Computing Archive

September 11, 2009
January 04, 2007
Daily Internet Checks

There are several sites that I check pretty much every day. Some of them are simply personal, such as checking an email account or reading some comic strips. Some others are things which generally change once a day.

One example of this is Woot.com where every day they offer one item for sale. Usually this is a pretty good deal on a technology related product, but sometimes it features other things such as wine or golf clubs. Every now and then they offer a woot-off where they offer one item after another for a day or two with a new item listed once the previous item has sold out. They tell me I've made five different purchases from them (including an order of Random Crap), but I remember buying some things which they don't mention, so I think their listing of my purchases must just be the latest purchases and not all of them.

A site I only just started following is Giveaway of the Day. This site offers a free licensed copy of a software package with a new one offered every day. Each package is only available for one day, but the installed program is fully usable from then on. Note that it has to be installed that day, so you can't simply download every package and then later install them at your leisure or give them to others. There might still be benefits to paying for the free program such as getting upgrades and support services, but for free it is certainly worth checking out. They have some business model whereby the software companies see the one day giveaway as a promotional tool so that the site hopes to be able to continue to offer free programs for the foreseeable future. There is also the companion Game Giveaway of the Day site.

Another thing I've been trying to do every day is participate in the RevGalBlogPals trivia contest. I'm too slow to get to the top ten and I rarely get them all correct, but it has been fun (sometimes I even manage to do better than my wife!).

Posted by JoKeR at 12:36 AM
June 30, 2006

Once again, I have found what I think is a terrific link via Metafilter. This time it is a flash presentation called Gapminder which graphically shows income and health statistics about countries all over the world over a span of several years. It was created by Hans Rosling who apparently has some other videos at his site (or is that a shared site, it is apparently so overburdened by people accessing what might be his latest video that I haven't been able to get the site to respond, thus my speculation that the site is overburdened at present). I am, in fact, making this posting as much to remind myself of this information (and maybe get into the site later when it isn't so busy) as from a desire to share it with my reader (I do have one, don't I? Hello?)

Posted by JoKeR at 10:30 PM
June 02, 2006
Can't have a blank home page, now can I?

Having a job (yay!) really impacts on my recreational computing (boo!). However, finding my blog with no entry on the main page simply isn't acceptable.

I've been feeling good. Choral Guild is done for the summer. I met an internet friend in rl last month. I've been listening to lots of music on an mp3 player which has generally been pretty nice. Been watching lots of BritComs via NetFlix (thanks Jacqueline!). Church choir is taking a break from Wednesday rehearsals during the summer. Daughter is coming home from Germany in a month or so. Life is generally pretty good.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:37 PM
March 11, 2006
Comments yet again

OK, I think I've disabled comments except for "authenticated users" which means using TypeKey which is free, but maybe not for everyone. I will, one day, do something to make this easier, but after deleting 800 spam comments, I want them to stop NOW. I did find and save a comment from Satchel Pooch, but if I didn't recognize anyone else's name in the comment I deleted it. Sorry if a comment of yours got caught in the mess (except for the spammers, God will punish you if there is any justice).

Posted by JoKeR at 10:36 AM
February 08, 2006
Schedule getting busier

Well, folks, it looks like things are going to get a bit busier for me. I got a call from my most recent employer asking that I come back on at least a temporary basis for the next few weeks or months, possibly leading to more permanent work. This is not the job opportunity I was looking for, but it both helps to pay the bills and offers an opportunity to work with some new technology that they have (finally) brought in. Thanks for all your prayers.

Posted by JoKeR at 10:38 AM
January 14, 2006
more spam comments

I was looking around my blog and I found that some of my anti-spam software was working better than I thought. I had more than 800 comments that had been flagged as spam and set aside so I hadn't even noticed them when they came in. That on top of hundreds that it didn't recognize as spam which I'd already deleted.

