June 24, 2024

On a New Server

This site is on the new server now, using WordPress. Please let me know, in the comments, if you see any problems.


  1. Hello,

    No problem with respect to the new server strictly speaking.

    But I liked your previous blog layout better.
    I agree with the people that dislike fixed column width. It is a too common practice (even among web designers), to use the pixel (px) unit in layout specification for lengths bigger than a few pixels. This forces a dependence on screen resolution which you’d better avoid.

    In your particular example, you don’t actually want a 760-pixel wide column. This is too wide for low-resolution screens and too narrow for high resolution screens. Better write in the CSS that you want 60 character-wide column of text (nearly optimum for comfortable reading, though some people prefer a bit less). All readers should be happy, whatever their screen size.

    Need an instant demo ? Several browsers allow you to change font size
    interactively using ctrl-mousewheel. Compare the effect on this blog
    with the effect on e.g. http://amphi-gouri.org/blog/ which basically
    uses the following css :

    textarea {
    width : 100%;
    max-width : 60em;

    The bad result (fixed number of pixels) is when column have 120 characters or more when font is small (760 pixel wide is huge on a 640×480 screen, where fonts have to be small), and 30 character when font is big (760 pixel wide is really narrow on a 1400×1050 screen, where fonts have to be big).

    The good result is a layout that remains consistent and comfortable to read whatever your screen resolution : always 60 nice characters a column. In other words, it’s not that the fonts are big or small : they become the reference. It’s just that pixels are small or big but you don’t mind because you don’t rely on them for the layout.

    http://www.mozilla.org/ does a similar thing (not quite, though).
    I have searched through a bunch of WP themes but could not find any that does this. The curious can search for “liquid design” for similar ideas.

    But you have your freedom to tinker with your WP theme anyway. 🙂

    I can even try and send you a modified theme similar to your current one if you wish.


  2. I like the new look. Finally, I don’t have to increase the text size every time I visit.

    Two things I don’t like:

    1. Over the course of an hour, I had two cookie requests from this site… I am using Firefox 1.0 on a Linux machine and had the page up in one of the tabs earlier in the day. However, It hasn’t been up for quite a while… (It was not up during either of the requests to set a cookie). I don’t know what that’s all about.

    2. The reverse Turing test is fine for me, but the first code it gave me wasn’t set up well… That is, the final letter was cut off, so I didn’t know what code to enter. A refresh solved this problem.

    Thanks for all of the great content here, and also in your dashlog.

  3. Okay, I’m using a reverse Turing test now. We’ll see how well this works.

  4. Antispam: Why not a Turing test? It’s more politically savvy for a “freedom” site.

    Font size should definitely be overridable. Page width should fit browser window, not be fixed at 640 pixels and centered as seems to be the case currently.

    It should let you use a .invalid extension when using a bogus email address, or else let you not use any email address.

    It looks like “remember name and stuff” feature is now stuck on, not off as originally supposed.

    Preview is missing.

    RSS feed seems to be working without having to resubscribe.

  5. One think I don’t like at all about the new site: I’m unable to change the rendered font size in Firefox.

  6. Eszter is right that this graphic design is just the default WordPress design with the background in the top header turned dark blue as in my old site design. I may shrink the header at some point.

    The nameserver mappings for freedomtotinker should propagate eventually. Unfortunately the remapping requests for the two domains (with and without dashes) went through separately, so they will take effect at different times.

    Kotodama asks how I migrated the old site’s content to the new site. I used the standard MovableType export function from the old site, with a modification suggested by somebody on the net (to add a postID field to each entry in the export file). Then I used the import function of WordPress (modified to read in the postIDs) to read in that export file. Now all of the entries and comments were available on the new site. This left me with one problem: MovableType and WordPress use different URL formats for individual posts, monthly archives, and category archives, so old-style links to any of those things wouldn’t work anymore. I wrote a little Python program to generate the appropriate URL-rewriting rules, so that accesses to old-style URLs now cause a redirect to appropriate new-style URLs. All told it took me about a day of work to transfer the site.

  7. I’m moderating comments as an anti-spam measure. On the old server I spent considerable time deleting comment spam; now I’m using moderation to delete spam in advance, which is more convenient for me. I’m taking measures to make it easier for regular commenters to get their comments up on the site immediately.

    Several aspects of the new setup are experiments. Things are likely to change over time. But there will definitely be an anti-spam strategy, which will probably continue to be visible to commenters.

  8. Seth wrote:

    “Neo (”I feel like I’ve suddenly been subjected to arbitrary detainment in what I thought to be a stable constitutional democracy here.”)

    I, for one, welcome our new hosting overlords.”

    What’s the moderation thing for? I do hope they don’t intend any censorship or suppressing of speech or unfavourable opinions. I am encouraged by their not editing/deleting my previous comments, but I am still disturbed. If keeping spam bots from posting junk is the only clamping down they intend, an image-based turing test such as many web forum sites use would suffice. Moderation will discourage people from making statements they feel would be controversial, and otherwise exert chilling effects, even if it actually is only ever enforced on spam.

