Documentation Back

After reading some documentation, I was able to fix my two mini-modules that only display a block. I’m happy to have me specially formatted recent comments back, and my own little content discovery block, aptly named “This Day in”. 🙂

Now, to figure out how to export drupal 5 image nodes to a format that can be imported on another drupal 5 site.

Daring Geek

My geek shirt arrived yesterday! I was just beginning to wonder where it was too. I’ve been reading Daring Fireball even though I am just a Mac user wannabe (in some ways). Still when I saw the new shirt design, I really wanted one. It only means something to other geeks, but tonight someone else recognized the shirt for what it is.

Photography Frames

One geek photography topic I have been following for quite a long time is digital picture frames. I take a lot of pictures. Besides displaying them on my website(s), I’d like to see them at home. A perfect thing for this is a digital frame that cycles through a collection of pictures.

I have been keeping a collection of links to digital picture frames over on delicious. Here is my collection. I have felt that in the last few months there have been an increasing number of announcements of new frames. I finally feel that for the price of what you get, they are worth it. Some of the features are pretty cool too, but some are bad.

Watch out for the ones that require a subscription or an account on a server to download pictures from. Sadly these still exist and the problem lies with what happens to the company if they go under, or decide to exit the market? Also, you need to upload your pictures to their server, and for me there lies a problem with ownership of the file (forgetting that it takes time to upload somewhere then download to the frame).

K.I.S.S. I don’t want much in a frame, but I do want a good quality picture. The features I want in a frame are these:

  • AC or DC power
  • large and bright screen
  • internal memory
  • memory card capable

Not much there. Some of the other things cool features that I have seen:

  • wi-fi access to picture collections
  • rss reading of picture collections
  • video playback
  • remote control
  • motion sensor to disable the frame while noone is in the room

I hope to pick a digital picture frame up in the next few months. They have been a novelty for a while, but now I think I am at the point where I would find it useful.

Critical Cards

At first the novelty was interesting but it has reached a critical mess now. The idea of store cards has to stop. The first one I saw was the Starbucks card. Interesting way for companies to make money. They get your money in advance and earn interest on it. You get … coffee. You lose the card you get … screwed.

Everywhere you go now you see a store card for sale. Canadian Tire, the Bay, Thrifty’s and on and on and on.

Today I saw one for Subway. Argh. Enough already. I have enough crap in my wallet I don’t need 10 more plastic cards in there. A debit card works just great. Now, if maybe they had a universal no-pin needed, load anywhere use anywhere kind of card I could get on board. That is essentially a debit card (without a pin) though.

Sigh.

Identity silos are a real pain. Brand lock-in is a real pain. Consumers want choice. This consumer wants choice.

Other random thoughts:
Granted store cards are nice for gifts, but whatever happened to the old fashioned Gift Certificate?

They can also be a good thing for budgeting (I am allowed $X per month at Starbucks).

How much waste is produced by these cards each year?

People returning merchandise without a receipt to stores with their own cards usually end up with a store card in the amount of their return. Not the worst thing in the world I suppose, but there is another card I need to dispose of.

Official Destination

It’s officially official. I have given notice at NewHeights, and I am moving to a new company. I have found it to be a difficult decision to leave, but I am also very excited about my destination: Kodak.

No, my new job has nothing to do with photography. I will be coding still, but with some newer technology (in some ways) than what I work with now.

A fresh start in a new work environment. Liberating. My last day at NewHeights is November 17, and from now until then I am training someone on my job. My start date is the 22nd, so I have a couple extra days off which will be nice.

Addressing Mangled

One of the features my webhost just implemented was plus-style email addressing (like gMail has). For example if my email address was fred@muddylaces.ca, fred+spamtrap@muddylaces.ca would go to the same mailbox.

This allows me to sign up at any webpage with a different email address, to make filtering easier and to quickly learn if someone is selling my email address if I use a unique email address per signup. My webhost has done this to allow people a basic for of catch all address that isn’t really a catch all.

