Open Thread for Refugees

Welcome, anyone who wants to park here while Patrick and Teresa’s living room is under tarps. The beer is in the bathtub, the chips are really crisps, and I might bake a cake later.

In the meantime,

Otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est
otium exsultas nimiumque gestis
otium et reges prius et beatas
perdidit urbes

Translate, mangle, scan, discuss, ignore.

Note for my usual readers: the Moveable Type installation on the site where I hang out rather a lot is broken. I’ve invited the community over here until it’s fixed.

Don’t let this stop you from commenting – these are great folks.

52 thoughts on “Open Thread for Refugees”

  1. I’m so glad that you did this!
    I was, I must admit, wondering where everyone was. Now that I know it’s the software doing something, and not everyone suddenly leaving on a starship or whatever, I feel much better.

  2. Taking advantage of the quiet room (thanks, Abi) to make a plea to US types for enlightenment: we Tivoed Tuesday’s episode of Eureka because it conflicts with Grocery Night, and owing to some temporal misunderstanding somewhere involving the last six-7 minutes of the previous show, we’re missing everything after the visit to Stark’s hospital room. Quick summary, anyone? Much appreciated.

  3. Another thanks, Abi! (But only two comments so far? That ain’t right.)

    It may be sheer coincidence, but several other websites that I normally visit are down. Astronomy Picture of the Day went down yesterday and now just gives an “apologies, we’re temporarily unavailable” error message, and ScienceDaily (which I think normally runs on Sundays) still has all of yesterday’s postings, not updated for 24 hours.

    Does anyone have info on some general web plague, maybe timed for Friday the 13th? I guess I’d better run my full antivirus check this morning.

  4. Idleness, Catullus, is your trouble;
    idleness is what delights you and moves you to passion;
    idleness has proved ere now the ruin of kings and
    prosperous cities.

  5. Thanks for the refuge, Abi. Hmm… Maybe your site should be renamed Abi’s Café Américain.

    That being said… Since I’ll be in San Francisco tomorrow, and just a few blocks from Stacey’s Bookstore, I think I’m going to get myself some books about MovableType and MySQL. My experience with web site maintenance is limited to my wife’s, and I learned by noticing that if I do this over here, I get that over there. This is an approach I wouldn’t dare take with Making Light. Maybe ML should establish a list of maintenance people, to deal with such situations.

  6. How frustrating it must be. Like having a cam that shows you your front door is ajar while you’re on a vacation on the other coast.

  7. Faren, I noticed that about the Astronomy Picture of the Day too…my two favorite sites messed up at the same time? Can’t be a coinkydink.

    Also: hooray, abi!

  8. We’ve come here fearing the deluge
    our hearts aren’t heavy though, but high,
    we aren’t dismayed by lowering sky
    the world, we know, is wide and huge,
    we won’t fear any thug or stooge,
    the truth must win against each lie.
    We made the move, and we won’t sigh
    but will thank Abi for this refuge.
    We aren’t allowed to waste our time
    but make our points and show good sense,
    be kind and never throw a fit;
    I’ll say all this in simple rhyme,
    be honest, plain, make no pretence,
    and do my best to show some wit.

  9. Hi, all – thanks, Abi.

    I’m going to go see if I can find anything useful out about MT…wish I’d dug into it a bit more on my own site already.

  10. Hi abi, and thanks for the hospitality! (Cake sounds good too).

    Am hoping very hard that I didn’t break ML (as mine was the last post to show up on “recent posts”).

  11. He seems to me as equal to a god,
    No–dare I say it–greater than the gods,
    Who’s fortunate enough to sit across from you
    And see and hear you
    Sweetly laughing.

  12. Thanks, abi!

    Lila, I’m sure it had nothing to do with you. Maybe it’s a general electron work stoppage or something.

    My rosebush looks very happy in her new home, and nothing is dead yet. I’m not sure I’ll ever become obsessed with gardening–rough hands don’t mix with laceknitting too well–but I’m very glad to be trying the experiment.

  13. I emailed them. Sounds like they’ve got a person who knows about big blogs looking at the problem.

    But, just for backup, if we-in-the-fluorosphere know experts on giant movable-type installations, it won’t hurt to have that expert’s contact info ready to send. We could consolidate our info here or by mail if needed. (I’m at kathryn dot sunnyvale at yahoo dot com)

    Ethan and Faran- I noticed that too about the Astronomy picture of the day. I’ve used apod as my ‘last website before turning the computer off’ site for a couple of years now (almost to the point of ‘once I go there, then the computer must go off’).

