Archive for September, 2006

Friday Funday CXIV

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet.

Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV [del.icio.us]

I know, it’s a steal from boingboing, but it’s too good to pass up.

Roll On [del.icio.us]

I’m not sure how to describe this game, but it’s kind of addicting and harder than it looks.

Cockroach Dream [del.icio.us]

This game is seriously weird.

All Look Same? [del.icio.us]

Can you tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans? I managed a measly six out of eighteen. Don’t laugh, it’s harder than it looks… Er, seems.

You Are Mighty [del.icio.us]

After you find out how mighty I am, replace my name with yours (make sure you follow the firstname.lastname format).

Hello, Miss?

Ugh.

I feel so crappy. I started coming down with a cold yesterday morning, and by evening, I was laid up on the couch, which is where I’ve been since.

It sucks. My body aches, my head aches, my back aches, and my throat is killing me. I’m always thirsty, so I drink a lot of water, which makes me have to pee constantly. I’m always too hot or too cold, usually both at the same time. Because of that, I constantly have a heavy blanket over me, which is part of the reason I get too hot. I sweat all the time. I woke up several times last night and every time, my t-shirt was soaked with sweat, which, of course, made me cold.

The worst part? I went to the dentist this morning to have a loose filling replaced, and I have to go again tomorrow to have my teeth cleaned.

A lot of people keep saying that it’s pre-wedding stress and that I need to heal up before we go to Hawaii. Too true. Really, though, I’d much rather be sick now than in two weeks.

The Sabbatical Trilogy

In Friday Funday CXIII, I linked to The Sabbatical, a video that Kris and I shot while I was in Seattle.

One week later, The Sabbatical is a trilogy. For your viewing pleasure, here are The Sabbatical Reloaded and The Sabbatical Revolutions.

We’d really appreciate it if you could give the videos a favorable vote. We think this is YouTube front page stuff! Enjoy!

Webcam Software Chellenge Challenge

The webcam software I use is called Webcam32. I found it in late 1999 and purchased a copy for twenty-five dollars (it eventually got up to around forty dollars). Not only does it have a lot of really great features, but new versions of the software are free.

Pretty great, right?

The last update happened years ago, but several features still don’t work that well (and never have). From time to time, I would check out the website of Surveyor Corporation, the company who made Webcam32, to see if there were any updates. About a week ago, I checked and found this:

“After September 15, 2006, we will no longer be selling Webcam32.”

They’ll continue to support registered users (like me), but they’re selling their source code (which, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, means that no further updates are coming).

In light of this, I have been looking around at other webcam software. Webcam32 will continue to work for me for a while, but eventually I’m going to have to make a change. With that in mind, I’d like to get the upper-hand on the situation. I could buy another program, but the one I like the best (webcamXP Pro) is about eighty dollars.

So here’s where I’m going with this. I know at least one of my readers is a programmer. I’m hoping that he (and perhaps a few others) will join me in attempting to create webcam software that is both good and open source.

I say “both good and open source,” because there are a few open source webcam programs out there, but they’re all pretty mediocre. I found three (for Windows), and they are:

Fwink – This is by far the best of the three. It has the most features and a fairly decent UI.

Dorgem – This seems to be the next best. The UI is pretty dull and the features are limited.

Webcam2000 – Boring UI and basic features.

So what features would I want to see in webcam software? This isn’t a comprehensive list, but a few obvious ones are:

  • Works in Windows 9x+
  • Support for pretty much any camera that you could plug into the computer.
  • FTP uploads
  • Upload images in multiple formats (jpg, gif, png, etc)
  • Upload multiple images (main, thumbnail, etc)
  • Ability to define size of main and thumb (640×480, 320×240, etc)
  • Overlay – text and images (esp. png files with alpha channels)
  • Upload timer (e.g. Once every N seconds)
  • Countdown timer
  • Local save
  • Motion capture (based on % change)
  • Basic image processing (flip, rotate, etc)
  • Support for multiple video sources (camera rotator)
  • Offline image (with rotator)
  • Minimise to tray

Take a look at the features in Fwink to get an idea of what I’m looking for.

I think we have a unique community who will be able to develop a program that will look good and operate well. I don’t really have a timeline or a deadline, so this isn’t a high priority. It’s pretty much a, “whenever you have time to work on it,” type of thing.

So, who’s on board?

Friday Funday CXIII

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet.

Who Called Us [del.icio.us]

The past couple of days, someone in Spokane has been calling my cell phone several times a day, but I don’t recognise the number and they never leave a message. Unfortunately, this site didn’t help me figure out who it is (neither did the Anywho), but it might help you if you’re in a similar situation.

How It Should Have Ended [del.icio.us]

“Sometimes movies don’t finish the way we’d like,” is the tagline of this site, which seeks to give movies alternate, usually humorous endings. Their videos are encoded with Divx, and Firefox poops itself when I try to load them. If the same thing happens to you, some of the videos can be found at YouTube.

Blufr [del.icio.us]

How much weird stuff do you know?

Sabbatical [del.icio.us]

I know a bunch of you already saw this on Kris’ blog, but I know that some of my readers don’t read his blog, so I’m posting it here as well.

