posts tagged with 'under the hood'

some changes

So it's been a while, but our blog looks different. Maybe acts a bit different too: it's now at plain old instead of (or as well as... both work now). Also some other things. Some parts might not work right yet; let me know if anything seems strange or missing. And look forward to plenty of unannounced small changes in the future!

a quick note on comments

We love getting comments on this blog, so I want to apologize to everyone whose comment might have been held up while I checked to see if it was actually written by a human. That should only happen once; if you use the same email address in the future you'll get the satisfaction of seeing your wise and/or clever remarks pop up immediately under our own. I wish that the world were a more innocent place and that I didn't have to set up any sorts of roadblocks to the free and instant exchange of information, but I also enjoy this blog more when it is free of any mention of erectile dysfunction cures, designer handbags, and teenage lolitas. Except, I suppose, when I bring up those subjects to try and get a cheap laugh. So comments must be moderated. Sorry!

comment verification

As you might have noticed, a few spam comments slipped through my defenses lately by posting under the names of trusted commenters. We can't have that! So now the machine is using email addresses for verification; harder to spoof by accident. As before, if I know that you're a human you'll have your comments appear right away, and this time you'll also be able to change the name you comment under—as long as you use the same email address, of course. I apologize that everyone will have to wait for moderation on the first comment they post... but if you just leave a note right here I'll get you added to the list and you'll never have to wait again!

(And of course, we won't use your email address for anything or share it with anyone or whatever; in fact, you don't even have to use a real one if you don't want to. We want our paranoid readers to feel welcome too!)


boring administrative news

We switched web hosts overnight. It was rather easier than last time, due to good planning (and, you know, just general intelligence) on my part. Some things still might not work quite right; I'm working on fixing what I know about as time allows, but feel free to point them out to me, as I might not have noticed: general intelligence only gets you so far on four hours of sleep.

Also, people with mail at might have to get in touch with me to get a new password; in no cases could I remember the old ones.


administrative notices

Two things:

First, it has come to my attention that Leah's last post was the 2000th published on this blog (the extra 34 in the entry number were tests or accidental duplicates that have since been deleted). Woohoo! Once again she wins the big showy award. I have more posts than her here... why is it never me?!

Also, I have temporarily made it so we have to approve comments before they appear on the page. Something must be done to stop the flood of spam. Frequent commenters, though, may rest assured in the knowledge that you will be allowed to continue posting unconstrained by any delays... as long as you don't change the name you're commenting under. If you think you should be on that list and you get the "your comment is being held" message, send me an email—in fact, do that if anything in your commenting experience is not to your satisfaction. Sorry, and thanks for your patience!


winter blues

Blue links on the blog, that is, for the new year. Maybe it'll bring some snow. Hold down "shift" and reload the page if anything looks odd. If it still looks odd complain to me because I did something wrong. Or you just don't like my design; I'd like to hear about that too I suppose.

The new look also sees the appearance of Zion, finally, on the little cartoon of us up there above these words. True, he's only a head and hand in Leah's arms at this point, but you have to start somewhere. By the next masthead update he'll be walking!

And as an aside, let me apologize for all the comments spam we've been getting, especially to anyone subscribing to the comments feed (I think it's actually just me, so that's ok). It's not even like we're getting spam for cool products or really dirty porn or whatever; no, it's "dyson vacuum parts", "estate planning", "neck pain treatment"... "KOSHER BEEF JERKY" (capitals in original). I guess the internet is getting old, just like the rest of us.


why do they even do that?

We've been getting a lot of comment spam lately; I'd apologize to everyone who subscribes to the comment feed if I weren't so sure it was just me. It makes me wonder who's behind this stuff, and how they rationalize it. Because basically, there's no upside for anyone: it makes the spammed blog look bad and drowns out legitimate conversation (in our case that's mostly between Leah and me but you know, the principle), and it also makes it harder for everyone to find what they're actually looking for on the internet. Do the spammers feel like they're doing evil but it's ok because they're doing it cleverly? Do they justify it by actually hating the internet and everyone on it? Do they feel that it's just a job and try not to pay too much attention? I'm honestly curious.

