It was a bad day. A lot of bad stuff happened. And I'd love to forget it all. But I don't. Not ever. Because this is what I do. Every time, every day, every second, this: On five, we're bringing down the government.

Monday, June 11


Got It!

Finally tracked down what's going on on the production web servers.

The system automatically flushes the cache when you update a page, so people don't get old copies of the page.  That's timing out - it eventually happens, but it takes more than ten seconds, so the reverse proxy times out and returns a "System not available" error.  Since the cache flush is handled by the redirect module (which all update pages have to call), you never receive the redirect because the proxy closes the connection first.

It was particularly confusing because (a) the updates actually worked and (b) because the error was inside the redirect module and redirect logging was at the start of the redirect module, the log files showed that the redirect was happening but no browser request was following it.

And the reason for that is that (a) I didn't have a local cache running and (b) the remote cache is blocked by the firewall.  It seems that cache lookups time out immediately, but cache flushes take much longer.

Which should have been obvious.

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Sunday, June 10


How To Create Your Own Zombie Army!

Sort of.

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Saturday, June 09



The new servers are acting poopy: While they are working fine for the database and files, and even for delivering pages out of Minx, when you submit a form you get neither a response nor an error... But the form does in fact work.  I've misconfigured something somewhere, but because I'm not getting an error back it's slow going trying to work out what.

Meantime, this is, well, fascinating.  I'm really rather surprised it's not more harmful than described.

(via Miss Anthrope at JREF)

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Encouraging Signs

Just finishing the preparations for the launch of

I loaded a copy of the current beta database onto the production cluster.  By the time I could switch screens and bring up phpMyAdmin, it had already finished replicating.

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Friday, June 08


Newspapers Just Might Survive

Hello everyone: I’m the new content-wrangler. I’d say “editor,” but to me, the words “James Lileks, Editor” look like “Wile E. Coyote, Genius.”
Chances are still slim, but since the patient appeared to be DOA just a week ago, that's a hell of an improvement.

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Thursday, June 07


Grr. Argh.

It's been a very tiring and frustrating week, for reasons I'm not going into right now, but which started with the bandwidth and server problems I mentioned earlier.

This is just the latest example of the herds of bleating nuisancery that flock to my inbox every day:
Effective immediately, .NU Domain has modified its policies and now permits the registration of .nu domain names using only one or two characters, including numeric characters - such as, or - under our new Premium Names Service.
Hey, nice example there, given that I registered it in 1997.
The cost to register a two-character .nu Premium Name is 250 EURO (2 500 SEK) per year.
Crapsprockets.  It was 60 Euros for two years.  And yes, they've upped the renewal fee for existing domains.

Fortunately I'm already paid through to November 2011.

Update: The president of the .nu registry just apologised for that.  Seems like a nice guy, apart from the bit where he increased my renewal fees by 700%...

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Monday, June 04


An Evening With Christopher Hitchens

At FrontPage.

I have got to buy his new book, God is Not Great.  Hell, it reduced his own brother to spluttering inanities.

I don't agree with him all the time, but he's consistently entertaining and insightful.

Update: Bought. While I was browsing the atheism section, and getting irritated by books like this one, another guy came up and also picked up a copy of God is Not Great.

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No Joy In Mudville

The server that ate all of's bandwidth just corrupted its own operating system and died.

Emails have been sent, you betcha.

Update: Evil server is no more; they've done a complete system swap.  Now I just have to reinstall everything.

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I just discovered that the two production servers, which I'm about to put to work, had a little glitch in their reverse proxies and somehow managed to exchange a terabyte or so of wasted packets in the past few days.

Over our hosting company's public network.

And since it was a terabyte in each direction, and they bill for both incoming and outgoing data, that means I just used up the entire bandwidth quota for for the month.*


Fortunately, Softlayer's excess bandwidth charges are among the lowest in the business, but still... Bugger.

Filed a support ticket throwing myself on the mercy of the accounting department.  You never know.

* Excluding the beta server, but I need to take that offline, get the drive replaced, and reinstall the operating system.

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Saturday, June 02


It Takes An Image

Well, I've uploaded Minx 1.0, so it's time I started playing with some of the new features. Let's see:

Automatic Server-Side Image Scaling and Thumbnails (ASSIST!)

Shrink to 200 pixels wide - side-by-side with a browser-scaled image for comparison:
[thumbnail=/images/Benten.jpg size=200x]

Shrink to 200 pixels tall:
[thumbnail=/images/Benten.jpg size=x200]

Fit inside a box 100 pixels square, keeping proportions:
[thumbnail=/images/Benten.jpg size=100x100]

Resize to 100 pixels square, regardless of proportions:
[thumbnail=/images/Benten.jpg resize=100x100]

Accessing this directly from HTML:

<img src="/images/Benten.jpg?size=200x" border="0" />

This is intended to make it easy to produce image galleries and photo albums where you need to produce images in multiple resolutions. Also, it will be used for user avatars: Since users have complete control over their site layouts, there won't be a single fixed size for avatars, and resizing in the browser produces ugly images.

The advantages (apart from the improved quality) are that it makes it very easy to keep the image proportions, and it produces smaller files for fast loading times. (And less strain on your bandwidth.) Doing high-quality image processing is fairly CPU intensive, but we already have 16 CPUs at our disposal, so that is not anticipated to be a problem.

One hitch: This doesn't work for animated GIFs. Neither does the image processing function in the file module; the GIF library I'm using is lacking in several respects.

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