Archive for the 'Weblogging' Category

Into the CodeMines….

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

Chris Hanson pointed me to Mark Bessey’s Weblog, Another Day in the Code Mines.

I worked with Mark on Xcode before he left Apple. Awesome dude.

His weblog is worthy reading. Both for the entertainment and for the technical screeds. In particular, every software engineer should read Now they have two problems… and Hell is a multi-threaded C++ program.

Good stuff. Subscribed. Hopefully, I’ll have the privilege of working with Mark again someday.

Spammers vs. Spam Karma 2 (and Akismet)

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Since moving to WordPress 2, I had been relying on the built in Akismet to take care of all the rat bastard spammer droppings. It has done the job nicely, averaging over a thousand spams filtered a month.

Akismet contacts a central server to check if an inbound comment is spam. It is free for personal use and requires an API key to use.

Akismet generally works great but, occasionally, a large batch of spam would end up in my moderation queue. By large batch, I mean 30 to 100 spamments a day. This may have been because Akismet’s central server was down or because the spammers hit my weblog with a pattern that hadn’t been updated in the central store.

Who knows? It was seriously annoying.

In WordPress 1, I had used Spam Karma to block spam. It worked quite well. Spam Karma applies a huge number of configurable tests to each comment, calculating a total karmic value to the comment. If the karmic value is positive, the message is passed through and posted. If negative, it is blocked. Any comment with a Karma between 0 and -20 is sent to me in a daily email digest for verification. Anything below -20 is tossed (I have seen comments with karmic values less than -500. Ouch.)

Fortunately, the two work together just great. Since installing SK, I have yet to see a bit of spam make it through the filters. More importantly, I have yet to see a legitimate comment dumped into the bit bucket.

Total time saver. I dropped $20 in the Spam Karma donation box — worth every penny. Akismet is free for personal use until your weblog(s) generated $500/month. I’m nowhere near that limit, but I bought a $55 annual subscription to support the worthy cause of stomping spamming rat bastards.

Turning a Paperclip into a House

Saturday, July 8th, 2006

(From BoingBoing) Kyle MacDonald has managed to turn one red paperclip into a house. Awesome & funny — congratulations to Kyle.

Kyle happens to be a citizen of Canada.

If Kyle were a citizen of the United States, I could not possibly imagine how complex his 2005 and 2006 tax returns would be. The IRS would have had a field day.

Are there any implications as a Canadian citizen?

Update: Mention income taxes and, of course, a comment appears claiming that income taxes are illegal. In this case, a violation of human rights. Read the wikipedia Tax Protester article for background.

Niomi — the tax protester (technical label, not meant as an offense) — succinctly described the situation I implied. Kyle will have to estimate the value of each trade and pay taxes on the monetary value of the resulting profit made.

Unfortunately, modern economics makes participation in a pure barter system illegal unless the valuation of each trade is 100% equivalent in cash value.

I dare anyone to find two horse traders willing to claim that neither party got the better deal…

Which photo to submit?

Monday, July 3rd, 2006

Flickr has a contest of sorts going on called The Blink of an Eye. The rules stipulate that I can only submit a single photo.

The problem is which photo to submit?

From email, comments and talking w/my Mom, I missed some photos:

Luna Moth

The Luna Moth. Totally meant to add this to the collection.

Mother and Nursing Baby Sea Lion

I can’t believe I missed this one. Mom picked this one out.

Original Post

I have collected together my favorites and from those, I am leaning to submitting one of these:

Swallowtail on Bromeliad
Honeybee on Flower

Bug photos anyone? I like both of these a lot.


But I think I might like this one better than the other two just for the contrast of it all. That and, at a large size, the dragonfly’s eyes are in focus and it makes for a weird globe like focal point.

Roger's Typical Expression
Roger & Monarch

I have some pictures of Roger that I really like. I think the crop on the smile might be a bit tight, but that is the full frame and, thus, cannot be expanded.

Roger and Tourist Trap Iguana

I really like this “tourist trap iguana” portrait, as well.

Cloud's Over Land's End At Sunrise

I could go with a landscape & sky photo, of which this is really the only one that has any impact.

Rocks at the End of the World

Or I could go with this shot, but everyone who has ever been to Cabo San Lucas takes this shot.

Daring Fireball: Subscribed.

Friday, May 12th, 2006

I ponied up the $29 and bought a subscription to Daring Fireball.

I was thinking about John Gruber’s adventures into trying to make a living through self publication. A ballsy move. I want him to succeed.

However, I did not buy a subscription because of that. There is no point in purchasing something because the idea is good if the resulting product is sub-par with no signs of improvement.

No — I bought a subscription because John’s product is worth the $29. Not only is he a good writer, but he actually investigates the subject at hand. Many so called professional journalists don’t do anywhere near as much research as Gruber.

DF also helps me with my day job. Gruber’s technical analysis of various subjects often provide clues or sparks ideas that improve the work that I do. Bugs have been filed after reading a DF post.

All that, and he is a damned entertaining writer, too.

iWeb and SandVox

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

I have been wanting to provide some more content for the root page for a while. But I really, really hate futzing with HTML.

