Writer's block, an owner's guide: Amateur Hour
A press release tells us that a new US tv show will focus on many in-depth aspects of becoming a best-selling author and literacy. This kind of literacy: The show is called, The Write Stuff it is geared towards the literary business. And this: The Write Stuff is the place to be if your looking to step into the literary arena.
Just as the release says, in Samuel Johnson’s words, “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.”
Anyway, let’s leave that and find out about the game:
Every week aspiring writers will compete and be judged by some of the most recognizable industry professionals. Each contestant will have the opportunity to “show and prove” that they have the Write Stuff to make it happen and possibly have their dreams come true. Watch contestants as they struggle through writers-block to find inspiration to learn if they have what it takes to make it in the business. During the process, “The Write Stuff” will put the contestants in the faces of those who can make their dreams a reality and give them the tools they will need to be successful. At stake is the ultimate prize for anyone who wants to make their mark on the industry: a ONE-BOOK DEAL provided by Hollygrove Publishing! Along with the book deal and recognition of having “The Write Stuff” comes a prize package worth over $16,000 and more.
Go to the website www.thewritestufftv.webs.com to learn how you can audition for the television show. Once you click on the above link (it wasn’t actually a link but I’ve fixed that for you. Warning: loud music.) you will find tabs that will show you where the auditions will be held in cities such as New Orleans, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco, just to name a few.
Published on December 27, 2008 at 10:26 am. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/amateur-hour.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: And we’re back
And we’re back. I had made a backup I didn’t even know about. And now for that writing.
Published on March 6, 2006 at 3:02 pm. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/and-were-back.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: Please excuse my dust
As regular readers will notice, I have dragged the Emergency Look and Feel out of the closet. I broke something or other in WordPress, I didn’t really have time to fix it and in trying to BandAid it I broke something else, and… you know. And it turns out site5’s much trumpeted site recovery feature does not exist (I love their service as I said the other day, but this is rather worrying). So we will be stark and gray for a few hours. I have to go write ten pages this morning and I am not going to use you as my excuse not to. All the posts on here are perfectly readable, after all. Hmmm… looks quite nice, actually.
Published on at 2:54 pm. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/please-excuse-my-dust-3.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: (Not about writing) web software and hosting
Like the swallows, I’ve migrated again. It’s a story that probably makes no sense. But hey, I was born five thousand miles east of here and moving on is part of my Californian spirit.
A few days ago I noticed that someone had generously added his advertising code to the middle of the home page of my most important web site. I cleared that out right away and took some other corrective actions.
Next, I thought about prevention of future intrusions. One of my decisions was to remove the cms from the web server and have only static pages. So I installed Movable Type on my home ofice machine, planning to use it to create a site that would be mirrored up to the server.
I soon realized that it’s not straightforward to get MT running under Windows (I know, I know, I’ll dual boot the machine one day, but please don’t spoil the story). So I installed WordPress on the private machine instead. That installed easily and worked beautifully and I liked the interface.
I liked WP a lot. Too late I learned that it can’t create static pages. So my project was doomed. Did I give up? Not a chance. I’m a guy. Instead I decided to enlarge the project to include mirroring software that would query WP and pull static web pages out of it.
This workaround idea failed, because no program I tested could keep WP’s relative links straight in its mind. Absolute links wouldn’t have worked of course, because the whole point of this project was to have pages that were portable.
So I did give up on the whole thing in the end and decided to leave my cms on the web server.
But meanwhile I had fallen for WP. I installed it on the server, and within in a couple of days I had my two main sites moved over from MT and you are reading one of them now. If you see any problems let me know.
Now I’m clearing old static pages off the server. And I am moving stuff around to create a clean, rational system that I can slot future activities into. Of course all this will lead to some error-page hits. I apologize. But most of those will happen to the darn spiders that are still looking for pages I took down two years ago. Still on the to-do-for-fun list is an intelligent error handler to direct readers to the pages they probably wanted.
By the way, I’m still hosted by site5. The service is still smooth and full and makes me feel like a well equipped webmaster, the uptime is still excellent, the pricing is still keen, the response time to technical requests is still a matter of minutes, and I still recommend them.
Published on March 4, 2006 at 12:53 am. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/not-about-writing-web-software-and-hosting.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: Blog admin
Call this a test entry. I upgraded to Movable Type 3.2. Everyone else loved it, so why not?
Installation would probably have been as simple as promised. But I took the opportunity to install in a new sub-folder instead of going on having my MT scripts in the cgi-bin. Never make two setup changes at the same time, because you won’t know which one caused the problems. I forgot to copy mt-db-pass.cgi. With that fixed, Movable Type is running again. (Afterthought: it runs even better now that I copied my old plugins to the new location)
The fonts are very small on the new admin and authoring pages, but I’m sure there is a simple adjustment for that.
