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December 31, 2006

Aargh
Posted by Patrick at 12:06 PM * 28 comments

We don’t know what’s gone wrong with the front page, either. At the moment, the right sidebar is gone and the front page cuts off in the middle of a post. Interestingly, that cutoff point is in a different spot every time we dump our cache and reload, which would tend to indicate that the problem isn’t some random garbage character in a particular post or template.

The individual archive pages seem to be fine—there, the right sidebar is intact, the pages aren’t truncated, and comments work.

Telling Movable Type to “rebuild” the blog and all its templates hasn’t fixed the problem. Do any of our readers have any ideas about what might be going on here?

UPDATE: The problem wasn’t some subtle flaw in Movable Type. The problem was that we’d let our server’s disk quota completely fill up. (Mechanic to driver: “Okay, we could disassemble your car’s entire electrical system, but before we do that, you might want to put some gas into that empty tank.”)

Comments on Aargh:
#1 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:20 PM:

What browser are you using? The front page works fine for me in both FireFox and IE, but Open Thread 77 cuts off at the header of comment #174. No idea why, but I'll look. Having someone else who knos more about this sort of thing than I do (which could be almost anyone) wouldn't hurt.

#2 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:22 PM:

Using IE6, the right sidebar - or a right sidebar - is there when I go to a topic (i.e. now as I respond). It's only missing from the front page.

#3 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:29 PM:

I'm using Firefox 1.5.0.9, and also have Open Thread 77 cutting off at comment #174.

On this page, I'm missing most of the right sidebar. Only have the font choosing widget and the Dire Legal Notice. This is as much as I get on any of the threads or archives.

#4 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:30 PM:

Using weirdo Camino, the only problem I have with the front page is it cuts off the entry from December 2 in the middle and, far more aggravatingly, the open thread cuts off abruptly in #174, of which all I can say is that abi said it. What it says, the internet does not want me to know.

#5 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:31 PM:

Forgot to confirm that the front page is not working for me too; there I'm missing the entire right sidebar.

#6 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:33 PM:

Turns out that Open Thread 77 stops where it does because the browser isn't able to load anything past the opening of the tag for comment #174 (the one that displays as the timestamp - it gets as far as the double-quote after the href and stops), although the JavaScript still appears after it. What would cause this, I have no idea, and I also have no idea if it is the same problem you are seeing on the front page.

I checked another long post ("Regarding ads") and it displays fine.

I actually do see one of the front page problems, in that the ads don't appear. Still not cutting off for me.

#7 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:49 PM:

Doesn't look like it's just the browser; it looks very much as though the file -- 007688.html -- is truncated.

That comma between "www" and "sunpig" in the stub of comment 174 makes me wonder if there's been some sort of general file corruption. (I'd stick the stub of 174 in here in a

 tag if the comment field allowed one, but it doesn't, and adding a broken anchor tag fails to be helpful.)

Since Movable Type, or at least Making Light, appears to load the whole front page, comment threads and all, when it is invoked, my guess is that the right sidebar isn't there because the main page -- the center column -- load fails, so the sidebar with the adds isn't being reached by the load process.

I'd go into 007688.html with a text editor and complete it, if it couldn't be restored from backup; the essential thing would be to get the body and html tags closed, so I'd delete the stub of 174 -- the stuff I've included in this comment -- and add [/body] and [/html] close tags, and see if that unstuck things.

#8 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:50 PM:

At first, using Firefox 1.5.0.9, no right sidebar and a truncated Open Thread. Now, the front page is back, but the Open Thread is still behaving wierdly: hit a recent comment link for it, and the start of the whole thread appears. Scroll down to the bottom, and it ends with abi's truncation. Hit reset in the browser, and it's still at the (truncated) bottom.

#9 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:53 PM:

OK, clearly I need more caffeine today. The front page IS cutting off for me, it's just not glaringly obvious. It cuts off after the opening of the tag just after "Trooper Charles Bouton at N.H. State Police Troop F, (603) 846-3333." in the December 2nd post - I assume this is just a paragraph-closing tag.

The ads don't appear because they are in a section of the source which comes after the center section, and this isn't getting loaded at all because the center section gets cut off.

The problem is probably in how the pages are getting built, since despite the center sections getting cut off, the JavaScript at the end still is there as always.

#10 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:54 PM:

Let's try that again without the hot pre tag reference...

Doesn't look like it's just the browser; it looks very much as though the file -- 007688.html -- is truncated.

That comma between "www" and "sunpig" in the stub of comment 174 makes me wonder if there's been some sort of general file corruption. (I'd stick the stub of 174 in here in a [pre] tag if the comment field allowed one, but it doesn't, and adding a broken anchor tag fails to be helpful.)

Since Movable Type, or at least Making Light, appears to load the whole front page, comment threads and all, when it is invoked, my guess is that the right sidebar isn't there because the main page -- the center column -- load fails, so the sidebar with the adds isn't being reached by the load process.

