Results tagged “Blog”

Oh wow...

Who would have thought, that there will ever be another posting at this blog after such a long time of silence. Well, now the silence is broken again, at least for this post and hopefully some more in the future again.

So what was the main reason for the long silence? To make it short: the Repair Café in Graz. After the initial successes it really took of like no one of us expected. By end of Jan 2017 we held our 22nd Repair Café event in Graz. I'm pretty that our location organizes the biggest events in Austria with 145 repair attempts during the last event alone. While this keeps being exciting all the time it also takes quite a lot of time to organize one event and do all the behind-the-scenes stuff in between. And that's mainly the reason for my reduced online presence. We also helped several other locations in Styria to start their own Repair Café events and I'm always trying to be present at as many as my tight schedule permits. Furthermore we got in contact with officials and many other initiatives working on social and environmental topics.

Were there any other major changes apart from the Repair Café? Sure, too many to count. But for a glimpse and completely unsorted:

  • focus changed from computer/programming to repairing and hardware tinkering.
  • blog webserver has been migrated to new hardware and hosting platform, backend engine updated and upgraded to HTTPS
  • home heating system upgraded to include a proper buffer tank and access to the underlying control logic (squeezing out another ~30% efficiency compared to the state when the plumbers considered it finished)
  • at daily job: changed positions and project assignments at my employer a few times, always trying to not let loose on quality and security issues on each assignment

Well, that's it for now again. I hope I find the time to post more regularly in the future. Some interesting topics are already circling in the back of my head.

Update: I just realized that the last activity on this blog had been EXACTLY 3 years ago, almost to the hour. This was not planned but is a nice coincidence :)

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A few days ago I have been told again that my blog lacks the 'Like' button. Since that has not been the first time that I received this request and I had a few spare hours yesterday I decided to give it a go.

But I didn't want to include the social networking buttons of the most common networks without further care. From other webpages I know that some 'Like' buttons add significantly to the load and display time of websites if they are not very multimedia intense. I consider my blog to exactly fall into that category and therefore I want to avoid to double page loading times just for adding some tiny icons. Furthermore, in the mist of the Snowden/NSA revealations, I do not want to the visits of my postings to be automatically tracked by a multitude of different companies all over the internet.

Granted, I use Google Analytics for tracking the visits to my blog and individual posts to find out which area draws the most interest and how much traffic in general is receiving at my blog, but I set the "anonymizeIp"-parameter in my tracking to disallow the storage of detailled visitor IP addresses for Analytics processing. Yeah, I know it's not 100% anonymous and you still have to trust Google to respect this setting independend of their promises, but for me that's the acceptable balance between cost and benefit.

Back to the social network integration. To value the visitors experience and proactively counter the NSAs tracking abilities I decided to use a 2-staged approach in my blog. This means to Like/Tweet/+1 one of my postings or see the number of tweets/+1's (doesn't currently work for FB) one has to "activate" the specific button with a single click in advance. If this activation is not performed, no data or request is sent to the respecting server/company.

In my blog I use the solution of the Heise publisher, 2 Klicks f�r mehr Datenschutz, which they provide free for usage on their project page. It took me some time to integrate it on my blog, mainly because the sourcecode which they provide is not compatible to recent versions of jQuery and already a bit out of sync with integration changes by the social network buttons. The version used on http://heise.de is more up to date but not yet reflected on its project pageI wrote a notice about that to the writers of the plugin but have only received an automatic reply so far. We'll see...

Nevertheless, the integration on my blog is finished so far and some other Javascript code has also received a small overhaul. The loading time of my pages shouldn't be too much affected, there is only a small visual inconsistency left. If you don't notice it, don't bother. Maybe I'll manage to fix it, otherwise not much harm is done, at least in my opinion.

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Another small change I did to my blog recently: enhancing the layout of code-example blocks and adding syntax highlighting to them. As this has been no big deal but still involved some tricky parts I'm documenting my results for the interested audience.

First start with downloading the code prettify javascript module from the google-code-prettify project page. This is a javascript module which allows to dynamically add syntax highlighting to <pre> or <code> tags in your webpages which are marked with the attribute class="prettyprint". Movable Type allows very easy creation of <code>-blocks with its Markdown-syntax for code blocks. Since these are not identified with the needed class-attribute we have to implement a workaround but more on that shortly.

From the downloaded package I took the files prettify.css and prettify.js. Open the file prettify.js and add the following code at the bottom of the file:

function prettifyCodeTags() {
  var codes=document.getElementsByTagName('code');
  for (var i=0;i<codes.length;i++){
    codes[i].className = "prettyprint " + codes[i].className;
  }
  prettyPrint();
}

This is now the code which parses all the <code>-tags on the page and adds the class "prettyprint" to each tag. It is neccessary to enable the syntax highlighting without modifying the highlighting-code itself which would be much more difficult.

