Category Archives: Blogging

Same Same But Different

Finally getting things sorted with the new blog software I switched for two main reasons:

  • MovableType version 3 had increased licensing restrictions so that the free version would only support one blog (pretty much)
  • The comment spam problem had caused me to close off all comments on the blog and there were a couple of good Captcha-based plugins for WordPress

I started off by exporting the stuff from my MovableType blog, and then set up a local copy of WordPress on my Powerbook. With that in place I could import the MovableType export. That worked well with a slight problem related to the Textile 2 post formatting plugin for WP which didn’t use the same syntax for images as the version for MT. WP and its plugins are written in PHP whereas MT is written in Perl. With a bit of fiddling I managed to make Textile 2 for WP handle the images in my old blog posts.

After that it was just a case of getting the templates and style-sheets right and installing one of the Captcha comment plugins.

It was easy to get the style-sheets working nicely with Firefox and Safari as both are pretty close to the standards regarding CSS, but Internet Explorer proves to be more of a challenge. It has a problem with the Box Model of layout that CSS uses and plays fast and loose with positioning and margins. Even better than that, the Mac implementation of IE (version 5) reacts very differently to way Windows IE 6 treats the same code.

Offline I only have a Mac to test stuff on, but have Virtual PC with Windows XP running inside that. VPC has an issue with OS X Tiger so that it won’t run in Virtual Switched Network mode, only shared network mode, so I can’t reach the web server running on the Mac from the virtual PC also running on the Mac. Instead to test the layout I have to save a copy of the page tothe shared directory using Firefox on the Mac, then open it using IE on the PC. All a bit tedious. I also don’t have access to all the info on the IE bugs which are available online.

I do have a spidered copy of most of the WP documentation which has proved very useful. Having all the documentation online is great for making sure that its all current etc, but does cause a problem if, like me, you have to pay for internet time. Maybe an automated daily package could be compiled for people who want to read the docs offline?

I’ve used some Apache rewrite rules to redirect links to my old MT pages to the equivalent WP entries so that Google etc should still find them.

I had the devil’s own trouble getting either of the two Captcha comment plugins to work. One required PHP to be compiled with GDlib and FreeType, the other needed ImageMagick with FreeType. Neither the PHP I had built nor the ImageMagick were suitable. I rebuilt PHP with the required modules but still didn’t get AuthImage to work, so have now (I hope) built ImageMagick as required by SecureImage instead. I left the compilation going on yesterday when I left the Internet cafe so we’ll see how it is when I get back there to upload this blog entry.
Update: It didn’t work, but a bit of tweaking means that comments are now working. Woohoo!

Some pros and cons for WordPress vs MovableType…


  • Built-in link handling
  • Fully Open Source
  • Easily extendable
  • Well documented and commented code.


  • Every page generated dynamically so slower than the static pages used by MT.
  • Some built-in tags are a bit restrictive.
  • Documentation only online

MT-Blacklist and Spoofing

I installed MT-Blacklist the week before last after getting hit with 5 spam comments. Since then it’s stopped 12 more spamming attempts, so it’s doing its job very well.

For those who don’t know, comment spamming has become a problem on blogs because it’s used as a way of pushing up web search rankings. Comments on various sites with links pointing to an online casino/viagra store etc, push the destination site up in the rankings.

The spammers use search engines to find blogs, and then post repeated comments which often appear innocuous enough (e.g. “Great site!”), but have links pointing to the spammer’s site.

A similar thing is done by spoofing referrers, so that sites which show recent referrers end up advertising dodgy sites. I keep my web stats unlinked from my site, but have noticed a bunch of spoofed referrers recently.

For the uninitiated, every time you click on a link, your web browser sends the address of the page holding that link to the destination site when it requests that page. Most web servers can record the referrer address, which can provide useful information about where visitors to a site are coming from. Some sites process the referrer logs and display the results on the site, hence the benefit of spooking the referrer field in a request. It’s done by using a program to act as a browser, which sends false referrer data in the request.

Late Night Shuffling

Being the impetuous fellow I am, noticing that Brad Choate had updated his excellent MT-Textile MT plugin, I thought I’d install it. In the process I removed the old version 1 plugin, figuring that the new one would replace it. Big mistake, and yes, I know I should have read the docs . All my old blog entries which had Textile 1 formatting now fell apart, leaving all my Textile codes in plain view.

Fortunately, Brad anticipated there’s be some right charlies like me, and posted a blog entry on how to fix it.

Fixed that and hope that no one was too disturbed by the strange codes that appeared in the meantime.

Did some more work on the Pigbag website, and spend a bit of time reading about Voice of the Beehive a band I used to love back in the 80’s. I found out that they reformed for a tour supporting The Wonder Stuff in December last year. Completely passed me by due to the quick succession of wedding/honeymoon/Barcelona/Australia, which is quite annoying. To make up for it, I pulled out the albums (Let It Bee Honey Lingers and Sex & Misery ) and listened to them. The first two are great happy pop albums, the third one I haven’t listened to much before and it’s still growing on me after my initial dislike.

Changed my default browser to the ever improving Mozilla Firefox now up to version 0.8 (and changed its name from Firebird). I’m using it as my standard browser on Windows and Linux, but sticking with Safari on the Mac. I’ve installed Firefox on the Mac too, but Safari fits the OS X style better.

The only issues I’ve come across so far have been a slight problem with dragging-and-dropping an image from a website into Music Collector and the fact that too many stupid websites (particularly banks) won’t allow you to access them just because you’re not using IE or some crappy old version of Netscape 4.x. Why do they do that? Were IE 4 and Netscape 4 really so secure that there is no risk using those browsers for secure transactions, but a real risk using a modern standards-compliant browser like Firefox? Some sites won’t even let you in with Mac versions of IE, ferchrissakes!

New Year, new blog!

As previously mentioned I’ve been reworking the weblog software I use here. I’ve switched to Movable Type which is a very sophisticated piece of code which is widely used for blogging. Even Jag uses it so it can’t be all bad.

As yet, I’ve hardly scratched the surface using the features it has, but I intend doing some more digging. The design of this page is pretty much all done using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which means that I can change layout etc without having to edit the HTML pages. I found a sample template for MT on the Movable Style website, and changed it considerably. I also cleaned up the sidebars, some of which were only really of use to me anyway.

Feel free to comment, using the “Comment” link below.