Recent Entries in Web

They did it! They said it was impossible, but now Olivier Laurent, a British photographer, has blogged some test pictures from the first batch of Polaroid film since everything expired last year.

The results? Not good. Overly sensitive, and subject to minute temperature variations? What does this mean? Awesomeness! There's now film for our old Polaroid cameras. The film's just going to get better.

impossible_project_test_picture.jpg

This hands-on preview is based on only one cartridge of the new PX100, and considering instant film's particularities, a positive or negative judgment should be based on more than eight shots. But my initial impressions are that PX100 behaves like a expired pack of 779 or Time-Zero. You're never sure of what you will get. To be fair, Impossible did warn us about this during its press conference yesterday. A slight change in temperature or pressure can ruin or enhance your image.

1854, the blog of the British Journal of Photography

  sdfsd WTF?

My keyboard went offline when I plugged in my BB today. I started mashing keys to test it out, and Google made some interesting search suggestions.

sdfsd_wtf.jpg

  Movable Type 5 Launches

And it has revision control! Finally.

Here are some of the new and improved features in MT5:
  • A new user dashboard for both the website and blogs. This makes it easy for authors, editors, designers and other publishers to easily navigate between the two.
  • A new theme mechanism that makes it easy to apply a new theme across a website and blogs with a single click that proliferates changes throughout the published site.
  • Enhanced content management features that include revision history and new custom fields. There are five new object types for custom fields: website, blog, comment, template and asset.

Introducing Movable Type 5 - Movable Type

I've been using the MT-Twitter plugin for a while now, so that when updating the MissingLinks page, a corresponding twitter posting is made. It used to be using bit.ly to shorten the URLs (prior to the big server crash, I was using icanhaz.com, but lost all my code when the RAID controller on the server failed). Sometime in mid-November, the bit.ly URLs just disappeared, making me thing something went wrong on twitter's API. Either that, or something went wrong on my server, which I hadn't even touched that month.

So, I looked around for some suitable Perl code to re-introduce the bit.ly API calls that mysteriously went missing. The answer was a chunk of code from openclue.org (now apparently defunct). I'm reposting it here, so it might help someone out (myself included -- I'm backing stuff up properly now).

The twitter.pl script just needs a few extra lines. I inserted this code just after the "my $intro" line in the _update_twitter function:

my $bitly = LWP::UserAgent->new;
my $url_response =
    $bitly->get("http://bit.ly/api?url=" . $obj->permalink);
my $small_url;
if($url_response->is_success) {
   $small_url = $url_response->content;
} else {
   $small_url = $obj->permalink;
}

Then you have to update the part of the script which creates the twitter message. Replace the original $text string with the $small_url string:

# my $text = $intro . $entry->title . ' ' . $obj->permalink;
my $text = $intro . $entry->title . ' ' . $small_url;

Presumably, you can use any URL shortener API you want -- just insert the proper API call. Or, if you're enterprising, make your own URL shortener. That way, you own all the links.

Someone even came up with an idea to use .htaccess 301 redirects to bounce a link ending with <mt:EntryID> to the proper <$mt:EntryLink$>. Of course, this really only works if your domain name is short to begin with.

Wait, you can get money or freebies for reviewing things? Sheeit. I must be some kind of chump.

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday took steps to make product information and online reviews more accurate for consumers, regulating blogging for the first time and mandating that testimonials reflect typical results.

The FTC will require that writers on the Web clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products. The commission also said advertisers featuring testimonials that claim dramatic results cannot hide behind disclaimers that the results aren't typical.

Bloggers Must Disclose Payments for Reviews - NYTimes.com

Neat way to get new content for better blogging.

Need a photo to match a post you're writing? Zemanta to the rescue. Like to be reminded to tag your post so that it's search engine optimized? Zemanta will help you out. Zemanta has indexed more than a million top media sources and quality blogs, including Wikimedia Commons, Flickr and various stock photo providers to make it easier for you to create compelling posts.

Movable Type 4.32 Now Available - with Zemanta Built In - Movable Type

  Career Cruising

... or "What do I want to be when I grow up?"

R sent me to the Kitchener Public Library's career cruiser questionnaire. I don't know, maybe it's a slow day or something. Essentially, you answer a bunch of questions about what you like or dislike in a job, and it throws you a list of things you might be good at. I kind of wish I had one of these things in high school.

