The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

She's leaving, on a jet plane …

For the next two weeks I'll be alone with Spodie (Spring's cat). Spring is spending the next thirteen days in Sweden visiting Wlofie.

I'm going to miss her.

I had no problems at all driving to the Miami International Airport. It was under construction and I remarked to Spring that it was under construction the last time I visited the airport (back in '96 or '97). Spring said that some airports are under perpetual construction, like at Denver. Silliness.

Upon entering, we found that parking for British Airways (she has a layover in London) is in the “Dolphin Garage,” the first one we encountered. Spent ten minutes or so driving all the way up to the top to find parking.

It was odd, but there were a rather large number of roped off parking spaces on each level and they all seemed to be on the same side of the garage. Spring theorized that recent Federal guidelines from the FAA may mandate that parked cars have to maintain a minimum distance from the terminals. More silliness.

Finally parked on level six (section 6S). Head down to level three (terminal level). Now what? The map we found on level three didn't list the terminal for British Airways. It didn't list any non-US based carrier. The terminals surrounded the parking garage in a U shaped configuration , starting with A and continuing up through H. Spring suggested starting with termanal E (in the middle) and head towards terminal A (since on the map, terminals F through H listed which carriers they served; A through E were blank, with the exception of D). I instead suggested starting with A, since it was closer to us anyway. Spring concurred. So we walked through parking lot section 3V to the crosswalk to terminal A and wouldn't you know it? British Airways was located right there in terminal A.

The concourses start on level three and there was this long line of people waiting to get through the security checkpoint to their gates. We looked but didn't see the ticket counters. We then took the escalator down to level two where we found all them. While mobbed, the lines for British Airways was very short. In about ten minutes, Spring was at the counter getting her tickets and checking her luggage. We then went back to the escalator.

Where we found a line waiting to go up! An airport employee was at the foot of the escalator next to a sign: “Ticketed customers only past this point.” I could just go outside, across to the garage, back up a leve, then cross over and be on the third level. More silliness. But not wanting to cause a scene or undue stress, Spring and I said our good-byes and I unfortunately had to leave Spring with a nearly three hour wait to board her plane.

Did I mention I'm going to miss her?

The Denver International Airport Underground Conspiracy and Bake-off Sale

In finding links to the previous entry, I came across what may be a conspiracy at the Denver International Airport.

Yea … right …

Friday, August 02, 2002

Delays, delays, delays …

I was supposed to close on Condo Conner on the 31st of July, only it was delayed by a day because I forgot to include a critical piece of information for the closing (my mortgage account number—sigh). That meant the closing would happen on the 1st of August, but since I couldn't make it that day it was schedued for today but that was pushed back even futher because the buyer's bank is balking. I was told yesterday that the closing would be early next week, but I found out today that it is most likely to happen late next week (Thursday).

In the mean time, I'll be in the corner doing primal scream therapy …

Monday, August 05, 2002

Yet more lessons for the RIAA

Let's take it from my personal experience. My site ( gets an average of 75,000 hits a year. Not bad for someone whose last hit record was in 1975. When Napster was running full-tilt, we received about 100 hits a month from people who'd downloaded Society's Child or At Seventeen for free, then decided they wanted more information. Of those 100 people (and these are only the ones who let us know how they'd found the site), 15 bought CDs. Not huge sales, right? No record company is interested in 180 extra sales a year. But … that translates into $2700, which is a lot of money in my book. And that doesn't include the ones who bought the CDs in stores, or who came to my shows.

Or take author Mercedes Lackey, who occupies entire shelves in stores and libraries. As she said herself: “For the past ten years, my three 'Arrows' books, which were published by DAW about 15 years ago, have been generating a nice, steady royalty check per pay-period each. A reasonable amount, for fifteen-year-old books. However … I just got the first half of my DAW royalties … And suddenly, out of nowhere, each Arrows book has paid me three times the normal amount! … And the only change during that pay-period was that I had Eric put the first of my books on the Free Library. There's an increase in all of the books on that statement, actually, and what it looks like is what I'd expect to happen if a steady line of people who'd never read my stuff encountered it on the Free Library—a certain percentage of them liked it, and started to work through my backlist, beginning with the earliest books published. The really interesting thing is, of course, that these aren't Baen books, they're DAW—another publisher—so it's 'name loyalty' rather than “brand loyalty.” I'll tell you what, I'm sold. Free works.” I've found that to be true myself; every time we make a few songs available on my website, sales of all the CDs go up. A lot.

