October 2006

Code21 Oct 2006 at 14:01 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Go_awstats.sh completely automates the trivial yet tedious task of Awstats batch Apache log reports production, and it even does it somewhat smartly – I’m talking about the “only rebuilding what needs to be rebuilt” part, not the code itself which is plain stupid. This script is in production on the host of Serendipitous Altruism as the sample output testifies.

This release corrects a major year calculation error that appeared when the logs began to span more than two years. I am now confident that the whole thing works, hence the highly symbolic bump up to revision 1.0

I believe that Awstats is still the best HTTPD standard log reporting program, and this is why I am very interested in making it work automatically and painlessly.

PHP and RSS and Systems18 Oct 2006 at 0:55 by Jean-Marc Liotier

I am currently supporting a French centrist political party, mostly helping local militants to improve their web presence by giving them tailored tools and pushing them toward a sensible communication strategy and the organization that goes with it. WordPress and Dokuwiki were of course among the first tools out of the box. I then soon considered the constellation of militant small-time blogs and decided there was a prime target for aggregation.

I first deployed the Lilina PHP news aggregator – I love it and it worked very well for tiny “me and my friends” feed aggregations. With Lilina under new management there were even prospects for improvement. But when the number of inbound feeds began to soar toward 150 I realized that the whole user experience was sinking into a pit of cold molasses. Unexpectedly the host was not even significantly loaded, it was just that updating from that many feeds sequentially was taking much time.

Enter Gregarius. Of course I knew about Gregarius before. But I had no reason to go through the slight hassle of using the Mysql database that Gregarius needs : deploying Lilina only requires the unpacking of my custom distribution of Lilina patched for provinding RSS output. Lilina crawling gave me the reason. On top of that, the Lilina theme for Gregarius really made migration as painless as possible for Lilina refugees who can feel at home right out of the box.

Installation was dead easy and importing all those incoming feeds was done in the single step of entering the URL for Lilina‘s OPML output and waiting a few seconds for all the feeds to be fetched and parsed. And there you are : 130 blogs (and growing) aggregated effortlessly with reasonnable response time and barely any load on the host. Gregarius is even easier than Lilina to administer, and it has categories and tags that Lilina does not, and also does searching.

So from now on I’ll use Lilina for aggregating up to about a couple dozen feeds. Beyond that the territory belongs to Gregarius !

Photography and Picture of the day10 Oct 2006 at 23:26 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Direct sunlight creates unflattering hard shadows. Not having an assistant holding a reflector for me while I stroll along La Defense with the kids I had to improvise with the material at hand. Luckily, La Defense has a plentiful provision of variously reflective walls even larger than the largest reflector my non-existing assistant can handle.

So here is a picture of Calixthe dancing Coupé Décalé in the afternoon light. Barely a meter on our left was a large glass façade that provided the wonderful fill light on Calixthe’s face. That goes to show that even with no fancy hardware there are always plenty of opportunities for nice lighting that await the innovative souls.