June 2006

Album Cover: The Future

"Love's the only engine of survival."
Leonard Cohen / The Future

Nine Inch Nails Web Feed

June 27, 2006 8:40 AM

Nine Inch Nails now has an RSS feed. Subscribed!

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FareCast Beta Invites

June 24, 2006 2:37 PM

A couple weeks ago Jason Kottke blogged about FareCast, a service currently in beta that makes airfare predictions based on accumulated data. He also mentioned having beta invites to give out, but those went fast.

I signed up for the service today and have a few invites to give out if anyone stopping by here is interested. Just leave a comment and be sure to include your email address. You should get an invite from me relatively soon (depending on how long they last).

If you've already signed up and have been trying it out, feel free to post your thoughts here. I've only just started playing around with it, but it looks pretty cool.

Update: Looks like FareCast opened its doors to the public today, so my invites are now irrelevant. TechCrunch has a pretty decent in-depth review of the service (including information on when they'll be rolling out new destinations), if anyone's interested.

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Opera 9 Reviewed

June 20, 2006 9:34 PM

Simon Willison has blogged about Opera 9 and the reasons he thinks it is "head and shoulders above its competitors in terms of raw utility." He includes a list of supported standards that will make any web programmer's mouth water. If you have any interest in web browsers at all, I recommend checking it out.

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3D Browsers

June 10, 2006 11:14 AM

I touched on the topic of 3D web browsers in my series on The State of the Browsersphere. I see today that Slashdot covered the topic this week in Three 3D Web Browsers Reviewed. As the article points out, "none of them are going to put Firefox or IE out of business any time soon," but they are interesting nonetheless.

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Memes are the New Forwards

June 10, 2006 10:05 AM

I guess I'm on a little bit of an X is the new Y roll as of late, but sobeit.

Regardless of what Jason Kottke and Mena Trott might think, memes are the new forwards. And just as I've always said, forwards are Satan's handiwork. Therefore, meme's are too.

Oh, and by the way, I heard Google's going to start charging for searches if you don't send a link to this blog entry to ten of your friends before midnight tonight.

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

Getting Around the COUNT DISTINCT Problem in SQLite

June 07, 2006 10:06 PM

The other day I was trying to get a count of unique records in an SQLite table, and it didn't take long to realize that SQLite doesn't actually support the COUNT(DISTINCT id) method I've grown accustomed to from working with MySQL.

Luckily for me, I was able to find SQL Cheat Sheet, which gives a workaround for databases like SQLite and Access that don't support the COUNT/DISTINCT combo:

SELECT COUNT(customer_state) FROM (SELECT DISTINCT customer_state FROM customers);

The workaround is pretty straightforward. It uses a subselect to get the distinct data, then does a count on that temporary, or what they call "derived," table. They do, however, note the caveat that this approach is typically slower.

Web Development | Post Comments | View Comments (5) | Permalink

On the Same Page

June 07, 2006 10:58 AM

God spoke to me this morning in the form of a black Ferrari 360 Modena Spyder pulling in front of me on the freeway and Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah" playing on my stereo.

However, I'm not exactly sure what He was trying to tell me that I wasn't thinking already.

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Java Any Idea How Annoying You Are?

June 04, 2006 2:14 PM

HTML Hell is a multifaceted place, for sure ("masturbation with JavaScript?" - lolgasm!). However, I would much rather spend my day wading through blink tag-infested, fluorescent pink web pages steeped in frames, than visit just one site that uses Java for any reason.

Why, I hear you ask? It's simple. 90% of the time when a website I visit uses Java, I don't know what it's using it for. I know it's using it, though, because my computer starts to make strange noises, my browser freezes up just a bit, and then I see the international symbol for "I'm wasting valuable resources" pop up in my system tray:

Java Sucks

I think the last time this happened, I was looking at an article at CNN. I know for a fact I don't need Java running to read an article. More than likely, Java was being used to serve up some annoying ad on the site's sidebar that I definitely didn't read, and most likely had some annoying monkey wearing boxing gloves running around in a 200 by 600 block daring me to hit it for cash. Riiiiiiiiiight.