And I don't know about you, but as an artist with an in-print record catalogue that dates back to 1965, I'd be thrilled to see sales on my old catalogue rise.

Now, RIAA and NARAS, as well as most of the entrenched music industry, are arguing that free downloads hurt sales. (More than hurt—they're saying it's destroying the industry.)

Alas, the music industry needs no outside help to destroy itself. We're doing a very adequate job of that on our own, thank you.


So it's not only authors who are learning that making their content freely available increases sales. Janis Ian, a recording artist, makes the same argument in this (long, but excellent) article. And like Courtney Love and Steve Albini's screeds against the RIAA, she shows just how screwed over artists are.

Perhaps it's time for most artists (of any media) to follow the footsteps of Dave Sim and refuse to give up control of their own work. The RIAA has screwed you over—best to return the favor.


Change in merchandise sales after article posting (previous sales averaged over one year): Up 25%

Change in merchandise sales after beginning free downloads: Up 300%

Emails received: 1268 as of 07-30-02

Number of emails disagreeing with my position: 9

Number of people who reconsidered their disagreement after further discussion: 5

FALLOUT—a follow up to The Internet Debacle

And my addition:

Giving the RIAA the finger: Priceless

† “Priceless™” is a registered trademark of MasterCard and is used here without permission. Expect this entry to be removed with a few days once their legal department gets wind of this …

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Sold! (Definitely)


How many people does it take to get to the center of a condo sale?

Today's the day.

At 3:30pm I stop off at Condo Conner to figure out which of three keys is the house key. Not readily using that key, I had forgotten which key was the actual key. I was a bit upset that I could only find one potential key as I was supposed to supply two. Then I remembered—one I gave to the handy man and one to the realtor and that's all I had. I didn't have time to make a copy so I was hoping that was okay.

Having found the correct key, I get back into the car and headed over to the realtor office for the closing. I arrive a few minutes late due to traffic (I got stuck at a left-turn light for three cycles). That apparently was no problem as the buyers spent the time signing papers.

I managed to get by with signing my name only half a dozen times, which is weird since I've had to sign my name about a dozen times when getting my car (bought it outright) and about two dozen when getting insurance on the car.

Heh. Go figure.

One hour later (and about a bazillion signatures from the buyers) and I'm out one condo.

I am officially debt free!

No credit card debts. No car payments. No mortgage. No student loans (not that I ever had any). Nothing.

I have achieved the modern American Dream! Debt free living!

Along with one of the largest checks I've ever seen. I actually cleared a bit more than I was expecting, which was very nice.

The final price was only a thousand less than my asking price, and because I paid the extortion association fees last month, I got some of that back so the actual amount paid was only $705.86 below my asking price.

Not bad at all. Although that now means I loose a deduction at tax time.

The entire closing went without incident. Well, okay, there was a small incident but it's still unclear who knocked over the water glass, and fortunately, no documents got wet. But other than that, the closing went without incident.

Oh, and by the way, it took six people to close the condo sale.

An underground map of New York

Map junkie that I am, I came across this New York City subway map (via live from los(t) angeles). I mentioned it to Spring (another map junkie and who is still in Sweden—thank God for the Internet where we can chat all we want for the price of a local call) and she mentioned wanting to get that image as a poster. I suspect we could take it to a photo shop or a print shop and have them print up a copy poster size.

“Hi, I'm Sean … ”

“Hi, Sean!”

“… and I'm a mapaholic.”

Ruins of Detroit

I was born in Detroit and while I wasn't exactly raised there, I did spend many summers there (technically, Royal Oak, a suburb just north of Detroit) so I have somewhat of a softspot for it (although I'm sure that one winter spent there would cure me of that affliction).

