SyneRyder - journal

Losing My Touch

24th December 2000, 12:36pm
My bedroom, Perth

I haven't updated my homepage in ages. We're not talking a few weeks overdue here. We're talking months. Eight months, in fact.

So what happened? Did I lose interest? Maybe, but I've been steadily updating the copy of my website on my home computer for the last 6 months. So I don't think that's it.

Was I too busy? Possibly, but I don't think so. I'm a University student and while I've had more casual work commitments this year than usual, I don't think it's anything more than I should be expected to handle.

No, the main obstacle to getting back online has been my CGI scripts. These are little computer programs I write myself to make my pages do special things, such as display a random album review link, or keep the journal pages running smoothly.

These CGI scripts have been working fine on my home computer for months, but whenever I copied them onto my server, all I saw was [an error occurred while processing this directive]. Even for a computer science student like myself, it's not a terribly helpful error message. Talk about frustrating.

I started to think I'd lost my touch. Normally I can solve a problem like this by staying up until the early hours of the morning. It's usually fixed by 2am. But this time, I couldn't figure it out.

Then last night, I decided to stay awake once more, partly because I've been having trouble sleeping lately (it's been a long month). This time I had an idea. I saved all my files in Unix format. And they worked.

It was a simple but distinctly unobvious mistake that I'd made. If you pretend I was writing a book with someone, it's as if we were arguing over whether to put one or two spaces after the end of each sentence. It doesn't really matter, yet we refuse to work together until we're finishing our sentences the same way. That's what happened here. I'd chosen to use "two spaces" (PC format) while my server wanted "one space" (Unix format). Until I used my server's format, it wouldn't work with me.

Don't get me wrong, this has nothing to do with the people who run my web server. I'm very happy with FutureQuest, their service & support is the best in the business and I've never had any problems with them. I wouldn't ever dream of changing web hosts.

I'm just frustrated with myself, that I could have had this all running and online months before now, if only I'd been more alert and thorough in trying to solve my problems. But now, after having embarked on another late night problem-solving / coding run, I remember how much I enjoy it.

I think I'm getting my touch back.