In theory this sounds great, but in 2 days I have some across 2 websites that don’t support this at all. Dell.com was the first one I found. The Dell site told me they wouldn’t accept the email address. Fine, I created something else to use.

thehip.com did something far worse. They accepted the email address, then mangled it when they put it in a database, and somehow replaced the + with a space. This has very bad consequences when the site sent me an email. So “fred+thehip@muddylaces.ca” got turned into “fred thehip@muddylaces.ca”. When the site sent the email, all of a sudden fred@thehip.com and thehip@muddylaces.ca received the email (that contained my password by the way). This kind of failure is very bad (IMO).

I hope more sites will support plus style addressing. I plan on using it a lot more.

MessengerStatus

MSN Live Messenger is pissing me off. Time to do some testing. MSN Live has as a sponsor, LavaLife. I am not the target market for LavaLife. I am very happily married and I do not want to see these ads on MSN Live sites or in MSN Live messenger.

I decided to check my profile. There are a lot of setting there, and most of them I have left blank, or set prefer not to say. The setting for marriage status was blank. I have a suspicion (or hope) that this setting will modify the ads I see.

First thing I notice is that there is no option to specify “I’d prefer not to say”. Crud. I set it to married, and we will see if this gets rid of the ads.

I really hope that the settings on my profile will influence the ads I see. It would make sense wouldn’t it? You’d think a company like Micro$oft would place contextually relevant ads. Surely they have someone there that can code that feature up.

Update 1: now I see ads for date.ca. Not much better.

Update 2: the MSN Live preferences page still shows LavaLife ads. I am now thinking I am S.O.L.

Drupal Tidy

Decided on a whim (and a little investigation), to upgrade muddylaces to Drupal 4.7.2. There are a couple modules that I use(d) that haven’t been updated yet. Since it was nothing critical, I decided to go for it.

This was a more complicated than usual upgrade, but now that it is done, I am liking it. Hopefully everything made it across just fine. I had to update two of my custom modules (easy), and update my theme, and tidy up a few things.

Excellent. Fun Fathers Day project.

DHCP Correctly

The past couple weeks we have had a spotty internet connection. Everything would work fine for a while, then nothing. I logged into the router admin interface and noticed that the router was having problems getting an IP address using DHCP. Figuring it was a Shaw problem I gave them a call yesterday.

I didn’t have to wait too long to talk to a rep, but then it was the usual crap to deal with. Unplug the power for the modem. No fix. Unplug the power to the router. No fix. Unplug power to both. No fix. Reboot the computer. No fix. Plug computer directly into modem. No fix.

FInally the tech pulled out some bizarre command line instructions:

netsh int ip reset resetlog.txt
and
netsh winsock reset catalog

I asked him what these were for, and he said that sometimes windows can get confused on bootup and not correctly configure itself. Bullshit. I called him on that. I asked: “How would that fix the problem when the computer had no problems getting an IP address from the router, and it was the router (not running windows) that couldn’t get an IP address. ” His reply: “Hmm good question”.

Turned out that these instructions did something. I got limited connectivity. He had me run a speed test and it was sloooow. My upload speed was faster than my download speed (both right around 340 KBits/sec). He asked me to wiggle the cables in the back of the modem, and as soon as I did that, the speed test completed. Interesting. Loose connections inside the modem?

The answer was to swap out for a new modem. Did that yesterday before closing time, and voila, blazing fast internet connection again. Stable too.

Geeky Downfall

Just a little note here that I have changed how I handle the feed from gf-tech.com (my other blog for geeky work related stuff). I was importing items from the feed to this site, and having them appear as first class content. This made for easy consumption, and easy commenting. The commenting bit was the downfall. I’d rather have the comments on the original source of the story (gf-tech.com).

I now have a block on the top right of muddylaces that shows latest content from gf-tech.com. This will not show up in the rss feed for this site (that is a drag). It will link to a story on muddylaces, with a link to the full article which will take you to gf-tech.com so you can leave comments there.

An example is here: http://www.muddylaces.ca/firefox_extension_dragdropupload

If you have any strong feelings about these changes, please let me know.