I’ve settled on Brad Thomas’s “Admired” with the light white skin as the new theme for this blog. It’s a relatively new theme and is being actively maintained with a support forum. which relieves my main worry about my old Live Steam theme – it’s not going to fall out of sync with the WordPress engine any time soon.
Regulars: If you’re seeing the blog’s main page with a blue bar across the top, directly below the title, then you’re probably seeing the “Admire” theme. It’s an improvement over TwentyEleven, and I’ve figured out how to disable comment nesting. Let me know what you think: is this an improvement over the old Live Steam theme?
UPDATE: Aha! I found an even more minimalist skin, a bit closer to the look of the old Live Steam. No more blue bar, and no more boxes around comments.
I’m reverting to the old theme to see if I can fit some of the new features in it.
I agree the new theme was too whitespace-heavy, and comment nesting was not working out as well as I’d hoped. I haven’t been able to figure out how to get rid of the huge right margin on comment lists, which is the misfeature that annoys me most. By contrast, the serif font would have been easy to fix.
A significant reason comment nesting wasn’t working for me is that the administrative page doesn’t do it even when the main theme does. Thus, when commenters reacted naturally to the nesting by leaving out quotes, I could no longer follow threads.
The main reason I changed themes was to be able to support modular theme widgets, which is the newfangled way in WordPress to lay out sidebars and footers. Also, I was beginning to fear that changes in the underlying WordPress engine would break my theme, which is a custom variation of an old one called “Steam” from the 2.x version. (I changed it to be flexible to the browser size rather than having a fixed bounding box and padding, a design style I hate for both practical and philosophical reasons.)
Now I’ll try retrofitting widget support into my old theme (I call it “Live Steam”; the new one was a stock WordPress theme called TwentyEleven). Or, I might try finding a theme that already supports widgets and has a similar look and feel. The management regrets any inconvenience.
Hold on to your hats, I’m going to be experimenting with some theme and sidebar changes for the blog. Don’t be surprised if it looks different than you’re used to…
I finally got around to installing a site statistics plugin on this blog, about 20 minutes ago. There have since been 94 views.
I’m mainly interested in the order of magnitude. Do I have 1K readers per day? 10K?, 100K? My wild-ass guess is on the order of 10K. Now we’ll see.
Hey ho, another day, another mandatory WordPress security update.
There will be a brief outage. Possibly there might be a prolonged one.
The management regrets any inconvenience.
UPDATE: That’s done. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled flamage.
The amount of bot-spam being posted to this blog has gone up by an order of magnitude in the last week.
I wouldn’t bother my readers about this, except that if one of your posts happens to trigger the spam filter, the odds that I will notice and rescue it have dropped significantly. It’s easier to notice the ham in a dozen putative items of spam, which was the typical length of queue last week, than when the queue is 217 items long as it was just now.
This probably means akismet, the WordPress shared spamtrap that I use, needs some tuning. But I don’t know when or even if that problem will be fixed. Apologies for any inconvenience.
This blog is one of many that got hit late last week by a particularly nasty and invasive worm targeting WordPress sites. (No, it wasn’t a botched upgrade, as I saw at least one commenter speculate.) The first symptoms showed up either late Thursday or early Friday of last week, when links from the main page became garbled. What was going on was an attempt to insert pharmaceutical-spam malware into the site permalinks.
This injection attack actually corrupted the mysql database behind the blog, and some fairly serious surgery (which the ibiblio site admins were reluctant to try on a Friday) was required to fix it. All posts and coments from Thursday evening or previous should now be restored. The blog is now running WordPress 2.8.4, the very latest version which was rush-released to foil the worm.
A big hand to Ken Chestnutt, the ibiblio site administrator who did the actual repair. Regular posting will resume shortly.
I have deactivated IntenseDebate. Its maintainers tell me there is no way to disable pagination of comments, a feature several of my regulars justifiably complained about and I loathed.
I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
If you have left a comment which has not appeared, have patience. I will try untangling the mess from my home machine Sunday night when I get home from my current road trip.
I’m installing the WordPress IntenseDebate plugin. Commenting may have glitches for an hour or two, after which will have plenty of new features including comment threading and reply by email..
Sometime shortly after 6AM this morning, my blog site and home page were defaced, replaced with a message reading “Happy 9/11 LOL” and a very ugly image.
