RSS stands for “frustration”

Somehow, Blogger broke RSS feeds on Friday or late Thursday. I don’t know what happened on their end, but the XML files that get pushed out to Blogger users’ sites that rely on FTP/SFTP publishing are zero-byte (or empty) files.

And that’s not right. Not at all.

If you search the “Something is Broken” group for Blogger help for the terms “RSS” or “feed” you get lots and lots of separate threads, and all the users reporting basically the same thing I summarized above. I settled on updating this thread with my own specific information, and watched it all day yesterday for some kind of official Blogger response. None came.

However, the user “nitecruzer”, a.k.a. Chuck, proposed a workaround. He found out a different address for the RSS feeds for a Blogger-published site and, armed with the internal blog ID # for my blog, I was able to access the RSS feed for my site and redirect it to/through Feedburner.

Long story short: my RSS feed has changed. I don’t really know how to let people who read my site via the old feed know this, however. But if you wander over here because you haven’t seen me update in a while, please take a moment to update your feed reader by using the following link:

Main site feed for Lunar Obverse

You can also use the link in the right-hand sidebar, labeled “Subscribe”. If, however, you see “Feeds”, then frakkin’ Blogger hasn’t updated my site template yet. I made the change an hour ago, and republished my site, but it still hasn’t shown up for me. I have no idea why. If you see “Feeds” over there, could you let me know?


And now, a little bit of meta, behind-the-scenes tech talk.

A week and a half ago my site had a little downtime. The cause was a result of the dynamic IP address that was assigned to Eggers1, my web server, was a little too dynamic: it changed, without warning, putting my site on a little cul-de-sac on the internet.

I was able to move my content over to another server I had, on a slower connection, temporarily. And since then, I’ve moved everything back to Eggers, but I’ve left my site content on my secondary server, Lethem2, as a backup.

I’ve been slowly working on the backend stuff necessary to have my backup server automatically mirror the main one, and to act in the future as a failover in case something goes wrong again in the future. And, knowing technology, something will fail in the future.

Not all of it is in place yet, but I’m kind of proud of the fact that I know have sub-domains to my main address on the internet. points to my main server, and points to my secondary. I’ve got each server emailing me their current IP address at 1 AM in the morning, every morning, and it checks against the previous day’s address and sends a separate alert if it changes.

Next step is to implement a script, using Mac OS X’s launchd(8) to copy the primary over to the secondary if the primary has updated. In order to make that work best, I need to upgrade both servers to Mac OS X 10.5 – they’ve been running 10.4.11 since their inception.

I would not call myself a Unix or command-line guru or wizard – at best, I’m a padawan, still learning and not yet a master. But I’ve been learning all sorts of new stuff:

  • I’ve learned a lot about using crontab(1) to run scripts on a regular basis. Unfortunately, crontab(1) is deprecated on Mac OS X – the functions of it are in Apple’s replacement, the previously-mentioned launchd(8), and launchd(8) adds more, to boot.
  • Because the default editor for crontab(1) is the viciously-user-unfriendly text editor vi(1), ugh, I’ve been learning how to do basic editing in that.
  • In the process of setting up my sub-domains, and having my main domain point to two different IP addresses and two different servers, I’ve learned a lot more about how DNS, the internet’s address book system, works; like how I can have multiple A records in a single DNS entry, to utilize DNS’s ability to load-balance traffic.
  • And, of course, I’ve learned more about how to write shell scripts, since those are what do all the heavy lifting of mirroring each server, checking IP addresses and notifying me about any changes.
  • This may seem like a simple thing, but since Unix-y (and Mac OS X is Unix-y – well, technically, BSD-y – at its core) operating systems are configured by simple text files, being able to manipulate and make changes to lots of different text files quickly and efficiently is a key skill. To that end, rather than wrestle with vi(1) all the time (or, more correctly, in addition to wrestling with vi(1)), I’ve learned how to use the command-line tool sed(1) to do fast search-and-replace on multiple text files with one fell swoop.

…and in these hard economic times, learning new skills is always a good thing. Anyone need any web server work done? Anyone? I work cheap while I’m still learning…

1 Everyone has a naming convention for their hardware. Mine is to name my computers and computing devices after favorite authors; in this case, my main web server is named after Dave Eggers, author of “A Heartbreaking Tale of Staggering Genius” and others.
2 This server is named after Jonathan Lethem, an incredibly dark and brilliant author.


My apologies for the downtime on this site this morning. Not sure what happened, but for now I’ve got things temporarily working on another, slower, server.

Things may be broken – links, pictures, and whatnot and suchlike. Feel free to let me know or you can just wait and I’ll get everything working at full capacity (such as it was) eventually.

I tend to forget how much has to be changed/updated to move even a simple blog like this from one place to another.

This is probably a reminder for me to back things up more often, too.

2008 stats

In 2008, the first full year I hosted this site on my own hardware, I received 899,943 hits, and 105,841 unique visits.

My daily average for the year is 2,465 hits from 290 unique visitors.

My averages have dropped some, which may or may not have anything to do with the tweaking I’ve done on how the stats are reported. Or maybe I just have fewer visitors.

