About Site Admin

Website administrator for the WhyDontYou domain. Have maintained and developled a variety of sites, ranging from simple, plain HTML sites to full blown e-commerce applications. Interested in philosophy, politics and science.

Wintery Negatives

As part of the drive to improve the quality, and quantity, of the photos on the blog, here are two more – taken in December 2006, with a Nokia N73 mobile phone with the first using the “negative” settings.
Let us know what you think.

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New Page – Sitemap

Aside – just to let you know, we have now added a sitemap function to the blog.

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Technorati Oddities – Again

This is getting repetitive. Technorati, once more, is being weird. The last post here (http://www.whydontyou.org.uk/blog/2006/11/19/digital-storage/) has shown up on technorati within 2 minutes of the post being made. Previous ones took more than two days.

It makes less than no sense to me. If anyone has any idea how technorati decides which pings to honour and which to ignore – please, please, please let me know.

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Technorati – Again

Well, Technorati is up to its usual tricks. The interesting links post (http://www.whydontyou.org.uk/blog/2006/11/16/interesting-links-3/) is still not visible on Technorati, two days after it was posted.

Bah.

I wish someone would write a better blog-indexing service. Still, if I really hated it that much I would write one myself…

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Wow – Agreeing with .net!

Will wonders never cease! Today’s issue of .net magazine arrived and for the first time in a LONG time I found myself “nodding my head” in agreement with some of the editorials.

On page 17, “Gary Marshall’s Big Mouth” has an article titled “Idiot Wind” and, coming from a net magazine it is certainly a breath of fresh air.

After reading so many articles, online and in print, about how great community powered websites are (including some wikipedia fans and not so fans here… :-)), reading Gary Marshall comment on how these sites highlight the herd mentality and generally descent to the lowest common denominator is very good.

The .net pull quote reads:

Show me any social powered website and I’ll show you the people who are dragging it down.

Not the best possible quote but he has a point! My personal favourites are his comments on the “naive optimism of the web 2.0 cheerleaders.” Personally, I wouldn’t have been so polite.

Sadly, it doesnt look like www.netmag.co.uk has put the article on line yet – If they do, I will link to it here.

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Just say NO to google

I have spent a few days talking (on and offline) to quite a few people who have “fallen out” with Google. Most of these people have been at one end of the Google Advertising empire and end up getting stung.

People build websites, serve google ads and then when it comes to a payout Google back off (claiming things like “invalid clicks” or similar). Not a major problem normally but with google there are no ground for redress or process in which legitimate complaints can be investigated. This is wrong and certainly falls foul of the “do no evil” mantra. A similar thing (in reverse) has happened to a few people I know who advertise with google, they have been getting lots of machine generated clicks and although google has since suspended the accounts which appear to have sent the clicks (very hard one to tell at this end), the people have not had any money recredited to their adsense account, despite the claims made by google in their account termination message.

Because of the way google works there is no way to verify their business practices. Neither party has grounds for redress or verification.

Shocking.

There is something which can be done about it though. A few years ago when Yahoo, MSN et al., were obsessed with becoming portals and making money, Google snuck in the back door and was fantastic. Times have changed. Although I am a die hard, anti-MS, Linux fan, the search engine at MSN is now pretty good. Often returning better quality hits than google. Same with Yahoo. Same with Ask. For the last two weeks almost all my searches have been done on MSN and Google. Google is not better. Often MSN is actually better and it is never worse.
The solution to Google is simple. Use a different search engine.

Go MSN.

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Blogrolls 2

As promised, every now and then I will post links to interesting pages:

More soon. I know you can’t wait… 🙂

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Blogrolls

Well, it seems every blog has a list of interesting websites, so starting today I will “share” with you some of the sites I visit. This will not be daily but it will be fairly regular. (Yes this is going to be somewhat like looking over my favourites folder…. Never mind… :-))

In time I may be tempted to present these link in a nicer manner (titles and descriptions for example). Let me know what you think.

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Slashdot Effect Still Working

Well, the rumours of the “slashdot effect” (Where getting a mention on slashdot brings your server to its knees) having died were obviously unfounded.

A recent article (Traveller detained for anti-TSA Message) seems to have had the predictable effect.

I haven’t yet been able to read the original, but the message on slashdot is that a traveller got detained by US Airport police for wiriting an message on a carrier bag which read “Kip Hawley (Head of the TSA) is an Idiot,” (For non Americans, you can read more about the Transportation Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Insecurity – http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?theme=11&content=4714).

Isn’t it great having the United States of America as the last bastion of freedom….. The people will remain Free even if it takes locking up every single one of them to achieve it…

It is such a shame George Orwell didnt live to see this day.

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Summer is bad for blogging

Well, July has drawn to a close with the lowest monthly blog totals yet… Sorry.

