MovableBlog: Archives: February 2003

A weblog about the Movable Type Publishing Platform and other geekery

February 28th, 2003

Evil RSS »

Evil RSS: it doesn't crash Syndirella (20030224) if you answer No to the 'send e-mail report to the developer' prompt.

Five minutes later: Okay, it does if you load the offending posts in the evil feed often enough.

Posted by Richard at 08:11 PM | Category: XML | Comments (0)

February 27th, 2003

Thursday Night Links »

Posted by Richard at 08:26 PM | Category: Geekery | Comments (1)

February 26th, 2003

Ethics of TrackBack »

PB wonders about the ethics of using a form to post a TrackBack to a site. I'm not worried. The resulting links on my site don't contain author information, just a link to a post and an excerpt in the title attribute. (The author information, correct or not, gets sent to me by email.) Now, is there potential for abuse in the excerpt? Sure. Does it matter at this point, seeing as how I get only 200 visits a day? No. (Aside: there hasn't been any pings in the last few days: did I break it?) Plus I can—and do—delete the TrackBack's that are not related in some way to Movable Type. As for pinging my sidebar with a post written by someone else, again, I have no problem with that: there's no author information that goes public, and I envisioned the sidebar as content (not very much content, that is) that my only my readers have control over. It's just like putting a link to a post on your own weblog, except, well, it goes on mine.

Be sure to read Mena's response in the comments, too. [link via Anil]

Posted by Richard at 03:26 PM | Category: MT | Comments (1)

February 25th, 2003

RSS Separates Content From Design »

Just to add to what The Shifted Librarian said about RSS feeds (or, more accurately, to respond to whom she quoted), I like the fact that I can separate the content from the design. Sure, there are plenty of well designed (i.e. simple but elegant) weblogs out there (e.g., ktheory, dive into mark, Gizmodo, svn and the list goes on), but it's the content that is still king. Tim is right, however, in that RSS doesn't work well for media-intensive weblogs.

Posted by Richard at 10:30 PM | Category: XML | Comments (0)

Couple of Web Design Links »

Clarence the Pony: tables aren't evil; always using tables is. [via Climb to the Stars!] What about always using CSS-positioning?

Number of W3C member sites with valid markup increases by more than 75% in a year!: which is to say that it increased from a not-very-impressive 3.7% to a not-very-impressive 6.5%. It's a lot easier to almost double a small number than it is to almost double a big number. [via MeFi, and while I'm at it, I'm not sure I buy Anil Dash's assertion that if you build a standards-compliant site, that Netscape 4 will render it correctly]

Posted by Richard at 07:54 PM | Category: Web Design | Comments (0)

February 24th, 2003

MT 2.63 »

MT releases 2.63 update, also offers nightly builds. From the changelog: "Fixed bug where Next and Previous links on edit entry screen skipped drafts." This evidently was consistent with draft posts and not just new entries set to draft, as I thought.

The nightly builds are an interesting and unexpected addition. I like the idea of nightly builds, and until recently was pretty obsessed with getting the latest Mozilla and Phoenix builds.

[via Brad Choate]

Posted by Richard at 09:59 AM | Category: MT | Comments (0)

February 23rd, 2003

Close Comments Script »

Ever wanted to close comments on your past weblog entries but didn't have the time to go through all 273 of them? (That's how many, at this writing, are on Vancouver Webloggers.) Now you can with Tubedogg's closecomments PHP script. Note that it requires MT 2.6 and must be running the MySQL version. Necessarily, you also need PHP on your system. [via scriptygoddess]

Posted by Richard at 11:58 PM | Category: MT | Comments (0)

February 22nd, 2003

Cleared Bookmarks II »

A few more articles cleared out of my Bookmarks.

Posted by Richard at 10:18 PM | Category: Geekery | Comments (0)

Cleared Bookmarks »

I needed to clear some bookmarks, and here are the geekier of the articles that were there.

Posted by Richard at 10:09 AM | Category: Geekery | Comments (0)

February 21st, 2003

RDF vs. XML »

If you need it dumbed down a little, here's a happy little graphical represenation of RDF vs. XML. [via Anil]

Posted by Richard at 07:22 PM | Category: XML | Comments (0)

NewsMonster and robots.txt II »

The comments for Ben Hammersley's post on NewsMonster features a debate between Mark Pilgrim and Kevin Burton. They've butted heads before. As for myself, I had difficulty installing it last night. I'll try again tonight after bowling.

I brought Mark's discussion up on the Syndirella mailing list, and there will be some limited support for robots.txt in a future release.

