PLEASE NOTE: “As an Amazon Associate, [Need Coffee] earns from qualifying purchases." You know we make money from Amazon links,
and I know you know this, but they make us say it anyway. More info, click here.

Why Webmasters Always Look So Haggard

Okay, this is an admin post wherein I will tell you something, then after the jump explain it in detail. If that sort of thing bores you to tears, then read this top part and go on about your business.

1. The site’s 500 errors should lessen, I hope, because our caching was simply not working. It appears to now be working.

2. The feed went wonky. A plug-in broke it and now it’s unbroke. Feed should be back to normal.

There you go. You’ve been warned.

Okay, now that it’s just us tech geeks, let’s get down to brass tacks. I put this here in case somebody else is experiencing these problems as well, because it was a helluva time finding a solution to these.

1. The site had gotten to the point where, post-comments (as in after comments, not having anything to do with posting, mind you), chances are you could view the site fine, but trying to update anything would generate a lovely 500 error. Total pain in the ass. After being worried that perhaps the cache (wp-cache) was broken, Bailey reminded me of that worry and I was able to test it. The answer was yes, wp-cache was not working. WP-Cache, for the uninitiated, is a WordPress plugin that will take a snapshot of a generated page (since otherwise WordPress will build each page as you view it) and show you the snapshot instead of generating the page each time. This reduces wear and tear on the servers.

What it was doing was creating the cached snapshot just fine, but not serving those static pages and instead not only doing the cycles to create the snapshot, but then not using it and burning those cycles anyway. Nice. I’m not sure how long this has been having this problem, what with all the other spam shit that’s been going on, but here’s something to bear in mind.

Somebody said that the creator of WP-Cache had a line at the bottom of the source of a page that says this:

“Dynamic Page Served (once) in 1.885 seconds”

Or something like that. And there used to be a second line that said something like this:

“Cached page served by WP-Cache”

So you get the first line the first time it generates, and then both lines when it’s serving the snapshot page. I was concerned that I wasn’t getting the second line until I found something saying that that second line had been removed.

I don’t remember where I saw that, but whoever said that smoketh the crack. The second line does show up in a functioning WP-Cache install. And the only way I could find to kill the problem was to completely back out my installation of WP-Cache, then re-install it from scratch with the latest version. The latest version is 2.1.1, I believe I was on 2.1.

With that, the cache was working fine and all was well. Well, no.

2. The feed was broken. It was serving up straight flat text with no links and no formatting. WTF.

First up, if your WordPress feed is only text, apparently there have been problems in the past with WP-Cache caching the feed and serving it up as straight text. That made a lot of sense, but after a long time hammering at that and finally just turning the WP-Cache off completely, it became clear that wasn’t it.

Finally, I found a WordPress support topic that referenced this thread. Apparently Podpress 7.7, of all things, was breaking the feed. Podpress, which I only upgraded in an attempt to cut my PHP usage down before I realized that #1 was the fault of WP-Cache being broken.

That fix in place, the feed is happy again. And everything else…we hope.

So there you have it. If WP-Cache isn’t using the cached pages, disable the plugin, delete your cache, back out of the installation using the reverse of the installation instructions, then start over. If you’re running Podpress 7.7 and your feed is getting zapped down to straight text, use that fix listed above.

It’s times like this where I miss NetObjects Fusion…for about a second and a half.