Category: Site Updates

Long Time No Read!

The spiders are busy deciding what happened to the old links on this site, while humans find the content just fine using the Search feature. But what happened? In short, we switched from Joomla to WordPress. It’s been a painful process, but one that couldn’t be postponed.

What was wrong with Joomla? Nothing major, really. Joomla is a fine piece of software, despite not being as popular or as beloved by the geeky masses. The crown of the former Kingdom belongs to WordPress, while the one of the other probably to Drupal, as far as PHP is concerned. But I grew increasingly frustrated with the direction Joomla was taking, and the camel’s back broke when I tried to get an Esperanto version of the software. I spent weeks translating and translating, the most boring and redundant strings, only to have the translation administrator disappear, then reappear, then declare he was going to take care of translating from then on, and then disappear again.

I needed sites in Esperanto, and WordPress had an outstanding translation available. I started playing with it, with the software, and found it a lot simpler than Joomla. Sure, there were many things I couldn’t do with WordPress, especially at my knowledge level, but those I could do were far simpler and more straightforward. Did I really need ACLs in my blog? Did I have to create my own templates just to get a tumblr-style image gallery?

I decided I didn’t, and that I wanted for a change to be in the dominant medium on the market. WordPress is the giant of site creation, and for a great reason. So now I converted the content I had (20 years of it, almost), checked that everything worked (it didn’t – at first), and now I am ready for more content creation. Just in time for the end of snow season!

Site Update!

What do you know, it’s been quiet on here for a while. What happened was a merely technical problem: I knew that the software I use to write this blog, Joomla, was shifting from the version I used (2.5) to a completely new 3.x. That meant that a lot of the things I rely on to provide additional functionality wouldn’t work anymore. Plus, the old software would eventually not be updated any longer, making this site a potential security risk.

That ended up happening. A few days after the last update, I received a message from my hosting provider (Linode, great guys) telling me that this blog was used as an open spam relay and that they would have to shut it down if I didn’t do something about it, soon.

In a moment of wisdom I had moved the site to version control, so it was a breeze to clean it up. What had happened was that the server itself had not been compromised. Instead, security holes in one of the Joomla extensions I used had allowed hackers to push a hidden site update that was used to spam third parties.

I didn’t have the time or inclination to find out what extension it had been, whether it was a known security hole I hadn’t patched fast enough, or whether it was simply my own configuration mistake. I narrowed it down to JDownload and Kunena Forums and just removed both components from the site. Nothing happened after that.

But… I just didn’t feel like pushing something new until I had the site transferred. Since I had been waiting so long for the move, it was probably going to be painful, too. I didn’t want to do it, so I neglected pushing out new content (there are numerous articles that aren’t finished yet, though).


‘Sup, Dudes?

Current as of the blogs dateWell, it’s been a long while since the last update. I just checked, and it looks like the last entry on this blog was from just after my participation in the AIDS LifeCycle ride – that was LifeCycle 8, and we are at 10 now. I guess living in San Diego has been a lot of fun and a lot of work, and I hadn’t had much time to keep this site updated. Plus, I’ve been posting on a trillion other places – mainly on Blogger – and didn’t feel the need to keep this up-to-date.

All better now! Let me summarize what happened in my life in the past two years, and then we’ll move on forward:

  • Health: I had a really bad snowboarding accident in January of 2009. My left shoulder separated (which means the collar bone popped away from the shoulder) and I’ve been in severe pain for months after that. I am getting back my groove, though, and otherwise I am absolutely perfectly fine.
  • Love: Crickets.
  • Work: I’ve been working on a series of projects of my own, realizing that starting my own is the next logical step for me.
  • Work: I just completed my first to-be-published novel, In the Mission. As a matter of fact, I just got the final round of edits on Sunday. You can’t order it yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
  • Sports: Things are rapidly shifting in the sports arena. I go to a gym where classes all cost a fortune, so I stopped spinning, and in exchange took up running. That’s been working really well for me, who always thought I was too heavy for that activity. Cycling in general has been a bust, not just spinning, since riding here is a bit of a nuisance with all the lights and stop signs.
  • Sports: After the accident, I thought that snowboarding was a no-go for good. I was afraid of starting again, afraid of injuring myself again. Then my new roomie asked me to go with him to Big Bear and I did. It was a great trip, I snowboarded pretty well, and we had oodles of fun. We went again on Powder Day and had a blast.
  • Sports: Maybe the biggest shift in my athletic habits is that I took up surfing. I thought it boring, then I tried it and found it too hard, and now I am just overcome with the Zen of it. You sit in the water, waiting for the wave, then you jump on one that carries you for a (very short, in my case) while. There are people to watch, dolphins and seals. It’s a great workout for my shoulders, much better than swimming (since you don’t have to worry about keeping your head out of water – the board does that).

ZooM broken

Darn it! After upgrading to Joomla 1.0.11, zOOm didn't allow me to upload images any longer. It just shows me an empty page, no matter what option I select to add images. That's certainly a security upgrade, but not necessarily the one I was after.

Independently, I went online and found out that there is a brand new version of zOOm available, 2.5.1 (I am still at 2.1.something), and I am deciding whether to upgrade. Follow me on my path to self-immolation on the altar of progress! 

Joomla Upgrade

Netcraft reported a serious SQL injection flaw in Mambo and Joomla. Given that SQL injection is pretty much the worst that can happen to your site, I immediately ran to the Joomla download page and got myself the upgrade from 1.0.8 to 1.0.10. Ran flawlessly, except for the usual SEF problem reported on several sites. 

To fix that, I had to go to includes/sef.php and manually change the behavior. How annoying! In this case, I had to go down to line 511 of the new file, where you'll find the following lines: 


Switched to Joomla

A new era for content management on this site: I switched from Mambo to Joomla, the new open-managed fork of the old CMS of choice. (I like the open-managed moniker.)
The transition was neither hard nor easy. I decided to try the copy instructions: copy the site to a new location, copy Joomla on top of it, then deal with all the problems.
Mostly, I had to retrieve files I had changed (like sef.php or the custom image on top). A little extra time went into debugging: I had to change the configuration to go to a different directory, and then revert back.


Site Back!

After moving into the new house, DSL made me wait a few days for a connection. This was followed by the usual problems in finding cables, hardware, keyboards, etc. Long story short: the site is back up! (more…)

Site Going Down Tomorrow Until DSL Is Up

Since I am moving tomorrow and DSL won’t be started until the 5th, the site will be temporarily down. I will have point to and remove the redirect there, but the content will not be updated.

If you get a chance before the site is down, check out the pictures of the new house!

PHP Weight Table

Somehow this application follows me like a curse…

The PHP version of the weight table is available as a Mambo/Joomla component. It was my first attempt at a component, and I have to admit it was much easier than I thought. You can download the component from the Remository.


Hotlinks Off

I noticed that more and more of the requests to this site are for images that are embedded in somebody else’s pages. That’s quite a drag (as it has caused me almost to lose my other ISP for bandwidth violations until I turned it off).

What to do? Well, wonderful Google helped out.

People that link an image externally to save bandwidth are called bandwidth thieves and their activity is called hotlinking.

To turn their request off, you have to do a little work (nothing tragic). First, you have to turn on mod_rewrite…