But certain events caused a once great city of over two million to decline, leaving much of the city abandoned. And a shame too, since many of the buildings are (or were) beautiful. Or at least something other than steel, glass and concrete.

So in coming across The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit (via life from los(t) angeles) I'm getting this great feeling of nastalgia. Not that I've seen many of the buildings pictured, but enough of them and it's a shame to see them destroyed. I mean, how many apartment buildings do you see with corner based semi-turreted coner balconies?

And okay, I have a fondness for brick buildings. I mean, can you imagine living or working in a building this grand?


Monday, August 12, 2002

A Virtual Tour of Condo Conner

Seeing how Condo Conner has sold, I figure I can now safely link to the Virtual Tour Of Condo Conner.

I had originally done this back in late May so I could show a potential buyer the place (he had expressed interest in buying it “As-Is” so I took pictures of it “As-Is” and oddly enough, I never heard back from him).

I liked the way I did the navigation on the site—I have the condo layout, with markers for where I took each picture and in what direction I was facing when I took them, plug grouping all the shots into their various rooms.

But before linking to it here, I wanted to get the place sold (and let me apologize fo the state Condo Conner appears in). But since it is now sold I can feel better about posting these pictures in a more public location.

Experiments in Hypertext

Typographically speaking, using underlines and changing the color of text for a link is … um … ugly. Functional, yes. Eyecatching, yes. Asthetically pleasing … debatable. And for reading hypertext fiction (fictional stories using hypertext as a medium—and there has to be a better name) it can get downright difficult, depending upon the density of links (I've yet to come across any hypertext fiction that has the density of links that any wiki has; I've also yet to come across any hypertext fiction that has drawn me in, again, unlike most wikis). So I spent some time writing some experimental hypertext to see if I can't come up with some alternative methods for displaying links.

I've also added a new section to my personal site (in something like four years) to contain the various hypertext experiments I've done (so far, two).

If only …

Jerry: (reading from card) So, Todd, you're here to tell your girlfriend something. What is it?

Todd: Well, Jerry, my girlfriend Ursula and I have been going out for three years now. We did everything together. We were really inseparable. But then she discovered post-Marxist political and literary theory, and it's been nothing but fighting ever since.

Jerry: Why is that?

Todd: You see, Jerry, I'm a traditional Cartesian rationalist. I believe that the individual self, the "I" or ego is the foundation of all metaphysics. She, on the other hand, believes that the contemporary self is a socially constructed, multi-faceted subjectivity reflecting the political and economic realities of late capitalist consumerist discourse.

Crowd: Ooooohhhh!

The Jerry Springer Show

I might actually watch Jerry Springer if his shows were like this. If only …

The author robots love

Chances are that you are reading this because you found a reference to this web page from your web server logs. This reference was left by's web crawling robot, also known as TurnitinBot. This robot collects content from the Internet for the sole purpose of helping educational institutions prevent plagiarism. In particular, we compare student papers against the content we find on the Internet to see if we can find similarities. For more information on this service, please visit

TurnitinBot General Information Page

It's a bit sobering to realize I'm getting about a thousand hits per day (so far this month) but that eight to nine hundred of those are various robots out there, indexing my site.

I think I can now understand where someone could get 10,000 page views and 4,000 visits (not to say their counts are wrong—I just think the software they're using may not take into account robots). Last month I got over 13,000 page views but … taking out the robots, I'm left with 2,235 human viewed (for the most part) pages.

I mean, I'm flattered that robots like my site and all that but still …

Tuesday, August 13, 2002


This entry is intentionally left blank, except for this text informing you that this entry is intentionally left blank except for this this text, and with the exception of this text which is informing you that this entry is intentionally left blank, this entry is blank.

Except, of course, of this notice.

She's ariving on a jet plane!

Spring is back! Woo hoo!

Unlike her leaving, I did have problems driving down to the Miami International Airport. Her flight on British Airways was scheduled to arrive at 6:05pm, which meant that I was going to bear the brunt of rush hour traffic for some fifty miles.