After answering 39 questions, they had me pegged as a guy who mainly fixes things. Not too far off from what I do, but I guess they couldn't decide on what I liked fixing:

1. Race Car Mechanic2. Appliance Repairer
3. Cable Installer and Repairer4. Farm Equipment Mechanic
5. Aircraft Mechanic6. Diesel Mechanic
7. Lifeguard8. Motorcycle Mechanic
9. Small Engine Mechanic10. Automobile Mechanic
11. Heavy Equipment Mechanic12. Industrial Machinery Mechanic
13. Elevator Installer and Repairer14. Taxidermist
15. Recreation Vehicle Service Technician16. Computer Support Person
17. Veterinarian18. Millwright
19. Agronomist20. Food Inspector
21. Veterinary Technician22. Curator
23. Film Processor24. Hairstylist
25. Fitness Instructor26. Home Economist
27. Diving Instructor28. Boilermaker
29. Automotive Painter30. Special Effects Technician
31. Technical Writer32. Tilesetter
33. Website Designer34. ESL Teacher
35. Welder36. Foreign Language Instructor
37. Historian38. Industrial Designer
39. Choreographer / Dance Instructor40. Director of Photography


Pretty varied list, if you discount all the ones that said "mechanic". At the very least they got Computer Support Person in there somewhere. I decided to fine tune the list a little. It asked me 57 more questions, and I got to fill in my level of education.

The next list was much much closer to what I do now (especially since I do a lot of artistic things in my spare time).

1. Critic2. Multimedia Developer
3. Writer4. Director of Photography
5. Special Effects Technician6. Choreographer / Dance Instructor
7. Director8. Historian
9. Video Game Developer10. Desktop Publisher
11. Technical Writer12. Driving Instructor
13. Camera Operator14. Business Systems Analyst
15. Database Developer16. Website Designer
17. Computer Programmer18. Webmaster
19. Researcher20. Makeup Artist
21. Web Developer22. Stuntperson
23. Computer Support Person24. Curriculum Specialist
25. Association Manager26. Audio-Visual Technician
27. Artist28. Communications Specialist
29. Computer Network Specialist30. Print Journalist
31. Electroneurodiagnostic Tech32. Cardiovascular Tech
33. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer34. Photographer
35. Dietitian36. Cable Installer and Repairer
37. Microbiologist38. Foreign Language Instructor
39. Film Editor40. Chef
Cool. Much closer to stuff I'd like doing. I wonder how much more fine tuning I can do with this list? I already do most of these things either during the day, or after hours. OK, maybe I'm no stuntperson or dance instructor, and maybe I don't know what an electroneurodiagnostic tech does, per se, but all in all, a pretty good list; I'm interested in, or have done more than half of the things on the list, and maybe 10 of the jobs reflect what I do in my current job.

On the other hand, this doesn't really inspire me to look for my ideal job. I kind of feel like Philip J. Fry being told he'll be a delivery boy.

  Zuckervati Magazine

I'll admit, there were times I fancied myself a writer. I even once thought the idea of getting published in print was a lifelong goal, and failing that, getting published on the Internets was a close second. And yeah, once, maybe just once, I thought about what it would be like to publish my blog (going on 9 years now) in hardcopy. You know, a book, or something. This brief flight of fancy soon dissolved as reality set in; I'm pretty sure no one's actually reading my blog, and that's fine ... but it makes the prospect of releasing it in print kind of, well, laughable.

Which might be why I found this article so funny:

Printed blog publication fails; world dies of shock

It turns out the idea of printing blog posts and distributing them in newspaper form wasn't such a good idea after all. The Printed Blog, a hybrid blog/newspaper, has announced that it's ceasing publication after running into funding trouble only six months after it was launched.

I'm pretty sure someone wasn't thinking if they thought that printed blogs (like, anyone's blogs, not something geared to a specific industry or trade publication) would succeed where failing print newspapers weren't. Apparently, Josh Karp had just returned from visiting Bizarro World:

"Last year, I had an idea. I wondered what would happen if some of the business model principles that work online were applied to the troubled newspaper industry... Everyone said I was nuts, but I did it anyway," The Printed Blog founder Josh Karp wrote in a letter on his site.

OK, got to give the guy props for following his dream, but consider this: Sometimes those fools/bureaucrats/doctors at the university/research institute/hospital were on to something when they called you mad.

Though it does bring me back to that one fleeting second I thought it might be a good idea to see this blog in print. Maybe as a monthly magazine, with articles, ads, and editorials. Maybe with a cool cover or something ...

zuckervati_magazine.jpg

Well, turns out the people at http://bighugelabs.com have just the thing: A magazine cover generator.

Ooooh, big surprise there.

Predictably, things went exactly as Karp's detractors had warned. Karp was never able to make enough money on advertising to cover the costs of running the business--running up his own personal credit card debt and dwindling his savings in the process--and was unable to get commitments from investors.

