Spam on Planet Lotus source found. Your help is needed.

For years, PL has had issues parsing Connections blogs. The only workaround was to use feedburner like services to turn the IBM Connection’s ATOM feed into RSS. I was able to address this parsing issue over the Winter but didn’t publicize it much. Third party tools continued churning away potentially off the radar of the bloggers do to this one off fix.

Today, one of those services http://feed.informer.com introduced a ton of spam into those users feeds, landing here. I have since changed everyone’s informer.com feed to the native Connections feed, polled the new feed, then hid every new entry from those blogs that happened today. This will ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Now is where I ask you for help. I created this site in 2007 and it became a labor of love. It helped take my mind off my 5 year old son’s battle with cancer. He won the battle and now I fight for others affected with this nasty disease. If you could find it in your heart to help my once a year 200 mile weekend bike ride / cancer fundraiser, I would consider it a wash for all the work I’ve done to keep this site going. No amount is too small! http://pmcDAD.com will take you directly to the official site. Years ago, the community behind this site raised thousands of dollars for this amazing organization that applies 100% of the money raised to the cause. If you’ve given in the past, thank you and please consider, if you haven’t yet please consider making a down payment on your future good health. Together we’re going to cure this thing!

PS: Please end your donation with 90 cents so i can track back the donations back to the Community! 90 for Notes 9.0.

Kind Regards,

Yancy

Server Upgrade Issues

How about that new server?

A few issues have risen over the past few days that have had me up until well after midnight. They seem to be under control with a band-aid but wanted everyone to have something to look to if they/you were/are affected.

Issue 1. Encoding. I just spotted this so i’ll discuss first. I know the fix but just don’t have the cycles right now to fix. The band-aid is changing:

$title = htmlspecialchars($blogtitle, ENT_QUOTES);
to
$title = htmlspecialchars($blogtitle, ENT_SUBSTITUTE);

The bigger fix will  be a total revamp of how encoding is handled with both php and mysql. I’ll fix this over time. For now blog posts that use special characters in the title will look funny or fail to insert. There are very few cases of this happening in testing. The more you use them, the greater the possibility.

Issue 2. Dates. More specifically the posts published date stamp and how it’s presented in the 262 different ‘takes’ on the rss/atom standard. The time suck was two fold, one to identify the problem and two, stop my self from fixing all the bugs i found along the way. The problem had to do with the PHP function strtotime(). “Parse about any English textual datetime description into a Unix timestamp.” The return value changed. Previous to PHP 5.1.0, I’m pretty sure the old server was using an older version.

The bugs this effort dredged was the silver lining. As a result there is little need to use feedburner to ‘clean’ feeds. This includes atom feeds, connection feeds, etc. Pretty amp’d about that.

Here is a list of blogs that still have issues with their publish date. This is about 1% of the total. I’m pretty sure that if the owners of these blogs do a little magic to the feed schema or tweak the feeds somehow, they could fix it on their end. Until now they’re sort of ok. Going forward, if  the code can’t parse the date it’ll use the current time, then it’ll make you a sandwich.

Radu Cadariu | http://cadariu.blogspot.com | http://cadariu.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss

Tommy Valand | http://dontpanic82.blogspot.com | http://feeds.feedburner.com/dontpanic82

Sasa Brkic | http://blog.squareone.ba | http://feeds.feedburner.com/lsoy

Issue 3. A fun one, if you’re a developer i guess, and it was all me. I had a cron job hourly pruning aged blog posts (+365 days). Every hour or so a another job would go out and poll for now posts. In the process it would look for and compare all posts. Given the large number of feeds with posts over a year old.. you can see where this is going, can’ t you? Well add this loop to the few batch of blogs that were never able to be parsed because of the improvements in the parser,  it opened a whole can of worms. They would be posted, then disappear shortly after. . Yup. all me. Good times. Old posts are now ‘unpublished’ to be used as a stub to prevent future inserts.

In summary, if you own a blog listed above, please tweak and get back to me if it worked. Also, use special characters in you’re titles and you’re own risk; for now.

