Broken, but healing

Yeah, stuff’s probably broken all over the place. Sorry. Don’t hesitate to tell me about it, just don’t expect me to fix it instantly.

And yeah, old stuff will be popping up as new in your aggregator, especially if you subscribe to my comment feed. Sorry.

And yeah, default templates with default contents are lame, and I should fix it, and probably won’t.

But, I’m never again going to see my weblog software returning Perl’s infuriatingly common response to any problem, “Internal Server Error. Check the error log for a message that’s no more help than this.” And I don’t think you can imagine just how happy that makes me. Freedom 0? I’m down with that. A vibrant, independent and free community? Cool. But I just wanted out from under the bloody Perl. Thanks, Matt, and everyone else who has worked on WordPress, and on b2 before that, for giving me such an easy way out.


Comment by Jeevan #
2005-10-30 20:01:50

Never thought you’d leave Movable Type. ;-)

(First comment @ the ’new’ blog?)

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-10-30 20:29:32

Frist p0st on a p0st that’s entirely new, yes, but Matt has a nose for these things: he commented within minutes of the time I put in a redirect for that one post that refused to build an individual archive file in MT.

Perl frustrations aside, I probably wouldn’t have left Movable Type if it hadn’t left me first: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it becoming what it is, but it’s no long the software all my friends play with, it’s now the software most of my friends sell to big companies. That’s a wonderful thing, for them, but it’s really cut into the fun I have playing with it.

Comment by Matt #
2005-10-30 22:56:09

What can I say, I’m a fan.

Comment by Michael Pate #
2005-10-31 14:07:59

So while your friends get to make mistakes, I guess even you have a limit. And I had just been considering moving one of my weblogs back to MT. I guess I will consider that strategy a bit more.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-10-31 15:09:32

I’m not sure I’d class growing away from me as exactly a mistake: there are certainly a few people who describe it as one of the best things they’ve ever done ;)

Comment by J. J. #
2005-10-30 20:34:02

Hmm, nice job importing all your old entries. I’m curious to know more reasons why you went from MT to WP. I have an MT blog, but would at least like to play around with WP (I’ve heard Textpattern is nice, too). By the way, I’ve been subscribed to your feed for about a year now; thanks for all the insightful words! Also, make sure you get a Preview button going soon; I’m sure that’ll be somewhere around item 200 on your list of WP customizations ;-)

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-10-30 20:49:21

I think Preview’s going to have to be higher up the list than that; so far, what I miss most is that and built-in validation, both for comments and for posts. Even though I’ve pretty much decided that serving application/xhtml+xml is pointless for me, I’ve been forcing myself (and yourself, too, of course) to validate everything for so long that it’s giving me ”late to class, forgot to put on pants” nightmares already, and I haven’t even gone to sleep yet.

I suppose I should write another Why the switch? post, even though I doubt it will come out any better than that one did. There’s the proximate cause, MT decided not to build individual archives when I hadn’t changed anything, and refused to tell me what was wrong, there’s the way that MT and I have just drifted apart as it went into business and I didn’t, there’s the way I’m spending more and more time working on open source projects where if something bothers me that I can fix, I can fix it for other people, too, while apparently with MT submitting a patch just throws them into a licensing swamp, and there’s always the digital magpie thing: it’s something new (to me, I know ”everybody” else made this move years ago) and shiny to play with and crow about.

Comment by Firas #
2005-10-30 21:14:07

I’m not one qualified to dole out UI advice, but I shall, anyway: preview considered hack! Consider using this.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-10-30 21:36:25

Heh. I might consider using something with the same effect as that, but, conflating IP address with identity considered insane! Clearly, from the comments, the author doesn’t understand the reality of NAT or dialup, but there’s no way I’m letting everyone behind a single router, or random people using a particular dialup ISP edit comments, thirty minutes or not.

However, consider this analogy: comment preview gives you a pencil with an eraser, lets you sit at your desk and do your exam, and then has you take it up and put it on the projector. Comment editing gives you a piece of chalk and a blackboard eraser, and sends you up to the front of the room to do your exam. Which sounds kinder?

Comment by Firas #
2005-10-30 22:17:13

Upon first ’alt-is-held, about-to-hit-tab’ glance, I read that as ’which sounds kinkier’ for some strange reason. Personally, what sounds kinkiest is a two in one–you get to rub with both the firm pencil eraser and silky chalkboard duster.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-10-30 22:24:32

And, I really shouldn’t be ignoring the fact that thanks to required previews, I’ve been getting maybe two or three comment spams a week, when someone making pennies a day comes by and enters one by hand. Once my new forms get indexed, I’ll be needing something to ignore spambots that effectively, without doing any of the horrible things like requiring JavaScript or requiring vision that I’ve seen so many people settle for. Uniqueness is a huge advantage in fighting comment spam, and given the reluctance to have comment preview in WordPress weblogs, it ought to be pretty effective for some time to come.

