He’s wearing a wire!

I’ve been Recorded.

Must resist temptation to revise and explain and equivocate. Must. Resist.


Comment by Kafkaesquí #
2003-03-18 16:00:26

Phil, any problem with my providing a link from the interview back to this post for anyone with questions of their own? This is only if you’re willing to take follow-up questions from the peanut gallery, and then only if they actually have any.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-03-18 16:11:25

Sure, no problem. I’m only resisting my own temptation to revise, not other people’s desire to prod me to waffle and evade.

Comment by michael #
2003-03-19 10:06:17

Ok… *poke, prod* Who started the first Blogger tech-help site, and why were you the only one recognized by Ev for all the work? C’mon, tell us?! ;) heh

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-03-19 10:13:50

And what phrase would he use rather than ”always helpful” today? ”The only sometimes bitchy…”?

Comment by michael #
2003-03-19 10:37:34

I do believe it was ’ever helpful’. =)

Ah, those were the days. When that came out, Gary and I had already been regularly helping out in the forums for about 6 months, and then Ev comes out with that, and we we’re both like, wtf?! Then again, we did bitch about Ev in the forums a time or two. heh

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-03-19 10:43:47

Hey, thanks – I was going to track it down for an explanation (as in, for those still not quite up to speed, michael’s probs.blogspot.com was my inspiration for archives.blogspot.com, and the source of most of the early content, too, as I remember, but I got all the front page of Blogger credit), but you beat me to it. And that is Gary? I tried to track him down last summer, but all I had to go on was a vague memory of ”just Gary”.

Comment by michael #
2003-03-19 16:54:08

Yep, that’s him. He hasn’t maintained a site in some time now, but he is one of the ’founding fathers’ so to speak, of SportsFilter. It’s a shame those boards haven’t been maintained, or if they have, I haven’t found where.

Sidenote: Did you ever notice that ’probs’ has the banner hacked out? I never made it public how simple that was to do, but now that Blogger is a Google subsidiary, I think I can let it out. heh

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-03-19 19:13:41

Hee. I’d forgotten about that – you mentioned it in passing once, and I looked and then did a couple of variations, but I never saw anyone else pick up on any of the clean ways (though I have had people ask me for help on a blog where they were doing tacky things like an onload redirect to an anchor down below the banner; ”step one: stop that”).

My favorite banners have been on the Blogger clones, though: both the Brazilian one and the Indian one have just put the banner code directly in the template, so that becoming ad-free is a matter of deleting a couple of lines of HTML.

Comment by Kafkaesquí #
2003-03-19 17:30:51

Hmm. Should I feel a little guilty calling Phil ”the most prominent?” Looks like he’s not the only one resisting the urge to revise…

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-03-19 19:17:48

Nope, you’re fine in context: Gary and michael got while the getting was good well before your time. It’s a shame that all that’s gone now, though, since there was some classic support humor amongst all the WHY DON”T TEHY FIX IT!!1! threads.

Comment by Tim aka Geodog #
2003-03-23 00:11:09

So far, based on my limited experience, you are doing a pretty good job with ”sometimes, you really were capable of being a nice guy.” I’ve certainly been grateful.

On a separate note, have you ever evaluated pMachine? I have the same aversion to Perl that you do, and I have thought of trying it out. I can do a *little* bit of stuff with PHP, but I’m reluctant to lose my investment in MT, plus Ben and Mena are so nice. But the biggest reason I haven’t given it a try is that no one I know online has tried it, and I don’t want to be the guy with all the arrows sticking out of him.


Comment by michael #
2003-03-23 11:29:42

It’s a nice piece of software actually, however I can’t think of a valid reason for switching from MT, unless you simply prefer a PHP-based product.

Each system has its own way of doing things that take a bit of adjusting to, and pMachine is no different. There are things about it I like, such as the dynamic aspect of it, but one of the things I personally didn’t like was the fact that you can’t (as of yet, and as far as I remember) use PHP in the entry fields.

Setup is fairly easy, and you can import entries from GM or MT, so my suggestion would be to try out the free version, setting up a parallel/test weblog, and use it to get a feel for what it can do. There are plenty of people who use it, and plenty of people that love it, you just have to find out if it’s right for you.

pMachine being PHP-based, is hackable if you know PHP, and Rick (the guy behind it) is very good at support and adding new features, but it is put forth as sort of a closed system. MT is much more community driven, and the community comes up with new add-ons and uses all the time.

