Sam Buchanan's weblog.

Perl 5.8 on Jaguar

Jaguar comes with Perl 5.6. This is okay, I guess, but Perl 5.8 has been out for close to a month and includes some useful improvements, so why not install Perl 5.8 on Jaguar?

MySQL 4 in beta

MySQL 4.0.3 has been released, and with it MySQL 4 is in beta.

All new features have been added by now and the TODO items are all done. The focus is on stabilizing the 4.0 tree now, while all new features are being implemented in 4.1 instead.

All sorts of fun things for me to play with today.

Netscape 7 released

Maybe all it took was my complaining about it here. Because whammo, Netscape 7.0 has been released.

(Release notes, seizure-inducing ad graphic from the download page, FTP site).

Installation went smoothly, it grabbed my Mozilla 1.1 profile, plugins seem functional so far, and now I'm ready to recommend that we get it installed at work. Yes! That should eliminate about half of our Netscape 4 traffic, and along with it the conviction that every page must look exactly the same in all browsers. I still face that, I think largely because people expect all sorts of whiz-bang wizardry from the five-year-old monstrosity on their desktop.

Abuse Detection in Apache

I suddenly am not sure where I put my notes from OSCON. So before I lose this URL again: Abuse Detection in Apache, Brett Glass's presentation at the 2002 Open Source Convention.

Mozilla IE skin

I'm with Pinder: I feel dirty using the IE skin for Mozilla. How weird. I wonder if I'll feel better about the XP skin when it's done. I'd like a Mac IE5 theme, it's a much more pleasing design (the graphite color, please). Regardless, for those of you who get the evil eye from tech support for using a browser other than IE, here's something to consider.

Jaguar links

Dive into Mark: Jaguar, Jaguar, Jaguar. Posted here because otherwise I'll lose track of it.

Mozilla 1.1

Mozilla 1.1 has been released (download), hours after I downloaded 1.1b via my newly-functioning broadband connection. If you 've been using 1.0, you'll like this.

Now, if Netscape would just release verion 7.0, I'd be a happy man. I long ago started feeling personally responsible for the fact that we're still using Netscape 4.7x at work. The LAN staff asked about upgrading to 6.23, and I strongly suggested they hold off until 7 was released, since it'd be built on a much newer and more stable codebase. 7.0 PR1 has been available for months now, and people are getting a bit testy. I'm one of them. I'd love to leave Netscape 4 behind.

On the other hand, I do believe in getting things right rather than shipping ahead of schedule. Netscape 6 was released before it should have been. Perl 6 is being released when it's good and ready. I guess I should be patient and wait for Netscape to do the same with version 7: release it when it's good and ready. Thing is, Mozilla 1.0 was released some time ago, 1.1 is now out, it should be ready, already! Or so it seems to me.

'Course, the question should be asked: what have I done to help? Nada. So I'll shut up now.

And oh yes. What of that broadband connection I mentioned? In talking with AT&T tech support last night, after two and a half days of trying to get this dang thing working, they suggested that I eject the installation CD. Bingo, everything worked. Oh yes, of course the CD would tie up the network connection. How silly of me not to have seen that. Sheesh.

Weekend roundup — not quite what I expected

Very little about this weekend turned out the way I expected it to. I did go to the Apple store for the Jaguar release, which was a blast. They had expected maybe 500 people to show up; there were over 2000! It was like that in Apple stores all over the country. We were in line for about two hours before we made it into the store, by which time they started to run out of stuff to sell. My friend Jim, who had tagged along on a whim to buy a computer, found that the 17-inch iMac he'd settled on was out of stock. I managed to score a copy of Jaguar, though, which was my goal. We left around 1am and the place was still hopping. I have no idea what they did on Saturday, considering that their stock had been depleted so dramatically.

Then I had to get up early to wait for the guy from AT&T to come set up cable modem. He did arrive when AT&T said he would, but I still don't have Internet access. After trying for hours to get the dang thing working, I called AT&T and was told the work order hadn't been closed so the account couldn't be activated. Hmph. Hopefully that'll be squared away by the time I get home today.

I want to wait until we have broadband working before I set up the home network, just cuz conceptually it seems cleaner, so I didn't get around to that. Not to worry, though, I had plenty to do: Kiara had decided to paint the nursery. Then Sunday night I got to babysit little Robert. He is such an adorable kid, the highlight of the weekend.

Once he was asleep, I attempted to work my way through the Perl Exegesis 5. Myabe it was the fatigue, or maybe it's honestly just impenetrable, but I was lost about a third of the way through. I'll give it another shot, but I might just wait until Perl 6 is released and there's a new Camel book before I try to follow what's happening in regular expressions.

What I had really hoped to be reading was JMS's Rising Stars, but I can't seem to find my copy of the first volume. I guess I'll wait to reread it until the third volume is released (I'm not collecting individual comics on this one).