    The Saturn pics at ‘where is Cassini’ are a good substitute:

    Kip- yes on the bad timing. It always seems like that to me. My partner’s servers will be up for months, and then the moment we’re 500+ miles away it’ll need rebooting (and not where I can call local family to press a button. It’s always where we have to have my local family let a local techie in. Good thing we’re in Silicon Valley).

  14. Cool, glad they’ve got someone working on it for them. I don’t know much perl (and not much MT) but it seems like the site_path for the ML blog isn’t defined properly, but I can’t figure out where the heck it gets defined, because my own MT blog is not complex in any way (structure or content!), so uses default values for most things.

    I emailed them my RL contact info too, in case they want a sysadmin in the mix.

    I’m alchemist at canary3d dot com, if anyone here needs to reach me, btw.

  15. Meanwile, here’s my attempt at a translation, without a dictionary or much knowledge of…well, anything:

    Otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est
    otiop exsultas nimiumque gestis
    otium et reges prius et beatas
    perdidit urbes

    Odius cat! Who is harming my tibia
    oudiously exulting with growing claws*
    odius and kingly, you beat me before
    you forget the city.

    *nimiunque=claws, I assume

  16. Hope they can get a fix in soon. Computer problems can drive a person crazy.

    In the spirit of open threaded-ness, am I the only one who was disappointed by the Order of the Pheonix movie? I haven’t read the book (read the first two), but the movie got rave reviews, which I would disagree with.

  17. Seems like their initial attempts to fix it haven’t worked yet.

    I emailed a techie mailing list I’m on to see if I can find recommendations.

    Per the ML comment about Scalzi’s Whatever meltdown, I emailed JS to ask if he’d used a sysadmin. No, he’d done the work himself, and it sounds like it was a different type of meltdown.

  18. Thanks abi. I was feeling adrift without y’all

    Yes, laziness is sometimes my problem. But not this weekend! I will be sharing a picture (soon) of my newly constructed cookbook shelves.

    I like Mary Dell’s translation. We used to make up translations like that for Petrarch’s poetry.

  19. Greg, I too was disappointed. It seemed rushed and flat to me. (But Umbridge was deliciously loathesome.) And I liked the book.

  20. Greg, I was trying to import a CSV file of addresses into Gmail yesterday (maybe 200 names) and it took the better part of two hours. If anyone else attempts this, be sure you have no blank rows, no blank name fields, no blank e-mail address fields; otherwise Gmail just gives you an uninformative “there were problems with your CSV file” error.

    The whole point was to get them into the Gmail contacts to take advantage of Facebook’s search for friends through e-mail information. I ended up with 13 successful finds.

  21. Hello all ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m not an MT guru, nor am I PERL one, but I have spent enough time hanging around various web apps to have a good feeling of what can go wrong…

    My first thoughts looking at the failing line of code is that ‘$blog’ is probably pulled in from a config file somewhere. It might be not being defined for some reason:

    * A syntax error in the config file
    * Perhaps a missing carriage return on the last line of the file (that one catches me out way too often)

    If I couldn’t see anything obviously wrong, I might try installing a new copy of the per-site config from the original distribution and redoing the configuration from scratch. It’s a last resort, but it should fix just about anything that could only affect _one_ instance out of the three that are set up.

  22. And, if anyone here can translate it, looks like it might have been written by someone with the same problem.

    A quick glance at the MT source suggests the problem isn’t with a configuration file. Relevant parts are:

    $blog is supposed to be an MT::Blog, but clearly ‘load(…)’ isn’t returning the correct object. I can’t find where load is defined, but it’s described in the documentation for MT::Object. It looks like it pulls the data from a database table called “blog”. I’d suggest, assuming it’s a MySQL database, connecting up and running ‘check table blog;’, and if that says there’s an error, ‘repair table blog;’. If there isn’t an error, check the contents of the table. It should, I guess, have 3 entries: one for ML, one for Sidelights and one for Particles. A possible suspect would be the ML row having been lost somewhere along the way…

  23. Symptom report:

    I don’t know if this is relevant to ML’s problems, but the rss feeds haven’t been reliably working since the troubles started.

  24. Patrick, do you know exactly what version of MT you’re using?

    The version I have handy is different — line 177 is something completely else — but there’s a similar lie in _sync_from_disk, which looks like:

    sub _sync_from_disk {
        my $tmpl = shift;
        my $lfile = $tmpl->linked_file;
        unless (File::Spec->file_name_is_absolute($lfile)) {
            my $blog = MT::Blog->load($tmpl->blog_id);
            $lfile = File::Spec->catfile($blog->site_path, $lfile);

    Something’s trying to load a template from a file, and there’s an error trying to figure out what the full filename is. The likely cause is either that the template’s blog_id is messed up or there’s a problem with the blog entry in the DB.

