When someone posts a comment to my blog, up to six hundred gifted monkeys put down their work on NaNoWriMoFoMo to scan the comment for bad html and verify the correct security code. If it passes muster, they store the comment in a relational database. Next, smoke is wafted and mirrors are carefully placed as the site updates itself.
The monkeys have learned that old content is preferable to no content. They try to create a temporary page. If that’s successful, they’ll move it onto the old copy. If not, they’ll send me a terse comment.
Two days ago, something went wrong and the Apache server on my shared hosting system was running as a different effective userid. In layperson terms, temporary pages couldn’t be created. The monkeys became very agitated. In their chattering frenzy, they forgot to let me know that the site was broken. A neighbor heard cacophony and wrote me to
complain about the noise let me know something was broken.
I logged a trouble ticket with my ISP. Ten minutes later, I became impatient and made the web directory world-writable. The site worked again and the monkeys went back to work.
The Apache problem was fixed very early yesterday morning. I needed to do some editing of a previous feature and was chagrined that the web server was broken in a new and exciting way: every script was throwing exceptions when invoked from a browser. I logged a ticket, and tried to diagnose by looking at the log files. They were useless:
[Wed Jul 28 12:34:56 2004] [error] [client xxx.yyy.zzz.pdq] Premature end of script headers: /time/to/clean/the/guns.cgi
The monkeys refused to write more content until this was fixed. “Artistic license!” they said. “Sunny day to play outside?” I retorted.