Monthly Archives: January 2004

On Orkut

What can I say, I like it. Orkut is a new social networking site funded by Google that takes the best of all the other sites out there and rolls it into one fast system. Let me emphasize fast. I gave up on Friendster because I’m not patient enough to wait minutes for every screen to load. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this, but every site I’ve tried so far (with the exception of LinkedIn) feels like it’s held together by spit and duck tape and run on a 486. Not to mention the atrocious markup.

A neat thing about Orkut is that it’s invitation-only, so everyone there is connected to the original seed guy and programmer (whose name is Orkut, incidentally) which I think is an interesting idea. Scott Allen (who has a great new WordPress-powered blog) says that’s the most innovative thing about Orkut.

Scott remarked to me that he didn’t see Orkut flourishing the same way Ryze or Linkedin have because it mixes the personal and business aspect of things, while those two are mainly for business networking and only flirt with personal aspects. It’s too soon to tell, but I think Orkut is going to be a big success. It does a lot of things right.

So go check it out, and if you’re having trouble getting in let me know and I’ll send you an invite. If you’re already on, introduce yourself.

Only In Texas

Just in time for the Superbowl, Homer Simpson let loose on US nuclear weapons facility.

In the first incident, highly-skilled operatives inadvertently drilled into the warhead’s core, provoking a full-scale evacuation of Pantex. They later made a second Chernobylesque blunder by bodging a highly-explosive warhead part back together with tape.

Had they subsequently dropped the component, the likely outcome would have been a “violent reaction”, with “potentially unacceptable consequences”, as safety board chairman John T. Conway rather conservatively put it.

Hat tip: evilbunny on #hwug.

Back In Town

The ride back from Austin earlier tonight was a delight. The stars were gorgeous, I felt like the only person on the road, and the music was excellent. The trip was enjoyable and a much-needed break. On Saturday I also had the pleasure of having lunch with Jacques Distler. His links may be terribly crufty but his markup is impeccable and most importantly he’s a swell guy. Before I knew what happened we had already talked almost two hours, and the conversation could have continued for many more. If two bloggers meet and no one takes a picture it didn’t happen, so I took the oppurtunity to try out the new phone camera and snapped this:

Jacques Distler

Enjoy it, I paid 25 cents to send that to myself. I need a bluetooth dongle.

We discussed, amoung many things, comment spam and crap-flooding. The conversation foreshadowed the next morning when I was drizzled (“flooded” doesn’t seem appropiate) by a few hundred trackbacks. More on that later though. For now I have decided trackback is a security vulnerability disguised as a poorly-implemented cross-blog communication tool perpetuated only by a MT software monoculture. Trackback is dead, long live pingback.

Dvorak on Linux Console

For my benefit more than anything. I always forget how to change the keymap on a linux console session:

loadkeys /usr/share/keymaps/i386/dvorak/

This seriously could have saved me an hour or two earlier today.

QWERTY is so painful! Switch to Dvorak. You’ll thank me later.

Update: Matt Brubeck informs me I could just use loadkeys dvorak in most modern distrobutions. Thanks!

So I’m 20

This is it. Last year my birthday was loud and surprising, this year it was chill. Both have their attraction.

WordPress Birthday logo

Awww thanks. 🙂 Mad props to Craig for the WordPress header (currently in rotation).

While I’m here I’d also like to wish a happy birthday to Dave, who had a birthday a few days ago and didn’t tell anyone. 😉

Assorted Links

  • 50 Miler Panorama is one of the coolest panoramas I’ve seen. Zach’s dad sent me an email detailing a little of the process:

    Dan Hale here – Zach’s dad, and the guy who created the panorama. I did this one entirely by hand in Photoshop. I made nine shots that day, placing the people in only the middle third of the frame of each. I shot with a super wide lens – a 17mm on a 35mm camera. The stitching was painstaking as I wanted to overlap the shots in such a way as to hide the transitions. This process was complicated by the fact that the cloud movement between shots varied the brightness, contrast and color of light. Evening that out took a lot of work. I did have the presence of mind when I did the shooting to use a constant shutter speed and aperture. I could go on and on about this labor of love. All in all it recon it took me 14-17 hours or so of work in PS to get to its current state.

    Wow. Hat tip: Zach.