Airport Security [del.icio.us]

I don’t know if this game is making fun of airport security, or trying to get people to feel sorry for TSA screeners.

Comment Spam #2

In response to the comments/suggestions made by Will and Kris on yesterday’s post:

The thing I don’t like about the CAPTCHA technique is that it’s impossible to have a good balance between form and function. That is to say, if it works at peak efficiency, then it’s an accessibility nightmare. If it works at peak efficiency for accessibility, then it’s basically useless at thwarting spam.

I also don’t want to make a rule that you can only include one link per post, because sometimes it’s entirely appropriate to post several links. Granted, it’s rare that anyone who isn’t a spammer would need to do that, but you never know.

A great real-world example is on the blog of a friend. In a recent post, she and I were at odds about something, and I was trying to make a point by linking to five different pages that I felt helped support my view. The commenting system that she uses (HaloScan) only allows three links per post (it did politely tell me that I had tripped the spam filter), which meant I had to post two separate comments.

Another method, which wasn’t suggested, is to allow only registered users to post comments. If your blog is hosted at Blogger and you use their built-in commenting system (as I know several of you do), then you have the option to disallow anonymous comments, thereby reducing the amount of comment spam you receive (which runs rampant on Blogger). Again, I am averse to such a system because of the impact it would have on “casual” users. I’ve had the Gravatar option in place for… Um… A while now (how long has it been?), and how many of my users actually have them? Including me, I think it’s about three. Maybe two. How many people do you think would sign up just to be allowed to post a comment?

In all three cases, it becomes a usability issue, insofar as it’s an added layer of bullshit that users have to sift through in order to post a comment, which may lead some users to decide that it isn’t worth the effort (no matter how little effort that is). Although I must admit, requiring users to put some thought into their comments in order to make them “worth it” is probably not a bad thing.

Really what it boils down to is user experience. Do I want a site that’s pleasant and easy to use (no digs about the current state of the site’s pleasantness or pleasantlessness, please), or do I want a site that suspects every user of being a spammer? Do I want a utopian site, or an Orwellian one?

Because my previous paragraph reminded me of it, I’ll wrap this up with the Morning Litany for a Web Server Administrator (an oldie, but a goodie).

“All data is fraudulent.

All communications are attempted hacks.

All clients are thieves.

Technology is only my first line of defense.”

Comment Spam

Holy fuck.

Kris, what has your blog done to me? In the past couple of weeks (ever since we started talking about comment spam on your blog), I’ve gotten more comment spam on my blog than I ever have in the past five years!

Spammers must die.

I really need to update my site. I wonder how I’ll combat the spam…

Avast!

Ahoy, me hearties! Today be International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

‘Tis also a FSM holiday, so grab a wench and quaff some grog, ye scallywags!

AEA Wrap Up

I spent today at An Event Apart. There’s no way I could possibly describe everything, so I’ll just list some highlights.

Method Arts threw a party last night where Kris and I got free T-shirts. Beer is still gross.

During the conference, I sat next to Pete LePage, the Product Manager of the Developer Division of Internet Explorer 7 (I actually met him last night). He’s a really nice guy and he had some really encouraging things to say about IE7 and Windows Vista.

Jethro (from Throbosho) was there. He’s also a web developer.

Zeldman’s presentation has a slide in it titled “Underwear.”

Zeldman: “So what it says is–”

At this point, a woman in the audience sneezed. Everyone laughed.

Zeldman was saying something about the difference between PCs and Macs. I think he was dogging PCs a bit (I don’t exactly remember). As soon as he finished saying that, his Mac’s screen flashed blue (the same colour of blue as the BSOD).

I ate lunch with Eric Meyer (he came over to our table and asked if he could sit down at the last empty seat).

Kelly Goto (critiquing a website): “I’m not going to harsh on you.”

[pause]

“Well, I am going to harsh on you a little bit.”

Zeldman: “The client payed, like, a million dollars for these colours and they’re vomit and chimp brains.”

As I was walking to the car from the after party, some guy walking down the street asked me if I knew where he could “get some grass.”

Highlight of the day: Having my photo taken with Zeldman and Eric Meyer (I’ll post the photo soon).

Friday Funday CXII

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet.

Naughty American History [del.icio.us]

Now this makes learning American history fun (unless you’re Mike, in which case learning American history is already fun). Just how not safe for work this is depends on how many questions you answer correctly.

First Person Shooter in Real Life 4 [del.icio.us]

This is kind of neat. It’s fairly well executed, although I found a number of bugs. I haven’t bothered looking for versions 1, 2, or 3, since this one is only “okay.”

Ken Miller on Intelligent Design [del.icio.us]

Oh. My. God. If you have two hours to spare, watch biologist Ken Miller take Intelligent Design apart (his speech is actually only about an hour. Or is it an hour and a half? I can’t remember).

500kV Switch Opening [del.icio.us]

A short but really cool video of 500,000 volts of electricity arcing. It’s damn cool.

Adult Searches by Countries [del.icio.us]

Have you ever wondered what kind of porn people in other countries search for? Now you can find out! This is probably safe for work, but I’m guessing that if your boss walks up and sees the words, “anal fisting” on your screen, you’ll be in a spot of trouble.

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