That's right 2 posts in one! Exciting stuff...
Post #1: Old People Suck
I am in the community choir here (laugh all you want) and the membership is comprised largely of older (laugh some more) and very experience singers. (ha! who's laughing now?!) Well, I ran into the "historian" on the board of directors today, who is an "elderly" woman. The conversation quickly turned to "I have to go work a 2nd shift... eck!" and "I'm enjoying my retirement." She's a very pleasant lady, but the whip cream on the conversation was when I mentioned not wanting to get to retirement too quickly (i.e. not growing old too fast), and she quipped, "Yeah, because I'll have spent it all." (referring to Social Security funding)
Damn you old people! I realize it's not your individual fault that Social Security worked out the way it did. But, we can't blame the government, because we vote on everything (or, rather you VOTED on everything that now affects me). So, yes I blame all you old people for indirectly setting yourselves up to live off of my paychecks, requiring all my peers and I to glare at the government with shaking fists of fury. Next time you see them, be sure to tip grandma's or grandpa's wheelchair on its edge for at least a couple of seconds and feel free to yell a profanity or two. Then, quickly apologize for your actions and respect your elders! Keep in mind that you might end up supporting your parents when they get too old as well. (Uncle Sam got us going both ways!!!)
Post #2: I forgot and don't really care...
I read an article in Time magazine a few months back about the living conditions for the poorer regions of Bangladesh... Mothers are worried about their children drowning, because they have to live near and sometimes in the water's tides. Some cannot sleep at night, because they are left standing in a few feet of water. The wealthy often enjoy their waterfront mansions by choice. Can you imagine being forced to live even closer to that waterfront in a shack where tides often rise inside your house?!
100 Years to an Ice-Free Arctic?
The article in Time was actually pointing out areas that would be adversly affected by global warming. My mind revisited the topic due to an article posted today by C|Net's News.com (great domain name C|Net!!!) titled "Arctic could see ice-free summers in 100 years". Now, before everyone freaks out, always remember that scientists use expiriments to determine outcomes. They then plot their results and attempt to identify patterns and trends in the data worth investigating further. After much analysis, they attempt to come up with a likely forecast for the future. If I were to investigate how influential sex was in advertising, the results would speak for themselves. But, throw in ALL of the factors of earth's climate and add in ALL of the factors humans have introduced to the climate, not including what humans might bring to the climate tomorrow or next week, and then try to make educated assumptions about the climate throughout history and add them into the mix, you get a delicious soup recipe for making predictions about future climatic change!
How likely is it?
Using the history of Earth and the relatively recent development of human "dominance" can give us a TON of incredibly interesting scenarios for the future. But, it tells us very little about the realities of tomorrow. Tomorrow will "probably" be like today. I don't wish to downplay anything that we know impacts our opportunities for today and the future. I certainly respect the work of these scientists and their constant desire to explain our universe. I even respect their results that explain ice-free summers in the arctic. But, I don't and will not assume that it will happen. It's a guess and science has been wrong many, many times. Did I mention many?
After absorbing all of this information, I am drenched in oil! Our use of oil, dependency on oil, and overall consumption of oil needs to change drastically. Regardless of climatic change! The issue regarding oil is known around the world, so I'll simply repeat myself... Our use of oil, dependency on oil, and overall consumption of oil needs to change drastically.
Personal and Shared Security
My mom sent out an e-mail today about a "new" credit card scam (none of this stuff is new). Someone contacts you with an elaborate story and your personal information to back-up their story and then they strategically ask you for targeted information they don't have yet. Could be your address, credit card number, etc. But, that's all "generally public" information anyways. It's not hard to get. What should raise red flags is questions about personal passwords.
The PIN on the back of your credit card is a password that you are in possession of the card. The ATM PIN you use at the bank is a password. Whether spoken, typed, gestured, or obtained through bioelectronics, a password is a password and you should guard it as such.
There are levels of trust for information; both personal information and shared information. In one example, your name could be a password. In another, when your child is left at home alone. You might agree with your spouse to hide adult headaches from your children. You might have a password with your employer.