  • Nightly builds of WordPress. Oh, and 1.0 is out. More on that later.
  • Adam Gessaman has the best response, Locke, Property, and Software, to the lame Aaron Swartz screed on Nick Bradbury’s On Piracy. One thing though, I’m tired of people making comments about Aaron’s ideas in relation to his age. Either talk about his age and be safely ignored, or treat his ideas independently.
  • How to fix <abbr in Internet Explorer. Nifty.
  • :hover anything in Internet Explorer. Awesome.
  • Simple Quiz from Dan Cedorholm has some of the most high-threshhold discussion of CSS and HTML semantics around.
  • Tantek is naked. Now what he really needs is to shed some of that extraneous list markup that really isn’t adding much to the semantic richness of his site. At least one level of that list could be eliminated. I’m not going to call Tantek’s markup bloated, but he could shave a few K off with that list markup. There are some novel ideas there though. I wonder what he could do with a good content management package. I’ve got a version of WordPress running with markup very similar to Tantek’s, but the blog isn’t public yet so I can’t link it.
  • Joi asks Are Blogs Just? I really like how he brings in things from all over the spectrum. Joi continues to pleasantly surprise me.
  • Apparently US money has a watermark of some sort so that if you open it up in Photoshop or try to print it the equipment has built-in guards. Pretty crazy.
  • WordPress nightly builds. Builds are released nightly, bugs are released hourly. Get 24 new bugs in every release.
  • Drawings from a guy on acid.
  • Cruft-free URIs in WordPress. 3 steps, one of which is clicking to the options screen and another which may be automated in a future version.

Problem With Trackback

Today I was cleaning up some of the trackback code for WordPress when a number of things struck me about Trackback, which I’m sure someone has thought of before but I’m surprised they haven’t been addressed in the specification.

First off, what is trackback? On there is a Beginner’s Guide to TrackBack that is pretty thorough. Interestingly though they mention the names of several “tools” that have implemented TrackBack (as <strong> no less) they don’t link to any of them. If you’re not familiar with Trackback go read the first section of that to get up to speed.

A commonly requested feature is the ability to send a trackback ping when editing an entry. This has been especially needed since we’ve implemented post status flags (so you can, for example, save your post as a draft and work on it later). There are a couple of logical steps to implementing this, the first of which being that we need to track what pings have and haven’t been sent yet. Then the posting code had to modified a bit to only send trackback pings when an entry was published, and to not ping a URI that had been pinged before, et cetera. Not terribly hard stuff, just a bit of code to go through and some testing to make sure everything worked right.

Now that we have a nice record of pings that have been sent, I thought it would be nice to add that data to the default template for WordPress, as Trackback suffers from the same one-way linking problem it was trying to solve. That is, if I trackback another site my ping will show up in their comments or their trackbacks, but there’s nothing on my site indicating I sent that ping.

Then I realized that this set of pinged URIs I had was close to useless. What does a URI like mean anyway? If you enter it in your browser you get an XML error back. If you append a query string to it with ?__mode=rss with some implementations you will get a RSS .91 feed of trackbacks sent from that entry, from which you could extract the actual URI of the resource that is relevant to, but what a hassle. You can sweep things like this under the rug with a convoluted “auto-discovery” functionality (which is using sloppily embedded RDF instead of <link>… why?) but these problems are easy enough to solve that they should be.

(A side note, a URI tied to a unique ID system specific to a particular software platform does very little to suggest permanence to me. Are we going to have sent ping URI link rot?)

Return of the Posting

The hiatus is over.

Peace and blessings manifest with every lesson learned
If your knowledge were your wealth then it would be well earned

The holidays could not have been better, a delightful mix of friends and family that I will remember fondly for years to come. Presents, the least important part of the holidays, were notable this year in quality and thoughtfulness. Thank you. Presence, friends I have not seen in some time have been in town, and the new place has been somewhat of a hub. I consider myself lucky and blessed to be surrounded by such great people.

Just as writing is a habit, not writing is a habit. In my quest for relaxation over the past weeks I have developed this bad habit, and now it’s time to break it.

I have been extremely busy as of late. I always say I’m busy, but now more so. I’m doing my best to catch up before school starts, and software helps, but there are still personal notes to write, 614 photos to optimize and upload, countless emails to respond to, clients to work with, and incidentals like eating and sleeping.

Most importantly, I turn 20 in 5 days.