New Version of My Google Blosxom Plugin

I’ve finally gotten around to updating my Google plugin for Blosxom that’s been languishing for several months now. No longer must you use the cheesy ‘KW:’ style keywords; I now use the Meta plugin, so you can add a meta-google_keywords: line in your meta area and get the same effect. I’ve left the old style support in, so if you’ve been using it, you don’t have to go through and change all your stories to the new format.

Thus, the old style was:

and the new-and-improved style is:

meta-google_keywords: comment spam

One caveat: make certain that the meta plugin runs before this one or your google links will show up one story too late. That took a while to track down. I renamed my meta plugin to 00meta and now all is well.

Get it here and please let me know if you have problems with it.

DIE, Comment Spammers, DIE!

I’ve grown extremely tired of these ass-hat comment spammers who have nothing better to do than deface websites with ads for their ridiculous ‘products’ and pr0n sites. I took the entire comments system down a while back as a stopgap, but I didn’t like not having it. So I re-enabled comments and wrote a couple of Ruby scripts to help me manage them. I have one script that finds all the comment files and sorts them so I can see if any have changed. If any have, I run another script that lets me edit/delete any comment files. This works, but requires me to diligently check for new crap, so it’s sub-optimal.

Tired of fighting, but still wanting my comment system enabled, I put my Perl hat back on and hacked in a moderation system to the comments. Essentially, no comment will actually show up on the site until I bless it, and I’ve changed the ‘thanks’ page when someone adds a comment alerting them to the change. So comments may be delayed, but they probably won’t be. I’m pretty good about checking, but now I don’t have to check constantly to make sure I’m not involuntarily pimping for some pr0n site. I think this will work nicely.

The Cat in the Hat Sucks Really, Really Bad

We just got back from seeing The Cat in the Hat and I can say without equivocation, that this is one of the absolute worst films I have ever seen. I sat there constantly looking at my watch to see when the torment would end. It’s not funny. It’s not even mildly amusing. It’s just dumb. It’s a travesty of a film based on a wonderful book. The estate of Dr. Seuss should be ashamed of themselves (again) for letting something this horrible happen. Not since Opie butchered the Grinch has such a horrible rendition of a Dr. Seuss work been seen.

I don’t know if I can really explain just how terrible it was, but perhaps this will help. The one thing that was heard in the packed theater, filled with kids of all ages: silence. Yes, no body was laughing, at all! Not even the kids. My son hardly cracked a smile, though on the way out we did get the ceremonial “let’s go see it again, dad!” The closest thing to laughter that I heard was some adults groaning at some of the gross “humor.”

Trust me on this. Do not, under any circumstances, inflict this pain on yourself or your loved ones. Friends don’t let friends see “The Cat in the Hat” and all that. It’s horrible. And I’m not the only one who thinks it sucks.

Airport WiFi

How cool is this? I’m sitting at my departure gate at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and they have high speed WiFi deployed all over the place. You plug in your wireless card, connect to the local WayPort network and, to quote Emeril, BAM! You’re connected. The first time you try to browse to a website, you get hijacked to the WayPort site and are presented with the option of buying a connection. I was prepared to be told $15/hour or something else outlandish, but it’s only $6.95/day, which isn’t that bad. Especially when you’ve got over two hours to wait for your flight. And they don’t seem to have any restrictions on what you can do. I’m logged into AIM, MSN Messenger, Y! Messenger and IRC, I’ve used ssh to get to one of my machines, and I’ve checked and sent email, all with no problems. Very nice!

Nihongo ga Sukoshi Hanashimasu

I’ve run into Matsumoto-san several times so far this weekend, but each time only managed a sheepish ‘Hi,’ or something equally lame. The frustrating thing is that I’ve been practicing my Japanese for weeks in preparation for meeting him yet every time I came within speaking distance, I chickened out.

Well, finally tonight I worked up my courage, and as Matsumoto-san and I were walking alongside each other in the corridor, I leaned over and said:

Kon ban wa, Matsumoto-san. ‘Joey Gibson’ to moushimasu.

Matsumoto-san laughed heartily and responded with

Jouzu desu!

or something along those lines. He speaks very fast. Anyway I, now feeling a bit more confident, followed up with

Nihongo ga sukoshi hanashimasu, demo mada jouzu ja’arimasen.

To which he said

Iie, juubun jouzu desu.

Which made me very happy.

Arigatou gozaimasu, Matsumoto-san.

In The Flight Path

It’s 17:37 on Saturday and I’m sitting with some new friends at a little coffee shop called Flight Path, which is about 2 miles from the conference hotel. The reason we are here is because it has free wifi! I’m extremely tired and was going to take a short nap, but the lure of the network was too great, and I gave in. Alas, my rest will have to wait.

I’ve been suffering at 24.0 kbps for the past two days so this is a welcome change. We’ve got to head back for dinner in a few minutes and then a big presentation by Matz (the creator of Ruby). It should be fun.

Rough Flight

Ed. Note: I flew from Atlanta, GA to Austin, TX this morning and I would have written this in-flight, but the guy in front of me reclined his seat and since there is only 4.23 inches of space between one row of seats and another on most commercial airliners (unless you pay the amazingly high price for First Class) I was unable to use my laptop. Thus I composed this missive in my head and am now commiting it in writing at my hotel. Here’s what I would have written:

SWEET MOTHER OF ABRAHAM! That was the roughest take-off I’ve ever experienced. There was a serious front coming into Atlanta this morning and we had very high winds. Driving to the airport my car was buffetted all over the road, and then the airplane was buffetted as we tried to take off. My compliments to the pilot for not crashing. Did I mention that the winds were amazingly high? Then we get to Austin, TX two hours later and have an equally rough landing. At least we did land, which is good. You always want take-offs and landings to occur in pairs…

One funny thing happened before we even took off. The pilot comes over the intercom telling us about the flight that will begin any second. He ends with “… and we’ll get you to San Antonio as fast as we can.” Of course we’re not going to San Antonio, we’re going to Austin. Puzzled looks are being passed around the cabin when the pilot comes back on and says “One correction. We will be going to Austin, not San Antonio. I was there a few times yesterday and it stuck in my head. Sorry for the confusion.” That was good for a laugh.