I've been deleting the spam comments as I see them, but there are large portions of the day when I'm not in front of the computer so they can build up a bit—though nothing like way back in the Moveable Type days. So I did some actual work and made it easier to delete comments in bulk from the blog. Whew. So nobody get out of control and comment too much, or I might think you're spamming. Keep it down to two or three comments a day, please.


missing post update

The lost posts from the first half of the month are back, as are your wonderful comments. Yay. The photos from that period are still missing, but will be restored presently. The only thing is that the post and comment IDs have changed, so if you happen to have bookmarked or linked to any of them (haha, as if) you will need to update those links.

As to what happened in the first place, I'll tell you someday over a beer. It's too hot and frustrating to go into it now!

trials and travails

So I've been having a bit of a difficult time over the past couple days. Obviously, the website has been having problems, and that's been a great trial to me; aside from how much I missed communicating with all of you via these pages (or, more commonly lately, watching Leah communicate) I also use to record all sorts of things you don't care about: the weather, books I read, what's going on in the garden, and things like that. We had some really interesting weather the last few days, and I couldn't write it down... and now I don't remember it! Even worse, while things are now up and running again the site has apparently been reverted to how it looked on June 1 or 2, so all the updates we made since then have disappeared.

I was initially pretty sad to lose the blog posts, but then it occurred to me that they're all still there in RSS readers the world round—and, most pertinently, in the two RSS readers on my computer here. Even better, all your comments were also saved, though in that case I think only on my computer; I believe that I'm the only person anywhere in the world who subscribes to our comments feed. So even if the hosting company can't get their act together to repair the damage (I'm giving em another 24 hours or so), I'll be able to replace the missing posts and comments.

I was especially frustrated by the timing of the outage, because I've been putting my personal website on job applications, but I consoled myself with the knowledge that no one is reading those applications anyways (see the opening sentence of this post).

On top of all that, my bicycle was stolen from my workplace on Monday. I walked out at the end of the day and boy was I surprised to find it missing. Many people did many nice things to help console me in my loss—most usefully offering to lend me bicycles, more bicycles that I could ever hope to ride (and now I can say I've ridden a real single-speed; thanks Janice!). While not really holding out any hope that I'd ever see the poor machine, my prize possession, again, I went through the motions and filed a police report as well as making some very attractive posters designed to guilt the thief into giving the bike back to me, should he happen to return to the scene of the crime and see one of them.

Well, today the site works and I got the bicycle back. The thief rode it a couple miles and then dumped it in the woods, probably frustrated by the incredibly poor tuning on the derailleurs and the lack of adequate brake response. The police claim to have found it, but since I know for a fact that cops never go into the woods (proven at the afterparty following Leah's senior prom) it must have been someone else that stumbled upon it and reported it to them. Nevertheless, they were very kind and I was happy to get the call that I could come down and retrieve my wayward machine. Everyone asked me if it was damaged at all when I got it back, and I told them that it wasn't any more damaged that it had been while still in my possession.

So anyways, that's two things fixed at least in part (although I'm still looking into other hosting companies; not only did the recent difficulties not fill me with confidence in our current host, we're also continuing to have some problems with our email). They say things come in threes; maybe I'll finally get an interview somewhere next? Please?


we're (sort of) back

Hey hey, the site is working again... minus 13 days of updates. Oops.

On a related note, we're looking into changing our hosting provider!

technical difficulties

Our apologies for the recent technical difficulties we've been having with our SQL connection. Unfortunately, the problem is (as far as I can tell) beyond our capacity as hosting customers to fix, and it's intermittent enough that the support folks are denying that anything's wrong. If you're reading this you know that at least half the time the site is working, so if you get the SQL connection error message you can try again in, oh, 15 minutes or so. Know that it's just as annoying to us here trying to write blog posts as it is for you trying to read them! I hope and trust that everything will be fixed soon.

