Fixing a blank screen with the WordPress Mollom Plugin

If you get a white screen after the Mollom Captcha step when trying to add a comment to your blog, then check your PHP errors logs. I was experiencing this problem, and looking into the logs showed the following:

[09-Feb-2009 11:11:53] PHP Fatal error:  Call to undefined function mb_convert_encoding() in /sites/ on line 1371

The mb_convert_encoding() function is part of the PHP mb_string module, so fixing this was relatively easy. As my server was running Centos 5, I could just use yum to install the mb_string functions:

yum install php-mbstring

And then finally, I restarted Apache:

apachectl graceful

NVIDIA ION Actual Size

NVIDA have released a computing platform that fits in the palm of your hand, and is capable of playing 1080p HD movies, with 7.1 digital surround sound. The NVDIA ION boards will power Netbooks, Small Form Factor PCs, and we will no doubt see some of them integrated directly in to TV sets.

NVIDA ION Actual Size


  • Intel Atom CPU & NVIDIA GeForce 9400M GPU
  • Size: 100 mm x 72 mm (Pico-ITX)
  • Power Consumption: 18W
  • Max resolution: 2560 x 1600
  • Network: 10 / 100 / 1000 Mbps
  • Video Out: HDMI / DVI / VGA

I recently retired my home media server as it was using too much power (approx 200 Watts!), so with a typical consumption of less than 20 watts, the new ION platform would make a perfect replacement.

It is rumored that the NVIDIA ION may power a refreshed version of Apple’s Mac Mini, potentially as soon as March 2009, and with Apple’s Snow Leopard OS designed to take advantage of the power of GPU cores for ordinary desktop operations – we may soon see these start to replace large inefficient workstations.

It happened to the laptop market with netbooks, now it’s time for desktops with nettops.

Install WordPress and WP plugins with Subversion

In my opinion, the best way to install WordPress (WP) is by using subversion (svn). This can also be used to install WP plug-ins. Subversion makes it incredibly easy to upgrade / update when future versions of the software is released. You simply run either svn update or svn switch.

The following instructions assume you have shell access and subversion installed on your system.


Installing WordPress with Subversion

Run the following command to check out the WordPress code to your blog directory:

svn co /path/to/blog/

Follow the 5 minute installation instructions, ignoring steps 1 & 5.

Updating WordPress to the latest minor release with Subversion

Navigate to your wordpress installation directory and run:

svn update

Upgrading WordPress to a new major release with Subversion

Navigate to your word press installation directory and run:

svn sw

Replacing the repository url with the version you wish to upgrade to.


Installing a plugin with svn:externals

If you install WordPress using subversion, it should already be set up with akismet as an svn:external plugin. If you want to install any other plugin this way, just follow these steps:

cd wp-content/plugins
svn propedit svn:externals .

If this command complains about not having an editor set you may need to run something like

export SVN_EDITOR=vim

before trying again. Otherwise, you should now be in your favourite text editor with the svn:externals file open for editing. Add an additional line for the plugin you wish to install. In this example, I’m going to use the Mollom comment spam protection system. The line should look like:


Save and exit the text editor, then run:

svn update

This should check out all the plugin files. You can then configure the plugin in the WordPress admin panel.

Updating a plugin with svn

The beauty of using subversion to install your plugins is that it’s a breeze to update them. From your the top level WordPress directory, just run:

svn update

This will update all of your plugins along with your main WordPress installation. If you want to update the plugins on their own, then just run that command from inside the plugins folder.

Fubra Investment Roundup Feb 09

Since the summer of 2008, we’ve invested in a number of start-up companies. We’ve been looking for businesses that compliment our own, and specifically where we could leverage our existing assets and benefit from the economies of scale. As I’ve mentioned before, we look for people with a unique idea, who are prepared to work hard and who can build the product/service themselves. All of the following companies met that criteria:

Clear Books Limited

Clear Books is an online accounting software service run by Tim Fouracre. He’s a chartered accountant, entrepreneur and programmer and has been working on the system for 6 months now. We’ve been beta testing it for our Fubra Accounts, and we’re really happy with its progress. The intelligent bank statement import feature has already helped us cut down the amount of time we spend book keeping from 10 days a month, to 2 days a month! We’ve also used it to complete our quarterly VAT returns, and our 6 monthly FSA regulatory reporting.

Screenshot of Clear Books home page.

UMPC Media Limited

UMPC Media is a joint venture between Fubra, Matthew Dunham and Steve Whiteley. The company aims to develop a number of web based communities, mainly in the area of Ultra Mobile PCs. The first site in the portfolio is a forum about Dell Mini PCs called

Screenshot of MyDellMini home page

Niggle Limited

Niggle specialises in providing customer feedback systems for businesses. They offer a comprehensive service which spans both the online and offline worlds, with everything from paper based postal feedback cards, to mobile / SMS and online feedback forms. In a recession consumers will be especially picky as to where they spend their hard earned cash, and we believe the best placed companies will be those that listen to their customers.

Screen shot of Niggle home page.

Bytewire Limited

Bytewire is a games development company run by Dave Heward and Elliot Reeve. They are working on a number of online multiplayer browser based games, the first of which is a Mafia type game called Street Crime. The game has been running for just over a month now, and already has 2000 players!

Screen shot of Bytewire home page

Screen shot of Street Crime home page.

Renegade Games Limited

Renegade Games is another games development company run by Pete Zaborszky. The company is in the early stages of developing a number of projects, so watch this space for more information.