Posts from January 2003

RSS Aggregator Referer Problem

I just want to say, right on! The referer field is being abused by just about every RSS aggregator. Instead of Referer, they should be using the User-Agent request-header field to identify themselves. My guess is that they also want to show up in referrer logs for marketing reasons...because they're more likely to be read by site authors. I block them specifically from my referrer reports because they're meaningless. (Has anyone compiled a comprehensive list?) But I shouldn't have to.

CSS Mac Woes

Brian wrote in with an analysis of my CSS problem. Apparently IE5 and Safari on Mac ignore a "top:50%" setting in the div that aligns things vertically and horizontally. He reports that Chimera works fine, but I'd like to find a way to make it work across all browsers. I might have to play around with some JavaScript navigator.userAgent selective writing. But I wouldn't be surprised if that opens a whole new can of cross-browser headaches. I think my best course is to go back to using tables for layout.

CSS Centering

Someone just sent a screenshot of the gallery below on a Mac (thanks Dave!), and it wasn't displaying properly. The latest version of snapGallery has an all-CSS layout, and it appears there's some problems with the technique I'm using to center everything on the page. Do any CSS experts out there know a cross-platform way to center information on a page both horizontally and vertically using only CSS? (no tables.)

Tillamook Cheese

This last weekend skp and I made another trip to the Oregon coast. On the way home we stopped by the home of Tillamook Cheese and I snapped a few photos. If you live on the West Coast you've probably seen Tillamook in the grocery store. It's good stuff, but it's sort of like don't necessarily want to know how it's made. The light in the factory made everything orange.

cheese tanks (click for more)
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Accounting Scandals

Remember accounting scandals? They're still happening. The SEC is going to sue KPMG for fraud in their audit of Xerox. (This is only the 2nd time the SEC has ever sued a major accounting firm. It's big news, and under-reported.) Our financial system is still a mess.

Situationism for anti-situationists

Situationism for Dummies.

(and The Situationist International Text Library.)

You can get money!

Did you buy a CD, cassette, or vinyl record between 1995 and 2000? If so, the music industry ripped you off. And though you were probably ripped off more than $5-$20 thanks to illegal price fixing, at least you can get $5-$20 back. It's a class-action lawsuit. Everyone vs. The Music Industry. Sign up now.

SQL Server Vulnerability

This latest Internet-wide DOS attack was harsh (BBC article). Jason wrote about his experience with the MeFi server which explains just how malicious this thing is. I noticed a problem with my server last night around 10 PST, and haven't been able to reach it until 30 minutes ago. I've installed the hotfix, and that seemed to stop SQL Server from eating up CPU cycles. If you run a server with SQL Server installed, be sure to patch it up. Of course the best way to be secure is not to run a server at all. Or if you do, keep it locked in your closet and don't connect it to anything.

Like a lot of people, I rely on the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer to keep me up to date with fixes. I guess I need to add a few more checks into my routine.

snapGallery 1.5c - creative commons stylee

There is a new version of snapGallery available: snapGallery 1.5c. Beyond a few minor fixes, the big addition is support for creative commons licenses. After adding titles and captions to your pictures, you can choose a creative commons license from a handy drop-down menu. (Or not, if you're not into cc licensing...nothing is mandatory.) If you'd like to contribute your gallery of photos to the public domain (with restrictions of your choosing), this is a simple way to automate the process. snapGallery generates the proper metadata for each page based on the license you choose, and adds a link to the human-readable license from the index. viva la public domain!

Wedding Fever

I don't want to name any names, but someone in my house has wedding fever. I've never seen anything like it.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote

"Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude."

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Photos around Corvallis

Every few days I see a pair of deer hanging out behind our apartment. They're always very aware of my presence if I open the door to see them better. The other day we had a staring contest.


This past week has been amazingly clear and sunny.

streetlight and clouds

It's been nice to see the stars at night. And the full moon.

moon at sunset

Photo Sites

Note to self: Photo-sharing sites prove popular.

Bush Crap

Load of crap indeed. It seems like this sort of divisive posturing can only further hurt his approval rating.


This is a sad day for our collective culture and creativity. The Eldred challenge to the latest copyright extension was unsuccessful. I don't believe the framers of our constitution felt a "limited time" for copyright means 75 years after the death of the creator or 95 years for corporations.

This means we'll have to work even harder to explicitly place creative works in the public domain so we can have at least a portion of our shared culture that isn't controlled by corporations and commercial interests.

Lawrence Lessig, who argued the good side of this case, commented about the loss in his weblog.

Waterproof Camera Housing

Michael sent in a pointer to some waterproof bags for digital cameras. He has used one underwater and his camera is still working. They're a bit pricey, but better than MacGyver-ing something up every time you want to shoot in the rain, I suppose.


