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Links to my published articles online
List of Publications with Full Citations

Adolescent Diary Weblogs and the Unseen Audience

Conversations in the Blogosphere: An Analysis "from the Bottom Up". Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-38) Best Paper Nominee.

Weblogs as a bridging genre

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Common Visual Design Elements of Weblogs

Women and Children Last: The Discursive Construction of Weblogs

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The Performativity of Naming: Adolescent Weblog Names as Metaphor

Buxom Girls and Boys in Baseball Hats: Adolescent Avatars in Graphical Chat Spaces

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Last updated July 8, 2005.

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Last Updated November 22, 2005.

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New books are added but reading status is rarely accurate.

September 11, 2005

How to crash your own blog, part zwei

The question is not "What went wrong?" but rather, "Why was it ever working to being with?"  LOL

I have been getting slammed with trackback and comment spam for a very long time.  Blacklist took out most of it but not after the upgrade to MT 3.17, then it only worked in combo with SpamLookup and neither of them worked well enough alone.  Then when I upgraded to MT 3.2 neither of them all...ever...never.  I was reduced to basically keeping my admin windows open all day just to do periodic deletes so that I would not be faced with hundreds of spam in the evening, panes full of them that each had to be marked for deletion.  Not good...not good at all.

So yesterday I was doing morning-bits and read Dave Simmer's blog (non-academic) entry, Spam, that said he was having similar problems.  Light-bulb time, it's not just me.  So I decided to check out the boards and see if others had a fix for the problem.  What I found were lots of folks who said the system worked great and a few who said it didn't work at all. it is in the install after all.

Just to give you background on this.  I did the initial install to create prolurker in 2003.  But I simply could not get it working.  So I asked my ISP 2xtreme media, who at the time were tauting themselves as serving bloggers specifically, if they could fix it so it worked.  They did just that and it worked great.  But shortly thereafter I realized that I had a problem, you see I had no idea what the answers were to questions like "What type of database are you running?" because I hadn't set it up.  So I've been floundering as a pretty inept administrator, p.s. as I've said before it's a job I don't really want.

Well yesterday all of that really came to a head.  In my quest to improve my life by removing spam deletion from it, I uninstalled SpamLookup and reinstalled it fresh.  Amazing as it may seem it worked perfectly for the first time.  I was so pleased with myself not only had I done the upgrade by myself but I had thought through to fix a problem and implemented the successful plan.  But that was the calm before the storm.

Since I was working on the blog anyway I decided to do some sidebar stuff, mostly recategorizing the blogroll and playing with settings so that I could block more spam.  I rebuilt several times, min. four that I remember.  It all looked great and was working fine, well as fine as ever since I had a week or so old problem with my desktop client not forwarding category information to the blog on upload, but that seemed like it was an unrelated issue.

Then out of nowhere I lost the graphical admin pages, they all became flat text.  I checked every browser I have because there have been stated problems with MT 3.2 and Opera, my preferred blog browser.  No luck, all the browsers rendered the page in exactly the same way.  So I sent in a support ticket on the problem.  In a timely fashion I got back a response saying I needed to move some files around and the problem would be solved.  I did as instructed and then I got only an error message, no admin page text at all.  *sigh*

That began a long string of messages between myself and Movable Type Support, who by the way do a very good job.  Each message gave new instructions which I implemented and each made the problems seem much much worse.  I got to the point that I emailed the only person I could think of who might know what to do, someone I actually don't know personally just through their blog, and asked if they would take a look to see if they could figure out what was wrong.  But before I could get them the ftp, username, and password information, I got another message from the support folks saying they thought I was using Berkeley database and that I needed to change one line in the config file to reflect that database.  So I made the change, and amazingly enough that seems to have fixed it...for good?....for now? 

Lessons learned:

  1. I now know what type of database I am running.
  2. I now have a cleaner installation of MT 3.2 without stray files from older versions that only make the system look like it's working.  *raising one eyebrow* 
  3. I now understand why some folks are recommending you install the new version in a separate folder then move it once you have it working (easier in ssh then in ftp).
  4. As much as I hate the time it takes, it probably is better for me to do the admin work because it is my site, after all, and I need to understand what is happening with it. 

As I said in the opening to this post, the real question is apparently why the upgrade had worked at all.  It seems that the stray old files from the two previous versions were somehow filling gaps in the new program that were not filled by information from the config file.  I only sorta get it...maybe it will become clear in a few days.  But for now it seems to be working...though it seemed to be working before.  *ouch my head hurts*  Oh well...another day another set of to-do list items and none of them are "working on the blog programming" related.

Oh and my problem with my desktop client is was related after all.

Posted by prolurkr at September 11, 2005 09:44 AM

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