Movable Type

Movable Type Database Backups

I have finally got our database backups running here on Sunpig. Our site is made up of half a dozen Movable Type blogs and a couple of phpBB forums. There are a bunch of photos scattered around the site, but apart from that, most all of the text content resides in a single MySQL database. (Abi’s BookWeb is the notable exception.) Even if all of the pages on were accidentally deleted, we could regenerate about 90% of them by reinstalling the basic MT and phpBB applications, and restoring that master database. So it’s quite important that we keep it safe.

I’ve knocked together a little perl script that runs as a cron job every night. It produces a backup of the database, compresses it to save space, and then stores the file somewhere safe (i.e. not in our webroot). It tags the file with the weekday name (“mon”, “tue”, etc.), so these files only last seven days before they get overwritten with newer versions. They will mostly be useful in case the live database becomes corrupted, or if I do something stupid, like accidentally delete a blog. (It does happen, you know.)

Then, once a week, the script takes the backup file it has produced, and uses FTP to transfer a copy to a different server half-way around the world. The remote file gets tagged with the full date in YYYYMMDD format, so they don’t get overwritten. I’ve only got 30MB of space on this other server, and the gzipped backup files are about 2MB each, so I’ll have to do a manual download and archive of these files every three months or so. Still, this is a vast improvement over manual backups on a “whenever I remember” basis.

In case you’re interested, here is the script:

Movable Type

Retiring entries with Movable Type

Okay, that idea I had about writing a plugin to add a “Retired” status for Movable Type entries? Not going to happen. At least not any time soon. The post status types are pretty well hard-baked into the core MT code, and adding a new status would require some hacking around in places like as well as additional plugin code. Modifying core files means re-modifying them every time you install a new version, and that’s just a pain.

(However, while digging around in the posting status area of the MT core, I found a bunch of dormant code relating to scheduled posting of entries. There is a posting status code of “Future” defined right next to “Draft” and “Publish”. On the other hand, there has been a status code of “Review” in there for some time, too, and it hasn’t appeared in the UI yet, either. It’s probably not worth getting excited about scheduled postings coming to MT in the next version.)

In the absence of a simple plugin, here is a relatively simple alternative way for “retiring” outdated entries in Movable Type.

Movable Type

Now running MT 3.0D

Just checking…

Okay. Seems to be working. Let me know if you find anything weird happening.

Blogging Movable Type

Storm in an MT cup

Some selected feedback on the release of MT3, and the new pricing structure:

Update: Six Apart revises and elaborates.

More feedback:

Blogging Movable Type

It’s he-eeere

Movable Type 3.0

Mena explains.

And if you look at the trackbacks at the bottom of Mena’s post, it looks like the reception it is getting is terrible. No-one seems to be grumbling about the quality of the software (well, apart from the lack of revolutionary new features); it all seems to be about the pricing structure.

To me, though, it looks perfectly reasonable. Well over a year ago, I mused about how much MT Pro would cost when it was released. Well, MT Pro never really happened. Instead, we’ve got MT 3, and for personal use, my estimate from back then isn’t a million miles off. The big difference is the sheer variety of pricing options Six Apart have come up with.

It’s all good, people. Movable Type is high quality, sophisticated, and powerful software. No-one is forcing you to upgrade from your existing MT 2.x weblogs, and if you don’t want to pay for your using it to run a single, personal weblog, you can use the free version.

But if you want to run multiple blogs with multiple authors, and you want access to the latest features, then cough up already.

Movable Type 3 coming soon to this blog right here.

Movable Type

A reviews blog (or sidebar reviews) with Movable Type

I often get depressed about the fact that, on average, I read less than a book a week. That’s less than 52 books a year! Compared to the thousands of new books published each year, and hundreds of thousands more already in or out of print, 52 seems like a vanishingly small number. I feel like I have to make those 52 count.

Around this time last year I decided to do a “reading list” in my sidebar. Originally, it was just going to be a simple way for me to keep track of the books I’d read. I’d be able to browse through the list at the end of the year, and maybe compile a list of favourites. Friends and family who read my blog could also see the list and find out what was catching my fancy. I’d seen various other bloggers with reading lists in their sidebars. With Movable Type as my blogging back-end, it would be fairly straightforward to set up “reading list” sidebar in the same way as some people do sidebar links.

But then I realised that I could do more with the format…. I could track films I’d seen as well. With a little more effort I could write a short paragraph about the book or film to remind me what I thought about it at the time. How about giving them ratings as well? And by hooking in to Amazon I could add images to the mini-reviews so that people could see a book’s cover, and hop over to Amazon to see what other people thought of it.

And so the “Quick Reviews” sidebar was born.

The rest of this article will explain how to use Movable Type to set up a “Quick Reviews” blog or sidebar of your own. This certainly isn’t the only way to do it, but it’s relatively simple and tidy. There are no extra CGI scripts to install, no new database tables to create in your MT installation, and no kooky javascript or PHP files to scatter around your templates.

Please don’t be put off by the length of the article. It’s long because the technique takes some time to explain. But if you’ve installed Movable Type, then you’re capable of setting up a reviews blog. I’ve also tried to explain why each step works the way it does, so that you’ll be better placed to do your own customizations afterwards.