Also: Mark's Day 2 of NewsMonster.

Posted by Richard at 12:39 PM | Category: XML | Comments (0)

February 20th, 2003

Clarification on Pay Installations »

Mena Trott clarifies a point for me on paid installations for commercial clients:

You can charge for support services (installation) as long as a commercial license is purchased, by you or the owner of the site.[...]

What isn't allowed: Someone buys one license and charges multiple clients or installs multiple instances of the software. I.E a host buys one copy of MT and then offers customers pre-installed MT.

Thanks Mena!

Posted by Richard at 05:22 PM | Category: MT | Comments (0)


KABLOG facilitates blogging from your cell phone using Movable Type (or "other blog servers that support blogger.getUsersBlogs as well as metaWeblog.newPost". (Well, it would facilitate it for me if my cell phone didn't suck!) It would be cool to have though, because a) I don't have a laptop, and b) I always have these great blog post ideas while on SkyTrain and not while sitting at home sitting at my computer.

Path: RSS > Anil > Now Bloggers Can Hit the Road > KABLOG

Posted by Richard at 05:14 PM | Category: MT | Comments (0)

Minor Request »

Since it's apparent I don't know where to find them, can someone point me towards a repository of icons for RSS and RDF feeds? There are some elegant ones out there, and I'd like to change the de rigeur white-on-orange XML icon (which, admittedly, goes nicely with this site's colour scheme) to something prettier.

Unrelated: hopefully nobody linked to the category archives that until recently were on each post's footer. At least three of them need to be renamed: 'Mozilla/Phoenix' to simply 'Mozilla', 'HTML/CSS' to something like 'Web Design', and 'XML/RSS' to simply 'XML'. Partly because for truth-in-advertising (e.g. Phoenix will eventually change its name, but will always be associated with Mozilla), but also partly so I can add an XFML link for this page (for no other reason than to understand-by-doing).

Posted by Richard at 01:26 PM | Category: This Site | Comments (1)

February 19th, 2003

NewsMonster and robots.txt »

Mark Pilgrim: why NewsMonster is bad (and what you can do about it).

Posted by Richard at 11:32 PM | Category: XML | Comments (0)

Custom Error Pages with PHP and Apache »

Custom Error Pages with PHP and Apache: I thought the first bit of code was inspired, but then the author gets into dynamically generating content based on the URL, and even gives code for a smart URL redirect la, both using error documents.

Posted by Richard at 08:55 PM | Category: PHP | Comments (0)

One Nine »

It's very bad of me to quote without attribution here—okay, from top of the thread to the bottom, and using first names only, it's Ryan, Keith, Peter, and Erick—but this quote represents what I love about the sfu.unix newsgroup. Very geeky, and very picky about things sometimes. And often very off-topic. (This is part of a thread discussing my alma mater's consideration of removing all Microsoft products from the lab computers and going open-source.)

>>>(single point of failure) inter-campus link at DC in all of 2003, it
>>>will have operated at roughly "one nine" service levels for the entire
>>> year.
>>"One nine". Useful phrase, that. Covers the whole huge range between 9%
>> and 99%.
> Actually no, in this context it refers to the number of 9s after the
>decimal point (with %99. being assumed). The public telephone network typically
>strives for 5 9s reliability (i.e. 99.99999 uptime). One 9s reliability is
>considerably less reliable ...

Wrong, five 9's reliability is 99.999% uptime. The correct way to look at this is the number of 9's after the decimal point with "0." being assumed. One nine is thus 0.9, or 90% uptime.

This allows "nines" to be used as fractional units on a log-scale like decibels
"Zero nines" would mean no uptime and "half a nine" would be about 68% uptime.
"Five and a half nines", 99.99968% uptime. Works nicely, doesn't it?

I've been lurking in the newsgroup for at least 6 years now. Also, the sfu.test newsgroup has some of the funniest rejoinders to test messages I've ever seen.

Posted by Richard at 02:23 PM | Category: Geekery | Comments (1)


XFML is an XML format designed to ease indexing, publishing and sharing of hierarchical metadata. Important concepts include topics, facets and occurencestrength. Peruse the spec for XFML 1.0, and be sure to check out the Movable Type template for XFML. The software compatible with XFML is listed, but evidently a PHP/MySQL solution for authoring in XFML is coming soon. Is there no PHP parsing solution available yet? [via feature request in MT support forum]

Posted by Richard at 01:10 PM | Category: XML | Comments (0)

PHP, RSS and MT »

Some links found while traveling while browsing the site and through web searches:

Posted by Richard at 12:36 PM | Category: XML | Comments (0)

Ping Error Not MT's Fault »

If, after posting in Movable Type, you're getting error messages like the following...

