Several Small Bits of News

A few little bits and pieces, none of which justify a blog post to themselves.

blogs.perl.org

Some of you will have seen that Evozon’s grant to replace blogs.perl.org was cancelled a couple of months ago. This made me sad as I (along with the rest of the blogs.perl.org team) really want to see the current, fragile, set-up replaced as soon as possible.

I’m happy to see that a new grant proposal has been received from a team at Booking.com. They want to take Evozon’s work, along with some other improvements that they’ve made in house and complete the project.

I’d really like to see this grant approved and the project completed. Please feel free to add your comment to the proposal.

Perl News

Who remembers use.perl.org? For many years it was the best place to go for both Perl news and Perl blogs. The idea behind blogs.perl.org was to replace the blogging part of that site and a few years ago, Leo Lapworth and I built perlnews.org to replace the other part of the equation.

Unfortunately, neither of us really had the time to invest in the site and it never really took off. These days there are plenty of other places to get your Perl news, so we’ve taken the decision to close the site down. The existing stories will remain online and I might replace the current WordPress installation with a static site at some point in the future.

The Perl Conference in Amsterdam

A couple of my recent blog posts have been about deciding what training course to run alongside The Perl Conference (The Conference Formerly Known As YAPC Europe) in Amsterdam.

Unfortunately, my plans had a big collision with Real Life and I’ve realised that it’s just unrealistic for me to have enough time to prepare for the conference. So, sadly, I’ve made the decision that I won’t be in Amsterdam this August.

I’m sure it’ll be a great conference though and I wish the organisers the best of luck with it.

Web Application Development in Perl 6

Gabor asked me to give him a quotation explaining why I had backed his Indiegogo campaign to write a book on web development with Perl 6. This is what I sent him:

I’ve been largely ignoring Perl 6 development since the project started in 2000. I figured that I would have plenty of chance to catch up with it before clients started expecting me to know it. The official release of Perl 6 eighteen months ago means that the time is now right for me to start taking an interest. A lot of the code I write drives web sites, so I want to get up to speed with web development in Perl 6 quickly. That’s why I supported this crowdfunding campaign – I want to read this book and I think that Gabor is the right person to write it.

I think this will be a very useful book. You might consider backing it too.

CPAN Badges

I’m a big fan of the badges from shields.io. I use their CPAN badge on my dashboard. Unfortunately, this badge has stopped working – it just says “cpan | invalid”.

I did some investigation and discovered this was because they use the MetaCPAN v0 API – which has now been switched off. It was simple enough to patch the code to use the v1 API. I’ve sent them a pull request, but it hasn’t been accepted yet.

The Return of blogs.perl.org

About an hour ago we turned blogs.perl.org back on. There’s also a blog post where we explain what happened in a lot more detail.

If you have an account on the site then you will have received an email explaining what you need to do now. Basically, we’ve invalidated all of the passwords so you’ll need to ask the system for a new one.

Sorry again for the inconvenience. And huge thanks to the rest of the blogs.perl.org team (particularly Aaron Crane) for fixing this.

blogs.perl.org

It seems that last night blogs.perl.org was hacked. I first became aware of it when someone pointed me at this story a few hours ago. As you’ll see, the contents of the mt_author table have been made public.

We’re still investigating the extent of the hack. But, as a precaution, we have configured the site so that all dynamic pages return a 404 response. This will, unfortunately, prevent you from logging on to the site.

We will publish more information when we have it.

Apologies for the inconvenience.

Update:

  • As I said, the mt_author table was leaked
  • This contains both your username and password
  • The password is salted and encrypted (with crypt)
  • If you use your blogs.perl.org password elsewhere, we strongly recommend that you change it

Update 2:
Here’s a cut-down version of the published data that includes only the name columns. Hopefully you can use this to work out whether or not you have an account on the system.

Blogs.perl.org Problems

It’s ten days since we announced blogs.perl.org and it still doesn’t work properly.

Our mistake was to launch it on a really underpowered server. It worked fine when there were half a dozen of us testing it out, but when the entire Perl community descended on it to take a look at the site (and to sign up for accounts) the server collapsed under the strain.

All of the problems that I’ve been told about so far have been down to memory allocation issues. The server has 512 MB (corrected from KB – it’s bad, but not that bad!) of RAM and it really needs four times that.

Things have calmed down over the last few days though. I suspect that’s largely because people have lost interest in the site and have given up trying to register. We’ve also switched all of the MT processes to using FCGI. I see that a few people have registered successfully and are posting entries on the site. I salute their persistence.

We have a plan for fixing the situation, however, and that will be put in place over the next week or so. The site will be moving to a new server with a more appropriate hardware configuration. We hope to minimise the amount of downtime whilst this happens.

I can only apologise, once more, for the problems. I hope that once the new server is up and running, you’ll all consider giving blogs.perl.org another try.

I hope it’s obvious, but none of these problems should be taken as a reflection on the quality of Movable Type or the work that Six Apart have done for us on the site. The problems all come down to capacity planning on the part of the people running the project.

Which reminds me – if you’re ever looking for someone to do capacity planning on your web site, I’m not the right person for the job!

My Sekrit Project

It’s quite possible that over the last year or so you’ve heard me muttering about a secret project that I’ve been working on. Well, this morning I can finally reveal what it is.

Do you ever wish that the Perl community had a centralised blogging site where anyone could set up a blog for free? Something, perhaps, that allows you to use modern blogging features like images in your posts or tags.

If you’ve ever wished for something like that, then can I suggest that you take a look at blogs.perl.org. I think it might be just what you’re looking for.

The site is built using Movable Type and we were lucky enough to get some people from Six Apart to build it for us. I’d like to particularly thank Steve Cook of their professional services division who has done a lot of the actual work. Thanks also go to Jeremy King who designed the site and David Jacobs who is their manager and allowed them to work on the project on company time.

From the Perl community I need to thanks Aaron Crane who is hosting the site and Curtis Poe and Aristotle Pagaltzis who have both been involved in planning this project. Many other people have given invaluable advice or have been early testers of the site. Thanks to everyone who has been involved.

All that remains now is for you to try it out. You should regard it as a beta test version, so some of you will find problems. When you do, please just let me know and we’ll fix them.

I hope you enjoy the site and find it useful.

Update: Yes, there seems to be one quite glaring problem with it. That’s the web server errors that are generated occasionally when someone tries to log in (or out). Seems to be a resource allocation issue with the server. We’re looking into it. Please bear with me.