For those of you who read my blog or subscribe to my RSS feed, you should know that I have moved to a new domain. All my old links/posts/pages, etc should all still work, but you may see some strange issues now and then until you update your bookmarks and or RSS feed link. My new domain name is joechurch.com and my blog link is now located at http://www.joechurch.com/blog
I will be putting up a new site at the root of joechurch.com sometime soon, but for now the only thing that works is my blog link.
It was quite a challenge to move domains with my blog, as I had lots of plugin issues and link problems. I ended up starting from scratch and re-installing wordpress and all my plugins manually. I used a wordpress export to move everything over which worked great except that I lost of blogroll links. I was able to use the wayback machine at http://www.archive.org to get the links I used to have and the names I gave them. So for now, the blog is fully moved over and working great.
After some reluctance to work on my blog again, I gave into the nag at the top of my admin screen and went ahead and upgraded to WordPress 2.5. I am happy to say I had no problems at all, and most of my plugins worked fine, I only had a problem activating one that had to do with comments, but its nothing important and I just left it disabled. Otherwise, my upgrade experience was good. I like the new admin interface and the new feature set. Go WordPress!!
This is something that both annoys me and and yet I can understand its reason for existing. Have you ever subscribed to an RSS feed and its limited to only a few posts/items (lets say 15 is a standard)? I can certainly understand the need to limit RSS feeds content, there are plenty of reasons why a reasonable number for the history limit is a good idea. However, 15 is a bit low, especially on sites that offer news or updates. I recently subscribed to a feed that had posts of a humorous nature, and it limtied me to the last 15 entries. If I want to see more of the history, I have to go to their website. 15 is also a low number, for a site that may post a few times as week, it won’t take long and I’ll start to miss posts if I don’t frequently check that feed. On my blog, I allow the last 100 posts to be downloaded, and don’t mis-read me here, that is way too high, especially for a personal blog. I’d suggest something like 25 or higher for personal feeds, 50 or higher for a site that posts a few times as week in any category, and more if the site posts many times a week, or even per day.
I came across this article in the Ninja newsgroups, and was pleased to see that Sunbelt now has a spam appliance called Ninja Blade. It sounds fantastic and let me tell you, if I had the extra cash to spend $2000 on spam filtering for two people, I’d buy it! While I have not tried this system out, I can tell you that its probably going to be a huge success. I checked out the demo admin interface and its especially good for a brand new product. They will be adding all the “bells and whistles” to it as it matures, but I was very impressed with the features in its initial release.
I just read this and was really happy becuase I like the newsgator product line and have to say its one of the best top notch RSS readers out there. I am definately downloading and re-evaluating these apps in their free form. If you don’t know what RSS is or maybe you do and don’t really like your RSS reader, check out the link about and give NewsDemon a try.
I wrote an automate task this week that can manage server reboots automatically. Its a pretty cool task that I’m going to be tweaking now and then to add more streamlined flow to the task and add additional error checking. Here is a flow chart of the processes in the task…
I previously mentioned that I’ve been trying to get the new Sunbelt Exchange Archiver installed for an evaluation and I’ve also mentioned the old “IHateSpam” product and the predecessor “Ninja” in previous blog posts. Here is an update on my status…
Sunbelt Exchange Archiver:
I am still unable to get the archiver to work, my issues at this point are with the database connection. No matter what I try, I can’t get the database connection to function. I finally did get the product to install but now you have to configure everything before it can start the services. As usual the Sunbelt documentation is sub-par and contradicts what support tells you. I will probably have to get a support rep on the phone and do a remote install session just to get the product running.
I upgraded my Exchange servers in my company to the latest build of Ninja which includes their new “STAR” engine. This replaces the old Sunbelt heuristic filter with a definition based system like the cloudmark engine. I was told by Sunbelt that their new engine “does not cause false positives” before I did the upgrade. Pre-upgrade testing showed no problems with system resources such as CPU utilization and spam catch rates were the same as previous tests on the old version. The problem comes in when deploying in production. I found soon after enabling the new engine that we were having problems with lots of false positives and even some internal mail was being filtered and going to user’s quarantine. I ended up having to disable their new engine and things are working much better now. I also resolved an issue with the anti-spoofing feature that was marking lots of external mail as spoofed.