I'd go into 007688.html with a text editor and complete it, if it couldn't be restored from backup; the essential thing would be to get the body and html tags closed, so I'd delete the stub of 174 -- the stuff I've included in this comment -- and add [/body] and [/html] close tags, and see if that unstuck things.

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:57 PM:

Patrick's now working on the hypothesis that we've filled our allocated space at Hosting Matters, which (I think?) would account for the file truncation Graydon observes.

#12 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:58 PM:

FWIW, The Open Thread is now back.

#13 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:58 PM:

Thank you all. What the above comments helped me deduce is that the problem actually has nothing to do with any specific entry, comment, or template.

I did some digging in my old email and discovered that something like this had happened before, albeit only to the individual-entry pages that time. The problem is that we've used up our entire disk quota on our server, so there's no space for Movable Type to perform its rebuilds. (That would account for what Graydon reports.) As soon as I freed a little space and rebuilt the front-page template, the front page came back. Now the rest of the blog is rebuilding (a slow process) and other problems should be fixed as the rebuild progresses.

After that, I need to (1) download a bunch of log files from the server to local storage, (2) delete them on the server, and then (3) ask Hosting Matters why the control-panel's "Disk Space Usage" report doesn't add up to the 1500MB the front page of the control panel claims we're using. But Making Light should be more or less fixed for the moment. (Aside from all the other problems, like View All By still not working.)

#14 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 01:28 PM:

I was right! I'm so gratified.

(Surprised, too.)

#15 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 01:29 PM:

Look on the bright side: it beats the hell out of having to clean up a mess of mimeograph ink. Or imagine having to slipsheet however many copies every time someone posted a comment....

#16 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 02:58 PM:

It is sometimes frightening to recall that my current PC has more megabytes of RAM than my first could have kilobytles--Bill, 640 kilobytes isn't enough--and I have 20 times more hard drive space than my ISP's news-spool had back in 1995.

I know what I'm using those resources for: CGI can use a lot. I'm not sure why MS Word needs so much. And anybody who reads comp.risks will know how well all the extra power is used for floating point math. All the way back to Babbage, computers have been driven by a need for accurate math, and the people writing code today can't do good numerical math.

#17 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 03:49 PM:

No, what's frightening is that the Mac on my desktop not only has more disk space than the first AS/400 I worked on; it also has more disk space than the last AS/400 I worked on - which wasn't that long ago.

I know where the disk space is going - graphics files munch megabytes for breakfast.

#18 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 05:04 PM:

Okay. Is it the different browser I'm using (Safari instead of Firefox), or the fact that I'm using a Mac with a monitor superior to my little Thinkpad's, or just that the scales have fallen from my eyes?

Because of a sudden, I see that the title glows, rather than just being simple white text. Beautiful!

#19 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 05:10 PM:

#18: Wow, I've never noticed it before, but you're right. (I feel so unperceptive.) However, I have the page up side-by-side in both Safari and Firefox right now. I see the effect in Safari, but not in Firefox.

#20 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 05:32 PM:

The glow is due to a CSS text-shadow rule, which is implemented in Safari but not many other browsers.

(Patrick, I wasn't ignoring you earlier; my chat app may have claimed I was there but I wasn't).

#21 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 05:35 PM:

It's because Safari supports the CSS attribute "text-shadow," whereas Firefox doesn't.

#22 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 05:36 PM:

Dori and I cross-posted. Quite all right; I saw you were there, and I also saw the "Away" message!

#23 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 06:01 PM:

the 'network' disks at work stop saving stuff (with an error message saying that the app can't save) when they're about 2/3 full. When it's a multi-huundred gig drive, this is scary. Yeah, graphics files, but they're relatively small graphics, it's all the attachments to each one (ArcMap/ArcGIS, for those who are really curious). People have to be reminded to clear out their working folders every so often. (Most of them never used DOS. They don't have a clue about taking out the trash... .)

#24 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 06:59 PM:

I guess exceeding the storage limit means that we talk too much.

#25 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 07:03 PM:

Larry @ 24

It's the weasels. Or maybe the fruitcakes.

#26 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 07:14 PM:

And if that Velveeta gets into the drive enclosure, all bets are off.

#27 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 09:29 PM:

Same problem once resulted in the truncation of some files during fundraising for a Large Public Radio Station that shall remain nameless. I treasure the response of Data Processing, when I asked them why they didn't get more disks: "But they'd only get full!"

#28 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 10:01 PM:

I did some digging in my old email and discovered that something like this had happened before, albeit only to the individual-entry pages that time. The problem is that we've used up our entire disk quota on our server, so there's no space for Movable Type to perform its rebuilds.

A variant of this issue turned my front page into a nice clean unsullied white field a year or so back. Individual entry pages were fine unless someone commented on the post in question, which forced a rebuild of that page, each of which which then rendered a stunning likeness of a polar bear eating Cool Whip on the runway at Denver Stapleton.

Short-term fix: my host flicked a switch and gave me more space. Long-term fix: I moved to Expression Engine the next week.

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