One or more errors occurred when sending update or TrackBack pings. Check the Activity Log for the error.

...and it directs you to your error log, giving you something like this...

Ping '' failed: HTTP error: 500 read timeout

...then you need not worry too much. This from Ben in the support forum:

This isn't a problem with MT. The pings were always failing--MT just started telling you about them, because for many people, they didn't know why they weren't appearing on the updated lists, etc. So it's helpful to know what is going wrong.

The fact that the error (the first quote above) appears in red led me to suspect that it was indeed a problem with MT, but evidently, like Ben says, MT is just letting you know about what has always been occuring on (or, as the case may be) anyway.

Posted by Richard at 09:59 AM | Category: MT | Comments (0)

Two Links »

Two links, culled from Anil:

Posted by Richard at 09:39 AM | Category: Web Design | Comments (2)

February 17th, 2003

Security Vulnerability in 2.6 and 2.61 »

If you've upgraded to MT 2.6 and/or 2.61 already, you need to upgrade to 2.62 immediately. [via Brad Choate]

Posted by Richard at 12:52 PM | Category: MT | Comments (0)

Chimera To Be Camino? »

Due to legal reasons, the Chimera browser for the Mac will be renamed, probably to Camino. It's funny that when I first read the announcement, I totally knew people would ignore the post and suggest names. This thread at the Phoenix forum got entirely out of hand (at time of writing, it contains 1678 posts!), so I don't blame pinkerton for disabling comments.

Posted by Richard at 10:56 AM | Category: Mozilla | Comments (0)

Blogger Redesign Mockup »

Leave it up to Jason Kottke to redesign Blogger in the Google mold, although if it were up to me, I'd change the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button to "Get Lucky". He also (necessarily) has some comments on the acquisition, although I have to wonder about the comparison to Netscape, which ended up getting bought out by a faceless corporation (although not the faceless corporation Netscape users were most afraid of).

Posted by Richard at 10:49 AM | Category: Geekery | Comments (0)

February 16th, 2003

Bug Fix for MT »

Six Apart have released MT 2.61, a bug-fix release.

Posted by Richard at 11:39 PM | Category: MT | Comments (2)

More on Google's Acquisition »

Jenny at The Shifted Librarian (one of my favourite weblogs these days, not least because she includes full entries in her RSS feed) has aggregated some posts on the Google's latest acquisition, and has some comments of her own.

Posted by Richard at 11:21 PM | Category: Geekery | Comments (0)

Secret Script in MT 2.6 »

Hidden secrets in Movable Type 2.6: I noticed it too during upload of the upgrade. Now, if only I could figure out how to exploit it fully.

[via sidebar Trackback > Phil]

Posted by Richard at 08:17 PM | Category: MT | Comments (0)

Some Tag Research »

Some resources I consulted looking at the cite, blockquote, q, ins, del and em tags:

* Paragraphs, Lines and Phrases: Text
* re: the cite tag
* Million dollar markup
* Pushing the envelope
* XHTML Edit Module (the ins and del tags)
* Basic HTML data types

Basically I was trying to figure out the best way to format inline quotes (as opposed to block quotes. At great risk of embarassment, I'll using the em tag for inline quotes, unless there is a better alternative (NB: I will not be using the q tag).

Posted by Richard at 05:11 PM | Category: Web Design | Comments (2)

February 15th, 2003

Google Buys Blogger »

As seen at 12 million other blogs by now: Google Buys Blogger.

I looked at the calendar, and it's a month and half until April 1st. What gives?

Update Feb. 16, 10:35 AM: Cory Doctorow has an essay on Google's Blogger acquisition. I remain unconvinced that this is a Good Thing, for bloggers or even for Google's brand.

Posted by Richard at 10:47 PM | Category: Geekery | Comments (1)

No "Add new category..." in Bookmarklets »

So I've upgraded one installation (the one that powers MT blogs on the domain) and so far so good, except that the bookmarklets do not have the "Add new category..." option in the "Primary Category" drop down menu. For me, it's going to be one of the most abused features of MT 2.6. That and the Text Formatting plugins especially TextileFormatting. That there's a MovableJive plugin is just...awesome.

Posted by Richard at 10:24 PM | Category: MT | Comments (0)

Status Bar in IE6 »

This has been bugging me for a while now: the status bar in Internet Explorer 6 in Windows XP isn't consistenly displayed after closing the browser. A simple Google search found this page: Tip - Always Display IE6 Status Bar. Hopefully that will solve the problem.

