Archives for July 2007

Speaking at WordCamp later today

I’ll be speaking at WordCamp 2007 at 5 p.m. today. My presentation is still pretty rough right now (I have a lots to say, but it’s not at all organized), so I may be mildly distracted for a while during the day. But if you see me there, please introduce yourself and say hello. 🙂

Update: The conference starts in half an hour and I’m getting a late start (just now leaving for San Francisco), but at least I’ve got a rough cut of slides that I could present in the worst case. WordCamp is only $25 for the whole two-day conference and 15 sessions, so I feel the need to deliver at least $25/15 = $1.66 of value to attendees. 🙂

I did the presentation from scratch in PowerPoint, so it might be doable to post the presentation on my blog (” Whitehat SEO Tips for Bloggers”) later. I’ll see what I can do.

Booting someone

Today, I deleted all the previous comments (more than 200) that someone has made on my blog. I welcome on-topic, constructive comments, but please remember my comment policy. I just added an addendum to it:

Update, 7/20/2007: It should go without saying, but I also reserve the right to prune comments or delete all comments by someone that is being insulting, lowering the quality of the discourse, or otherwise being a jerk. 🙂 I reserve the right to delete comments for any reason, but I try to allow on-topic, constructive comments.

This time I saved the MySQL command I used to delete a user’s comments in WordPress:

delete from wp_comments where comment_author_email like “%domainname%” or comment_author_url like “%domainname%”;

That lets me delete all comments by unwelcome users more easily next time.

Webmaster console adds message center

Remember when we had to pause emailing webmasters because someone was trying to spoof emails and pretending to be emailing from Google? I’m really happy that the Webmaster Central team has come up with a great way to address the problem: they’ve added a webmaster message center to the webmaster console. Now there’s an authenticated way for Google to communicate with webmasters in 10+ languages, and I expect this new communication channel to get more and more usage over time.

I was up in Kirkland on Monday visiting with the team, and I continue to be struck by how many useful new features they add and how much they listen to webmaster requests. Congrats to that entire team of folks. Respek. 🙂

The webmaster console is chock full of good stuff, from backlinks to crawl errors. If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s a really good idea.


I’m in a bug meeting tomorrow, so I thought I’d do a follow-up to this bug post from a while ago.

The same rules of thumb apply:

Just to be clear, pruning will be ruthless for this post: I only want to see specific queries that seem to show bugs, and the more concisely you can explain something, the better. I’ll probably keep just the first example of what looks like a bug. I’ve got a meeting at noon tomorrow to talk about search bugs, so I’ll probably lock the comments after that.

Please don’t include stuff like “it’s a bug that you (do something I don’t like, don’t index/rank my site as much as I want).” 🙂 Instead, I’m looking for specific bug reports to pass on.

How to configure Synergy in six steps

What is Synergy? It’s a program that lets you share a virtual desktop between two different computers. With one mouse and keyboard, you can control two computers, and even move your mouse from one desktop to the other. It’s almost like the computers are welded together. I’ll demonstrate. This is what my desk at home looks like when my desk is clean:

Matt's desk at home in July 2007

On the left-hand monitor I have a Windows XP system running. On the right-hand monitor I run Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn). If I move my mouse off my Windows (left) monitor to the right, it shows up on the Ubuntu (right) monitor and vice-versa. Plus cut-and-paste works between the machines as well.

Here’s how to configure Synergy with two computers. Let’s assume that you have two home machines called “windowspc” and “ubuntu”. We’ll put the Windows machine on the left and the Ubuntu machine on the right. One of the two machines will run as the Synergy server and the other will run as a Synergy client. I picked the Ubuntu machine to be the server.

  1. Install Synergy on both Ubuntu and Windows
    Ubuntu: Run the command “sudo apt-get install synergy”
    Windows: Download the .exe program from SourceForge.
  2. As root on the Ubuntu machine, create an /etc/synergy.conf file with the command “sudo vi /etc/synergy.conf”

    section: screens

    section: aliases

    section: links
    left = windowspc
    right = ubuntu

    section: options
    screenSaverSync = false
    # My KVM uses Scroll Lock to switch screens, so set the
    # hotkey to lock the cursor to the screen to something else
    keystroke(f12) = lockCursorToScreen(toggle)

    There are several things to note in this configuration file:
    – If one of your machines doesn’t have a DNS name, you can use the IP address of that machine. The “aliases” section lets you do that in a clean way. To find your IP address on Windows XP, do Start->Run, enter cmd, and type “ipconfig /all”. On Linux/Ubuntu, use “ifconfig” to find your machines’s IP address.

    – In the “links” section, you have to define both behaviors: going offscreen-left on the Ubuntu (right) machine, and going offscreen-right on the Windows (left) machine. In theory you can create really weird mappings, but keeping it simple is usually best.

    – The “screenSaverSync = false” command says not to link the screensavers of the two machines.

    – Synergy normally uses the “Scroll Lock” key as a toggle that prevents your mouse from leaving the screen. I have a KVM switch that uses the Scroll Lock key, so I redefined the “lock Cursor to Screen” key to a harmless button (f12).

  3. Make sure that the Ubuntu configuration file is world-readable. Run the command “sudo chmod a+r /etc/synergy.conf” to do that.
  4. Next, test the server and client and make sure that everything works. On the Ubuntu server, run “synergys -f --config /etc/synergy.conf” (that’s one dash in front of the ‘f’ and two dashes in front of the ‘config’). The “-f” option means “run Synergy in the foreground” and it lets you see debugging and other Synergy messages. Note that the command is “synergys” because the ‘s’ stands for server. There’s also a synergyc to run the client.

    On the Windows client, run Synergy. You’ll need to enter the name or IP address of the Ubuntu Synergy server and then click Test. The Windows program will look like this:

    Windows Synergy client

    If you’re using a KVM switch, don’t forget to shift your mouse/keyboard back to the Synergy server running on Ubuntu. The mouse/keyboard will be routed through Synergy to your Windows PC, so your KVM switch has to be set to the Synergy server.

  5. If Synergy works fine in test mode, it’s time to run it for real. On the Ubuntu server, run the command “synergys --config /etc/synergy.conf” with two dashes in front of ‘config’. That’s the same command that you ran before, except remove the “-f” option to run in the foreground. On the Windows computer, just click “Start” on the Synergy window.
  6. Finally, make Synergy run on both machines on start-up. On Windows, there’s an “Autostart” button. Click the button and choose to start Synergy either when you log in or when the computer boots up. If you have sufficient Administrator access rights, I’d set Synergy to run when the computer starts:

    Windows menu to autostart Synergy

    On the Ubuntu server, click System->Preferences->Sessions (or on more recent versions of Ubuntu, click System->Preferences->Startup Applications) and then click Add and make a startup program (I called it “Synergy Server”) that runs the command “/usr/bin/synergys --config /etc/synergy.conf“. Again, that’s two dashes in front of the word “config.”

I hope this guide helps. Once you get Synergy going, it’s incredibly cool to copy some text on the Ubuntu machine, mouse over to the Windows machine, and then paste that text on Windows.

If you want to dig into Synergy more, here are some helpful links:
Setting up and running Synergy
Setting Synergy to run automatically
Details on the configuration file format for Synergy
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Synergy
Troubleshooting Synergy

One final tip: If you’re using a KVM switch, remember which computer your keyboard/mouse is driving. That bit me a couple times.

Update: Note to myself. I defined F12 as the “lockCursorToScreen” key in the config file above. On a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, you might have to press the “F lock” or “Flock” button and then F12 if you accidentally locked your cursor to one screen.