The biggest question I have after moving to the Pacific Northwest: Should I carry an umbrella or not? Since the move, there have been more rainy days than clear here and I've noticed that there aren't too many people with umbrellas. Sure I spot one here and there, but why aren't they everywhere? Why don't businesses have umbrella bins near their entrances so I can stash my umbrella until I'm ready to leave? Why isn't every store selling designer umbrellas, and why aren't street vendors shouting "umbrella!" from every corner? When it rains in San Francisco, you see umbrellas lined up—bobbing up and down the street—one in each hand. Oregonians seem to have a different relationship with the rain, and I feel self-conscious when I pop open my umbrella. I imagine that every long-time Oregonian turns when they hear that umbrella woosh and whisper under their breath how gauche, heads held high in the rain.

Oregon Coast

skp and I went out to the Oregon coast today. We visited Newport and Waldport, and toured two lighthouses. The gray, rainy day gave the lighthouses an eerie feel—especially since the power was out at Yaquina Head. Walking up to the top of that lighthouse, I felt my legs shake a bit as I saw the stairs spiraling below me. Waves were thundering against the rocks outside, and it sounded (and felt) like a sharp slamming door. We had a nice chat with the interpretive guide at the top, though, and I was just fine on the way down.

To keep my camera dry, I made it "waterproof" with a plastic bag I found in the glove box and a stretchy-hair thing (wrapped around the lens) that skp had. I'd like to find something like it that I can reuse in the future, but I don't remember seeing waterproof cases for camera bodies in any shops.

Yaquina Bay lighthouse (click for more)
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snapGallery 1.5 available!

I just uploaded a new version of snapGallery. The interface hasn't really changed, but now the default design is XHTML/CSS compliant. I've also added some simple categorization and metadata to make gallery-aggregating possible.

BlogFodder is go!

BlogFodder is go! It's a daily email that contains a phrase, idea, or question that could lead to a weblog post. The emails are archived on the website, and show up on the front page the day after they've been sent. I've been sending out emails since the 1st, and I've already spotted a few posts that mention a BlogFodder. I'm hoping people will use the Trackback features of the site so others can see their take on the fodder. (And maybe we can all find some weblogs outside of our normal reading patterns in the process.)

I wrote a form that lets people add a Trackback manually if their weblog tool doesn't support it. (Movable Type's API and MySQL support make it fairly easy to add features like this.) I'm also hoping the project becomes less broadcast and more participatory—with people sending in ideas that have inspired them to post (in addition to the posts themselves).

If you signed up here a week ago, I've added you to the mail list. If you'd like to be removed, either let me know or go through the unsubscribe process. Thanks for taking a chance on this project!

Science Fiction II

Another non-sci-fi story that sounds like it is: The Predator. "[The United States] has produced a weapon like no other this country has ever used: the Predator, an unmanned reconnaissance drone." The Simpsons predicted this years ago:
The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots. Thank you.

-- Military school Commandant, [4F21]
But the Predator isn't funny. Once they have computers completely controlling those things, machines will finally be able take over the world. I've seen it happen on Star Trek time and again. Have we learned nothing from TV?

Science Fiction?

It seems that almost every day I read something in the news that sounds like it's straight out of a dystopian science fiction novel. Today it's Special Ops gets OK to initiate own missions (courtesy MeFi). I can visualize the fictional plot now: special Ops OK's own mission to destroy the person who OK'd the order to let special Ops initiate own missions (along with anyone else who can take that power away). It just sounds like one of those decisions that starts a process that gets out of control. And then it can't be stopped by anyone. (Not even a gang of rag-tag post-apocalyptic teens on rollar skates. Or can they?)

William Gibson Blog

Wow, the guy who coined the term cyberspace is now with blog. [via kottke] (oh yeah, he wrote some great books too. Especially Neuromancer.)

Fruit Stickers

Fruit Stickers: "My home series is more vegetable-oriented than my work notebook..." Isn't that the way it always goes?

Tivoli Radio

Matt's post about the audio quality of laptop speakers reminded me of a modern radio design that is very good: the Henry Kloss Model One. It's amazing what a good sound they get out of that small speaker. If they can do it with a small cabinet like this, someone should be able to design a laptop with great sound. Amazon sells them too.

Oregon scene

a mountain in southern oregon
Passenger window shot somewhere in Southern Oregon

Radio Dials

My Dad has a collection of small table radios from the 30's through the 50's. The radios are great examples of early industrial design, and the new medium of plastic made far-out shapes possible. The designers of these things really had fun within the fairly simple constraints of: a speaker, a way to tune, and some tubes. It's fun studying his collection, and one night while I was visiting over the holidays I took a bunch of pictures of the dials. The dials don't show the wacky body designs, but they do show the varied display approaches to basically the same information. Once into the 50's (through today), design was pretty much standardized across brands, cutting-edge designers moved on to other objects, and you didn't get the variety that you had in radio's early days.

click for more
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I was playing around with the settings on my digital camera and took them in black and white.


Crashing wave on New Year's Day near Bodega Bay

Pointy Birds

Pointy Birds

Pointy birds,
oh pointy pointy.
Anoint my head
anointy 'nointy.

- Steve Martin

Check out which launched today. skp really likes Matt's Engagement at Mt. Tam.