Major blog overhaul

 Posted by (Visited 3946 times)  Open thread  Tagged with:
Dec 182013

biglogoYou may have noticed that the site looks a little different today! It has seen a major overhaul — years of hacks in files have been overwritten by a modern customizable theme (Suffusion).

The goals were

  • Get it looking nicer, because, damn, it was dated. I usually overhaul it every few years, and it’s been overdue.
  • Get it faster and more responsive, thanks to streamlining all the cruft away. We’ll see. The database for the blog is, by the way, around 5GB of data. Yeesh. So it may be that getting it faster will require major DB surgery.
  • Cut away some of the stuff that was outright obsolete, like the links list (I’ll have to create a new one, sorry for anyone I wiped out!)
  • Give better and faster access to frequently desired material. This is being done with the nav bar up at the top. You’ll notice that this still takes you to the old site’s static pages (static pages that now date back to 1998 in some cases). Over time I expect to migrate all this into WordPress proper and redirect all the old links.
  • I also plan to add new stuff now. Like, some gallery pages for the games I have worked on. Seems silly to be a game designer with a game design site and not have a portfolio page… There’s also all the books that I have had chapters in, I ought to have those up here too. Maybe Slideshare widgets for all the presentations.

Among other things, the site is now fully responsive, so it shouldn’t take pinching and zooming to read it on a smartphone anymore. I swapped out the tag cloud widget, and the translator widget too. The old translator actually cached all the pages; this one just sends you off to Google Translate to do it yourself, so that should save a lot of space.

There are still many things that I have to sort out: whether to keep the frames on images, the weird bottom edge of the nav bar, what to do about comments (I like having the Twitter comments show up seamlessly, but I don’t think I like the reverse chronological order they show up in!), how to handle the older parts of the site, the bits of stuff left over like the blue highlighting of my comments that no longer matches the theme, the way drop caps are messing up when there’s an image in the top left, the bad headers on the right side…

Of course, feedback is welcome! Let me know what you think of stuff like the color scheme, the layout, and so on.

Minor blog downtime

 Posted by (Visited 9167 times)  Misc  Tagged with: ,
May 102012

The blog’s hosting server is getting an upgrade sometime in the next 48 hours… there will likely be some downtime in the early morning hours. They tell me it may last up to a couple of hours.

Blog hosting upgrade

 Posted by (Visited 9562 times)  Misc  Tagged with:
Jan 162012

WebPageTest waterfall of page loading here

I just upgraded my hosting plan, and we’ll see if that solves issues with the site performance. In addition to everything I mentioned in my last post, I also took some additional steps to improve performance, captured here for the sake of anyone else who has issues.

  • I fired off an email to the maker of Category Icons, which seems to be one of the common slow queries. For a while today I had it disabled outright, but I seem to have more headroom on this new hosting plan, so the icons are back.
  • I found that wp-cron.php, which is what the blog uses for scheduling posts and other cleanup tasks, was generating a lot of hits — as in, a quarter million this month alone, far outweighing most of the blog traffic! This appears to be a common problem. I followed the advice found here on how to disable WordPress’ built-in cron stuff and instead use a regular cron job. We’ll see how that does and whether everything works more or less like before.

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Speeding up the blog

 Posted by (Visited 7706 times)  Misc  Tagged with:
Jan 162012

As you may have noticed if you have been visiting the site lately, it’s been both running very slow and also periodically giving lots of database errors (“error establishing a database connection”). So tonight I did a bunch of stuff to try to speed it up; I have no idea if this is enough, but it should be better!

Here’s the list:

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User Spam Remover for WordPress

 Posted by (Visited 8316 times)  Misc  Tagged with:
Mar 132011

Version 0.9.1 of User Spam Remover for WordPress is out, and I wanted to recommend it because it is the only tool to remove fake users that has ever worked on my WordPress database.

Earlier versions didn’t work, and the plugin author, Joel Hardi, was doggedly persistent in following up from a comment thread post all the way to emails as we sent SQL queries, logs and DB structures back and forth to one another. Now it works like a charm, and I am pretty sure the result has sped up my blog a fair amount.

If you were one of the 6000+ users who were deleted because of lack of comment posting activity, sorry. 🙂 And if you have a WordPress blog and were driven batty by hundreds of “new users” a day, this is the plugin for you.