Wandering Thoughts archives


The sysadmin's life

A one-line addition to httpd.conf: 30 seconds.

Restarting Apache: 30 seconds.

Making sure that the addition was the right thing to do to an old version of Apache and wouldn't kill the server: much longer.

(And of course the much longer doesn't look too much like work, and doesn't entirely feel like work.)

And more of the sysadmin's life:

Accidentally using kill -USR2 instead of kill -USR1 to gracefully restart the Apache server: priceless. Whoops.

Trying to find exactly where Apache gets started on boot, to restart it with the right arguments, and being unable to do so: nerve-wracking.

Discovering that the machine is actually running Solaris 8 instead of Solaris 9: twitch-inducing. (So much for installing the Solaris 9 recommended patch set during this unexpected downtime.)

Discovering that the web server does not in fact get automatically restarted on reboot, nor do a number of other things: bad.

Discovering that the hostname changed on reboot, to 'test': AUGH. (It turns out that in Solaris 8, /etc/nodename is what sets the host's name. /etc/hostname.<interface> is not.)

I think I have well and truly stubbed my toes today. On the flipside, I know somewhat more about magic Apache things now, including useful bits like 'apachectl startssl' as the magic way of saying 'start Apache with SSL'.

(The management apologizes for this entry being somewhat less coherent than usual. Chris had a little bit of a shock today.)

sysadmin/TheSysadminLife written at 17:26:38; Add Comment

More on simple markup languages

In a reply to my WhySimpleMarkup post, Chris Wage wrote, in part:

I like the idea of a simple markup language, but the reality is that they are implemented in an obscure and often counter-intuitive fashion.

I'll unfortunately agree with this; it's one reason why I created my own for DWiki. Pretty much all of the existing wikitext dialects I look at struck me as ugly to see, tiresome to write, or both. Looking good as plain text and being easy to write in were explicit goals for DWikiText, and I left features out to achieve it. (Well, I think I've achieved it.)

(I'm not convinced that it's possible to be attractive looking, easy to write ordinary things in, and have a complete set of text formatting options. There's only so many characters to go around, at least until we start using Unicode (and down that road lies Perl 6).)

However, I disagree with Chris Wage about editors replacing simple markup languages. I feel that playing with any sort of HTML editing environment is actually make-work, even if it's faster than writing HTML by hand. And I don't think it is in many cases, because the editors are designed to be novice-friendly instead of fast for people who do this all the time.

One source of the disagreement may be that I don't think of simple markup languages as a way of making it easy for novices; I think of them as a way of streamlining the work of experts. I can write HTML by hand; I just don't want to bother.

(This means that I don't really care about standardization either, unless it doesn't cost me very much. If your goal is making it real easy for casual people to make changes in any wiki they run across, you may feel differently. Since DWiki doesn't have web-based editing, I'm already a heathen in that respect.)

PS: you can see how the plain text source of this looks with the 'View Source' link in the Page Tools entry at the bottom of here, and make your own decision about pretty or ugly it is.

web/WhySimpleMarkupII written at 01:57:46; Add Comment

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