Comment by Matt #
2005-10-30 22:55:52

Don’t forget Akismet, I’d love to have you try it out.

Comment by Matt #
2005-10-30 23:44:05

Which I can see you’ve turned on, so yay. :)

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-10-30 23:54:52

That’s entirely too slickly integrated: I was just poking around wondering how I was going to tell whether or not I had actually successfully turned it on! Finally had to just read the code to see what I should expect.

You’ve no doubt already got plenty of bug reports saying that it would be nicer for first time use if get_option('wordpress_api_key') appended a dot to the key, so that the first time in without a key entered you wouldn’t get a fsockopen warning about being unable to parse the host ”” haven’t you?

Comment by Jacques Distler #
2005-10-30 23:13:05

Getting comment previews (even forcing previews) is relatively easy compared to validating the comments. Aside from something very roughly hacked together by Simon Willison, I don’t think there is a PHP frameworks for validating XHTML (at least, not one anyone’s been able to figure out how to use from within WordPress).

Perhaps you could use the W3C’s web service.

Having access to the Server logs is a big help in debugging those inscrutable ”Server Error” messages from MT’s CGI scripts. And even then, they sometimes remain inscrutable.

At least your comment system still has threading …

Comment by Matt #
2005-10-30 23:43:25

I recall a plugin called X-valid, might be worth looking into.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-10-31 00:19:32

Well, we’ll see: unlike the house of cards where I was before, this subdomain is running PHP 5 as a cgi without all the useful ways to do system calls disabled. At the very least, I ought to be able to save a temporary file and shell out to something that runs the validator and returns the output. Other than the minor problem that I barely learned how to run it when you were helping me get it set up, and that was quite a while back…

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-10-31 07:22:04

And, inscrutable indeed: with problems like ”premature end of script headers” it’s no wonder Perl was hiding it away from the public. Perhaps I could have found a way to comment out some error-suppressing code, to get a better error message, but the constant plaint of lusers, ”I didn’t change anything I didn’t” was actually true in this case. Did my host change Perl versions, or update a module I depended on? Did some bits rot on the disk? I don’t know, and I don’t have to find out.

Comment by Ben de Groot #
2005-11-01 11:17:26

There is a WordPress plugin available that combines Simon Willisons validation with comment preview, originally by Mark Wubben (of sIFR fame), now maintained by me. Take a look, it might help you out…

Comment by Firas #
2005-10-30 21:11:11

Welcome aboard. Rock the boat :) (Spiffy comment form, by the way.)

Comment by Geof F. Morris #
2005-10-30 22:15:25

Welcome to the WordPress community, Phil. [Finally. ;)]

Comment by Srijith #
2005-10-30 22:40:01

That was a shocker :) You can still support PGP Comments .

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-10-30 23:06:49

I have got to learn to search before I start hacking: I’d just finished a ten minute absolutely brutal hack of a plugin to just strip existing signatures for display, until I could figure out how to do better. Thanks for the link!

(And yes, the fact that I’ve already found several things that I need, already done for me without my needing to even write some PHP, much less hack through Perl, does have me :) )

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-10-31 00:21:31

A little bird tells me that I ought to worry about Iñtërnâtiônàlizætiøn.

Comment by Scott Johnson #
2005-10-31 14:23:07

From the looks of that comment, I’d say you’ve got i18n tackled. Was there much work involved in getting that to work?

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-10-31 14:45:41

None whatsoever: I’ve been using UTF-8 for everything for quite a while, so everything imported fine, and should work fine. Except for the one thing I was actually testing, which was signature verification, which is broken. I suspect that it’s the path the comment takes through the clipboard, into PGP for signing, and back through the clipboard to the textarea that leaves it invalid, but I’m not sure exactly where, or what I can do about it.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-11-09 23:19:08

Interesting. While cleaning out the rel="nofollow" that I didn’t realize was being added to my comments in the database, not just added and then removed before display, I re-signed that comment, and now the signature validates just fine. I do believe I was just seeing all the other problems, and no Iñtërnâtiônàlizætiøn problem at all.

Comment by Geodog #
2005-10-31 01:30:26

Welcome to the bright side. It is has been a long time since the days of the baby squirrels.

Trackback by #
2005-10-31 02:10:18

Phil Ringnalda moves to WordPress

Moving from MT to WordPress has been an obvious web trend over the past two years, and Phil Ringnalda was the most obvious Movable Type holdout.

Comment by Jonathon Delacour #
2005-10-31 03:17:48

Golly, Phil, I’m about three-quarters of the way through moving my archived posts from Movable Type to WordPress only to find you’ve already made the switch. I tried to get the upgrade to MT 3.2 to work but gave up in despair. Happily, like you, I’m enormously impressed with WordPress (and you’ve given me an even greater incentive to get my weblog up and running again).

