New theme and new headers

I quite like the new WordPress theme, so I’m going to use it. I was looking for a theme that supports the different post types and allowed for good customisation and of the free ones I found that I liked this was by far the best.

The header pictures are all cropped from my own photos taken over the past few years. I’m not a particularly great photographer, but I like the images and they reflect some of my current obsessions. Feel free to use them under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license.

A new decade

Happy New Year!

It goes to show just how much I update this site that 2009’s Happy New Year post is still showing on the front page as I type this 🙂

I don’t think I’ll bother publishing a list of resolutions this time around, suffice to say that it’s 30 days since I last smoked a cigarette, I never did start swimming regularly again but I do drink less, so that’s a qualified failure.  Still, 30 days and no smoking is pretty good so here’s to that being 395 days this time next year (although I haven’t smoked full-time for years and I’ve gone far longer without a cigarette before. Ach, come on – positive thinking!)

Changing the subject, I’ve recently got around to going back over the content here categorising and tagging posts and generally tidying up.  This blog has moved hosts, changed URL and been restored from backup more than once and is in a bit of a mess.  There’s a fair amount of linkrot that needs sorting and plenty of typos and markup errors that need correcting.  My aim is to get it all sorted out so at least what is here looks OK and doesn’t make me look like too much of an amateur 😉

Looking back now I will admit to wincing a little when reading some of the posts.  I suppose this is natural when you consider that the site’s been around for 7 years or so and over this period I’ve done a fair few things, grown older, changed.  Nevertheless I’m leaving it all here unless it’s actively misleading.

As for new content… well life’s pretty busy these days and doesn’t leave a lot of time for blogging.  My employer obviously doesn’t pay me to maintain a personal blog and my family takes up much of the rest of my time.  I’m not complaining, just observing.  I’d like to think that writing is something I’ll take up more seriously in the future, but for the time being I don’t expect to post much here other than the occasional how-to piece.


Hello and welcome to my new WordPress-powered site!

Rather than move my venerable Blosxom site here I am starting again with WordPress. Don’t get me wrong, I think Blosxom’s a fantastic tool and using it to run my site was both great fun and a valuable learning experience, but I really need something a bit more sophisticated now that doesn’t require quite the level of tinkering and hacking that Blosxom did.

My plan is to move all the old content into the new WordPress installation, hopefully preserving the URL structure either directly or by using some mod_rewrite hackery. I’m not sure when I’ll get the time to do this so in the meantime if anyone wants any of the old content (e.g. any of the Blosxom plugins I wrote or modified) please drop me a line at sam at and I’ll send you copies.

To be honest I’m not sure whether I’ll get back into blogging, but as this site has been up for six years I can’t imagine abandoning it completely. I often think that I should write more and that I should get over some of the inhibitions I have about blogging longer and more thoughtful stuff, but a big reason at the moment is lack of time – a full-time job that’s not particularly amenable to personal blogging plus two small children keep my life pretty full!

Comments back on

I’ve seen a drastic drop in referrer-spam and I’ve made a few minor changes to my writebacks plugins to close comments after 14 days, so I’m going to enable the plugin again and see what happens. I think I’ll make a couple more improvements yet and I want to see if it all works as I think it should, so I’m going to hold off making my adjustments public just yet. When I’m happy that it’s all working I’ll post the code in case it’s of use to anyone else.

Keeping out the idiots

Still got the comments disabled at the mo. I haven’t had the time to make the necessary changes to the code, but it’s pretty high on my list.

Grepping through the referrer logs shows that there’re still a lot of unwelcome visitors. I suppose that we should take some slight satisfaction in noting that the spambots aren’t at Turing level just yet, and have to reply on brute force. Wankers.

I have made a bit of a start by introducing some filters into my .htaccess file. I’ll post these in due course if they seem to do any good, but when both the IPs the spammers use and the site addresses they promote change so fast it’s a bit of a losing battle. Still, there are definite patterns to the domains so that gives us somewhere to start.

Anyone surfing past this post with any helpful suggestions or comments is especially encouraged to mail me. Cheers.

More comment spam

This is getting ridiculous. I just deleted several hundred more comment spams by restoring from a week-old backup, so apologies if you’ve left a legitimate comment in that time. I just don’t have the time to be more selective right now.

I have some potential solutions in mind, but they require some coding to get working. In the meantime, you’re better off sending me email than leaving comments.

Comment Spam

Been hit by a nasty dose of this highly irritating plague recently. One thing to say to these idiots: GO AWAY. (I’d be more explicit, but I’d like to check this site from work and there’s an evil proxy guarding our network.) Neither I nor my readers want your crappy diet pills, prescription drugs or online gambling opportunities. And this blog is so rarely visited it’s hardly going to do your pagerank any good. (No one’s listening, but I don’t care.)

My Current strategy is a low-tech one, and I’ll turn off comments while I work out a higher tech solution if it continues. Comment spam is a real problem, as it can completely ruin a weblog by clogging up the discussion with rubbish. Plus, there’s something unpleasant about it – it feels like a bit of a personal attack. I’ve been quite surprised at just how angry it’s made me.

Webserver Nightmare

Due to a power outage causing all sorts of nasty evilness to my host‘s webservers, there are a few minor problems with this site at the moment.

It’s been restored from backup, but at the time of writing it’s not completely back to normal – some files seem to have been restored from different times, hence the slightly screwed templates.

I’ll get round to fixing the rest at some point soon. A big thanks to the techies at UKLinux for working to get all this sorted out, and for replying very promptly to emails, in what sound like fairly hairy circumstances.

Update: 1st August, 2004

After a few days out, everything’s back to normal. Plus, I’ve moved the URL, but there’s a redirection script in place to keep the miniscule traffic the site receives flowing to the right place. I’m still planning on a bit more maintenance, but this shouldn’t involve taking the site down.

I might even start to post again soon.

One Year Old

Just a quick post to note the fact that this website is now approximately 1 year old! Woohoo! Happy birthday to me!

I have to say that when I began this, I thought that I’d lose interest pretty quick, but I didn’t, and here it is a year on. It’s been a lot of fun. I’d link to the first entry I posted, but due to an early screw-up involving files, datestamps and suchlike, it’s not available at the moment. Oh well, I don’t think that it was particularly substantial anyway (some things don’t change ;-))


As the observant amoung you might have noticed I’ve added a facility to comment on my posts. I wrote the script that manages this over the weekend, and it’s pretty crude right now and still very much “beta”, so if anyone reading this has problems using it please let me know – I’d be very grateful. Likewise if for some reason you are interested in seeing the source code. It’s a fairly simple perl script and currently stores comments in text files, which might not scale too well for a site that has greater traffic than this one.

Also I’ll just mention that this blog is now running Blosxom 1.2 beta 2, which seems to be working well. I understand that the full 1.2 will be available soon.