Always ask yourself, "What could possibly happen if I share this information?" Then, assess the risks you are willing to take, including any resulting consequences.
So, are you a trained monkey?
Companies will take what they can get, because, by definition, they exist to make a profit (see the laws of publically traded companies on the stock market). If you are a United States citizen, you can rest assured that companies love to use your Social Security Number as a personal identifier and that they limit its use internally to "protect you". Yeah right... What happens when someone calls you up with incredibly personal information and asks you for something on the same "level of trust", or perhaps 1 level deeper? Can you be certain they are who they say they are? What about someone at your house?
Companies train you to be a monkey!
It's routine for a company to ask you questions about personal information over the phone to verify your identity. But, are you holding them accountable to the level of information they have access to? Are you, in turn, qualifying their identity?
After upgrading my AOL Instant Messaging program (AIM), I am fed up! EVERY TIME I install an AOL program (Netscape, AIM, etc.), they SPAM my computer with random shortcuts to their internet services. This is considered activities of Spyware according to the definition. So, I'm going on a rampage this week by submitting AOL to all of the popular Anti-Spyware programs (Spybot, Ad-Aware, Microsoft, etc.). They had better quit putting shortcuts in my internet browser, on my desktop, in my favorites, and in my closet or else! Who's with me?!
I have updated the "Updated MSN Spaces List" on AndNBSP.com. Check it out...
Update to the update: I added a *TON* of features to the list tonight. I hope you like them. Sorry for all the advertising, but I have to pay for my SQL Disk Space and bandwidth somehow...
Ever hit the wrong computer button, mouse button, software icon, menu item and had to wait for the software to do its thing before moving on? Kinda like a web page that takes forever to finish loading? What if you clicked the link on accident and it took forever? Well, usually you can tell web pages to just stop what they're doing and they do. Programs are different... You usually can't just stop them. (for good reasons some of the time)
I just hit the quick tray icon for "MS Visual Studio 2003"... gawd... That monster software program takes forever to finish loading... I wrote to them a long time ago, "MODULARIZE!" Actually, the letter was quite a bit more professional, but it leads you to wonder, why don't software developers make traditional software products more modular? Kinda like MSN Spaces or any good website these days. Unfortunately, people on my side of the fence are still realizing the benefits of a web-like interface in many aspects of traditional software. There are benefits to both sides, let's all find a happy middle-ground.
Yes... I know you hate these colors, but I hope it conveys the hideous nature of how "traditional" software and just plain bad software works
FYI: I think Visual Studio is a wonderful product! Great idea... awesome programmers... bad user experience.
I thought that I would point out that if you are having trouble staying under the maximum 512-character limit imposed on the new "HTML Module" in MSN Spaces, try removing all quotes from HTML "attributes" and remove the "www." in front of web addresses and possibly trailing "/" at the end. So, my normal link might look like:
<a href="http://www.andnbsp.com/"> AndNBSP.com</a>
But, I could shorten it to:
<a href=http://andnbsp.com> AndNBSP.com</a>
Alright you MSN Spaces Update List Lovers
You can find the NEW and not improved updated MSN Spaces list at: AndNBSP.com. I purchased the domain so that I could eliminate the connection between "Eric Swanson" and the tool (no more ericis.com in your statistics!!!). Plus, it was a really geeky, cool name and I had to grab it. For those less geeky than I, the HTML entity
represents a non-breaking space on an HTML page. And, since us common folk pronounce "&" in English as "and" rather than the proper "ampersand" ('cause it's ugly and long)... well, you get the idea.
For those of you who were waiting... sorry, for the delay, but I had / have some huge work responsibilities as well as a volunteer, website re-write for a community choir I am in. It's a REALLY basic start, but I'm attempting to clean it up. I'm no graphic design artist.
Raven is hounding me for answers on how to generate traffic to her website. Use Google AdWords. You will also want to contact websites with similiar content and see how you might get a link on their website, possibly trading links (if necessary). Spread the word. Only advertise if you really think you want / need to pay for some play. Now... I shall proceed to babble endlessly...
