March 2005

Album Cover: Plans

"And it came to me then that every plan is a tiny prayer to Father Time."
Death Cab / What Sarah Said

You Win Some, You Lose Some

March 31, 2005 2:23 AM

Okay, so I thought it would be interesting. I was wrong. Consider me unsubscribed.

Elsewhere | Post Comments | View Comments (0) | Permalink

Autopackage

March 28, 2005 7:06 AM

Finally! Autopackage adds Windows-like install/uninstall functionality to Linux. Even as someone who is now comfortable with the typical ./configure, make, make install process for installing new applications on Linux (and semi-comfortable with RPMs), I have always felt that package management has been the Achilles' heel keeping Linux behind Windows in the desktop world. If you're a Linux user and reading this hasn't quite piqued your interest, just take a look at the screenshots.

I'm really looking forward to seeing Autopackage in action.

Computers | Post Comments | View Comments (3) | Permalink

Delirious? No. Hilarious? Yes.

March 27, 2005 12:50 PM

While we're on the subject of websites getting hijacked, I should point out that there is some crazy stuff going on over at de.lirio.us right now, and it's pretty darn funny.

In case you missed it, de.lirio.us is an open source project by Steve Mallett. Upon announcing the new service (which used to look a lot like del.icio.us), Steve said:

Please try it out, tell your buds, kick some tires.

I guess Steve didn't realize how hard people can kick. When I look at the site today, I see this and hear this animation's music playing in the background.

Hilarious! I say keep on kicking.

Elsewhere | Post Comments | View Comments (0) | Permalink

Hijacked

March 27, 2005 10:05 AM

I can't decide if this is funny or not.

Screenshot of Hijacked Design

Maybe I should ask Dave Shea or Markku Seguerra.

Web Design | Post Comments | View Comments (0) | Permalink

New Longhorn Screenshots

March 26, 2005 10:59 PM

I took a look at some of the newly posted screenshots of Longhorn over at the SuperSite for Windows (via Slashdot) tonight, and I have to say that I'm not very impressed.

Sure, Microsoft has made some progress since XP, but so what? They better. Other than the somewhat cool relevance field in a "Find in Files" search, nothing really catches my eye the way that the GUI of Fedora Core 3 did the first time I fired it up, for instance.

Maybe they'll make up a lot of ground by offering greater levels of customization for utilizing the underlying graphics layer, but if not, Longhorn may prove to be a dud on the graphical side of things.

Computers | Post Comments | View Comments (2) | Permalink

Madness

March 26, 2005 7:54 PM

They don't call it March Madness for nothin'.

I still remember the day like it was yesterday. I was 12 years old, sitting alone at the kitchen table in my grandpa's house, watching the final seconds of the Duke/Kentucky game. Grant Hill heaved a cross-court pass to Christian Laettner, who, in the blink of an eye, turned and hit a jumper that would send Duke on to the Final Four and would remain burned in my memory until this very day.

As it turns out, things are just as mad now as they were then.

Today has to go down as one of the most exciting in the history of the NCAA Tournament. The Arizona/Illinois game, in particular, was one of the most exciting basketball games I have ever watched (and I've seen a few).

I'm already salivating at the thought of a Illinois/UNC title game, with the spoils going to, of course, the boys in Carolina blue.

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Three Tickets

March 20, 2005 2:54 AM

I had three tickets in hand on Friday night. Two of them guaranteed me admission to the benefit show put on by Pearl Jam and friends at the Paramount. As noted over at The Sky I Scrape, the show ended up being a blast.

That brings us to the third ticket, which was more expensive than the first two and didn't quite signify the same kind of excitement. While driving into downtown to find a parking spot near the Paramount (keep in mind I used to live a block away from it), I somehow missed a Do Not Enter sign and found myself moseying ever so slowly down Olive Way going the wrong way on a one-way street. As if that wasn't exciting enough, there was a traffic cop just feet away, serving no real purpose other than fulfilling the wishes of She who controls my fate.

Roughly five minutes after she gestured me to pull over to the other side of the street, I had the third ticket in my hand (which will soon cost me a cool $101). Needless to say, I could go off right now with a superlative description of the order in which I'd place said traffic cop on the ladder of living beings (think Dante's circles), but I'll retract in fear of how that might affect my, seeming to be already afflicted, karma.

In the meantime, I'll try to be like Mr. Brightside and continue telling myself you haven't really lived until you've driven the wrong way down a one-way street.

Blathery | Post Comments | View Comments (262) | Permalink

FreshCSS

March 18, 2005 9:20 AM

I just noticed that my site is featured among some pretty impressive company this month over at FreshCSS. Awesome.

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Holy Shnax!