Pulling onto the freeway at 4:30pm I hit traffic. No noticable reason for the parking lot on I-95. Once past the next exit, it speeded up, until the following exit where traffic came back to a crawl, then resumed, then crawled. Traffic physics at work.

Little over an hour later I arrive, and head towards the parking garage. Delays yet again, but instead of the mysteries of traffic physics, there was a visible reason for the delay—car inspections! I'm still not clear on whether airports are now completely under Federal control or not and if so, then I have serious problems with their trampling of the Fourth Amendment; although if airports are not under Federal control, I would still have problems but the Fourth Amendment only covers what the government can and cannot do—it doesn't cover private property (although a debate could be made about the nature of an airport used by the public).

I'm not even sure what exactly they were looking for though. When it came time for my car to be searched (the cars immediately in front of me had a rather extensive search done) they had me pop the trunk, spent maybe all of five seconds looking, then letting me on my way.


After that, it was about a half hour wait until Spring cleared Customs.

Woo hoo!

Decus et tutamen

Spring came back with quite a pocketfull of change (the currency exchange booth at Miami International Airport would only exchange bills, not coins). On the drive back we talked a bit about foreign currency and the topic of British money came up, of which she had a few coins (a new penny, two pence and two single pound coins).

“I wonder if Queen Elizabeth can use this for identification,” I said, holding up one of the coins. Spring giggled at the thought (“ID?” “Here you go,” the Queen says, handing him a few pounds. “Right then, in you go!”)

I noticed though, that the portrait of the Queen has changed over the years. On the earlier coin (1983) she appears younger, with a smaller crown than the more recent coins (1993). Also, the pound coins feel and look more like tokens than coins to me (they're actually quite thick, about the thickness of two U. S. pennies, and slightly larger in diameter) and for their worth, they're quite small in size (the two pence coin is slightly larger than the U. S. quarter).

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

A lesson from Reality 101—The Bureaucratic Shuffle

I will not go into an anti-corporate rant!

I will not go into an anti-corporate rant!

I will not go into an anti-corporate rant!

Mainly because I know that's just how they work.

Example 1: Spring took enough days off between August 1st through August 13th for her trip to Sweden. Of course during the time she was away, her shift changed and she was of course expected to be back to work the day before she was to come home … possibly.

At the very least, she was expected to show up on the 14th but because of the way they calculate this particular shift (third, it starts around 11:00pm) they day you go in is not the same day you work. Her department counts the day you work the most hours as the day you work so even though she had the 13th off, she was still expected to show up on the 13th to work on the 14th.

Bloody idiots!

I've done the “get off vacation, head immediately to work. Do not stop at home. Do not get 200 minutes of sleep” thang before and yes, it sucks. But never had I had to do that after a twelve hour international flight (although to be fair, I had been travelling for at least twelve hours if not more but those are stores for another time).

So somehow, Negiyo shifted Spring's work schedule while on vacation and she ends up possibly oweing them a day of work.

Example 2: I call up FPL to cancel service at Condo Conner. I won't go into the rather long sordid tale (part of which is mostly my own stupidity) but in late July I was told that I could expect most of a payment I was making back when I discontinued service, as most of it was a deposit. So I call today to discontinue the service, expecting to get most of the deposit back.

Seems I'll end up owing FPL some money.

Um …

I paid a large sum of money to them, and I still owe them money?

I was then transfered to a billing specialist. A few minutes of talking it came to light that I was talking to the wrong billing specialist and I needed to talk to someone over in residential billing.

I think FPL automatically assume that anyone calling (and try, just try to get a live human operator there! Ha! That takes navigating the “Phone Voice System From Hell” first!) about electrical service is calling from the facility under question and not from some other location.

Since I'm calling from the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere (an apartment complex) I ended up talking to a commecial billing specialist and not the residential billing specialist.

I'm still half expecting the pow

Ha ha, only joking.

I think.

Anyway, I'm now talking to the residential billing expert and we're going over the recent billing situation with Condo Conner. It comes to pass that the guys I talked to in late July were making everything they said up, of course, and that that's just the way it is; will that be check or credit card?

