Archive for February, 2007

Not Strep Throat

I’ve been sick since Thursday. It started off as a sore throat that got worse throughout the day. I hardly slept Thursday night and by Friday morning, it was clear that I would be not only useless at work, but also carry a high risk of infecting other people.

Morah took me to the clinic in the hopes that it was strep throat, which is wasn’t. You’re probably thinking, “who hopes for strep throat?” Well, I do. If it had been strep throat, that would have meant that it was bacterial and the doctor could have prescribed me antibiotics, which would have actually done something. Since it’s viral, all I could do was wait it out. Ironically (or coincidentally? I still have trouble with those two), there was a poster in the exam room talking about how antibiotics are not always the answer.

After being sick all weekend, I went to work on Monday, but only stayed for about two and half hours before deciding to work from home for the rest of the day. I worked from home again on Tuesday, which helped considerably.

Now I’m back at work, which is going pretty well. I just blew my nose (I won’t get too detailed, but I will say that I feel much, much clearer now), which caused one of my ears to plug up, which is making me feel a little dizzy. It never ends, right? So here I am, sitting at my desk, trying to yawn and unclog my ear.

It’s not working.

Friday Funday CXXXV

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet. Funday links will open in a new window.

Ellipsis []

You must defend your circle from other shapes! It sounds lame, but is pretty fun.

Jimmy Kimmel George Takei on Tim Hardaway homophobic rant []

Tim Hardaway is an idiot and George Takei is awesome. This had me laughing really, really hard.

Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch, scammer style! []

Spambaiters are some of the unsung heroes of the internet, and this video shows you why.

What’s Special About This Number? []

A list of the numbers 1 through 9,999 and why each one is special.

My adventures in Second Life []

This was written by Drew of Toothpaste for Dinner. From time to time, I poke around in Second Life, but I’m not really an avid user. This write-up is a hilarious (and bang-on) account of what things are like in Second Life.

MySpace in the Media

Dear Media,

On behalf of the blogosphere, thank you for your concern for the safety of America’s youth, and your constant, unending vilification of the popular social networking website MySpace. As we all know (thanks to you), devious pedophiles trawl MySpace for minors and lure them into their sexual traps. They often pose as teenagers themselves; gaining the trust of our children so they can later exploit them.

It occurs to me that, while focusing on MySpace, you have missed several other ways that sexual predators can molest our children. So, to help in the fight against terror freedom of expression pedophiles, here are a few other places besides MySpace into which you might want to check:

The rest of the internet. Did you know that the internet has been around since, like, the 1950s? I know, right? Porn has been traded online since the 1980s via BBSes, but in 1991, the World Wide Web really brought it to the masses. It was around that same time that internet predators really got moving. Can you believe the public have been uninformed for so long? I’m actually surprised that it took you so long to report on this! But no matter, now we know better, thanks to you. I would attempt to list typical places to look online for internet predators, but pretty much everywhere you look, there will be one lurking, so such a list is impractical.

Huge companies in the public eye. Did you know that big companies such as Google, Microsoft, America Online, and Yahoo! all help pedophiles? It’s true! They provide chat software such as Google Talk, MSN Messenger, AIM, and Yahoo! Messenger, which allow 40 year old men to pretend to be 14 year old girls! They can then lure young boys to their homes so they can touch them in their bathing suit areas. Worst of all, this chat software is free and easy to download! Perhaps an in-depth investigative report will help stop this injustice.

Jail. Some sexual deviants may be hiding in jail.

Real life. You probably thought that the internet was the only place that pedophiles could hunt for their prey, but you should be aware of a different, equally sinister type of offender: the offline predator! That’s right, men and women who want to take advantage of our children are disguised as normal people! They disguise themselves to look like you and me. Their disguises are often so convincing, that if they are caught, their neighbors describe them as having been, “nice”, “quiet”, and having “seemed to normal”. There’s nowhere these offline predators won’t hide. They may be at your office, your grocery store, or even in our boys’ locker rooms!

America’s youth. Are you sitting down? Good, because what I’m about to tell you is potentially shocking. Underage kids are having sex with other underage kids. I know, you don’t want to believe me, but it’s true. A few of you have even reported on it. I commend your efforts, but it’s simply not enough. Too few people realise that their children’s friends could be sexual deviants, enraged with lust, their loins ablaze with horny horniness. You and I both know what kind of impulse control teenagers have, so it’s up to parents to never leave their children alone with their friends. Ever. For any reason.