So I spent some time looking for a plug-in to do pass-number verification where commentors will have to type in the number displayed in a graphic. I've gotten it to where it will show the random number and let me type it in, but it doesn't yet affect comment posting. That will come next. Hopefully, by the end of the weeked I'll be free from comment spam! OK, so maybe I'll have fewer spam comments. OK, so maybe it won't help, but at least I'm trying. I'm just sorry that I'm winding up making it more difficult for my readers to leave me comments. Sorry about that. Just trying to avoid wasting space and time on these unwanted comments.

Posted by JoKeR at 09:44 PM
November 19, 2005
Real Live Pirate Updated

Ahoy, maties! For a variety of reasons I've updated the Real Live Pirate web site. For those who may not know what that is, it is a site set up for fun due to a group of frequent chat participants refering to ourselves as "The Pirates of Pennance," obviously playing off of both The Pirates of Penzance and Real Live Preacher where we met and meet to chat.

As a static site it really hasn't been very interesting except to point new pirate wannabes to it in order to share some links to other pirates and pirate-related sites. It seems to me that our group of friends has enough and varied interests that there would be a variety of web sites we might run across which would be fun to share with other pirates, and perhaps even non-pirates. So, I've now installed blog software and reconfigured the site to use it. (Note that this is part of a move to a different web-hosting service, so while I have found that I can get directly to the new site, it may be that pirates whose internet connectivity uses different domain name servers (DNS) might not yet have access to the new site. Fear not, it should not take more than 48 hours (less than 40 by now) for the new site's address to propogate around the entire internet at which point it should be accessible to everyone. If you don't see the new page you might try refreshing the display and/or clearing your browser's cache of saved pages just to verify that your computer is pulling the page from the internet instead of from a saved copy of the page.)

So what does all of this mean? It is my hope that other pirates might be willing to post links that they find of interest into this common site. Most of us have our own blogs and I don't really see a need for anyone to post complete articles on rlp2 (rlp being the aforementioned Real Live Preacher, thus Real Live Pirate is rlp2). However, I know that I often run across funny, thought provoking, or otherwise interesting sites (at least, I think they qualify as such) which I'd like to share with friends, but I don't want my blog to be simply a linklog (a collection of links with little other content) even if that would be more interesting than my usual drivel. (I thought this was called a link farm but apparently that is a search engine spamming scheme for raising page rank in search results. Live and learn. I found some other sites referring to a collection of links such as I envision as a linklog, so that's the term I settled on. Anywaaaaaay...) Examples of other collective link sharing sites include SlashDot, MetaFilter, and Fark. However, those either are too specialized (SlashDot is specifically for topics of technical interest), too crude (Fark, of course), or simply too busy to keep up with (MetaFilter and the others as well). Knowing the folks who are sharing the links would make the links more interesting to me ("what does their interest in this site teach me about my friend?") and would help spark conversations when we do chat.

So, if you are interested in contributing I encourage you to visit the new site and get yourself registered (just click login and follow the instructions) and let me know that you have done so and what your handle there is (in case you decide on a different one than I usually see you using). I will then update your access so that you can post new entries. Even if you are not interested in contributing links I hope you'll visit the site and see what folks are linking to.

One consequence of this change is that the forum which had been on the old rlp2 site is now gone. I asked a few pirates if they thought that would be a problem and they agreed with me that there hadn't been enough content there to be concerned about losing. Sorry if anyone disagrees with that decision, but I don't think that can be undone at this point. For the new site the blog posts will allow for comments so discussions can continue there as needed. If anyone would dearly love to see a forum separate from blog comments on the rlp2 site then let me know. If there is enough interest I can build a new forum.

I hope to hear from some of you soon. I think this could be fun. Maybe we should even start an rlp2 webring.

