Posts By rob

Les oies sauvages

Mrs. Bang and I just got back from a walk.

I’ve been feeling low for the past few days — I’m alone in the house for a couple of weeks (through the 28th or thereabouts), and my sleep schedule is still in the wild adjustment period that happens when my usual source of “go sleep now” reminders is out of town. Last night I made my way up to bed around 4:30, read for a bit, took a long time to drop off and woke up at 10. It’s not that I don’t need the sleep; my body just isn’t very good about telling me when it’s time to close up shop for the night… and I just walk around seeing the world a few shades grayer the next day. My thoughts get more easily tangled, I’m forgetful, and I’m more likely to plan my day poorly… which tends to lead to staying up late again. Anyway.

We stepped out the door just a bit after sunset, and we’d already walked across the square before I stopped and looked around.

Schlump around

Ever open your eyes in the morning and just know, for certain, that no good will come out of the day? That you have things to do, but you are going to muddle through your standard procrastinations and find yourself still schlumping around when you notice with confused horror that the sun has already set again?

It can happen. It can even happen when you have the kind of life/job/etc. where you have to go somewhere and interact with people, but if you don’t, it can be even worse.

Well, we’ve discussed the phenomenon in depth, and developed a response. It’s not a solution, mind you — just a thing you can do if you find yourself in this situation.

Disconnected ShareThis plugin for WordPress

I see the ShareThis plugin on tons of WordPress blogs — and with reason, because the presentation is quite nice. You don’t have to take up a chunk of the screen listing all of the different social networks (and they keep multiplying…) or offering the option to email this post to a friend; instead you have a simple link that shows all of the useful detail in a little popup.

ShareThis was so popular, in fact, that a business has sprouted up around it — and current versions of the plugin are tightly bound into the ShareThis.com website. They collect data every time anyone even clicks the link to open the ShareThis window, the social networks links all redirect through the ShareThis.com servers, and all that data (associated with your website) is there for detailed reporting if you register with them. They now also encourage your visitors to sign up. I’m sure it has its uses, and they’re supported by advertising revenue, so they want lots of people to sign up and I imagine they use all that data in conjunction with showing those ads.

404 pages on 1&1 webhosting: complaint and solution

I had an unpleasant surprise today when I was testing a new site I’m setting up using 1&1 web hosting… I mistyped the URL, and lo and behold, instead of showing any kind of useful error page for the 404, the server neatly redirected my browser to a completely different URL, “domparking.php” at the “sedoparking.com” domain. [I’m carefully not linking, and don’t visit the page; I’m sure they get advertising revenue from it.]

I’ve seen default 404 pages where the host sneaks in a few of their own ads, and that’s kind of annoying. But there’s still a message in there somewhere that tells the person they hit a bad link.

This, though — it looks like the domain is parked. Like the site doesn’t exist at all. That’s not good.

Curing hiccups

I was googling the word “intractable”, just to make sure I wasn’t misusing it too egregiously in the post I just put up… and right there, the fifth result on the very first page, was a hiccup cure.

Doesn’t everyone who’s ever had the hiccups want to know a cure? And this is not just “my grandma always said breathing into a paper bag would do it, and it seemed to work sometimes”, but an abstract of a paper on the NIH.gov website.

The data (u|dys)topia

Take one simple conversation with a neighbor, add a few late night walks in the dark, and it develops into a complete utopian/dystopian vision of the not-so-distant future.

First, the conversation: we were talking about everyday marital strife, and she mentioned how her husband wants to redo the roof himself — it’s a relatively straightforward project, he’s retired and has the time, and they’d save a lot of money. Her response is that his life cannot possibly be worth the money saved. Result: intractable argument. How can either side prevail? She spoke about couples taking turns “winning” arguments as a way out.

My thought is that it’s actually a question of data. What’s the actual risk that he’d injure or kill himself? If he takes the proper precautions (like a safety line, ladder spotter, etc.), can he make working on the roof safer than driving the car to the store? If yes, her argument goes away. If not — particularly if amateur roof work is dangerous even if the homeowner believes they’re taking precautions — then she wins.

Database Naming: A response

[Note to non-technical types: skip this one. It contains no entertainment value whatsoever.]

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