If you look on my single post pages (such as this post’s) you’ll notice a new little bonus Easter Egg: “Dewdles by Sam”. I got Sam to draw a bunch of little stick figures of scenarios represented by IdioQuote or just random inside jokes. Now, they rotate randomly whenever you’re reading full posts. Just another incentive to leave a comment! Thanks Sam; you’re the bestest!
Quote of the MomentYour stories always end like that... Seth gets the girl and is the hero... -Creator
Mmm, I’m making more use of dynamic scripts on the new blog than ever before. Not only am I using jQuery, thanks to all I learned about it while writing ZB’s scripts, but I even rewrote some of my old scripts like my Headline Image Replacement with jQuery. In HIR’s case, the script went from 8 kilobytes to about 400 bytes. Yay jQuery! In addition, I serve a pre-compressed version of jQuery to browsers that can handle it (not IE), which makes jQuery + all my scripts + new scripts smaller than the old stuff!
There are four main scripts that I’m using to make things nice. My Where’s Seth script is back, but now instead of just pulling from my Google Calendar, it also works off Jabber away messages that my Trillian client sends. I need to make it more robust, so we’ll see what other ways I can pull information, such as Twitter feeds. For my linkblog, I rolled a little bit of jQuery to fetch JSON data from Ma.gnolia (which is like del.icio.us but nicer), so I don’t have to maintain links in two separate places.
On the WordPress plugins side, I’ve added OpenID and Gravatar support. WP-OpenID allows commenters to use their OpenID, both to verify their identity and to obviate having to type all that commenter info every time. Gravatar was acquired by WordPress, which makes me finally comfortable enough to use it on a blog. Before, it was just too unstable– the service was unavailable all the time and I didn’t feel like it was “official” enough to make it widespread and worth using. With official adoption by WordPress, it should become more of a de facto standard, one that I feel comfortable supporting.
Wow, it really has been seven months– more than that, actually– since I last blogged. I’m sorry.
It was one thing after another. “I’ll do a new blog when ZetaBoards is done.” ZB got done (or at least I was done with ZB). “I’ll do a new blog when I have a lull in coursework.” Physical Chemistry was a beast, and I started my research this semester. “I’ll do a new blog when winter break comes.” I start studying for the MCAT. But at long last, I gave in to Nicola’s pleadings and set aside time to hash out a new blog… because if I didn’t get it done soon it was never going to happen!
This is the first time I’ve had someone wonderful like Nic to work with on a personal design. She made theming ZetaBoards so much easier; I can code, but I have little color sense and less graphical ability. But wow, was this blog design so much easier with her. I just needed to lay out a general idea of what I wanted (sometimes with MS Paint illustrations!) and she would go to work. As I coded the HTML and CSS, she would supply me with graphics to drop in place. And this is the result– a blog that has more eye candy than my first blog (css-only, circa 1998), second blog, (maybe a background… remember the black-on-scanlines?), or even third blog (modified Kubrick). It’s truly a treat.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to follow Sam in blogging every day. So let’s see if I can’t bring this site back from the dead ^_^ It isn’t fully functional yet, as there are no comments or pages, and some things are broken. But I can’t stand not blogging anymore, so let the posts begin.
Although I had turned off the Where’s Seth? for the winter break, I neglected to turn it back on again for the first couple weeks of classes. The reason was that I was using a rather… kludgy method of parsing calendar data, to say the least. The calendar was stored on my computer in iCal format. I used KOrganizer to edit it and add my classes / schedule, and then used
rsync to keep it up-to-date on the server. PHPiCalendar then parsed the iCal and generated RSS. I then used XML_RSS from PEAR to parse the RSS and yoink only the current event. That’s a lot of work to pick out the current item from my schedule!
I had been lazy for a couple weeks about sitting down and inputting my new classes. So today, I fired up Google Calendar and input my schedule items just for fun. It features XML and iCal export, so I thought I could hack up an equivalent version of the Where’s Seth? script using that.
This, my friends, is Stalking Done Right™.
I have to say that WP-Hashcash has done the trick. I’ve gotten fewer than 2 dozen spams in the last 2 days, and the log shows almost 1500 blocked attempts… sweet!
So while on the topic of spam, Scotty asked me today about fighting e-mail spam more effectively. Even though I’ve used SpamAssassin for a couple years, I would still get a few hundred spam e-mails a week that made it through the filter. Thunderbird would collect about 90% of those, which meant that I didn’t have to look at a lot of spam… but still far more than I would have liked. Plus, any time I looked at my mail from a webmail interface, I had to sort through a few dozen spams.
I read up a couple months ago on SpamAssassin tweaking. Let me summarize some steps I took that caused the number of spam e-mails I get a week to fall to under 10.
Read the rest of this thought »