Sadly, August is likely to produce the same output – lots of offline things to occupy WhyDontYou’s time and the prospect of sunny weather.

We will try to blog whenever possible though and come the autumn things should return to normal.

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More lomo goodness

I have been playing around with some images, trying to generate good effects. I am still not convinced this is “lomo” but it does produce some stunning pictures and can be done in Fireworks, Gimp or Photoshop pretty easily:

Portchester-28-Jul-06

Old-Sarum-26-Jul-06

Avebury-17-Jun-06

Well, as I said before, I actually quite like this effect. I am happy to listen to what others think or if you have done something similar please let me know.

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Starting to like .net

Well, if there had ever been any doubt, I am obviously going soft as I get older. I am starting to like this months .net magazine! Argh.

Before I seem mad, there are the usual bucket loads of things which really annoy (and simple mistakes are high on the list – this new editor hasn’t actually improved anything in that respect). However, their tutorials are getting better.

In the past, the .net tutorials have gone from patronising to rocket science with no in-between step, and generally were uninsteresting and uninspiring. This month they are actually quite good. As an example, the “lomography” tutorial (using photoshop to put lomo effects onto pictures), is quite interesting and pretty inspiring.

I am not for one second saying the output appears properly “lomo,” however it is a good tutorial for adding effects previously not thought of combining (by me at least). You can see the outcome of a lomo practice on some stonehenge pictures:

Stonehenge Lomo

Stonehenge Lomo,
originally uploaded by etrusia_uk.

Let me know what you think.

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Technorati Update Time

Well, it seems like this site doesnt get “refreshed” on Technorati for at least 26 minutes (that is the fastest I have managed to get a post to show up there.)

Does anyone know if this is normal?

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PHP Security

Short one – the summer 2006 copy of .net has an interesting article on how to secure PHP scripts used in e-commerce (and generally to be honest).

While overall the article is very well written there is one glaring thing I think is way off the mark. Given that this is not a beginners topic and that on the third page the Author (Paul Hudson) talks about editing the httpd.conf file to restrict the X-Powered-By header PHP adds, it is strange that the advice about PHP includes is simply to rename them all from .inc to .php.

First oddity, it has been quite some time since the standard for php includes was filename.inc but this is minor. Now Mr Hudson’s concern is that people can access the .inc directly and view it as plain text (if they know the name of your .inc file), which is obviously a problem if all your DB logon data is in one.

Now the solution is massive overkill. If you had a site with (say) ten pages calling the same 10 *.inc files it would be a bit of a pain to change the files to .php and the include() to the new name. Now what if your site was ten times that size? Drama to say the least – even with good old grep.

Surely the simplest, most common sense solution is to (like mentioned on p84) alter the way the server handles the file? In apache this works – AddType x-mapp-php5 .inc as does AddType application/x-httpd-php .inc.

One change and everything is resolved.

Is this easier or am I mad?

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We’re great and you know it.

Well hubris aside, that is the title of a pull out box in the Summer 2006 .net Magazine (p 11 for the spotters). This pull out box is on the letters page and highlights the happy comments people have submitted.

Now, the .net redesign is pretty good. The content has improved a bit. There are still mountains of typos and some pretty pointless bits but overall it is good.

However, and this is a big however, by the time someone has got to a quarter height box on page 11 of the magazine, they have probably bought it. What value is there to any one who has bought the magazine to know that “Stormfx” says “Best..net.ever. Absolutely love it. Rock on!” (I blame comic book guy for the new writing style….)

Now, I may be mistaken but in things like magazines the space is important. There is only a limited amount and the main priorities are advertisments (to bring in profits and keep prices down) and content (to make people buy copies and sell more advertisments). It is actually quite easy, the hard part is finding the happy medium.

Why on Earth did anyone sanction this use of space to simply say “I like your new style?” (six times)

What is the purpose of printing this sort of message? Is it to convince the casual browser to buy the magazine (in which case, why 1/4 height box on page 11)? Obviously this implies that the casual browser is not going to be tempted by the actual quality or quantity of the “real content” but is going to be swayed by the raves of total strangers.

Is it to convince people who arent’ happy with the new style that they are in a minority? This happens a lot in corporate communications: Often as a result of disgruntled employees causing problems and inefficient managers bringing in PR companies to convince everyone they are happy. It doesnt work. If people aren’t happy, listen to their problems and try to fix them, or at least explain why you cant/wont fix them. Simply telling everyone they are in a minority does not improve worker morale, and does not improve reader satisfaction. (George Orwell has a LOT to answer for).

One, possibly more likely, reason could simply be that in the typical chain of a company telling each other how well you have done is better than doing something (well or otherwise). This could just be the new editor showing his chain of command what a great thing his changes have been.

Personally I think it stinks and the space would have been much better employed with more letters, even an advert would have been better if they have so much space….

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