March 16, 2005 9:03 PM

Every two to four years a "music year" comes along – a year when all kinds of good music comes out. We haven't had one in a while now, but 2005 is sure to be one. I just read the following in the latest edition of EndMail and couldn't be more psyched:

Pearl Jam's Almost Done With Their New CD. According to Rolling Stone, Pearl Jam have been hard at work on their next studio album. Drummer Matt Cameron says that the record is close to being finished and that band will spend the rest of March finishing the vocals and mixing. They hope to have the album out as early as May. Cameron told Rolling Stone, "There's a lot more up-tempo stuff. It's a lot more rockin' than our last one." Some new songs in consideration are "Severed Hand," "Worldwide Suicide," "2X4," "Marker," "Cold Concession" and "Unemployable," which was co-written by Cameron and guitarist Mike McCready. "We reworked everything together in the studio," says Cameron. "It's a really healthy environment - everyone really just wants to dig in and make the songs as good as they can be." Pearl Jam hopes to tour behind the still-untitled album this summer.

That news alone is enough to make 2005 a landmark year for music in my book, but knowing that Nine Inch Nails, Coldplay, Audioslave and perhaps even Radiohead will be releasing new albums this year might make 2005 the music year of this decade.

Music | Post Comments | View Comments (1) | Permalink

All Systems Go

March 16, 2005 8:55 PM

In case you didn't notice, bernzilla.com was down last night and through part of today while "I" made the switch to a new server. I say "I" because a good bulk of the work involved was handled by my WSP, Hard Hat Hosting. I can't say enough about them. Time and time again they've virtually bent over backwards to ensure everything is running smoothly. How many web hosts do you know of that are available to chat at 11pm or willing to get their hands dirty with log archives to make sure you don't lose any history when upgrading to a new server? If you feel like you're getting the shaft with your current provider (it has happened to me numerous times in the past) or are simply ready for a change, I highly recommend giving Hard Hat Hosting a look.

Miscellaneous | Post Comments | View Comments (0) | Permalink

Installing Subversion on Fedora Core 3

March 15, 2005 7:06 PM

The following is a concise run-through of the steps I took to get Subversion installed, running, and viewable/fetchable (via Apache2) on Fedora Core 3:

  1. Installed Subversion: yum install subversion
  2. Installed mod_dav_svn: yum install mod_dav_svn
  3. Created a new repository according to the Subversion Book
  4. Created a new project according to the Subversion Book
  5. Added the basic Location directive outlined in the Basic Apache Configuration section of the Subversion Book (I skipped the LoadModule step because it was taken care of when mod_dav_svn was installed)
  6. Made sure the ServerName entry was correct in httpd.conf
  7. Restarted Apache2: sudo /etc/init.d/httpd restart
  8. Updated permissions on my new SVN repository: sudo chown -R apache /path/to/repository
  9. Viewed the contents of my repository by pointing Firefox at http://localhost/svn (replace /svn with whatever you use in your Location directive)

And there you have it. Subversion up and running on Fedora Core 3. If you get stuck along the way, the Subversion Book is an excellent resource containing just about all the information you need to get up and running.

Computers | Post Comments | View Comments (10) | Permalink

The Little Things That Kill

March 15, 2005 4:15 PM

If you've ever had to install, upgrade or uninstall software on Red Hat Linux, you've probably, like me, gained an appreciation for how well Windows manages such tasks. However, just because the OS manages those processes well does not necessarily mean that individual software packages do as well.

When I put on my user's hat and think about what makes a good piece of software, it's the little things that often count the most. Anyone who has been reading my blog for any significant amount of time knows that I am a staunch Firefox supporter. That being said, Firefox recently lost points with me because it didn't do something that I consider to be absolutely vital – clean up after itself.

After noticing the nifty update icon in the upper-right corner of the browser last week, I decided I'd go ahead and upgrade from version 1.0 to 1.0.1 in order to get some of the fixes that went into that build.

Given that I've been installing new versions of Firefox for quite a long time now, I couldn't help but feel a little bit iffy about installing an upgrade without first removing the old version. However, I put my faith in Firefox to do the right thing. By doing so, I did the wrong thing.

Without any regard for the version of Firefox already living on my machine, Firefox 1.0.1 installed just as if it was being installed for the very first time. However, that was the problem – it wasn't being installed for the first time, so I expected it to clean up after itself and manage the fact that Firefox 1.0 would no longer be needed.

It wasn't long after looking in Add/Remove Programs, seeing two versions of Firefox available for uninstall, and grimacing more than a purple McDonald's mascot that I read Asa Dotzler's post, upgrading from firefox 1.0 to firefox 1.0.1, in which he admits:

We do not clean up the Firefox 1.0 listing in Add or Remove Programs. Do not attempt to uninstall the old Firefox 1.0 from Add or Remove Programs. That will uninstall your updated version.

