Filed in "meta"

Decommissioning my first every Sinatra app

For the past 12 years up until today has been a Sinatra app. The purpose of the site was to help me learn Ruby which paid off handsomely and I went on to use Sinatra in many client projects so all in all it served me well. Time moved on however and the content fell out of date, the design increasingly became an embarrassment and I’d disabled the contact form as I rarely received anything other than spam through it.


Migrating from WordPress to Hugo

When I started blogging in 2006 the usual approach was to install WordPress on an Apache web server running PHP and MySQL. Shared web hosting accounts were widely available and more than adequate then but I was in the early stages of my professional life so instead I had a salvaged PC running 24/7 in my living room. I ran Slackware on it and kept a domain name pointed at it via dynamic DNS.


2009 Irish Blog Awards Nominations

I’ve been quiet lax on the blog front for a while now, both in terms of producing and consuming blog content. Curse you Twitter! So it came as quiet a surprise while reading one of Matt’s blog posts to discover my humble blog had been nominated in the Best Personal Blog category of the 2009 Irish Blog Awards. Must. Blog. More. Update: Thanks to DavyMac for the great logo!

# shutdown -h now

I’ve just shutdown the beige box that was home to this blog for just over a year and a half until I started renting a VPS. I had intended to shutdown this machine since the start of the year but never got around to it and after a techie chat on IM with Dave Dripps earlier in the day decided to just “pull the finger out” and do the needful.


Updating WordPress via Subversion

I read a few months back that Stuart Langridge was using Subversion to keep his WordPress up-to-date and I thought: “that’s clever” and didn’t do anything about it. Today I was talking to Matt and he mentioned updating one of his WordPress installations and I noticed I was due an update myself. I downloaded the latest release and was having a quick skim through the upgrade procedure to make sure I wasn’t forgetting about anything and I spotted a link to the Subversion update instructions… I’m off work sick today and have the time so I decided to give it a go.


New site theme at last

I finally got around to replacing the default WordPress theme. Now it doesn’t look like I don’t care about my site :) With so many freely available themes I found it difficult to choose but I stumbled upon and my mind was made up: I needed one of those minimalist themes and I opted for the Barthelme which I am liking very much. For posterity I took a screenshot of my old, hand-crafted design:

Site migration

I’ve just finished migrating from my home development machine to my new VPS. DNS records have been updated and decaf is now handling mail and web traffic for the domain allow the only thing I’ve copied over is this blog. Hopefully this will give me the motivation needed to spruce things up a bit as the last iteration of looked like it was designed by a programmer ;)

Google Analytics

I got speaking to Matt this morning when I arrived in the office and he demonstrated to me the wealth of information provided by Google Analytics. It was really interesting stuff and I could see why he was so excited about it. I recently upgraded to Apache 2.2 on my development machine, substance, to “easily" get TLS working so I could use AjaxTerm and I haven’t had the time yet to play about getting awstats up and running again.


MySQL upgrade

I finally got sick of not being able to use SQL subqueries and decided to upgrade my MySQL installation from 4.0.x to 5.0.x. I had wanted to do this previously but was afraid I’d end up breaking something and be left without a working development environment or a website either, for that matter, so I resorted to complicating my custom queries in CakePHP with JOIN statements :( I couldn’t find a 5.


Site update

Over the past bunch of days I’ve been back into web-development land and seeing as I was staring at code for prolonged periods I decided I might as well “enhance" this site a bit too. I started with tweaking the frontpage: I rearranged things a bit and instead of displaying my latest blog entry in its entirety I now have excerpts from the previous 4 entries. I initially tried using the built-in the_excerpt() WordPress template tag to achieve this but I wasn’t too fussed with the result and after some brief searching I found a plugin called the-exceprt-reloaded which seems to do the job better.


Security Enhancements for Dummies

I read a thread over on recently about server “hardening" and got thinking about my own security measures and the lack there of. Here’s an example of the content of /var/log/auth on the machine this site is hosted on: Jan 24 13:43:33 substance sshd[14182]: Invalid user test from Jan 24 13:43:33 substance sshd[14182]: error: Could not get shadow information for NOUSER Jan 24 13:43:33 substance sshd[14182]: Failed password for invalid user test from 203.


WordPress 2.0.5

I’ve been spending the festive period with my family and have almost enjoyed not having a computer, online and logged in, within eyesight for the majority of my waking hours. I’ve read and responded to my email and forums and was checking my blog when I noticed I wasn’t running the latest version of WordPress, so I thought I get back in the saddle and upgrade. I started by backing up the database using the handy Backup Plugin and creating a copy of the entire blog directory using cp -R.


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.


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.


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.


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. When 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.


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 (!



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.



After 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!


Candy And A Currant Bun

Just finished tweaking the site presentation, the background image was begining to embarass me. Some work with Photoshop and playing with a couple of colour choosers and viola, a new look. I love the flexibility of CSS, especially when combined with the appropriate tools. Now if I could only get my mail server working properly…

And So The Legend Grows

Just put the development site live, fingers crossed!