Saturday, July 2, 2005

Tagging for Fun and Finding

OK/Cancel » Blog Archive » Tagging for Fun and Finding Tagging in general works well when the terms being used for tagging are used for aggregating like items. Tags can be helpful when the work used for the tag is even in the information or object being tagged, it is more helpful when used to on information and objects where the word does not appear.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:34 GMT on 2-Jul-2005 .

Friday, July 8, 2005


Spending the weekend in Amagansett where it appears clear that it has always rained, will continue raining, and will forever rain.

Lunch was at Pacific East where JCOH honored Lisa's mother for her work in social action over the years. The last time Lisa and I ate at Pacific East we thought the food was good, but the service was pretty appalling. This time, well, the food was rather bland, the merlot was horrible, and the service was just about the same.

We don't know anyone in London but are horrified at the attacks just the same. We're still getting used to the new routine for Lisa's new job at JPMC, so I was a bit groggy yesterday when the radio came on, but bolted upright when I heard the buzzwords subway and bombing. About the only change I suggested to Lisa was to get an early start on the commute in case security measures slowed things down. But, you can let this stuff stop you from living. I mean, of course you could, you could hide in your home day and night and avoid all potential places you could get hurt, but that's a pretty boring, sad life.

My friends Deb and Art arrived Sunday and stayed for a couple of days, dining with us at Five Front on Sunday, and helping stage a cookout on our deck on Monday. Tuesday night we went to Blue Fin before their 7:00 curtain for Spamalot.

Took this picture on the 4th of someone who managed to park illegally, get a ticket, and piss off enough people that they stickered his car: No Parking.

And today I came justthisclose to paying over US$3.00 for gas. It usually is more expensive in the east end of Long Island, but I just couldn't stomach $3.10 so I opted for the cheaper grade. I'm sure the car will forgive me, eventually: The Iraq Policy is Working Well, why do you ask?.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:07 GMT on 8-Jul-2005 .

Sunday, July 10, 2005

From The Inquirer: Cingular has massive problemsIt seems that Cingular has a massive US-wide problem with their network, or in their parlance, a feature. This new feature, one that they don't charge extra for, yet, makes it impossible for you to get inbound calls, they just drop to voice mail.

e.p.c. posted this at 01:00 GMT on 10-Jul-2005 .

Monday, July 11, 2005

The original Turing test

collision detection: The "original" Turing Test: My latest piece in Wired : few know that this is not the only scenario Alan Turing proposed in his famous 1950 paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence." In it, he suggested an "imitation game," which plays like 20 Questions for transsexuals: first a man and then a computer pose as female, and the interrogator tries to distinguish them from a real woman.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:54 GMT on 11-Jul-2005 .

Plazes...not firewall aware

In April Lisa and I met up with some family friends in Paris. They mentioned that they travel a lot and it'd be nice if they could know when people they know are in the area with area being vaguely defined as the same metropolitan area. So, instead of building something myself, I've been keeping an eye out for such things. I have the little bug in the corner that shows where I am, but I have to update it semi-manually (I can update it by email, or a command line on the web host). Anyway, I got pointed to plazes.beta.

I created an account and...the first glitch is that you have to download some code. I download the "Plazes launcher", which apparently tries to determine your network location and send that to the Plazes site.

It failed. Apparently it does not work from inside a firewalled or NAT'd network.

Now, the thing is, it's not that hard to find out what my external IP address is. All you need is a central server ( and an agent to connect to it. The central server should get the IP address of the agent, granted it may be the address of the firewall being connected through. The Plazes agent appears to interrogate the router to try to determine its IP address (this would be useless in my case since the home network is double firewalled; a NAT router behind a NAT xDSL modem). It pops up an error dialog asking for details about the router. Not a very scalable solution in my minor league opinion.

e.p.c. posted this at 12:01 GMT on 11-Jul-2005 .

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 in a different shade of blue

Someone on echo pointed out that eBay has switched from IBM technology (servers + WebSphere as I recall) to Sun. The URL for the powered by link still reads but it links to a page reading:

eBay is Java© Powered
Running on powerful Sun
Solaris© SPARC® servers
Supported by Sun services and solutions

eBay has chosen Sun’s Solaris Operating System, the most advanced operating system on the planet and its Solaris servers and Java software to help power The World’s Online Marketplace. If you’re running a business like eBay’s, or have similar aspirations, get some Sun.

Now, it's possible it's a glitch, but given that the graphic has changed as well as the text, it appears that IBM has lost a major reference customer for WebSphere and DB2.

Of course, as we're no longer an IBM family I don't really care.


Related: eBay runs on Sun's servers and IBM's URLs (The Register)

e.p.c. posted this at 22:24 GMT on 12-Jul-2005 .

