything” and smiled all the bigger, probably thinking to herself “yeah, even stuff your dad tells you.”

What’s YOUR favorite gullible story?

Speaking of gullible, I’m being anxiously impressed by the more recent spam comments.  They’re really starting to look real!  It seems they’re taking information from the blog article and submitting a comment that actually seems related to the content.

Take a look at this one, put on a post of mine about XP

The comment has decent english, is related to the post, has vernacular such as btw and a smiley, and the only thing that makes it suspicious is the name and email.  ARGH!  Why are they improving!

I’m just glad I have my blog set up to approve all new commenters.  You don’t get in unlessI approve, but once I approve you, you’re good to go from then on.  Not only does it help cut down on the annoying comments like the above, but it also lets me welcome new readers.

(note: this is my first time trying to publish a blog entry from Microsoft Word 2007 to WordPress.  Yes, you heard me.  Using a Microsoft product to publish directly to an open source blog.  And I cannot believe how simple it was.  I’ll probably write a blog post on it.  From Word.)

Do you cross through your to-do list? Here’s why I ask.

I really like the To-Do Bar that Outlook 2007 has, especially when working on a laptop with a wide screen:

I’m a “bottom feeder” with email, which means I keep my newest items on the bottom of my inbox. I keep my folders way on the left, my headers and title information just to the right of that. I keep a healthy amount of real estate reserved right there in the middle to view the entire email.

The To-do Bar shows me a quick calendar, my upcoming appointments below that, and my to-do items, with flag and categorization colors. I’m pretty big on colors and formatting – you can see in my inbox, the items in blue were sent directly to me, while the items in black were part of a distro list. I also color emails from my boss(es) differently, and when I win the lottery, the computer actually pops out the CD-ROM drive and throws a disc at my face to make sure I’m paying attention.

However, one thing that always bugs me about the To-Do Bar is that it always defaults to a view that shows all my completed items with strikethroughs:

You see, these tasks being displayed are tasks I did more than a year ago. Some of them are 2 years old. I want them to go away! I completed you, oh vile task list of death!

Ode to a task that still shows up with strikethrough

Lo! Hear me. I thus did spake forcefully upon thee.
For that spaking I am remorseful. I did not see thee there.
Please to wipe my spittle off thy face.
To continue my rant, I speaketh of such divine divinity.
By this, I mean the stupidethness of the strikethrough format.
It has forced itself unto my task list, and displays as such!

Depart, oh Task That Has Completeness!
I have banished you unto the world of DoneDom.
Why do you torment me so?
You are not welcome.

Oh sure, I can right-click on the header, click “Custom” and add an advanced field filter that hides completed items

But it forgets the view sometimes. I don’t know how to make it the default! ARGH!

So, what about you? Do YOU track your tasks and to-do items and then show them with strikethrough font? Do you delete the task? I don’t like deleting things because even though I’ve completed the task, there might be information in the notes field I want to keep.

UPDATE: Wonderful Melissa – commenter below, and Microsoft employee – worked with me on some suggestions, and they worked like a champ!  Thank you Melissa. 

You can see in the comment below that she suggested to reset the to-do bar.  I tried that and no love.  Her next suggestion was to maybe “re-tag” the task as complete, because maybe the task was marked Completed in some offending or non-compliant way.  I tred right-clicking on the task to re-complete it, but it has “Mark Completed” greyed out. 

However, if I multi-selected the tasks and right-clicked, I got a “Mark Completed” option, and when I selected that, those tasks stopped showing up!  Will wonders never cease!?!!?

July
16
2008
8:51 am
Categories:
Tags:
Post Meta :

So, it seems 2.6 is out, the “latest stable release of WordPress”

wordpress 2.6 is out

So, anyone dare me to upgrade first?  Don’t be shy.

I’m at 2.3.3 cuz I chickened out of upgrading to 2.5 or 2.5.1 after a few issues I had with some of the blogs I help support.

… but I never know how to express them. 

Fortunately, I have Wordle to help me. 

wordle of whall.org tweets twitter 
(click to enlarge as PDF)

The above graphic represents my tweets. 

What’s that you say?  “What’s a tweet?”  A tweet is something I twittered.  It’s a short one-liner I presented to the world through twitter.  And the above “word cloud” represents all the words I used in all my tweets since I started using it in October 2007.  The more common the word, the bigger it’s representation.  Common words like the, and, a and wtf are removed for clarity.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. I took all the words in all the tweets I’ve done so far on twitter
  2. I massaged them a bit with vi and command line text tools (to make it all lower case, get rid of URLs and HTML, and get rid of “new blog post”)
  3. I submitted the resulting text to Wordle
  4. I got back a word cloud summarizing all of my tweets.  Made the graphic and the PDF.
  5. (I found Wordle through Jonathan Coulton, who found it through Brad Sucks.)

