An open letter to Dano and Sandy especially, and to all Domain readers: the final post on the crippled Cato’s Domain.
The two of you have been the most encouraging in the continuation of the blog. But the time spent blogging is now small compared to the time spent technically trying to keep the blog up. You may have noticed the Domain was not accessible from noon Monday until late Tuesday afternoon. This was because Google sent through an update, a revision, to one of its plug-ins that not only pulled down public access but locked me out administratively as well. This tech reply (below) gives you some idea of what I’m dealing with now; the sort of intractable problems I have had for the last year.
I don’t know how to code a “mod_rewrite statement in my .htaccess file” (see bold font in the HostGator support reply below) to get back to the PHP standard and I’m not willing to learn. If one searches the forums, not only for HostGator but for half a dozen other such hosts, one finds endless strings of bloggers with exactly the same issues; massive rolling incompatibilities.
The bitch of it is I use the most common theme (Weaver 2, the cosmetic appearance software, the look and feel of the blog) and the most widely used blogging software, WordPress 3.9, with no customization. Total vanilla.
It’s not just third party plug-in updates that cause issues. Last May, HostGator moved from PHP5.3 to PHP5.4 as the basis for their server system, and THAT blew me offline for three days. They instructed me to cycle back, and through trial and error I landed finally on PHP5.3.xx. All worked until this Google update issue, and now I’ve been cycled back to PHP5.2.17 … which is an obsolete system no longer supported. So I’m essentially on my own from here.
And it comes from everywhere. When WordPress upgraded from WP3.8 to WP3.9 recently, I lost a writing editor (a plug-in that gave me lots of options for font and color and formatting, in composition) used by millions of bloggers; just blew up. The forums went wild at the loss. It was a few weeks before the lone eagle plug-in creator could incorporate the fundamental changes in WP3.9 over WP3.8 and get his hugely popular editor up and running again. You may have noticed that for a few weeks in May and June the Domain looked clunky and ill-formatted. That was because I was stuck using the crappy default WP3.9 editor.
At base this is the problem driving me out of blogging: there is zero coordination among any of these resources, so that when any one of them changes the odds are an explosion just rips through the system.
I’ve spent hours over days across weeks trying to settle things down and as soon as I do another “update” rolls through from somewhere creating more explosions.
I’ve enjoyed blogging very much and I am deeply grateful to the Domain’s readers, and the two of you especially, who’ve rewarded this labor of love. Time to say ‘enough’.
Hello and thank you for contacting HostGator Support.
The current default version on the server is 5.4 though you can toggle to 5.5 with the use of a mod_rewrite statement in your .htaccess file. I was not able to find any particular smoking gun per se after reviewing your domain again, though when I was working on this issue originally I had completed a strace, which basically tracks what a process is doing while it is running. From this strace we can see what the last actions of your WordPress were before it stopped trying to load and displayed the error message on your homepage.
From this strace we can see the last action taken by your WordPress was:
open(“/home4/mpb9153/public_html/wp-content/plugins/google-analytics-dashboard/gad-content-tag.php”, O_RDONLY) = 5 , which we can use to see that the last file read was “/home4/mpb9153/public_html/wp-content/plugins/google-analytics-dashboard/gad-content-tag.php” within the Google analytics plugin.
To get further information to try and discern what happened we would want to check your domain for PHP error logs, which will use the naming format of “error_log” . Searching for all php error logs and reading the most recent two lines from them gives us the following in the main error_log found at /home4/mpb9153/public_html/error_log:
[29-Jul-2014 15:44:06 America/Chicago] PHP Warning: PHP Startup: Unable to load dynamic library ‘/opt/php54/lib/php/extensions/no-debug-non-zts-20100525/imagick.so’ – /opt/php54/lib/php/extensions/no-debug-non-zts-20100525/imagick.so: undefined symbol: zend_new_interned_string in Unknown on line 0
[29-Jul-2014 15:44:07 America/Chicago] PHP Warning: PHP Startup: SourceGuardian: Unable to initialize module
Module compiled with module API=20100525
PHP compiled with module API=20090626
These options need to match in Unknown on line 0
This is generally a generic error when there are active php errors occuring but nothing speciifc enough to be reported properly in the error_log itself. However, with this information, plus confirmation that your plugin was the last thing running on the site before it crashed you would have a strong lead in the right direction. You will want to contact the plugin developer, who can be found here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/google-analytics-dashboard/ to ensure that you are using the most recent known compatible version of the plugin with your version of WordPress which is 3.9. Anecdotally, four other users of the this plugin have self reported on the plugin’s page that it is broken with version 3.9.1 of WordPress. I apologize for any confusion this has caused you.
Let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.