In his letter to readers, Karp said that The Printed Blog saw 16 issues before closing down. In a telltale sign that online media is destined to stay online, he also noted that 80,000 print copies were distributed, while another 100,000 copies were downloaded from the Internet

Printed blog publication fails; world dies of shock - Ars Technica

  As a Cyborg, I rule

Why, yes, Vigilant Assassination is my middle name.

Zeta Upgraded Construct Keen on Efficient Repair, Vigilant Assassination and Thorough Infiltration
Get Your Cyborg Name

  Highest IQ in Waterloo?

Whoa. That's a toughie. What with the High-tech triangle, RIM, those nerds at the University of Waterloo, and the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics (where Stephen Hawking is rumoured to be kept in a sealed jar these days), one would suspect we've got our own little Eureka here, in the heart of Southwestern Ontario. Of course, I'd always seen myself as a bald version of the cunning, but not too bright Sheriff Jack Carter, but that's another story.

So, if I had to guess the highest IQ in Waterloo, I'd conservatively say it was around 175-180, in the highest genius category. Note, we're not talking about average IQ, but highest IQ. I may be wrong, of course; feel free to let me know what your guess would be.

Oh, yeah. The whole reason this came up is because of this stupid "Test Your IQ" ad which foolishly showed up in my browser the other day:

highest_iq_waterloo.jpg

Yup, 115, apparently. It's not that I believed it would actually give me an accurate rating for the highest IQ in Waterloo (but wouldn't that be something you'd like to see?), or that I didn't already know that no matter what city my Internet connection originated, the number would always be 115, in order to entice me into clicking on the link to think that I might (gasp) have a higher IQ than whatever they listed.

No, it's more that they picked 115 to be the highest number for the region.

It was kind of funny when the ads showed off IQs for Paris Hilton or George Bush. At least there was enough reasonable uncertainty that made you confident you could have a higher IQ than George Bush. Or you could be pseudo-outraged that Paris Hilton could possibly have a higher IQ than you. But nothing pulls back the veil of willful disbelief suspension than to say the maximum IQ in Techtown is a modest 115. I mean, really, guys.

Soon, I won't be able to tell you about that rich, Colombian coffee I've been drinking. Oh yeah ... buy Moxie.

In case you're not familiar with the practice of "sponsored blogging," imagine that Your Favorite Blog written by Joe Schmoe of Little Rock, Arkansas often gives rave reviews of certain home appliances that he allegedly uses. Joe might have purchased those things himself, and he might really love them--but he might be getting paid by GE to push the company's new washer and dryer. Or, if he's not receiving money, Joe might be the recipient of paid trips to Hawaii or prepaid gift cards. All of these things can and do happen in the blogosphere, and there are no rules on disclosure.

FTC to crack down on undisclosed "sponsored" blogging - Ars Technica

Good little tip from BrainLog

In MT 4, the QuickPost bookmarklet pre-populates the entry's title with the title of the page, and sticks the URL of the page and the selected text in the message body. The URL is not a link, it's just the URL, followed by two <br /> tags, then the selected text, if any. Like this:


[Title:] Title Of Page
[Body:]
http://url-of-page/<br /><br />

Selected text, if any.


The new behavior is weird. Entry titles are all the rage with newer blogs and RSS feeds, so I'll grant that I'm behind the times for not using entry titles on short link-y entries. And perhaps usability studies showed that most people didn't want the page title to be the link text, though it doesn't seem like a hassle to make that the default. But I can't think of a reason why I'd want to use the URL without being a link.

Revising Movable Type 4's QuickPost Bookmarklet - BrainLog

This is pretty useful, especially when you're hacking your way around a new 4.2 installation, after having completely customized your old 3.x Movable Type.

How To Change the Default Image Upload Location in Movable Type 4.0

Since there isn't an option within the Movable Type user interface to make the file upload utility remember that I want my images to always go into the images subdirectory I decided to go straight to the source and make it happen. Please remember that if these steps break your copy of Movable Type I'm not the least bit responsible.

Configuring the upload utility to upload to the same subdirectory by default is actually quite simple. It only requires editing a single line of a single .tmpl file. However, if monkeying with an application's source code makes you really nervous I've heard there is a great plugin for improving Movable Type's file upload utility that only costs $10.

The file to edit is called asset_upload.tmpl. Assuming you have your Movable Type files in your cgi-bin the path to this file looks something like cgi-bin/mt/tmpl/cms/dialog/asset_upload.tmpl.


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