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The Sciences

Under the Hood

Cosmic VarianceBy Sean CarrollJanuary 7, 2007 12:21 AM


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When we started Cosmic Variance over a year and a half ago, we put quite a bit of effort into choosing a web host ( and blogging software (Wordpress) and a theme (K2, heavily modified) and spam-filtering software (SpamKarma) etc. Since then, however, for the most part things have just sailed along smoothly without much tinkering, which is exactly how we like it -- none of us is the type who enjoys messing with the blog software just for the heck of it. But occasionally things do crop up that we might want to do something about.

  • We're told that the blog doesn't display correctly with the current version of Internet Explorer, IE7. Is this still true? This is the kind of problem you get when all the bloggers are sensible enough to use Firefox on Macs. Hopefully we will fix this problem, but I suspect it won't be easy -- to get a feeling for the kind of angst we went through to get the blog to look okay in the last version of Explorer, have a look at the box model problem. If my life had gone as I planned, I never would have had to know about the box model problem.

  • SpamKarma is great, and we certainly need it -- we get hit with over 1000 spam comments in a typical day, and almost none of them get through. But occasionally it's a wee bit over-enthusiastic, and respectable comments are filtered. (In particular, it's been objecting to comments from people with "" URL's.) If that happens to you, please do let us know, it's easy to fix.

  • You may have noticed that occasionally you can't see the blog because we've "exceeded our CPU allocation." How is this possible for a humble little blog like ours? Something like that makes sense in the rare circumstances when we are linked from Slashdot or Fark, but it seems to happen almost every day. This is a problem with Bluehost that others have complained about, and about which the company seems rather unresponsive. If it gets really bad, we'll contemplate switching to another host, as annoying as the prospect may be. Suggestions welcome.

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