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …


Not too bad—I scored 8 out of 9 questions right on the Free Software licensing quiz which tests your knowledge of the GNU GPL and LGPL. This is not an easy quiz either, as I thought I did worse than I actually did.

Thursday, August 15, 2002


More European coinage. This time from Denmark and Sweden.

It seems that Queen Margrethe II of Denmark decided to keep up with the Windsors' and in the period between 1989 and 1998, updated her image from her younger days to a more current likeness, while upgrading the crown she was wearing. It's also interesting that some of the lower value coins from Denmark have holes in the middle, although I'm unsure of the exact purpose of such holes. Perhaps they were used to store coins on strings? Decorative? Not enough metal for coinage in the past? Who knows?

Sweden's Carl XVI Gustaf has forgone the crown (at least in 1991) but did sported two different looks—a conventional likeness on the 10 Kroner but an odd, early 70s android look for the 1 Kroner. At least, that's how it struck me when I first saw it.

Another recurring theme on Swedish and Danish coins are crowns. Lots of crowns. That, and the recurrence of hearts on Danish coins. Very odd to these American eyes. But unlike the British pounds, these coins all feel like coins.

Friday, August 16, 2002

She's leaving, on a jet plane (Part II)

Drove Spring to the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport for her one-day trip to Denver to pick up her kids (yes, the same Denver airport with the underground empire I wrote about two weeks ago). Much less silliness at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. No car searches. No restricted levels.

Although the maze of ropes leading up to the security scanners was rather amusing.

The Hazzardous Guess of the Good Samaritan

“I think you might want to get into the next lane,” said Rob. I had just pulled into the left-turn lane to wait for the light and several cars in our lane had just maneuvered into adjacent lanes. “I think a car up ahead is stuck.”

“Okay,” I said, and maneuvered into the other left-hand lane. I was able to pull up past the car in trouble. Car seemed to be stalled with the driver just sitting there, making little attempt to do anything. I then watched the car in the mirror. “She should have her hazzards on.”

“Maybe she doesn't know how to turn them on,” said Rob.

“It could be an electrical problem,” I said. Rob turned around in time to see her flash her lights.

“Nope, she's got electrical.”

“Guess she doesn't know how to turn her hazzards on,” I said. Rob turned to face forward again while I still watched in the mirror. “Oh wait,” I said. “There goes a Good Samaritan to help her.”

Rob turned around and we both started watching. The Good Samaritan climbed into the driver's seat. Just then the hazzards flashed on. The Good Samaritan then got up and walked back to his car.

“Nice of him to turn on her hazzards,” I said. The light changed to green and we started to pull forward.

“Very,” said Rob. “Guess she didn't know.”

Saturday, August 17, 2002

She's arriving on a jet plane! (Part II)

Around 11:15 pm I left to pick up a very tired Spring and two tired kids from the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Again, no sillyness.

Upon reaching home, Rob announced he was hungry and did any of us want to join him for food. This readily surprised both Spring and I as Rob is allergic to kids, but I guess his adversion to eating out alone is greater than his allergic reactions to kids. Unfortunately, at this time of night, the choices are rather limited and we ended up driving to a nearby Denny's for food.

Afterwards, the two kids had no problem falling asleep. Neither did Spring, unsurprisingly.

A most sophisticated form of humor

With two kids (boys no less), I see I am going to have to learn to enjoy bathroom humor.

Or at least tolerate it.


Sunday, August 18, 2002

Yet another option

On the way to a friend's house I stopped by a local McDonald's for a quick bite to eat; I was rather surprised when I saw that the drive through was now open 24 hours!

It may not seem like a Godsend to you, but when your only other viable choice for nearby 24-hour food is Denny's and … well … Denny's …

[One problem with digital cameras is the rather long time it takes for them to actually take a picture. Apparently I took too long taking a picture that a fellow driver in a large pick-up truck roared around and cut in the drive through line. Gee … how nice … ]

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Now and future features

In talking the subject over with Rob and some email exchanges with Aaron Swartz I've decided that even though I'm a bit relunctant I've decided to go ahead to include the entry bodies in my RSS feed.

