August 24, 2004


Last night I upgraded my version of Movable Type to start using a MySQL database, and I was surprised at how smooth the process was. Since I’m quite fond of the directory structure I have set up here, I was afraid I would need to mirror my existing installation of Movable Type to a new location, test it, nuke the old, and do a fresh install using MySQL.

Fortunately, the fellows at Six Apart had planned for this sort of thing, and built all sorts of nice stuff to make the conversion quick and painless. I backed up my old database just in case something went awry, and even though a two megabyte file sounds small, that’s a lot of data when it’s nothing but plain text.

I had to create and prep the new MT database by hand, which is made a little bit exciting by the fact that my MySQL server is at a different location than my web server. I found that the easiest way around this is to use PuTTY, secure shell into a Linux or FreeBSD box where I have SSH access, and from there run MySQL and hop into my database server. I mention this only because the entire process calls on knowledge I didn’t have even two weeks ago, and because I continually find the nonlocalized, anti-geographic nature of the internet absolutely fascinating.

What I find disappointing, however, is that 65 percent of all internet mail is spam, and that those of us who build and maintain the infrastructure holding up the internet are forced to accomodate these jerks, lest our own communications get swallowed up by a system that cannot handle the traffic load. Real men lay fiber optic cable. Sissies exploit vulnerable mail servers.

I mention this only because when I upgraded my database, I unwittingly punched a hole through the thin wall that protects my weblog from storms of comment spam. When I returned home this evening I had more than 500 new comments waiting for me; all spam, all posted over the course of twenty minutes. I eventually got everything cleaned up and running again, all thanks to MT-Blacklist and the magic of RegEx.

In all seriousness, death is too kind a punishment to be visited upon the people who do crap like this. My dear friend Nathan at Noble Hobo lost a year’s worth of his memoirs from Duluth, the South Pole, New Zealand and Sequoia while trying to delete massive sacks of dookie visited upon his site. Some of the latest pieces of comment spam are insidious as well, using <h1> tags to boost their links and “content” for search engines, and <font> tags (*chortle*) to make their text appear innocuous.

However. Like its creators and lovers, the internet is flexible and agile in thought and action. It will naturally detect infections and reroute around them, or remove them entirely from the body. Saints such as Jay Allen use technology, passion and creativity to keep this organism healthy, and don’t get near enough credit for cleaning up the messes left by a sad group of degenerates. Show yer appreciation. Get out there and smack the Donate button a bit. I’m in for a sawbuck. How ’bout you?