I think in general Sunbelt Software is on the weak side in the following areas:
1. Documentation, frequently I find their documentation is incomplete, does not answer questions users would have upon installing, and contradicts other documentation related to steps in the process and also their support staff directly.
2. Internal testing, I know they test their products before releasing to the general public. However its been my experience that there are always unexpected issues when installing or upgrading any of the three Sunbelt Products I’ve used. Like with Ninja and their STAR engine causing false positives, and marking internal mail as spam when its not supposed to. Not to mention the default configuration causes high CPU utilization on the host server.
Unfortunately there are not many other alternatives to do the job that Sunbelt’s software does. I know there is no perfect software, and with software comes its share of bugs. One last complaint would be in diagnosing errors. I know that in Ninja when we would turn logging to high in order to diagnose problems (and you have to turn logging to high as the system logs only useless information in the low setting), the extra disk activity is a huge drain on system performance. This alone is enough to make users complain. But in order to get any useful information from the software, you have to perform this step. Also, the queue folders often start to build as mail backs up into the queue. Most of the time I am certain this is caused by Ninja or more specifically the SMTP event sink it uses. Mail backs up into the SMTP queue folder and before you know it, you’ve got hundreds of messages stuck and not being delivered. Of course you restart the services and try to clear the queue since its obviously a big deal, but then you don’t get any logging as to what caused the problem. Support has no idea, and tells you to run a snapshot which is useless unless your logging level is set to high.
Ninja also accounts for a large boost in disk activity, and shows a marked increase in the disk queue when viewed in perfmon. This causes general GUI slowness and delays when opening MMC consoles.
I will say that when Ninja works, it works well, but the slightest problem or glitch and your entire mail flow system can be affected. I suppose this is a risk with any spam filter, but we’ve had a long history with Sunbelt products and it seems that the core issues we had with previous version of their spam filter have carried over into Ninja in one form or another.
I’ve been running 0.8.2 of the category-access plugin by David Coppit for a few weeks now and its been working fine on the web interface of WordPress. I’ve been busy lately and haven’t had a chance to post anything to my blog in a while, so I hadn’t used any of my windows apps to post to WordPress. Upon trying I found that I got some error messages relating to XML parsing.
“Unable to parse the XML response. Parser Reason: Only one top level element is allowed in an XML document.”
BlogJet would generate this error:
Invalid payload received from xml-rpc server. Please check your host and page settings for this account. Server said: “,br/> <b>Fatal Error<b>: Call to a member function on a non-object in <b>/home/myaccountname/public_html/mybloglocation/wp-content/plugins/category-access.php</b> on line <b>373</b><br/>…”
Disabling the category-access plugin corrected the issue and I was then able to blog with my windows apps. I sent the information to David via e-mail and also made a post on the wordpress forums to help anyone else that might be using category-access. Its a great plugin and does exactly what I want, with only a few minor things lacking. For now I’ve left the plugin disabled, but plan to re-enable if David comes up with a fix.
I finally found a basic plugin for WordPress to give me clear and simple stats for my blog. Its called StatPress and it works very well. This gives a lot of good information in a tab on the dashboard. Its easy to install, works with WP 2.3 and there is no configuration necessary, just install and go.
There are a few things I’m working on that I will hopefully be able to release on both my blog and family website soon. Here is a brief list of things I’m trying to get setup…
1. Method for web visitors to send me messages or info, perhaps post back information to my site, maybe a public category where friends and family can post messages.
2. Podcasts – We have a lot of fun doing podcasts. I hope to get the girls and Liz and I back into a somewhat regular podcast series. It would be audio only at first, probably short (under 5 minutes) and of course make you laugh.
3. Way down the road, I’d love to start doing video podcasts. This is going to take a little more thought and planning, and we don’t have the video equipment to take on this job yet.
4. Add pictures to posts – it would be nice if when I posted an update on the site if I could attach a picture to the post for a visual aid of what I’m talking about. So from now on, I’m going to try to post individual pics of the kids or relevant pictures of what relates to my post so that its not just a bunch of boring text… 🙂
5. Custom theme – at some point down the road, its inevitable that I need to try to create a custom theme for WordPress. I have up to now used freely available themes I found online and modified them for my own use. This has worked out fine so far, but its time I start looking into option to code my own theme. This would open up all kind of opportunity as to how I want the site to look, and it would be a lot of fun designing graphics and CSS for the site.