The freedom trail

Being almost adapted to the 6-hour time difference and the cold here in Boston, we went out to explore the city today. One thing I like about the US is that people try to make it easy for you, also for tourists asking oneself what interesting places you need to visit. Boston has a concept called Freedom Trail, which is a red (mostly brick) path through downtown leading you to significant historic sites. Learning a bit about history, culture and at the same time a good walk - with a stop at the pizza tent - is a cool way of spending your time usefull. Apart from Havard and MIT, I'm pretty sure I've seen the most interesting stuff around here so I can concentrate completely on the DrupalCon which starts tomorrow.

Topics 

drupalcon boston

Hello Boston

So I finally arrived at my hotel in Boston after 9 hours to NY, endless waiting at the immigration queue and a short flight back to Boston. I got a mail from Jo (one of the Krimson brothers) with a short message that we will share a room with 2 double queen-size beds - if that ain't cosy! Maybe not that bad since it's freezing over here. Yes, there is actually snow in Boston, the climate isn't that borked up in the US I guess.

Topics 

drupalcon boston

Odd and evil things

Today I learned it's possible to add an extra submit handler when using hook_form_alter() in Drupal. En concreto, I can for example create new nodes when someone adds a new language in the locale module. If I were very evil, I could write a contributed module which would be very interesting for the community, but if someone doesn't take a look at my code, he wouldn't see I've added an extra submit function that deletes all nodes after he changes his files settings. Luckily I'm a decent person, I'll never do that :) I'm just very happy I found a solution without messing on the core files!

Evil also seems to be the combination of PHP5, apache and APC: the thing simply crashes every minute, especially when heavy calculations take place leaving nothing but segfault lines in your error log and dumping core in your directory. I've been running a server with lighttpd and XCache (xcache.lighttpd.net) now for a week and I haven't had any phone calls from people seeing the white screen of death, let's hope things stay that way, otherwise, well, I dunno what else for now ...

I also learned something - rather stupid - today: if you enter 0.0 (or 00.00, 0000.000000, etc) in your address bar, the browser takes you to your localhost. I'm not sure what happens if you don't run a local webserver, because I simply don't have any computer without it - and I'm to lazy right now to stop my lighty service.

Anyway, it has been a very interesting and stressy month and I can finally chill out a bit, maybe (finally) get to record some songs again, whatever and of course counting the days untill the first of march when I leave for the upcoming DrupalCon in Boston and a few days wandering around in New York, yay!

Topics 

drupal, lighttpd, apc, xcache

No papers

I managed to drive for more than 3 months without my car papers, I can't really guess what would have happened if the cops would have stopped me. So next time when my parents advise to hide them somewhere in my house when I'm on vacation, I'll gladly ignore this. And to think I've been to France twice - I'm a lucky boy sometimes. Anyway, that's the most exciting thing that happened to me in 2008 so far, I'm hoping to get to some new song-recording this weekend and not touch a keyboard at all!

Topics 

personal

The init hook enigma, part 2

I struggled a few days with some functionality on the new CarChannel site where visitors are offered a splash page the first time they visit the site. I needed to built in some exceptions, like the special msn page, the xml calls and the game pages. Testing when you are logged in always worked, but when browsing anonymous and with normal caching on, things went wrong, especially with url aliases. Reading source code and documentation - or now when you are reading this article - can save your life, so when you have an init hook and you need the know the 'q' variable, add

drupal_bootstrap(DRUPAL_BOOTSTRAP_PATH);

at the top of your hook before doing anything else. This will save you many sleepless hours and frustrating tests!

Being the only *nix sysadmin (or at least, the only guy at work who knows a little more then just opening an ssh-session) also made me very stressed out the last couple of weeks because services suddenly died without leaving any information in logs. I spent the whole afternoon yesterday setting up extra monitoring services on 2 higly imported webservers which check apache, mysql, ssh and load average every five minutes and , if needed, takes the appropriate action (restart, renice etc). It was the first night in a week I finally slept the whole night through, so fingers crossed!

Topics 

drupal, work, linux, hooks

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