Entrepreneurial Trials

One of the drawbacks (or perks, depending on what kind of person you are and how much time you have on your hands) of trying to work for yourself or be an independent artist is having to do many things yourself that most people would probably just pay someone else to do.

I designed this website myself. It runs on the well-regarded Movable Type platform, which is basically the same kind of thing as the much-more-popular WordPress. Movable Type is written in Perl, which I know almost nothing about except that its syntax is difficult to follow and that it used to be referred to as “the duct tape of the internet”.

I’ve already lost 80% of you by this point.

This week I decided that I wanted my blog to auto-post to Twitter, like some other popular blogging platforms. I figured (correctly) that this would probably just involve some googling and the subsequent download and installation of a Movable Type plugin.

Boy, that word “just” does a lot of heavy lifting, doesn’t it?

I did find the plugin, Twitter Tools, by MT-Hacks, a well-known Movable Type plugin developer. His installation instructions were pretty clear, so I whipped through them, navigated to the Movable Type Content Management System interface, and instead of seeing the login screen, received a mangled error message something like this:

can't use string ("TwitterShortEntryURL") as a HASH ref while "strict refs" in use

Fantastic.

Lest I lose the remaining 2% of you still reading by this point, I will not chronicle all the steps I went through to solve this issue. I’m only pretty sure what ultimately ended up working, anyway. I’ll just mention two things:

1) Installing a Movable Type plugin is not like installing desktop software; it’s basically just copying a bunch of text files to various locations in your web host. While doing this, I took a couple of shortcuts by replacing entire folders instead of replacing the individual files in them one by one. I ended up having to manually revert to previous versions of all those folders before redoing it the way I should have done it in the first place. Lesson learned: when doing things you only barely understand, follow the instructions slavishly; do not interpret.

2) The thing that I think fixed the issue was updating to the newest version of the LWP Perl module (oh my goodness, seriously… no one’s reading this now). I decided to do this because the plugin author said, right there on the Twitter Tools web page, that this was something you might have to do. I feel like this is the same lesson as Lesson One, above.

Anyway, good web-dev times. When you have more time than money, you end up doing things like this (or whatever the equivalent is for you)–chores that you would almost certainly be better off paying a professional person to do, were it not for that pesking time-money imbalance.

This is the first post I’ve made since installing Twitter Tools; now to see if it works!

Update: It does.