Tag Archives: php

I’ve noticed in the last couple of years that the previously excellent spam filter Akismet for WordPress has become less effective.

I have wondered if the rise of embedded solutions like Facebook comments has caused Akismet to miss out on useful data, but perhaps it’s just the spammers getting cleverer.

Either way – I didn’t want to install Facebook comments on my blog and I didn’t want spam comments either. Even when they do get caught they still use up disk space and emptying thousands of spam comments every month is just irritating.

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The final stage in speeding up my blog was to add some serious caching to the front of it. This may even have been overkill, because it was already pretty swift under nginx/php-fpm, but cutting out the database connections would speed it up even more.

I had a quick go with the W3 Total Cache WordPress plug-in, but it seems rather biased to running Apache (which I’m not) and I experienced some strange errors that I failed to immediately fix. Rather than wrestle with it, or try other WordPress caches, I decided to get to grips with Varnish. This is something I’d been meaning to do for ages, and of course it isn’t limited to WordPress – Varnish is a fabulous caching solution for whatever site you’re building.

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As part of my “speeding up my blog” series, I planned to write a nice, informative post about upgrading to WordPress 3, deploying your theme to a CDN, and getting it all running under nginx. Unfortunately WordPress irritated me so much in the process, that this has turned into more of rant. Sorry in advance.

I have a like/hate relationship with WordPress. That is to say that it does a lot, it has a great admin area and there’s a large community producing themes and plug-ins. However, I am a PHP developer of many years, and every time I come into direct contact with the core WordPress code-base I end up being sick in my mouth.

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Speeding up my blog

Performance issues aren’t just for high traffic sites. I’m lucky if I get 50 visitors a day to this site, but by using scaling techniques popular with the big boys, I figured I could increase page load speeds, (good for visitors and good for SEO). If I could achieve this and use less resources, perhaps I could even save some money on my hosting bills. I currently run a 512MB VPS on Slicehost, and I’d rather not increase this right now.

With a few days off work, I decided to take the plunge and swap out some of the server tech powering this blog. From the bottom up, so to speak, this was as follows –

  1. Replace Apache with Nginx (below)
  2. Upgrade to PHP 5.3.3 and run as a FastCGI (next post)
  3. Upgrade to WordPress 3
  4. Deploy a CDN
  5. Add a Varnish cache for extra speed

I’ll go through my experience across a number of posts, starting with Nginx. I shan’t replicate any existing documentation; I’m just going to go through what I did and point you at the resources you’ll need.
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After nearly two years I’ve finally gotten around to releasing my PHP JavaScript parser, although documentation is still thin on the ground.

The library has been split in two:

  1. jTokenizer – A JavaScript tokenizer designed to mimic the PHP tokenizer.
  2. jParser – The fully blown JavaScript syntactical parser which generates a parse tree.

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The day a thousand apps stool still

I noticed some weeks ago that Twitter’s OAuth implementation didn’t appear to be verifying signatures. I knew this because I purposefully set an invalid access token which was accepted unconditionally. I thought this was odd, but as a newbie to OAuth I was just happy that my app was working, so I filed the problem at the back of my mind under “deal with it if it becomes a problem”. Today (the week I release by beloved TwitBlock app) it very suddenly became a problem.

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If you know about the Qwitter service, then you may also know what people say about it – that it plain doesn’t work. So for my first Twitter app, I decided to make one that does.

I have been made aware since then that there is also Twitdiff, although I haven’t tried it at time of writing.

If you don’t know about Qwitter, it’s a service that monitors your Twitter followers and emails you if someone unfollows you. My app currently tweets the notification instead, so everyone will know you’ve been qwit.

I’m not offering my app as a public service [yet] I knocked it up in 2 hours and if you know what you’re doing with a LAMP set-up you can download it and run it yourself.

» Download qwitter 0.1.2
Requires PHP >= 5.2.x  + json extension, MySQL >= 5.0.45

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