This evening I made the front page of what I grandly call the squibix web a little more interactive. Leah has always wanted the blog to be on the front page, so folks don't get confused when they land on the site root; I expect that this will be close enough for her tastes. Check it out, tell me what you think!

seasonal changes

The weather's been tolerably pleasant lately: this afternoon we were outside from 4:00 to 6:00, so it can't have been too cold. The cycling has certainly been fine (or at least fun). And yet people are beginning to complain about the continued cold and the continued presence of the occasional pile of snow. Since I don't want to be blamed for winter's ongoing grip, I went ahead and turned on the spring style here on the blog even though the rest of the pages elsewhere on the squibix web aren't quite ready for the switch. It isn't the first time I made a precipitous change in order to propitiate the weather spirits neither (for the record, it worked back in 2007 once we got the right style up).

As always, hold down shift and reload if there are any traces of the old style lingering in your browser, and please let me know if anything looks amiss or doesn't work the way it should. There may well be a few issues: as well as changing the style this time I also updated the blog machine. It wasn't right that other folks were using the latest and greatest version when we, the bold originators of the system, were stuck with second-class product.

One thing that changed between versions was the name of the cookie that stores your saved comment information, so you'll have to reenter that if you're used to the blog remembering your name. Sorry about that! I suggest you post a comment to test it out, and reacquaint yourselves with our software.


springing towards summer

What a day! We rang in the spring by spending most of the afternoon outside—though still not enough of it for Harvey. When it gets a little warmer I think I'm going to set up the tent for him out in the yard; maybe sleeping under the stars will minimize the bedtime fuss a little. As it is we've had to drag him in literally kicking and screaming the past couple days.

Not that we're complaining, though! While he's outside he's happy as a clam, the sort of clam that needs minimal supervision (I guess that's probably all of them, eh?). He wants to spend 20 minutes crouching in a hole behind the rhododendron bush? Fine! My only parenting task was to keep him away from the thorny work I was doing—pulling down wild rose vines and clearing out old raspberry canes—but there was so much else to occupy him that he barely even looked my way.

The work went well; hopefully it means we'll get more raspberries this year than last. Taking care of raspberries, planting tomato seeds: despite it only being the bare beginning of spring, we're pretty focused on summer around here! So much so that Harvey and I even poked around the old boat a little. I promised him last summer that we'd take it out, and take it out we will, for the first time in five years or so. Not for a little while, of course: not only will it be some time before its warm enough to want to be out on the water, but I also have to figure out how on earth I'm going to get it out from under the porch. The bushes have grown up some since we put it in there...

As well as all that, there's also a new look for the blog in the works. Thinking so much about summer we can't have it still looking like winter around here! Stay tuned.


a note on feeds

It has come to my attention that Google Reader is perhaps not a true RSS client. Rather than hitting the actual address of the feed every time you tell it to refresh all feeds, it goes to a cached copy somewhere on the Google servers. This is fine for popular feeds, because that cache is itself updated frequently, but it doesn't for for less well-used feeds like, say, our comments feed (which has only one Google Reader subscriber: me). Such feeds simply don't show as being updated, ever.

Obviously, for our comment feed this doesn't matter because I don't need the feed to refresh: I get an email when someone comments. But other feeds have the same problem. I've started using the free RSS client Vienna (in addition to the Google-syncing NetNewsWire) to keep up with the blogs of friends, to make sure I'm not missing anything. For example, Google finally caught up with Theresa's blog the other day and showed me a dozen or so posts that I hadn't read when she wrote them because they didn't show up in my reader.

So. If you're using Google Reader to subscribe to some of our fine non-blog feeds, they may appear to not update frequently. That doesn't mean we're not posting pictures!


hippy spelling and blog tags

Leah's post yesterday reminded me that, yes, the word is officially spelled hippie. I think that's dumb. We don't write ponie, do we? Happie?! There are no sunnie days, I believe. We're taking a stand in our tags, at least, even if we do occasionally waver in our titles.

