Tag: Site issues

Navigating our digital world


To those of you who receive email notifications when new posts arrive here aboard StarshipTim.com, two things: 1) Thank you; 2) I'm sorry.

Lately there has been an issue with one of the services that I utilize to generate those emails and in my sussing out the problem you may have received multiple copies of the same notification. Furthermore, depending on what email system you use, those duplicates may have tripped the spam filter and relegated all future notification emails to the spam folder. Or straight to oblivion if your filtering is hyper aggressive. So, I ask that you check your spam filter and tell gmail or whatever that those messages are not spam.

Of course, the best way to receive updates from this or any other site is to use the RSS feed, eliminating any potential trouble with a third-party intermediary service. Outlook and other similar email clients have RSS readers built right into them, items show up just like emails do (you add a feed to follow just like you'd add an email account). Browsers have extensions for RSS feeds that are super handy if you don't have or don't want to use an email client for them.

Relying on social media sites for web content is a losing proposition. The algorithms change all the time, and even if a notice does show up in your feed it can be buried under a hundred other posts. RSS feeds let you curate your own portal in one of these reader extensions:


I've got a miniature version of this on the desktop version of this site, the feedbox at the top right, but your choice of feeds may differ, so use one of these extensions/email clients!

The RSS feed for StarshipTim.com is https://starshiptim.com/home/rss, link always available in the right column (on desktop; that column is removed on narrow phones).

OK, enough of this, I have work to do.

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Maintenance issues


The comments problem appears to be fixed now. Apparently there were enough spam comments getting through that the server security put up a block. We'll see how it goes now; if spam gets bad again, I may have to institute some kind of member login procedure for commenting. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, in fixing that I ended up inadvertently resetting the URL for the RSS feed, so if you've subscribed to email notifications via Feedrabbit (the button up top there), you may need to do it again. If you get email notifications via zapier, I've adjusted it for you already. And if you actually use the feed in an RSS reader of some sort, hats off to you, I wish more people used such self-curated things rather than depend on social media links to navigate the web. But you'll also need to update the URL in your reader: https://starshiptim.com/home/rss. We thank you for your patronage.

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I had free time today, so I finally got around to fixing some longstanding issues with the site as it appears on mobile devices. Long time coming, I know. Anyway, those of you viewing this on your phone or tablet should have a better layout now, though you may have to clear your browser cache if you've been by here before and it still looks wonky.

Firefox on Android is still giving me a little bit of flak, but it's minor flak, e.g. the rounded edges of the content window are still screwy there. Chrome on Android is still not spacing the text properly, but again, minor flak. For you iOS people I'm using simulators to estimate iOS responses since I don't own any Apple stuff, but it seems like it's all good there. Let me know if not.

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Apologies, email subscribers—I made an edit to some code on the back end to facilitate the "tags" feature here and a byproduct was that you all got buried in "update" emails from posts going back years. Oops. Please don't unsubscribe. :-)

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More maintenance


I'm sure this is going to keep happening for a while, but hey, more broken stuff!

Commenting was broken unless logged in with a user account, and since the only one with such an account is me, that meant nobody could comment. An endless feedback of captchas was there as a very specific circle of hell apparently designed for trolls. If only it could be deployed just for them.

It's gone now. New anti-spam code in place, but will it work? Probably not, but it won't keep commenters out either. Since I do not trust this code to actually block spam, the moderator function remains on. Comments will go through now, but not show up until I approve them. Damn spambots.

Two minutes later...

Damn, those bots work fast! Russian spam almost immediately. This is gonna be a long-term issue, isn't it.

Two days later...

 Found a new method that seems to be way more effective and turned off the moderation function. We'll see how it goes.

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Behind the scenes


So, being 99% decided on shuttering grandsalami.net and moving stuff over here, I've spent some time going over the under-the-hood code over here to see what needs attention after a few years of neglect. The feedbox at right was broken thanks to some changes in browser security; that's now fixed on Chrome-based browsers but still busted on Firefox for reasons I've yet to identify (and I am looking for an additional feed or two to replace the couple I had before that have been abandoned). I see the main logo animation has some issues on some browsers (not Firefox, works fine there unlike the feedbox), I may need to adjust that somehow. I'm also looking at replacing the headline font to be less in-your-face Trekkie for when I invite the GS audience over for baseball posts. Anything else people are having technical difficulties with? Let me know, I will add them to the agenda.

4 hours later...

OK, feedbox should work in Firefox now, logo now runs properly in Chrome/Safari/Opera, we have a new headline font, and the RSS feed is fixed. Again, anyone having issues or noticing weirdness, please let me know.

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Comments Fixed

It was brought to my attention that the comment feature on this site was not working properly. Oops. There was some alteration to the server setup during my time neglecting the blog. Fixed now! Comment away!

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Occam's Razor Applies to Coding, Too

In the previous post I mentioned temporarily frakking up the comments here aboard StarshipTim.com, done while testing a feature I was putting together for a different project, and thought that since I'd solved the issue over there, fixing it over here would take all of five minutes.

Three nights later, I finally have it working. I still don't know quite why it broke in the first place; a compatibility issue with PHP versions and software updates and associated whooziwhatsises, to be sure, but specifically...still beats me.

However, I still could have fixed it in maybe half an hour instead of three days if I'd remembered the Holmesian credo to respect the simpler solution in the face of more complicated ones. I wanted my code to work within the bounds of nested PHP and MySql tables and cooperate with the database-oriented CMS. But the conflicts were making me tear my hair out (which is thinning enough on its own, thank you very much) and it finally occurred to me that I could accomplish the same goal with two lines of Javascript.

If you don't need the whiz-bang goodies and fancy whatsises, then—revelation—you don't have to use them. Go figure.

Anyway, the comments work now.

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New Year, New Blog


Happy New Year. 2015 was less than stellar, so I'm ready to turn the page on it. What better time, then, to revamp the old blog? It's been underutilized in recent months and years, so perhaps a little facelift will encourage more blogging. If nothing else, it's a good excuse to try out some new code and play with things under the hood.

It is, obviously, a work in progress, and will be fiddled with and added to when I have time for such things. I've been working on what you see here for a few weeks during off moments, though there are other things that should probably have greater priority.

Anyway, still to come are the importing of the old sketchbook feature (with, perhaps, different sketch contents), something to chronicle my reading list, and links to important things down the right-hand column. The feedbox has been pared down, but I welcome suggestions for more sites to include in that mini-portal.

For now, I am still sick with a nasty cold, so will stop here. Come back later to see if any new tweaks get implemented.

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