Oops, technical difficulties, etc

Apologies to anyone who tried to visit earlier today and was greeted by a friendly message telling you that there was a problem connecting to the database. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but it seems that some bit of code misbehaved and tried to do some Very Strange Things to the database that sits behind all this nonsense. Anyway, the end result of this misbehaviour was that the poor little database was effectively locked up and I couldn’t do a thing about it.

Those nice Dreamhost support people had a look, and disabled the table that seemed to be getting upset, which enabled me to get in and have a look. From the data they supplied, it looks like something Very Odd was going on with WPG2 – it looked like WordPress was doing some weird tag related stuff to the description of a picture, and getting its metaphorical knickers in a knot in the process.

I’ll have to investigate further, but for now I’ve disabled the WPG2 plugin and changed the Gallery link at the top of the page to point directly to Gallery rather than going through the pretty WPG2 page. This does mean that old posts with Gallery images in them will have odd numbers instead of pictures, but I’ll fix that as soon as I can.

UPDATE: It turns out that WPG2 was an innocent bystander. What was happening was that a search engine query was trying to look for a tag page for posts containing tags corresponding to every word in the description of the photo on the WPG2 page in question. As the code that dealt with such queries in WP 2.3 was a bit messy, this led to the poor little database server getting most upset and locking me out of my database.

As it happened, one of the regular people on the WP forums, who goes by the name of HandySolo had exactly the same problem, and reported it to the developers before I did. This led to a replacement for a single WordPress file being created which made certain kinds of query more efficient, and prevented any repetition of the Dreaded database Lockup. I passed details of the update to Dreamhost, so they’d know what to do if any other customers had the same problem.

Dreamhost’s support were very good about this whole thing – they gave me enough information to have a clue as to what was happening, and which helped lead to a solution. Good result all round.

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