Tuesday, 15 June 2004

Looks like pretty much all the free blogs at weblogs.com (about 3000 of them) are gone. Userland's apparently not especially interested in hosting free sites (they're a commercial enterprise after all), and Dave Winer, who really got the free thing going back in the day, has actually been buying servers himself recently and moving the sites over. But the weblogs.com migration and hosting is much more difficult than can be handled by Dave for free, so he's had to pull the plug. Performance problems and other issues (DNS nightmares for sub-domains, for example) have not been manageable, so the other evening, Dave posted this entry, recorded this audioblog entry, and decided he had to turn off the free service. So, he did. People who have sites hosted there can post a comment on this page with the URL of their site, and Dave promises to send the contents of all requested sites on July 1st. For complete information, listen to the audio entry. Dave explains it all there.

"This is not a company here, this is a person"
Dave Winer has provided, or through Userland has been involved in providing, a free service for many years. Unfortunately, he's faced with a difficult personal health situation and had to make a decision. It would have been much better if there was some reasonable period during which people could have downloaded their own information, but we're past that point now. Dave's a somewhat controversial (to some) and outspoken guy, but he's human like the rest of us, and hey - four years of free hosting... Regardless of the situation today, he's got to take care of himself, and IMO he deserves the community's gratitude for all the years of good and free blogging service (I even had one set up for a while back in the beginning). For my part, I wish him well and hope his heath improves and that he's able to focus better on the more important aspects of his life. As nice as it is to do for others, one must take care of one's self first in order to be available to others. Dave's done a lot for the community in the past, and regardless of the present situation, we can at least tell him thank you:

    Hey Dave - Thanks! (and good luck)

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Tuesday, 15 June 2004 07:02:18 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 14 June 2004

For some reason, over the past few days several people have asked me if I know what to do with an American flag that is in a fixed position on a pole (like the kind that you'd attach to your porch, for example) during a time when the flag is to be flown at half-staff. I understand why they're asking the question - I was wondering the same thing myself last week. I am just not so sure why they're asking me.

Anyhow, I did some research, and it turns out there is a correct and acceptable way to fly those flags:

For flags that can't be lowered, such as those on many homes, the American Legion says attaching a black ribbon or streamer to the top of the flag is an acceptable alternative. The ribbon should be the same width as a stripe on the flag and the same length as the flag.

If the flag is hanging on a wall, make three black bows from the same material and place one bow at each of the mounting points.

Totally non-technical, but for now completely relevant to many. So, there you go.

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Monday, 14 June 2004 08:52:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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New security features will be introduced in Windows XP SP2 this summer that will affect Internet Explorer and ActiveX controls, file downloads, pop-up windows, and more. As a result, depending on the types of technology you've employed on your Web site, it's possible your site won't play well with the enhanced security of SP2.

So, Microsoft has released a white paper that explains the potential problem areas and how to make sure your site will work well with the updated software. You can get the info here.

NOTE: Since SP2 is available as a pre-release download for beta testers and in a preview version, now is a good time for companies with large, important Web sites to do some controlled testing and make sure they've got any kinks worked out. People in business with IT departments should definitely check in with your IT department before you download the service pack, because it introduces a number of changes that a) may break certain functionality on your computer in the beta version, and b) are not quite ready for prime time, but are ready to be tested in a controlled environment. Your IT people will almost certainly want to put some controls around the installation of the test software, such as installing it in a lab environment or similar.

Here are a couple of links to information about Windows XP SP2 and its impact on other programs and servers:

Now's the time to get ready, and for all those web-development businesses out there (the few that have survived) to prepare their big fast-push marketing campaign and make some extra cash this fall fixing sites for people who don't know what they have, and can't for the life of them figure out why end users are complaining about their suddenly-broken Web sites.

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IT Security | Tech
Monday, 14 June 2004 05:47:09 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 12 June 2004

This has got to be one of the most amazingly perfect examples of what's truly wrong with our world today.

PostmodernPets.com sells really-freakin' expensive pet crap for tons of money. German designer Phillip Plein has designed all kinds of cool stuff, apparently including dog bed that sells for - now get this -  a mere $1650.00!

Straight from the "uh-yeah-right" department (and the company info page of their web site):

"After browsing through our selection of products, we think that design-addicts that do not currently have pets may change their mind, and will soon discover what wonderful joys that these loveable companions can bring to life. And even if you don't purchase any products from our site, we hope our website will deepen your appreciation of postmodern design and your appreciation of pets and the fun and humor that both can bring to your life."


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Random Stuff | Things that Suck
Saturday, 12 June 2004 22:57:15 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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A friend turned me on to a program last week called BlogJet. It's a nifty little program that allows you to post to and maintain content on a web log. Any one of a number of blog software apps are supported, including:

Blogger API
MetaWeblog API

So pretty much anyone should be able to take advantage of it. I use it with my dasBlog server, and I am taking advantage of the fact that it can FTP pictures (EDIT: See below) to my server at the time I post the entries. It even logs me in and allows me to edit past posts by downloading them from the server for me, and will also download my posting categories and let me assign them in the program before I publish a new or edited post. In addition, it includes a simple audio recorder, and with it one can make audio recordings with the microphone and instantly post them with a link in the blog entry.

The WYSIWYG editor includes spell checking and a library of high-color emoticons/smilies  that it will automatically upload when if and when you use them in a post. On top of all that, since I use FeedDemon, I get the added benefit of making BlogJet my default blogging tool in that program, which means fast and easy blogging from my RSS reader, as well as from within IE ("BlogJet This!").

EDIT: Jim Blizzard decided to give BlogJet a try, too. He had to do some futzing around to get the FTP uploads to work, and I thought I should point out that I also had some issues getting the FTP portion of the program to behave as I expeced it to, but it's worth the extra effort. Perhaps they'll make some additional improvements in that area in future versions (First suggestion: let me choose active or passive FTP mode in the account wizard; Second suggestion: while it's cool to be able to load and choose from my blog categories on a new post, unfortunately existing posts that I load from history don't load with the category info intact, which gets confusing and messy. )

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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Tech
Saturday, 12 June 2004 22:16:50 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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My back has started to feel a lot better, off and on, over the past couple of days. I am not sure how long the relief will last, but I figure I will enjoy it while I can.

In that vain, I jumped on my motorcycle this evening (was a bit chilly!) and rode into town to return an Xbox game (RalliSport Challenge 2 - lots of fun). I've stayed off the motorcycle since my last spinal injections, to let my back heal and all that, but it actually feels pretty good to ride the bike and flex my lower back a bit. No long distances, and I will still take it easy, but it was a fun ride.

I think that beyond the physical stretching, the freedom one experiences on a motorcycle ride is something I need right now, as well. I've been feeling a little of that isolated-no-matter-where-I-am stuff, so it's good to finally be able to get back on there, even if just for a little while, and get out of my head.

Here's to hoping the weather warms up, and the back pain stays away.

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Personal Stories
Saturday, 12 June 2004 21:34:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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