Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hitching The Wrong Horse

So back in November I announced EOL: PolarBlog and my plans to migrate my blog to Chyrp.  I don't have a lot of time available for playing around online these days, thus why it's been over 6-months and I still haven't moved.  I had made progress, contributed a few module fixes back to the project and only had a minor data transfer issue to resolve.  We're on the homestretch.

Well, that was until a few weeks back when I found that Chyrp is dead.  It's going away for similar reasons to Polarblog.  Not enough time and nobody else dedicated to enough to take up the project.  Thus I now find that I hitched my horse to the wrong wagon.  I'm less than thrilled by this, but I get it.  I chose the long shot for a reason and unfortunately instead of winning, it's headed to the glue factory!

So needless to say, I'm back to exploring my options.  I'm considering Wordpress after all, Drupal, Text Pattern and likely some others.  Thus I'm probably going to keep blogging on my platform for the foreseeable future as I need to make a new choice and then figure out the migration automation.  Live and learn I guess.
June 13, 2010 @ 01:44 pm | Category:
Sunday, December 06, 2009

Categorize Module

As part of my migration from PolarBlog to Chyrp, I need to carry over the various Topics that subdivide things.  The best choice in Chyrp to do that is the Categorize module.  Unfortunately it hadn't been updated to work with 2.0 and is no longer supported by the original developer.  I was planning on getting involved in the Chyrp community once I got setup and migrated.  I needed the Categorize module now so working through updating it I sort of had to get involved now.

You can now download the Categorize 2.1.0 module updated to work with Chyrp 2.0.  :)

There will likely be more contributions in the future to this project as well as a project page here once I get around to it.
December 6, 2009 @ 09:46 am | Category:
Sunday, November 01, 2009

EOL: PolarBlog

It is with mixed feelings that I announce the end of life for PolarBlog and will be ceasing further development.

As anyone who has followed it's development will note, progress has been slow the past couple of years.  This is somewhat twofold, it's stable and does most of what I need (the primary driver) and also because I simply no longer have the time to do significant work on it.  Which is really the point I'm at.  The only real "want" feature that I haven't implemented is clean URL's.  That wouldn't be too difficult, but beyond that it would require major rework.

The time has come to address some of the fundamental architectural issues that exist.  If I were to do it all over, the first decision I would make would be to use a templating engine (Yapter obviously) from the start.  I've also learned a lot over the years and although I don't consider it horrible, there are some things I would definitely do differently.  It's a safe, secure and fast platform, but some of my past decisions have somewhat painted me into a corner when it comes to expansion.  The lack of templating makes theming rather difficult.  You can change the color scheme, but you can't easily change the layout.  And to fix that now would require a lot of work.  I'll never again build anything without fully separating the view.  MVC anyone?

It's been an interesting exercise and it continues to meet most of my blogging needs.  But it's time to the face facts that it's a very small fish is a big pond.  A pond dominated primarily by WordPress.  A platform I'm not a big fan of mostly because of their very bad security track record.  One of the advantages of being smaller is also being less of a target…although that hasn't stopped the spammers from automating comment spamming for PolarBlog.  Thanks, I'm flattered, but the world would be a better place if you would all just die.  Thankfully I implemented a number of counter measures (RBL, Akismet, IP blocking) that largely just made it a nuisance, thus you can stop wasting all of our time.

So where does that leave me and others who are currently running PolarBlog?  For me I've opted to move to Chyrp.  It has a larger community and is actively being developed and supports virtually all of the features that PolarBlog has as well as many it doesn't.  If you'd like to follow me in moving to Chyrp, it's probably best if you install and start playing around with it.  You're obviously under no obligation to do so, but I will be building a tool to migrate from PolarBlog to Chyrp.  If you choose to go another direction I'll try to answer any questions you have, but migration to anything else is up to you.  More information regarding the migration will come once I get it worked out.  In the meantime I'll continue to run PolarBlog and address any security issues that should, but are unlikely to arise.
November 1, 2009 @ 08:13 am | Category:
Saturday, September 12, 2009

PolarBlog V1.11.1 Released

PolarBlog V1.11 has been released.  This release contains a library update and a bug fix.

  • Updated POP3 mail class.
Bug Fixes
  • Post via email entry body content not being added to an entry without a ::MORE:: tag.
Configuration Changes
  • None
New Language Tags
  • None
PolarBlog Changes file for more information.  Please see the PolarBlog Upgrading documentation for information on upgrading your installation.
September 12, 2009 @ 12:43 pm | Category:
Saturday, July 04, 2009

Weather V1.0.3

About a month ago NOAA's National Weather Service made some changes to their XML data feed.  In return, this broke my weather retrieval system.  The primary change they made was to no longer include empty elements in the feed.  Thus my error check routine in the weather class —which worked by counting elements in the feed, stopped working because there was no longer a set number of elements in the feed.  I fixed this —at least temporarily, by disabling this element counting in the error checking.  I'll need to do some further analysis to see what sort of error checking I might be able to do in the future, but for now this should suffice as the feed is extremely reliable.

