Fellow WU-vies--it appears that thanks to the help-line persistence and technical prowess of Alex, we are now able to make new posts from scratch. The ones you saw this weekend--when the site wasn't down--were old ones from the queue which the glitchy software somehow still allowed us to bring live.
In any case, here's to at least another eight years of smooth operation. For your patience, a bonus re-jiggered cartoon of the kind I post regularly on my Facebook page.
Ever since we started this blog, back in 2008, we've been using the same blogging software to run it. As in, the same version of the software. We never updated it.
The software company regularly came out with updates, but we just ignored them. This wasn't just laziness on our part. Over at the Museum of Hoaxes, which runs on the same software, I had a traumatic experience trying to update from version 1.7 to 2.0. The update took the site offline for an entire week while I struggled to fix it. Lots of other people had similar experiences. It was a very buggy update.
So over here at WU, I figured if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Everything seemed to be working fine with version 1.7 of the software. So I never changed it.
The problem was, eventually the blogging software could no longer run on a modern server. So our webhost moved the site to a Victorian-era server in their back closet. (It's like trying to run Microsoft Word 97 on a modern computer. You can't do it. It can only run on an old computer.)
This is the condition we've been living in for quite a while. But finally, I decided it was time to return to the 21st century. So this weekend I updated the software from version 1.7 to 2.11. That doesn't get us to the most recent version of the software (which is 3.something), but it does let us return to a modern server!
However, the upgrade comes at a bit of a cost. We've lost some things in the right-hand colum, such as the list of Recent Comments, as well as the list of Recent Posts Ranked by # of Comments. I'm trying to figure out how to restore these.
But the site, otherwise, should be the same. Hopefully just a little faster. However, if you notice anything not working as it should, definitely let me know.
If you tried to visit WU yesterday, you probably couldn't get it to load. The reason for that is because one of our old entries, about "paradoxical undressing,"
was linked to by reddit's "Today I Learned" subreddit
, and that resulted in the server being overwhelmed by traffic. The phenomenon is known as the "reddit hug of death."
I tried to do what I could to mitigate the server freeze by redirecting the reddit traffic to a static page, but it only helped a little bit. However, the gaze of reddit now seems to have moved on to other things, so server response times have returned to normal.
You may have noticed that the site is loading very slowly. Our web host tells us that the reason is that Microsoft Bing is very aggressively crawling the site.
I'm doing what I can to try to remedy the situation — which is to put a note in the site's robots.txt file kindly requesting Bing to back off a bit. We'll see if it works.
And maybe (fingers crossed) Bing will eventually get bored and go play somewhere else.
The first post was made on WU on July 30, 2008, and since that time we've explored many strange and unusual subjects. But unfortunately, it's difficult to browse through the back catalog of all that we've posted about, unless someone is willing to wade through the category or month-by-month archives, which aren't designed for easy browsing.
In an attempt to address this problem (or, at least, begin to address it) I've put together a gallery of Weird News of the 20th Century. I've added the menu to navigate this gallery at the top of the page. (It's the list of decades that you should see right below the WU banner and google ad.) The gallery is still a work-in-progress, but it's got enough content to go live.
I designed the gallery with new visitors to the site especially in mind, hoping it can serve as an introduction to all the weirdness we explore and give them something to look at beyond just the main page.
But, of course, long-time WUvies may find some things in the gallery that they missed. Enjoy!
WU has taken a tentative step into the 21st Century by going "mobile friendly". Which means that if you look at the site on a mobile phone, it should actually be readable.
The biggest design change this involved was bringing back Rick Altergott's WU banner — because making an image banner automatically resize was a lot easier than rejiggering the old header.
All else should be relatively familiar. So please proceed as normal!
Fellow WU-vies--thanks to the alertness of several readers, we have been notified of a problem with posting comments. The captcha feature is glitched, working inconsistently. Our Master Hacker Alex (I think he learned all he knows from 1983's WarGames
) is working on a fix now.
Thanks for your patience. Without your comments, the blog would be only half what it is.
Update from Alex:
I "fixed" the problem by disabling the captcha system. Which may leave us wide open to spammers. We'll see how it goes for a few days.
Wow! Allowing comment posting without captchas was like opening wide the floodgates of spam. So that experiment lasted only about 10 minutes. For now I've changed the admin settings so that only logged-in members can post comments. And in the meantime, I'll search for an alternative captcha system that is compatible with our very old blogging software.
I found and installed an alternative captcha system. Let's see if it works! The neat thing is that most people won't see a captcha at all. It only shows if it thinks you might be a spammer, and it then asks you to solve a simple math problem.
Be sure to check out the new ongoing strip by WU's own Rick Altergott, at VICE magazine.
Now that the season is officially over, I can state with certainty that the best card I received this year was from WU's own Rick Altergott, depicting the artist, his charming and beautiful wife Ariel, and their son Eddie.
Happy New Year to all!