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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

MovableTitles

Just when I think I have this whole “blogging” thing figured out — nearly nine years into the experiment, mind you — I find some other thing I’ve gone and hopelessly boobered up.

Just last month, I fixed the comment spammers’ little red wagon.

(And that’s still working, by the way. In the nearly three weeks since I declared victory with my home-grown spam-o-mangler, I’ve gotten precisely three bits of sleaze. And none of them automated — I can associate each nugget of spew to an actual, live person logging in to leave it.

“Sadly, my archives are a lot like my underpants — the older and bigger they get, the less anyone wants to dig through them.”

I like to think the weenies notice their spambot shitbombs not thumping my doorstep any longer, and taking the time to investigate, thinking:

Hai! Whut’s up wit dat? I cain spam tha place up when ah logs in mahself. Gawrsh!

Because in my world, all spam weenies are a cross between Goofy, Cletus Spuckler and Larry the Cable Guy. Only dumber. With more back hair. Idiots.)

Spam is not my current problem. I am my current problem.

I ran this site for several years using software called MovableType. It’s Perl-based, not PHP-based. It’s highly flexible, but takes some manual configuration. It’s powerful, but requires an understanding of the code to reach its full potential. It’s “thinky”, not “easy”.

Naturally, WordPress (and just about everyone else) ate its effing lunch.

So much so that MovableType got basically run the hell out of blogging. It’s now mainly a publishing platform for small companies in Japan, from what I understand. Less ‘MovableType’ and more ‘SharableHentai’. Or something.

Anyway, I had to move the site to another server a while back, and the choices for setting up shop anew were grim. Bubblegum and rubberband my five-year-old software to make it work on modern technology? Look into TokyoType or HappyFunMovableTime! or whatever the platform became in the land of the rising sun? Bite the bullet and join the WP throng, meaning a complete rework of…well, everything?

None of those options pressed my “lazy button”. And that’s pretty much the only one I have left.

(Some have fallen off. Others were worn down from constant overuse. Which is which? You don’t wanna know.)

Luckily, some open-source hippie types had taken the corporate MovableType codebase, finagled it around a little, and released it with rainbows and sunshine and happy little trees into the wild as a free platform, under the awwwwww!-so-cute project name Melody. That’s what I went with. It was familiar. It was comfortable. And the doe-eyed earnest coders lovingly stroking its subroutines promised to love it and care for it and call it George and be its BFFs forever.

Yeah. Their site stopped responding to requests six months ago. Those people are gone. Their poor widdle ‘Melody’ got shoved in a dumpster behind a crack warehouse in the middle of the night, never to be heard from again.

None of that is really my current problem, exactly. I was just feeling nostalgic. Good times.

The real problem is what I did when I installed this Melody code to get the new server up a few months ago. I pulled in all the many, many posts full o’ drivel from the old archives, and told the code to give them each a new home. Which it did. Every post got a new file, named fully and completely after my ridiculously long-winded titles. So I had shit like this hanging out on the server:

/categories/making-fun-of-jerks/you_can_shove_that_ultimate_driving_machine_right_up_your_ass_there_skippy.html

I shit you not. That’s an actual title. I tell you, I was not made for this world of twitter and OMGs.

The problem is, neither was my old MovableType software. The ancient version I’d been using truncated all the URLs — like the one in the link above, which gets as far as “ultimate_dr” before slapping a “.html” on itself and calling it Miller time. So when I moved, any page that was too long for the old hamster-wheel-and-butter-churn software to handle got renamed. And the old links to those pages?

Broke’d!

Honestly, I didn’t even notice for a while. Months, even. The links to most of those pages from elsewhere are years old, so nobody was doing much clicking on them. My pages here have lots of links to and fro, so there were plenty of broken links in the archives. But no one noticed. Sadly, my archives are a lot like my underpants — the older and bigger they get, the less anyone wants to dig through them.

I only discovered the grand embreakening this week, when I popped open Google’s Webmaster Tools for a quick checkup on the site. I looked for broken links, thinking I might have typoed one or two somewhere. Maybe five, if I was sloppy.

Nah. Try SEVEN FREAKING HUNDRED.

Seven hundred links not working. And that doesn’t mean seven hundred pages with a broken link. No, it’s not that simple. There are thousands of pages, here and beyond, pointing foolishly to seven hundred-plus different broken URLs that no longer exist — because those hippie bastards made Melody a precocious little girl who has to title pages right, yes she does!

Or she’s pissed about being shoved in the dumpster, and taking it out on me. Wouldn’t be the first time.

Anyway, I’ve been spending the last few days — and the next few days, and probably more later on — finding, fixing and otherwise un-futzing all of the links that worked for two or three or five years, then suddenly vanished into the abyss. You’d think the Jedis or someone would have noticed and told me. But no. I had to find it myself, six months after the fact.

And now I’m going cross-eyed and angry at my own ridiculous wordiness, especially when it comes to titling a piece that hey, maybe I’d like to provide a stable link to, in case anyone happens to want to find it. I mean, seriously — “That Which Does Not Kill Me Will Only Screw Up My Car and Make Me Puke, Apparently?

Jesus, me. Just… Jesus.

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