So here's a lesson for you web developers out there. Stop using Java. Java isn't for web developers. In fact, there are people out there who don't think Java is for anyone. When faced with the decision of whether or not to use Java, go with something cooler, like the marquee tag. Got it?

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

Strange Cursor Artifact in Firefox

June 04, 2006 1:57 PM

I'm currently using Firefox, and lately I've been noticing a strange cursor artifact quite often. I'm not sure why it shows up, but it seems pretty random and comes and goes as it pleases. The last time I saw it was when I was writing up an email in Gmail:

Screenshot of Firefox Cursor Artifact

It's a minor annoyance, sure, but it's an annoyance nonetheless. I tried looking for a Bugzilla bug on it, but didn't find one right off the bat. I did, however, find some discussion on the artifact over at MozillaZine, relating mostly to RTL languages. However, I'm not convinced this is the cause of the problem.

Browsers | Post Comments | View Comments (37) | Permalink

MySpace is the New AOL

June 04, 2006 1:38 PM

My girlfriend and I went to watch The Break Up yesterday (good movie, by the way), and I noticed that one of the previews beforehand referenced a URI at MySpace. You know, something like www.myspace.com/somenewmovie. I'm not surprised I can't remember the actual URI less than 24 hours later. Why? Because seeing that ad immediately reminded me of the glory days of AOL, and we all know how I feel about AOL.

Remember when every ad you'd hear on the radio or see on TV would end with something like "go to www.somelameproduct.com or AOL keyword 'some lame product' for more information?" Now, just remove AOL from the equation and replace it with myspace. Same old shnax, just a different day. Unfortunately, it's gotten to be so bad that even traditional non-sellouts like Pearl Jam have jumped on the myspace bandwagon. How embarrassing.

Anyway, just like AOL did, MySpace will see its demise. I would post more on the topic, but it actually got quite a bit of coverage yesterday over at Digg.

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

Pluralize Intelligently with PHP

June 03, 2006 1:53 PM

If you've ever created a blog or other site that reports article views or comments, you've probably run into the problem of intelligently handling the pluralization of words. For example, if there has been only one comment on a particular article or blog entry, you'll want to report "1 comment" and not "1 comments," since the former is obviously more intelligent and appropriate. This problem is an easy one to solve, but here's a function you can use if you don't feel like reinventing the wheel:

// function for pluralizing a word intelligently
function pluraleyes($num, $word)
 return ($num == 1) ? $word : $word . 's';

Then, to utilize the function, simply call it like this:

Article viewed <? echo $views . ' ' . pluraleyes($views, 'time'); ?>.

Easy, right?

Web Development | Post Comments | View Comments (7) | Permalink


June 02, 2006 12:01 AM

I find it a bit ironic that no one has solved the CAPTCHA problem yet. Afterall, an article at Slashdot today says that people are "working...to develop new generations of captchas that are designed to be easier on humans but baffling for computers." Haha. Are computers that smart?

If you look at this from the other side of the spectrum, there are people trying to figure out how to pass the Turing Test, and no one has been able to as of yet. Moreover, the Turing Test is actually part of the CAPTCHA acronym! We know that computers aren't as smart as humans (yet), so why can't we apply some of the more obvious examples of that fact to solve the CAPTCHA problem? As the Slashdot article points out, people are fed up with the jumbled letters that they have to type into the box.

I wish I could present a more elegant solution here, but I've crashed and burned on that one before. However, there are a lot of brilliant minds out there trying to solve this problem. I am surprised the jumbled letters are the best option we've got.

Just for the fun of it, here are some random alternatives off the top of my head (feel free to shoot them down...I'm obviously no stranger to stupid ideas):

  • An image of a football with two options to choose from: 5 and 6.
  • The word "music" with two options to choose from: an image of a treble clef and an image of a plate of spaghetti.
  • A brief sound clip telling the user what to type in a box. Could even be a question like "what color are clouds?" or "how many eyes should you have?"
  • A grid of four options, one of which "does not belong here."

Or we could just solve the bigger problem.

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