Rohit's Realm

// / archive / 2016 / 08 / 21 / an-update-of-sorts

August 21, 2016

An Update (of Sorts)

Well, hello there, dear readers. It's been a long while, has it not? Nearly three years to be precise and, really, quite a bit longer than that (tepid book reviews hardly count). And while I primarily decided to return to this site after so many years to test that the bug fixes I implemented over the weekend were working, I thought I might as well also put out an update (of sorts) while I'm at it.

It's no secret that this site has long been abandoned to its fate (which, for those who are in need of a reminder, is likely to be an unnoticed and unlamented demise, same as for all of us). The design has not been updated in almost a decade. Neither has the code running it. But what's not probably immediately apparent is that with each upgrade to the open source packages that power the site (such as Perl and Apache) for security purposes or otherwise, more and more things break. Interfaces offered by open source libraries disappear, compatibility issues abound, and memory leaks increase. It hasn't been lost on me that my sites are running at the pace of the web on a 56K modem circa 1999, but the fundamental problem that I've been grappling with for altogether too long is that fixing any (let alone all) of these issues requires embarking on a wholesale rewrite of the site using a modern infrastructure based on Ruby. And that requires a lot more time than I have to spare.

As a result, progress has been incredibly slow. Confronted with the same issue in 2010, I chose to fix the easier problem first (i.e., attack the low hanging fruit, if you will). But in the last two years, the problem has become much more salient.

In June 2014, the software that I had used to host my photo gallery for nearly ten years went into hibernation. That was a sad day for me, not only because it marked an end of an era, but also because it made my website related woes much more urgent. I had to come up with a solution for the photo gallery or, quite quickly, everything would be broken given the lack of continuing updates from the Gallery project.

Even given that urgency, it took me nearly two years to remedy the issue. After quite a bit of research, I concluded I would need to roll my own gallery software because nothing available met my idiosyncratic needs and also decided I would not use Ruby on Rails despite earlier flirtation. The second decision in turn required learning various Ruby frameworks (I settled on Sequel and Sinatra for database access and web application development, respectively, both of which are excellent) and porting the photo system (i.e., RIOT) I had developed in 2006 to Ruby.

I quietly released the new photo gallery earlier this year. It works, as far as I can tell, although it is obscenely slow because of lingering problems from mod_perl and this site. Earlier this summer, I started work on a rewrite of this site using Ruby, Sequel, and Sinatra, though progress again faltered in July and August.

So, where does that leave us? Well, while I might have given up on blogging like I once did, I still have not given up on maintaining this site. I'm still hoping to finish the overhaul of this site by the end of the year, if only to stave off the sort of things I had to do to fix the latest set of bugs that had been introduced by recent software upgrades. (It involved hacking on long abandoned Perl libraries that are used for this site; don't ask.) But I've said that before and, frankly, that deadline is looking a lot less likely now than it was earlier this summer.

Which is all to say: we'll see. In the meantime, all I can hope for is that there are no more major changes to underlying libraries. I'm getting too old to debug decades old software.


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