Dec 072009

I’ve been implementing more web sites recently; it appears to be one part of the technology market for which there is still demand. One of the things I push when I meet with clients is accessibility, so I figured I should test my own sites and make sure they’re reasonably accessible. Lynx is one tool to use to check accessibility (as well as being a good basic text-based browser). I was a little flummoxed when I got back a 406 http error, which usually means the user agent can’t read the character set, language, or encoding the web site uses. Even the most basic text html page was rejected.

It turned out that my ISP had mod_security enabled (good) and configured in such a way that lynx was banned (not so good). Banning lynx seems to be a fallout from a quick way of configuring mod_security by filtering out keywords that might be used in hacking attempts. Personally I can’t see the point as lynx can be told to use a different user agent string if need be, and people who want to hack your site will likely know how to do that, and I can’t understand how people use lynx to hack a site either. Mind you, I don’t hack other people’s web sites, so I don’t know the tools people use who do. Anyway, the ISP cheerfully took out the filter causing the problem, but in the meantime my IP address had been flagged by mod_security for trying to bypass the filter too many times, so I was completely banned from my own site, as well as every other site that happens to be hosted on the same server.

Eventually we cleared up that little problem as well, and I could get back to tweaking my style-sheets and HTML to be more accessible. There’s a bit more to do yet, but I’m getting there. And I’m grateful for an assiduous ISP (Canadian Web Hosting) with a support team that works late on Friday nights.

Jan 142009

My blog feed is behaving oddly and I can’t quite figure out what’s going on. I’ll post when I’ve found out enough to give a salient description, and when I find a solution. Hopefully it won’t take too long.

Update: it turns out to have been the BirdFeeder plugin, compounded with a stubborn cache. Guess I have to do some more work on figuring out how to get Mint to work properly with the site, but that can wait until tomorrow.

Dec 122008

Having just updated my blog to the latest in the 2.6 series, it was time to go for the 2.7 series. Normally I wait a couple of days for other people to flush out the bugs, but I figured I’d be big and brave on this one, given it’s Friday afternoon.

As usual with WordPress, the upgrade went flawlessly, even the few plugins I use installed without complaining. If you notice anything, let me know; it might take a while before I stumble on it.

The new admin dashboard will take some getting used to. I don’t know yet whether I prefer it to the old one or not, it looks more complicated but that could just be because it’s unfamiliar.

And I’m trying out Mint for statistics. I wrote a small plugin to add the code to the right place on the pages which seems to work. Now all I have to do is figure out how to disregard the spurious visits.

Sep 052008

On my crafting blog I use the Tarski theme, and that used to give you the choice between Atom and RSS for the feeds. Then they took it out, saying that WordPress itself gives you the choice. Well, maybe it does (or maybe it did), but nowhere in the options for 2.6.1 that I could find (maybe you need a plugin to do it?). Then I discovered that this blog’s default feed had been changed to RSS2 some time when I wasn’t looking, which also wasn’t what I wanted.

To jog my memory next time I upgrade WordPress and want to use Atom by default, here’s where to change the setting. Fortunately PHP code is easy to search through! The file is feed.php in the wp-includes directory. Change the second parameter in the get_default_feed function to atom. Within any luck this method will even continue to work in the next version. I’ll certainly know to check what the default feed format is in the future.

Mar 102008

I realized while installing the latest WordPress upgrade, that I hadn’t yet blogged some solutions to issues I had some time ago. These are all issues related to plugins.

Problem 1: I installed the Organizer plugin to help organise my pictures. It wouldn’t show them, which somewhat defeats the purpose of an organizer. Looking at the errors with Firebug (one of the most useful Firefox extensions I’ve found) revealed that the organizer_jump_directory function wasn’t defined. One of the comments on the plugin solved the problem: copy the contents of the general.js file to the index.php and view.php files.

Problem 2: flexible upload seemed to be activated, but I couldn’t see any sign of it in the “Write” page. The “add field” box was missing from the upload part of the page, as well as the other useful items. The solution: I needed to turn off the mod_security Apache module for the admin directory in the .htaccess file. There are more details in WordPress support forum. I also needed to chmod the plugins directory to 755.

Problem 3: I have another blog, and wanted to show the postings from this blog via the Atom feed. I set it up, and it seemed to work, but it never updated the list to show the latest postings. After trying out a lot of different ideas, I discovered in the server logs that I had a 403: Forbidden error, which gave me a new and different set of things to try out. In the end I discovered the source was that the BadBehavior plugin was blocking the requests. So I added the IP address of my blog into the bad-behavior/ file, and all now works as it should.

Dec 052007

If you use the Bad Behavior/Bad Behaviour plugin for WordPress, you will need to update it immediately if you don’t want to be blocked from accessing your own site (which is rather disconcerting). More details at Bad Behavior 2.0.11. Simply overwriting the old files with the new should work; another option is to rename the bad-behavior-wordpress.php file to something else, which will disable it, so you can then log in to the admin pages as usual.

Kudos to the plugin author (Michael Hampton) for finding and fixing the problem quickly!

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