lily-avatar
Family, Humor

So! 10 days left to my own devices

After much prodding I have finally convinced Lily to post to her own blog. That intense conversation went like this and took a lot out of me.

Me: You should post articles about what you are doing or topics you like. It’s fun.

Her: Okay.

Me: *blinks*

Her: That looks new. Do you know where I can find good technical support?

Right now she’s on a plane to India on a business trip and she wants to blog about the experience. It’s her second trip and I hope she takes lots of pictures.

Naturally I’m running her blog as part of my multisite installation. Picking a theme was tricky so once she gets the hang of WordPress I’ll encourage her to find one she likes.

You can take a look at her blog at http://lily.dembowski.net/

She’s going to be away for 10 whole days. To commemorate this event our son thought it would be appropriate to spend all night hurling. As a result of those shenanigans I’m mostly sleep deprived today and am amazed that I can even form complete sentences.

Although run-on sentences don’t seem to be a problem for me right now.

10 days. This maybe a good time to order a Olympus 35 RC or XA rangefinder camera…

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discover-3d
Cool, Geek, Software

Get Your Tin Foil Hats Right Here!

Update: Sometimes I DO over think a problem and a solution. Which is odd because SSL is also one of my (supposedly!) strong points. Skip to the comments below for something that Andrew Nacin pointed out. :-D

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Part of my professional life is to think about topics like data leakage. That’s when you do something and, without realizing it, you transmit information that you hadn’t intended to.

For example, my company may have an internal web page with this URL:

And on that page is a link to a NY Times DealBook blog posting as a reference. One of the readers in my company clicks on that link without hesitation. Why wouldn’t they click? That’s what the link is there for.

When Dealbook processes their web access logs, they’ll see a URL as the HTTP referer (I’m spelling it correctly after this) that the company or person who clicked that link may not want them to see.

How to prevent sensitive referrers from being sent from your WordPress blog?

  1. Install and configure YOURLS (svn revision 703). Get that working with a short domain, it’s easy to do.
  2. Install and activate my short Force Javascript Redirection YOURLS plugin. [download id="1"]The useful bit is only one line.
  3. Install my WordPress Convert Links to Yourls plugin but don’t activate it yet.[download id="3"]
  4. Modify two lines in that WordPress plugin for your  configuration. Sorry, I’m not up to making an options page (yet).
  5. Active that WordPress plugin.

And poof! the Tin Foil Hat is in place. Any links in your post content or comment text will have their links sent to your very own link shortner and the remote site will only see the short link as the referrer.

Read on to see how it works. Continue reading

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Photo

An example of film vs digital

Last weekend my family was having dinner at my in-laws, looking at photos from their recent trip to China, and having a good time. Since I knew there would be a lot of us there I took my cameras.

Here’s a photo I took with my DSLR  and no flash.

Nikon D300s, f/2.8, 30mm (45mm equivalent), 1/25 second, ISO 640

It’s a good capture and I’m shocked that a 1/25 second exposure worked out so well. My hands shake and that lens is not a stabilized version.

A few minutes after this someone asked why I wasn’t using my film camera. So I shot this next photo using my Olympus Trip 35 loaded with Fujifilm Superia 200 and also with no flash.

Olympus Trip 35, f/2.8, 40mm, 1/40 second, ISO 200

If I had thought about it, I would have set the D300s to 200 ISO! But this is still a good comparison. The film version is more grainy and, thanks to the lighting, a little underexposed. Here the Nikon clearly beats the Olympus film camera.

My DSLR takes awesome photos but next to the Olympus Trip 35 it’s a tank. My film camera is not small enough to go into my pocket but just the right size to go with me everywhere in my backpack or even outside coat pocket.

In the year that I’ve been shooting with film I’ve shared 500+ photos on Flickr and I won’t get tired of it anytime soon. But it’s good to know my DSLR really is a better camera than the one I purchased via eBay.

It ought to be better, that film camera was manufactured in 1975.

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I have a little girl (and a boy) who will love the movie Brave. I’ll take them to see it almost as soon as it comes out.

Thanks to The Mary Sue for sharing this.

I’m one of 4 boys and have zero experience dealing with little girls. That’s why I can say it’s different for girls but I can’t really say why it’s different. I can explain it and I sure don’t understand it.

My girl is talented and smart. She picks up all sorts of crafts without any effort and loves making things. Lily is like that too and our girl often impresses us with her ability.

Yet I find I need to reinforce that a) she really is smart, and b) she can do anything. She sometimes lacks that confidence and needs to be told more so than her brother.

The boys in my family, including myself and my son, have always understood these things. We know we’re smart (by divine inference!) and we’re only limited by ourselves (read as I’m also lazy).

That’s good and it made for some really fun and colorful knock down fights discussions growing up. That’s my parents fault and is how I was made. I like it and wouldn’t change a thing.

Although as I get older I do find it more useful to keep those details inside. :)

But I’m not equipped to deal with the confidence issues that little girls have. I just don’t have the experience. But I’ll continue to work at it and more movies like Brave will help.