There are also other PHP-based systems out there such as B2, although there seems to be some question about its future, BBT which I’m sure Phil can tell you more about, and newer ones like Textpattern and Public Address. See which ones are appealing and then try them out.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-03-23 19:09:51

Well, there may be some reasons for switching, beyond just language preference.

Whether it’s because more people are using MT, or more hosts have developed a hatred of the way that (Perl|MT) grabs a ton of CPU while rebuilding MT pages and are adding reaper scripts that kill MT when it annoys them, or just that more people are building up big numbers of entries and comments, I’m seeing more people all the time who are having trouble getting MT to rebuild their site, or (worse yet and among my problems) add a comment, which also rebuilds MT index templates and the relevant archive files, without having the script die with a 500 error. Certainly if you absolutely love everything about MT, and it fits you perfectly, the right thing to do is to switch to a host who’s willing to let MT grab the CPU, knowing that it’s just going to be a quick burst, but if you are otherwise happy with your host, or not perfectly suited to MT, not having to see a 500 error or twelve while rebuilding would be nice.

There are also some interesting features that might make it just right for some: for my purposes, comment registration is unspeakably evil, but for some people doing some sorts of weblogs it’s somewhere between nice and essential; being able to run everything from a single person standard weblog to a Slashdot/*nuke-style semi-open-posting collaborative weblog to a phpBB-clone bulletin board (the pMachine support forum is actually a pMachine-powered weblog, despite looking just like a bulletin board) could be very useful; since the whole thing’s dynamic (near as I can tell, the only static file is the RSS), you can redesign at will, and throw in random and dynamic content easily.

There does seem to be a bit of a community – they link to a hacks/addons site and a template site, and the support forum looks to be pretty active. The documentation is surprisingly clear, and the interface, at least as far as I’ve looked at it, is easy enough to figure out.

But, it’s not entirely sweetness and light: the MT import script is currently out of phase with MT’s export, since it doesn’t know about the keyword field which results in some very odd things in the comments (a problem that can be solved by just doing a search and replace to delete the keyword field, down through its separator field, in the MT export file), there’s no built in support for TrackBack or threaded comments (both should be possible to hack in), it only pings weblogs.com (dead simple to hack around), and although I don’t have any plans that would run into trouble with it, the license which requires that you not ”sell, or profit from third-party software that interfaces with, extends, or enhances pMachine software” without permission seems a bit off, since it would seem to mean that anyone who has downloaded a copy of pMachine can’t sell a Blogger API client without pMachine’s permission. Odd.

b2’s future is another interesting question: it’s not currently dead, since at least two people other than Michel have CVS commit access, and there’ve been changes as recently as last week, and I’m delighted to see that Michel’s sister posted a comment on cafelog.com saying that he’s not dead, just sensibly treating looking for a job and a life as more important than making toys for us, for a while, but what b2 needs the most is the sort of refactoring and code cleanup (it looks like the kind of crap I write, for God’s sake), and a probably concurrent rewrite to allow for plugins rather than just code hacks, and that strikes me as the sort of thing that’s much more likely if it has a single dedicated developer to push it. Last time I installed it, I was able to hack in support for an excerpt field without all that much trouble, and hacked in some hooks while I was at it, but the current codebase is pretty damned daunting to get started with, since it appears to have just grown into its current state piecemeal.

(BBT, while done in PHP, isn’t actually a pMachine alternative – it’s a web application that FTPs files to your server, like Blogger, rather than an installed script.)

Comment by Tim #
2003-04-02 02:43:43

Based on your review, I decided to give pMachine a try, so when I set up my SARSwatch blog with it. So far I like it, although it has some quirks that may end up driving me nuts — primarily the entry form and its poor implementation of a UBB clone.

Anyway, thanks again for the nice writeup.

Comment by Shannon #
2003-03-27 20:04:09

Hey, Phil. It’s been ten days. You’ve offically reached terminal velocity. Post something, or I pity the fool.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-03-27 22:24:55

I know, but I write and I write and then I hear my sainted mother’s voice saying ”if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything” and I’ve got nothing but bile to spit, so I close yet another tab and throw out yet another post. Though the worst part is when she says ”if you can’t say something interesting…”

Trackback by Geodog's MT Weblog #
2003-03-24 01:30:20

Phil Ringalda. Nice guy

I check Phil Ringnalda’s site daily, because he is always finding cool new blogtech toys, and he is a fount of information about Movable Type. Plus he tends to run into the bugs before I or most other people do. Coward that I am, I never download a new…

Trackback by theblivit.net #
2003-03-24 03:07:52

”What an Awful Word ’Blog’ Is”

Phil in an interview: …keeping my online and offline lives separate just means that I don’t have to stumble over

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