Archive for October, 2004

Comments Are Disabled

After waking up to over 200 comment spams this morning, I’ve had to disable comments on the site for now. For a while, I wasn’t getting any spams — but then about a week ago I started getting maybe 5 a day. Until last night, when someone just dropped on bomb over here. So commenting is broken for now, and (maybe) will be back soon. Clearly I need to take better measures in preventing this stuff. Thanks.

Update: Commenting is now restored. I’m hopeful that, along with MT-Blacklist which I’ve had installed for a long time, the following will help combat future spamming: renaming mt-comments.cgi and removing the “Post” button from the entry page (forcing a preview of your comment before posting). These tips and more, explained. It also appears that MT3.1 has a vastly improved editing interface for comments, hopefully easing the process of deleting 200 comments all at once. An upgrade may be in order.

Pigs Are Flying

Like every other New Englander, I’m in a state of shock this (early) morning. Disbelief. Did it really happen? Did it really take 86 years? 86 years. My god that really is a long time. After a partial night’s sleep, I guess it’ll start to sink in.
1918 - 2004Here’s to an amazing team, that pulled off the impossible. To those who never got to see it happen in their lifetime. And it’s more than just a baseball game we’re talking about here. The memories of buying cases of baseball cards with my brother, hoping that they were all filled with Wade Boggs, Jim Rice and yes… Bill Buckner. Going to Fenway with my family all those years, and continually going back to soak up the history. It didn’t matter that they never won it all — heck, it’s fun to root for the underdog. But this year, it all seemed like it was the right time for Boston to win. An unforgettable eight consecutive victories.
Now what do we do? First: sleep.

Author Highlighting in MT

I’ve finally implemented author highlighting for the comments here at SimpleBits. Any comment that I add myself gets a slightly different style treatment to set it apart from the rest. I first noticed Dave doing this quite awhile back. Many others followed — and I’ve found it pretty darn useful when I read other sites, being able to quickly scan for the site owner’s remarks.

How is it done? Depending on the system you’re using, there are approximately 34,760 ways to make this happen, and I came up empty when searching for a writeup on how people handle the swap. Here’s how I tackled it.

I started by downloading the Switch plugin for MT. This allows for conditional statements within Movable Type’s templates. I’m sure there are other methods — and feel free to leave your own tips in the comments.

Once the plugin was installed, I just needed a way to insert a class to the <dt> and <dd> elements that I use to structure the author and text for each comment. This class would only exist if the comment was authored by me.

Using the Switch plugin’s syntax I added this to the entry template:

<dt<MTSwitch value="[MTCommentAuthor]">
  <MTSwCase value="Dan Cederholm"> class="dan"</MTSwCase>

So here, I’m testing for when the author’s value is “Dan Cederholm”. If it is, then it’ll add whatever’s between the <MTSwCase> tags — in this case: class="dan". Notice the space before class — this is important, as for every other case but “Dan Cederholm”, we’ll just have a normal <dt> (or <dd>) element, without extra spaces.

With a class now inserted for my own comments, I could just add specific styles for dt.dan and dd.dan to make them unique.

While I’m using the value of MTCommentAuthor, the plugin will accept any MT tag to match against. You could use an email address, URL, etc. — or I suppose get even more fancy with IP address or other more secure methods. I do realize that, now that I’ve documented this, I’m making it easy for people to pretend to be Dan Cederholm (I’m not sure why one would want to do that), but simplicity is bliss.

The Importance of Slippers

It’s slipper season again. When it dips below 60° (F), it’s time to wear slippers around the house. And I’m here today to highly recommend the Acorn Moc. Hands down the most comfortable slipper you’ll ever wear.
The padded foam and rubber soles make these stand out, giving you the ability to take out the trash and grab the paper outside without having to put on normal shoes. Heck, you may even be daring enough to wear them out all day, in public. They will wear out faster doing this, and really only “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski could pull something like that off.
If you think it a bit odd that I’ve just posted about slippers, then you’re probably right.

A Pile of Pennies

Two co-workers of my wife had made a bet before Wednesday night’s amazing game. The bet was $5, and it was paid from one Yankee fan to one Red Sox fan promptly on Thursday morning… in pennies. Not rolled, mind you — but in a large pile. If that doesn’t sum up the severity of this rivalry, I don’t know what does.
It’s been two days, yet I still can’t believe that the Red Sox will be facing the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Here it is, getting cold up here in Boston — and I have to admit it doesn’t feel right that baseball is still being played. Like other fans, I attribute this to a “biological baseball clock” that, for my entire 30-year life (save 1986), has been trained to shut down regarding anything Red Sox related by mid-October. This year, it just feels odd. We’ve beaten the Yankees, and after that gigantic victory, there’s still four more games to be won. And it won’t be easy.
For now, it’s all about savouring the moment. Reversing the memories of last year, when the World Series logo had to be removed from behind home plate at Fenway after it had been prematurely painted before Game 7. And hearing about how the carts of champagne were wheeled down the hall to the Red Sox clubhouse, only to be turned around and wheeled to the Yankees clubhouse after the lead was squaundered in the 8th inning. This year, it’s all different.
I’ll close with a question regarding Pedro Martinez going into Game 7 on Wednesday in the 7th inning. Did this have anything to do with retribution for last year? Here is the guy that was on the mound in the same situation when the game was essentially lost. He had to have wanted to be out there for the rematch. It unfortunately gave the Yankees and fans their only momentum of the game — but I have to wonder if part of him going out there had anything to do with last year.