Speaking of tags, I did some work this afternoon fancying up the editing side of the blog, and I couldn't help but notice that our tagging is a little inconsistent. Why, for example, is this one post tagged with "education" and all these others with "teaching"? Is it a semantic difference, or did I just forget what tag I had been using for those sorts of posts? And don't even get me started on the "adventures"/"adventure" distinction. At least I got rid of the last few capitalized tags, which had been sorting, separately from their lower-case siblings, to the top of the list. Hippies don't capitalize their blog tags, you know.


style change

The blog and all the rest turns blue for winter. Maybe it'll bring snow here in Massachusetts: we're jealous of the rest of the world. If anything is still orange, hold down shift and reload the page. And please let me know if anything looks wrong!

distraction announcement

In what is surely the most momentous announcement on the blog this week, I am happy to tell you that we have switched to orange for fall. Better early than never, that's my motto. If any blue happens to be lingering about your browser, hold down shift and press the reload button. That is all.

internet, how you doin?

Look at me! Taking a day off of writing in the blog so that I could spend an hour yesterday watching Maria Bamford videos. Even though I had sworn this month that I'm on an internet video fast. This has been a VERY STRESSFUL week.

If you want to check out some of the comedy I used to waste my time yesterday, here's a short clip and a long clip. Look Dan, she's got the same bedspread as us! And like ten times the mental illness so that it makes the tenth your wife has look endearing!

On the Leah be creative front, there's video in the cutting room and pictures in the camera and jokes somewhere in the back of this brain. Coming soonish?

new month, new look

You may have noticed that we've changed things up a little here at the squibix family blog; more so even than when we replaced the green look with those cute snowmen a couple months ago. This time it's not only a new look, it's new functionality (that means stuff that does stuff) as well! Read on for some details (unless you only take in our content via RSS reader; in that case, go enjoy your coffee or whatever).

After a couple years menu-less, the menus have returned to the left-hand side. I asked Leah if she wanted the blog to look more spacious and zen, and she replied in the extreme negative—something about wasted space and not having anywhere to focus on the page. I compromised by making the menus fold up, so they don't take up too much attention-space if you don't want to look at them. Since I'm the spiritual head of the household, you'll notice they start out folded.

We also added tags, which were all the rage some three-four years ago. We wanted to make sure they had legs, you know. We've gone back and tagged about a year's worth of posts; the tagging work will continue, if only because we get a kick out of reading our old material.

Finally, there's now an archive, for the historically-minded reader. I particularly recommend the full page of calendars, because the principal reason I ever write in this blog is to fill up the little numbers with links. I also am prouder of that calendar code than anything else I've ever written.

Of course, as with any new software project, there are bound to be issues: what are known colloquially, in the business, as "bugs". Some of them we even know about, but didn't bother to fix quite yet: for example, Leah doesn't really like the tree drawing on the masthead. I promised to make her a better one, but I couldn't deny you the opportunity to read our twitter posts in the sidebar for the time that would take. So, later. Others we might not notice unless you tell us, so please don't hesitate to offer your feedback.

I know, with all that don't I sound like this is a real important blog, like people are reading?! Hi mom, hi Oona! Still, I had fun putting all this new stuff together, so I get to talk about it a little bit. I hope you enjoy!


feed bag

I wanted to take a break from posting pictures and videos to let you know that there's another way to see our pictures, if ever you want to. The "photo gallery", as I so grandly call it, has an RSS feed that will deliver the latest snaps direct to your RSS reader. For the more discerning viewer, a feed of only Harvey pictures is also available.

gallery feed
Harvey picture feed

There will be some overlap between the pictures that appear there and those we publish in the blog, but seeing a few shots twice is a small price to pay for the assurance that you will never miss a single exciting image!

