Christmas has come early for WordPress bloggers… WordPress 2.7 has arrived.
Whilst readers will not notice any change in blogging service after the Astroengine upgrade, the changes behind the scenes could not be any more astonishing. The user interface is, quite simply, beautiful. The design, feel and speed are all working in tandem to deliver the best looking blogging experience I have ever seen. Often WordPress has been criticised as lacking in design when compared with other third party platforms, but critics will be silenced once they have a look under the hood of a WordPress 2.7-powered website.
This upgrade is called “Coltrane” after the legendary American jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, and 2.7 was built by 150 programmers and designers, who responded to the needs of thousands of WordPress users via numerous polls and surveys. If you want to see open source at its best, read more about “Coltrane” and why the face of blogging has changed forever…
I’m not entirely sure how the award-choosing will unfold, but more blogs will be nominated in time (for now, it’s just Astroengine, enjoying the limelight, by itself), but keep an eye open and vote when/if you can. I wont be exchanging votes for money, but I’ll try to boost the content of Astroengine so it is a contender for the prize 🙂
Thank you to the anonymous lady who nominated me! You’re a star (and not just any normal star, my favourite, the Wolf-Rayet star!).
As if I’m not spending enough time in front of my computer already, it appears there’s another social web application I’ve been neglecting! I actually signed up to Twitter in August, but forgot about my Twitter account’s existence until now. After an explore, I realised it’s actually a very powerful tool, providing up-to-the second updates (in under 140 characters) about, well, anything.
First things first, I’m going to use it for personal stuff (although, “I’m doing my teeth,” or “I’m hungry” probably won’t feature) plus Astroengine article updates. I’ve now seen, that if I get enough followers, it might also be a good way to notify everyone about forthcoming Astroengine Live shows (next one is on Wednesday at 4pm PST – don’t forget! I’ll post another reminder later if you fancy tuning into my banter on the airwaves…). There will also be various updates for articles I post on the Universe Today.
Astroengine.com is about to branch out into the world of radio…
Starting on Wednesday 19th November at 7pm EST (4pm PST, or midnight GMT), I’ll be hosting my own weekly talk show called Astroengine Live! The show will air for two hours where I will discuss all the best space news, including views, opinions, phone-ins and special guests. If you want to find out everything from the next NASA mission, the status of the International Space Station, progress with the Large Hadron Collider to breaking news from small research institutions around the globe, then Astroengine Live is for you.
Ultimately I want Astroengine Live to work in harmony with Astroengine.com, expanding the reach of the radio world into the vast resources available online. Because of this, all schedules, episode content and additional on-air information will be available through AstroengineLive.com, directing you to the category “Astroengine Live” on this website.
Great news! It would appear that after only day one of the campaign to have the Universe Today un-banned from Digg.com, somebody in the admin staff was obviously paying attention (unless they are an avid reader of the Universe Today website too), and realised their mistake. Digg.com is now allowing articles from the Universe Today to be re-listed and dugg!.
I’d like to think that this was all down to blogging power — after all, this little space blogger was blamed for the whole NASA-Phoenix-Perchlorate saga! — but I’m just really happy that the guys at Digg have redeemed themselves a little.
This whole episode does however highlight an ongoing problem with banned sites, I hope it will help to refine Digg’s policy in the future.
Wow, what a stressful day! On writing One-Way Mission to Mars: Top 5 Items to Pack last night, I had no idea about the consequences. This morning the article exploded onto the front page of Digg.com, sending a flood of traffic into Astroengine.com. Although my bandwidth is more than capable of dealing with the situation, the server was quite literally paralysed, causing the technicians at GoDaddy.com to pull the plug (can’t blame them, apparently all the other sites on the shared server were knocked out).
I’ll post a more detailed post soon, but should anyone want to know the best course of action when dealing with an uncontrollable flood of traffic, here’s what I had to do:
The first measure was to stem the flow of traffic from the referrer causing the server outage. Once the relentless barrage of Digg users were blocked, the GoDaddy admin staff were reassured the problem wouldn’t reoccur if they put Astroengine.com back online. The second measure is a longer-term solution until I migrate the site to a better server. WP Super Cache creates html versions of Astroengine’s php pages, thus bypassing the execution of php scripts every time someone visits the site (vastly reducing the load on the server).
Thanks to Fraser (my publisher at Universe Today) for helping me out and giving these tips when dealing with a Digg explosion.
So, now I am going shopping. It’s fantastic to have these bursts of visitors, but the time is coming when I’ll need to upgrade. I’m either going to go the route of buying virtual-dedicated or a dedicated server. Any suggestions for which hosting providers have the best service/price? I’m most likely going to stay with GoDaddy, but I’m open to suggestions.
Apologies for dropping offline today, hopefully this will be the last interruption to service!
Today marks a significant day in the history of my bookshelf.
Having moved to the US from the UK, leaving the bulk of my proto-library collection back in my Bristol hometown, I only transported my most prized science and university textbooks. Alas, I had to leave my treasured collection of Patrick Moore books, my guide to the Universe and several hefty quantum physics texts in storage, bringing the bare minimum across the pond.
Books are important to me, and I have big dreams about having a room filled with them; one of those in-house libraries filled with knowledge and history. But five books hardly constitute a library… heck, they barely fill a rucksack. So action needed to be taken… I needed to turn this proto-bookshelf into a source of reference!
I have a bookshelf. Check.
I have an office. Check.
I have an Amazon.com account. Check.
I have a credit card (it’s strained, but you can’t put a price on knowledge, right?). Check!
So I went shopping and brought Michio Kaku’s Physics of the Impossible (of which I have been promising myself most of the year) and succumbed to Phil Plait’s Death from the Skies! (with a book title like that, you have to obey the calling). Can’t wait to put a crease down the spines of both books, but I am keen to read Dr Plait’s account of how dangerous the Universe can be. Having done battle with the 2012 doomsayers, I need to read a book with a good, scientific rundown of how the world might end – and not fighting against the pseudo-scientific claims about Planet X and those pesky Anunnaki. The world is going to end some time, so look at the facts behind the claims and find out yourself.
The praise from Mythbuster Adam Savage for Death from the Skies pretty much sums it all up, I can’t wait to review the book myself:
“Phil Plait has done it again. He brings his unique and funny voice of reason and sanity to bear on making sense of a deadly universe. If things worked the way I wanted them to, any reporter about to do another “sensational” story on deadly meteors would consult this volume and BANG! Common sense would find it’s way into the news. How strange would THAT world be? On his blog and in his books, Plait is an important source of sanity and critical thinking, with just the right sense of wonder, reminding us that the universe is an amazing enough place without having to make crap up about it.” – Adam Savage, from Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters.
Back on Friday October 3rd, I was invited back onto Paranormal Radio in my new capacity as “Science Content Editor“! (Or an even cooler title “In-house Myth Buster” if Jack has his way!) This is a really great position as I get to add all things spacey to the Paranormal Radio website, and then I get to chat about it later live on the radio with the excellent Captain Jack. A pretty nice position to be in if you ask me… However, on that Friday two weeks ago, I had very little to talk about. After all, I’d just gotten married and I had just said goodbye to my family who headed back to the UK. I’d missed most of the excitement surrounding the Chinese spacewalk, I very nearly missed the historic SpaceX launch… but fortunately Jack had some questions for me about “Dark Flow” and he introduced me to the whole China spacewalk conspiracy and we were away!