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Monday, June 27, 2005

Hyperbole much?

Such a fuss! I know that The BradLands is blocked by some content filters (such as at some workplaces) and I've never really minded. First of all, hey, it's a silly little personal website. Secondly, it's not the government squelching my right to post links about hot boys and Safari extensions. No big. If folks are trying to read my site at work and can't...well, they can wait until they get home like the rest of the grownup world.

On the other end of the reaction spectrum, our pal Cory Doctorow noticed that a website to which he contributes, SurfControl for its "adult content". His reaction to this outrage was measured, deliberate and not at all out of proportion.

I just got off the phone with a manager at SurfControl, who assures me that they've corrected the error, but that it will take 24h for the fix to take hold. During that period, users of Surfcontrol's paying customers will be walled off from Boing Boing the same way that Chinese and Iranian citizens are prevented from seeing parts of the Internet due to the judgements of unaccountable authorities in those countries.

Why yes, it's exactly the same way, isn't it? Except, you know, in the important ways that it isn't. Surfcontrol's paying customers are "walled off" from the site because...well, they paid to be. If they didn't but their boss did, they're still not horribly oppressed like the citizens of an unaccountable regime. Their boss is accountable, probably, to a board or a higher boss who'd rather they didn't pleasure surf on company time.

And while I enjoy reading Boing Boing and am far (far, far) from the most prudish person you're likely to meet, I can see how some of their edgier posts might be considered inappropriate in certain environments. "Adult website" might be pushing it but, c'mon, so is comparing what's going on here to arbitrary and evil government censorship.
June 27, 2005 at 11:22 PM | (2) |
Categories: Weblog Community

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Two (well, three) things about Cameron Marlow…

1. If you maintain a weblog, whether you're new to personal publishing or have been at it a while, go now and participate in this brief survey—entirely on the up-and-up, you won't be spammed, it's for a good cause (Cam's graduation), etc. etc. Do it before Monday! I, for one, can't wait to see the results.

2. During SXSW, someone snapped a picture of me making out with smooching Cameron at Paradise. If it was you, please please please send me or point me toward the picture. Thanks!

3. He's just cute as the Dickens, ain't he?
June 23, 2005 at 12:29 AM | (1) |
Categories: Weblog Community

The slushpile

Aaaaand with all that work, I've little time to do more than consume and comment on these sundry links and topics.

And that's a full lid. Everything else I've got bookmarked—oy, it's a lot!—deserves more deliberate commentary. Stay tuned.

June 23, 2005 at 12:22 AM | (1) |
Categories: Clearing the Cache

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

…make Brad something something

The late spring and summer, usually a bit of a respite from the hustle that attends the theatre season and the academic term, have shaped up this year to be extraordinarily busy for me. The past two and the coming three weeks are particularly packed, as two rather significant projects come to a climax. I didn't leave the office until after 11 this evening, and there are a few more late nights in the offing.

Among the tasks on my to-do list is refashioning a rather large website and I'd really hoped to do it up right. But after spending two days and change attempting to craft a set of CSS-based templates that would look halfway decent across multiple browsers and platforms, I folded. A couple of hours later and the whole thing was on track with table-based layouts and a soupcon of CSS to paste it together. Le sigh. Maybe someday I'll understand classes and the box model and floating and all that. Not today.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to restore the house to some semblance of order after neglecting a fair amount of chores and general tidying for far too long. I'd hoped to remodel my home office, but my inability to find suitable furnishings (my preternatural pickiness combined with some bizarre room dimensions) has returned me to my original plan of commissioning some custom cabinet work that will, alas, probably have to wait until the fall or winter.

And! I discovered last weekend on a trip to buy some storage containers of which I'm fond that Organized Living is closing! Where will I go now to indulge my cabinet and closet porn festish? I mean, sure, in the short term I'm loving the discounts on things I've put off buying for awhile, but in two or three weeks when there's a vacant storefront where my mecca used to be—what then?!

The take-away message? Busy. Very busy. Further bulletins as events warrant.
June 22, 2005 at 11:50 PM |
Categories: Me | Meta

Sunday, June 19, 2005

A little help?