    Adding a line:

      my $blog_id = $tmpl->blog_id; my $tmpl_id = $tmpl->id; die "Couldn't load blog $blog_id for template $tmpl_id" if !defined($blog)

    between the “my $blog” and “$lfile =” lines would let us see what blog ID is being loaded, and comparing that with the mt_blog table might let us figure out which is wrong. If it’s the template, then looking at the mt_template table might be helpful.

    There are some fields in mt_blog that probably shouldn’t be shared publicly (Google API key, remote authorization token), so if you do post it, remove anything that looks like nonsense characters.

  25. I’ve been watching Hoodwinked

    Should I now watch Rashomon?

    I’ve already seen Hero.

  26. Things we know:

    We use MT 3.33.

    The database isn’t corrupt.

    Hosting Matters (our hosting provider) recently upgraded perl to 5.008008.

    It’s been suggested that perhaps they didn’t put all the perl modules into the right directories. Lisa Spangenberg was able to replicate the error message on another install of MT 3.33 by moving certain modules out of their appropriate directories.

    Hosting Matters themselves have suggested that perhaps we have an old plugin that doesn’t like the new perl, and that we should disable old plugins that we’re not using.

    Our MT install has gotten somewhat plugin-encrusted over the years, to say nothing of the plugins that come with the post-3.0 versions of MT, but I’m pretty sure everything there is being used.

    Ken Snider, an sysadmin for a very popular site that runs on MT, has had the run of our site for a few hours–and he’s currently stymied because the error message (‘Can’t call method “site_path” on an undefined value at lib/MT/ line 177’) doesn’t actually show up in any of our local error logs. He needs access to the server logs, which aren’t visible to us by default.

    (Evidently Hosting Matters has replaced the “normal” apache with a custom one, and locked out access to system logs.)

    His argument is that whether the problem is perl modules in the wrong directories, out-of-date plugins, or Something Else, it’ll be vastly easier to track if he can get at those logs. I have put this argument to the folks at Hosting Matters and I hope to hear back from them shortly.

  27. Further: When the scheduled hardware upgrade is done (power-supply stuff), Hosting Matters is going to log in, try to post, do a rebuild, and watch their server logs live to see where the error message crops up.

  28. Cosmic Dog:

    I think the second line of your translation is wrong; I’ve always rendered it something like,

    “you wallow in idleness and get nothing done”

  29. TexAnne, thank you for the idea of the general electron work stoppage.

    With apologies to you-know-who.

    They come, they go, as we do bid them go.
    Electrons have their tasks, and do them well.
    (Well, mostly. There are days the thing runs slow,
    And then we’re mad.) But mostly, you can tell
    That if the button’s pushed by you, or him,
    Something is going to light up where it should.
    Our little slaves, attentive to our whim,
    ‘Til doubt drives helically through the wood:
    A memory of light of other days,
    a half-heard shout of “Up against the wall!”
    Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
    Some reading Proust, and some, Das Kapital;
    Do you believe we’ll get the chance to choose
    If they decide our yokes they must refuse?

  30. Incidentally, I did promise on Open Thread 87 that I would post how the strawberry lemon tartlets went. (

    They were a nightmare to make. The almond crust had no tensile strength whatsoever, and had to be built up inside the cups bit by bit. Ugly. And the lemon filling tasted like its primary ingredient – store-bought lemon curd.

    We re-jigged the recipe, filling the very handcrafted cups with strawberries, then putting a dollop of the lemon mix on top of that. We then arranged sliced strawberries on top like the petals of a flower, glazed it, and piled lemon peel shavings in the centre.

    They were praised by the diners (the family – we do fancy three-course meals for one another), and I’d use the lemon mix as an accent with strawberries and something painless, like shortbread, again.

    But it was a frustrating process to make them.

  31. I don’t know about any of that stuff. I’m a simple soul. Just here to express solidarity.

  32. Thanks, Abi. Hi, y’all. Reading Patrick’s comments as to what might be wrong is like reading Greek (I don’t), but it’s good to know that someone is working hard to fix the problems. I’m going through mild withdrawal symptoms. Waaah.

    Apropos of nothing at all, today has been an absolutely scrumptious day, here in the East Bay of the SF Bay Area in California. Sun, sweet blue sky, mild breezes, it is fricking gorgeous. I took my dog to the park this morning and sauntered about — doing nothing. Bliss.

  33. Grins. Lizzy, as a Dodgers fan it was even more beautiful in that neighborhood, since my guys beat that team across the Bay for the third consecutive game and Mr. Bonds went 0-for-15 in the series.

