How to Install Movable Type 2.64 on macOS Sierra

I started this blog in May of 2003. I had a LiveJournal at one point, and even wrote my own blog system to teach myself a new language called PHP. But this blog, 90% Crud, started then. I used Movable Type, a Perl CGI application. I wrote some stuff, met some good folks and was inspired to do some neat stuff.

I started this blog in May of 2015. My friend Adam and I wound up looking at some old blog posts with one day and there were some good ones. I thought that maybe that was something worth doing again, even if I never really figured out what I was doing the first time around. I set up a WordPress site and started writing again.

Now that this site is at a new home and I’m working for the company I thought I should finally get my old archives into my new blog. And I did, I managed to export my old blog and import it here. But there was some manual work and I actually had to look at what my old blog was.

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 9.16.32 PM

For the record, I try to look at nostalgia as an indulgence. Too much time looking back keeps you from looking ahead. But its still something you should do, from time to time.

Seeing the old posts, I’m struck by how many comments there are. I guess there are plenty of comments on blogs these days, but now they’re all on the ephemeral social shares instead of the blog. 20 comments on Facebook, 0 on the blog. That makes sense in some ways.

I see some of the high points, especially this one, but I like some of the lower-key ones too. An old dog who chews earbuds. Old video games. Citizen journalism (as we called it at the time) with ancient snap-on cameraphones. Nerdy tomfoolery. I had completely forgotten that I had written a Movable Type plugin.

Looking back helps me figure out what I should put here in the future. I’ll be posting more personal stuff here. I’ll keep posting political stuff when I’m fired up. And I’ll try to keep doing projects, even as my free time dwindles.

Anyway, enough delay, I know you want to get Movable Type 2.64 running on macOS Sierra. Here’s how:

To start with, make sure you have a copy of Movable Type 2.64. Maybe in your backups somewhere. Do a find, because it’s not in the directory that you think. Look for mt.cgi. Put that in /Library/WebServer/CGI-Executables and the corresponding static assets in /Library/WebServer/Documents/.

Edit /etc/apache2/httpd.conf and uncomment AddHandler cgi-script .cgi. Marvel that we used to write Perl CGI scripts, ignorant of how slow it was to spin up a new process for each request. sudo apachectl restart

You’ll also need a MySQL dump of the database. You have it somewhere, even a decade and a dozen computers later.

Now you should brew install mariadb since you’ve heard thats what people use now instead of MySQL. Load that up with good old mysql -u root < mysql-dump.sql

Go to http://localhost/cgi-bin/mt/mt-check.cgi and realize you don’t have the DBD::mysql Perl module installed. Try sudo perl -MCPAN -e 'install DBD::mysql' but some of the tests fail for some reason. Find the directory in ~/.cpan/build, do a make install --force and hope those tests didn’t matter. Be glad for your time as a Perl guy.

Go to http://localhost/cgi-bin/mt/mt.cgi and see a login screen! Realize there’s no way you know your password. Here’s the query you need to change it. Now you’re in.

Time to start blogging.

reBlogging instead of regular blogging

Oh crap, I’m posting about not posting! There goes the last blogging cliché. Anyway, what I meant to say is that while I’ve been ignoring this blog (but really, really plan on posting more soon. Really) and posting plenty to my account, I’m also reBlogging for Eyebeam for the first two weeks of May.

Reblogging or reBlogging or reblogging or REBLOGGING is connecting an RSS reader to a blog, so that posts that are read can then be easily reposted on a blog. If you look at the reBlog site you can get an idea of what’s going on, and if you’re curious Matt Haughey made a screencast demo of the software.

Looking to upgrade ArborBlogs

ArborBlogs is starting to get a little long in the tooth, and I’m not too happy with the Drupal aggregator codebase. The ability for people to post to the site was under-utilized, to say the least, so I’m looking for a pure-aggregator to replace it.

