Reinventing Fire

Favatars

August 9, 2010

Filed under: Meta,Technical,Website — Magister @ 8:23 am

What’s a favatar? It’s a favicon! It’s an avatar! It’s a portmanteau!

Well, really, a favatar is a profile picture hosted at the URL a commenter provides, with the filename favatar.png. I made it up!

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Short Stuff

Filed under: Meta,Standards,SVG,Technical,Website,Work — Magister @ 12:31 am

I’ve been doing a lot of website stuff this week. Here’s some highlights:
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Slow News Day

July 13, 2010

Filed under: Meta,Search Engines,Standards,W3C,Work — Magister @ 12:38 am

My last post was slashdotted. Not servers-melting slashdotted, but unusual-volume-of-comments slashdotted. I posted it late on a Saturday night, so I guess they had no other news fit to print.

It was interesting, and a little bit exciting, to be linked from Slashdot. I have no great insights, but a few observations.
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Etymusicology

March 2, 2010

Filed under: Meta — Magister @ 12:07 am

This week on Pop-Linguistics, we will be looking at words derived from song lyrics. (more…)

Site Unseen

March 29, 2009

Filed under: Meta,Standards,Tech,W3C,Work — Magister @ 3:48 pm

So, I don’t really pay much attention to my blog, or my site stats, or any of that… probably not nearly as much as I should, given how effective a medium blogs are at promoting ideas in the Web Standards profession.  I tend to write quite a lot, but most of it is emails to various technical mailing lists, especially W3C lists.  I should probably pay more attention to getting ideas out into a broader public sphere, with more diverse comments and feedback, like you can do with a blog.

But not this blog… not right now.  Because this blog is invisible.  If I recall correctly, I had a PageRank of 6, which seems to be moderately respectable.  But since my blog was hacked (maybe because it had a PageRank of 6), no amount of PageRank will help, because Google has cut me off.  So, as I mentioned on my last post, I did all the voodoo, adjusted the bones just so, and asked Google pretty-please won’t they reindex my site.  They replied that they will think about it, in a few weeks (just slightly passive-aggressive in a way only the popular kid can be).  I wonder if my PageRank will emerge intact?

But on the up side, I took the opportunity to clean out my virtual attic.  I took down old content and databases and experimental installations of software, wiped out old user accounts and email addresses, and generally made it easier for me to manage everything.  Installing the latest version of WordPress also gave me the chance to reorganize the sidebar a bit, adding my Twitter feed and removing dead blogroll links (though I need to add some new ones).

I should also try to figure out a way to finally expose an index of all the hundreds of SVG files I have hidden in the back alleys of my site.  Some of them are just experiments, some are examples of best practice, some are fairly cool and elaborate, some are just conformance tests.  I’ve hesitated because some of them are also rather crappy code that was written for the Adobe SVG Viewer, and either doesn’t have a namespace declaration (so it won’t work in modern browsers), or it uses some feature not supported in most browsers.  I’ve now put up an empty placeholder page, just to lay the groundwork.

I’ve also entertained the notion of running an index of my posts to public W3C lists, but out of context, it probably wouldn’t mean anything, and wouldn’t offer more than you could get by just searching the lists manually.  Maybe a weekly summary would be better?  Or maybe no mention of it at all would be most preferable… I think a certain amount of silence from me would do me and the people around me a world of good.

Maybe getting blocked by Google is a good thing after all… :)

Unhacked?

Filed under: Meta,Real Life,Technical — Magister @ 1:51 am

Last year, I noticed that my blog had lost all its styling… I was busy with other things at the time, preparing for my presentation at WWW2008 (and my subsequent vacation in China), juggling cats, and so forth, so I didn’t really fret about it. I thought it was probably just my host temporarily flaking out.

But when I futzed around with it, I noticed that if I changed themes, the styling came back. Hmmm. But again, didn’t think much of it. Well, it had been hacked, and hacked good. I rebuilt the theme from scratch, and that seemed to fix it (the hacker had injected some hundreds of fascinating links inside the header and footer templates). But for some reason, nobody could leave comments anymore, and some of my posts had disappeared. Days turned into weeks turned into months… and Google let me know that my site was still hacked in some mysterious manner that honestly doesn’t interest me much, but which had a pragmatic downside: they removed my site from their index. Simple fix, they said: just uninstall your site and start from scratch.