As Aaron said:

But it's OK for their browser to reformat it as they see fit? What if my aggregator is my browser.

He has a point. And if Marcus, who spent over a month working on his site design is okay with his RSS feed …

It wasn't that much work to add the full descriptions (although I did have to add some code to make sure that the entries contained abosolute URLs but nothing difficult).

Now, adding comments to my journal/blog on the other hand …

At first, it was one person asking for comments. After awhile there was someone else. Now I have a whole gaggle of people clamouring for me to add comments.


It's not like it's difficult or anything; I just don't know how I want to integrate them with the rest of this site. This whole site is an experiment where each entry has a unique URL—and one that isn't tied to a portion of a page (I dislike having to use the fragment portion of the URL to specify a document fragment—why else would I go through the trouble of writing a bunch of code to handle portions of documents?). So I would like to treat comments the same way I treat entries here, but I'm unsure of the best way to go about doing that.

And even if I figure out a way, do I always display the comments? Have a link to read the comments? Not quite cut and dry.

Still pondering …

Friday, August 23, 2002

The Rubber Chicken of Discontent

The four of us, Spring, her two kids, The Older and The Younger and myself, were walking through the local Wal★Mart Supercenter; rather, Spring was walking and I was pushing a kid-laden shopping cart. The Older was riding in the main basket while The Younger was laying down on the bottom shelf of the cart.

Turning the corner in the grocery section, I see an arm shoot out and snatch a rubber chicken off the floor.

A rubber chicken.

Leave it to a kid to find a rubber chicken lying on the floor.

Immediately both kids start barraging Spring with pleas to keep it. Can we keep it? We promise to share. We won't break it. We'll take care of it! Can we? Huh? Huh? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease?


The final answer came down. The cashier didn't know if Wal★Mart even sold the rubber chicken we found. And Spring wasn't about to search the Wal★Mart Supercenter.

And thus we left behind the rubber chicken … the Rubber Chicken of Discontent.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Look who came for breakfast

Ten years ago today I was huddled in the master walk-in closet of Condo Conner with my Mom and her Mom, watching Hurricane Andrew on TV as it blew past us outside.

It was a very surreal experience.

Two weeks earlier I had moved out and into an apartment with two friends, Bill “Giant Hogweek” Lefler and Sean “Semigod” Williams (and there's a long story about those nicknames but that's for another time) and suddenly, here we were, faced with the biggest hurricane South Florida had seen in years (and the first one since Mom and I had moved down here to South Florida—Hurricane David (late August '79) had turned north at the last minute).

I had moved all my computer equipment to my second floor windowless office at FAU (once of the nicer things about a second floor windowless office—the building was four floors high so the likelyhood of my office being flooded by Hurricane Andrew were pretty nil and if it did get flooded, we'd have more pressing things to worry about than just computers), and went down to Condo Conner to help Mom prepare for the worst.

A Class Five Hurricane coming to town and the insipid Condo Association forbids hurricane shutters, or anything else that can possibly protect the units' windows from being installed.

Because, you know, hurricate shutters will detract property values …

Sorry, I digress.

So we move everything we can inside, move as much as I can away from the windows and get everyone inside one of two areas in Condo Conner that doesn't have a window—the master walk-in closet (the other being the master bathroom).

I then spend the rest of the time watching Brian Norcross cover Hurricane Andrew.

We were lucky. Very little damage in the area (mostly downed trees). Others not so lucky; Mark (who lived in Miami at the time) ended up with a traffic signal sitting on his bed. And he was lucky compared to those living in Homestead

More Mozilla neatness

I'm currently playing around with Pie Menus for Mozilla (which I found via an article at Slashdot). Pie menus are an intriguing idea that have been floating around for several years now and this may be the first major application to get support for them (yet another reason to love Mozilla).

As a user interface, pie menus tend to be easier to use as they don't require precise navigation to select items—just move in the appropriate direction far enough (most pie menus are limited to eight possible options at any level) and there you go.