Some of the things I’m looking for are:

Support for the 9 versions of RSS and Atom. Should be obvious in this day and age, but I had to hack Atom support into Drupal’s aggregator (with a little help from Magpie).

Ability for non-admins to add feeds. I don’t want my disinterest in my inbox to prevent people from getting added. Bonus points if people can put in their blog’s URL or a username for hosted services and have it auto-detect the feed.

Extendibility. While I’d like features like a blog directory, tagging or the picture aggregator to be built in, as long as the package supports some easy way to add new modules I’ll be happy to put in a few hours adding the stuff I want. Prefer Ruby or a scripting language that starts with “P”. Ben Trott may have made Perl the perfect choice with WWW::Blog::Metadata, but Technorati’s web services gather a lot of the same info.

So far I know about Planet Planet, Chumpologica and Planet PHP, all of which don’t seem to have a web front end for adding feeds. Rails Planet looks promising, but the code isn’t available yet.

Any suggestions, Lazyweb?

[Updated 2005-10-14] Looks like someone already asked MetaFilter, and Josh even pointed to ArborBlogs as an example. Not a lot of leads there, either.

NPR’s most interesting podcast

Browsing through NPR’s Podcast Directory, one in particular stood out; not for its content but for the way it was created.

Most of the podcasts are simply NPR shows, but NPR: Most E-Mailed Stories is assembled based on the audience’s reaction to NPR news stories. People tend to share stories they like, so in theory the best stories bubble up to the top. This podcast collects the stories from NPR’s Most Emailed Stories that were aired in the past 24 hours.

A popular story list is hardly unique to NPR; Yahoo!, the New York Times, etc. all have these lists. The podcast is different.

There is no way NPR could do this without podcasting. The length of the show can vary wildly—the description on NPR’s site says “approx 30 minutes” but Friday’s show was 50 minutes long due to the popularity of a half hour interview with the author of The Republican War on Science. Podcasting has the power to free shows from the tyranny of the half hour slot.

Also interesting is where the premise of “most emailed” equalling “best” fails. The lead story from Friday’s podcast (containing Thursday’s shows) was a Day to Day story on an Ansel Adams photo. This story was likely the most emailed because of people wanting to share the breathtaking picture that accompanies it on the website. I doubt the audio would have made been considered the most important of the day had a human editor been choosing.

NPR: Most E-Mailed Stories shows how the media can use podcasting and the web to provide unique access to their content. It succeeds both as an experiment and as a practical resource for news and information.

(Oh, and if you want to know what other podcasts I listen to, I’ll try to keep my Odeo profile up to date with them)

On the value of nofollow

Originally uploaded by revgeorge.

Last weekend I was completely offline. Comcast decided to disconnect my cable line instead of my neighbors, and thanks to Memorial Day weekend I got to wait extra long to get my cable restored. I wasn’t online, my only TV was from the TiVo, and all my GameFly games were in transit. In order to keep my mind distracted and prevent any quiet self reflection I was forced to read a book, like a common caveman!

During that time I got over 60 comment or trackback spams on my blog. I deleted them as soon as I got online, but the good news is that thanks to nofollow I knew I could let the blog get a little ugly for a little while without providing aid or comfort or PageRank™ to the enemy. If nothing else, nofollow lets me relax a little bit during unexpected downtime.

[Aside: While reading my, ugh, book I realized how addicted I’ve become to the ability in Mac OS X 10.4 to be able to instantly pull up a word’s definition in most applications simply by pressing Cmd-Ctrl-D. Who knew that books had such big words in them?]

RSS vs. the 24 hour news cycle

Bruce Schneier posted his response to a call for the media to pipe down about terrorist attacks. The argument goes that by publicizing terror attacks the media is creating terror, so why not short-circuit the terrorists’ goal? Mr. Schneier explains that the consequence of doing so would cause worse things than terrorism.

