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Updated: 2/1/2003; 5:47:24 AM.

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 Friday, January 10, 2003

Mark on Buffy

Wow!  I never thought that Mark followed Buffy.  Go figure. 

If Fundies were interested in ideas, they'd be fascinated by Buffy. Unless I'm mistaken, this year turns out to be an extended inquiry into the nature of grace and the limitations of redemption, questions that would have fascinated the theology fans of the 17th century.


But Buffy isn't doing that any more. Spike's done the unforgivable, and he desperately needs to be forgiven. We've established that enduring terrible trials is necessary, but it wasn't sufficient: he has a soul again, against all odds and in defiance of natural order, but that doesn't really change things. How can Buffy love him? Faith (in Buffy) and prayer are unavailing. Good works don't do it; join the Scoobies, save them, save the world: been there, bored now. Nor is Love enough, clearly, for at this point Spike is once more love's bitch.  [_Go_]

Nicely said Mark, nicely said.  One of the most literate comments I've ever seen on Buffy. 

I suspect that there must just be a whole contingent of "closet buffy watchers" generally embarassed to say so or this would be the support group:

"Hi, I'm Bill "

Hi Bill"

"And I have a problem.  I'm addicted to Buffy"

"Its ok Bill -- so do we -- Can you believe what Spike did in episode 3 of Season 4?" (a viscious discussion then follows)

4:13:22 PM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   

Jack of All Trades Wanted: Perl, C, C++ AND Quark AND Photoshop

I just got this on the Perl Jobs mailing list (no I'm not a big Perl dude but it's a great way to keep up with things people are looking for). 

Must be able to program and implement scripts using languages such as Perl, PHP, Javascript, Java,
C, C++. Experience of Linux, Solaris , QuarkXpress and Photoshop would be useful.  [_Go_]

I suspect that if you could cook and clean then you'd really be likely to get the job.

4:05:08 PM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   

New Blogging Tool: TextPattern

No it can't be downloaded yet.  Does it look interesting?  Yes.  What does it remind me of?  Movable Type but written in PHP.  Who wrote it?  TextismHome Page.

A quick tour.

  • Setting preferences and text output for a site is done through a web browser. Many design templates are provided, all of which are easily edited and previewed via browser.
  • Once a site is up and running, at login the writer is presented with a simple article creation form. All thatís required here is text. Before an article is published it is optionally converted with a great deal of automated pickiness to HTML using Textile, then previewed using the siteís designated stylesheet and output template. If Textile formatting is turned on, all sorts of typographic nicey-nice is taken care of, but writers may still use their own HTML.
  • Unlimited categories and sections for articles and links can be created; these are edited at will.
  • Listing current articles is easy, as is finding old articles to edit using keyword searches.
  • Writers can solicit comments for articles and easily customize their display, as well as stay on top of comments in one place.
  • Up-to-the-minute visitor logs are included, as are most of the goofy widgets used on this site, such as referrer logging, Google Hilite and zip page compression.
  • Lists of links are easily maintained and automatically generated; categorization and custom sorting (e.g., by last name) of link lists is a no-brainer.
  • Pages are dynamically generated from a database, so site updates and changes to design templates are rendered to the site the instant they are saved.
  • Uploading and linking images: easy as pie.
  • Pinging and ponging and automatic RSS generation of course.

In the next couple weeks Iíll be looking for volunteers willing to let me install and set up a site for them. If this is of interest, let me know. Iíll be soliciting hardcore testers afterward, but first I want to try to see if itís really as simple to use as I hope. [_Go_]

10:06:50 AM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   

Why You Don't Want to Go On Safari

Sorry for the title.  Like John I just couldn't resist -- and who isn't going to lampoon that product name when they write an article?  I mean come on....  Matt has a great explanation of why Safari's interface is "quirky":

The ďseveral interface elementsĒ Iím talking about are status bars and combo boxes. In the past Apple have avoided full-width status bars, explaining that the bottom line of a document window is for the horizontal scrollbar, and you should avoid putting too much stuff next to it. In Web browsers, a status bar is much more useful than in most other programs, so Safari has one, but itís petulantly off by default. As a result, page load feedback is shown in the address field (as in MSN Explorer), rather than the status bar, a decision which John Gruber rightly describes as ďhideousĒ.