Posted by JoKeR at 10:45 AM
November 13, 2005
How many degrees of separation

So, I'm reading a favorite site of mine to find some interesting links when I notice that one of the links is to another favorite site of mine. "Hello, MeFi, have you met my friend RLP?" MeFi readers are sometimes able to overwhelm sites which suddenly get more traffic than they were ready for. Is RLP ready? We shall see.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:33 PM
November 12, 2005
Counter restoration

Well, this is a fairly useless update, but I had fun with it. I've kept a counter on some of my pages since I first put up web pages. However, the code that I use to maintain and display the counter (I found it years ago and I don't even remember where) has a minor problem. I am guessing that this problem occurs when two people try to access the counter at essentially the same time. I think that when this happens one of the processes cannot get to the file used to track the counter data (because it is being used by the other process). The one which was denied access interprets the error as indicating that the file doesn't exist and so it recreates it, thereby resetting all my counters back to zero.

This happened again just recently. However, I was not without recourse. I have a cron job which backs up that counter file every night. I could have simply copied an older copy of the file back into the production file name, but I wasn't satisfied with that. This was not the first time this has happened and I decided I would search through my archive of counter files and put together a new counter file which accumulates the totals from all the different files over the past three years (about 1000 files), recovering the counters that had been lost in the past.

So I ftped the files over to my home computer in order to be able to work with them more easily. Then I wrote a program which could read each of the files. Then, as the program reads the files it identifies all the different counters tracked in each file (since a single file is used to track all of the different pages) and recognize when the counters got reset. Then it totals up the highest values found for each page (the last values recorded before the counters were reset each time) and writes out a new data file with these new totals.

Using this little utility I've now restored my counters and recovered years worth of statistics. And so, I am now approaching 10,000 hits on my home page (not to mention nearly 8000 hits on one of my sokoban pages). Plus, if this glitch occurs again, I won't have to process so much data to recover the counters, because current backups will reflect the counts from early 2002.

OK, so nobody else cares. But it was interesting and I'm happy to have restored some evidence of my time blogging. Of course, the fact that I've gotten fewer hits in more than 2.5 years than some folks get everyday is irrelevent. Isn't it?

Posted by JoKeR at 04:20 AM
October 10, 2005
I've been hacked!

My loving son has hacked my web site! I didn't notice it right away because the regular web site is still there. He just redirected the base url to a hacked version of it. Maybe I didn't need that last post after all. Of course, my FRIENDS who saved the full link directly to the blog instead of being redirected by the web server might have missed it.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:43 AM
September 28, 2005
I'm Number One! (on Google)

After my complaints about my Google rank, I was pleased to notice today that I am now the first entry returned when searching for JoKeR's Blog on Google, even without quoting it as a phrase. I want to thank my friends on the net for linking to me in order to help me achieve this distinction.

I did notice that even though that previous post about my Google rank was made three weeks ago, that is the post that Google mentions in its search results. The link it provides is directly to my home page, but the quote is from an old post. Of course, that post includes an unusual number of mentions of my blog's name, so maybe all I needed to do was write about myself to get that coveted top rank.

You know, it feels almost like getting noticed.

Posted by JoKeR at 02:32 PM
September 13, 2005
Comment validation

Well, I've been playing with comment controls. It appears that I am close to being able to require TypeKey validation. This doesn't cost my readers anything to register, but I don't want to annoy folks who might read this by requiring it. Please leave comments to let me know your thoughts. I haven't turned validation on, but if the spammers come I'd like to be ready to tighten up in a hurry, which is why I'm working on it now. Thanks for reading and for your comments.

Posted by JoKeR at 04:43 AM
September 08, 2005
Google rank

I was pleased to find that searching for the phrase "JoKeR's Blog" returns my blog home page as the first result. Unfortunately, if you search for "JoKeR's Blog" without the quotes so that Google is searching with those as separate terms, my home page comes up as about 7th (does one of those indented "similar results" count when determining Google rank or not?). But looking over the other results returned by these two searches, I was led to some random, useless speculation. Figuring that not everyone will be interested in such trivia, I'll put the rest of my thoughts below the fold.

