Latest Publications

One year on, comment spam

Ok, so this blog such as it is, is now one year old.  I suppose I’ve given up the blogging thing, some people are just not cut out for a life of blogging.

I’ve been getting some really odd comments recently.  I mean there is the standard comment spam, the urls look like someone mashed a keyboard and usually mention a pharmaceutical product of some sort.  The recent ones actually had me fooled for a bit, they’re a reasonable but highly generic comment with a url attached.

So no more comments.  If I’ve actually offended someone I’m sorry, drop me an email to blog@kmacleod.ie.  I doubt it though.

Skype contact request spam

I’ve been getting a lot spam on skype recently, once or twice a day. All my skype options are set to block, but people can still send a request for contact. Skype seem unwilling to fix this with a simple block contact requests option. People are going ape all over the skype forums as the problem really seems to have picked up in the last few weeks.

As a workaround someone posted a skype add-on that does what skype isn’t willing to do. I only just installed it so we’ll see how it goes. http://forum.skype.com/index.php?showtopic=412061

HTML 5 storage

Interesting post about html 5 storage.

I’ve been a fan of sqlite for a long time now.  I’ve had my issues with it but I’m glad to see it going places.  I’m not sure if one of those places should be exposed to the web, the article mentions the attack surface problem.  I’ve never really dug into google gears but I’m guessing that has the same issues.

I’ve been using sql for even long and I’m definitely not a fan.  People might as well be using fortran.  Actually fortran would be better.  SQL is fine if you’re generating TPS reports but it just isn’t the right tool for web sites.  Most of the scalability problems on web sites that I’ve had the pleasure of fixing have sql as their root cause.  Storage is hard, let’s go shopping!

HTML 5 is really going to change the web as we know it.  I’ve done some dabbling with the canvas element and the video tag but I need to spend more time getting up to speed.  It is amazing how different web sites are today from what they were 4 or 5 years ago.  The pace of change is only going to accelerate.

Back from Canada

We’re back from our annual trip to Canada to see my folks. Two things I found out while in Canada.  Ebay actually does work sometimes and media center is crippled in Canada.

I bought my Dad a really nice slide scanner a couple of years ago on ebay.  It cost around $800.  He had over 11,000 slides to scan so going to a bureau would have been insanely expensive.  Trying to scan them in one at a time would be too tedious.  The nikon scanner we bought takes 50 slides at time, plus you can add more as it is scanning.  He finished scanning all the slides this year so I put it back up on ebay.   It sold for $760.  I didn’t get any scammers like the last time I tried to sell a laptop on ebay.  The price was good and the payment came in quick.  So $40 plus a bit of time to scan 11,000 slides.

On to Media Center.  One my media center setup here in Ireland I have a single card that takes digital sattelite and over the air TV.  I get all the British channels from freesat and all the Irish channels from the 3 rock mountain near us.  I get about 15 more good channels that my old NTL cable feed and it is totally subscription free.  I decided this is the ticket for my Dad.  He has a digital TV that gets 10 clear ATSC HD channels from the USA.  Sweet.  He also has sattelite, although using media center you still have to use a set top box.  Anyhow, long story semi short, Microsoft doesn’t support digital channels in Canada.  Nothing technical, they just don’t.  Can’t say if they just can’t be bothered or if there’s external pressure.  I know my Dad will almost certainly get rid of his sat subscription when Canada converts to digital in 2012.

Bringing these two things together, he still has media center but sat only.  The screen saver is a slide show of all those scanned slides plus the more recent digital snaps.  It is really strange to see what random pictures show up on the TV. It could be one of my Grandma’s slides from the forties, a random picture of my or my Dad’s childhood or a recent picture of their grandkids.  You can really get sucked into watching it!

Fun with Windows 7

I’ve been running windows 7 on my primary laptop, a dell 1330, since the release candidate came out.  I’ve had issues but I’m really happy with the improvements, especially the task bar changes and the multi-monitor hot keys.  The issues center around it not always resuming from standby.  About 20% of the time it blue screens or locks when coming out of s3 standby.  I’m blaming nvidia.  I upgraded to their latest driver and started having even worse problems.  Icons on the task bar would randomly disappear, leading to a bsod.  Not good.

I had a copy of a more recent build, 7229, lying around so I thought I’d upgrade to that.  I normally don’t do upgrades but the thought of reinstalling everything was too much.  The upgrade took about an hour but everything seemed fine at the end.  Except aero wasn’t turned on.  I like aero in the alt-tab task switcher.  I figured all I needed to do was re-run the system assessment to get aero back.  Into system properties, sure enough system assessment is out of date, run system assessment, kerpow, the system reboots immediately.   Now I understand this is an interim windows 7 build and a beta nvidia driver, but we’re a month away from RTM folks.  It makes me nervous.  Vista had serious problems with nvidia drivers, let’s hope history doesn’t repeat.

As an aside, I recently installed Visual Studio 2010 beta.  I didn’t have a chance to try it on the RC build, but I tried it on 7229.  It crashes on launch.  That’s kinda sad too.

ATI also has some driver issues on win 7, more on that in another post.

Here’s hoping they bring it together.

Google charts

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  If you’re doing any sort of reporting it is always best to have a chart or other picture sumarizing what you’re saying.  When we were writing Sage CRM a significant amount of effort was put into the low level nitty gritty of producing charts on the fly.  We had a charting package but it had to be webified.  That was nearly 8 years ago.  Today what you want is Google charts.  Just give it a url with all the data and it produces the chart for you.  You don’t have to anything else.  So if I add this bit of text to my html page:

<img src=”http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?cht=bvs&chbh=a&chs=400×125&chd=t:10,50,60,80,40,2,66,10,50,60,80,40,2,66&chco=4d89f9&chm=N,000000,0,-1,11&chl=Mon|Tue|Wed|Thu|Fri|Sat|Sun|Mon|Tue|Wed|Thu|Fri|Sat|Sun />

I get:

You can do some really cool things very easily, like produce maps and the like.  I’ve no doubt there are packages that produce better graphics and do fancier things, but for shear simplicity without installing anything you can’t beat it.

http://code.google.com/apis/chart/

New Wordpress, new blog

So I decide to install my own blog and discover hey, Wordpress just released a new version a few days ago.  Isn’t that great since I’m the sort of person who likes to run the latest thing, usually.  It sometimes gets me into trouble, but most times it works out.