Quicken...please, please, isn't there an alternative?

I was just talking about Quicken with my friend Pete today. Unbeknownst to me it was wreaking havoc on my laptop as I ate lunch with him and Cameron Ferstat.

See, I got to lunch early.

Stop laughing, it does happen occasionally, usually when I'm so late for my last thing I end up early for the next one.

Anyway, I get to the Applebee's in Hawthorne and have about twenty minutes to kill. I fired up Quicken to check some bills and enter some data. I then closed my laptop like I do maybe ten-fifteen times a day. Normally that causes it to go into suspend mode. Suspend mode is not a new technology, it's been around for, oh, a decade.

Quicken 2005 does not handle suspend mode, and in fact, prevents the computer from suspending.

So, I got home hours later after running some errands, and fire up my laptop, only to be surprised that the battery is now at 4% with every possible alarm going off that the computer is about to end its earthly existence, if only for awhile.

Add this to the other annoyances I've run into with this version of Quicken:

  • When it does "web update" it pops up a modal dialog box that prevents you from doing anything else with Quicken.
  • It has decided that all of our AXP accounts are in fact the same account, and debits all payments from my business checking account, which is 99% incorrect.
  • It was a forced update, Intuit having killed off web support in the earlier version I was using (and apparently transmitted an update which specifically wiped out web update, since there was no end-of-life warning when I bought Quicken 2002 in 2003
  • It's become one of the clunkiest applications on Windows I have to use on a regular basis. And yes, I have to use it, because I've been using one version or another of Quicken since 1994, and until this version had no major reason to change.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:34 GMT on 12-Jul-2005 .

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Get preserved at the pub

Remind me not to order any beer if I'm ever in Shanghai: Formaldehyde could mean rigor mortis for local brews: In 2003, after decades of keeping family recipes locked away in subterranean vaults, Chinese brew masters were forced to reveal one of the secrets behind the long-lasting aftertaste Shanghaiist had come to expect from a bottle of Chinese beer: formaldehyde (甲醛 or jia quan). Apparently, Chinese beers were to reduce the formaldehyde levels to 0.2 ppm, but a recent exposé revealed that 95% of domestic (China) beers contained as much as 1.2ppm formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. It also is allegedly what Aspartame/NutraSweet breaks down into in the bloodstream.

Have I mentioned lately that I ceased drinking diet soda in March, and completely 100% coincidentally the nasty psoriasis on my hands has cleared up dramatically? I'm sure the two are not related, it's likely a complete, and utter coincidence.

e.p.c. posted this at 12:11 GMT on 13-Jul-2005 .

Friday, July 15, 2005

RSS 2.0 and Atom 1.0, Compared

RSS 2.0 and Atom 1.0, Compared

e.p.c. posted this at 09:33 GMT on 15-Jul-2005 .

On Vacation July 16-23

Driving up to Provincetown, MA tomorrow for the coming week. We'll be staying at Labrador Landing again this year, in the Boathouse. Frisket will get to scamper out in the tidal flats (or whatever they're called). I'll try to take plenty of photos, but don't expect any updates until we return as the network situation is fuzzy.

On the return I expect to drive through Boston/Cambridge on the 24th-25th before heading back to Brooklyn (what? yes, I know Boston isn't exactly on the way between Provincetown and Brooklyn).

e.p.c. posted this at 18:47 GMT on 15-Jul-2005 .

Monday, July 18, 2005

PTown Day 2: Relish, C&U, PJ's & Chocolate

We spent much of yesterday alternating between watching Frisket frolic in the froth as the tide ebbed and flowed. Last year the low tide times were in the morning and late afternoon, this year the times are midday and midnight.

We took a stroll down Commercial Street for lunch but ended up eating lunch on the way back at Relish.

For dinner we ate at Clem & Ursies. There's something different about C&U this year, something neither of us could place, the food is fine, but the atmosphere is a bit off.

We followed up dinner with a drive to Wellfleet, first for ice cream and a shake at PJ's, followed by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It's a fun movie with a slightly different take on the plot than the 1971 version. Johnny Depp is a sort of creepy but well cast creepy Willy Wonka. It's very much a Tim Burton movie, with traces of Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Definitely recommend seeing it, though not while on any mind-altering substances.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:40 GMT on 18-Jul-2005 .

Friday, July 22, 2005

Frisket's Tidal Wave Adventure

Frisket of Provincetown Breakwater

So, this morning, I decided to take Frisket for a longer walk. I'd been walking her a block or so (sometimes a bit farther to Relish for breakie), and then turning her loose on the tidal flats. I checked the tide chart for today, the 23rd, and decided it'd be a nice morning to try to walk out to Long Point.

