Archive for March, 2002


feeling a little beta

Thursday, March 28th, 2002

It’s been just over a month now since the original implementation of BlogChat was released. A few people have installed it and have been running their own BlogChats. Many others have visited me at my blog and commented that they like the idea and would like to have one on their site, but that they don’t have the ability, knowledge, or control over their server to host it themselves.

In answer to those people, I’ve spent a significant amount of energy developing a multi-user implementation of BlogChat which will allow us to provide hosted BlogChats on a subscription basis. I say “us” because I’ve entered into a partnership with a long-time friend and colleague named Tim Aiello, whom many of you may know as TechnoMagician.

We’re going to be ready soon to invite interested parties to participate in a limited Beta of the BlogChat service. We will initally have to limit participation until we are able to analyse server load distribution needs. In addition to the many people who have been supporting us to date, we’re looking also for people who are not technically oriented, who are not part of the design and programming community, to bring their perspective to the beta process.

We still have some issues to deal with before we are ready to fly with this beta, but we’ll start collecting requests to be included at

For now, I’m going to spend Easter with the family and spin down from the extended flurry of activity. Seeya next week.


Big Media Encroachment

Tuesday, March 26th, 2002

Dan Gillmor invites us all to take a stand against the tide of Big Media control plays. We are indeed the collective frog in the pot as the temperature rises, notch by notch.

As Oprah would say, You go, Gillmor.


Displaying Referrers

Saturday, March 23rd, 2002

That other, somewhat better known blogging Brent guy posted a neat article about how he does his referrer list with PHP/mySQL.

I’ve been tracking my referrers out of my Apache logs. It’s the 11th field in each log line, so I use this awk one-liner to do it:

awk ‘{a[$11]++}END{for(e in a)print a[e] ” ” e}’ access_log | grep -v | sort +1

(my ISP leaves two logs in my logs dir – the current one, and one for yesterday)

This translates to:

“For each line, look up the referrer from the 11th field, take an associative array element by that name and increment it. At the end of the file, loop through the elements in the array, giving their counts and the referrer name, then filter out any refs from my own site and sort all of this by referrer.”

This is great – does just what I want. But then I have to cut and paste from the commandline to follow those links.

So I wrapped it all in PHP:

(update: added unset($a) to clear array between days)

<link rel=”stylesheet” href=”styles-site.css” type=”text/css” />
$logfile = “/path/to/my/access_log”;
$cmd = “awk ‘{a[$11]++}END{for(e in a)print a[e] ” ” e}’ $logfile | grep -v | sort +1″;
print “<h4>Today:</h4>\n”;
exec( $cmd, $a, $ret );
for( $i=0; $i < count($a); $i++ ){
   print ereg_replace(“(“.*”)”,”<a target=”_blank” href=\1>\1</a>”, $a[$i]) . “<br />\n”;
$logfile = “/path/to/my/access_log.1”;
$cmd = “awk ‘{a[$11]++}END{for(e in a)print a[e] ” ” e}’ $logfile | grep -v | sort +1″;
print “<h4>Yesterday:</h4>\n”;
exec( $cmd, $a, $ret );
for( $i=0; $i < count($a); $i++ ){
   print ereg_replace(“(“.*”)”,”<a target=”blank” href=\1>\1</a>”, $a[$i]) . “<br />\n”;

Here’s the result.

There’s always a different way to do everything!


the right tool for the job part 2

Tuesday, March 19th, 2002

Have I told you that Netscape 4.x Sucks?


Dear Admiral Motor Company;

Why can’t I repair my 2002 Admiral 3-door hatchback with my trusty set of all-imperial measure socket wrenches? My brother has no problem with his newer socket set which includes metric heads. Whenever I try to turn a bolt, it doesn’t quite fit and I get a suboptimal user experience. Why have you started to design your cars so they can’t be repaired by everyone? You could at least only select a subset of nut sizes for your vehicles that closely approximates my socket set.

Signed Joe User


Memo from Marketing to Production

Guys, come on, quit being unnecessarily innovative with “standards” and give our customers what they need. Please retool the assembly line to use only those bolts that everyone can turn. Our studies show us that up to 10% of home mechanics and some large shops have resisted the global move to metric tools. We’re losing a significant amount of their valuable business.


engineering drawing change summary:

– changed all 20mm bolts to 25mm to approximate 1″. Moved essential parts for extra clearance.
– changed all 10mm bolts to 12mm to approximate 1/2″.
– changed all bolts to titanium alloy to reduce head stripping from poorly fitting socket wrenches.



Monday, March 18th, 2002

Nice style switching at Liorean’s site and sashadesign.


in the zone

Sunday, March 17th, 2002

Been working hard on a project lately and I’m just rounding the corner into the home stretch. All features in and unit tested, checked in to CVS. System testing to follow. It’s a nice feeling.

I’ve been truly in the zone on this particular project. Nobody could quite understand the intensity if they haven’t been through it.

It’s like carving. I’ve been told that to carve a bear, you take a block of wood and cut away all the bits that don’t look like a bear. When you’re in the zone, you instinctively know where you’re going, which bits to whittle.

If I stand back and look at its beginnings and where it is now, I find it difficult to comprehend the complexities, but when you’re sculpting in the zone, the shavings just fly.


Rants might actually work sometimes

Thursday, March 14th, 2002

March 11th, 2002. Javascript errors. Always. Continuously. For weeks and weeks. No sign of abatement.

March 14th, 2002 No Javascript errors. Fixed. Done. Old news.

Coincidence? We may never know.


the right tool for the job

Wednesday, March 13th, 2002

Dougal is looking for Netscape 4.x Sucks articles.


Dear FM100.2;

Why can’t I hear your radio station in full hi-fidelity stereo on my monaural transistor radio? It works fine when I use my home stereo system. Why do you design your radio station to only support certain radios? My AM radio in my car doesn’t even get your station. You could at least design it to degrade gracefully.

Signed Joe User


Memo from Marketing to Tech Staff:

Guys, come on, stop being prima donnas and give our customers what they need. Our stats show us that a full 8% of our audience tries to tune us in on AM radios. I don’t care how, you have to provide them with the SAME experience as other users. Everyone must have exactly the same experience or you’ll ruin our branding initiative.


v 1.1 Release Notes:

– reduced audio to 16khzmono to unify experience across platforms
– put hooks in to accomodate split AM/FM transmission in future
– scrapped plans for digital station id – not cross-radio compatible.