“A nearly impenetrable thicket of geekitude…”

Comments Return

Courtesy of a custom Perl installation and Jay Allen’s latest MT-Blacklist software, anonymous comments are enabled again.

My web site, including this blog, runs on a fairly old Cobalt RaQ server. This comes with a very old version of Perl (5.005_03) and the remote administrative GUI relies on this particular version: if you upgrade the global Perl, the GUI stops working. So don’t do that.

Some helpful people have put together an install of Perl 5.8.4 that lives in a non-system directory; unfortunately, I couldn’t get Movable Type working with that as it doesn’t support some of the CPAN modules required.

In the end, I downloaded the sources of Perl 5.8.5 from CPAN and installed it locally to my site account. Obviously, this approach means you have to have shell access to the machine, and about 150MB of free space during the build (it comes down to about 51MB if you delete the build tree afterwards). Then, simply running round all the .cgi and .pl files in the Movable Type installation and pointing the scripts at my newly built Perl gave me a running system. Oh, after installing all the CPAN modules that Movable Type required. The whole thing took an afternoon, but it was worth it.

It was worth it not because Movable Type runs better (although it does, because I was able to install some CPAN cryptography modules to accelerate TypeKey signins) but because I was able to install Jay Allen’s latest MT-Blacklist software (V2.01b) from the Movable Type plug-in pack and turn anonymous comments back on.

Let me rave about this new version of MT-Blacklist just a little. It has a user interface integrated with Movable Type; it has automatic update from the master blacklist; it has optional automatic submission of anything new you find to to the master blacklist; it forces moderation for comments with more than a configurable number of URLs in them; it gives you running statistics. It can force moderation on old entries, except if they are active. It makes the tea and biscuits if you are feeling a bit down. It is in short your first, last and only line of defense against the worst scum of the universe. Well, perhaps I am exaggerating, but only about the tea and biscuits.

In the two days since I re-enabled comments under MT-Blacklist’s watchful eye, it has stopped 70 attempted spams and let not one through. ‘nuff said. People: send Jay money.