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  • I Am Not A Search Engine; Google Didn’t Buy Me; Please Don’t Sue Me

    Posted on February 13th, 2010 Brian No comments

    The big news from the Google front yesterday was their purchase of Aardvark, a search engine that leverages social connections to find folks who might know the answer to your question.  It’s pretty cool looking technology, which you can try for yourself at, but all the hype is prompting me to make a few points here.

    1. I am a person, not a search engine.
    2. Google didn’t buy me.
    3. Ardvaark is spelled differently from Aardvark, which is way different than vark.
    4. The name Ardvaark (or the variation Jr. Ardvaark) has been my handle since I first started coding a quarter century ago.
    5. The domain has been my personal home page on the web since 2001.
    6. My site ends in dot-net, not dot-com.
    7. So you see, Google, there’s no cyber-squatting here.  Please don’t sue  me.

    That is all.

  • And Then There Was WordPress

    Posted on April 28th, 2009 Brian No comments

    My last post here was October, 2008.  I’m sure nobody missed my rantings and ravings here, but I missed the ranting and raving.  There were dozens of times over the last several months when I wanted to post, but the pain of editing with MODx was just too great.

    It’s not that MODx is bad.  It’s actually quite fancy, with lots of features and flexibility — too many features and too much flexibility.  It works best for a site with somebody who has lots of time to Make It Go.  I didn’t.

    And so The Dumping Ground languished.  The layout was ugly.  The posts were infrequent.  And many times Twitter would fill the gaps, staunching the need for expression one hundred forty characters at a time.

    In the meantime, I had been shephearding the new Logan Circle Community Association website through development.  The company developing it built it on top of WordPress.  I was surprised at how far it had come, how much easier it was to use than I recalled.  I decided to finally make the move.

    I spent a good portion of my recent trip back to Indiana poking at PHPMyAdmin, downloading plugins, and futzing with CSS.  And this afternoon, Greg informed me he had cut me over.  And here it is.

    I’ll be around here more, but I also Tweet a lot more, too.  I don’t Facebook, although the pressure to is nearly irresistable.  I did my best to keep the old links alive, redirecting to new URIs; if you find a broken one, please let me know.

  • Why I Blog

    Posted on February 12th, 2008 Brian No comments

    A couple of my peers have both written entries on a similar vane, and now I feel compelled to catch up.

    Except I already did, a long time ago.

    I think I might have to add one of David’s to my list, though. I like the whole idea of being wrong publicly.

  • And…. We’re Back

    Posted on February 11th, 2008 Brian No comments

    Who’d have thunk I’d have been so busy with life that it would take me several months to switch servers?

    Right. Well, here we are, clogging up the tubes again. There’s all sorts of fascinating things to blog about, including coffee, shaving, Flickr, libraries, repositories, and life in general.

    Stay tuned…

  • Upgrade From Dupral 4.6 to 4.7

    Posted on July 6th, 2006 Brian No comments

    For those of you on RSS, I apologize for the several re-posts this morning. I upgraded Drupal from 4.6 to 4.7, which was a non-trivial undertaking. It seems to have re-posted some of my old entries as a result.

    Otherwise, things seem to be running swimmingly. The new version is a fair sight better than the old one. As a result, for those of you not on RSS, I have also changed the theme and moved around some content and added some fancy CSS menus. Overall, I’d say it’s a win.

  • The Wayback Machine Saves The Day – Windows 3.1 Review Returns

    Posted on March 28th, 2006 Brian No comments

    So here’s a comment I wasn’t expecting:

    Windows 3.1 review, where? Where can I find the review of Windows 3.1? I keep trying to find it on this post: but the “review” keeps linking to the main technology post page, and I can’t find the review. I’m SO curious to see the review with screenshots, so can anyone tell me how to get it?

    I can only presume that jen26059 is referring to the Windows 3.1 review I posted about almost two years ago. And whoops! It seems that it got lost during my transition from Geeklog to Drupal. Normally, I could just go back to the old site, except that I never moved the old content in the transition from the Old Samus to New Samus. What’s worse, Old Samus had already been nuked. Oh no! The review is gone forever!

    But wait! There’s one more hope! Yes! The Internet Archive‘s Wayback Machine has snapshots of my site, including some very old old old versions of my site. This also includes the missing review.

    So, I have recreated the original page based on the old HTML. You can find it here. Enjoy!

  • This Is Not the Samus You’re Looking For

    Posted on February 4th, 2006 Brian No comments

    If you’re seeing this entry, then you are viewing my site at its new home. Those of you who keep track of the IP addresses you visit will notice that has moved from to So what happened here?

