Archive for November, 2006

What makes a good blog?

This post is related to my earlier one about the technoranki peer group, but it’s probably healthy to get input from as wide a range of people as possible.

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Technoranki Peer Group

Creating a technoranki peer group

I think I’ve always been quite open about the fact that technoranki is experimental, and that there will be bugs and glitches with it from time to time. I’ve also been totally against explaining how the algorithm works in detail in order to prevent people cheating and abusing the system. I understand this can cause frustrations for people who want to understand why their blog has a certain rank and why another blog is better than theirs, but I still think it is for the best.

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The Joy of Load Testing

Those of you that know me will be aware of my general distaste of working for a living, but from time to time it can actually be quite interesting. Last night was one such occasion.

I don’t like to talk about my day job on my blog, but it should be OK to give you a bit of background. Part of what I do involves the testing and monitoring of web applications, helping to identify performance issues. This means I sometimes find myself sitting up through the night running performance tests against our clients’ web sites too, which is what I was doing last night.

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MySQL to PostgreSQL Woes

I’ve had the last few days off, and my plan was to migrate BritBlog away from MySQL and on to PostgreSQL. The reason behind this awkward move is that our new and rather whizzy ping server/spider combination is sitting on top of PostgreSQL. Matt has done a great job with this (as you would expect if you knew him), so it’s just down to me now to fix up the BritBlog front end.

Anyway, I think I can say with complete confidence that I have wasted the entire three days:

  • I’ve had problems converting a MySQL dump into something suitable for PostgreSQL to work with (I’m still getting import errors).
  • I’ve forgotten what little I knew about PostgreSQL - need to wade through the documentation again.
  • I’ve had problems getting Apache to run on my Windows laptop (I thought it would be more convenient to work on my laptop than at my desk).
  • I’ve not even started updating the website code, nor have I gone anywhere near subversion yet.

I have, however, managed to get PuTTY working with public/private keys so I can access different servers more securely. Mind you that’s not really impressive when there are instructions as good as this to follow.

So all in all a total waste of time.

I think I’m going to start again, but will first nuke my laptop and put debian on it. Then I’ll have a perfectly working Linux, Apache, PHP, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Perl and Python setup - exactly what I need. Just wish I’d taken this course at the outset…

What a frustrating week! Sometimes I wish I could just lob my computer out of the window, unplug the web servers, and go live in a cave.

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What a week!

Well I’m glad that week is over! It started off bad (with things I can’t really go into here), and gradually got worse. And to finish it off, my clutch (or rather my car’s clutch) went on Wednesday, and one of my PHP ‘contact me’ forms got hijacked by a spammer on Friday/Saturday.

Anyway, the car is now fixed so I have about three or four months to find a new one before the cam belt needs replacing. It’s not worth replacing it as the car has done nearly 250 thousand miles (yes, quarter of a million miles!), so I’ve got to start thinking about what to get next. The criteria are: cheap, air conditioning, heated wing mirrors, and diesel. Shouldn’t be too hard to suss.

The spam issue has been quite a pain. Looks like it’s quite easy to feed all sorts of rubbish into the PHP mail() function, so I’ve pulled them all out for the meantime. You may want to check your own forms if you use it.

I felt I needed a little cheering up so treated myself to some ’studio flashes’. Maybe slightly over the top for my needs, but I got myself an Elinchrom D-Lite 2 To Go set. This includes 2 x D-Lite 2 lights, 2 x stands, 2 x softboxes. I’ve never used this kind of light before, so should be fun having a play. No doubt I will write more about them once I’ve had a bit of a play…

Right, got to make dinner. Don’t forget the BritBlog Christmas Blogmeet next month. Should be a lot of fun!

Ping server survey, October 2006

Here are the uptime results for the Blog Ping Relay Server survey I’m carrying out for October 2006. For details of the methodology take a look at last month’s results. I am currently monitoring the following three ping services: Autopinger, Blogflux, and Ping-o-matic.

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Mega blog purge

Well I’ve had an exciting night working on technoranki tonight! OK, maybe not that exciting, but its been productive at least. I’ve tweaked the ranking algorithm for the system, so we’ll see how that affects the scores over the next few days.

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