Unlike at the Atlanta airport where getting from the plane to the baggage carousels is essentially a 5k walk, at the Austin airport it was about a 50 yard walk from the jetway to the baggage carousels. And it was all above ground! In well lit corridors, with no need of moving sidewalks.

So I go to the Enterprise rent-a-car stand and confirm my reservation for a full-size car. I then proceed up to the area where you get your car, and after a five minute wait they ask me if I’d like to take a brand new, never before rented, Ford F-150 quad cab truck as a free upgrade for having to wait. Hmmm, let’s see. I can keep waiting for a Grand Am, or I can take the big manly truck. Hmmm… OK! So here I am in Texas, driving a big-ass Texas sized truck. Ooo yeah.

So why am I in Austin? For the Third International Ruby Conference, of course! It starts tomorrow, but I came in a day early so I wouldn’t miss any of the early sessions on Friday morning. This is going to be fun and I will be blogging about interesting things that happen as the conference progresses.

Not that I’ll be blogging quickly. The conference hotel has no high speed Internet access, and I’m sitting here on a 24.0 bpskbps dial up connection. Blech!

Once Again, This Time With Feeling

OK, folks, the Grammar Nazi™, here. It’s time for a little lesson on spelling and grammar. Today we are discussing the similar, yet very different words “your” and “you’re” since so many people can’t seem to use them properly. “Your” is a word indicating ownership or possession. “You’re” is a contraction of “you” and “are” indicating that “you are” doing something. According to Webster,

  • your = of or relating to you or yourself or yourselves especially as possessor or possessors…
  • you’re = you are

Now, repeat after me: your and you’re are not interchangeable! It’s very annoying to read sloppy emails and blog postings from folks who can’t get this straight! Sentences like “If your an Eclipse user…” and “Be sure to set you’re clock back tonight” really get under my skin. It does seem like more people use “your” when they should have used “you’re” than screw up in the other direction, which I do find marginally interesting. I think this whole problem stems from our increased reliance on spell checkers; they won’t catch errors like this because both are valid words, just not in that particular context. I have yet to see a spell checker that would flag “your” when you should have used “you’re,” but maybe they do exist somewhere.

The fact remains: This is not rocket science, and how you write publicly is a representation of who you are and how attentive to detail you are. Some people say “it’s just an email,” or “it’s just my personal blog,” but I don’t see it that way. An email (or blog) is you presenting yourself to another person (or lots of people). If all someone knows of you is your email or your blog, that’s all they have to form an opinion of you. If your grammar and spelling are sloppy, then it seems reasonable to assume that you are too.

Please don’t get me started on “its” vs. “it’s” or “affect” vs. “effect.”

Bubba Ho-Tep

I won free passes to see Bubba Ho-Tep at my new favorite art house cinema last night. Three words: funny as hell. It’s the heart-warming story of an elderly Elvis Presley who not only didn’t die, but is living still at an old folks’ home in east Texas. There he meets ‘Jack’, played by Ossie Davis, who thinks he is John Kennedy (‘They dyed me this color!’). The residents of the home are being picked off one by one by an Egyptian soul-sucker and it’s up to Elvis and ‘The President’ to save everyone. The film stars Bruce Campbell as The King and he does a good job. It’s a very crude film in terms of dialog but man is it ever funny. The scene of Elvis in his white studded jump-suit gimping down the hall with a walker and ‘The President’ in a motorized wheelchair heading off to defeat the soul-sucker is extremely funny. If this film comes to your town, go see it!

Halloween Weekend Wrap-Up

First of all, I’d like to give a big F@#K YOU to the cretins who smashed our Jack-o-Lantern Friday night. We spent quite a bit of time Thursday night carving this thing and then to have some worthless little punk destroy it really stinks. Next year I’ll be sitting on the porch handing out candy while holding a baseball bat… This is why I generally hate Halloween.

On the bright side, Thomas had a great time Trick-Or-Treating. He went as the Red Power Ranger, Tammy was a pumpkin and I was a Viking. Did you know that big, furry guantlets really make your forearms sweat? Anyway, we walked around our neighborhood for a while, with Thomas filling his Power-Ranger-Head goody bag with tons of candy. We then drove over to our friends’ house where Thomas helped them pass out candy to kids coming over. I think he enjoyed giving out the candy as much as he did getting it.

So yesterday, after seeing the excellent film Brother Bear, Tom and I are out in the front yard throwing a little balsa wood glider and having a great time, when it happened. Thomas sat down in the grass and a few seconds later complained that the grass was itchy. He jumped up and ran to the front porch and started howling. I ran towards him and as I got closer I could see that his legs were covered in black ants! I dropped to my knees and started wiping the ants off of him. Once he was ant-free we went inside and started pulling his clothes off to make sure there were none inside; fortunately there weren’t any. He’s screaming his head off at this point, so we head upstairs and put him in a warm bath with some Aveeno to try to soothe his skin. After a while in the tub, with me (outside the tub) playing Pok