My intro to (real) cron jobs, or blogging from a Blackberry

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I needed to set up a cron -- think "chronological" -- job for a person with a new WordPress blog. Why?

There's a feature in WordPress where you can

  • send email to a secret email address
  • WordPress checks the email
  • then posts the email to the blog.

This means you can blog from anywhere you have an email connection, whether that's a cybercafe in Mali or on your Blackberry from the Plenary Hall floor at General Assembly. (I'm thinking more the second at the moment.)

But there's a hitch.

WordPress has to be triggered to check your email. You can do this manually by going to http://www.whereyourwordpressisinstalled.com/wp-mail.php (link to my wp-mail.php) but if you're going to do that, why not blog from a proper computer?

Can't you schedule the host computer to check the wp-mail.php at regular intervals, thus releasing the mail to be posted? Yes, that's what the cron job is for. (Any time you get something automated, like a mailing list password reminder, I bet there's a cron job behind it.)

Unfortunately, many cheap hosting services don't provide cron. Clever WordPress people have created work-arounds that simulates cron so when someone visits your site, your pent-up mail gets decanted. But these have their own problems, and I thought it was time to

  1. Time to see if the hosts I use have cron
  2. Learn it if they do

They do and I did. (This applies to everyone whose blog I've set up.)

More about how to do it tomorrow.

6 Replies to “My intro to (real) cron jobs, or blogging from a Blackberry”

  1. I’m eager to know how to do this, since I’ve unsuccessfully tried using Verve Hosting’s cpanel chron job manager to set one up.

  2. I don’t know if MovableType has a remote posting feature, and if it does I don’t know if it works the same way. Let us know after i write part two.

  3. I’m trying to use a chron job for something you’ll probably loathe — keeping an open-source ad server running and up-to-date! (Yes, I’m experimenting with expanded advertising opportunities, mostly to see what might work on a tight budget at a certain other website I manage.) The ad server requires a chron job, but even though I’ve followed the instructions as thoroughly as I know how, it doesn’t work. Alas!

  4. I’ve set up a variety of cron jobs on different hosts. Generally the issues I have had to resolve included determining which utilities were available and the path those utilities might be loaded in. It can be a big help to use SSH and see what happens when you manaually run the job, verify it works before you schedule it with cron.

  5. I’m experimenting with phpAdsNew, the open-source ad server bundled into Verve’s package that is available in an updated form as OpenAds.

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