Jaguar (Mac OS X 10.2), by the way, is excellent. If you've been waiting to make the switch, now's the time. Even on my old iMac, it seems faster and generally more pleasant to work with. Others have discussed it in greater detail than I will. Suffice it to say that I am more than pleased, except that I'll have to build Perl 5.8 since Jaguar ships with 5.6.1. Once we have broadband and I can download OpenOffice, I might even be able to convince Kiara to make it our full-time OS. For most of what I do, it already is.

PGP 8.0

A new PGP Corporation has been formed and has announced that PGP 8 will be released in November, including Windows XP and Mac OS X versions. Phil Zimmerman's on the technical advisory board. There will still be a freeware version. I'm glad that someone picked up on this after Network Associates dropped the ball, and that there's an OS X version. I was tired of either launching Classic just to use PGP, and even more tired of using GnuPG. GnuPG's great if you're using something like Mutt, otherwise not so much.

This is such BS.

"Encrypt-a-script." Feh. Who believes this stuff?

Jaguar + broadband + wireless = busy weekend

It's going to be a busy weekend. First, the Jaguar release party at the Apple store. I wasn't going to go, but when I stopped by the store to pick up an AirPort base station, I decided that it looked cool and fun enough, and besides there'll be free stuff. I'm kinda hoping that Jaguar will be discounted for those of us there, to help alleviate my frustration at being charged full price for what seems to me should be an upgrade price.

And face it. Were I not there, I'd just be at home watching Farscape.

Then I'm scheduled to get cable modem Saturday morning. Woo-hoo! I had really hoped to get DSL instead, but it's not currently available in our area. So cable modem it is. With a new broadband connection, I'm finally motivated to set up a home network. Being the forward-looking guy that I try to be, I decided to go wireless. For those older machines that don't support the wireless connectivity, the new AirPort base station has an ethernet port I can use. I'm not really interested in stringing ethernet cable all over the house, but so be it. Hopefully I can minimize that.

And the recently released Perl Exegesis 5, explaining what'll be happening to regular expressions in Perl 6, will keep me occupied for the rest of the weekend. That is, if I don't dig into the Visual Studio .net materials that a coworker handed me today. Not sure why he did that, really, I think he's trying to convert me.

And I suppose that I should finish stripping wallpaper in the soon-to-be nursery. Sigh.

OpenOffice 1.0 on OS X

Hey, there's an OpenOffice 1.0.1 build for Mac OS X available for download. As a developer build, it is "meant for the adventurous," but what great news!

It will be interesting to see whether StarOffice is released for OS X, especially if there's a Quartz implementation as that article suggests.

Spirited Away

Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away is being released in a month or so. Can't wait. I love Miyazaki's work.

Let Users Control Font Size

I'm tired of talking about font size control on the web. I really am. I don't bother to write about it here, mostly because I need a break from the monotony of rattling off spiel after spiel about font size. Follow me around for a few days and you'll want to throw yourself off a cliff rather than hear yet another polite-but-insistent rant. Still, I had to point out: Jakob Nielsen is actually saying something that I don't think is going overboard: Let Users Control Font Size.

You already knew this, of course: it should be easy for users to change the size of the font being displayed. It's not. Many, many users don't know how, or even that they can. And of course, those rare few using IE on Windows are screwed if the font size is specified in units like pixels or points. Nielson is calling on Microsoft to allow user preferences to override any font sizes specified in a document.

I went to Nielsen's site looking for hard data on users and font sizes, to try to convince the Powers That Be at ISEEK that their font sizes are too small. They believe buh-LEAVE! in Nielsen, you see (or perhaps you don't, depending on how closely you analyze the design). What do I find on the home page but this article. Yay. Unfortunately, it doesn't really make the argument I want to: the damn font size is too small.

The fact that users can change the displayed font size is beside the point: either they don't know how, or they can't. I've been using public internet access lately, in libraries, coffee shops, and so on. Quite often, font control is disabled. I don't know why, but there it is. Something tells me that if buttons were added to the toolbar, and the user could override the size of any font, we'd be better off.

With any luck at all, this will be the last you see me mention this.

Netscape Google

I recently wrote a little web app for online evaluation of college presidents. Went pretty well, we've received some decent feedback, but one person consistently could not access the evaluation. I figured maybe it was an old browser that didn't support 128-bit SSL or something, so asked for the browser name and version. The answer came back: Netscape Google.


Ah ... okay. Hm. Netscape Google.

This one had me stumped. Eventually the user just went to someone else's desk and the evaluation worked fine, but I remained puzzled. Netscape Google. wtf?

A coworker may have answered that question. She reminded me of a problem I had a year or two ago: instead of entering a URL into their browser's location bar, people would go to a search engine or directory like Google or Yahoo!, enter the URL in the search box, and go to the first site that turned up in the results.

