WordPress and permalinks and Mac OS X

I’m playing around with a WordPress installation on my laptop for a project, and had a hell of a time getting permalinks to work properly. I figured that my experience might be worth documenting for anyone else who’s playing around with Mac OS X.

I should note that I had to start from the beginning for this installation—I had to install MySQL using Fink, futz around with it until I got it starting reliably and was able to create a database for WordPress, then I had to enable PHP in the Apache httpd.conf file. At that point I was able to run the WordPress installation script and start tweaking options. But permalinks weren’t working.

I started digging deeper and found out why. While on Manila a permalink consists of an anchor on a page generated dynamically by Manila’s custom HTTP server for which the content is assembled in Frontier, WordPress uses Apache’s mod_rewrite to parse the incoming URL, figure out which content is being requested, then get that out of the database and return it in the standard template. Manila’s approach allows the blogging engine to control the whole process from start to finish, while WordPress’s has a series of dependencies: on Apache, on mod_rewrite, and, it turns out, on the file system.

So here, skipping all the tried-and-failed steps, is what I had to do to get permalinks enabled:

  1. Verify that .htaccess actually exists.
  2. Chmod — change the file permissions on the .htaccess file so that WordPress can rewrite it.
  3. With help from a posting on the WordPress support site, figure out that I need to insert some specific language in the httpd.conf file, to wit, some directives for the specific directory where WordPress lives:
    • <Directory /path/to/wordpress>
    • Options Indexes MultiViews SymLinksIfOwnerMatch
    • AllowOverride Options FileInfo
    • </Directory>
  4. And, just for kicks and giggles, update the httpd.conf to add index.html.var to the DirectoryIndex line.

And some combination of those enabled mod_rewrite to work. (This posting on the old Textpattern site provided some insight as well.)

I’ve long admired the flexible navigation that WordPress provided—the ability to have monthly archive pages as well as a calendar, for instance—and it’s apparent to me now that the use of mod_rewrite is what makes that possible. I do wonder about the scalability of that solution—would it survive a Slashdotting?—but it’s interesting, having used Manila for so long, to see how another platform handles the same issues.

It all comes down to money

NY Times: List of Schiavo Donors Will Be Sold by Direct-Marketing Firm. Just when I had resolved to keep my mouth shut about the Schiavo case, this comes along. I’m not sure there’s a more heinous way to repay the kindness of strangers than to sell their personal information to a direct marketing firm.

I think I agree with the angle in this article—that the parents are so focused on their daughter’s last days that they aren’t paying attention to what the people around them are asking them to agree to. But I think that anything coming from the Christian Communication Network’s Gary McCullough, who was present with the Schindlers when the deal was made, or from Phil Sheldon, who actually struck the deal, that talks about morality and values from now on is pretty suspect. Because if there’s something that’s lower than selling the names of people who are donating money to keep your daughter alive to spam merchants, it’s persuading vulnerable and grieving parents that it’s OK to do so.

Followup: Conversing in slow motion

Following up yesterday’s post about BlogPulse’s Conversation Tracker: it seems that the proof of concept tracker doesn’t update very frequently. I turned the Conversation Tracker on itself to see who was spreading the meme about it, and the same links show up today that showed up on yesterday. Neither my post nor Dave Winer’s appears in the list.

I guess I’m spoiled, but based on my experience with tools like Blogdex, Technorati, and Feedster, I expected to see up to date results. Note also that there is an embedded date range in the above link. There does not appear to be a way to bookmark a permalink to get current results for a given conversation; you have to reset the date ranges each time.

Update (31 March): Natalie Glance from Intelliseek was kind enough to point out that the date range parameter is optional on the URL string (though there does not seem to be a way to leave it out when building a new string using the UI). Also a correction—I originally wrote that my original post was made Friday (it was a long day yesterday).

Surely I can’t be the only one who bought one.

As I wrote in December 2003, there are times when company websites fail to provide the information you need. Oddly, that’s still true with the Whirlpool washing machine we bought then; as of now, 15 months later, I’m still the only hit on Google for that model number. (Thanks to reader John B. for pointing that out!) As I told John, the machine worked well for the six months we had it until we sold the house in Kirkland and moved here, so if you find one on clearance as John did, go for it.

One factor in the dearth of info on the model: that model number was apparently sold only at Best Buy. I’m all for segmenting your product line by retailer (well, not really), but companies who do so should make sure that they still provide all the information a customer might need about every model number on the corporate web site.