March 26

Comments Finally Available

I’ve wanted comments available for a long time.

Due to my lack of willingness to deal with spam, I disabled the standard commenting system in WordPress.  For a while, I allowed it (though on a different website), but required them to be authenticated users… and they had to have at least one comment accepted… unfortunately, this only lead to an unmanageable number of bogus users being registered.  I tried to cope.

I don’t cope with technical bullshit very well.

I’ve used Disqus before, many times, without problem, so I decided to go with that system.  I installed the plugin, configured my account so there could be posts on a different website (using a different “category” or whatever), and POOF: nothing.  Just like before I installed the plugin.

Comments were enabled (at least as far as I could tell)… nothing.

Went back to the default theme… nothing.

Removed all other plugins… nothing.

Followed Disqus’ “manual installation” instructions… NOTHING.

Finally, after fiddling with the code a bit, I forced the Disqus comments to show.  Basically ignoring the check that determines if WP says that commenting is okay.  For now, that’s just how it’s going to have to be.

So… START COMMENTING ALREADY!  (Click on the title of the post if you don’t see a place to comment.)

Category: Uncategorized | Comments Off on Comments Finally Available
March 21

No Space Left On Device

I got this message while testing something on my web server. I was quite baffled to find out that there was, in fact, quite a lot of space remaining.

What Is Tail?

The “tail” program is a command line utility for Linux based machines.  To read the last few lines of a text file (such as a log), the command is “tail /path/to/file.log”.

However, the true power of the tail program comes when adding the “-f” argument.  Now, it will show the last few lines of the file, along with anything appended to the file.  Running “tail -f /var/log/nginx/error.log” shows me, in real time, the errors that are occurring on my server.

Searching For A Solution…

I read a few articles on the web about this problem, after I tried freeing up some space.

Ultimately, the problem was due to CrashPlan’s greediness (and a bug in the “tail” program).

How To Fix It… For Reals

Instead of configuring the system to have a higher value for “fs.inotify.max_user_watches”, just restart the crashplan service.  Or Dropbox, or whatever it is.  Just restart a service, then try running “tail -f” again (on virtually any file): if the error went away, then the culprit was that last service you restarted.

Category: System Administration | Comments Off on No Space Left On Device
March 4

Why MS Access Application Developers Should Be Ashamed

If you have written what you consider to be an application in Microsoft Access, you should be ashamed of yourself.  MS Access is not a developer-friendly environment.  Not even a little bit.

You might think, “oh, but I’m just making this simple little application, and it’s not going to be used for very long.”  Wrong.  The company you made it for is going to use it until the amount of money they’re spending on maintenance vastly overshadows the amount it would cost to create a real application to replace it.

“No, that’s silly,” you might think, “I told them this thing won’t scale.”

Well, kudos to you for realizing that MS Access is a pile of crap, and for realizing it doesn’t scale.  But the company isn’t going to do anything about it.  Because if it ain’t broke in a way that costs a lot of money, don’t fix it.

“I told them I’ll rewrite it as soon as I have time.”

You’re never going to have time.  Once this thing gets put to use, you’re going to spend all your time fixing it.

Eventually, you’ll leave the company, probably because the pain of maintaining that application was too stressful.  That’s where I come in.  And I hate you for doing this to me.

That’s right, I’m the guy that gets hired to maintain the pile of shit you left behind.  And guess what?  The company has no money to spend on creating a real application, because they’ve spent all of it maintaining that thing.

Without further ado, here’s a few of the many, many, many reasons why MS Access isn’t developer-friendly:

  1.  Source code can’t be maintained.  Go ahead, tell me there is–and prove to me that you’ve used them successfully.
  2. Debugging is a joke.  If the application gets closed, all those breakpoints are gone, and trying to step through it is like scalping yourself and then replacing your own hair with individual strands of silk from a black widow spider.
  3. Changing the code will RESET THE PROJECT.  So those breakpoints you spent an hour setting are ALL GONE.
  4. Only one developer can work on it at a time (see #1).  If more attempt to, the result will be that somebody’s change will get overwritten.  But neither will know who did it, what’s missing, or why.
  5. The source code is obscure, difficult to access, and can be password-protected.  Because that’s a good idea.
  6. You have to know the application’s “secrets” to develop on it (like holding <shift> while opening the file)
  7. Pretty much any programming language that still uses “GoTo” should not be used anymore.

If you’re thinking about writing an application in MS Access: DON’T.

Category: Code, Rant, Software Development | Comments Off on Why MS Access Application Developers Should Be Ashamed