How to Best Handle Spam on Your Movable Type Site

To build a community, you need your visitors to comment on your site. Unfortunately when you do that, you open up your site to others who you might not want to come calling – namely spammers, who will leave all sorts of garbage on your (virtual) doorstep. While we probably won’t ever be able to get rid of them, managing spam feedback is a completely bearable process.

Depending on who you ask, you’re likely to get a wide variety of answers on the best avenue to take when it comes to plugins to use or configuration directives to take in the fight against spam. You’ll see names like Akismet or Defensio mentioned, and plugins such as MT-Approval and Tiny Turing thrown into the mix. Some will tell you that you need a CAPTCHA and some will tell you that there’s just no way to win. In the end, you don’t really need much more than a little creativity and some patience.

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Enhancing the Display of Images on Your Site with Slimbox

I’m not a big user of images – though I have a digital camera, I typically end up using it less than I probably should. I think one of my goals for next year will be to actually get some of the images off the memory card in the camera and let people see the pictures I’ve taken. One step in that process is to get them in a format that makes them nice looking. A single page without much around it, as you often see on a web page, can be downright ugly. Enter Lightbox.

This JavaScript framework is a fairly simple way to display pictures with a sort of frame around them – the image is actually assigned a special HTML segment, and the surrounding section of the page is blacked out, giving the viewer a much more pleasing experience than a simple image without much around it. There are three problems with Lightbox. The first is that it’s big, the second is that it’s slow to load and the third (and most important) is that it doesn’t work! Luckily, there are some options.

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XBMC Won't Play AVI Files

A while back, I converted an original XBox to something new – an XBOXMEDIACENTER. It actually was a whole lot easier than I expected. I didn’t even have to open it up, because through the judicious use of eBay, I managed to find a copy of the original Mech Assault (not the Platinum Hits version, that’s just what comes up at, which allowed the loading of a softmod.

Once I did, it’s like a whole new world opened up. The people who have developed XBMC have done a bang-up job, by packaging a nice interface along with a great platform for playing all sorts of videos and even being able to load games – both those developed for the XBox and ROMs of all sorts. But I was frustrated because I couldn’t get some AVI files to play. They would act like they were going to start, but after a second or so, they would just stop. I was pulling out what little hair I had left. Luckily, I finally appear to have found the solution.

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Family Night at the Charlotte Checkers

On Tuesday night, we decided to head out for the annual Everitz Consulting Christmas Party. What’s that? You think just because I’m a Movable Type Consultant, I can’t have a Christmas Party? Think again.

Anyway, we decided that we’d take in a Charlotte Checkers game, which thanks to the North Carolina Zoo was just $49 for a family four-pack of tickets to get into the game, four hot dogs and four sodas. Pretty sweet deal all around, especially when you consider that the dogs and sodas by themselves would cost thirty bucks!

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Convert RightFields Data to CustomFields

If you use Movable Type, there’s a good chance that you use plugins. And if you took the plugin survey, there’s a good chance that you use a plugin to add extra fields to your installation: Roughly one-third of people polled used either CustomFields or RightFields to provide some additional breathing room in your installation.

To make matters more interesting, the combined plugins accounted for roughly a third of the votes for being rolled into the core package, and easily bested all other plugins when it came time to choose just one plugin to install. The problem all along has been that there are two ways to add extra fields to your site. The announcement that CustomFields is now going to be part of Movable Type just makes it more complex – especially if you’re a user of RightFields. Until now.

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Install Movable Type Under Apache Tomcat

I haven’t done a lot of work with Apache Tomcat previously, so when someone asked if they could install Movable Type, I had to do a bit of digging to see if it was possible. The answer is actually yes – but it’s not the most intuitive installation. Most steps are fairly simple, but making the pieces work can be challenging.

Getting Perl up and running under Tomcat isn’t difficult – just dropping the files into a directory seems to make them work. But to make Movable Type work, you need more than just Perl – you need MySQL. That’s where the trouble comes in and things get a little dicey.

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Have Gift Cards Gone Too Far?

Since it’s my birthday, I thought I’d talk about something that really bugs me about gift cards.

As I’m filling up at the gas station, I look up and see a sign that reads “Give the gift they wont want to regift”. Yes, that’s right – a gift card for a gas station. Now first let me say that I’m not a huge fan of the gift card. Sure, I like getting them alright, because I can go get what I want instead of having to deal with what someone else thinks I want. I understand their appeal.

I also understand the appeal as a gift-giver, because you don’t have to put a lot of thought into the gift, and I think that’s why I don’t like them. Basically it means you don’t have to think about it a lot. You just go to the store and get a gift card, and you’re done. In a busy world, it’s very convenient. Heck, a lot of stores even offer you a selection of gift cards for other stores. It’s the very epitome of lazy shopping. The hard part is determining which card to buy.

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Using Pageant with PuTTY at pair Networks

One of the reasons I like pair Networks is the shell account. I don’t always need shell access, but it’s really useful to have it when I do need it. Much better than the alternative – needing it and not having it. One question that comes up when you start talking about shell accounts is accessing the thing. For users who are used to Windows, it’s a legitimate question – it’s just not something that you’re typically exposed to.

What you’ll need is PuTTY – a great little application that allows you to connect to an SSH server. SSH stands for “secure shell”, and that’s how you login to most shell accounts. There are some that will allow you to do so with a standard telnet client, but that’s less than secure, so don’t do that. The only problem with PuTTY is that you have to type your password every time you need to connect. That’s not a bad thing if you don’t do it often, but if you disconnect and reconnect a lot, it can be a royal pain. Enter Pageant (available at the same page as PuTTY).

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How to Export Tags from Movable Type 3.3x

Over on Learning Movable Type, Jaclyn asked why she wasn’t able to get tags imported to a new MT4 installation. While Movable Type 4 includes an entry’s tags in the import specifications, and also exports those tags when saving the data, no prior versions have exported the tags, even though tags have been natively supported since MT 3.3x. Luckily, it’s easy to get them.

First, make a backup of from your original Movable Type installation, which is the Perl module that handles the export. Do this because you want to make sure that you have a good copy, just in case something goes awry. Put this backup in a safe place, and work with the copy of the file, just in case. Ready? Good.

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Firefighters Sell You Tickets You Won't Use

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of overpriced fundraisers. Just look at the Girl Scouts. I mean I’ll eat some cookies and all, but the way they sell those overpriced boxes of heaven is just ridiculous. Why don’t they just ask for the money? I don’t mean to pick on the girl scouts. Really. They aren’t alone.

When I was a kid, I came home with all sorts of things from school that I dutifully schlepped around the neighborhood, thinking that I was doing everyone a monumental service. Was it really so bad? Probably. These days, our kids bring home all sorts of overpriced crap, then they are made to feel bad when the teacher announces that they can’t have a pizza party until everyone turns in a purchase.

The other day I received a phone call from the firefighters, not wanting to miss out.

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