Still, almost 300 people a day read the words that I type. That’s a decent sized auditorium. If I could just get each of you to chip in a dime for every visit…

…cue wavy line fade…

Ha, ha! Just kidding. I do this because I like doing it, not because I want to extract money from y’all. If I ever start putting ads on here, or start a membership drive, I’ll have to step up on the value of this site. For now, it’s just my little internet soapbox. Knowing you’re out there, reading, is more than enough.

Still, if you feel like chipping in, based on any entertainment value or knowledge you’ve gained, there’s a PayPal link down there in the left sidebar if you feel so inclined. If not, don’t worry about it. I rarely ask and I won’t beg.

Happy New Year! 2009 will be rockin’.

Webservers are hard

If you’ve noticed any weirdness in the last couple of hours with this site, it’s because I’ve been messing around with Apache, trying to consolidate my other sites, like Run, Moon! and my home server, Lunar Obverse, Home Edition, to this server.

It’s something I don’t do very often, so I have to screw it up a couple of times before I remember how to do it right. So it’s never smooth. I’m documenting the steps this time, though, so the next time I have to do it, it should be much smoother.

Why am I doing it? Well, since I’m going to get new carpeting put in my apartment on Monday (starting on Monday – I hope but do not entirely expect for it to take only one day), I have to shut down my home computer, which previously served those secondary sites.

All this is simply to explain the weirdness. If anyone out there noticed, that is. It should all be working as expected now, though. If not, feel free to contact me or leave a comment here.

Happy Five Year Blogiversary

Five years ago today, I started a blog.

1,944 posts later, here I am.

I don’t really know what to do to celebrate this event, other than to thank anyone who continues reading, and anyone who has read me in the past, and everyone who will read me in the future.

Sometimes I’ve got too much to say, and sometimes I can’t think of anything to say. All I really know is that I’m going to keep on saying things as long as I can, and I’m thankful to the internet for providing me a place to say them.

My daily visits have ranged from almost 500 a day, to around 175 per day in the last couple of months – likely due to my not having had much interesting to say lately. But I’m not doing this for fame. I’m writing for myself, and every single reader who finds something interesting here is a gift above and beyond.

The more successful blogs tend to have a focus on one topic; I don’t think I could ever limit myself like that. But there are several topics that tend to stand out more than the others; strip clubs and movies are the only ones I have tagged right now, but I intend to go back and tag the other topics soon, like politics, and atheism/religion. Exercise showed up a lot, until I split that off into its own blog at its own domain.

Aha! I thought of a project for celebrating my blogiversary! I’m going to re-post one post a day from the archive for the next 30 days, representing what I think are the best writing I’ve done, or the most popular posts, or uniquely showing what I do that no other blog does.

If you have any suggestions or favorite posts, feel free to leave a comment, or otherwise let me know.

Update: Turns out Blogger counts draft posts among the total. I currently have 63 draft, unpublished posts, so my total published posts, including this one, are 1,880. I regret the error. – BrianM 7:01 PM 11/02/2008


I finally succumbed to FriendFeed. What is it, you ask? Well, my sexy yet apparently-cave-dwelling reader, it’s a site that aggregates all the various social networking web apps into one spot. So instead of trying to track my friends’ Tweets, Flickr updates, YouTube uploads, blog posts, etc., etc… I just track it all on FriendFeed. Is this not nifty?

Yes. It is nifty.

I will find a way to incorporate it as a sidebar here on my blog. In fact, I’m thinking of updating the layout here a bit. We’ll see how that goes.

Having fun?

After much thought, I have added a little “Donate” button to my left-sidebar. It’s down there at the bottom, discreet, not too showy. See it?

It’s through PayPal, which not everyone likes, but who has become essentially the bank on the interwebs. And, truthfully, I’m not even 100% sure it works, since I’m unable to test it.

If I’ve made you laugh, or think, or angry, or otherwise entertained you, and you feel like showing some appreciation, click on the gold Donate button and send somethin’ my way. If there are any problems or questions about it, just drop me a line.

Thanks just for reading. Also, I love you all.

Holy crab

I’ve been averaging around 2400 hits per day, so when I my web stats program showed that I was ~2400 hits from 500,000 last night at midnight, I figured sometime today I should pass that magical and entirely arbitrary point.

I’m home and waiting for “The Office” to come on, so I manually ran my webalizer script early to see how close I was.

And as of 8:40 PM tonight, my site had recorded 502,527 hits since 25 August 2007.

Today’s not over and I’ve already received over 4,622 hits just today. That rocks in an entirely unimportant and yet deeply geek-y way.

There’s probably no way for me to tell when, exactly, the 500,000th hit came in so I can’t give away a prize or anything. But thanks to all y’all.

The statistic that means the most to me, personally, is the number of visits, which is more closely related to the number of actual people viewing my site, and, presumably, reading my words and looking at my pictures. My average visits per day is 483. Almost 500 people a day are paying attention to what I’ve written.

I love you all.

Survey delayed

I came up with a cockamamie scheme to spam-proof my reader survey, but the implementation is taking me a bit to figure out. Don’t worry, I’ll have it up in no time.

Also, I’ll be launching my next site in the Lunar Obverse media empire soon. Seriously. Just remember that “soon” is a vague time frame.