Category

Internet

This category is for anything network / internet related. I use it mostly to describe website updates though.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Once upon a Database Query

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but I do sometimes make resolutions, and it just so happens to be the new year.  I’ve been neglecting this site for a while and while that’s not totally unusual for me, it’s the thing I would like to change.  I often abandon this site for long stretches of time, with little to no warning and I’m not sure exactly why.  I guess I just go through creative highs and lows.  Right now I’m definitely in a low spot, although it helps when I see other people post on their sites. 

To help myself in my resolution, I spent most of the last two days with the Query module in Expression Engine, which is an easy way to run mysql queries directly.  Instead of relying on built-in commands and variables, this allows me to manipulate my website data much more directly and gives me more flexibility.  I’ve used it to build a more complete statistics page that tells me the average amount of time that goes by between posts in a category over different periods of time.  It’s not complete quite yet; I still have to pretty it up with colored graphs and some RSS feeds for topic ideas.  Maybe eventually it will be like my friends page and order itself by most neglected category.  My idea is that if I can see more clearly when I should make a post, and have ideas presented automatically, I just might start to post more often.  It’s definitely a process that will take time and go through many revisions.

You can see my beta statistics site here.  It’ll eventually replace the stats link on the right side, but for now it lives only in the sandbox.

Happy Two-Thousand Ten :D

Posted by eclipse on 01/05/2010 at 06:01 AM
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Thursday, September 03, 2009

New Users Module

So far I’ve been pretty impressed with Expression Engine, the CMS software behind my current site.  It’s quite capable and has more features than I could probably ever figure out.  The core version is free for personal use, but doesn’t include many features that are found in the full edition.  One of these features is the user manager.  I’ve never been a fan of the idea of requiring my friends (or anyone) to need a login for my site and that will continue, but I think I’ve come up with a system that will work out pretty well.  Let’s face it: spam is a reality.  False comments required me to start using captcha’s to prove they were coming from real people.  But I know typing in a captcha phrase is annoying, and has led to fewer comments.  So I’ve added the ability to register yourself a username.  Having a registered username will mean no more captchas!

I also have had a few entries lately that I felt should be kept more private than usual.  This also goes against what I want my site to be about but reality is something to be dealt with, and I can’t be too careful in today’s world when writing about some things like my job.  Lacking a “Friends Only” ability on my site, I’ve made these posts on Livejournal.  The users module in Expression Engine now allows me to overcome that.  By registering as a user on this site and being approved by me, I can host all my entries on this site which I greatly prefer. 

Anonymous Level:

  • Continue filling out all the form boxes as you have been doing
  • A simple captcha text entry will be required to prove you are not spam


Member Level:

  • Fill out the membership form once and you’re done!
  • Doesn’t even require email validation (for now), instant access to advanced features
  • Simply type the comment and press “submit”, no more name/site/captcha
  • Choose or upload your own avatar to be displayed next to your comment!
  • By use of cookies, you stay logged in (depending on your browser), so it won’t be a hassle to log in every time you visit the site


Friend Level:

  • All features of the Member Level, plus access to posts marked “Friends Only”
  • Create a member profile the same way as above and wait to be approved.
  • No extra steps other than waiting/contacting me


To register on my site, use the links under the “Members” section on the right hand menu of this page, or click this link.
Any questions, just ask!

Posted by eclipse on 09/03/2009 at 02:01 AM
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Friends Page Architect

The friends page I designed was quite naturally perfect, it was a work of art, flawless, sublime. A triumph equaled only by one monumental issue. The inevitability of it is as apparent to me now as a consequence of the imperfection inherent in every friends page, where I am forced to constrain other people’s web posts into a more limited format in my friends page. In the new 4.0 site, images wider than 700 pixels had a tendency to break the tables. After waiting 6 months for Swiftwulf to make an update and get rid that Obama picture that was too big, I started editing my friends script to detect images in the RSS feed and resize them.  But the [img] tag is too complex, even after spending hours researching Regex.  I was again frustrated by failure. I have since come to understand that the answer eluded me because it required a mind less bound by the parameters of perfection. Thus, the answer was stumbled upon by another, an intuitive person named Bobomega.  And the problem was solved with CSS by adding the following line to my CSS page:

img {max-width: 680px;}

A whole day wasted!  You can see the beautiful results at: http://www.darkmercury.net/site/friends/ and scroll down to Swiftwulf’s Obama pic. 

Posted by eclipse on 05/21/2009 at 08:18 PM
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Monday, December 29, 2008

Website Tinkering

I made a few changes around the site.  If I spent half the time making actual posts that I spend instead worrying about tiny little issues, I would have several epic novels already.  Well it’s easier to play with the site now than when I start working again soon.  My little change involves the archives.  My old site didn’t put much work into the archives, or “history” as it was called.  It pretty much generated a huge list of post titles that you could click to take you to the entry.  That’s great if I have a good descriptive title, which is maybe 20% of the time.  Your other option was to simply keep clicking “Older Entries” at the bottom of each page and read through my life backwards.  It’s a little confusing to read everything in reverse, but reverse chronological order is the best and standard way of promoting new content so that’s how it is.  You’ll see my new History section on the right of all my pages by year.  It takes you to January of each year and reads in chronological order, different than before.  Reads a little better this way.  Yearly seems to work for now, but I may change it to chapters like: “whiny freshman in college”, “internship”, “flight instructor”, “eagle first officer” if I want.  Who knows…

The other change is pretty big and affects, you guessed it, the friends page.  Yes, I still mess around with it a lot even though I haven’t made any major changes for a long while.  The page was working great, looked great, and I even installed a filter to stop Jo’s Tweets for Today (which he stopped after I mentioned it), but one problem still remained: Without the cache, it took a long time to load.  Sometimes over 60 seconds just for the server to generate the page.  It had to connect to each friends’ site and download the feed.  That’s what takes the longest.  It does apply logic and runs through algorithms to generate the final page but that’s milliseconds.  My solution involved emailing the folks at site5.com, my service hosts, and getting permission to use wget on the server.  I can now run a cron job that downloads my friends page once an hour and stores that page for the user.  So now when you click friends you’re grabbing a cached html file instead of running the php script and it loads significantly faster.  So even if it still takes 30 seconds for the php script to run its deal, who cares because it’s not the page you’re downloading anymore.

The old php script is the same url as always, http://www.darkmercury.net/site/friends/
and the new faster stored cache page is http://www.darkmercury.net/friends/

I don’t know if anyone else actually uses the page, but I think it’s a good way to keep up with everyone’s websites.  I like reading them and commenting, even if no one else does.

Posted by eclipse on 12/29/2008 at 09:35 PM
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Almost ready to go back to work

Eclipse: you know after 3 months even the internet gets boring
krhainos: does the internet include youtube?
Eclipse: yes
krhainos: you mean ... you've ... you've watched all of youtube?
Eclipse: yes
Eclipse: ive finished the internet
Eclipse: its long
krhainos: don't spoil the ending
krhainos: i haven't gotten there yet
Eclipse: i wont
Eclipse: but it is epic
krhainos: does gaeta make out with hoshi?
Eclipse: like i said, i wont ruin it
Eclipse: but thats the start of the last chapter
krhainos: OH NO I'M NEAR THE END OF THE INTERNET?
krhainos: but it's so good, i don't want it to end
Eclipse: they leave it open for a sequel
krhainos: what's after the internet?
Eclipse: internet2
Posted by eclipse on 12/18/2008 at 07:08 PM
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