Right now, I’ve had enough of geekish hacking, and I’m going to do some yardwork before the San Fernando Valley temperature gets above 100 again.
Huh? Writer’s block? Not at all, what a productive few weeks I’ve had. Oh, you wanted me to write about block? That’ll happen, I promise. I’m trying to choose between putting on that Block Workshop that I told you about months ago, and which is more or less ready to deliver, and putting on a broader workshop about Procrastination. They’re totally different material as it turns out (although they are about kinda the same thing, one workshop comes from a creativity perspective and the other doesn’t) so maybe I’ll do both.
Published on August 27, 2005 at 10:53 am. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/blog-admin.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: Movable Type and Google
I noticed that, while other major search engines drop in here daily, Google is still listing pages that haven’t existed for months, and is not listing the new things I’ve been posting day by day over those months. And it seems to me that the difference is that recently, for practical reasons of my own, I’ve been giving pages numbers (151.html) rather than meaningful names (movable_type_and_google.html). So I’ve used Movable Type’s useful automation facilities to change every address on the site into a name. I’ve also used them to create redirects from every one of the old addresses. If you notice anything wrong with the result… well, you’re probably not reading this, but if you were I’d appreciate hearing from you. Thanks.
Published on May 14, 2005 at 3:46 pm. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/movable-type-and-google.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: Off topic: how to install a mailing list
I recently installed phplist. At least I think I did. It’s kinda hard to be sure what happened.
I’d wanted to install a mailing list and I decided against Mailman (I wasn’t in the mood to experiment with a GNU project; time was short).
My goal was to set up something that would work predictably.
From that point of view phplist was an “interesting” choice.
phplist 2.9.4, although marketed as mailing list software, seems to be some sort of game. At every turn there is a new challenge to solve. For players whose time is as short as mine was, here are some cheats.
1) Using your web host’s Fantastico facility, which is specially provided to install software easily, install phplist.
2) Fantastico and phplist do not play well together, and the software that gets installed will not run at all. Uninstall it and return to go.
3) Go to the official phplist site and download the zip file. The installation directions on the site are admirably simple.
4) Deceptively simple, in fact. Nothing will happen. When you try to open the admin page in a browser, as instructed, you’ll get nothing but a 500 error.
5) The problem is in links/.htaccess. You can fix that by deleting the final line of that file (a line about “php_value”).
6) Now the admin page will open, and will tell you that you have another error. This is quite a good trick on the part of the writers: the config file that you downloaded contains wrong values for three constants. You have to edit config.php. In the three constants called pageroot, adminpages and attachment_repository, the folder name “phplist” should be changed to “lists” which is the standard, default, name.
7) Now you’ll get an error about something called an attachment repository. Turns out you have to create a folder called lists/attachments and make it writable. Nobody told you that.
Finally the system will stop complaining and there is nothing in your error log. But don’t worry! The fun is just beginning. The “initialize database” button doesn’t initialize the database.
9) The cheat now is to initialize it yourself. Open phpMyAdmin (on site5, this is in NetAdmin under MySQL), click the SQL tab, click Browse, find the file phplist.sql in the distribution (finding it on your local machine is fine) and click Go. This initializes the database.
10) Back to the admin page, and now it will ask for a username and a password. Of course you have no idea what these might be. You can’t even use the “Forgot Password” option unless you know what email address it thinks you used previously. No matter what you try, the system makes no comment. Are the addresses right? wrong? all I can tell you is none of them will ever receive a password reminder. The cheat is to enter username “admin” and password “phplist”.
11) Now go back to the main admin page. Refresh it and the page comes up perfectly. The obvious move now is to add yourself as an admin and delete the default admins.
12) But it’s the wrong move. Whenever you confirm a change, instead of returning to your own site afterwards you’ll be bounced off to phplist.com. There is no place in the config file to correct this. This is a serious challenge and, in fact, marks the completion of your struggle with 2.9.4.
13) The wjole thing was a dream. It turns out that, directly contrary to the directions on tincan’s website, the current version of phplist is a development version which DOES NOT WORK. To play Level Two you need to download version 2.9.3.
14) Repeating some of the above steps, you can get 2.9.3 to start. But don’t worry; it’s a joke, and this level is even harder than the last. phplist will complain that your database is in an out of date format. So you delete the entire database and create a new, empty, database with the same name (your same database user name will still have permissions to access the new database, which is genuinely useful and saves you about one minute in getting to the next challenge). phplist will now fail miserably with a MySQL syntax error.
15) Go further back and download version 2.8.12. This actually runs, sort of.
16) The fun is still just beginning! On the config page you can edit various standard system messages and pages. This is a great laugh because your edits make no difference at all to the messages and pages that your users will see. Later you will find an utterly different page where you can edit the very same messages again, and this is the right place to do it.
