It’s 2016 so I switched to Twenty Sixteen

After 3 years I decided to dust off my blog and freshen up the look and feel.

Wading through a ton (or maybe metric tonne) of themes didn’t convince me to spend a few dollars on a commercial theme and I found myself indecisive on some of the free ones. So, I went with the stock WP theme for this year, Twenty Sixteen. It’s fine though a bit plain in it’s current form. That’s probably better if I ever decide to start posting some professional blogs.

While I was at it, I added some plugins and widgets:

There’s a nifty Flickr Badges Widget, though I think the pictures there are several years old. I’ve started to relocate pics from a pair hosting service over to Flickr and while my albums are getting organized, the photo stream itself is somewhat random as far as when the pictures were taken. New pics from public events will show up eventually.

I also installed the standard WP caching tool. Since I’ve been dealing with WordPress at work, my knowledge of caching options and behavior in WordPress has grown. This makes me wonder if my hosting provider has opcache enabled by default? … I checked and it looks like it’s disabled. Maybe I should consider database object caching as an alternative…

That’s all for now. We’ll see if this year–after more than 20 years of maintaining a personal website–will be the year I start making regular posts.

We should call it Treet

I really love SPAM. Spam musubi, spam & eggs, ramen with spam… the list goes on. Sure it’s made from unknown parts of a pig with surely unhealthy amounts of salt and other things but it tastes good. And millions of people throughout the world love Spam. I never got why we call unwanted mail or postings “spam” when it’s such a good thing. Shouldn’t we call it something else like Treet? Really, who eats Treet? And why would you eat a chicken and pork product when you could have 100% pure pork and ham? (Apologies to my kosher friends out there.)

Why am I talking about this? Well, after a couple of months of minor spam comment postings, my little blog fell under attack in the last day with dozens of bogus comments advertising all kinds of gambling services. Most got flagged as needing moderation but a lot still made it through and needed to be manually gotten rid of. If you’ve seen the commenting area of a post, you’ll notice I’ve been using reCAPTCHA to help prevent spamming. Since it’s turned out not to be an end-all solution, I started to look at alternatives.

First step was to straight away ban the most common IP addresses. Current WordPress versions have this as an option. Since the traffic and number of comments is very light, I don’t think there’ll be much collateral damage to legitimate posters. It’s also possible to alter the .htaccess file to totally deny access but that felt to be a bit much since I’m not really under a heavy attack. As a longer term solution I’m looking to see what other options are out there. A couple of notable are Spam Karma 2, Peter’s Custom Anti-Spam Image Plugin and Bad Behavior. Depending on how effective updating to the latest reCAPTCHA and just blocking annoying IP addresses turn out to be, I’ll take a look at these solutions.

Thanks to a posting on Jammed for some of these plugin pointers.

iPhone Web Apps

While I’m writing posts, I’ll update on my Comics DB web app. I’ve started to do a mock up of a user interface for iPhone. Not that I did a huge amount of investigation, but the most serious choice for a framework looks to be Joe Hewitt’s iUI. It’s a combination of JavaScript and CSS which neatly transforms simple HTML elements into nice iPhone-like menus.

I really need to put more time into this as I’d like to get it up and running in time for field use at WonderCon next month.

Quick Progress

The long Thanksgiving weekend was a good opportunity to make some progress with my comics database web application. I was actually surprised how easy it was to get something more or less fully functional running in a few hours spread across the weekend.

I ultimately decided to just go with CakePHP. For the reasons listed before, it ended up making to most sense based on what I’ve already had experienced with and what seemed to be installed by default with my ISP. I just followed the Cake Blog Tutorial, recasting blog postings into comic book titles with the appropriate field changes. Some retyping of code and minor editing of values and voila! a complete web application was born.
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Managing a Comic Book Collection

I’m still planning to write some additional articles on Japan, specifically on Akihabara. Since pictures are always good, I’ve started to look through my backlog of trip photos. Unfortunately, organizing family pics have taken precedence. In the mean time I’m contemplating my first private programming project in a while.

I have a lot of comic books… when I stopped counting years ago I must’ve had around 3,000 by estimate. With many short boxes added in the last few years, the count should be over 3,500, maybe even 4,000. Since I’ve long stopped remembering comics by issue number or cover, I’ve turned to databases over the years to keep everything organized.
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