While we're talking RSS, I should also mention that this blog of course has a feed as well, though it is not particularly well-advertised. You may find it at this address. Enjoy!


photos on demand

the beach in Malibu, early morning

valentine's day morning 2004, in Malibu

In response to a certain comment, here is a photo. You may find more at our new-ish photo gallery page, which I built to consolidate in one place, for posterity, all the images on the site—from the blog, as well as Rascal's and Harvey's pages. The integration between all of this is still on-going, but the gallery is there and I'm having fun filling it with pictures—specifically, paging through every one of the 7,821 pictures in my iPhoto library and recalling old times. Not that I'd forgotten everything that's happened in the past six years or so, it just presents a different aspect when viewed in illustrated format!

The image above is from, as the caption has it, Valentine's Day of 2004. Can you believe we've been blogging for that long?! Which reminds me, we have an blogiversary coming up in a couple days; what should we do to celebrate six years on the air?

[An interesting aside: I see that changing time zones translated the posting times for those California posts to Eastern Time. That means that some of them now show up on different days, or even different months, than they were originally posted! Man, we sure stayed up late back in those days.]


administrative note

It has come to my attention that there are people reading this blog. I mean, more people than I thought. Most of them, I assume, come for Leah's insightful and delightful words, rather than my own more pedestrian ones on the subjects of biking and weather. Since I can't restrain myself from posting occasionally on those heads, I would like to point out once again the "author archive" feature that I cleverly hid somewhere on this blog. By accessing the site via this address, you will receive a Leah-only version of the proceedings for your reading pleasure. For those of you who insist on reading—or at least skimming—my stuff too, I'll try and be a little funny from time to time.

Also, hooray and thank you to everyone who's been commenting the past couple weeks or whatever it's been. You're all awesome!


the state of the blog

You wouldn't necessarily know it by the post numbers, but we've hit a thousand posts. Plus one, actually: this here is the one thousand and first post here on the squibix family blog. The missing fifteen or whatever posts were deleted, but not because we changed our mind about the content—how could we? we never read it!—but because when Moveable Type was breaking it threw out a bunch of duplicate posts that we had to get rid of once sanity was restored.

Anyways, given the milestone I thought I'd toss out some stats:

  • Total number of posts, to date: 1,000
  • Posts by Leah: 370
  • Posts by Danny: 610
  • Mystery missing posts (by squibix? what?): 20
  • Month with most posts: tied, February '04 and January '07 with 41 each
  • Month with least posts: Um, there were some with none in the summer of 2004
  • Okay, not counting those: December '04 with 1, November '04 with 2, and November '07 with 3
  • Posts about Rascal: 91 that reference him by name above the fold, anyways
  • Posts by Danny at least in part about the weather: probably about two or three hundred
  • Posts that are at least moderately amusing: maybe a few, here and there
  • Other blogs on (where we got started) that are still seeing new posts: none! We win!



Spring started yesterday, or else it starts tomorrow with Easter, so we needed a new look around here. The snow—which I should note lay on the ground for every single day of winter, which has to be some kind of record—is nearly gone, and the daffodils are starting to poke up. No crocuses yet, though. I hope they haven't been eaten.

Anyways, this new look for the blog represents a bit of a departure, in that it's the first time that I've made any changes to the SBS machine that makes it all go. And more changes still need to be made, so expect incremental improvements along the way, if I manage to find time. Also, please please let me know in comments or via email if anything doesn't look right or is broken; for example, I noticed that you didn't used to be able to use apostrophes in comments for I don't know how long, which I didn't notice because how often do I comment on my own blog?! It must have been annoying for you, Oona, so please accept my apologies. I think it's fixed now.

And Happy Spring!


results of a day spent tweaking layouts

I think I've discovered the secret to cross-browser css compatibility. No more hacks, no more *>html or voice-family or /*//*s (who can remember how that last one is supposed to go?!). No, the solution (which I'm sure thousands of people already found before me) is to absolutely position everything you can, and test in IE7 and Firefox. Then use conditional comments to target IE6, and give it an entirely different stylesheet. The absolute positioning "top" number needs to change by 359px? Who cares why! Just guess at numbers until it looks the way it should! A single minute devoted to trying to figure out what the IE6 renderer is trying to do is a minute too many.

That's all. Oh yeah, also watch out for floats, negative margins, and padding on elements with defined widths. And z-index.