Archive for category Administrivia

Log In for Chat

Posted by on Sunday, 4 October, 2015

Effective immediately, you now are required to log into the site in order to participate in the Sound Off chat. We’ll see how it goes this week before deciding whether to make this change permanent.

I do not want to alienate or lose any participants, but I do want to encourage you to log in. We kept the Sound Off open as a convenience for people so they would not have to log in, but we still expected participants to identify themselves in some meaningful way. Identification is important in order to provide the continuity necessary to facilitate communication. Really there has never been a legitimate excuse for refusing to provide a consistent identifier since these names allowed you to remain fully anonymous if you so wished.

Too many people not only declined to log in but also declined to replace their system generated name with something more recognizable. I invited people to explain themselves but nobody provided a legitimate reason for failing to type in a unique name, and those users continued to ignore my requests for compliance with this simple and unobtrusive request.

I have found the contributions from these “generic” users to be interesting and relevant, so I implore them to continue to participate by creating a login account. You can be assured that your real identity will remain fully secure, so there is no reason to not do it.

Anyone having trouble creating an account or logging in is welcome to email me at

About Private Posts

Posted by on Tuesday, 5 August, 2014

In a seemingly neverending quest to accommodate the tastes of all users, I have created new user roles for the site. If you are not happy with your current role, please let me know your preferences.

  • Subscribers: by default, general subscribers (which is to say anyone who registers an account) have access to PUBLIC posts only and not PRIVATE posts. If you want to view private posts, you must “opt in” by sending an email to me at
  • Authors: by default, authors have access to both public and private posts. Note that this is the opposite default as for general subscribers. If you would prefer not to view private posts, you may “opt out” by sending an email to me.

I am not rendering value judgements here.  I use my computer in full visibility of a bunch of other people and prefer not to have NSFW stuff on display, so I opt out of viewing the private material. I enjoy the site 10x more with that stuff turned off. But, to each his own and we can accommodate both.

Welcome to

Posted by on Monday, 24 February, 2014

In an act of desperation, I have given up on my old hosting company and moved to a new hosting company. You should find all the expected functionality here without change. Sorry for all the hassles, folks, but hopefully our problems are behind us now. I don’t believe in jinxes.

We might consider moving the Sound Off back to the right panel rather than in its own page, or having it in both places. If you have an opinion on the subject, vote here.

[Update: opinions seem to be evenly split, so we’ll keep the full page Sound Off that gives you a broader and SFW view, while restoring Sound Off to the right panel, which gives a quick view of current activity and also is easier on mobile devices.]

[yop_poll id=”5″]

Admin News: Logins and Chat

Posted by on Thursday, 6 February, 2014

The Steelers use the offseason to tweak their capabilities and performance (or so we hope), and Steel Balls must do the same. As many of you know, we’ve been trying to get a handle on a couple of problems here on the site. I can report on the status of those efforts and potential impact.

  1. Login problems. Up until now, it has been difficult to log in consistently to the site. I’m pretty sure that situation has been resolved, and I want to encourage you all to try logging in rather than visiting as a guest, and please report here if you have any difficulty doing that. I have logged in and out multiple times over the last couple of days without error, so my fingers are crossed.
  2. High CPU usage problem. This is a problem that is invisible to users, but my hosting company has been pushing me on this for weeks and to be honest we haven’t figured out the cause. However, there is some indication that it might originate with our beloved chat system (Sound Off). As such, I will be tinkering with it over the next few days, experimenting with changes such as requiring you to log in to see and use the chat, or possibly moving it off of the home page, or maybe experimenting with a different chat system. It’s important to resolve this CPU issue because if I am forced to move to a dedicated server it’s going to cost considerably more money to host this site, and I really want to keep it free.

On another administrative issue, I have disabled public registration on the site. This is a response to the relentless deluge of spam registrations being perpetrated by bots and apparently even some humans capable of getting past the captcha code, no doubt slaves in India or the like, bartering their time as spammers in trade for a bowl of kibble. Anyway, if you need to register or re-register, send me an email and I’ll do it for you.

Your patience is appreciated.

[Update] Please note…  as part of my cleanup effort, I have reviewed and deleted approximately 500 bogus account registrations from the site. It is difficult for me to know for sure that a registration is bogus unless I recognize the username or there is something obvious to indicate that it is legitimate (like a Steeler-related avatar) rather than a registration generated by some a-hole spammer. Therefore, I almost certainly have removed a few registrations that were actually legitimate. If you fall into that category, send me an email and I will create a new registration for you. For the time being I have disabled public registrations. If anyone is curious, we currently have 76 legitimate registrations, although probably only about half of them are regular contributors.

Login Problems? (New Update)

Posted by on Friday, 4 October, 2013

[Update: although we still don’t have a fix for the login problem described below, and frankly we may never have a fix other than retrying 2-4 times, we do have a partial workaround. You no longer need to log in to participate in chat. If you can’t log in but want to share your comments, go ahead and do so. You won’t have an avatar or be able to send private messages or write articles unless you log in, but you can go ahead and chat.]

Some people are having log in issues. I am aware of two problems.

Problem #1 appears to be a bug in WordPress or one of its plug-ins. Sometimes when trying to log in you might get an error like this:

“An appropriate representation of the requested resource /wp/wp-login.php could not be found on this server.”

If you get this error, refresh the page and click retry or resend and it will usually work on the second or third try. Also, check the “Remember Me” checkbox so you don’t have to keep logging in. If you remain permanently logged in, you will never see the error again.

Sorry for the hassle. The offending plug-in is probably our chat system, and I don’t want to remove that!

Problem #2 has happened at least once where the user’s IP address was blocked by the host firewall, apparently due to too many login attempts over too short a period. If this happens, I need to have your IP address in order to get it cleared. Send me an email to let me know if you need help. The message for this type of problem looks something like this:

“Safari can’t open the page “” because the server where this page is located isn’t responding.”

If you don’t know your IP address, you can find it here.