On Spam

There has been much buzz the past week regarding comment/trackback spam around the net. Discussions regarding a cyber spam war, threads all over the WP support forums, and blog post after blog post regarding spam. Meanwhile, I sit wondering am I missing out on something? Do the spammers simply not like me? I’ve gotten one or two Spam Karma digests, with a few caught spams over the past week, but nothing like the “100s” of spams I’ve seen people mention. I didn’t think I was doing anything exceptional to protect against spam. I’m running Bad Behavior and Spam Karma 2. No Akismet, the golden child of WP lead developer Matt Mullenweg, no captchas, nothing else.
Then I wonder, is it because I’ve donated to both plugin developers, that I really do have Spam Karma on my side? Either way, know if and when I get an adsense deposit, that a portion of it will go again to both plugin developers, just in case 😉

Saudi Men Board High School Bus

TBO.com
I’m not quite sure what to make of this, but I have to agree, the substitute driver should have had better training in how to handle riders that seem not to be students. However, I can also understand the level of concern, and truthfully feel the authorities are handling this in the proper manner. I don’t care if they are Saudi or not, two adults boarding a high school bus, and not showing complete remorse when told of what they’ve done requires further investigation. I’m not a fan of racial profiling to say the least , however, in today’s climate, all precaution should be taken. And as I said, any adult not showing remorse sends a signal to me. You have to think the driver and students were on the edge of their seat the whole ride, and were happy to see swarm of police when they arrived at school. What I hope not to see is a rash of law suits from well to do parents claiming negligence on the drivers part. That will accomplish nothing, but strap an already over burden school system with legal fees and potentially worse.

Clearly something needs to be clarified about how to handle similar situations, and at least in this area, better training and incentives for drivers need to be in place, as anytime something “scary” or worse happens, its a substitute driver at the wheel.

Moved Again :(

ASOAlas, I’ve moved servers again, and it’s not been fun. Not only am I moving this site and the subdomains, I’m moving two other domains to the new server. I’ve ventured into the realm of managing multiple domains. Yay! (not). Anyway, it’s a headache but at least once it’s done, it’s done. A Small Orange looks like great hosting so I shouldn’t have to worry about this again for a LONG time.

“We Know Who You’ve Been Talking To…”

The Blotter

“It’s time for you to get some new cell phones, quick,” the source told us in an in-person conversation…Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.

When will it stop? What has to happen for the voices of the sanity and democracy to rise above this administration and reign it back in?
I’ve not posted about this really, as it seems everyone else has said it more eloquently than I, but at this point, I think people simply need to continue to put it out there, don’t let it go away with another news cycle about another cute blonde disappearing in the tropics (as sad as the story is, it shouldn’t be prime time news, every night).
And instead of coming clean tonight, he’s going to talk about sending soldiers to the southern border.
Hat tip to Bob Harris for the link

Super Cool Mac App

If all the other nifty things your mac does isn’t enough to impress your friends, then the next time you have a party and the music is pumping out of your computer to the stereo wirelessly via the airport express, have this little app running on the desk top, and tell your friends to go pick out an album.
Cover Flow takes your album art from itunes, and makes a virtual CD rack, where you can move from one album to the next looking at the cover, just like the old days :D. You can click on the album directly in the app, it launches in itunes, and you can can continue to scroll through the collection.

Hat tip to Macnewbie for the link

Switching to Feedburner

I’ve switched my feeds to feedburner, for a variety of reasons. I’m hoping whom ever has already subscribed (one or two of you at least 🙂 ) will get the new feed with no problems, and I’m testing it out myself. I’ve only ever used feedburner for new sites, so let’s hope this goes off without a hitch.
Speaking of feeds, I recently mentioned Share your OPML, well, I signed up, and it’s kinda interesting. I like the similar feeds feature. It compares your file to others, and then returns a list of people’s feeds. So you can read through other’s list, and find feeds you might interested in. (As if I didn’t have enough to read now!)

Bane of My Existence

I’ve been a home owner for a little over 5 years, and for the most part, haven’t thought twice about the decision. That is, until the toilet acts up. That damn thing has been nothing short of the proverbial thorn in my side from day one. Leaking, not flushing, overfilling, you name it, I’ve dealt with it. And being the “manly man” that I am, I’ve done all the repairs myself, even when I’ve made huge mistakes like chipping the tank where the fill valve seats, and having to hunt down some kind of epoxy/resin to fill in the chips so the tank would fill and not leak.
No matter how many times I’ve replaced the ballcock, refill valve, handle, lever, 3 months later this thing stops working properly. I feel like I’m a Marine with an M16 when it comes to the thing. I could take it apart and put it back together blindfolded. Today wasn’t too bad, I had to take the ballcock apart, and clean a little gasket inside, reseat it, and adjust the lever to allow the float to rise.
So set the timer, by August, something will have to be replace.