Planet Lotus 2015 Update

Two weekends in the making, PL 2015 ships with some pretty exciting updates. The code changes were done to establish a new approach. The update culminated last night with moving the site to a state of the art server; more on this below. Please forgive the glitches this may have caused, they are being fixed. Switches be like, mess with me and I’ll drop yo packets. #geekhumor.

The change in approach boils down to this, when determining which blog to publish you can either wait for them to prove they post content that the community would be interesting in, or you can take a chance. The new approach is all about taking the chance. The time spent curating, adding the blog meta and reading the content of each blog to make the decision almost entirely goes away. The blog submission processes has turned self service allowing just a flip of a switch on my end to approve. This will expedient the publishing process and welcome in a new era of fresh content. It also removes the catch 22 (i think that’s correct), where you have a new blogger that doesn’t want to start blogging until they’re on PL but they can’t get on without having content… but i need your help. Please email me if the risk taken goes south.

The other theme is getting back to the basics. Over time, the site took on so many features in the pursuit of making it a full featured community site. Over time visitors came for the feed. l’ll leave the deprecated features (listed below) to other developers, downloads, events, forum, custom feeds, etc.

The focus on fresh also applies to data collection.

  • Counted clicks works well to understand what the community is reading and what author are on fire. The update will only collect 7 days of hits, life long or YTD hit counts have been removed to the tune of MILLIONS of rows from the database.
  • Extended profile information has been simplified. Please see linkedin, about.me, blog about page for this info.
  • Content has been pruned, PL is no longer the way-back machine for the Lotus community. Posts will live on the site for a rolling 365 days. Plus, Google does this way better :).
    Inactive blogs will be removed after a year if there are not posts published. If you are unlisted because of this and start blogging again, just send me and email. Blog meta is hidden not removed so it’s easy to get them back on line.

Feature Updates:

  • Events – Removed.
  • Downloads – Removed.
  • Keywords – The analysis of a posts relationship to “Lotus” has been removed.
  • Forum – Posts, profiles and design deleted.
  • Podcasts – Now treated just like blogs.
  • Blog Widget – Removed. http://planetlotus.org/widgets.php
  • MyPL, custom feeds, custom front page, accounts, deleted. This was a difficult decision but it was based on an old customized forum that was long figure out by hackers and filled with spam, etc.
  • Post hover over Tool Tip on front page, increased on the speed of page load.
  • Planet Lotus blog comments disabled. Not done to silence opinions, it was done to stop the fragmentation of site support questions. For example, people leaving their blog details to be posted on the page that tells them to email them. Feel free to always contact me at planetlotus@collaborancy.com if you need anything updated.

Data Retention Summary

  • Hit Count – 7 Days. This is based on a rolling 168 hours, not on calendar days.
  • Posts – 1 Year.
  • Blogs – 1 Year. Stale blogs will be unlisted if there are not posts for a year. All posts and hits are removed from the site when a blog is unlisted.

Deprecated User Detail

  • Blog Type (vendor, person, IBM employee, multiple person, etc)
  • Stats on hits in the user profile.
  • Language
  • Anything Twitter related. Your twitter handle, image, your tweets, etc.
  • IBM Employment status.
  • More to follow.

Additions

  • What’s Hot – 7d (The most popular post over the past 7 days.)
  • Hot blogs, the top 6 increased to top 10.
  • Self service blog submission form with link on the front page. Remember, updates to your blog meta are still done by emailing planetlotus@collaborancy.com.
  • A Faster Server. The site went from Fedora v7 (EOL’d in June of 2008), to a vm on a 24 core CentOS 6.5 running the last versions of Apache, MySQL and PHP. The server is currently using 0.74% of it’s allocated CPU.
  • Better poling algorithm. It is no longer based on how popular a blog is. The new break out is as follows:
    • Every 10 minutes. Blogs 1-50 based on the most recent post.
    • Every 30 minutes. Blogs 51-150 based on the most recent post.
    • Every 120 minutes. Blogs 151-last based on the most recent post.
  • New posts are sent to the @planetlotus twitter feed.