He also discusses the nature of the news media in general:

If the press did not report the 9/11 attacks, if most people in the U.S. didn’t know about them, then the attacks wouldn’t have been such a defining moment in our national politics. If we lived 100 years ago, and people only read newspaper articles and saw still photographs of the attacks, then people wouldn’t have had such an emotional reaction. If we lived 200 years ago and all we had to go on was the written word and oral accounts, the emotional reaction would be even less. Modern news coverage amplifies the terrorists’ actions by endlessly replaying them, with real video and sound, burning them into the psyche of every viewer. [emphasis added]

Kathy Sierra says “you can’t be afraid and rational at the same time.” She writes about how the brain deals with fear at low and high levels, and how the media sidesteps higher brain functions to appeal directly to the reptilian brain.

Unlike television shows, movies, and video games–which your brain knows aren’t real–a brain perceives the news as “real” and often concludes that things are far more dangerous than they really are, [emphasis added] thanks to the dramatic statistic imbalance (reality distortion field) between what is displayed on the news and what is actually happening outside your front door. It’s not like you’ll ever hear, for example, a nightly new run down of all the people in your city who were NOT in fact killed in a drive-by shooting that day.

Since I’m a geek, I’m constantly applying technical solutions to social problems. The social problem is that it’s unthinkable for a 24 hour news channel to announce “It’s a slow news day, so we’re taking a break for a while. Enjoy this test pattern until something happens.” Instead, they’ll latch on to whatever story they can because they need to keep people tuned into their advertisements.

The buzzword-compliant solution to this problem is RSS. Well, RSS or something like RSS. RSS provides the model, and it might even provide the format. Chris Anderson wrote about how RSS changes blog posting styles: “in a subscription age, where publishers don’t have to entice you back each day with a flood of new content, quality trumps quantity.” Why wouldn’t the same thing happen to TV?

Continue reading “RSS vs. the 24 hour news cycle”

Blogs and wikis in space

Scott Trudeau and I were talking about the intersection of blogs and wikis, which I realize everyone else talked about two years ago. Maybe next I’ll start blogging about how I’m sorry that I haven’t blogged more, or pull post ideas from Anil’s list of clichés. I also had an insightful conversation with Mark Dilley about wiki organization and how it might apply to groups of blogs; something that might find its way into ArborBlogs.

One of the things that came out of my conversation with Scott was the idea of space with both. Blogs are one dimensional, posts are points on the axis of time. Posting over time makes a blog taller visually and wider metaphorically.

Wikis are two dimensional. If the fundamental unit of a blog is a post, the fundamental unit of a wiki is the page. Adding pages makes a wiki wider using our imaginary graph, and as a wiki page evolves over time the wiki gets taller.

Mark’s idea of organizing blogs into groups involves adding that second dimension to blogs. The blog becomes the fundamental unit, and the network grows wider as it adds blogs, taller as those blogs add good posts and deeper as blogs accumulate posts over time. Mark is looking for a tool to organize blogs and he thinks in wikis. He wants interlinking, backlinks and recent changes distributed across a network of blogs.

Another mental framework I stumbled on is that blogs link to the past and wikis link to the future. When I blog at PVRblog, I usually want to provide background on a post. For example, a post about EchoStar suing TiVo links to an earlier post about TiVo suing EchoStar.

Wikis are built around links to the future. In order to create a page, you have to link to that page first; you have to link to a page that doesn’t exist. Linking to a stub on the Wikipedia is a link to the future when that is a full page with good information.

I don’t think that a blog equivalent of a future link exists, but it could be powerful. I’ve been working with some people in Ypsilanti on their grassroots journalism project and one of the things that we’re looking to do is provide a way for people to request coverage of meetings. In a wiki you request a page by making a link to it and waiting, but there’s precious few ways to request that a blog that is connected to yours make a post about something. NowPublic tries to address that for grasssroots journalism. A way to distribute these requests over a network a blogs would allow conversations to evolve organically.