Friday Funk

I got into the office this morning and went through my usual routine; I’d put in a good workout and the weekend is fast approaching: life seemed good. I was logged on to my workstation, launched Outlook (I know, I know) and attempted to connect to substance via Jabber and SSH. My heart fell.

That Slackware box has been online for nearly a year now and other than my own lack of technical ability, the only problem I’ve had was when I upgraded my version of OpenSSL and OpenSSH refused to restart. Hooking up my KVM to the box and grabbing a fresh OpenSSH package solved the problem and I didn’t even have to restart the machine. A similar procedure will probably be required now.

The funny thing is that I can write this post, which indicates that both Apache and MySQL are functioning. I’ve just tried using telnet to connect to port 22 and I’m getting a response, but no joy with PuTTY. Checking my AWStats installation sometimes gives an Internal Server Error from Apache, but other times not.

Ah well, there’s nothing I can do until I get home other than to attempt to connect periodically. Not being able to get a VNC connection to my home desktop and the Debian box I use for downloading from Usenet is going to reduce the distraction from finishing off the next version of the application I’m developing. Expect an update later.

Rip It Up And Start Again

I’ve just finished putting the changes I’ve been making to this site live. The front page is now an integration of my latest blog post, a random image from my gallery and a short bio of myself.

Getting the latest post was explained well by this post and boils down to including the WordPress header file and calling query_posts() with the appropriate search criteria, from there it is a simple matter of making use of The Loop and Template Tags, just like when creating a theme. I was getting an error here, mentioned on this forum, depending on where abouts I included the header but solved it by declaring: global $wpdb, $wp, $wp_rewrite, $wp_query; before the require statement.

Displaying a random gallery image required the use of the ImageBlock module and thankfully was painless. The whole visual aspect of this kind of thing continues to perplex me and I’m thankful for tools like colour wheels which have come in handy. I’m still aware that this site has that “designed by a programmer” look and lacks a degree of finesse, but if I was a designer I probably wouldn’t be a programmer!

httpd Log Analysis

What a fun day yesterday was. I thought it would be interesting to know how many (if any) vistors I am getting to this site and proceeded to install and configure some tools to analyse Apache’s access logs.

Through prior research I knew of the existance of Webalizer so I downloaded the source and attempted to build it. The build failed as I didn’t have the GD Graphics Library installed. I tried to build that but failed aswell, quite possibily because of another dependency. A bit of searching turned up a pre-compiled package for which I was very grateful, but when I got the thing installed and processed the logs I decided I didn’t like the look of the results and proceeded to try my luck with AWStats.

AWStats proved a bit easier to install and my only real gripe with it was having to change Apache’s log format from common to combined which meant not getting any analysis on the period from Jan 2005 to present, but more information is now being logged, so it’s all good. Something I’ve noticed though is that Apache isn’t logging the domain name associated with each file being accessed so when I check the stats on each of my domains I’m seeing the same results. I’m sure that will be easily fixed though.

Slackware continues to push my *nix skills and I appreciate that it is forcing me to learn how Linux works, but on the other hand it shows me just how easy to use distros like Kubuntu can be, especially when it comes to package management. Knowledge is power though and I fully intend to keep on learning this stuff and hopefully some day my skill set will be more filled out.

Here Lies Belfast

I was out and about with my sponsor on Saturday and we were walking up Stranmillis Ave and Friars Bush happened to be open for tours. My good friend Nicky K lives in one of the gate-keeper’s cottage, but in all my time living in Belfast I don’t think I’ve seen the place open to visitors and so I’d never been in it before.

Here Lies BelfastWhen I was a wee lad I used to live right next door to the graveyard of the local church so walking amongst the graves brought me back a bit. I saw this gravestone and had to snap it with my camera phone.

Reminiscing aside, this post has been an opportunity to play with the URL Rewrite module for Gallery2 and the G2Image plugin (included with the WPG2 plugin) for WordPress. I really liked the idea of G2Image: being able to insert images from my gallery into blog posts via the post editor instead of browsing to the image and copy and pasting the address of the image, but as is usually the case, there was problems.

Firstly, the Gallery2 URL Rewrite module modified the .htaccess file belonging to my WordPress installation, rendering the permalinks useless. Thankfully this was easily rectified and I much prefer having the album and image name making up the URL when browsing the gallery, but the G2Image plugin doesn’t do what I thought it would.

I suppose that is just the nature of Open Source projects and I’m not going to cry about it. Hopefully I’m going to get my act together and contribute in some way to the FOSS movement in the future, until then I’m just going to be greatful that I have access to so much software and not be expected to pay licensing fees that I can’t afford or use a warezd copy (not that that would have bothered me in the past!)

Out With The Old, In With The New

I thought I’d keep myself current and so I’ve just upgraded my installation of WordPress from 2.0.2 to 2.0.4.

I was a bit reluctant to do so as I was happy with what the software was doing, but I remember reading some mention of security updates, so I went for the plunge. The log files on this box are filled with failed login attempts so I know for certain that people are trying to find a way in and if doing something as simple (!) as updating a set of php scripts helps prevent my machine from being compromised, I’m all for it.

I downloaded the latest version of WordPress, backed up the database via phpMyAdmin and made a copy of the working blog directory. I deactivated my plugins but then ran into a bit of bother when it came to updating the scripts from the archive (my shell skills are still quite basic) so I just removed the working directory and started anew, copying over the settings file (wp-config.php) and the wp-content directory.

I was prompted to run the upgrade script when I browsed to the site and from there it was plain sailing, re-activating the plugins and theme. All-in-all quite painless, and I even got a chance to use Screen a bit, job’s a gud’un!


Jabber Powered

I’ve been deep in Linux-country for the past 2 days and have finally gotten a Jabber server up and running, along with the MSN transport.

I’m suprised I succeeded to be honest, but by following the instructions It Just Works. jabberd is listening on, so I can be contacted via ‘steve’ at that domain (having multiple domains definitely seems too complicated at times…).

I’ve practically no knowledge of the use of public-private key encryption (studied the theory at uni though) so, as with my mail server, all communication is in plaintext for the time being.I’ve been playing about with a few Jabber clients after I discovered Gaim couldn’t make use of transports and have settled on Pandion for the time being.

Anyways, I’m outta here, the week is finally over :)


Book of PostfixAfter much frustration I gave up on using Virtual Mailbox Domains and gave Virtual Alias Domains a go instead, and it worked!

I wanted to set my mail server up like that of a commercial webhost and not have to rely on having to create a local account for each mailbox, but my Linux-fu isn’t that good :(

But I can now send & receive mail from steve {at} <$domain>, job’s a good ‘un!

Now I wish that I didn’t know about the existence of using TLS for encrypted connections to the mail server and using ClamAV and SpamAssassin for server-side content filtering…