December 2005 Archives

Odd New Year’s tradition

Slate had an article about how the viewing of an obscure eleven-minute 1963 British skit has become a New Year’s Eve tradition for more than half of Germany.

The slapstick is a bit dated, but somewhat amusing. If you have nothing better to do this New Year’s, or need a break from Dick or Regis, here’s the direct Google Video link to Dinner for One.

Scrambled foreign characters in MT

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In my last entry, I mentioned a problem that I was having with high-ASCII characters appearing as garbled text after an upgrade to my university’s weblog server environment.

For example, ゴジラ or Cézanne would show up as ゴジラ or Cézanne, respectively.

I spent the first week of my holiday vacation with this problem hanging over my head. In a way, the ability to remotely access one’s work computer from home via VPN can be a bad thing because the temptation to try and resolve such a problem during “off-hours” is too great.

My attempt to completely put the problem out of my mind for at least the 24 hours of Christmas Day failed when the director of my department e-mailed me that very day, asking me for a status update on the problem.

Anyway, the former server admin finally e-mailed me the log-in information to obtain support from Six Apart, the company that makes Movable Type. Six Apart sent me two links that did not help and one wonderful link that finally solved my problem.

The solution was so simple, yet frustratingly difficult to find. It was the upgrade from Apache 1.3x to Apache 2 that did it. There is a bug (“feature”) in Apache 2, where Apache can override the character set encoding, even when it is defined by the charset attribute in an HTML page’s meta tags.

All I had to do to fix the problem was add the line AddDefaultCharset Off to my httpd configuration files and restart Apache.

I present all three links here in the hopes that if someone else runs into a similar problem, they are more likely to stumble across the solution via Google.

These are the links that did not help in my situation:
Accented Characters Display Incorrectly
Characters In My Language Are Encoded Incorrectly

This is the link that saved my butt (or at least my sanity):
Debugging charset encoding mismatch with Apache

More than I can chew?

Being responsible for providing an enterprise-level service is a monumental undertaking. Understatement of the epoch.

That’s partly why my blog entries have slowed to one per week, and why I’ve been MIA from the blogosphere lately.

I tried so hard to take this entire week off. No luck so far. A little Red Hat Linux server box had other plans for me.

Silly me to only plan four hours this morning for the outage. Hah! After twelve hours, most of the problems were licked, but now, all foreign characters in dozens of blogs are showing up as scrambled, garbled text. Damn.

I guess that no matter how well your test environment is running, when you switch it over to production, little unforeseen problems are inevitable.

This server had really needed a rebuild, and this week turned out to be the most opportune time. The original system administrator had accidentally created a script that changed the permissions of every single file on the server to 777. If you don’t know anything about UNIX permissions, that is a very, very bad thing. So the server was partially restored and has been limping along ever since.

Now why did I volunteer to take this on again? Oh yeah, our university really did deserve to have a well-maintained weblog server. I just know that demand for this thing is really going to spike as people start to grasp this whole blog thing.

The students are already doing amazing things with their blogs. For many of the blogs, one can type in a couple of keywords into a Google search box related to the subject of a student’s online project, and that student’s site is the number one-ranked result!

Usually, when a student writes a paper, the student sees it, and the instructor sees it, and the paper gets tucked away in a forgotten file forever. Now what these undergraduates are writing is immediately published in an extremely high-profile manner. Cool, scary, and potentially ground-breaking.

I suppose things like that make it all worthwhile, but I just need a vacation so badly.

Fortune cookie 19

I haven’t had a chance to post these in awhile, so the little slips of paper have been piling up. Today brings an unprecedented quadruple-header.

It is better to be approximately right
than precisely wrong.
Lucky Numbers 22, 14, 37, 48, 2, 28

It is also better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.

It’s easier to go down a hill than up it
but the view is much better at the top.
Lucky Numbers 47, 33, 21, 42, 5, 16

You know, it’s even easier to not go up or down the hill. Especially, if the view at the bottom is not all that bad.

A new outlook brightens your image
and brings new friends.
Lucky Numbers 40, 24, 13, 49, 2, 11

Notice that this one is more of a statement, than a prediction.

All the effort you are making will
ultimately pay off.
Lucky Numbers 2, 47, 19, 34, 11, 23

Och, I hope so. Although, it would be nice for a change that the ultimate pay off be a bit more tangible.

Migration

TotalChoice Hosting is moving my account over to a spiffy new server on or after December 9.

I don’t anticipate a significant outage, but if anyone visiting notmike.com gets a connection error, that’s probably why.

TCH is telling us that we “will be very pleased with the performance.” I hope so. They have been good hosts so far; I hope they sick around for a long while (unlike BlogHosts).

Masseusesses

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As part of a holiday morale boost slash wellness promotion thing, three masseuses were brought into our workplace.

Those who wanted massages could sign up for a fifteen-minute block.

It was nice, but I could have used an hour or two to work out the tension in my neck and upper back. I just got done with an all day Photoshop/InDesign project.

A few of my colleagues were quite amused that one of the massage therapists was named Suzy Chaos.

I hate spammers

Thanks to a combination of an evil online-slots spammer, my over-eager clicking of the de-spam link, and MT-Blacklist; all comments with the string “http:” have been blocked since November 19.

I apologize profusely if any of you attempted to leave a comment and were denied.

Thankfully, Jenn alerted me to the problem, and it is now corrected.

One of these days I’m going to uninstall MT-Blacklist. SpamLookup is doing a great job all by itself on my university’s blog server.

PostSecret, page 47

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 You are invited to anonymously contribute your secrets to PostSecret. Each secret can be a regret, hope, funny experience, unseen kindness, fantasy, belief, fear, betrayal, erotic desire, feeling, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything - as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before.
www.postsecret.com

In November of 2004, Frank Warren, who had plans to create an offline work of communal art, invited strangers to send him their secrets on postcards. A short time later, that project moved online and spread virally throughout the blogosphere. In early February of 2005, I answered his call, created a postcard, and dropped it in the mailbox. A question that I have had ever since is whether some secrets should remain locked away.

Fast-forwarding to last week, PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives, a hardcover book with a few hundred of the scanned postcards was released on November 29. I had it on order via Amazon but couldn’t wait, so I dropped by a local bookstore. My heart skipped a beat or two as I flipped through the pages. Sure enough, there it was at the bottom of page 47.

k postcard

Was the “secret” expressed on the postcard true? I suppose it had a grain of truth to it at one time, but any piece of artwork is an abstraction of reality. Taken out of context, though, I can see how it could be a somewhat disturbing image.

Anyway, I figured now was as good a time as any to tell some of the story behind that image (after the break).

Teaser

November was a less than prolific month for my blogging, as posts slowed down to about once per week and my comments on other blogs became non-existent. I just haven’t really had the energy for non-work-related blogging lately. Hopefully, I can get back on track this December.

Maybe I can also get back on track with my exercise routine. It is truly staggering how tired I feel since I stopped exercising regularly a few months ago. All I want to do is sleep, which leaves even less time for exercise. Damn downward spirals.

Anyway, as for blog posts, I have a couple of doozies planned. First up…in a raw, extremely personal entry to be written by the end of this weekend, I will reveal the “sordid” details behind page 47 of a certain book that just came out this week.

I highly recommend dropping by a bookstore and flipping through this book. They did a nice job on it.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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