WordPress spam fiasco

Michael Geary | Tue, 2005-09-20 03:55

I’ve been thinking about moving this blog from WordPress to Drupal. I use Drupal for other sites, and with some of the contributed modules it has features that would be handy here.

Last week I ran a test conversion using Sam Revitch’s WordPress-to-Drupal conversion script. Everything carried over to Drupal beautifully, even the custom URL setup, but I noticed there were nearly 2000 comments in Drupal—a lot more than I’d ever seen on the blog or in the WordPress admin pages. I looked in the WordPress database with phpMyAdmin and found the extra comments in there, flagged with comment_approved = spam. Most of those really were spam, but there were a couple dozen legitimate comments that had been mistakenly tagged as spam.

That wouldn’t be so bad if the WordPress admin UI had given me any clue that these false positives (and the actual spam comments) were hiding in the database. But they don’t show up anywhere in the admin pages. The first time I ever noticed them was when the conversion script copied them over. (I suppose that could be considered a bug in the script—should it copy spam-tagged comments? But I’m glad it happened or the comments might have been lost completely.)

So, to the couple dozen people who posted comments and never saw them appear (nor any reply from me or anyone else), my sincere apology. They will show up when I straighten this out.

That would have been a week ago, except that once I saw the blog in Drupal, I asked myself if I was sure I didn’t want to try Typo—mainly because I’ve been itching to do something with Ruby on Rails, and a good way to learn a new language or framework is to start with an existing application and make some changes to it.

So far the results are mixed. Typo is a lot of fun and it has most of what I need in a blog, and coding some of the missing features would be educational. Actually getting to where you can test and deploy a Rails app like Typo is a total pain. With Drupal (or WordPress) I can have a basic site up and running in a few minutes on just about any hosting setup—including XAMPP on any handy Windows PC. Just unpack the tarball, edit the configuration file, create the database, and go to town.

But even on a Rails-friendly host like TextDrive, setting up a Rails app is downright scary, at least if you use Lighttpd like everyone says you should. I can see where there’s a market for a specialized hosting service like RailsAppHosting!

I couldn’t get Typo to run reliably on a Windows machine, so I built a Debian virtual machine and have been running it there. But it freezes many times a day. It won’t load any pages, nothing shows up in the console log. Other apps on the Debian machine respond normally. After a minute or two, Typo wakes up from where it left off. I figured this is probably just something about the virtual machine, maybe the fact I’m running Rails under Webrick or something, but then I saw this thread on TextDrive which has me worried.

I suppose I could just fire up the Drupal site and be done with it, and find some other project to learn Rails with.

The great home computer hoax

Michael Geary | Mon, 2004-09-20 04:44

Rich Manalang posted a hilarious picture yesterday of the home computer of 2004, as envisioned by RAND Corporation scientists 50 years ago.

This futuristic photo includes the control panel from a 60’s era nuclear submarine, along with an LA36 DECwriter II from 1974. Quite a feat for the RAND scientists of 1954.

Robert Scoble is not impressed. He’s unsubscribed from Rich’s feed, because he “can’t trust what goes on his blog anymore.”

I had a similar feeling of outrage the first time I saw Wallace and Gromit in A Grand Day Out. This is the story where Wallace runs out of cheese and builds a rocketship to go to the moon and get some. After all, Wallace says, “everyone knows the moon is made of cheese.”

Well, I found out later that the moon is NOT made of cheese! This just ruined the credibility of the makers of this movie. How dare they try to pull that kind of hoax! Plus, their “actors” didn’t even look real. I promptly decided I’d never watch another Wallace and Gromit movie again.

(But let me know when this one is released, OK?)

Update: I forgot to add a link to Scott Mayo, who posted the image that Rich found.

WordPress: Thanks!

Michael Geary | Sun, 2004-08-01 03:33

I needed a blog, and I needed it fast. I wanted something written in Ruby or maybe Python, but I’d heard enough good things about WordPress that I gave it a try.

Wow! This is nice work! I’ll live with it being written in PHP. ;-) It was easy to get running on my virtual Linux server, once I figured out how to add a MySQL user for WordPress. The default stylesheet stinks big-time, but the WordPress Wiki pointed me to the Style Competition, where I found the Rubric style was closest to my taste. I tweaked it a bit and here we are.