The avoidance of the combination box control ó a text field for entering a value, combined with a popup menu of values for easy selection ó is more interesting. Combo boxes look rather lopsided, and have some details which are inherently unpredictable; so while theyíre used frequently in MS Windows, and excessively in Gnome and KDE, I have yet to see any Apple software use them at all.  [_Go_]

Note: I haven't run Safari yet at all so I'm relying and trusting Matt's feedback.  Still he did such an outstanding job on Cruft that I'll take his word on UI issues.

9:58:11 AM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   

I Wish I Had Written This: Why Small Businesses Need Websites

Here's a great article on why small businesses need web sites. 

Many business owners donít have a site because they donít see any value to having one. Their product canít be sold online, so they wonít directly increase revenues by having a site. Their business grows primarily through referrals, so a sales and marketing site seems pointless. Moreover, the business owners donít understand technology, so the process of creating a site seems a mystery to them.

I have yet to see a small business that doesnít stand to gain through a professional, well-planned Web site. A solid Web site that integrates into a small businessís processes can increase customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and speed delivery times.  [_Go_]

Nicely done.  Thank you.

9:52:14 AM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   

Bloggies is Down

I see that the site for the "Bloggies" awards is down.  Unanticipated popularity?  [_Go_]

9:49:36 AM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   

Joe's Back ! or "Update or Die!"

I've stressed I don't know how many times that you have to update your blog if you want people to read it.  And that even once you do update regularly it takes time for readers to catch on.  Joe seems to understand this:

 I had some regular readers, but they stopped when I stopped updating. This is the horror of having a blog. Update or die! [_Go_]

Yup.  You said it well:

Blogging: Update Or Die !

9:46:22 AM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   

Marketing 101: Marketing By Analogy

If you want to understand the difference between Advertising, Public Relations, Spam, etc then read John.  [_Go_]

9:43:05 AM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   

Making RSS with PHP

Adam has published some code, at my request, for converting a blog without RSS to one with an RSS feed.  He's even using this to create an RSS feed for William Gibson's blog.  Yes that William Gibson[_Go_]

9:40:02 AM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   

Java, Perl and PHP

As someone who was badly burned by the Java wars of 96 - 99, I've very, very happily learned to love PHP and the simplicity it brings to things.  No I'm not saying that PHP is a Java replacement at all just that when I see the things that Jeremy is dealing with in transitioning from Perl to Java it makes me very happy that it is him and not me. 

When I see stuff like this I know that PHP was the right choice -- at least for the types of work I do.  Oh and as long as I'm talking about Java you might want to look at Tapestry which looks interesting (at least according to Keith and I trust his opinion).

9:31:15 AM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   

Live in the Northeast this Year: Snow!

The most surprising thing this year in the Boston area has been the large amount of snow.  Not "shut your life down" snow but "very annoying snow".  Halley has composed a "snow lexicon" showing that like bostonians, like eskimos, recognize different types of snow.  [_Go_]

9:24:57 AM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   

Understanding the 802.11XYZ Standards

Scoble has a good but short piece on this.  With Apple's new announcement this is definitely worth reading.  [_Go_]

9:19:32 AM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   

Something New

I've been encouraged by some of my readers (it still gives me a kick to say that; I never thought anyone would read my drivel, ahem, "output") to write more on political issues like this piece.  So you'll see more of that over the next few weeks.  Still thinking about what exactly to say; most of my focus will probably be on ethics related issues and political mishaps.

9:17:04 AM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   

When Your Home Network Gets DOS'd

DOS = Denial of Service.  This just happened to the blogger known as "NoSuch" by an unknown "digital terrorist":

Our home network was compromised yesterday. It was a pretty low-tech denial-of-service attack, but it was effective, knocking us off-line for most of the afternoon. Conny was basically stuck with no Internet access until I could get home and try to sort things out.

The first thing I had to do was figure out what was going on. It was a learning experience for me. It brought home some important lessons about network security.

  • Most security breaches are exploits of known problems.
    True enough in this case. One other brief incident earlier had shown me a problem, but instead of addressing it properly, I applied a temporary fix - then I forgot about it.
  • Security is only as strong as the weakest point.
    Typically the weakest points are vulnerabilities to internal, trusted people. Like most folks, my home network is a lot less secure to anyone with physical access to it. I simply didn't think anyone in my apartment could be viewed as a risk to my home network. Sadly, that was not the case.

Whether the attacker was malicious, bored or trying to pull a prank, I'll never know. [_Go_]

Read carefully!  It could happen to you.

9:13:13 AM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This