Now if only Disney doesn’t screw this up somehow; I’m still miffed that their new movie won’t be called “A Princess of Mars”.

3d
Geek, Humor, Software

Old content! Now in 3D!

The guys over at Wired re-published their old review of The Phantom Menace but with a difference. Using CSS and duplicating the content they were able to apply a 3D effect.

It’s readable if you have the glasses. And of course, I do have 3D glasses.

Naturally, I tried to do the same just for giggles. I was able to duplicate the content in both red and blue, but the entire container div uses “position: relative” so the height needed to be set manually.

That can be read as: I haven’t figured out the CSS to dynamically overlay text content on top of each other without the comment box sitting on top of the text. I can’t do it the same way as they do at Wired.

Google to the rescue! To get the effect I wanted, I’m using CSS to color the paragraph fonts a shade of blue while making the offset text-shadow red. For links I reverse that so they look different. It’s not a lot of CSS and if you apply it you better have your glasses ready. It’s easy to do but probably doesn’t work right with old browsers.

Forget old browsers. I opted for this simpler method and put the solution into a plugin.

The plugin inserts the necessary CSS into the head and when a post is tagged “Phantom 3D” the_content gets wrapped in a div  with the CSS class “redblue-text”.

Here’s the “Now in 3D!” part

  1. Download, install, and activate a copy of my plugin. It’s a zip archive with one file in it.
  2. Find an old post on your blog and edit it just by adding the tag “Phantom 3D” to the post. The spelling and case are important, the P and D have to be capitalized in the tag or this wont work.
  3. Poof! You’ve just brought new life to an old subject.

For purposes of readability I have not put that tag on this post. Not everyone has 3D classes by their PC.

But I do have an old post titled Adding Slimstats to WordPress from 2007 and that’s a good candidate.

The info in that post is horribly outdated (I mean come on, I recommended editing wp-config.php) and totally unnecessary these days. As indicated today in the comments, there are just better ways to implement Slimstat in WordPress that are supportable.

But we all know that by adding 3D everything is improved. I’ve made that post new and exciting not by updating the content but by simply applying a special effect.

If that’s good enough for George Lucas, then it’s good enough for me. :D

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Geek, Software

The best support topics are the ones where I have to stretch

I spend time browsing the WordPress support forums to help out. The majority of requests are from new users who have a problem with a setting, they changed something they shouldn’t have, or an update broke their site.

It’s a very popular software platform and while mundane requests aren’t exciting, when you provide good answers you’re helping someone out. That’s a very cool thing. The answers provided there give someone an assist so that they can get out of a hole they put themselves in.

But the most satisfying topic is when someone is asking how to do something and I have to figure it out to support them. Especially when it involves something that I’m not too good at.

I’m a huge fan of child themes and I use them here on this blog. So when someone asked about modifying the Coraline theme, I was curious enough to ask for clarification. When the person explained by example and I saw that it was related to CSS, I got to work.

Using my test installation, I created a child theme for Coraline. I already had a copy of that theme and I started with what I already knew of CSS. I was close to getting it working but ended up searching via Google for the rest.

Armed with some new CSS information, I was able to get the my test install working satisfactorily and posted the solution. Total time spent was a little over 45 minutes.

Does that seem like a lot of time helping a stranger? It’s not.

I knew that what they were asking for was doable, but I’m horrible at CSS. It’s a creative thing for me and I’m just not good at it. But by helping that person out I was able to learn something new and stretch my own skills a little.

That’s how I learn, doing things that are outside of my experience. My little contribution is not earth shattering but it might help someone out and being able to pickup additional CSS is a bonus.

There are many really talented web designers that fully comprehend CSS and my own level of expertise will not match that. But by my accepting that forum topic as a challenge, I understand a little bit more than I did the night before.

Here’s the reply to my small effort.

You’re a genius, seriously. Thank you!

Concise, I like it. That’s not a bad result at all.

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Kodak BW400CN Film

Just for comparison, I ordered two 36 exposure rolls of Kodak BW400CN film. This is a black and white film that, like Ilford XP2 Super 400, can be developed anywhere using the C-41 process. That means cheap film development at Costco.

Somehow the Kodak B&W film is cleaner. I’m going to explain it poorly, but the Ilford comes out developed with dust particles. Not every frame but some do.

At first I thought it was just a bad day at the developing machine but it’s not that. Every Ilford Super XP2 400 roll I have used has samples where you get that look of scratched film or small particles of dust.

I don’t mind it as it adds character, but the Kodak doesn’t have that. It generally looks sharper and cleaner to me.

Shooting in B&W remains a surreal experience. It’s not like using Photoshop to make the image black and white, it’s got a separate character to it. With digital photography I almost always do some adjustment. It’s an automatic part of my process and makes for better images.

Not so with film photography. Even though it’s digitized and modified by the developer/scanner I never make adjustments. I don’t crop or change anything although I have re-sized the images for presenting here.

I’ll keep ordering both B&W films but for now I think I appreciate the Kodak more than the Ilford version.

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