Updates

  • Date stamps have been moved way down the front page.
  • The preview and tweet icons to the right of the blog title has been removed.
  • Sharing has been enhanced. Click on the blog’s favicon and it will take you to the preview page where you can get all kinds of share buttons.
  • Brought the 7 day what’s hot listing inline with the one  day, so now there is two.


I’d love to get your feedback!!!

Favicons on Front Page

I’ve added favicons to the front page to liven up the branding of blogs. There is no override to this enhancement. If you see the default icon for your blog, do some searching of Googles favicon rendering service to troubleshoot.

Example:

http://www.google.com/s2/favicons?domain=planetlotus.org

2 months of free front page advertising on Planet Lotus!

In an effort to raise donations for my favorite charity I’m trading ad space on Planet Lotus for donations. All you need to do is make a donation directly to the charity and I’ll place your ad, any ad on the front page. The more you donate the higher your ad on the left hand navigation bar will be placed.

The charity:

The PMC donates 100% of every rider-raised dollar to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through its Jimmy Fund. Founded in 1980, the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) is an annual bike-a-thon that today raises more money for charity than any other single event in the country.

The details:

  • Ads will be in the form of 125/125px images stacked in the left hand navigation of the front page.
  • Placement of the ad is determined by how much you donate, top ad = most donated. Dollar amounts will not be published.
  • I will publish almost any ad image/URL. Promote your blog or your favorite product, site, etc. But please, NO animation.
  • All ads come down on Sept. 30th.
  • The ad image should be exactly 125px / 125px.

To buy an ad:

  • Donate here: http://www.pmcdad.com
  • Email me your ad image and URL along with the name you used to donate. charity@collaborancy.com
  • If you already donated to this years ride, do the same thing.
  • Change of URL or image will require a second donation.
  • Ads will be posted in batch at end of business day EST.

Thanks in advance for your consideration!

Lose, Lose Situation

I feel I made the correct choice last week. I was presented with a situation where a sensitive post was brought to my attention and I acted quickly in delisting the blog pending further investigation.

I’ve spent the last week reading everything I could and don’t believe the action warrants removal from this site.

I will go ahead and remove the 2 blogs that requested to be removed if said blog wasn’t removed.

The two blogs involved in the boycott of this site will be missed and I beseech both of you to reconsider.

Last weeks blog post

Last week I was informed of a blog post that was said to contain information that could adversely affect programs that bloggers on PlanetLotus are a part of. I acted on that information, informed the author and delisted the blog pending further investigation.

The investigation is ongoing.

The complaints went beyond the single post, mentioning that the blog had become very negative for some time.

This negativity combined with the post mentioned above lead some bloggers to request their blogs be removed from PlanetLotus in protest.

I want to do what is best for the community and in the process establish some guidelines that will work in the future.

Please give me some time to read through the blog and get a feel for the extent of the negativity.

Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. If you feel this blog should be removed please take a stab at writing up that rule so that i may add it to the site for future possible occurrences.

Change Log

10/16/2012 – Fixed a lot of mobile issues, thank you http://per.lausten.dk/blog/ for your help in finding / testing!

10/16/2012 – Fixed many areas that were still showing unpublished blogs, there is still work to be done there, but i’ll get there. Fixed Front Page, Search, Top Blogs so far.

8/21/2012 – Inflation, the ad at row 50 has moved up to row 35.

8/8/2012 – All myPL authentication will be moving from the forum to the blog, so become a subscriber today.

8/8/2012 – Deprecation of the forum has begone. All mention of it navigation has been removed.

8/7/2012 – Created this blog. The forum will be closing down soon and this will take it’s place.

satellite

Blog Widget

The Planet Lotus Satellite has arrived. Copy and paste the following code in to your blog to get the most recent blog posts. The sizing and setup has been modeled after the IdeaJam.Net blog widget so as to not cause any clashes.

Preview it in action here.

Options are as follows:

Parameter Available Values
show
Based on the keyword filter.example:
show=”lotus_relevant”;
all
not_lotus_related_only
lotus_related_and_relevant
lotus_relevant

asdf

postsexample:
posts=”4″;
1-50