Yeah, I guess I have some kind of twitter-crush on Dave2 (blogography).  Whatever.  I also see absurdist and snackiepoo and gally, avitable, watchdogjestertunes, mr_shiny and martymankins.  All these people are on twitter and get replies or messages from me.  You can join twitter with us and get in on the fun.

This got me thinking – what do my post titles look like? (what do I write about?) What about all my posts? (How do I write about them?)  What about the comments?  (What do YOU write about?) I didn’t have to wonder long – I just exported my comments, titles and posts from my WordPress blog’s database, did the same massaging and then made myself some graphics.

whall.org post titles Wordle:

whall.org wordle post titles
(click to enlarge as PDF)

whall.org posts Wordle:

wordle whall.org posts
(click to enlarge as PDF)

whall.org comments Wordle:

whall.org comments as a wordle
(click to enlarge as PDF)

I especially like the java interface where you can change the font, layout and color scheme and it renders in real-time.  Very slick!  Nice job, Jonathan Feinberg!

And the final result?  If I mash up all the posts, post titles, comments and tweets?  I get a decent summary of my online presence:

wordle of all whall.org comments posts titles tweets
(click to enlarge as PDF)

Yup.  It says it right there – “good blog.”

I’m starting another series on the old blog of whall, and that is Wouldn’t It Be Cool If, or WIBCI for short. I personally pronounce this “wib-see” but I’ve heard others pronounce it like “weeb-see”, “why bitchy” and “who are you and why are you asking me these stupid questions?”

In this installment, I want to brainstorm about a plugin for blogs (WordPress, drupal, typepad, Movable Type, etc) that would allow people not only to subscribe-by-email to ALL comments, but just the author’s comments.

[time passes]

Ok I’m done brainstorming.

Wouldn’t that be cool?

What would YOU like/dislike about this? Or is there something else we could add to the idea?

One of the smartest things I’ve seen in a while is the WordPress “Recheck Queue for Spam” feature:

wordpress recheck queue for spam

When I first started blogging, I thought “no big deal” because I get a notification of the spam and then I go in and mark it as spam.  Seeing as how Akismet catches tens of thousands of spam comments for me, I figured I could handle the one-off’s with no problem.

But then my blog got a little more popular and there was more comment spam.  Even though Akismet still caught the vast majority, there was still some I had to moderate because it “got through” Akismet.

Then I installed the Add Meta Tags plugin, and I noticed my blog and my posts being visited more often by Google searchers, and I welcomed the new visitors.  I was impressed by how much more visible my blog was.  And of course, comment spam went up by a LOT.  Again, Akismet caught most of it but there was a noticable increase of spam going to me for moderation. 

So while I still think my spam management tasks are minor compared to many (maybe a dozen a day in my moderation queue), I was very glad to see the little link called “Recheck Queue for Spam”.  I’m happy to report that EVERY SINGLE TIME I’ve clicked it, it has 100% removed the spam and 100% left alone the “real” comments.

What I like about this spam management system is that every time someone tags a comment as spam, Akismet get smarter.  The comments that “get past” Akismet just mean that I’m one of the first to get the comment.  After a short time (minutes, hours), Akismet wizens up and when I “recheck queue” it has learned about those comments and takes care of it for me.

Yay Akismet!

wordpress and akismet are awesome

You’d think I’d be content and this would be enough.

Oh, no.

You see, I’ve also put an entry into my crontab file to automatically click the link for me every hour, so the queue automatically gets cleaned out for me and I don’t even have to click the link!  Huzzah!  I figure this way, Akismet gets smarter quicker for others as well, via the verification and removal of spam comments.  Sure, I’d probably be a better spamnetizen if I actually marked the spam as spam myself and submitted it, but who has time for that?  Hopefully someone else.

0   *   *   *   *   wget -O – -q -t 1 http://whall.org/blog/wp-admin/edit-comments.php?page=akismet-admin&recheckqueue=true&noheader=true

I started wondering why yahoo or google doesn’t offer this feature… I mean, wouldn’t it be even more beneficial in email, where you’re dealing with a much bigger influx of content, and even more value for identifying spam AFTER it’s delivered? 

Added bonus:

If you read down this far, I give you an added bonus.  The Bible says that God’s promise to mankind that he’d never again send a global flood is represented by the rainbow.  Others have said that Beer is proof that God exists.

This picture combines both ideas.

click to enlarge
(click to enlarge)

older »

Admin
tsk tsk

Ajax CommentLuv Enabled 336ad6ab990e8080f1c0ad1f892428a0