Posted by Richard at 06:18 PM | Category: Windows XP | Comments (2)

O'Reilly Beta Chapters »

There are quite a few beta chapters of O'Reilly books available. The chapters for Google Hacks should keep me occupied, at least for a little while. Update: nevermind that, the chapter from Python in a Nutshell looks more interesting (and time-consuming), since, well, I don't know anything about Python.

Posted by Richard at 05:05 PM | Category: Geekery | Comments (0)

EAC and mkwACT »

Back in my live concert trading days (i.e. summer of 2001) I used the following freeware programs extensively:

* EAC: Exact Audio Copy, used to extract tracks from audio CDs to WAV format. The 'exact' part was important, because live show CDs have no gaps, so each WAV file needs to have the exact amount of audio in it (i.e. down to the milisecond) for it to be reburned without any skips or gaps. [EAC documentation]
* mkwACT: Michael K. Weise Audio Compression Tool, used to compress WAV to SHN—a lossless compression format for easier transfer of huge WAV files over the Internet—or to MP3 (which is lossy). [mkwACT documentation]

I started out getting some shows via the, which have a policy of only facilitating trades between 'taper-friendly' bands (i.e. bands that allow fans to tape the concerts and trade them without any money changing hands) and then set up trades through my trading website (powered by MT, of course). The software above was (and is) indispensible for trading live music online.

Posted by Richard at 04:40 PM | Category: Freeware Finds | Comments (0)

February 13th, 2003

MT 2.6 Released »

MT 2.6 Released! I may wait a day or two before upgrading my (gulp) three installations of MT, though.

dive into mark has a good mini-intro to the new version. Also: Six Apart announces Movable Type Pro [via Anil]

Posted by Richard at 10:03 PM | Category: MT | Comments (0)

Bible XML Service »

Using the ESV Bible as a Web Service: an RFC

And there was much rejoicing. Okay, bad joke, and it's even worse than you think, my being an atheist/agnostic (if you can believe it, I switch between the two). Interesting tool for faith-based blogs, one of which I follow, uh, religiously.

Route I took to get the first link: A Frog in the Valley > Heal Your Church Web Site > Bible Is Getting Even Friendlier to Programmers.

Posted by Richard at 06:03 PM | Category: XML | Comments (2)

Reversible »

Six Apart Log, Phil, David and Kottke discuss, which, if I understand correctly, is an amalgam of open directory, public referer log, and Trackback repository (similar to the sidebar of this site, except not limited to MT-Related posts; as an aside, this sidebar is starting to get Trackback Spam).

My guess? Learn how to exploit it now, because it may turn out to be similar to I remember getting a lot of hits from it early on, because a) its traffic was high, b) the amount of pings was, compare to now, relatively low, and c) the name of the personal blog I pinged from is fairly unique. Now my hits from has slowed to a trickle (the name is still unique, but it gets buried in the amount of weblogs pinged in small amount of time).

More later.

Posted by Richard at 10:12 AM | Category: Geekery | Comments (0)

February 12th, 2003

Gecko's Bright Future »

Mozilla, Gecko, Netscape, and the future in AOL:

"[Gecko's] robust support of a wide range of standards, it's speed, flexibility, and portability make it an excellent candidate for use in PC based systems, as well as Internet appliances (remember Touchpad?), WAP browsers, game consoles 3, set-top devices, even those wonderful dot-com refrigerators."

[via /.]

Posted by Richard at 07:14 PM | Category: Mozilla | Comments (0)

Reversible! »

What is Reversible? What isn't Reversible? [via remains of the links]

Posted by Richard at 05:29 PM | Category: Geekery | Comments (0)

MT Archive Redirects »

A a script to generate mod_rewrite rules to support a change in naming Movable Type archive files. Ahh, the LazyWeb.

There are also alternative approaches. [via A Frog in the Valley]

Posted by Richard at 04:51 PM | Category: MT | Comments (0)

February 11th, 2003

Lynx and MT, Nice Titles »

As a followup to the MT & Lynx Followup, you can now get Lynx-friendly templates for the MT CMS.

The blogging world is in a tizzy over Nice Titles. It's been implemented at MetaFilter too.

Posted by Richard at 10:08 PM | Category: MT | Comments (1)

NetNewsWire and MT »

Mena reports that NetNewsWire 1.0 works with MT, but categories are problematic.

