Blog ported to WordPress

I’ve just finished porting my blog to WordPress.
My blog was originally written in Java before most blogging platforms existed.
This means that the code for it is old, and becoming increasingly difficult to maintain.

I wanted to make a small change recently and very quickly hit dependency hell.
So I decided maybe I should just port it all to WordPress and have one less legacy project to maintain.

Importing it was simple enough.
I generated a full RSS feed (remember those?) and used one of the provided importing tools.
The tricky part was maintaining permalinks.
Most people don’t seem to bother with this step when migrating blog platforms.
But I think it’s still pretty important.
It’s a permalink after all.

The way my blog generated them was different from the way WordPress does them.
So I ended up writing a script that converted them to WordPress format then tested each URL against the deployed site.
Any that resolved emitted the code for an Apache redirect into a text file.
Any that didn’t I had to fix up by hand.

Finally I was able to paste the redirect codes into my Apache config and send it live.

The only thing I’ve not been able to do yet is grab the old blog comments.
That’s still on my todo list.

Blog repurposement

I started writing this blog in June 2002.

This was before the days of making money from blogs – back then it was all about linking to interesting stuff you found on the web and posting brain dumps about various things in your life.

Back then it was just another blog – not a particularly insightful or popular blog but a blog nonetheless.

Nowadays most blogs are different, they are targeted to a particular niche and usually written by someone with a “blogging strategy”.

The point about having a strategy means they are blogging for an ulterior motive (promote a product, earn money through advertising etc.) rather than blogging for the sake of blogging.

At this point I recommend you go read Rise of the Tablog as it makes the point about the current state of blogging far better than I can.

At some point in 2006 I decided I should try to only post about stuff related to software engineering and computers. That’s right, I’d also decided to target a niche.

I didn’t really have a strategy – I’d just seen where everyone else was going with their blogging and felt I should do the same.

This was the point my blogging slowed down – mainly because I was only posting when I had something to say on the subjects I’d decided I should write about – rather than my original “any old crap” brief.

Around 2007 I bought a bike (the first I’d owned in 20 years) and decided to blog about the experiences of taking up cycling again.

In line with my above thinking I started a bike blog.

That seemed to work well at first as I had about 5 or 6 posts in mind when I started it.

The problem was after writing those posts I didn’t really have that much more to say on the subject of cycling. I tend to add one or two posts a year now if that.

I’d also created a photoblog which originally just contained photos but then I decided to use it for all my photography related posts too.

This leads me to where I am now – three different blogs, all neglected in one way or another.

And only feeling able to blog on the subjects of software, photography or cycling.

What about if I take up Kayaking and want to blog about it?

Do I start a Kayaking blog too?

Note: I have no plans to take up Kayaking.

So, I’ve decided to fix this rather untenable situation I’ve gotten myself into with the following plan.

1. Make this blog more of a general purpose blog again – ie, post more often on a wider range of topics.

2. Continue posting photos on my photoblog but try to keep the longer stuff on this blog.

3. Move the cycling blog to Tumblr – Tumblr makes posting very simple so this will hopefully remove some of the “posting friction”.

New photoblog

I’ve put together a photoblog for occasional photo posts.

It’s called ‘diminishing horizons‘ and it has an RSS feed too.

It’s quite a minimalist design, and is also my first pure CSS driven design, no more HTML tables for me.

In other news, my programming project is still going ahead and should be nearing completion soon, I’m just working on design, layout and copy at the moment.

Musical baton

Meme of the day via Simon (Cheers mate).

Total volume of music files on my computer: 15 GB (but I lost half in a disk crash – and now I am ripping flac as well as ogg so that might sway the stats).

The last CD I bought was: Blinking Lights And Other Revelations – Eels.

Song playing right now: Salary Man – Avon.

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me:

1. Computer Love – Kraftwerk

2. Destroy Rock & Roll – Mylo

3. My Sharona – Polysics

4. Ashes To Ashes – David Bowie

5. Flamenco Sketches – Miles Davis

Flickr Flash Firefox

I joined Flickr today.