So, media, with such a vast and bountiful plethora of places to find pedophiles, please stop naming MySpace as if it were the only place that children are vulnerable to attack. Your job is to inform the public, so get going! Now! I expect to see something soon, say, 400 words? I’ll expect your reports in my newspapers and on my TV by Friday.

Thank you in advance,

Thomas J. Brown

On a serious note, MySpace (which I am defending only because it’s being unfairly targeted) is not the problem. As I hope I was able to point out, this danger has always existed. In fact, children today are probably safer than they ever have been (or, at least, in no more danger than children of yesteryear).

The problem doesn’t stem from increased connectivity or the ease with which personal information can be collected, stored, sorted, and shared. The real problem lies with the parents. Our parents told us a thousand times never to talk to strangers. They surely hadn’t anticipated that we would meet so many online, but the mantra still rings true (more or less).

Actually, don’t talk to strangers is a bit harsh. How about, don’t share personal information with strangers. One of the greatest aspects of the internet is that when you get online, you can be anyone you want to be. Dorky kids can be cool, cool kids can be dorky, and neither has to worry about what their real life friends and family think.

Strangers on the internet aren’t that scary because they are faceless. They often have unrealistic names and they often claim to live far away. So why do kids share personal information with these people? Because they usually don’t judge. A kid can tell a stranger a secret without worrying about that secret coming back to haunt her. Parents need to realise that the only way to keep their kids safe is to get involved and communicate.

And that means actually talking to them about their lives and having an open, honest conversation about the dangers of world, not just telling them not to talk to strangers.

And seriously, media, stop talking about MySpace. Not only is it tired and predictable, but it’s clear that you just don’t get it.

001 – ALLO: Now in 8 bit Glory

Here’s the first of the new mastheads!

I roll old school

ALLO v5 is Finally Here!

Well, this is it! Version 5 of A Life Less Ordinary has officially launched. I hope you’re as excited about the new layout as I am. A few notes about the updates:

  • New mastheads! Every once in a while, I’ll put up a new masthead, a la Dooce. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while.
  • Pretty webcam window! The two working webcams have been rolled into one window. You can switch between them by clicking on the “Switch to” link. It defaults to the location where I’m most likely to be.
  • A daily links section! The dailies section loads a bunch of great links that I frequent in a random order. It displays five of them, but you can view the entire list by clicking on “(view all)”.
  • Kickass date boxes! Seriously, aren’t they cool?
  • Five entries on the front page! Back when I had originally set v4, I only wanted the most recent entry to show up. Then it got to the point where, from time to time, I would want to post multiple entries in one day, often on a Friday. Instead of interrupting the Friday Funday, I would just suck it up and resolve to post the next day. Often, instead of posting the next day, I would simply forget what it was I wanted to blog about. That has changed, however; now I can post to my heart’s content.
  • Really cool comment preview! You have to try this thing! It’s fun to watch your comment appear before your eyes. Preview is back!
  • Significantly improved code! Not only is it better for SEO purposes, but it’s much more accessible as well. It doesn’t validate quite yet, but give me some time and I’ll have it doing that trick as well.
  • PHP integration! It’s so liberating to be able to use PHP, especially in conjunction with MovableType.
  • AJAX! Need I say more?

I’m sure there’s more stuff I’m leaving out, but I can’t think of it all at the moment. A new design isn’t without some bugs, however. The known bugs are:

  • It doesn’t work in IE6. If you try to visit the page with IE6, you get a warning saying as much (although, you can still use the site). There’s simply too much going on here that IE6 can’t handle, and I’m not going to fill my code with hacks just to support such a crappy browser. Plus, Microsoft wants you to update to IE7 anyway (it’s much, much better than IE6).
  • Some things are wonky in some browsers. Firefox gets it dead-on (because I designed it in FF) and IE7 does a pretty good job. Safari seems to get it mostly right as well, and Netscape does as well as FF and IE. Opera gets almost everything correct, but has a few weirdnesses.
  • The comment preview doesn’t always tell the truth. That is to say, something might look correct in the comment preview, then end up having weird formatting once it’s live on the site. I’m still working out all the kinks and bugs, so if your comment gets mangled, let me know and I’ll fix it.
  • The comment pending template is ugly. It’s a CGI thing, not PHP like everything else. It’s a holdover from earlier versions of MovableType. The search page is also a CGI page, but I was able to use a PHP page to integrate the search results into my template. I’m not really sure how I’m going to integrate the comment pending page into my template. Just don’t post spammy comments and you’ll never see it. -)
  • The dailies don’t display properly in some browsers. They’re perfect in FF and Opera, but IE7 adds some weird space just before the last list item when you’re viewing the entire list. I don’t know if it’s buggy on any Mac browsers.