I started this a few days ago and now I find that I've dropped to 10th on the first Google page. If I drop any further my own blog will not even be first page when searching for my blog's name. At least I'm still number one when searching for my blog as a phrase.

I've had some pirate friends link their blogs up to mine, so I thought that my rank would increase. Instead it seems to have fallen since the links on my friend's pages are now being listed and their popularity exceeds mine so their mention of my blog ranks higher than my own blog does. It makes a sort of sense as I think about it, but it certainly surprised me when I first noticed it.

Another oddity I noticed is that the page on BlogHop which is shown when my blog is rated has a higher Google rank than me. Has Google's spider crawled over my rating links and thereby affected my rating on BlogHop? If so, why does it use the middle rating instead of the high rating? I guess I should be glad it hasn't given the low ranking link a higher Google rank than me.

Well, I'm not sure I've anything else to add. I'm feeling a bit frazzled after a busy day yesterday and a full morning at church today. Besides I want to get this up. I've already been working on it a couple of days.

Posted by JoKeR at 08:32 PM
Spam comments

Well, it has been about 10 days since I've gotten MovableType upgraded. One of the main reasons I went to the trouble was that I used to get inundated with comment spam, so much so that I had turned off comments throughout my blog. Better comment spam protection was one of the touted benefits of the upgrade. I don't think I'm even using all of the capabilities for user validation which are available to me.

Today I got my first comment spam since the upgrade. I don't know if this means that the spammers have figured out my upgrade and will now start hitting me again or if this is just one spammer who managed to slip by the MT restrictions. In any event I'll be watching this and may be reconfiguring my comment usage to choke off the spammer's access if it starts being a problem again.

Posted by JoKeR at 07:31 PM
August 29, 2005
Well, not entirely upgraded

OK, so I am using the MovableType 3.2 interface, and I have already successfully posted one new entry, so that seems to be good. However, I have noticed some problems:

I've lost my Media weblog in the administration. The pages still exist, I just can't manage them.

I've lost some comments. I'm not sure how many. This is something I'd like to fix because I had some good comments from folks.

The main blog's (JoKeR's Blog) index template was fixed to reflect that the version of MovableType I'm using is 3.2. That does not seem to be the case on the other blog index pages. Rebuilding does not seem to help.

OK, so there are some problems. Now I need to see if I can figure out how to fix them.

UPDATE below the fold

I've found the one comment that I knew I was missing and hoped to find from Jason at Positive Liberty. I found it in an old dump and was able to recreate just that single comment.

I've merged the entries for the different blogs so that all of the entries are in my primary blog. I never wrote enough to justify so many separate pages and this will make my one blog seem a bit fuller. Plus it will be easier to manage. There may still be a few things that are not exactly right with the entries I moved, but they look pretty good to me except that the entries I moved don't have categories and I don't seem to be able to modify that. I may have to go into myPHPAdmin if I want to fix that.

Since I'm only using the primary blog now the version number of the other blogs really doesn't matter. I have left the static files generated by MT for the other blogs, but they will no longer be updated.

Looking pretty good! Now I just need to write something that someone would be interested in reading.

Posted by JoKeR at 02:57 AM
August 28, 2005
Another upgrade attempt

OK. I checked MoveableType's support forum and got a pointer to the problem with my upgrade being that there was a problem with my mt-static path definition. I played around with that and my upgrade seems to have proceeded. Of course, the proof in the pudding is whether my blog actually functions correctly. Right now I'm trying to post the entry you are reading. The fact that you are reading it means that it worked. Clearly, if it did not work, you wouldn't be able to read this. Here goes!

Posted by JoKeR at 06:32 PM
December 31, 2004
Sokoban is better on JokoSoko

I've enjoyed Sokoban for many years. I first discovered it on a Unix box at Georgia Tech sometime in the 1980's. As I've gotten different PCs I've found different versions of the game and even written a few myself. But I have now put together the most complete implementation I've ever done:

I still have some more work to do, but the game plays accurately for any size puzzle (at least, I've never seen one too big for it). It allows you to undo moves back to the start of the puzzle. It tracks up to ten scores for each solved puzzle and can replay the solutions at whatever speed you like. It can record and play back macro sequences so that repetitive moves can be done quickly and easily, allowing more time for actually solving the puzzle instead of repeatedly stepping through sequences that have already been solved.

