Archive for February 2007

Photo Album Upgrade

Published on February 25, 2007

I’ve rolled out some upgrades to the software I use here at the site for my photo albums. Here’s the list of improvements:

  • Clean URLs are now used through the magic of URL rewriting. I think I’ve gotten most of the kinks worked out with this, but WordPress feels like it should control everything on the site. I’ll be making a post later this week on what I had to do to get things to work.
  • HTML is now supported in all my photo captions. I’ve added a few links to a few of the photos, and I’m looking forward to using this feature on future albums. I hope to add this functionality to album descriptions eventually.
  • The header image is no longer shown on photo album pages. This reduces the height of the page, reducing the need to scroll down.
  • Extended photo information is now shown in a table using four columns instead of two, again reducing the height of the page.
  • A new database backend is being used (the MySQLi extension instead of the raw MySQL PHP calls).
  • A photo gallery title is no longer shown on each album page.

I want to add comments eventually, but there’s more effort involved in doing that than I want to spend right now. If you notice any problems, please let me know about them. I’m aware of a minor bug in my rewriting code (no regular users should encounter it), but I hope to fix it in the coming days.

Watered Down

Published on February 23, 2007

An increasing number of links to photographs are making the front page of Digg, making an already weak collection of ‘news’ even weaker. There’s a petition for adding a new photography section to the site, and that would certainly help keep these links off the front page. Most of the photographs that get linked to on Digg are nice, but none of them are front-page worthy.

On a photography related note, I will be making some upgrades soon to the photo album software I employ here at this website. Don’t be surprised if the photo galleries are down for a while over the next few days. Some new features are coming, and I’m excited about them, so stay tuned for updates.

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Blond Bimbos Gone Wild

Published on February 21, 2007

There’s nothing that says “my career as a popular icon has hit rock bottom for good” more than shaving your head, getting a tattoo, and wearing a blond wig with gigantic, Cobra-style sunglasses. I’ve never had any respect for Britney Spears, so I’m really not moved by her latest cry for attention. What really makes me laugh, however, is the fact that semi-respectable people are saying that we shouldn’t poke fun at Ms. Spears, since she’s going through a “tough time” right now.

Get serious.

Everyone should be making fun of her non-stop. She has now entered the realm of Michael Jackson and Mike Tyson; everything she ever does from here on out will be a joke. I say that we get the most entertainment out of her while we can. Let the late night jokes commence!

Outsourcing Pizza Orders

Published on February 17, 2007

It seems that Papa John’s has “outsourced” the pizza ordering process. The past two times that I have called our local Papa John’s establishment, I was connected with an operator at who knows where. She took my order like the local folks normally do, but she clearly submits the order via her computer (“let me key in your order here on my computer,” she says). What clearly gives it away as a call center is the fact that the operator gives the actual address of the local establishment: “Do you want to pick up your pizza at [insert address here]?” The local folks never asked that in the past; it was simply “is this for pick-up or delivery?”

I’m not exactly sure why Papa John’s would want to send the ordering process to a call center. Is it simply to hire fewer people? Was our local establishment doing such a poor job that the corporation stepped in to help?

Has anyone else seen this behavior when ordering pizza? I’m not sure if this is just something at our local establishment or if this is a wider spread change. Either way, it’s very strange.

Blocking Meta-Refreshes in Firefox 3

Published on February 16, 2007

Mark Pilgrim just recently patched a long-standing bug in Firefox (the fix will appear in Firefox 3). Currently, there is no way a user can disable timed redirects through META refresh elements. This becomes a gigantic problem to blind users who utilize screen-reader software. By the time the screen reader starts reporting what’s on screen, the page changes unexpectedly.

Beginning in Firefox 3, users will have the option of being warned when such refresh event takes place. A notification bar, just like the one used to alert the user of blocked pop-up ads, will appear when a META refresh takes place. The user will then be able to click a button to allow the event. Note that this new system will be disabled by default, meaning that everything will act as it does today in Firefox 2. Also note that JavaScript refreshes are not handled by this fix.