So, using the points of the compass with N (north) being up, to open a page in a new tab (which is another feature I love about Mozilla), it's RightButton-East (hit the right mouse button, move right). To switch to a previous tab (or one to the left): RightButton-NE-W (right mouse button, move NE until the second menu pops up, then move left). Next tab (or one to the right): RightButton-NE-E. Bookmark? RightButton-SE-E. The menu will always pop up so it's not like you have to memorize all these but after awhile you just remember it (or at least I do).

It would be nice if you could use the keyboard to bring up the menus. Say, hitting the 0 key on the numeric keypad would bring up the menu, and then the keys 19 to select the menu item you want. So RightButton-NE-W could also be 096.

Although not all the options from the old menu are available on the Mozilla Pie Menus; the biggest one I miss is the one to copy the link, which I use quite a bit (especially when writing entries). But other than that, I definitely like the pie menus.

Just gotta love MSIE …

I have a question about HTTP for you. Okay. If you compile Seminole 2.14 and go to a URL that is a directory with an index.html in it, you will find that (unlike Apache), I instead just send out a temporary redirect to the /index.html URL instead of serving up the index.html as the directory URL.

Now, it seems that this works fine with all browsers except one: Microsoft Internet Explorer. Apparently a 302 Redirect causes MSIE to just display the redirect page.

Question from Mark via email

The solution Mark found was to not send out the HTTP header Content-Type: and then MSIE would work properly. When I investigated though:

Very curious. Using MSIE 5.0 (original and SP2) if I went to:

I got redirected. But if I go to

I get the MSIE redirect page (and not the one from the web server!).

My reply to Mark's email

Mark then asked if it was a violation of RFC-2616 to not send out the Content-Type: header. Nope.

7.2.1 Type

   When an entity-body is included with a message, the data type of that
   body is determined via the header fields Content-Type and Content-
   Encoding. These define a two-layer, ordered encoding model:

       entity-body := Content-Encoding( Content-Type( data ) )

   Content-Type specifies the media type of the underlying data.
   Content-Encoding may be used to indicate any additional content
   codings applied to the data, usually for the purpose of data
   compression, that are a property of the requested resource. There is
   no default encoding.

   Any HTTP/1.1 message containing an entity-body SHOULD include a
   Content-Type header field defining the media type of that body. If
   and only if the media type is not given by a Content-Type field, the
   recipient MAY attempt to guess the media type via inspection of its
   content and/or the name extension(s) of the URI used to identify the
   resource. If the media type remains unknown, the recipient SHOULD
   treat it as type "application/octet-stream".

§ 7.2.1 of RFC-2616

The SHOULD gets Mark off the hook for not sending out the Content-Type: header.

But then Mark also found:

Internet Explorer does not properly handle an HTTP/1.1 302 redirect returned from a proxy server or Internet server when the HTTP/1.1 302 redirect is sent to Internet Explorer in two separate TCP frames (one with the HTTP/1.1 302 redirect, and the other with a HTML body containing a page for the new location).

Internet Explorer Returns Error Message When Being Redirected

Incredible. Not only is this for MSIE version FOUR but it still doesn't work properly for MSIE version FIVE.

Just gotta love MSIE …

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Squashing bugs and historical context lost

A few days ago I was going through the error log for the webserver and noticing the rather large number of Internal Server Errors I was getting for this site.

That was easy enough to solve: my software wasn't handing not-found pages correctly; it was aware that the files weren't there, it just wasn't bothering to send back the proper response to the webserver. I hadn't bothered to actually write that part of the code.

Mark had noticed. So had about a dozen robots (who so far had made about 700 failed requests this month).

I fixed the problem (although the error pages themselves are rather spartan) and then spent some time going through the error log seeing what problems I could fix. One typo on the template page probably accounted for half the failed requests; the rest were typos in individual entries and missing files from way back. For instance, an entry over two years ago when I was still playing around with formating entries. It pointed to some mockups I had done that I had neglected to actually copy over when I went live. It's interesting to look at those mockups and compare the format I'm using today (which just revealved another display bug that I'll need to get around fixing. Sigh). I actually liked the rounded corners I used originally but I used a hack to get them and (as the sidebar on those pages show) they don't always work like I intended them to, which is why I dropped the concept.

