Rob's Ramblings

Sunday 13 May 2012

Live Launch

I wrote the other day about Tiddler's website.  Well, I decided I'd done enough to let it loose on the world and made the changes live the other day. You may now visit it, dear reader, and see that I didn't even bother to move things from the development location... Well, the robots.txt means it's not supposed to be included in any search engines yet, so I might yet move the content about ..

It's a little bit of a personal site, a only slightly larger bit of a professional site (anybody reading need a child actor?) and a link to her blog. I guess I need to work on more content, now I have a working structure, but as anybody who knows me will know, that's not my strong point.  Maybe I'll start posting up her drawings...

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Bandwidth theft and reciprocal links

I don't often pay close attention to my access logs; most traffic to my websites seems to be robots, but the other day, I was looking to see if a file over on I had referred to in an email had been accessed, and spotted something strange going on.  An image of a Prestel welcome page had been accessed a few times, with a referrer elsewhere.

I accessed the referring page, and it turned out to be something pretty standard - a blog entry by somebody remembering Prestel, and how things used to be.  And there in the middle was my image, a 1987 Prestel signin page with my name (well, an alias I used) on it.  The page was appreciative of "volunteers and enthusiasts who raise the profile of the past" and linked to someone, not me, who did this.  A search of their website had no mentions of Prestel though, so I don't know why they were chosen to illustrate that point.  There was no mention of me, or my website, despite it being probably the only real resource documenting Prestel and other viewdata systems on the net.

Comments on the blog article seemed to be allowed, but required a site login, which I didn't have and was unable to create, so I sent the author an email instead.

Nice mention of Prestel. I'm one of those trying to preserve it's memory - it'd be nice if I'd been mentioned or linked through to, since you are including an image hosted by me - found you through the referrer logs! (I do have a T&C page that requests you don't do this without at least a link.)

I hope that's polite enough?   I have the policy simply because including external images is also referred to as "bandwidth theft" for good reason.  Any access to my website goes towards my account limits at both my DNS provider and webhost, and if I go over them, I have to upgrade my account, committing to pay out more money each month.  I don't mind if there's a chance that the person seeing the image, say, will follow a link and see what I have to say about things, find out more information, and perhaps realise that there really was online life Before The Internet, but I certainly wouldn't want to end up paying to provide images to illustrate an article diagrammatically opposing my own views, for instance.  (Not that it was in this case.)  All it takes is for an acknowledgement and a link to where you got the image from.  Heck, if you're writing about this stuff, you'd probably want to be linking to me anyway.

Anyway, I received no response.  Nada. Nothing.  However checking the blog post again, I see he's changed the image.  He now includes an image of a different welcome page (not one of mine) hosted over on A Limey in America's blog.  Nitecloak acknowledged it's source; our current writer didn't. Again.

I have a dilemma here.  On the one side, I want to encourage anybody who wants to to write about Prestel to do so, and to get their readers interested enough that should they come across anything relevant, that it's not immediately thrown away. On the other side, the bloke is obviously an arsehole who doesn't care for simple courtesy when it comes to using other people's content.  I guess he made up my mind for me by not even replying to my email, though.  Which is why I'm not even mentioning the website; I'm not going to do anything to send him readers.

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Sunday 6 May 2012

modrewrite and all that jazz

As I discussed previously, I've been working on Tiddler's website. Some past reading about Best Practice suggests hiding technology from the reader, and disassociating the URL from the structure of the website. i.e., don't commit yourself to exposing /cgi-bin/ or foo.php or whatever, since times change, and you might want to re-write things later. Being stuck with incoming links pointing at such places an be a pain. It's not a major site, but I thought I'd try to be good and see how it goes. So, URLs will be simple categories - /foo/ /bar/ etc. The obvious answer is to create these as folders, with a default index file in each, however I didn't want to have to maintain lots of separate files, but keep everything together in the one application, one template, and just call in the different page contents as required. So, behind the scenes, we need a simple handler, index.php in this case, which accepts a "pagename" parameter. e.g. /index.php?p=gallery but how to turn the one into the other? here's the .htaccess

RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule ^new/([a-zA-Z0-9]+?)/$ new/index.php?p=$1
/new/ being the folder I'm developing in. Any accesses to /new/foo/ will be translated into /new/index.php?p=foo but that's never exposed to the visitor - it could just as easily be /cgi-bin/ I'm quite pleased, it's simpler, and makes for shorter and less cluttered URLs, which can only help with search engine rankings.

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