Blogging Identity Crisis

I’m sure I’ve touched on this topic before, but after the reboot, I’ve found myself wanting to simply “blog” more. I still have my cooking site, and mentally beat myself up for not using it more, and wonder if simply marrying it with this site is the best idea. I wouldn’t feel so compelled to produce content for two different sites, as well as keep up with WordPress Station. I could simply write about food, and food topics interspersed with my political rants, web finds, and occasional fishing stories. (Those have been few and far between for sure).
I read more and more blogs these days, and that’s exactly what I’m finding, that the sites are not just specific to one topic, that they truly are extensions of the author. So in a given week, a story about a loved one, web standards, a sporting event, and dinner out can all be intertwined into one site. As I type this, I feel that is where my direction will go, it just seems to make “sense”. Less focus on having to blog about a certain topic, and more on wanting to. Because, in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Gregarius Update – RSS

I’ve updated my RSS reader, Gregarius, to the latest SVN. Which means the latest code. Not always a great idea, but this version has been in development for some time, and about to be released as .5.4. I’d like to thank Adam Kalsey for his help via IRC, and for his theme. I really want to look closer at the the theme system, I really think it’s similar to WordPress’s system. Adam’s theme is definitely an improvement in a lot of ways over the default theme, but I’d like to maybe soften it up a bit. For some reason, my eyes just don’t work with the grays. Especially the header image.
While I’m on the subject, I was checking out Dave Winer’s Share your OPML. I haven’t added my OPML yet, but I did discover Mark Cuban’s Blog Maverick. I’m not a big basketball fan, but of all the interviews I’ve seen/read, I’ve found him interesting. Reading his posts left me with a similar feeling. I’ve always secretly wished he would buy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from the Glazers. Who knows. Anyway, I’m off to the OPML site to find more feeds for my reading pleasure.

More Reasons to Halt the Death Penalty

I’ve not blogged about this topic before, but I came across 2 newspaper articles this morning outlining major deficiencies in the system. While in college, I wrote an argumentative paper against capital punishment, and I still stand by that stance. I don’t believe those convicted of murder should live in the lap of luxury, however I don’t believe we’ve perfected a system to take another’s life in response to murder. This article from the Columbus Dispatch details failure in the actual lethal injection process, in which failure to establish an IV led to a prolonged process, that had to be done behind closed doors.
In this NY Times article, short comings in the state of Texas’s method of reviewing deaths by arson. Currently in Texas, the reviews are made by people who’ve never attended any formal training in the area. The article outlines the execution of an innocent man due to the process.
So mistakes a plenty, no empirical evidence that the death penalty prevents murders, and mountains of tax dollars spent to litigate death penalty cases, can we end this archaic practice now?

Thumbnails on Home Page

This little tutorial is intended as a means of providing WordPress users the means of posting a thumbnail image on their home page, and having a full size image on the single page view. This is accomplished using the image uploader built into WordPress, and CSS. If you are intending on using excerpts on the home page, then the addition of Kaf’s Excerpt Reloaded plugin. His plugin allows for the inclusion of tags within the excerpt, something the built in function the_excerpt does not.
The first step is to make sure you have the_content or the_excerpt wrapped in a unique div class. I’m not sure of the exact correct semantics, but I simply call my home page excerpt “home”, and single page div “single”. (Note, depending on your theme, you may or may not need to create a separate class for the single page view. I actually wound up not using single in my theme, as I was able to use the class “primary” from the original code. The objective is to have a parent div to call with the specific class we assign the thumbnail).
Next, when you upload your images via the WP upload, be sure to note the path. Generally speaking, both the created thumbnail and full size image are placed in the same directory. the difference being the thumbnail file is yourimage.thumbnail.jpg. So now that you have uploaded the image, and the thumbnail has been created, it’s time to place both the thumbnail and full size image in your post. We are going to code the image directly, and not use the WYSIWYG or quick tag buttons, as we need to add a class directly to the image. Again, not sure about proper semantics, but I used “big” and small, obviously for the full size and thumbnail, respectively. Note, if you want to also float the image, you can use two classes, simply leave a space between each class. An example would look something like this :
image
Now to create the CSS to hide images on the different pages.
First, to hide the full size image on the main page, we need to add to our style sheet .home .big {display: none}.
Then to hide the thumbnail on the single page view, we add .single .small {display: none}.
That’s it. A couple of simple CSS classes and the built in image upload. A note about the code. Depending on your theme, you may or may not need to create a few more templates. If your theme only has an index.php file, then you’ll need to save a copy of that as single.php then make the changes to that, as outlined.
I’d love some feedback on the semantics of the classes, as that’s still an area I’m learning about, as well as any general feedback about the concept. It works fine for the theme structure I’m using, but if you run into any problems with your theme, please leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you make it work.