My friend Savannah lives in the remote and lovely Alaska community of Seldovia and publishes the town's online newspaper, the Seldovia Herald. Unfortunately, some ne'er-do-wells are squatting on all the proper domain names for the paper in a rather infantile attempt to squelch her efforts at truly independent media. After publishing the paper on a tilde account for a long while, she's finally tired of trying to explain a long, arcane web address to her eager readers, so she registered the domain sovnews.com and is now publishing there.

Won't you help give the legitimate Seldovia Herald a little Google juice? If you publish a website or weblog, just link to the address www.sovnews.com with the linktext "Seldovia Herald" (like so: Seldovia Herald). It'd be ever-so-much appreciated.

Plus you get a bonus into the bargain: Have a look at the Seldovia Herald, published every Thursday, and enjoy a glimpse of small-town Alaska life. They're just wrapping up a very cool music festival there this weekend, which I expect will be a big story in this week's edition, among other news.

June 19, 2005 at 10:24 PM |
Categories: Weblog Community

Friday, June 10, 2005

Yeah, but why only four peanuts in a bag?

I'm a pretty seasoned traveler, so I like to believe/pretend that climbing aboard a plane holds no particular mystery nor fazes me in the least. But the truth is, after all this time, there are some things I don't know or understand.

After reading the archives of the USA Today feature Ask the Captain, however, there are far fewer. It's a great read, and writer (and 777 pilot) Meryl Getline has a real knack for making the magic of jet flight less mysterious.
June 10, 2005 at 10:19 PM | (1) |
Categories: A/V Club | Get Your Geek On | Recommended | Roam | Wonderful Toys

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

I just wanted to help

It took me a good 20 minutes last night trying to create an account at Citysearch because I couldn't get past the point on the registration form where they ask you to look at an obscured graphic image of a word or character string and then type it into a web form to prove you're a human being, not a spam-generating bot. Sometimes it's an English word or phrase graphically warped. Sometimes it's a string of random numbers and letters in mixed case you're expected to duplicate exactly.

Such image call-and-response tests are called CAPTCHA, which apparently stands for (I shit you not) "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart". They're used all over the web and present some difficulties for individuals who are blind or have difficulty seeing. Of course, they also present some difficulties for everyone when they're implemented idiotically.

Here's the image Citysearch asked me to use:

Stupid CitySearch CAPCHA

What would you type in?

I typed "GANGS" and was kicked back to the same form with an error message saying I'd got it wrong. I've seen this on other sites and, usually, they'll give you another, different image to decipher. Not here. I was still looking at the same thing. Thinking perhaps my fingers had fumbled, I typed "GANGS" again and was rejected again, this time with two error messages because, unnoticed by me, the return to the form had obliterated the password I'd typed in twice earlier.

And here I was stuck. I futilely typed "GANGS" again, got an error and sat there frustrated for a good five minutes. By now, I didn't even want to register at Citysearch, but it had become a challenge to see just what the implacable computer on the other end of the web wanted from me. Hmm, thought I. Perhaps—and this is incredibly stupid of them—they want me to type the spaces preceding the word too. So I tried successive variations including " GANGS" (one space), "  GANGS" (two spaces), "   GANGS" (three), and "    GANGS" (four).

No dice.

My final try before giving up and climbing in to bed was the winner. What did Citysearch expect me to type when confronted with the image above? "gangs"—yes, in lower case, despite the fact that every other instance of this procedure I've encountered on the web has conditioned me to attempt to duplicate the graphic text exactly. Citysearch wanted me do the opposite.

It is no wonder a good deal of the information on their site is significantly wrong or out of date. When well-intentioned folks like me try to log in and help them correct it, they're thwarted in their attempts and give up, consigning the site to irrelevancy.

Its enough to make you want to join a gang. Or more probably, a GANG.
June 1, 2005 at 8:55 PM |
Categories: Whinging

Skinning Movable Type

Customizing Movable Type's Interface with Application Templates: A guide to "skinning" the MT web application, as well as modifying its features.

Also, visual examples on Flickr.
June 1, 2005 at 8:10 PM |
Categories: Get Your Geek On | Meta


Why cyclists wear black pants.
June 1, 2005 at 4:02 PM |
Categories: Fashion Victim | Weblog Community

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