So you want to be popular?
Well, if you were already popular, you wouldn't be asking this question and the people who consider you popular now are not enough to satisfy your overwhelming need to quench this thirst that is parching your personality.
In all reality, if you are not popular doing what you are doing and you have tried everything and you have been patient to no avail... If you think that you will die before anyone realizes the "truth" of your injustice... That people may not ever recognize your contributions to this world and that your identity on Earth may be forgotten. Then... you just don't realize how popular you are! Everyone's like that! Well, almost everyone. At some point in all of our lives, we tend to sit back and our brain kicks into overdrive with the question, "Who cares? No... really.... WHO? WHO CARES?!". We start freaking out or whatever and we usually realize "nobody". That's not true of course. The answer is ALWAYS "somebody".
Looking back, painters, musicians, artists... let's just sum them all up into "The Artists". An incredibly large population of artists are never popular for what they wish to express through their work, but yet, the erosion of time often widdles these works into priceless gems that either touch a new generation in a new way or simply remind us of expression's purity through personality. Okay... now I'm talking like those people in "modern art" galleries around the world that try to find some fantastic explanation for why an artist decided to splatter 3 colors of paint on the wall and glue a tree branch in the middle.
So, the point I'm making is that you will be forgotten and that's okay. This need to be popular is not a need at all, unless its root is to be loved and touches on your personal insecurities. Then, you need to do some deeper soul searching and shouldn't be wasting your time reading mindless blogs.
But, I want to be Internet Popular!
You know... the kind that gets hits from all over the world! Well, then, I might suggest that you first make certain that the world wants what you have, even if it's like a grain of sand under God's feet. At least make them feel impacted as they pass by. Where do you find people that will find you interesting? Do the legwork! Write, call, talk, communicate your message... Find others to do it for you! But, stay involved in the communication process and keep up-to-date on how it's going. Plan ahead, review what's behind. If, afte
- Posted On: 8/12/2005
I have been working on a personal, big idea that is not software-related, but rather finance related since January of this year. Progress has been slow, but my goals are still ahead of me regardless. But then...
Another idea that is software related hits me at lunch today and it's huge! The future is bright and I could get in on the action, but it would require a hefty business plan and some real financial fund raising finesse. Damn my head! It is always thinking. I have enough on my plate and now I feel obligated to see this new idea through. Of course, I'm sitting here trying to concentrate on important work for my employer and my brain is spinning off into this idea every few minutes. I'll schedule some time this weekend I think to mull it over...
In other news, I have purchased the domain AndNBSP.com, that will be host to my MSN Spaces tools and possibly other software I write. The name is a little HTML developer-joke for the entity
, which represents a non-breaking space in HTML.
- Posted On: 8/12/2005
The popularity of my custom MSN Spaces Updates list has definately made a dent in my statistics, but the bump that worries me the most is my SQL disk space usage. The amount of space I use is averaged across each day in the month, so I'm not all that worried yet. However, as the chart shows below, I have come just below my maximum of 350Mb. If the monthly average goes over 350Mb, I get charged $5 for every 50Mb over that amount each month! So, I have removed all of the historical data from other tools I've written and made a significant reduction in total space used today. I have also compacted / shrank the database. But, the size will continue to escalate, likely well above my 350Mb max. I placed Google Ads on the page that will help offset any costs incurred by the additional space, but it won't be enough and won't allow me to build any new things in my database.
- Posted On: 8/11/2005
Why do they keep pooping and piddling?!
We trained our dogs to do their business outside. We even trained them to tell us when they need to go outside, since they cannot open people doors. They're both adults now. So, what's the problem?! It's almost a guarantee that once every 2-3 days, I'll find a moist little suprise lying around the house or a large puddle of yellow. Anyone else have this problem? Any training ideas?
- Posted On: 8/10/2005
If you find yourself having to change your name, e-mail, and / or url everytime you make a comment in MSN Spaces, then you have come to the right place. Visit this link, follow the steps and voila!
