Archive for November, 2003


Doctor Who webcasts.

I’ve finally got around to watching the animated Doctor Who episodes on BBCi. What terrific fun. The animation’s not great, but effects never were the best on the show, so in a way it’s fitting. And besides, the webcast episodes feel like Doctor Who, and that’s what matters. They’re good stories. They make for good audio-only presentation.

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve watched Doctor Who. Even longer since the heyday of my involvement in the local fan club, the now defunct Whoniversity of Minnesota. (Oh god.) Right around the time that Sylvester McCoy started playing the Doctor (or at least the time when those episodes first aired here in the US), I stopped watching TV and fell out of touch with the program.

Since I’ve got a long weekend and a project with hellish deadlines looming over me when I return to work on Monday, and since I’m none too thrilled with the idea of going to see a parade tomorrow, I’m enjoying the heck out of this time spent watching the new stories and exploring the BBC’s Doctor Who site. There’s some really good stuff there!


Holidazzle Hell.

I have this horrible feeling that I’m going to be suckered into watching the Holidazzle Parade tomorrow. Owen’s thankfully not too interested in parades yet, but the visiting five-year-old nephew is. I’d accept that excuse were it not his in-town aunt who’s pushing hard to see the parade.

I don’t know what it is about the Holidazzle in particular that sets my teeth on edge. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it interferes with my bus schedule for a month, making me run late more often than not. Maybe because a bunch of bright, happy lights and dancing & singing Disney characters are not welcome at a time of day when I want nothing to do with anything cheery. Or maybe it’s that watching it involves standing in the cold for an hour. Could just be that I’m not a huge fan of this holiday season in general, and my reaction is just general curmudgeonly behavior.

Yep, that about sums it up. Sigh.

Update: Of course, I’m not the scrooge I once was, and I really do enjoy watching the nephew react to stuff like parades, so I know it won’t be that bad. I just have such a visceral reaction to the Holidazzle that it’s easy to start off complaining about it. I’m such an ass.


Happy Thanksgiving.

This is for you, Chris.

Owen's turkey hand

A little something that Owen worked on. Mom said you’d understand. Sorry you can’t be here today.


Blog This.

They’ve probably been there awhile, but I just noticed the “Blog This” links on some O’Reilly Network articles. For instance, the recent (and enlightening!) Panther Maintenance article sports the new link, right alongside the print, discuss, and email links. They include some suggested text and HTML to add the text to a weblog, along with the trackback URL.

I was at first taken aback by the presence of suggested blog text, but then I realized that a certain department weblog that I know of would have benefitted from just that sort of thing, as the blog maintainers didn’t always come up with good summary text. Actually, good titles were usually the problem. No help there.

Are there “Blog this” links on other web sites? This is the first time I’ve seen them, but I’m not always the most observant of fellows. It demonstrates a certain cluefulness amongst the folks at O’Reilly, as it’s one easy way to promote links to their site.


Dreamweaver MX 2004 FTP problem.

At work we tried to upgrade to Dreamweaver MX 2004, but had to stop the rollout because of problems with FTP. One of our servers has this weird issue where it does not return a filepath in response to a PWD command, which is supposed to return the current directory name. I think it’s something to do with permissions: access to the system’s getcwd is denied on certain slices. When users connect with older versions of Dreamweaver (even MX), the transaction goes something like this:

Server: Okay, you’re authenticated.
DW: PWD (what directory am I in?)
Server: 550 (Action not taken: file unavailable.)
DW: CWD /www/htdocs (Fine, then, just change to /www/htdocs/)

That is, Dreamweaver just barges right past the failing PWD, moving on to more important matters. Yes, I’d rather that the server respond correctly, but since things have worked fine I didn’t press the issue with the sysadmin. Hell, I don’t even want to be using FTP: I’d much rather use SecureFTP or scp, something where passwords aren’t passed in the clear (I care even though FTP access is restricted). But apparently that’s not an option.

Letting it slide was probably a mistake. Because Dreamweaver MX 2004 doesn’t make it past the failing PWD. After successful authentication, the transaction goes something like this:

DW: PWD (What directory am I in?)
Server: 550 (Action not taken: file unavailable.)
DW: PWD (Ahem. What directory am I in?)
Server: 550 (Action not taken: file unavailable.)
DW: QUIT (Fine, then, screw you too. Goodbye.)

Unless it gets a response to PWD, MX 2004 just disconnects. Thus making it useless for most of our users.

I’m of two minds on this. On the one hand, I shouldn’t fault MX 2004 too much: after all, the server ought to be responding properly. It’s just a system administration quirk that I’m sure can be resolved (says the guy who’s not a Solaris sysadmin). Besides, I’d rather not use FTP at all. On the other hand, this strikes me as a rather odd change in Dreamweaver’s behavior, and based on the discussion on Macromedia’s forums, it’s a problem for a lot of people.

So unless I can convince folks to stop using FTP, or Macromedia releases a fix, or (dare I dream?) the interminable search for a CMS produces something, the upgrade’s dead in the water. Oh well.


Microsoft shares Office XML schemas

Microsoft is offering its XML schemas for Office 2003 under a royalty-free license. Good move, because it’s good news for developers.


Eolas patent to be reviewed.

The Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office has ordered a re-examimation of the Eolas patent, apparently in reaction to the W3C and others’ outlines of prior art. Yee-hah.

If this goes well, the only significant lasting result of the patent fiasco will be multiple, concurrent installations of Internet Explorer on Windows.



I haven’t paid much attention to Perl’s Inline modules, which let you embed other languages in Perl programs. I’ve never had a need, and didn’t realize how extensive the list of modules is. However, I think I can find a use for Inline::Java, thanks to Phil Crow’s latest article on, “Bringing Java into Perl.” How very cool.


Panther’s Looking Good

Ars Technica Review of Panther.

I still haven’t installed Panther. I really have to do so Real Soon Now.


Big Band Bash, Birthday, continued.

The big band concert the other night was great fun. The place was packed, maybe the biggest crowd they’ve had yet, and the food was plentiful and not half bad. The band was fantastic. The only downside with its being a church band is that it gets some random vocalists, who each sing a song or two. Ye gods, some of them are bad. The band’s pianist has a wonderful voice, but everyone else who sang stank. I’m sorry, that’s just the way it is. Luckily there were not many, and the band itself is so good that I can easily overlook a few minutes of uncomfortable anguish.

On the way out, we had ample opportunity to watch a lunar eclipse, as we were driving straight toward it. Marvellous. I had no idea that there was going to be an eclipse until Kiara wondered aloud, “Isn’t the moon smaller than it was 10 minutes ago?” While she warmed up with the band, I sat in the parking lot and watched the moon.

Owen’s birthday party on Sunday was a good time, too. I’m not a big one for parties so was nervous about having even a modest 11-16 people over, but Owen was having such an obviously good time and it was so good to see family and friends that it was no trouble at all. We’ve got some good photos, I think, so we’ll be passing those along to folks who missed it.

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