    My primary server for several years has been a box named Samus. It is a 1.0 GHz Athlon T-Bird with 1 GiB of RAM and several SCSI Ultra-2 hard drives, all running out of my home via my Speakeasy business-class 1.1 Mb SDSL line. Originally, the machine was a gaming rig I built for myself circa 2001, but it hasn’t seen that kind of action since I got my new laptop a few years back.

    Finally, after all these years sitting next to my desk, I have grown weary of the heat, noise, and (most importantly) worrying about caring for the hardware. Of late, Samus has become quite finicky, often locking up with a machine check exception, and I just don’t have the time to care anymore. So, as part of the office decoration, I have decided it’s time for Samus to go. I have rented some hardware from VR Hosted, and have been working to transition Samus’s functions to the new machine. The only item that won’t work is the ArdCam. The hardware for the cam is actually plugged into Samus, so I have to find a way to run it locally. I’m kind of leaning towards a Mac Mini.

    Henceforth, the new machine shall be known as Samus, and the old machine shall answer to … well … Oldsamus. At least until I decomission it. That day will be sad, but necessary.

  • Downtime Apology

    Posted on November 27th, 2005 Brian No comments

    For those of you who are incessant Dumping Ground followers: I apologize for the downtime this afternoon. I finally took the time to upgrade to MySQL 4.1, and it took a bit longer than expected.

    And who cares? 😉

  • Enabled Comments

    Posted on October 31st, 2005 Brian No comments

    For the first time since I was comment spammed many moons ago, I have enabled comments on my blog. This is mostly because Drupal has a lot better comment moderation capabilities than Geeklog, as well as plugins to make things go even smoother.

    For now, you are required to request an account, and I must approve it, before a comment can be posted. Further, I have to approve individual comments. If it’s a little draconian, I apologize. Once bitten, twice shy, and all that.

  • Making Old Links Work with mod_rewrite

    Posted on October 24th, 2005 Brian No comments

    So one of the big concerns with moving from an old blog installation to new software is the possibility of breaking links from around the Internet to content that I have created. At first, one might think that this kind of thing might generate a massive SEP field, but there’s more at stake than just a broken link.

    What is that, you ask? PageRank. The content on my site has garnered a non-trivial score in Google’s view of the world, and such a score is valued, as it determines not only how high your own sites appear in any given Google query, but also how high people to whom you link appear. It is valued so much, in fact, that people often resort to comment spamming even mildly popular sites in order to increase their own search results.

    So making sure the old link /article.php?story=20040727104257410 correctly maps to the new link /failed_sandbox_peer_launches_or_something.html is an important migration step.

    So what’s the tool of choice? Well mod_rewrite, of course. The mod_rewrite package is an Apache module that performs some black magic of rewriting URLs from one form into another. In my particular case, the requirement was to map a Geeklog story ID (SID) into a Drupal node ID (NID). Surprisingly, that’s relatively easy to do.

    The .htaccess file in this application’s directory contains the following declarations. The first line examines the incoming query string for a variable called story, and it captures it using a regular expression. The second line looks for a request beginning with article.php, and then maps it to a value pulled from a mapping called geekmap. Notice the %1, which is a backreference to the SID captured in the previous line. The question mark at the end strips off any other query strings. Finally, the L stops all further mod_rewrite processing, and the R causes the new URL to be returned as an HTTP 301 response code, meaning a permanent redirect.

    The two-part rewriting is required because mod_rewrite doesn’t support examination of query strings inside of a RewriteRule.

    # Do Geeklog to alias mapping.
    RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} story=(\d+)
    RewriteRule ^article.php /${geekmap:%1|}? [L,R=301]

    So that begs the question: Where is that map called geekmap defined? It can be found In the httpd.conf.

    # Add a rewrite map for Geeklog to Drupal
    RewriteMap geekmap txt:/etc/apache2/sid-to-alias-rewrite-map.txt

    That’s pretty self-explanatory, except for that txt part. It just specifies the simple text-file format for a rewrite map. There are other formats, that can be found in the documentation.

    The map file is also pretty simple. It’s just a series of tab seperated lines. The left column is the key, and the right column is the value.

    20040727104257410 failed_sandbox_peer_launches_or_something.html
    20040808110934404 three_tequila_night.html
    20040809092923819 i_dont_even_know_her.html

    And that’s it! I do similar mappings for the old static page links, as well as the old RSS feed, but those are all much simpler cases. Finally, there’s some other Drupal magic on the backend to convert those long underscored URLs into node ID URLs (such as node/136), as well as further mod_rewrite magic to make the Drupal URLs pretty – but that’s beyond the scope of all this.