I've included six puzzles that I developed myself. I'll probably add more puzzles later as I develop them.

I developed the game using the Euphoria programming language. I will be submitting the Euphoria source to the archives if you have any interest in seeing it.

Future enhancements include mouse usage, puzzle editing, and a few other ideas I have in mind.

I also intend to put together some more Sokoban links on this page. There are many Sokoban web sites and many hundreds of puzzles available. Watch this space for links to some of them.

N E W! January 3, 2002 Hexagonal Sokoban! Based on an idea suggested by David W. Skinner (maker of many excellent Sokoban puzzles) I made a modified version of JokoSoko which I am calling HexoSoko. Please give it a try. I've only played with it for a couple of days, but it at least demonstrates the way hexagonal Sokoban could work.


I am going to post-date this message so that it stays at the top of my games blog page. I see that Euphoria is close to coming out with the next revision of the interpreter. When that happens I will probably pick up the program again and add some additional features (such as import LURD files, I want that too, George, thanks for the comment!).

Posted by JoKeR at 11:59 PM
June 28, 2004
No more comments

Well, I'm sorry I haven't been more active here. However, even in my effortless (that is, without expending any effort) management of this site I have enjoyed getting the occasional comment from different folks. However, over the last few days my various blog pages have been inundated with hundreds of pornographic comments. I have twice gone through and deleted them all, but this time I went further and removed the comment option from the articles. Once again churlish jerks have disrupted what was intended as a fun hobby. What a bunch of losers.

Posted by JoKeR at 01:03 AM
May 19, 2003
Home networking

Well, my daughter is home from college with her Mac. Her preference is to have her computer set up in her room upstairs at the far side of the house from the computer center set up in our study. The fact that there isn't much room to put it downstairs is another factor in her favor. Of course, putting it upstairs is easy. The hard part is getting it connected. After all, of what use is it if it isn't connected?

Fortunately, we have already run a cable down to the basement where we have a second hub set up which my son's computer is plugged into. I was able to poke a hole in the air conditioning vent tubing and run a cable through the ventalation shaft up to her room from the basement. Fortunately, the 50' cable I purchased for this purpose was just long enough to reach both the hub in the basement and the computer in her room (of course, on the opposite side of the room from the a/c vent). We plugged in the cable at both ends and it worked the first time. Success! Hooray!

Posted by JoKeR at 03:51 PM
April 30, 2003
Blog compatability

Dale is concerned about the difficulty of moving between one blog platform and another. He has been setting up a Movable Type blog and has been working on transferring his old blog entries from his Radio Userland blog. (Hmmm... I'm having trouble accessing his site. Maybe he's updating something. I'll double check these links later.)

The basic problem here is that there is not yet an agreed-upon standard for what a blog is. Different systems have been established which allow for these journal-style content management web sites, but there is obviously no standard in place as there is with HTML. These types of conflicts between different, competing software systems are not new. This has happened almost every time software of almost any description gets enhanced. When browsers first started supporting JavaScript, the new browsers could use these new tricks, but the older browsers couldn't. Thus the "Browser Wars" that led to new browsers from both Micro$oft and Netscape about every six months until MS drove NS out of business. At that point, browsers stabalized as MS no longer had an incentive to enhance their browser any further (except for tying it tightly to Windows so that competing browsers would have a harder time breaking into the market again).

Hopefully, that monopolistic resolution will not be the result of the current blog incompatibilities. Besides the items he has mentioned, there are other problems which arise from switching blog software. Clearly, all of my older links to his articles will break if he removes his Radio site all together. I might decide to update my old articles to reflect their new locations, but for sites more active than mine, such an undertaking would be very time consuming, assuming that they even noticed that the links were broken and took the time to figure out what had happened. Furthermore, the comments from his Radio site have not been transferred into MT (at least, not yet).

