My experiences this evening with my blog must have something to do with Murphy’s Law of blogging and podcasting… I wanted to “quickly” (a relative term when it comes to podcasting) publish one of the recorded sessions from COSN earlier this week before going to bed, but some quirky and unexpected problems have led to a protracted– and as-of-yet unresolved series of troubleshooting exercises. Perhaps you can lend me some aid.

I currently maintain four different WordPress blogs. Tonight for some strange reason, all of them started displaying the following “Parse error…on line 723.” I did not make any configuration changes to the blogs to invite this error:

Parse error tonight on my WordPress blog

This error was displayed on the main homepage for this blog, and still is displayed on my other 3 which I haven’t started to fix yet. I was running WordPress Version 2.3.2, and had not yet updated to Version 2.3.3.

Since the error identifies the PodPress plug-in as being related to the problem, on this site (my main blog) I deleted the PodPress directory and was able to pull up my main blog homepage as well as my administrative dashboard. For some reason, however, a series of dots now appear at the top of my blog, both on the main homepage (public) site and on my dashboard:

Strange dots at the top of my WordPress dashboard

These dots appear even when I switch the blog theme, so this does not appear to be theme related:

Strange header dots

After I make some changes to the blog, like enabling or disabling a plug-in, the only thing shown in the browser are the dots at the top: No other content is shown:

Strange WordPress dashboard dots

Making this situation even more strange, I can only get my blog dashboard to load properly in the Safari web browser. The dashboard won’t load in either FireFox or Flock, which I often use when editing a new podcast post. (I usually write posts like this one in MarsEdit, but write podcast posts directly in the WordPress dashboard.) Very strange.

I went ahead and posted a new podcast episode, but the Pod-Press plugin does not appear to be working correctly on this or any of my previous podcast entries. This is quite problematic, since I have been using PodPress for my direct podcast links for several months now, basically since episode 175. I published episode 237 this evening. If I can avoid it, I’d really prefer NOT to abandon PodPress, since that would mean going back and changing all those links both in the posts and in my podcast channel XML feed, which I am now maintaining separately via FeedForAll.

Adding to the interest, or confusion, depending on your perspective, it appears in looking at my PodPress statistics that some people ARE being able to download the podcast from the PodPress link, or play it directly in the browser.

PodPress links are working?

Completely disabling PodPress, or ALL my plug-ins, does not make a difference in terms of making the strange “dots” at the top of each page go away. I did go ahead and upgrade to WordPress Version 2.3.3 this evening, but that did not resolve the situation either.

Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions about what my problems could be? I know Miguel Guhlin will probably suggest abandoning WordPress and using Thingamablog— but I definitely want to stick with WordPress. Running into troubles like this at times DOES make the option of using a hosted solution like Blogger or Edublogs look attractive… Still, I enjoy the flexibility and options running my own WordPress installation usually gives me. Running into strange troubleshooting situations like this will certainly NOT make the short list for reasons to use WordPress, however. 🙁

After upgrading WordPress to version 2.3.3, MarsEdit now appears to not be able to post directly. [sigh] Time to give up on troubleshooting this for now.

If you have ideas or suggestions, I’m all ears.

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On this day..

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  • Eric M.
  • I recently set up a wordpress blog for a unit on commodity trading i will be teaching to our senior economics classes. I run a few blogs using blogger and after a week of frustration with similar stylistic issues i decided to just transfer the content to blogger. I did. I like the look of wordpress pages but find blogger easier to use.

  • I had similar stuff going on with my sites yesterday morning. Siteground hosting. It took them a few hours to get things straightened out, but things did come around.

    I’m wondering if there was some “under the cover” PHP or MySQL patch applied that caused issues.

  • I submitted a trouble ticket this morning to sitegrounds, hopefully they’ll respond soon. Glad to know you had similar issues, not because I want someone else to have issues– but it’s good to know I’m not alone. I agree a PHP or mySQL change seems to be the most logical explanation for these problems, since I hadn’t made configuration changes on my end. I REALLY hope these can get resolved so I won’t have to abandon Podpress. I really like using it, and really do NOT want to go back and change so many podcast links both on my blog and in my podcast feed… When I learn more I’ll post about it here on this post as additional comments. Thanks for letting me know you saw similar problems from siteground hosted WP blogs.

  • Am not seeing any dots so appears to be fixed. I can only guess, but doubt podpress as a plugin is to blame since the content is being rendered prior to an WP code. There is a small chance the ISP may have in advertant junk going out as in PHP headers. I might have tested with a simple PHP page (not WordPress) that just was a hello world sort of thing- this would have helped isolate if it was WP or PHP.

    Other things to look at might be your main index.php file in WordPress to see that there is not extra junk- since it was appearing on all templates.

    I tired of PodPress– way too bloated code and frequent updates, and it wracked a few site templates. I use Anarchy Media Player, but it was a royal pain to update 40 some old entries since PodPress stores its content in database tables, as opposed to most media players which simply scan the content and create media players for any URL to a media file.

  • Alan– You are correct, the problems are resolved…. Turns out John was correct that it was server-side stuff by my ISP (siteground) – not php or mySQL tho– they had implemented a server protection solution to protect against a Zero Day Attack threat, which I do not entirely understand and follow– but basically after I submitted the trouble ticket to them, they performed “the magic” which fixed all the problems, on all the blogs. So that is a relief. And, whatever they did is also permitting MarsEdit to post fine to the latest WP version. So life (in terms of blog woes) is now back to “outstanding.” 🙂

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