    The weather was glorious there, or so it appeared from the television.

  34. Um, strawberry and lemon tartlets …

    Almond crust sounds like a crumb crust, so no strength in sight. Even some of the flour-based pastries are difficult, I understand (thinking of pate brisee and pate sucree).

    (Reading cookbooks has zero calories. I’m in trouble if I actually fix and eat the food.)

  35. Everyone,

    You’re welcome. It was a pleasure having you by. See you back at the pad.

  36. Jules said: “MT::Blog, but clearly ‘load(…)’ isn’t returning the correct object. I can’t find where load is defined,”


    I poked around a bit.


    is a method call. It will look for the load method starting from MT::Blog and it’s base classes, which can be done by calling “use base …” or by directly fiddling with the @ISA array, which MT::Blog does.

    @MT::Blog::ISA = qw( MT::Object );

    Looking in MT::Object, it doesn’t declare a “load” subroutine, but it does contain the following lines:

    >> no strict ‘refs’;
    >> *load = _mk_passthru(‘load’);

    This assigns the subroutine “_mk_passthru” to the typeglob “*load”, which is a way of saying when you call “load”, really call “_mk_passthru” and pass in as a string parameter the name of the method it really wants called..

    The subroutine _mk_passthru calls


    which means you need to know what $DRIVER is assigned to (should be a package name), and look for the “load” subroutine/method there.

    I don’t know the value of that variable, so you’d have to go poking around…

  37. Linkmester: It was sweet.

    We were running errands, Saturday, (needed a new shredder, having destroyed the third in two years… never breed mice), and went in during the seventh, up by five runs.

    When we came back the bothersome thing wasn’t the truck refusing to start (it sometimes does that when it thinks the motor is too warm) but that the game was still playing. I looked at Barry and said, “that means they’re in extra innings.”

    So we got to listen to Vinnie-vision on the way home.

  38. abi: That crust looks as if it ought to work; though there are some structural issues with the sugar cutting the fats; the food processor overheating the butter.

    You say it was just mush? How long did it chill? I find that most short-crusts need more than the 1/2 hour that recipe calls for.

    One of the things I look forward to, when Maia and move next, is owning a kitchen again. I’ll probably get to do some cooking in six months or so (we have friends who are getting ready to have their first child), but right now the weekly feasting of friends isn’t happening, and I pretty much only get to cook for myself.

  39. Wow — some party! & you don’t even have to take out the empty beer bottles or sweep the crunched-up chips/crisps off the floor!

    Good job, Abi…….

  40. Hey Abi,

    Greetz from Groningen!

    50 comments! And think that soon-to-be professor dr. geert lovink has written an ‘authoritative’ book on weblogs where these are equated with a ‘nihilistic impulse’ with a high ‘vox clamantis in deserto’ (so many latinists here
    ๐Ÿ˜‰ component….

    (blurb: Geert Lovink (2007). Zero Comments: Kernels of Critical Internet Culture, New York: Routledge.

    In Zero Comments Geert Lovink upgrades worn-out concepts and inquires the latest Web 2.0 hype around blogs, wikis and social network sites. In this third volume of his studies into critical Internet culture, Lovink develops a “general theory of blogging.” Instead of celebrating “citizen journalism” blogs are analyzed in their “nihilist impulse” to empty out established meaning structures. Blogs bring on decay of the 20st century broadcast media, and are proud of their in-crowd mechanism of linking, tagging and ranking. The book also deals wit the silent globalization of the Net in which no longer the West but countries like India, China and Brazil are becoming the main drivers of new media culture. Zero Comments upgrades concepts such as global Internet time, tactical media, the crisis of new media arts and the problematic relationship between architecture and the Net, and ends with speculative notions on concepts such as organized networks, free cooperation and distributed aesthetics.”)

    He should have seen yours…

  41. Patrice,

    This community (which I did not build, but merely hosted for a while while the site was down) is an exception to the in-crowd mechanisms – it is not really about linking or tagging. The moderators post comments primarily to inspire the commenters. As their page header says

    Our readers are the best thing about this weblog. If you’re not reading the comments, you’re missing half the fun.

    It is most comparable to a pre 21st century institution, the literary salon. Threads run to over a thousand comments on a regular basis, often wandering far from the topic at hand, but remaining amusing and erudite. Many of us comment in verse as well as prose (as did Fragano above). Much of the success of the group is due to the strong community ethos, and to the skillful moderation of the weblog owners.

    The irony is that the community has many of the markers of a successful blog (high Googlejuice, dense interlinking, opinion forming and developing) primarily because it’s not trying to do so. It’s merely trying to be an entertaining place for intelligent people.

Comments are closed.