So, when do you expect to announce that you’ve bought a Macintosh?

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-10-31 07:35:57

I’m not sure about when, but the Mac is probably coming, too. I’ve had various ones in my cart, wheeling up toward the cashier’s station, several times now, but their inability to make me feel like it’s the right one stops me every time. Will this be Baby Bear’s Mac, taking two hours to compile Firefox? Will it be Papa Bear’s laptop, crushing my legs and falling off the couch? Will just closing this browser tab stop my anxiety? Why yes, yes it will.

I did see you-on-WordPress the other day: made me very happy to think that you must be coming back to us, once I got over the initial ”wait, has he been back at this new URI for months and nobody told me?” shock.

Trackback by geek ramblings #
2005-10-31 07:30:33

Phil Ringnalda switches to WordPress

Phil Ringnalda’s site is now powered by WordPress.

But, I’m never again going to see my weblog software returning Perl’s infuriatingly common response to any problem, “Internal Server Error. Check the error log for a message that’s no…

2005-10-31 08:20:48

[…] Phil Ringnalda’s site is now powered by WordPress. […]

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-10-31 08:25:04

w00t! My first ever Pingback!

Um, should a single post actually be sending both a Trackback and a Pingback?

Comment by Dougal Campbell #
2005-10-31 08:36:56

Sorry about that. WP sends the pingback automagically, but I’ve gotten in the habit of sending a trackback to sites when I see they’re supported. So sometimes I end up double-pinging.

I’ve wondered before if we should add some heuristics to cover that. Maybe if pingbacks are supported, supress sending the trackback (or vice versa — not sure which should take precedence).

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-10-31 14:22:24

Nope, it can’t be your fault or your responsibility. If you give your server a Trackback URL like and a link to, your server’s only hope of knowing they are the same is to do Trackback autodiscovery on the link, and with so many people (including, for now, me) not including Trackback RDF anymore, the odds of that working aren’t great. So it’s up to me to look for a Pingback to replace, when I get a Trackback, and to politely ignore a Pingback from a URL that’s already sent a Trackback (since, according to my oft-repeated though mostly-ignored claim, the semantics of a Trackback are broader, and more important to show to readers).

But this time, I’m going to be smart enough to see whether someone’s already done the work for me, before I start hacking ;)

Comment by Anthony #
2005-10-31 15:58:18

Welcome to the ”Wonderful World of WordPress,” Phil! :)

Enjoy the ride.

Comment by Carthik #
2005-10-31 18:20:17

Welcome, Phil!
(A silent admirer)

Comment by Ozzie #
2005-10-31 20:30:53

Another migrated WordPress user :), welcome!

Comment by Michel Valdrighi #
2005-11-01 03:31:12

At last!
I had almost given up hope to see you switch. :)

Comment by Neil T. #
2005-11-01 09:55:38

I take it this means there’s no Real Comment Throttle 0.2 plugin planned, then?

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-11-01 20:39:13

Well, there could be: I’ve still got your ProNet email in the ”Inbox Of Your Worst Nightmares.” But I’m not convinced it’s the right thing to do, at least for the need I meant RCT to fill. Give me a few days to catch up, and I’ll write a post where we can discuss whether a throttle that’s supposed to say ”sorry, I’ve taken all I’m willing to deal with” ought to still make you deal with.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-11-01 22:42:55

Wow, that was poorly phrased, even for me. My inbox is my worst nightmare, despite the fact that each individual email enshrined there is, on its own, interesting and important. Including those three from April. Ulp. And those two from July that needed to be done in August.

Comment by kellan #
2005-11-01 10:27:21

I hit the same wall with MT, but WP just didn’t offer enough yak shaving opportunities. If you ever get the urge to endless tinker with your blog software I’d suggest Typo.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-11-01 20:43:00

I actually considered it for a second, thanks to your long and winding road, but only about a second: when you’re switching away from a language that you sort-of know, because it’s too much of a pain to troubleshoot it, going to a language that you don’t know at all probably isn’t a reasonable course. And I’ve actually got three tabs open right now each with the potential for me to end up in Tibet with a straight razor in my hand, even with WP.

Comment by Julie #
2005-11-02 19:39:45

I never thought i’d see you switching. I was a die-hard Movable Type fan since 2001 ’till my hosting company said mt-comments.cgi file was consuming a lot of processing from the entire server. Plus MT 3.2 is a huge letdown with StyleCatcher.

WordPress is SO much better! Welcome! :)

From a frequent reader

Comment by Aristotle Pagaltzis #
2005-11-04 13:11:10

The best thing about this is that your damn 8x Georgia stylesheet has made way for a 10px sans-serif font. :)

2005-12-16 16:18:11

[…] phil ringnalda » Blog Archive » Broken, but healing (tags: wordpresser) […]


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