Some of the difficulties Dale has encountered are simply a matter of differences in how the different creators have envisioned what a blog should be. Apparently Radio allows quick linking to internal articles by simply quoting the title of the article in the header. MT doesn't have any such feature. On the other hand, Radio doesn't seem to have the TrackBack feature that MT has introduced to their package to allow blogs to track when references are made in related articles from other blogs.

Until some kind of agreement can be made on what is expected in a blog I am sure this confusion will continue. In the meantime, I like the approach MT is taking with their code being openly available and standards for features (like TrackBack) being published so that other blog software creators can make compatible features if they want to. This is where open source software has it all over proprietary packages. Radio might come up with the best feature imaginable, but if they try to keep how it works a secret in an attempt to lure users with their unique feature, they may find that others just ignore it and move on to other features which are supported by multiple creators.

Posted by JoKeR at 01:47 AM
March 13, 2003
Why do we blog?

Wil Wheaton pointed to this survey about why we blog. A person at Georgetown University is collecting data for a thesis project. Why not help them out and perhaps contribute to the world's understanding of why we do this.

Posted by JoKeR at 12:38 PM
February 19, 2003
Blogroll update

I've updated my Blogroll.

First I've moved Body and Soul to the top of the list because I find her writing so consistently excellent and compelling.

Next, I've moved Theoblogical Community to the next spot. I wanted to feature Dale's site better both because it was his passion for blogging and online community which inspired me to start blogging, not to mention that I've met him FTF.

I've added several blogs which I check regularly:

Alas, a Blog
and This Modern World are both left-leaning blogs by cartoonists. Thus they interest me on both of those points.

Talking Points Memo
is another blog that I check regularly and features excellent political commentary. It was Mr. Marshall who made a significant difference in pursuing the Trent Lott scandal which kept it before the public until the mainstream media had to take notice.

Joho the Blog
is by occasional NPR commentator David Weinberger. This blog has a more computing oriented focus than the other blogs I've mentioned, but David frequently discusses the policital and community implications of that technology.

Finally, there are some blogs that I enjoy but which are not always so focused on particular topics.

[ q cubed ]
is the blog of my daughter's boyfriend. He and I have helped each other with our computing. It was Marquis who pointed me to Movable Type as interesting blog software. Besides, his blog includes a link to mine. It is only fair to return the favor.

Wil Wheaton Dot Net
is the blog of the actor who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek, the Next Generation. I never liked the character much as the writers kept making this kid into the genius savior of the ship. I mean, one of the few times Wesley really screwed up was when he accidentally created a new life form. Created life by accident? Give me a break. But I saw links to his site back when I was reading FARK a good bit. Upon checking out the site I found that Wil has grown into a fairly interesting young man. Good for him. I find his writings are often fun to read, sometimes with some interesting insights.

Well, I guess that's enough for now.

Posted by JoKeR at 02:42 PM
February 12, 2003
Job Search

I've mentioned before that the company where I've been working has been undergoing some changes of management. Well, today those changes hit close to home. Yes, I am now one of the latest victims of Bush's recession. I was given my walking papers. I was given a small severance package, but that won't last long. They tell me I can apply for unemployment through the Internet. I'll now have a chance to check out this improvement.

This was not my favorite job, but it was certainly better than being unemployed. My biggest concern comes from the reports that what little improvement has been noted in the country's economic outlook has come from increased automation and shifting jobs overseas. People have been losing jobs but not many people have been finding new jobs. I just hope that I can find something before too long.

I'd appreciate your prayers for me and for the others in my office who lost their jobs today.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:27 PM
January 27, 2003
I still miss your message

My cell phone service provides me with a voice mail box. Generally speaking this is a useful way to avoid missing messages. Since I usually carry my cell phone with me during my waking hours I don't often miss calls in the first place unless I have it turned off (as in church or during a performance) or I wind up somewhere without a strong signal. Still, I do occasionally miss calls and get messages.