Conveniently, January saw the release of two apps that might fulfill my desire to create a page that isn’t totally vomitous while also enabling me to skip the whole manual HTML tedium.

First, I gave iWeb a try. Bone simple. Beautiful product. Frightening HTML+CSS output. Integrates seamlessly with the rest of iLife. And, most importantly, allows the user to create a simple web site with zero awareness of the stupidity or limitations of HTML (hence, the frightening output).

However, iWeb doesn’t allow for the injection of customized chunks of source. I don’t need to inject much; just the Google adwords and search bars from which I derive a pittance of income over time (pays for Warcraft, anyway).

Now, some might think that this is a horrible limitation of iWeb. I believe that such a conclusion indicates a lack of understanding of the goal of the product. If you need to deal with source, you are not in the target audience of iWeb.

So, what about Sandvox? Sandvox is Karelia’s new web site design package. That it uses Core Data immediately scores bonus points (for obvious and completely irrelevant reasons).

Playing with the app, which claims to be a beta, I was immediately blown away by the fit and finish. The attention to detail is just incredible. For example, the little bar of templates below the toolbar actually tilts a bit as it scrolls to give it that extra-analog zoomy-wooshy feel. That is just awesome. And the little touches of gooey animation do not stop there…

While Sandvox allows for arbitrary HTML injection in the form of pagelets, there doesn’t seem to be any way to control the layout of said pages. Sandvox also seems to be limited to the layouts provided by the various templates. It has many more templates than iWeb, but seems to have less control over the templates.

Both neat tools. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Given the sheer idiocy of HTML, both tools do an amazing job of producing content that looks excellent with a minimum of pain to the user. Both development teams deserve a round of applause.

Unfortunately, neither tool appears to do what I want. I just want a page like the one at friday now, but with the silly ads centered and with a bit of content that I customize regularly.

Maybe in Sandvox 2.0 or iLife ’07 (assuming the pattern continues).

WordPress Test & Neat Desktop Image

Friday, January 13th, 2006
Common CA groundcover weed

This is a picture of some weeds that grow in front of our house. Actually, they grow all over the area. Tiny round ball like blooms composed of a dozen or so little white flowers with yellow stamens.

If the image actually floats to the left with the text wrapped around it, then it indicates that the newer version of WordPress fixes an XML-RPC bug.

Update: This is Sweet Alyssum, seeds of which can commonly be found at various hardware stores and nurseries (thanks for the identification!). “Weed” refers to its growth habit. In Northern California Sweet Alyssum grows unbounded, spreading rapidly and growing with little care or water. It doesn’t appear to choke out other species to any significant degree and it seems to stick to relatively barren or disturbed areas. As such, said features make this a highly desirable plant!
Read the rest of this entry »

MarsEdit vs. PHP: dropping ‘class=’ from posts

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

MarsEdit 1.1 is out. It adds a number of nice new features and bug fixes. I use MarsEdit to edit all my weblog posts. It is a great tool.

Coincidentally, WordPress 2.0 was also recently released. WordPress is a nice enough weblog publishing engine. For me, the most important features were decent comments, useful permalinks, and a lot of canned templates so I didn’t have to torture myself any more than necessary with debugging random software. “It just works” was my mantra in choosing WordPress.

Of course, it doesn’t always “just work”. In particular, since upgrading to 2.0, posts made through MarsEdit that included class= attributes on div tags — what I use to float images left and right (amongst other things) — were being blown away.


After wading into some PHP code (GROSS! What a horrible piece of coding torture that was), the problem proved to be relatively easy to “fix”.

The file wp-includes/kses.php implements a filter that strips all posts of nefarious bits. Unfortunately, it doesn’t let the class= attribute through on div tags.

The fix is easy, even if it most be made in about a 2k character long single line of code.

Just add class => array() to the div tag specification:

'div' => array ('class' => array(), 'align' => array ())

There is a MarsEdit forum discussion and a WordPress bug.

Design Rants; a new weblog category…

Thursday, December 8th, 2005

Anyone who has read this weblog for a while knows that I occasionally harp at length about notable industrial design issues that I run into. Often, these turn into rants railing against really pathetically stupiddesign.

I have several more of these brewing up. Obviously bad design seriously irritates the hell out of me and I’m going to share that frustration.

I hope nobody minds. (He says assuming that someone actually reads this thing).

I have created a category that will house nothing but the design rants.

Comment Spam Filtering

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

Various rotting bastard spammers and their stupid spambots had recently discovered my weblog. In the last week, I have gone from one or two bits o’ comment spam a week to upwards of ten or so. As with all spam, I’m sure the trend will only be in the wrong direction.

Stupid asshats.

So, I have installed Spam Karma. We shall see. If you have any problems posting a comment (and aren’t a spammer :-), send me an email. (I long ago gave up hiding my email address).

Here is a business plan for someone:

Create a company that does nothing but create false business leads for the products advertised via spamming. Use offshore labor to ensure that “human element” is involved in the process.

Update: Wow. Just in time. 20+ spambot posts in less than an hour already today.