17) But your test emails to your mailing list never get sent. Without anyone telling you, the config file contains a variable “test” which inhibits outgoing messages (no, this is not the same as setting the “test mailing list” as active).
18) By this point you are ready to pay money for something that actually works.
19) But not from the same people.
After that adventure, I am trying Dada Mail. If nothing else, the web site is cute.
If I like Dada Mail and if it works smoothly and quietly, then the game is over and you will probably not hear another word about it. If it sucks, however…
Published on May 2, 2005 at 9:27 pm. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/off-topic-how-to-install-a-mailing-list.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: Off topic: site5 hosting
Let’s face it: I’m not in the mood to write about writer’s block today, and I won’t. It’s been a challenging week and this feels like a well-earned play evening.
So instead of crafting anything about the science of writer’s block I’ll give my Inner Nerd a brief outing. He’s been wanting to report how we’re… how I’m finding my new hosting setup with Site5.com.
Things are so straightforward that I have nothing to report. I can’t even say that I like the server or love the server; it just sits there, quietly doing its work. I’ve been using Hyperspin’s monitoring service every 60 minutes and it currently reports 100% uptime (but you are welcome to see the latest results by clicking here; afternote: the single outage in mid-May was caused by me rearranging files, and not by a server failure.) As far as I can tell, my email is running smoothly. I can’t say what Site5’s support people are like because I have never had to call upon them.
For less than seven bucks a month, I can host five domains (as well as dozens of parked domains), I have my own IP address, and at my fingertips is a full range of mail and web and other net services (including stuff that my previous hosts charged extra for such as unlimited MySQL, unlimited mailing lists and responders and forwarding, error pages, a battery of logging and stats packages, and much more).
I had no trouble installing Movable Type: the only annoyance is that MT still can’t mail me notification of comments awaiting approval, and it looks like that’s a known problem with MT, so not Site5’s responsibility.
And let me say openly that they have a worthwhile referral program, so obviously I’m hoping that you will sign up at Site5.com and tell ‘em David at todayiwrite.com sent you – but the experiences and opinions I’m reporting here are my own and you can be darn sure that if they changed you would hear all about it.
This is the Inner Nerd returning you to your regularly scheduled writer’s block.
Published on April 27, 2005 at 8:37 pm. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/off-topic-site5-hosting.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: Off topic: Movable Type, and site5 hosting
So, the move to the new server went smoothly. There were things about setting my sites up with Site5 that I needed to look for in the knowledge base; and most of them were actually there. There were some things I didn’t find there, so I searched the community forum; and I found recent discussions of my topics. So Site5 are scoring over my old people in having some sort of knowledge base, and in encouraging an active community of users.
But that is just the extras. The core is that I get all the services I was using before, but for less money. I also get a truckload of other services that I like having available to me, for no particular reason except that they make me feel like I’m being treated like a competent power user.
And at the center of the core, the pearl, the real reason I chose site5 out of a few contenders, is the consistent positive feedback from their existing users that I found when I spent some time looking around the web for comment. They don’t actually provide Movable Type, although they do have other blogging packages installed; but installing it myself was not a problem. It works better at site5 than it did at the old place. Just as one example, it can find sendmail some of the time.
Shall I stay? Too early to say, but I have a solid, comfortable feeling that I’ve not been used to over recent years.
Today, just as all of this is settling down, just as I’m about to do some serious writing again, the Movable Type people bring out an upgrade. Have they no concern for their customers? I don’t want to play with software! I’ve been programming since before there were PCs and tonight I want to do something else. And yet…
Ok, let’s play.
The emphasis is on – actually I don’t think there is anything else – a code clean-up with “a significant number” of improvements and “more than a hundred” further improvements. Don’t ask me about the math, but I did read the changelog and the new version sounded like something worth having. Just being able to create a new blog without having all the dates in Czech (historical note: really, that’s how it was under MT 3.15) – that alone is an improvement in my quality of life which I must have NOW instead of writing the planned article about writer’s block.
So I installed the upgrade. And I have not tested it. I am writing this at 8:23pm and let’s just see whether it posts or not.
Afternote: it looks fine so far…
After-afternote. Wait: I created a new blog and the default language for dates is still Czech. I thought I’d seen in the changelog that that was fixed. Hmmm.
Published on April 18, 2005 at 8:23 pm. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/off-topic-movable-type-and-site5-hosting.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: Off topic: hosting
I’ve moved Today I Write to a new server; more about why, where and how later; for the moment, if you can see this post, you are on the new machine, which is good for both of us because I’m about to write some new stuff about writer’s block and you’ll also receive that.
Published on April 16, 2005 at 1:30 pm. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/off-topic-hosting.htmlNext Page »