The good news is, he also states that the issue should be fixed by the next release. That doesn't change the fact, however, that my 5% OCD (some might argue a higher number) is practically making me twitch knowing that there are two Firefox entries under Add/Remove Programs.

The moral of the story, I suppose, is that doing the little things the right way can really strengthen the overall user experience, not to mention a user's trust in the application. The next time I install Firefox I will doubtless be worrying about whether or not it will clean up after itself for a change.

Just as a final note, I don't particularly mean to pick on Firefox here. I could have just as easily picked on iTunes (which exhibited the exact same behavior today when I "upgraded" to version 4.7.1) or a whole slew of other applications. The fact of the matter is that developers, in general, need to be responsible because earning a user's trust can go a very long way.

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Downloading Music Legally is Hard

March 14, 2005 1:25 AM

I don't know why I'm posting about downloading music so much lately, but oh well. Over the course of this weekend, after purchasing three bottles of Code Red, I managed to go 3-for-3 in the Pepsi / iTunes promotion which is pretty good, considering the odds are advertised as 1-in-3.

I decided to sign up for an iTunes Music Store account tonight (so the promotion worked) and claim my 3 songs. Little did I know how hard it would be to download music legally.

When you think about it, the songs were free, so I really had nothing to lose by purchasing and downloading just about anything. However, I'm not one to take music lightly, so I weighed all my options. The first choice was simple, I downloaded "Bi^*#es Ain't S@*t" by Ben Folds, since it was listed in the store as one of the top ten most popular songs.

Things got exponentially difficult after that, though. I searched for artists such as Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Audioslave, Jay-Z and many others hoping that iTunes might have some exclusive downloads. I was disappointed to find that they do not.

Another feature lacking from the iTunes store, at least from what I could tell, is the ability to preview a song before purchasing it. If I was dealing with my own hard-earned $0.99 I'd have a hard time downloading a song that looked intriguing without the option to at least hear a little bit of what the song has to offer. I had a hard enough time as it was, and I was dealing with free (basically) credits.

While trying to come up with some ideas, I started thinking about some of the obscure songs I had listened to while growing up that were getting increasingly hard to find online. Unfortunately, iTunes was missing several of these songs (e.g. "Years Ago" by Super Deluxe). I eventually remembered that "Game Don't Wait" by Warren G has always come back as what sounds like a phonograph recording when I download it from P2P apps. That became my second "purchase."

Not long after I started feeling like I wasn't going to find a third song worth purchasing, I thought to try and look for something in the Electronica genre. Moby came to mind first, but I decided to download "Galvanize" by The Chemical Brothers since they have a new album out.

In the end, I am pleased with my choices. The Ben Folds track is hilarious (especially being a fan of The Chronic) and "Galvanize" is exactly what I'd expect from The Chemical Brothers. The nice surprise, though, is that "Game Don't Wait" is actually a different mix than the one I've downloaded in the past. I actually like it a lot. Then again, you can't ever go wrong with Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and Warren G all on the same track.

The moral of the story is, downloading free music legally is a lot harder than you might think. I imagine it's even harder when it's not free. I don't anticipate finding myself in that dilemma anytime soon, though. If you're like me and find yourself in a rough spot trying to come up with ideas for your free iTunes downloads, definitely give the aforementioned songs a try. You won't be disappointed.

Music | Post Comments | View Comments (3) | Permalink

Sponsored by the Letter S

March 13, 2005 12:06 AM

In my mind, anything you learned to do from Bert and Ernie can't be bad. Back when I was still wearing velcro shoes, they tought me the benefits of sharing. Little did I know that one day sharing would become such a big deal.

Two years ago I used Kazaa Lite for all my online sharing needs. When that application kind of fell by the wayside, I was lucky enough to hear about another sharing program called WinMX. That particular sharing application lasted me quite a long time. In fact, I have been using it (for personal research purposes only, of course) up until a few weeks ago. At that time, I noticed that it became increasingly more difficult to find music, and even when music was found, it would come in so many different bitrates and lengths that downloading the correct version became a complete nuissance.

Giving up on WinMX for the time being, I decided to give eDonkey 2000 a try. It didn't quite have the UI features that I liked in the aforementioned applications, but it seemed to do a fairly good job of finding and downloading music. The program's BitTorrent support seemed like an intriguing feature, but it proved to be less than stellar at best (I continue to use ABC for all of my BitTorrent needs). It wasn't long, however, before I realized that even eDonkey2000 was having problems finding and downloading the more obscure music that I frequently search for.

Out of desperation, I began looking at applications like Morpheus and BearShare, only to find that they both "include adware that may record your surfing habits, deliver advertisements, collect private information, or modify your system settings." Riiiiight.