I eventually solved the problem I was having with Lynx by using CSS and because of the loss of historical context for that entry, the opening sentance now makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Of course this is the layout you are looking at right now.

Monday, August 26, 2002

No more Mozilla neatness

I've disabled the Mozilla Pie Menus. While a neat idea the current implementation proved to be too unstable to use, especially when you hit a fairly heavy-hitting CSS-based site (like, oh, this one?).

Well, it wasn't that I uninstalled the pie menus as I reinstalled Mozilla (well, installed the latest version).

At least I have the Site Navigation Bar back.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

“What the heck is going on here?”

“What do you mean you haven't read it for a year?” said Spring.

“I just haven't,” I said.

“You hook me on Sluggy Freelance and yet you haven't kept up!

“Well, smart pushers never take their own merchandise,” I said, dodging a flying keyboard.

That was a couple of days ago. So tonight I hunkered down and caught up with a years worth of Sluggy Freelance. Fire and Rain has to be one of the best story arcs Pete Abrams has done for Sluggy (and like Dave Sim's Cerebus, Sluggy Freelance is one of those comics that you pretty much have to read from the start or else it doesn't really make all that much sense; and also like Cerebus, the artwork has progressed wonderfully).

Now I finally can make in-jokes with Spring and Rob.


Thursday, August 29, 2002

“Look Ma! I'm syndicated!”

Wow. has been pulling my RSS file for some time now, but I didn't realize it would actually display the contents of the file. It is interesting to see my blog using a different layout than one I created. My complaint about the way it's being presented at is the lack of distinction between each entry. Other than that, it doesn't look all that bad although I can see a potential problem where an entry has a very long title and a very short body.

Also, in looking over the page, I found yet another small bug—for the RSS feed, I (supposedly) check each URL and if it's relative to this site I change it to an abolute URL so the links will still work in a foreign environment.

Only it looks like I missed a few local links.

Back to the source code …

Saturday, August 31, 2002

What a racket

I had problems with people reformatting my RSS feed but it appears that other people have problems with RSS feeds but for another reason: unintentional content stealing.

Granted, if you make an RSS feed available, with the full content of your site available odds are people will take advantage of this in ways you may not have intended, up to making it available for other people to read. The person in question did not know the software he was using made an RSS feed available and was shocked at finding his content elsewhere (but that republishing of his content has since been removed).

Walk About

The Facility in the Middle of Nowhere was quiet. Rob's at DragonCon, Spring took the boys out for a day of swimming (borrowing the car, Lake Lumina) and thus left me and Spodie (the cat) to ourselves.

Leaving Spodie to fend for himself, I decided to walk to US-441 (just shy of two miles west of The Facility in the Middle of Nowhere) and take pictures along the way, to get used to the new digital camera I picked up a week or so ago.

The one thing I've noticed about the camera (an Olympus D-550 ZOOM) is its propensity to suck the living daylights out of batteries. So the night before I recharged eight AA batteries to see just how long they could last in this camera.

Not long as I found out.

Just outside the front door a large spider had made its home and I thought I'd get a picture of it. Turn the camera on, activate the digital zoom (10x) and click the camera is dead.

Fiddle around some more, turn it back on, attempt to zoom and click it was dead.

Take out the four freshly recharged batteries, replace them with the other four refreshly recharged batteries, turn it on, zoom and click its dead.

No combination of batteries lasted at all.

So there goes the taking of pictures. But I still did the walk out to US-441.

I was amazed to find not only sidewalks along the way, but concrete sidewalks. Nearly every sidewalk I've seen down here in Lower Sheol have been asphalt so it was refreshing to see a real sidewalk. Chain link fences too. Except for the occasional palm tree it felt like I could have been walking through a neighborhood from Detroit (where I spent many a summer). Although unlike Detroit, I was the only one out and about walking. Granted, it's South Florida, end of August in late afternoon where the heat and humidity have backed the landscape for the day. Come October the walk might actually be very nice.

Obligatory Picture

[The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades]

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