Posted by Richard at 06:02 PM | Category: XML | Comments (0)

February 10th, 2003

Mozilla and MeFi »

Keyboard and iconic shortuts in MetaFilter for latest builds of Mozilla: awesome! Now if only MT Bookmarklets could work properly in Phoenix/Mozilla, all would be as one.

[first link via Movable Type Support Board]

Posted by Richard at 10:11 PM | Category: Mozilla | Comments (0)

mtplugins dot org »

MT Plugin Directory: looks pretty comprehensive to me. [via...well, my referer log]

Posted by Richard at 09:39 PM | Category: MT | Comments (1)

Freeware Finds »

Last night, looking for a transparent windows manager, I found the open-source Froost. The interface needs work, and I had trouble restoring it from the system tray, but it was pretty cool having a full-screen Unix shell (through Putty) while being able to see the windows in the background. Consider Froost the open-source version of Actual Transparent Windows which will set you back 20 clams.

Something I'm bookmarking for later: Foxmail, a freeware email client [via Phoenix General forum]

Posted by Richard at 11:56 AM | Category: Freeware Finds | Comments (0)

February 9th, 2003

RSS Sample Chapter »

The fine folks at O'Reilly have released a beta chapter of Content Syndication with RSS by Ben Hammersley. There are some typos (e.g. "Its author, Dave Winer, did not invent any new practices with this specification, but did codify RSS in a far more precise way that [sic] the Netscape original..."), but it's cool that they're releasing a chapter even before the estimated March 2003 publication.

Posted by Richard at 10:00 PM | Category: XML | Comments (0)

Convert LiveJournal to MT »

Importing LiveJournal Entries to Movable Type: it looks more than a little cumbersome, and LiveJournal does have certain advantages over MT (e.g. friends-only posts, a neat little desktop client), so if you're willing to join the MT revolution as a LiveJournal user, it's not without its costs. [via scriptygoddess]

Posted by Richard at 10:57 AM | Category: MT | Comments (3)

February 7th, 2003

MT & Lynx Follow-up »

Ask (for screenshots of MT as appears in Lynx) and ye shall receive.

Since the sidebar gets pushed to the bottom in some resolutions, I'll get you to read the full post in the individual entry.

The problems are such: there are spacer images without alt attributes and there's no provision for skipping over navigation tags. Also many of the navigation don't have text-equivalents.

The login screen. Lookin' good, except for that alt attribute on the images.

Login screen for MT in Lynx

The next 4 images show the blog menu screens. Lots of [spacer.gif] blocks.

Page 1 of Blog Menu

Page 2 of Blog Menu

Page 3 of Blog Menu

Page 4 of Blog Menu

The following screen is page 4 of the Edit Entry screen. Again, [spacer.gif] blocks.

Page 4 of the Edit Entry screen

Posted by Richard at 04:50 PM | Category: MT | Comments (1)

February 6th, 2003

Final Decision Soon »

Expect a final decision on the future of MovableBLOG soon. I'm leaning very heavily towards conversion to a geeklog with emphasis on MT. Of course, that would leave the Trackback sidebar in limbo, and would need to create categories and maybe 'about me' pages as well. But my Sunday is free, so it should get done then.

Posted by Richard at 08:23 PM | Category: This Site | Comments (3)

Home Network Security »

Home Network Security [Recommendations]: The main reason I'm unworthy of the label 'computer nerd' is that my knowledge of security is, well, limited. Up until recently, there was no firewall installed on my home computer. And it cost me.

Posted by Richard at 11:28 AM | Category: Geekery | Comments (0)

February 5th, 2003

MT and Lynx »

I'm using my copy of MT from Lynx because at work, a telnet connection is the only one that seems to have any permanence. MT doesn't look too bad in Lynx: overall the navigation is fairly easy, but there is work to be done. [spacer.gif] blocks take up quite quite a bit of 'screen' space, which could be eliminated with a reliance on CSS positioning, or with a combination of alt and title attributes in the img and a tags respectively. Also, skip-to tags could eliminated some navigation weirdness.

Then again, how many use Lynx to blog? No, that's an honest question. Is it a big enough deal to make the MT CMS itself that accessible?

Posted by Richard at 01:12 PM | Category: MT | TrackBacks (0) | Comments (3)

February 4th, 2003

RFC for Plugin Manager »

David has a request for proposals concerning the Pluging Manager. You can comment on his proposal in his comments section or his forums section. Via MT-Dev.

Posted by Richard at 09:54 AM | Category: MT | TrackBacks (0) | Comments (0)