What I find most intriguing about this new system is that the notification bar appears just like an ALERT to assistive software. Mark has a blog post that goes into way more detail on the fix, so check it out if you’re interested. It’s really good to see Firefox making strides in this area. Yet one more reason that Firefox 3 will be super awesome.

Introducing Dollar Coins (Yet Again)

Published on February 15, 2007

The US Mint has once again released a dollar coin, although to seemingly mixed reviews. Will the dollar coins catch on? Though I don’t care one way or the other, I’m inclined to say “No, they will not.” Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea failed before, and these are likely to fail again (though exactly why is debatable). I always find it interesting, however, when people from the vending machine industry are interviewed on this topic. They always give this kind of response:

Reporter: So, what do you think of these new dollar coins?
Vending Machine Guy: Eh, they’ll never catch on.
Reporter: Why do you think that is?
Vending Machine Guy: Well, people never use them in these here machines, so we don’t flip the switch inside to let them accept the dollar coins.

This kind of discussion appears every time dollar coins are launched (in fact, it appears in the story I linked to above). Do you see the idiocy of the vending machine guy’s statement? They won’t enable the mechanism to allow vending machines to accept dollar coins because people don’t use the dollar coins. Maybe people don’t use the coins because your stupid machines don’t accept them! Are these people idiots or what?

Gaming Outlook: 2007

Published on February 7, 2007

I’ve been monitoring some of the upcoming games for this year, and here’s what I’ve got my eye on:

Half-Life 2: Episode 2
Apparently Episode 2 has been delayed again. As frustrated as I’d like to be about that, I think I would rather Valve take their time and do things right than to rush it out the door (like so many games today). Episode 1 was phenomenal; just as good as Half-Life 2 itself (though it was surprisingly short). If they can keep the gaming quality bar set this high, I’ll patiently wait for it.
The Elder Scrolls IV: The Shivering Isles
This expansion to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion looks incredibly awesome. I simply cannot wait for this to be released.
Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific
I haven’t played a submarine sim since the days of Aces of the Deep, but I heard great things about Silent Hunter 3, and installment number 4 looks good enough to draw me back into the genre.
Crysis
This next-generation shooter from the folks that gave us Far Cry (a really great game, by the way) is truly a sight to behold (large image warning). I’m not certain that this game is scheduled for this year, but I can certainly hope. If it can bring back those oh-so-cool moments from Far Cry, I’m sold.

A few other things are on my radar, specifically for my Nintendo DS Lite. Hotel Dusk: Room 215 has been getting good reviews and looks like a truly unique adventure game. Some other similar games are in the pipeline, all of which I can’t remember at the moment. Anyone else looking forward to anything particular this year? If I can ever get my hands on a Nintendo Wii, I’ll have that much more to look forward to.

Escapism

Published on February 2, 2007

I enjoy my job at IBM, but I also enjoy coming home and putting work as far from my mind as possible. To do so, I tend to escape to other worlds. The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion is one of my particular favorites. There’s something about becoming another person in another world that’s refreshing. I can completely forget who I am for a while, and role play if you will. Another realm I’m starting to venture back to is the world of Prince Valiant. I’ve just begun rereading the comic strip from the very beginning, and I thoroughly enjoy becoming entangled in the intricate storyline.

What are some of your means of escapism? Surely I’m not the only person who enjoys getting away from it all…

Winter Weather Letdown

Published on February 1, 2007

We got hit with a “winter weather storm” here in North Carolina, and it was a colossal disappointment. A forecast 1 to 3 inches of snow (with a 1/4 inch of ice on top of that) turned out to be a light dusting, most of which melted in a few hours time. It seems like every state in the US has gotten tons of snow this winter; it even snowed in the Arizona desert! But does North Carolina get anything? Not around here. It’s like we’re cursed or something.

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