All posts by Richard

Movable Type: Where Am I?

The vServer that hosts our own and our clients’ web sites is based (loosely) upon the Movable Type blogging engine. In the versions we’re currently deploying (2.661/3.11), there appears to be no embedded way to get at the current page URL for any page on the site – MTEntryPermaLink will give you the effective URL for an individual entry, but that’s a special case. So what to do? Enter php, stage left, with smug grin: Now I’m a complete newbie at php, so there may well be much easier way of doing it, but what the hell – this one works, at least in my production environment, which is, FYI, Mac OS X/X Server 10.3.5/Apache 2.0.47/php 4.3.2/MT2.661.

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Installing Math::Pari and Crypt::DSA for Movable Type under Mac OS X

What and Why?

I am not now a programmer and haven’t been one, real or surreal, for at least fifteen years. So WHY have I just spent two days solid trying to get a single perl module compiled for my server? Rhetorical question –  any smartarse answers should be placed in the usual wormhole on a piece of EBCDIC punch-tape.
The Challenge: install the perl module Crypt::DSA on a shiny new Movable Type 3.11 installation, to allow us to make full use of the features and get best performance from the comment registration mechanism. So I go to CPAN and try installing Crypt::DSA. It tells me I need the Math::Pari module first and then falls over in grand style on trying to install it. That was four days ago. I have just got it all working (or installed, at least) and this is for anyone going through a similar process –  hopefully you’ll find this before you acquire significant bruising on your forehead, much like the one I’m currently nursing.

Resources

Firstly, useful resources:
The starting point for all this is Benjamin Boksa’s description of installing Math::Pari, taken together with some hints and pointers found on a Mac thread on the Pari site. That tutorial was then corrected by David Jacob’s blog on installing Math::Pari on Mac OS X.
Whilst pointing me in the right general direction, none of these actually worked. So here’s what did, with my system configuration of:

  • Mac OS X Server 10.3.5 installed and up-to-date (according to Software Update)
  • Xcode Tools installed and up-to-date
  • Perl 5.8.1 (default Mac OS X installation)
  • Movable Type 3.11
  • Pari 2.1.5 –  as of today, this is the latest stable release of Pari. If you’re using an earlier or later one, you’ll need to change the process to suit the names. D’uh…

So, for those who are trying to install Crypt::DSA, or anything else that needs the Math::Pari module and libraries, here’s what worked for me, presented in step-by-step fashion, with minimal geekspeak, although it does require some familiarity with the Unix command line. using the tcsh shell. Some of this may be overkill, but I’m being deliberately pedantic here and describing every step that led me to a working installation.

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CurSSing Fluently

During the development of the Two Worlds vServer and my subsequent iceclimb (with crampons and two axes) up the North Face of the CSS learning curve, I came across a bug in the Mac OS X version of Internet Explorer, up to and including 5.2.3. Nothing new there, except that appears to be unique to the Mac version and doesn’t appear to be desperately well documented (at least for this CSS newbie).

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The Sunday Times: A Response

From: Richard Harris <**@two–worlds.com>
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 19:07:14 +0100
To: <nicholas.hellen@sunday–times.co.uk>
Subject: Your ST article on Douglas Adams

Nicholas

Your article in Sunday’s ST on Douglas Adams was as striking an example of sloppy, ill–informed and assumptive journalism as I have come across, painting as it does an entirely erroneous picture through a combination of inaccurate, partial and unattributed information and unfounded speculation.

Your avoidance of verifiable source through the use of terms such as ‘a close friend’ and ‘sources close to’ is indicative of very poor or undiscriminating journalism – any genuine friend of his would be more than happy to go on record with anything they had to say about him.

As a friend and colleague of Douglas and a co–founder of The Digital Village/h2g2, please allow me to correct, with facts and direct information, a few of your more basic errors and misassumptions. I am happy to have these comments attributed to me. Rather than an impassioned rant (however justified), let’s try this point by point – please bear with me:

“FRIENDS of Douglas Adams have revealed how the author of The Hitch–Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was blighted before his premature death by a malign “Midas touch”. The pressure of justifying a £2m advance for his final novel preyed on his mind until he became incapable of writing, even when he had flashes of his old inspiration.”

Blighted? – I can think of few people to whom the term is less applicable – you make a cheerful and gentle man sound like some tortured latter–day Vanderdecken, forever attempting to round the Cape of his writers block. Douglas’s inspiration rarely deserted him – part of his problem was not merely being interested in too many things, but actually being capable of driving people’s perception of what the future could be. In recent years, he’s been at least as much respected for his ability to articulate a shared vision of the future of society, technology and the environment as for his original fiction. It’s in this area and the inspiration he’s provided through his work with scientists, engineers and philosophers that may in fact prove to be his most important legacy – many of the world’s greatest thinkers and innovators will cheerfully acknowledge the inspiration and challenge that a discussion with Douglas could provide.

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Douglas Adams: 1952 – 2001

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