What If?

Today is a good a day as any to post an entry in honor of our beloved Red Sox. I’ve been afraid to mention it here up until this point. And here we go again: Game 7. In NY. World Series on the line. It just doesn’t get any better than this, and it’s safe to say that SimpleBits headquarters has been entirely consumed by all of this for the past week.

sox capLike any Sox fan, I relate the greatest comeback in baseball history directly to what I was wearing on those game days, the spot on the couch I was sitting, the brand of beer, and so on. We all know that these factors mean something. We can only hope that the ghost of Babe Ruth is tired tonight — tired of spoiling his former team’s 86 year-old goal.

Regardless of the outcome of tonights game, it’s been an incredble ride — one that few will forget that follow American baseball. Go Sox.

Update: Holy crap! Absolutely amazing.

Televised Backward Compatibility

Having only had HDTV in the house for roughly 48 hours, I’ve already found something interesting to note. While watching “the game” last night (the second in a series I won’t talk about until we have some good news) I was amused by the little tricks that the designers use while serving screen elements that’ll work with both normal television and HDTV screen widths. Sounds sort of familiar, doesn’t it?
figureWhen FOX needed to show an informational banner across the bottom of the screen (see figure), the sides would fade out in a gradient while watching in HD. My guess (and I didn’t check) is that normal TV viewers don’t see the gradient at all, rather the banner just flows across the entire screen. The gradient edges are probably there — but only appear if you have a widescreen HDTV.
The parallels here to web design are obvious: that steps are taken to ensure a usable experience, regardless of screen size. Now aren’t the television designers lucky to have just two, predictable widths to deal with?
I’m also beginning to notice other design choices that reflect the growing number of HDTV customers. Many commericals are presented in 16:9 format, and some add colored bars on top and bottom that seem to purposely mesh visually with the black bars on left and right that appear when a square image is shown on a widescreen.
Having to support two viewport sizes must be challenging — but like the web, designers are finding creative ways to make both experiences work.

Stockholm Icons Now in Two Sizes

I’ve just finished an update to the Stockholm set of royalty-free web icons. Each icon now comes in two standard sizes: small (16×16) as well as large (32×32).

Stockholm icons

A few new icons were also added to the set: folder box, and clipboards.

The price will remain the same (just $45 USD), and I’ll be emailing those that have bought the icon set before today’s update with instructions on how to get a free upgrade. Any future updates to the Stockholm set will continue to be free as well.

Update: The upgrade email has just been sent to previous Stockholm customers. If you haven’t received the email, please contact me to receive instructions on receiving the new icons. Thanks!

I Wish to Appear in a Major Motion Picture

I wish to appear in a major motion picture. And I have since I can remember. I’m continually fascinated by movies (or I should say talkies) and it’s been a lifelong goal to be immortally portrayed in a large Hollywood production.
Oh, I can’t act. I’ve never tried — but that’s not the point. I want to be in a movie. I don’t want to be the movie.
I’m estimating that three seconds is the optimal amount of time in which to grace the screen. Anything less than three seconds and no one will recognize me. Anything more than three seconds and I’ll have to actually act. Three seconds is the perfect amount of time to be a “passerby” — or someone sweeping up the sidewalk. Perhaps delivering a pizza behind a foreground of some dramatic scene.
I have to confess that I haven’t done much to achieve my goal. Although I did audition for the film Moonlight Mile three years ago, which was about to film in Marblehead, Massachusetts, where I happened to live at the time. The audition went extremely well (or so I thought). After waiting in a long line, a Polaroid was taken that turned out to be the worst photo ever taken of me. So bad, in fact, that the casting person took a look at it and said Oooooh. I’m putting this one on top. This got me thinking I actually had a chance for at least a three-second role in this film. I never did get a call.
So now, I continue to dream. Perhaps there’ll be more auditions, more horrible Polaroids. And maybe one day, I can have my three seconds of fame. I’m curious, have you ever appeared on film?

Mountain Climbed

Mt. MonadnockWe climbed a mountain this past weekend. This photo was taken near the summit after a long hike. A few observations:

  • Mountains are tall.
  • Mountains are cold and cloudy at the top.
  • It seems that people generally enjoy walking up a mountain, then walking back down.
  • You should wait to eat your lunch on the way back down, rather than at the top, where it’s cold and windy.
  • The first 20 minutes of walking up an incline are the worst.
  • Hiking up a mountain with dress shoes and a tucked in button-down shirt is insane (I did witness this).
  • Water. Yes.
  • When you reach the bottom of the mountain, the feeling is so great that you forget how hard it was going up. There is even a casual mention of “doing this again”.