A week ago I had turned off my phone during church, as usual. Afterwards my wife and I took my son to the play in which he is currently performing. While waiting for the play to begin (clearly, since he is one of the actors he had to be there early), I remembered my phone and turned it back on. It was then I realized that I had a message. So I called up the message center to pick it up.

When I got logged in the first message it played was from my daughter. This was nothing new. In fact it was a message from my birthday back in October. She had had a busy day at college and had not been able to call me until late that evening. I don't remember why I missed getting the call, but ever since then I have repeatedly saved that message each time I check voice mail because it was always uplifting to hear her sign off with "I love you." I could listen to my daughter telling me she loved me whenever I wanted to. This was not something that was surprising to hear or that I needed reminding of. However, I found it very pleasant to listen to, and since the voice mail system gave me an option to save it, I always did.

However, this day it did not give me an option to save it! The only I options I was given were to delete it or replay it. First I replayed it just to make sure that I hadn't misheard my control options ("I love you"). Then I tried punching what I thought was the option from the last time I had saved it only to hear "You have entered an incorrect command, please try again." After trying other options (being careful to avoid deleting it) and being told that each one was incorrect I was told "We are sorry you are having trouble, please try again later" and it hung up. I called back up and logged in again ("I love you") and I tried other options, all to no avail. I tried replaying it ("I love you") and then not entering anything, but it considered that incorrect as well. I couldn't get past this old message in order to hear my new message without deleting the old one.

Finally, I decided that there was nothing that I could do but delete it. This really shouldn't matter, it was an old message and didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, but I still wish I had another option. So, I replayed it one last time ("I love you") and then deleted it. This took me to the new message. That new message was fairly routine, but I couldn't have known that without listening to it, and now I'd done that. I deleted the new message.

It has been a week now, and I find myself thinking about that message. I'm not sure why I had been able to save it before but now I couldn't. Maybe it had reached some age threshold. I can understand why the phone company wants to discourage people from keeping lots of messages on file. I work with voice recordings and realize that even a few seconds can take several kilobytes to store as data. If people kept lots of messages in their voice mailboxes it would impose a huge load on the phone system's voice storage system.

But this was just one message.

And now it's gone.

Jessica, I still miss your message.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:29 AM
January 21, 2003

I help a friend of mine with a web site for his music store. To enable me to manage that I decided to get a reseller account at a webhosting provider (whp). This enabled me to avoid the nickle and dime charges which Powweb (where this blog is currently hosted) charges for configuration changes such as adding a MySQL database or having additional domains pointed to my package space.

Unfortunately, my site was hacked. I'm not sure how. My whp suspended my account when they noticed improper activity which makes sense. When I convinced them that the problem was not of my making (other than by being hackable, I guess), they reactivated the account after removing the problem files (some kind of IRC client program, they said). So, I was back up and running. I changed my passwords (at least, I think I got them all), but I couldn't see how I'd been hacked because the whp removed the evidence.

Yesterday, I got an email that my account was again found being used for improper activities so they closed my account and told me I was not welcome there anymore. I still don't know how the site was hacked. They said I'd have to do some convincing and also pay $250 to get reinstated ($125/hr for two hours of support help). For an account for which I was paying $10/month? I don't think so.

So, I'm getting a new reseller account set up at a different whp. I'll try to have it set up differently and I hope it will not be so easily hacked. I expect that if someone hacked this site then I'd be in the same boat here. That would be a real pain since I'd then be without my email as well. I'm going to need to see what I can do about having a readily available backup plan as well as plans for failing over to another system (even if the failover mechanism is manual rather than automatically triggered).