  9. The fixed width annoys me too: it’s either too narrow, if I’m using the whole screen, or too wide, if I have the browser to one side to read while I’m working on something else. (IMHO, any web stylesheet that assumes a particular width of the browser is broken. C’mon, this is the Web, we shouldn’t still have to be putting up with print’s inflexibility.)

  10. Neo (“I feel like I’ve suddenly been subjected to arbitrary detainment in what I thought to be a stable constitutional democracy here.”)

    I, for one, welcome our new hosting overlords.

    [although a comment preview function would be nice]

  11. Increase your browser’s font size a little and you’ll notice the heading and sub text overflowing the blue background image at the top of the page. Other than that, I like the new look very much 🙂

  12. Looks good to me. To those who are wondering about the layout specifics, the layout here very much resembles the default layout of WordPress (most recent version). Ed seems to have just tweaked it enough to give it the FtT dark blue.

    I think it’s a nice layout. My biggest problem with it is the size (especially the height) of the header/title info. It uses up very valuable real estate on the top of the page. I would like to recommend reducing the height of the section from the default 200px to perhaps half of that. This is under #header height in the style file.

  13. Ryan Frederick says

    I personally welcome the changes. Things look very slick. 800 Pixels is a little small for a lot of people but it is something that I am sure will grow on me. My question is whether many of the changes that were complained about above are hard coded with the software or if these things can be easily changed to more closely resemble the old site.

  14. hinheckle jones says

    HEY NEO,
    Check out mailinator.com and never again worry about fake e-mail addresses or spam. fastchevy.com is the same place.
    Your spam free brother,
    Hinheckle Jones

  15. All my attempts to post a comment to this page have failed. Please help.


  16. Florian Weimer says

    You have yet to update the nameservers for FREEDOMTOTINKER.COM. The COM zone still has the wrong data.

  17. Kotodama says

    The New server is much slicker then the old one. I was wonder though how you migrated all your old entries onto this?

  18. What is this “awaiting moderation” thing????

    Are you no longer permitting the level of freedom you used to have? It looks like there’s a lot more changing for the worse here than just the cosmetic problems, the missing check box, and its refusal to let me use “” any more. I feel like I’ve suddenly been subjected to arbitrary detainment in what I thought to be a stable constitutional democracy here. What is going on?! The site hasn’t merely moved — it has changed, and the changes are definitely not merely skin deep! I do hope this isn’t an indication of having sold out, or being pressured, or some other evil wind of change.

    The initial announcement just said the site was moving, presumably to another bandwidth host, new hardware, or both. It said nothing about the site actually changing and especially not in noncosmetic ways. (It did say there might be glitches, but these don’t look like transient problems; they look like intentional changes, none of which seem to be especially beneficial to comment-posters.) In light of the events of today and the rude experience of attempting to post a comment after this so-called “move”, it’s starting to look like it was much more than just “a move”, and that your initial announcement was downright misleading. I believe you owe us and your readership at large an explanation.

  19. I hate to say it, but I had only to glance at a couple things to come up with a whole litany of problems.

    1: The page design is not as nice. The worst thing is that only about 1/2 the screen width is used, which is annoying for me and will be downright painful for people with lower resolution displays (laptop users, probably). There are huge dead spaces to the left and right. Please return to the original formatting.

    2: The “remember my name” check box is missing from the comment submission form. And it didn’t remember my name. Looks like not ALL of your data was moved to the new server. Oops.

    3: For some reason it refuses to post if I use a “.invalid” ending to the email address, forcing me to use a “.com” ending that isn’t as clearly bogus. I value my privacy and spam-freeness, and will not use a real email address; it is a courtesy to use an obviously-invalid one in such circumstances. Now I can no longer be as courteous.

    4: There are lots of other jarring changes in the page design, though none that cause truly serious problems aside from the missing check box and the wasted screen real-estate.

    It looks like instead of just copying everything lock stock and barrel from one hunk of silicon to a different hunk of silicon, you’ve done some tinkering with style sheets and maybe even reimplemented some of the cgi scripts or something. I think those changes are not an improvement, and that restoring the site to its former style and functionality (while retaining the presumably upgraded hardware of course) would be a good idea.

    Actually, there is one improvement. Tabbing through the input fields now works sensibly, jumping last to the submit button. Formerly, trying to tab to the submit button made Firefox go nuts and scroll to a completely different part of the page! Keeping this functionality change, while reverting the other software and style changes, is thus recommended.

  20. The site is formatted with a hard-coded 800-pixel width though. Would be nice to let those of us with higher resolutions use our horizontal real estate. 🙂

  21. Jim Lebeau says

    My main machine is out of date, and I had trouble rendering your site. Now the rendering is beautiful.