I happened to be up and working and discovered the damage quickly, probably within minutes of the attack. Less than ten minutes later I had received three pieces of email and a phone call alerting me; apparently, I have enough friendly readers that even if I had not been on line I would have been informed of such vandalism within a half hour.
I have undone the damage, taken some appropriate security measures, and reported full details of the crack to the ibiblio site admins. The pinhead behind this attack is very likely to be tracked down, and had better hope the ibiblio site people find him before I do.
Blogging (and my responses to comments) will be light for the next two weeks. I’m on the road in Michigan, attending a week-long swordfighting intensive that starts tomorrow, then I’ll be at the World Boardgaming Championships for a week after that.
Due to a fat-finger error on my part, the comments for several posts back were deleted a few minutes ago. Apologies to all commenters; those threads were of rather high quality and I’m sorry to lose them.
As part of reactivating my blog, I’ve had to grovel through over 160,000 back comments over 99% of which were blog spam. I’ve been doing this by skimming 500-comment chunks of the back list (it’s normally 20, but I know where to hack the WordPress code to change that). In the process, I have almost certainly made some errors.
So if you submitted a comment recently and have not seen it published, don’t assume that you’ve hit a mechanical spam filter or that I’m purposely deleting your posts. I may have deleted some by accident while skimming. I apologize, and devoutly hope you will never find yourself having to filter that much spam by eyeball.
(And before you ask: Yes, WordPress’s tools for the job are both weak when they work and buggy in crucial spots. WordPress looks nice but the more I get to know the PHP codebase the less I like what I see.)
I have extremely strong convictions about free speech and robust debate. Thus, I was rather unhappy the first time that I decided it was necessary to delete a comment on this blog. The rule I published at that time was that comments that were both (a) anonymous, and (b) content-free vitriol, would be subject to deletion.
Unfortunately, as this blog has become more popular, some semi-regular commenters have descended to the level of monkeys throwing feces. Often the feces are flung in my direction, but that bothers me very little. What concerns me more is that an increasing percentage of comments are not about ideas but solely about the personalities and motives of other commenters. That is not a useful direction for the blog, even when the accusations being hurled are justified ones originating from sensible people. The entire tone of the blog is being lowered.
Therefore, with great regret, I must announce that I am considering banning commenters who are persistently and virulently disruptive. This would not be from any particular desire to control the wrongdoers’ behavior, rather it would be to relieve more civilized persons from the temptation to get into slanging matches with the wrongdoers. I hope not to have to actually take this step; I hope this announcement will serve as a warning to those who need it that they must moderate their behavior or begone.
Bannings, if any, will not take place in the dark of night; my notion of honor forbids this. Should I ban anyone, I will do so publicly with an accounting of my reasons in each case, and accept any criticism that ensues.
I deleted a coment this morning.
This is not something I normally do, except for comments that are both anonymous and content-free — abuse and invective do not count as ‘content’ for this purpose. The comment I deleted this morning was not anonymous, and it could be argued that there was some content in it.
However, the content (if any) was drowned in a sewer-main’s worth of crude insults hurled by one respondent at another. I will not tolerate this, even when the insult-hurler is nominally on ‘my’ side of an issue.
Armed And Dangerous is not a public square and “free speech” standards do not apply here. If you have nothing to contribute to debate over the things I write about, I can and will cut you off at the knees. This applies to those who broadly agree with me as well as those who disagree. (If anything, I give my opponents a little more leeway than my allies.)
In my own small way, I’m trying to defend civilization here. So keep it civil. Or else.
OK, the site theme no longer completely sucks. I’m using Jim Vanderveen’s modified version of Steam, with my own custom header and the CSS brutally simplified to get rid of margins and excess whitespace.
I’m extremely relieved to have got rid of the default “Kubrick” WP theme.
Fixed-width, heavy whitespace, gratuitous images — what were the WP developers thinking?
(Grrr. Designers who change the browser-default color and decorations for hyperlinks are depriving readers of valuable navigational cues and should be killed in some horrible way.)
I may make some minor changes to improve the look a little over the next few days.
My WordPress instance was just upgraded from 1.2 to 1.5. The visual presentation may have a glitch or two until I edit the template.
UPDATE: Aaargh. It looks like the special magic in the templates has been changed enough that I will have to rebuild my look and feel from scratch. This may take a while…
The WordPress update is now complete. Unfortunately, I deleted some recent comments while clearing out comment spam. Comment spam is now blocked using
a simple and clever method which I will not disclose in public.