September 2004


The Movable Type V3.11 upgrade has given me the opportunity to tidy the site up a little. I've started again with the new default templates and then hacked them into roughly the same shape as the old site… mostly.

Articles are now have hierarchical date-based permalinks, which means they have all changed. I have put HTTP redirects in for all the old ones, but in case that hasn't worked there is a search box on the main page as well.

Spam and TypeKey

One of the reasons for upgrading to Movable Type V3.x was that I have been using Jay Allen's great MT-Blacklist module to keep the blog spam away, and the new one for Movable Type V3.x is much nicer. In the long run, I can't see Jay putting much effort into Movable Type V2.x support.

Having upgraded, then came the bad news: the new MT-Blacklist requires a later version of Perl than the one running on my public server. And it's a Cobalt RaQ4, on which the remote administrative GUI dies if you upgrade Perl. Oops. Guess I should have read the requirements a bit more closely.

Given the amount of time required to get this far, I'm not going to revert to Movable Type V2.x. Instead, I have enabled the comment registration facility: in order to comment on the site, you now have to register with TypeKey and sign in. That's free, and a one-time operation for all the Movable Type V3.x and TypePad blogs you comment on, but it is a bit more of a hassle. I'm sorry to put people through this, but I think it's the best compromise for now.

Movable Type 3.11

I'm in the process of upgrading the software that runs my blogs from V1.65 to V3.11 of Movable Type.

So far I have run into only one problem with this process, a series of "prototype mismatch" errors when rebuilding blog index pages.

Using MTAmazon in the UK

I use Adam Kalsey's MTAmazon V2.22 plugin for Movable Type to put Amazon product images at the top of blog entries (usually book reviews). I had to make a couple of changes to one of the source files to make it work with the UK version of Amazon's site.

[Updated 20041129 to link to a copy of the file.]


Every OS Sucks

I've long held that the shift from unquestioning youthful enthusiasm for whatever operating system you grew up with to general disillusionment with all of them (except for ones you've written parts of, naturally) is an essential rite of passage. In short, Every OS Sucks and it is just a question of which one is least bad for whatever you want to do right now.

Today, I found that some years back Three Dead Trolls In a Baggie recorded a grumpy song celebrating this grumpy attitude, and you can download Every OS Sucks for free from their Ampcast page. If you're bandwidth rich, they have a video version too.

[Found through Adam Curry's audio show.]



A friend just sent me a link to RFC 1925, The Twelve Networking Truths. Although it is one of the humorous April 1st RFCs (in this case by Ross Callon of the Internet Order of Old Farts), it is also full of genuine truths.

Although I don't follow the really popular bloggers to any great extent, I had come across Mark Pilgrim because of his columns at, and I knew he had a blog that was fairly popular. What I didn't know until a couple of days ago is that Dive Into Mark contains a number of things that are funny, but also full of genuine truths.

If you're drinking coffee just now, I suggest you put it down somewhere safe. Then read Mark's essay on why specs matter, which he starts off with the statement that most developers are morons, and the rest are assholes. True, true. If you've had a really bad day in the standards mines, find relief for your grief in the short but pointed Unicode Normalization Form C. Funny; but also so, so true.

Feed Validator

The aggregator I use at the moment (RssReader) is pretty strict. That's as it should be: it's definitely the Way of XML and to a certain extent the Web in general is taking up that approach with the move towards web standards. Recently I've hit several blogs whose feeds have been rejected by RssReader for various reasons: even, in one case, just flat invalid XML caused by a malformed CDATA section.

When RssReader sees an invalid feed, it gives you a link to a feed validator put together by Mark Pilgrim and Sam Ruby. There you can see exactly what went wrong, in context, and get some help in fixing it. Everyone should run this on their own feeds once in a while, in the same way that they should be running the W3C validators on their web pages and CSS.

What's sauce for the goose… you can validate the RSS feed for this site.

(Of course, the first time I tried it myself I got an error message and had to delay this post until I had fixed it. D'oh!)