I would have joined it before but I had a problem where Flash refused to work on Firefox on my machine and Flickr uses Flash to display photos.

So today I uninstalled Firefox, nuked all my settings and reinstalled everything.

And Flash finally worked, woooh!

Anyway, Flickr has an API for uploading photos, so I plan to automatically add the photos I publish here to Flickr also.

I’m not sure yet why I want to do this, other than it being a cool hack.

The albums you should have listened to before you die

Meme time!

“Copy the list on to your blog, put in bold the ones you have listened to (completely from begining to end) and then add three more albums that you think people should have heard.”

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles

London Calling – The Clash

Blood Sugar Sex Magik – Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Think Tank – Blur

This is Hardcore – Pulp

Moon Safari – Air

Elastica – Elastica

Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols – Sex Pistols

OK Computer – Radiohead

The Kiss of Morning – Graham Coxon

Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars – David Bowie

The Wall – Pink Floyd

Setting Sons – The Jam

America Beauty – The Grateful Dead

Toxicity – System of a Down

Train a Comin’ – Steve Earle

Folksinger – Phranc

Come From the Shadows – Joan Baez

Bat out of Hell – Meatloaf

The River – Bruce Springsteen

The Very Best of Joan Armatrading – Joan Armatrading

Copperhead Road – Steve Earle

Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd

Brothers In Arms – Dire Straits

Outside – David Bowie

Passionoia – Black Box Recorder

Version 2.0 – Garbage

Too Young To Die (Greatest Hits) – St. Etienne

The Complete Recordings – Robert Johnson

Absolution – Muse

Kind of Blue – Miles Davis

My three are:

The Age Of Plastic – The Buggles

Getz/Gilberto – Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto

Trouser Jazz – Mr. Scruff

via (Small Values of Cool)

Trackback spam

I got hit by a comment spam attack last night.

Woke up this morning to find 6 adverts for online casinos littered all over my site.

They were actually trackbacks rather than comments.

This on the very day I’d added a recent comments feature to my home page (it’s like they knew).

After deleting and IP address banning (the latter pointless I expect) I started to think about ways to block them automatically.

Sadly, although I can spot them a mile off I can’t program my computer to do the same.

It’s the same problem as writing an email spam filter.

I’ve largely been comment spam free until now, I assume this is because I am not using Movable Type so what works for MT has no effect on my blog.

But now I guess the spammers have decided to smarten up their act.

I assume they are reading the XML stuff I have on every page that publishes the trackback URL in a specific format to enable auto discovery.

Anyway, they started again just now.

I had a good look at the request headers and spotted that they had just enough stuff in there that was different from normal trackbacks (I don’t want to reveal what it was of course).

So, I added a few lines to my Apache config to block all posts that have this specific set of headers.

Seems to have stopped them for now.

Once they figure out a way around that though, I’m kinda stuffed. 🙁

Fun with Bloglines

Go to bloglines (don’t think you need to have an account).

Find your own blog on bloglines (if it’s not there you can sign up and add it I guess, if you don’t have a blog this one’s not for you).

Click related feeds (each time you click they may change slightly).

Post the top 5 (or more) on your blog.

Here’s my top 5.

  1. Boing Boing

  2. lonita.links.log

  3. Ian Bicking: A Blog

  4. Simon Willison’s Blogmarks

  5. Ben Hammersley’s Dangerous Precedent

Hmmmm, none of these are on my list of regular reads, maybe they should be…

Site tweaks

I made some tweaks to the site.

I added macro and landscape categories and re-categorised the galleries into those two categories.

Any galleries left over conveniently fitted into the london category.

This of course means that my photography is terribly predictable as it all conveniently fits into three categories.

Or it means I’ve found the things that I like to take photos of and I stick to what I know. 🙂

I have also added a logo to my RSS feed.

I now need to add some new logos for these new categories.