Posted by JoKeR at 03:07 PM
December 12, 2002
O'Reilly Opines on Online

Tim O'Reilly, publisher of O'Reilly books (the best computer books, IMHO), writes about online distribution. His experience is very directly in the book publishing market, but he makes a strong case that his ideas should hold true in other media as well. I think Mr. O'Reilly is a real visionary in working to support Open Source and helping to make it a viable business opportunity.

Posted by JoKeR at 04:48 PM
September 24, 2002
Php pages

I've updated my site to use php pages instead of html. If you are not familiar with setting up web pages then this really doesn't make much difference. However, it gives me a lot more flexibility since I can now update data that feeds sections of the blog (such as "listening" or "reading") without having to immediately rebuild all the pages. Instead, the web server pieces together the data when you request the page. If this site ever gets a lot of traffic then this might not be the most efficient way to run things, but I'm not expecting lots of traffic and it saves me a lot of time in trying to keep things up to date.

Posted by JoKeR at 07:45 PM
September 23, 2002
What will I be discussing?

I was asked what I hope to do with this blog. I really didn't have a burning ambition about a particular topic when I decided to put this up. Largely I just wanted to have a website that I could update easily and use to share my thoughts. I'm not vain enough to think that I am likely to develop a following who are eager to hear what I have to say. I'm just hoping that some friends will find it interesting to hear what's on my mind. Who knows? I might even make some new friends when people stumble across my site in their perusal of the web.

I originally thought of four basic areas which I thought I would be likely to discuss: computing, Faith and Religion, Community, and Media.

First, Computing would include Internet, blogging, programming, hardware (not much of that), etc. This is likely to be done within the context of my primary page as I work on different things.

Second, Faith and Religion which would touch on my life at church, my faith journey (still very much in development and has been for many years), theological thoughts, etc.

Third is community. This would concern my family and friends, work, extended acquaintences through the internet, etc. It might even get into politics as our world continues to shrink and our ability to connect anywhere increases.

Finally an area I am calling media. This includes books (I have been a fan of Fantasy novels, especially long continuing series, for a long time), maybe comics and comic books (I read a lot of strips online plus what is in my local paper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and I used to collect comics extensively, I still have more than 20,000 in my basement), television and movies (I don't follow as many shows and movies as many people, but I see a few), and music where my primary musical interest is in folk music.

As I moved more and more of my miniscule web site into my blog, I decided that I would also set up an area for the Sokoban clone I developed, JokoSoko, and its younger sibling, HexoSoko. So I added a Games page. This is probably going to be mostly Sokoban related, but I might have other game related things as well.

Posted by JoKeR at 07:48 AM
September 22, 2002
I've been mentioned!

I want to thank dlature of TheoBlogical Community for mentioning my site on his blog. I'm still learning how this works, but I'm having fun!

Posted by JoKeR at 10:43 PM
New feature

I've activated a new feature of Movable Type (the weblog software I'm using). You can now enter an email to which a notification should be sent when I have posted an entry here. I'm doing this to make it easier for my fans (Hi, Mom & Dad) to know when there might be something different without actually having to check the page all the time.

Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Posted by JoKeR at 08:20 PM
September 18, 2002
Wednesday success

Well, I updated my main template with some table controls (and removed some now-unneeded controls from the style sheet) and now I have my three columns and it looks more or less the way I want it to look. Now I just have to add the additional information that I want to include.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:34 PM
Three columns!

Well, I've been playing with the style sheet and templates and I've been able to introduce a third column to my page display. It now gives me a column on the left with whatever I have hardcoded in my templates (this is where I need to expand it to include links or whatever) and a column in the middle with my actual blog content, but it then puts the third column below the other two columns.

I'll try to represent that here:


Clearly I'm missing something, but I'm not at all sure what. I added a "float:right" directive in the style for the #Links column which pushed it all over to the right instead of being centered at the bottom of the page, but I don't understand why it is not aligning to the top of the column like it did before I created this additional division type.

Well, clearly I still need to do some more work on it.

Posted by JoKeR at 10:08 PM