There may be other bugs that need fixing, so if you run across one, post a comment here or e-mail me so I can fix it.

Anyway, how do you like the new ALLO?

Friday Funday CXXXIV

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet. Funday links will open in a new window.

Aggressive Alpine Skiing []

Holy crap. I can’t even last a minute in this game. Crazy.

Osama Teen Hunger Force []

A little dated, but still funny. This had me roaring with laughter.

Rally Trophy []

This game reminds me how much fun it is to play with slot cars! I should see if I can find a slot car set on the cheap…

24 Character Countdown []

Each episode, this site “rates” each character on 24 and keeps tabs on who’s “winning”.

Top Gear – Alabama []

If you haven’t seen this yet, I won’t ruin the excitement. I was shocked, but not suprised, by how pig-headed and rude Americans are. This has been taken down once, so it will probably go down again soon.

Friday Funday CXXXIII

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet. Funday links will open in a new window.

Super Mario Brothers Theme Song – Homemade Versions []

I’m a sucker for the Super Mario Brothers theme song, and I love videos of people playing it on weird instruments or in creative ways. This page has a collection of videos, some better than others.

Pablo Calculates the True Cost of Bottled Water []

As soon as I started buying Fiji bottled water (just for the bottle, though, I don’t actually like bottled water), it exploded in popularity. This page examines the environmental impact of a single bottle of Fiji water.

24: Aqua Teen Hunger Force []

Time Warner couldn’t buy publicity like this! Oh, wait, $2 million settlement? Nevermind.

The Unfilmables: A List of the Hardest Novels to Film []

I don’t agree with all of these decisions (that applies to both the novels and the directors), but overall this is a pretty good list. Some of them are dead-on.

Castle Smasher []

You have a catapult. There’s a castle. Go to town.

ALLO v5 Coming Soon

Several months ago, I started coming up with concepts for what the next version of this site should look like. While Version 5 isn’t quite ready to launch, it’s getting close and there are some exciting changes on the way. That having been said, I am actively working on it and weird things may happen with the site as a result. So if you click on a link, and it behaves in a way that you aren’t expecting (for example, it doesn’t do anything or it loads a different, much cooler version of this site), please understand that it’s (hopefully) only temporary.

Since there are still a few details about Version 5 that I haven’t nailed down yet, I don’t feel like I should give you an official preview (although you may stumble upon one while I’m working on it). I will say that two site really inspired me: Digg and Dooce. The left-hand navigation that Digg used to have inspired my left-hand nav, although shortly after I started working on v5, Digg changed their layout, so the left-hand navigation that they were using is gone. Some of the colours are similar, but much of the colour scheme is drawn from v4 (the current version at the time of this writing).

The inspiration I drew from Dooce is something that I’ve wanted to incorporate for a while, and that’s the mastheads. If you’ve never browsed through Dooce’s masthead gallery, go take a look. Some of them are hilarious, and the quality is fantastic. I love the idea of being able to give the site a fresh look at random intervals; updates that don’t require writing tons of code.

So that’s my little tease. I’m not sure when I’ll have the new version complete, but I’m hoping to get it done soon. I’ve been managing to work on it for at least an hour every day, usually more. There’s still a large list of stuff do, however; templates are a blessing and a curse.

Friday Funday CXXXII

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet. Funday links will open in a new window.

The Quest For The Rest []

A funky little point-n-click adventure from funky-cool band The Polyphonic Spree in the style similar to Samorost.

Museum of Bad Art []

The title says it all.

My basement Mac collection []

Well, not =my= basement Mac collection, that’s just the title of the Flickr set. I only wish I had a Mac collection like this. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have any Apple computers left in my possession. Sad. This guy, on the other hand…

Russian Puzzle []

I haven’t solved it yet. Can you?

Masks of the World []

I love masks from around the world, and now I’ve found a website full of them!

ATTN Boston: This post is not a bomb

I was going to write a post about the Aqua Teen Hunger Force LED sign bomb scare in Boston and how the terrorists are winning, but I think this “scandal” has jumped the shark.

Anyway, the point is everyone needs to calm the fuck down.

UPDATE: Joy of Tech has a fantastic comic about this.