Would anyone be interested in a Pharyngula chat room?

So I got some email a while back about this free and easy to use web-based chat room service…and heck, it’s so simple I thought I’d give it a whirl. Here’s a link to a Pharyngula chat room—try it out and let me know how it goes. I’ll plan on checking in myself now and then, but don’t wait up for me, talk among yourselves.

I will definitely plan on popping in at 8pm Central time tonight (Friday), if you really want to yell at me online. We’ll see how it goes; I don’t know how well it will hold up if ten people are trying to converse at once, and I also notice that there doesn’t seem to be any way to authenticate identities, so it’s not clear to me how much noise will be generated.

Ugh

You may have noticed that the site has been down for a while. We were hit with a combination of problems.

First, we have been plagued by this idiot script-kiddie, the registrant for usuc.us:

(Information erased: a call to the person to which the domain is registered reveals he has no idea what is going on. Does anybody know how to inform the domain name registry that it is registered under a false name and get it deleted?)

He has been running a bot that injects some javascript into a search string that redirects the scienceblogs main page to google, since the main page rather foolishly embeds the top search strings into the html. We’ve known about this for a few days.

Second, the sciencebloggers’ complaints about this have been effectively ignored by the management here (and I think many of us are getting more pissed about this neglect of an obvious problem than anything else.) Several of us have been running a rather kludgy and ugly workaround, inserting code on our pages that secretly runs searches, too, to displace Mr Sullivan’s hack from the list of top searches. This has caused performance problems—we’ve basically been trying to out-thrash the bot to keep it from taking over the main page. A more elegant way to fix this would have been to patch up the search display on the main page, but we don’t have access to that.

Third, in the midst of all the overwork to which we were subjecting MT and the server, MT ate a large chunk of the Pharyngula template code. Poof, my page disappeared. At least that absence reduced the server load so everyone else’s pages were running a little better.

Anyway, the bottom line is that right now the scienceblogs main page will occasionally whisk you off to google, the Pharyngula index page is a corrupt and broken shambles, and server performance seems to be up and down.

About “About”

Since I was asked to do something about that empty “About” tab at the top of this page that used to take you to a really boring page that said “Lorem ipsum,” I’ve put a little useful information up there. It now tells you what Pharyngula means and how to pronounce it, has a few biographical details, and by popular request, includes links to the complete random quote file, the complete “Taste of Pharyngula” file, and the complete blogroll. The layout needs a little work, but the information is there, at least.

Comment problems?

I just got hit by a major wave of comment spam, and it took me while to puzzle out all the tools available in this MT system to purge them. I’m tinkering a little bit with comment settings to try and prevent it from happening again (tip: don’t put lots of links in comments, because they will get held up for my approval before posting), and I’ve clicked a few checkboxes in the settings on. If things get freaky and it doesn’t let you comment, send me an email and I’ll try to fix it.