Try it. It works surprisingly well. And many people use the web that way. Really. I see it over and over again.

What we suspect was happening with our "Netscape Google" user was that their browser (who knows whether it was really Netscape) was configured to open to Google when launched. They entered the URL for the evaluation in the search box, but since the only place that URL was ever published was in the letter the evaluators received, Google returned no hits.

We haven't confirmed this with the user, but it does make sense.

The fact that our logs are riddled with URLs in search queries tells me that this is a fairly pervasive problem, but I still don't know what to do about it. If nothing else, it reminds me that most people out there think about the Internet in terms very different from those to which I am accustomed. People for whom the Internet is an application that can be installed on their computer (AOL, anyone?). Who think that Google is their browser, or at least a part of it (isn't it?). If you don't understand that your browser is not the Web itself, why would you bother to upgrade?

I'm not sure how to climb inside this user's head. It's a very alien experience. But I have to do it. Because for every bit of code I write, every navigation scheme that I dream up, Netscape Google is at the other end, actually trying to use it.

Damn CyberPatrol

On my way to work this morning, I stopped at a local coffee shop for a quick cup and took advantage of the internet connection they offer to do some of my morning surfing. But wait!, home of a comic strip I read daily, is blocked by CyberPatrol. Huh? This is a strip that runs daily in hundreds of newspapers, I don't think it's a danger to children. Perhaps they're put off by the word "strip."

And what's this? Velcrometer, a weblog that I've really come to enjoy reading, is also blocked. Perhaps he used the phrase "screwed by U-Haul" one too many times.

Oops, maybe now I'll be blocked. Stupid friggin' useless filtering software.

Rip, Mix, Burn

Rip, Mix, Burn: The Politics of Peer to Peer and Copyright Law.

"Whereas Lessig's recent work engages with questions of culture and creativity in society, this paper looks at the role of culture and creativity in the law. The paper evaluates the Napster, DeCSS, Felten and Sklyarov litigation in terms of the new social, legal, economic and cultural relations being produced. This involves a deep discussion of law's economic relations, and the implications of this for litigation strategy. The paper concludes with a critique of recent attempts to define copyright law in terms of first amendment rights and communicative freedom."

YDL pre-installed on Macs

Yum. Yellow Dog Linux sells Macs with YDL pre-installed, dual boot with OS X.

And I'd like to point out that their URL already had the ampersand encoded as &. Way to go, YDL!

Flash vulnerability

Macromedia Flash player has a security hole that allows remote execution of arbitrary code. Solution: update now.

e-folio released

A year or so ago I mentioned an electronic portfolio project, which has now been released publicly: e-folio MN.

This is really cool. Residents of Minnesota and those enrolled in Minnesota schools can create a web-based portfolio, with all sorts of customizable templates and options, for free. Content areas have been set up for students, teachers, and job seekers, but you're free to create your own.

As Minnesota schools move to portfolio-based assessment, this is perfect: students can set up portfolios of their work and make them available to teachers, family, colleges... If you're a college student, use this throughout your college career to show to potential employers or grad schools. Teachers and professors can build portfolios of their work, often necessary for licensure or tenure. Looking for a job? Sell yourself with a customized portfolio. Preparing for a performance review? Document your work here.

Now, as a web developer I have some issues with how some things were done here. I still think there are accessibility improvements to be made. The markup doesn't validate. It heavily favors IE/Windows. It runs only on Windows servers.

I don't want this to detract from how very cool this tool is, though. Check it out.

Oh, I should remind you that the terms of service limit this to Minnesota residents and students.

One humorous note. In one of the sample sites, the Career Objectives page used text that I used in a test site I built during the design process. ("I don't want to produce anything, process anything, produce anything that's been processed, process anything that's been produced. Now that I reflect a bit more, I'm thinking that I'd like to get into kickboxing.") They were obviously amused. Suppose I should tell them that I lifted that line from the movie Say Anything.

Update: I told them. They pulled that line.

Episode II on DVD

November 12.

a what? womb name? no.

Some people seem genuinely bothered that Kiara and I don't have a "womb name" for our child, something to call the kid before s/he's born. Well, we don't. Get over it. If you want to make up something that you will call the unborn child, you go right ahead, we're not stopping you. But we won't use the name.

Jaguar for $79

Tried Jaguar (Mac OS X 10.2) at OSCON and fell in love, but balking at the $129 it'll cost, even for an upgrade? Yeah, me too.

Been hoping to upgrade from OS 9 but waiting until 10.2's released because you don't want to have to spend a chunk of change to upgrade again in a month? I understand.

Here's a deal. Buy it at Amazon, print and mail the rebate coupon, and get $50 back.

Update: never mind. Amazon pulled the rebate.