Long Point is basically the tail end of Cape Cod, it arcs about two miles from the mainland back South-Southeast and protects the harbor. For about fifty years in the 1800s there was a separate community on Long Point. Starting in 1850 members of the community moved their homes and buildings across the harbor to Provincetown, with many ending up in the western end of Provincetown. These buildings now have a small enamel plaque identifying them as Long Point buildings.

So, we headed out. I admit I didn't really plan this too well, for starters I only brought a couple of bags, and didn't bring any water or a real camera. But, it was supposed to be a quick jaunt, there and back again so to speak.

So, we head out on the breakwater or seawall, whatever it's called, which is at the western end of Provincetown bay. Provincetown Breakwater This thing isn't exactly designed to be walked on, if anything it's outright hostile.

But we persevered and walked the mile out to Long Point.

I let Frisket frolic a bit and then decided to head back, across the bay, since the tide would be coming in soon and I didn't want it to get too high for her, let alone me. Frisket Frolicking in the Mud

We head out, and I notice something odd: the water was already quite high. Now, by high I mean six inches, but that's almost as high as Frisket's legs.

We continue walking. I take off my sandals because they're acting like flippers and making it much more difficult to walk than I'd like.

The water continues to rise. Frisket...she's not quite swimming yet, but the water is up to her chest, slowing her down. I look around and get an ever so subtle panic attack: the water is rising much faster than I expected, given that I've been here the full week and thought I had a good sense of how much time we'd have.

I look around and decide that walking across the bay isn't going to fly so to speak. Frisket keeps looking back at me with a sort of What the hell did you get us into? look. I decide to cut West, about 1500 feet back to the breakwater.

We start out, but I quickly am in intense pain. This part of the bay has many, many shells. Not so good for barefoot walking. So I try to put my sandals back on, without dropping my phone in the water.

We hit a patch of dry sand but it disappears pretty quickly. Just enough time for Frisket to do her standard roll-in-the-sand thing. She also takes advantage of this brief pitch of dry sand to, ahem, do her thing. Again.

We continue West and reach the breakwater. Now, I mentioned this thing is sort of hostile. It's composed of very large granite blocks, about 8-10 ft long by 3-4 feet on the sides. They're sort of organized into a 20–30 foot heap with some attempt at flat sides along the top.

It's not designed to be climbed, especially by a now-not-so-perky Golden Retriever and her pudgy, sandal-footed, dad.

So, I gauge the rocks and pick out a nice approach. It's not quite the south face of Everest, but it wasn't exactly easy either.Breakwater From Below

Frisket initially didn't believe what I was trying to get her to do and jumped off the first rock a couple of times before being coaxed to stay on the rock long enough for me to jump up next to her.

After a slow, methodical placement of our six feet, we managed to get back on top of the breakwater. We still had about half a mile of walking to do on the breakwater to get back to land, but at least we weren't out in the bay.

The bay had filled up, where we had turned towards the breakwater was now about a foot under water. Frisket can swim in that, but not for a mile. I checked my phone to see what time it was, it was barely after 9:00. We should have had more time.

We got back to the room at Labrador Landing and I checked the tide chart again.

Sure enough, low tide was around 6:30 a.m., not 7:30 as I'd thought. Of course, it is set for 7:17 a.m. on July 23rd, which would have been fine if today was the 23rd and not the 22nd.

So, in the end we got a good walk (2+ miles), a brief scare, and a huge excuse for a couple of delicious cupcakes from Relish.

The photos I took are also available on flickr.

e.p.c. posted this at 19:22 GMT on 22-Jul-2005 . Source,

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Back home

We returned home around 2:00 today, not a bad drive from Boston. Frisket was less than pleased as Lisa promptly walked her over to Perfect Paws for a proper bath.

It won't be too noticeable, but I restructured this site slightly. I merged the old Personal Journal site into this Comments & Links site, with a little bit of SQL and some redirect rules.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:30 GMT on 24-Jul-2005 .

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Paul Hackett for OH-02

Paul Hackett is running in the special election for Ohio's 2nd Congressional District on the Democratic ticket. His opponent, Jean Schmidt was initially favored to win this traditional GOP seat, however her campaign is stumbling due to the continuing war in Iraq, allegations of corruption and wrongdoing in Ohio's GOP managed pension fund, and lately her own attacks on Hackett for serving in Iraq. The normally conservative Cincinatti Post has endorsed him as a gust of fresh air.

If elected next Tuesday, he will become the only member of Congress with direct military experience in Iraq.

I've donated some money to his campaign via ActBlue. It's a tight race and the odds are against him, but if you support progressive causes you might chip in a buck or two.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:38 GMT on 28-Jul-2005 .

Slightly acerbic and eccentric dog walker who masquerades as a web developer and occasional CTO.

Spent five years running the technology side of the circus known as

More about me here.