So while trying to get my hands on a copy of the recently leaked "The Line Begins to Blur" by Nine Inch Nails, I ran across several random references to a program referred to simply as "slsk." A quick Google search for slsk led me to Soulseek, a file sharing application free of all the cruft found in the two previously mentioned apps that has a user interface I can appreciate.

I haven't had a chance to use it all that much yet, but I like what I have seen thus far. I'm not sure if BitTorrent support is built-in (my guess is no), but that is okay because for the time being I am perfectly happy with downloading torrents separately using ABC. In fact, it was via BitTorrent – not file sharing apps – that I was able to find both the new NIN song and the recently released Star Wars Episode III Trailer (thanks to Kottke) tonight.

Remember, sharing is a good thing. If anyone tries to stop you along the way, just tell 'em Bert and Ernie sent ya. That'll work, right? ;)

Computers | Post Comments | View Comments (1) | Permalink

Things You Dun Oughts Ta Know

March 10, 2005 1:52 PM

You dun oughts ta know how to tie your shoes
You dun oughts ta know when to sing the blues
You dun oughts ta know how to brush yo teef
You dun oughts ta know how to squash a beef
You dun oughts ta know how to get the girl
You dun oughts ta know how to rock her world
You dun oughts ta know how to express your thoughts
You dun oughts ta know when to tie the knot
You dun oughts ta know how to cross the street
You dun oughts ta know how to make ends meet
You dun oughts ta know how to end a rhyme
You dun oughts ta know when it's closing time

Blathery | Post Comments | View Comments (0) | Permalink

Debugging a Web Page

March 02, 2005 8:56 PM

Although I have been designing and developing websites for over 10 years now, it wasn't until about my sophomore year of college (about 5 years ago) that I began dabbling in dynamic web programming. At that time, the webdev department at my school had purchased a ColdFusion server and was looking for excuses to put it to work. Because I worked in that department all 4 years I attended college and had a bit of a reputation for dabbling in new technologies, I was one of the first to start looking at what ColdFusion had to offer and how it could make our jobs simpler.

It wasn't long before I became at least semi-proficient in the language and began to turn my head in the direction of other web programming technologies. ASP was next in line, and it wasn't long before I had hooked my personal website and the Pleasure Unit website up to an Access database and dynamically served the pages using that particular language.

Little did I know at that time that I would soon be swept off my feet by another up-and-coming language, PHP, while working on what eventually turned into the Performance Library Database during my senior year. When work on that project wasn't consuming all my time, I managed to port my home page and the Pleasure Unit site to this new language, given that I wouldn't have to be tied to Access anymore and the language was just so darn cool. I was never a big fan of ASP to begin with.

Since graduating college, PHP has been my web programming language of choice, and there's little chance of that changing anytime soon. If anyone asked me what language they should use to learn dynamic web programming, I would answer "PHP" before they even finished their sentence.

This leads me to the point of this post, though (talk about long-winded!). In the past few weeks I have been programming in ASP .NET and there are some major differences that distinguish programming in that language from programming in any of the aforementioned languages. I could go into detail about each one at this point, but the main one I want to focus on is debugging.

If you've ever been in a situation where your PHP page wasn't quite doing what you expected, you doubtless found that your only real recourse was to turn up your error reporting and start plugging in print() or echo() calls all over the place in your code.

Having debugged software in the various versions of Visual Studio before, whenever I run into this type of situation, I wish that I could simply debug my PHP code in a similar manner. If you develop a web page (or site) in ASP .NET, you can.

I have to admit, the first time I did it, it seemed really weird. When you've been debugging by hand for 5 years and all of a sudden you have the ability to trace through your code line-by-line, catch exceptions, etc., it's really a strange feeling. It's by no means a bad one, though, and it's quite easy to get used to.

As I said earlier, there are many other trade-offs I could talk about here – like code separated from presentation and the "single-form" ideology, to name a couple – but I think that the debugging distinction is interesting enough to stand on its own.

ASP .NET could throw in a whole slew of other tricks and still not turn me away from PHP, but that doesn't mean I'm not open-minded about the whole thing. As is common in software and web development, there are often technologies that are ideal for some situations and not for others. The more we learn about the tools at our disposal, the more efficient we become as developers.

Web Development | Post Comments | View Comments (3) | Permalink

Gmail Protection Finally Foiled

March 01, 2005 9:24 AM

The very first spam email made its way into my Gmail inbox this morning. Up until now, though I have been getting spammed pretty regularly, all of the spam was put in its rightful place – the Spam folder. It's a shame I didn't quite make it a full year without any spam reaching my inbox, but pretty darn close. I'd salute Google for doing such a good job of protecting my inbox, but with the recent surge of new members and this latest, albeit minor, setback, I'll take solace in clicking the "Report Spam" button and see how things go from here.

Computers | Post Comments | View Comments (3) | Permalink