A weather site in six (declarative) lines

For several years I maintained a hodge-podge of little web-based utilities at toolbot.com. Recently I decided to wipe the slate clean, bringing things back selectively. One of the few that I missed personally was my weather site. It returned National Weather Service forecasts in response to compact URLs of the form weather.toolbot.com/05667, for any five-digit US zipcode. Originally, the site worked by scraping plaintext forecast files on the NWS servers. Eventually those went away; I looked at and gave up on the arcane (to me) SOAP interface that superseded them.

Movin' on up

My last post was about a server migration at work; this one’s about moving my own stuff, an operation completed late last night. It was easier in that it’s less critical (nobody’s likely to freak out if my blog disappears for a day) but harder in that it also involved mail. I hate dealing with mail; though I did manage the switch without losing any, as far as I know. My thanks to the JohnCompanies.

Root, sweet root

For several weeks at work I’ve been prepping for a server move; this week we flipped the switch. It was the most serious migration I’ve ever done, and it went very well. Some notes: Previously we shared a dedicated box at a certain very large colo provider. A few weeks ago, in the course of swapping out a failing drive in our box, staffers at the colo 1) wiped out the live backup of the drive and then 2) destroyed the contents of the failing drive, overwriting it with a week-old backup.
Anatomy of a BoingBoinging

Anatomy of a BoingBoinging

Some domain names become active verbs: I googled it. Others become passive verbs: I got slashdotted. BoingBoing, linked to by over 16,000 blogs, is a passive verb too, and two weeks ago my server got BoingBoinged. Joe started it when he made a posting on the Well with a link to a series of (bloodless) photos from a huge motorcycle ride turned motorcycle pileup. Somebody suggested a slideshow; I took the opportunity to exercise my mass-image-resize script and to check out ImageReady’s ability to export animations as Flash.


Though LightTPD (or “Lighty”) is the darling lightweight webserver of 2005, Jef Poskanzer’s thttpd has been serving static content securely and wickedly fast since 1995 or so. O’Reilly’s ONLamp.com recently posted a tutorial, “Lightweight Web Serving with thttpd”, which is worth a look if you run a high-traffic site or have underpowered server hardware. The article walks you through installing and configuring thttpd, setting up CGI and virtual host support, and using thttpd as a static content server behind a more full-featured server like Apache.

Watching logs

I have a webserver with about a dozen active domains. Sometimes I want to take a quick look at the ongoing action on a particular domain. I have an alias called “watchlog” that takes the domain name as an argument. It shows me the last 25 lines of the log for that domain and then new ones as they come, until I kill it. It’s a tcsh alias (sorry, bash users):