Additionally there are a couple of minor bug fixes and some clean up.  I need to regenerate new API documentation yet, but other than the source view it should be functionally correct as it currently is.

So if this is something that might of interest to you or if you've been using it previously, jump to the PolarLava Weather project page where you can download it.
July 4, 2009 @ 09:25 am | Category:
Friday, March 27, 2009

PolarBlog V1.11 (Sundial) Released

PolarBlog V1.11 has been released.  This release contains a major feature enhancement and a number of minor updates and bug fixes.

  • New and improved navigation calendar.
  • Added optional Archive Entry Calendar view.
  • New calendar CSS setup.  There are significant changes in this area!  Please see css/left_nav.diff or css/standard.diff
  • Changed default RBL to
  • Changed entry time offset hours range from 24 to 168.
  • Updated PHP5Akismet to v0.4
  • Update phpMailer to v2.3
Bug Fixes
  • Calendar dates are not falling on the proper day of the week.
  • DB class wrapper not properly setting the port value when in MySLQi mode.
  • Topic selection in search bar isn't necessary and leads to inaccurate results.
  • E_STRICT: Suppress warning in PbEntry::buildTrackbackRdf() from bad charset data.
  • E_STRICT: Change declaration of static function FeedCreator::iTrunc to be "public static".
  • E_STRICT: Change creation of current time variable from mktime() to time().
Configuration Changes New Language Tags
See the PolarBlog Changes file for more information.  Please see the PolarBlog Upgrading documentation for information on upgrading your installation.
March 27, 2009 @ 11:56 pm | Category:
Sunday, February 08, 2009

PolarBlog: Sundial Beta

I, like you was beginning to wonder if there would ever be another PolarBlog release.  After all, it's been nearly 15 months since PolarBlog V1.10.2 was released.  But alas there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

I've updated this blog such that is running Sundial as a beta, the next release of PolarBlog.  So if you see something wacky, please let me know.  The main difference is the new navigation calendar (the one one see in the upper right corner) and also the addition of the (optional) Entry Calendar.  Other that this there are a number of smaller changes and third-party package updates.  So hopefully this will be released publicly in the coming weeks…if I don't get super busy again.
February 8, 2009 @ 11:09 am | Category:
Saturday, January 24, 2009

DECIMAL() - A Lesson in Data Retention

So unknown to me, MySQL changed the way it handles DECIMAL columns between 4.x and 5.0.  Typically this wouldn't be a problem, but when my site was migrated to a new server, it also upgraded it to MySQL 5.0.  And I swear, initially the data was fine.  And based on what I read on the change page it should have kept the old table functionality.  But it would appear sometime over the Christmas holiday —while I was out of town and not paying much attention, they must have dumped and reloaded the database.  And doing that changes the column from the old to new functionality.  (See the last paragraph in the above referenced article.)

Now the ugly part for me…my CycleLog uses DECIMAL to store some of the personal data from my rides (weight, body fat and sleep time).  And unfortunately, the weight column was previously configured as DECIMAL(3,1) which in MySQL 4.x allowed values up to 999.9, but in MySQL 5.x only 99.9.  Thus being my weight is over 100 pounds, all of my rides that had a weight associated with them —that would be nearly all of them, had their weight values reset to 99.9 for all rides.

I stumble upon this when I entered a ride and the weight I entered was showing up as 99.9.  Thus the "huh, what's going on" journey began.  Once I found out about the column change, I altered the table to DECIMAL(4,1), updated my data and it then worked again.

I run a nightly database backups to S3, but I only retain 10 days worth.  Going back to the oldest one, the data was already gone.  And initially I thought my hosting provided might be able to get it back as they thought the old server was still around.  But unfortunately, it had been recycled.  Thus I have no backup with the old data.  I know I've certainly lost at least the last 3-5 years worth of data.  The 2009 data will be fine as I had the data for the couple of rides I had taken.  (I've been sick so I have been riding lately.)  And I have the first 5 years worth of data in my old paper logbooks.  So I should be able to painfully recover that, although my wife has offered to do some data entry for me.  So I may have here enter the date and weight on a spreadsheet, export that to CSV and then write a quick script to reinsert it.  I also may have some more of it archived on a CD somewhere as I used to log it on my Palm for later entry for a few years.  But that likely will be more involved as I'll have to Perl it out of the Palm DB files.

So once the initial shock and disbelief passed, and I accepted the fact that a lot of it is gone forever, I'm left with a tough lesson in data retention.  I'm bummed, but it could have been a lot worse had I lost my whole DB.  It certainly makes me wish I had started to archive the database quarterly like I had been intending to do.  It will certainly happen moving forward though.

And the real kicker?  The personal data was a later add-on to the CycleLog.  I'm not sure why I used DECIMAL there, because the rest of the schema uses DOUBLE.  Had I done that this never would have happened.  ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!
January 24, 2009 @ 08:17 am | Category:
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