For a while, I just put my excess energy into my twits (other people may have “tweets”, but mine are so inane I think “twits” is more appropriate). But I had a hankering to blog again, so I finally put a few uninterrupted minutes together and un- and re-installed my blog software, exporting and importing my history. Maybe this will fix it? Only the Shadow knows…

But at least comments seem to work again, and over the next few weeks, I may play around with new themes and other adjustments.

Blitzpost

October 26, 2006

Filed under: Meta,Real Life,Work — Magister @ 2:20 am

Wow… keep meaning to write in this thing, but I’m not yet in the habit. I seem to have reached the maximum number of things I can think about at any one time. Anyway, here’s the short recap of what has been going on with me lately. Having bought a house in Chapel Hill, NC, I was legally obligated to either get pets and buy a hybrid car, or become a vegan. Now, I’m a vegetarian, but I’m not crazy enough to go vegan, so we got a couple of cats named Prettyboy and Floyd from an animal rescue group and picked up a “seaside pearl” (that means “blue”) Prius.

We got the cats about 4 days ago, and they had a bit of a trial adjusting (we faced a challenge convincing them to use the litter box for a couple of days, which is lovely on the hardwood floors and the erstwhile chair cushion), but seem to have decided to indulge us.

We bought the Prius almost accidentally… our old ’93 Toyota Corolla (dubbed the “Casserolla” when a cheese casserole was lingeringly spilled in the backseat) has been dying a shuddering death for months, so having put off getting a new car until we found (and financed) a house, we went out a couple of weekends ago to test drive a Toyota Yaris or a Scion xA. We did drive a Scion, but the Prius was just so much nicer (and with a better resale value) that we ordered one on the spot. It was delivered yesterday, on my birthday, October 24th. It’s pretty 21st century. We got the simplest option package, but even still that came with keyless entry and startup (as long as I have the “key” on me, I can open and start the car, without touching the key), and a rear-view backing-up camera. This is as close to a luxury car as I ever intend to buy. We saw a lecture last week by Dr. Wallace Broecker, the gentleman responsible for the groundbreaking theory of the Great Ocean Conveyor that was key in the understanding of global warming, on the need to develop an efficient way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. We chatted with him after the lecture, and among other things, I asked if the Prius would really help the environment… he praised it not only for those qualities, but also just for the engineering and comfort of it (his wife has one). I’m not fooling myself that I will save enough money in gas to make up for the price, but I felt like it was my civic responsibility to do what I could for the environment (and it really is a nice ride).

So, speaking of my birthday, we went out to visit some friends last night, then had a great time at Fuse, a local nightspot, where we had a good dinner and bumped into a different crowd of friends for a fun conversation. The night before, we went to the Cat’s Cradle to see Bettie Serveert (an old favorite band from the Netherlands, 15 years old now!), and really enjoyed the local opening act as well, Alina Simone. A few days before, we saw some friends’ bands… The Strugglers opening for The Prayers & Tears Of Arthur Digby Sellars at Local 506, and it was a great show as well. I used to see at least 2 or 3 shows a month (sometimes that many in a week!) just a few years ago, but I’m not as in the know about bands and shows these days. Still, we want to make it a point to get out to live shows more. My girlfriend’s younger, so her knowledge is a little more up to date than mine.

Man, what else? Work-work (we have revamped our database to be a lot faster and more powerful, and I’m renovating the charting package to match), and standards work (mostly SVG), and secret project work, and domestic stuff, and reading, and hanging out with friends, and seeing The Prestige (we don’t go out to movies that often, but I loved this book), and all that normal stuff that one does when one isn’t in a foreign land. I promise I’ll talk more about Morocco, by request, in some upcoming post. And more about technology. And less about quotidiana.

Not Invented Here

September 7, 2006

Filed under: Meta — Magister @ 10:53 pm

I’ve been accused more than once of “reinventing the wheel.” Let me assure you that that’s meant to be a stinging insult among programmers, where reuse is the key to efficiency and laziness (both qualities I admire).

But sometimes the wheel is broken, and sometimes it just doesn’t work right for the job at hand. I wouldn’t want to drive a car with a solid-body fixed-axle wheel.

And sometimes, you have to reexamine your basic assumptions. Maybe the wheel isn’t the right tool for the job at all.

I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. I want to reinvent fire.

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