CSS Spring Reboot ’06

rebootrebootI’m in the process of installing my new look for the CSS Reboot, so if things look a little wonky, bear with me. Also, if you notice something awry, please leave a comment.

EditLooks like CSS Reboot is back online, so a little while from now, hundreds, if not a 1000 or more sites will be officially launching new designs. A great way to see the freshest designs and ideas out there.
Edit 2Oh, yeah, I also gave a little face lift to the rarely used Miklb.com

Bright House Drops the Ball (or How Not to Conduct Customer Service)

So, I mentioned I’m getting a sweet deal on digital phone from Bright House. In the time since, I’ve had about 6 telephone conversations getting to the bottom of the price. The day after I signed up, I received a letter offering me the service for $6.55 less than the night before. Seems a simple 2 minute explanation that the price offered the night before included tax and fees, the lower price was before. That they were one in the same. Meanwhile, I reported to them that once again, I was experiencing poor picture quality on my living room television. Continue reading “Bright House Drops the Ball (or How Not to Conduct Customer Service)”

Hey, HuffPo, a few Suggestions

I just removed the HuffingtonPost from my RSS aggregator, as the Vongage ads were the last straw. It’s bad enough I can’t get a feed with excerpts. I know some people don’t like excerpts, but a site as prolific as HuffPo (not to mention, the “bloggers” at HuffPo are some long winded essayists) You miss one day of reading, and there’s 30+ full length posts to wade through. Lately, I’ve found myself ditching them anyway without even reading headlines.

So why not offer a feed of your blog posts in excerpt form without ads. If the article sounds interesting, I’ll click over the site, and you inundate me with as many ads as you like.

New Pig Book is Out

Citizens Against Government Waste has released their annual report outlining the pork barrel additions to spending bills from Congress.
Some of my favorites are:

  • $3,000,000 for the Animal Waste Management Research Laboratory in Kentucky
  • $1,099,000 for alternative salmon products in Alaska – WTF are alternative salmon products?
  • $6,435,000 for wood utilization research in Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Mich., Minn., Miss., N.C., Ore., Tenn., Wash., and W.Va. Since 1985, $86 million has been sapped from the taxpayers for this purpose – Um we’ve kinda got an idea how to use wood, don’t we?
  • $1,000,000 for the Gaming-Technology Software Initiative in Michigan- huh?
  • $13,500,000 added by the House for the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), which has released a five-year strategy focusing on grassroots reconciliation and cross-community projects such as: the construction of Creggan Community Café and Catering Ltd., the Newcastle YMCA, the Donegal Town Waterbus, the Leitrim Food Center of Excellence, the Chef Development Program, and funding toward the World Toilet Summit. – World Toilet Summit, come on…
  • $46,908 for Hampton Jitney, Inc. The Jitney is known primarily for shuttling wealthy New Yorkers to their summer homes in the Hamptons.
  • $4,000,000 for a visitors center at the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska – yet another pork barrell project from Sen Stevens. What gets me about this one is A, $4 million is a lot for a visitor center, and B, this is a guy who basically wants to ruin another wildlife refuge in Alaska for the sake of oil. Will the visitor center at Kodiak have pictures of the other, to make up for the loss?
  • $21,750,000 added for the National Writing Project, a program established by Congress and developed by the DoE, which aims to enhance the writing skills of grade school teachers
  • $100,000 added by the House for the Harpers Ferry Police Department in West Virginia. The population of Harpers Ferry was less than 400 in 2004 and the police force today consists of two full-time and one part-time police officers..
  • $5,880,000 for the Zora and Main Street Interchange in Missouri- Joplin requested the funding, purportedly to maintain safety and prevent congestion in the town of 50,000 people
  • $500,000 for construction of the Sparta Teapot Museum in Sparta, North Carolina – yep, you read that right

Those are just some highlights of the highlights, I’m sure there are even more mind blowers in there.

Guess He Heard the Footsteps!

New services around the country are reporting that good ol’ Tom “The Hammer” DeLay is stepping down from his bid to run again for Congress. Couldn’t be better news to me. I just wonder why it’s taken so long. Perhaps he got advanced warning of the extent of Tom Rudy’s cooperation, and pending charges that will be harder to shake.
I also wonder if those who donated to his re-election can ask for a refund, and how the successor is chosen. A run off between the remaining 3 candidates?
I also wonder if Bush and the Rove machine will continue to stand by their man, or will attempt to distance themselves and the White House from DeLay.
I’m sure some answers will come sooner than later, but that’s at least one perpetrator of the culture of corruption that won’t be influencing the laws of our country, and won’t be perpetuating the good ol’ boy network on Capitol Hill come this fall.