The next step is to put these two files on the website so that they can be included by the other files. I have created two index templates containing the contents of those files for that reason but if you just upload the files to your webpage that's fine too I guess.

Now all templates which could include <code>-sections have to be modified to call the prettifying-JavaScript-function. To include the files add following lines to all appropiate header-sections in your templates:

<link href="prettify.css" type="text/css" rel="stylesheet" />
<script type="text/javascript" src="prettify.js"></script>

Finally this modification to the <body>-tags in the templates enables the syntax highlighting upon the onLoad()-event of the webpage which occours when the page has finished loading.

<body onload="prettifyCodeTags()">

That's it. If you republish your site now all code-blocks should be syntax-highlighted automatically. Combined with the easy creation of code-blocks with the Markdown-Format available in Movable Type it cannot get much easier I guess.

Thanks Google for this little module :)

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For the second time now I tried to use the trackback-link on a MSN Live Blog posting which is offered on the bottom of each entry. And for the second time I got a

Ping '(entry-url).trak' failed: Blog does not allow Trackbacks

Is this a common issue with MSN blogs that trackbacks are offered but not accepted if used? Or is it some sort of security or configuration issue that it's just me who is not allowed to trackback? At least its not a new issue as others have already stumbled over this problem a long time ago.

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Currently I'm trying to make some subtle enhancements to this web presence. If you experience any inconvinience, let me know in the comments.

One very visible change will be the new top box in the sidebar, titled Common, containing all the common stuff which are part of a blog. Like the new About me page. Or a proper tag cloud page, which is not yet visible because of an unknown reason, as it is present in the blogs templates. But I'll sort that out sooner or later.

A new section Similar Entries on each entry's page now lists also blog postings which may be related to the current one. As this is determined by an automatic process I still have to look if it matches my expectations.

Furthermore some tweaks here and there but no changes which are big enough for a separate announcement.

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After a bit more than a week the transition of this webpresence to the new servers has finally been finished. The new server is a lot faster than the old one as far as I have experienced it. I have now also reenabled the comments again and replaced the old, partly hand-written, spam-check with Jay Allen's comment challenge plugin which adds a text-based check to filter out spam-bots. Furthermore all of the publishing problems I've experienced on the old server seem to be gone now :)

If you experience any problems or inconsistencies, please let me know in the comments.

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I just recognized, that my hoster will change its server environment for my hosting plan. I'm unsure how this will change the experience for the visitors of this site and what exactly I personally have to do to migrate successfully, so please bear with me... I'll let you know in time.

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And another update to my blog. Besides updating Movable Type to version 3.34 I also followed the hints on getting rid of categories and migrating to tags. I also modified many of the templates and pulled out some pseudo-static content into Widget-Templates which now are just included pre-parsed in the other templates. The static category-archives are now also replaced by dynamic tag-display. This particular speedup now also gets rid of the HTTP-errors which were occouring when someone wanted to post me a comment. Comments now finally work completely (I hope) :)

Just for the reference, I got lots of information useful for those changes from following sites:

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I've been having problems with posting and updating entries on this blog for quite some time now. Eventually I found out that I can work around posting problems when I did an index-rebuild after posting an entry. This didn't solve the underlying problem but since I thought that only I as poster was faced with problems I didn't investigate further in this issue.

Well, my thought was wrong and readers are too faced with this problem. More precisely readers are running into errors when they try to post comments or trackbacks.

So I dug a bit deeper into the problem and found out that the server stops the MovableType process because it's taking too long to rebuild the pages after a new post, comment or trackback has been published. It's being written to the database but the update of the webpage just takes too long to complete.

Even further down the ultimate cause seems to lie in the feature of my category archives which contain all posts in that category since the start of my blog.

I'll try to find an alternate solution for these archives to get rid of the problems. Expect weird behaviour for them in the meantime!

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I'm having quite loads of comment spamming hitting my pages, which also seem to pass MT-Blacklist blocking.

From some sources I've read that MT-Keystrokes can reduce automatic spamming by checking if a human being has typed something into the comment form using JavaScript and hidden HTML fields.

Sounds cool, I'll install that soon :)

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I just noticed that the acronym plugin has stopped working some time ago, looking deeper into that. Tried an update to the latest version but nothing changed.

And since I spent 20 minutes deleting comment spam, I installed MT blacklist which assists me in that work.

But when I tried to import the whole blacklist from here it shoots itself in the foot and only spites errors, probably the list is too large.

And the newer version only works with MovableType 3.1 or higher...

I'm looking into upgrading my MT installation, so that I can use newer plugins.

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Created a new blog to throw in some of the ideas which cross my mind every day, something like an Idea fountain.

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