Friday, December 17, 2004

Fixing Things Until They Break

Ellie called me on the phone and told me there was a bunch of typos in my blog post, and that it was long, so now I've edited it to try to find the typos.

Finally I've got the comments function working on ol' Blogger. Originally when I had them enabled Blogger didn't offer a comments function, so I was using a third party script to do it. When Blogger added the comments feature I figured I might as well switch to that one. Eventually I took them off because there really wasn't much being written in the comments, not that most of my posts inspire commentary. When I decided to turn them back on they didn't work for me, likely due to my mucking around with the template (I've been trying to get the Sidebar to look like I want in all browsers for months now, and I kept having problems with it).

Finally I tired of trying to manually get things to work and thought I might try starting fresh. Since I've grown weary of the old template for the site and Blogger added some new ones I thought I'd try a new template. This would hopefully solve the problem of the comments and the Sidebar at the same time, but I'd lose my customizations. Oh well. I made a backup of the old template and pulled the trigger on the new template. I do like it's appearance quite a bit better. It looks like the Sidebar is working much better for Mozilla. In IE 5.1 on the Mac the Sidebar ends up at the very bottom of the page, and I haven't checked with IE 6.0 on a PC, I'll be looking forward to seeing how it looks. I still haven't put my blogroll back up either.

The comments do look like their working again, so I'm pleased about that. The overarching idea is I tried fixing the blog until it broke, and now I'm fixing it until it breaks again. I'm really trying to resist the urge to tweak it too much. Eventually that always leads to some kind of nusiance cropping up.

I made the previous post about using SELinux on my home Gentoo box. I'm thinking maybe not at this point. I read through the documentation before I tried it and found that I'd need to recompile a custom kernel for Linux. I'm not afraid to do it, as I've done it before to get the network cards working in it, but it takes hours to recompile the operating system and I'm not quite certain I recall how I configured the network card to work. I think I'll put that project on hold, especially since if I don't get it to work it will mean I have to unplug it, hook up a monitor, and take several hours to fix it. I don't feel like doing that right now. I'm still very new to Linux administration, so to add a customized security system is a tad overwhelming to me at this point.

Next I thought about using a more secure form of PHP (a scripting language for web pages) to replace what I've got running on the Gentoo box. Again I got to thinking "I just got it working like I want, and now I might end up unraveling all that work just for some more security I don't even need at this point." That will go on hold. Perhaps I'll try that after something like SELinux.

Finally I thought "Well, it might be interesting to get SSL running on the Apache server, that way the pages are all encrypted as they travel through cyberspace." Again, not something to tackle lightheartedly. These things can be so complicated that if they don't go off just like the documentation says then it means hours of seaching various internet forums for information that might help one to fix the problem, or might be totally useless.

All in all, I'm going to resist the temptation to make my little home server into a tight, secure Linux box and instead opt for something that simply works (that last part sounds like an Apple "Switch" commercial).

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