Update 2005-08-12: Also made the tool bring the cursor focus to the comment box after automatically populating the fields, so you can simply click the button and start typing your comment.
- Posted On: 8/10/2005
MSN Spaces has answered our prayers for a custom HTML module my friends! But, there's a catch! Only 512 maximum characters in length allowed! Find out how...
They also added modules for adding a video or sound file / music to your space as well as the ability to tweak the interface colors. However, I am a little disappointed. They didn't do a single thing on my petition!!! I was also hoping to specify a background image, but that's not possible.
All things considered, they are making progress and I'm all good with this progress!!! Thanks spaces team!
- Posted On: 8/10/2005
Here are a couple of questions I ask myself constantly...
Q: How can you be a "Sr. Software Engineer" when your personal website looks so aweful and incompatible in almost every non-IE browser?
A: 'Cause I don't care. I do this crap all day, you think I want to test my own website? I'll test it when it affects large populations of people, like my updates list, but all-in-all, I really don't want to take the time. I'd rather make a quick post here in MSN Spaces, have it automatically appear on my personal website within the hour and then go about my life. Maybe I'll stop by randomly throughout the day and take 5 minutes to make another post. But, I'm definately not going to spend an hour trying to make my website pretty for every browser quirk. Besides, my personal website is just a constantly evolving mess of tests and fun. I'll re-write it in a month or two I'm sure...
Q: I noticed you have Google's ads on your updates list. I thought you were doing this as a voluntary service to us "spacers"! What's up with that?!
A: I'm sorry... did you visit the page and it asked you for money? I added that this last weekend to see what happens. Here's a guarantee for you: I will spend more time on that tool than will ever be compensated by any amount of advertising. Besides, I almost used my initial earnings to buy Mike a free MeeGo for all of his hard work here at spaces, but it doesn't allow you to gift the lil' critters.
- Posted On: 8/9/2005
Hey, hey! Positive and negative feedback = good feedback and GREAT software. I'm really grateful for all of the comments.
Updates to the MSN Spaces Updates List
- You can now remove your space from the list and even add it back in!
- The list is only updated every 10 minutes
- Your space will only be visited a maximum times of once every hour. It would be rare if your space was indeed updated ever hour, so you won't see 15 "hits" in your statistics all in a row, except your RSS feed still shows a hit for every post no matter what. I cannot control this, so talk to MSN about it not me.
A little "aside" to one of my readers:
My old lady asked me to remove her, so I did! Thank you mom for being so immature by throwing insecure jabs at me... referring to me as "kid" and "young man" as only a mom can do. I hope Jesus forgives you. FYI: I am a father to a 16 year old, guardian to a 15 year old, will be adopting a 10-13 year old, have purchased my second house, owned 2 of my own businesses, started a national non-profit organization, and more stuff you don't care about. I am not telling you this to boost my ego, but rather to explain my pride of maturity through these life-changing events and circumstances. You were running to lawyers, because you didn't understand something that was happening to you. Not for advice, but for "revenge". You made posts pointing the finger at me, when I was trying to help. You posted links back to your blog when you were asking for privacy. ... and people wonder why religious people are stereotyped as "hypocrites". Thanks for contributing!
*Stricken from the record, since she was nice and said "Thanks".
- Posted On: 8/9/2005
For those that care, I have posted a complete disclaimer on my "MSN Spaces Updates" list:
Disclaimer: This list aggregates information that exists in the public domain and is freely available to persons on the internet. The content provided is copyrighted by each respective author and this website in no way represents the authors or their content. It does not include information that has been intentionally marked private or confidential in accordance with internet standards. For more information on limiting access to the content of your own "MSN Space", reference the MSN Spaces help. Both I and this web page are in no way affiliated with Microsoft, MSN, or MSN Spaces.
- Posted On: 8/9/2005
Okay... I concede. Apparently not everyone understands how search engines work when they launch their website or mini-website (like an MSN Space) on the internet. I have begun to get a small number of e-mails and comments regarding, "Why am I listed in your list? I didn't ask to be listed." These range from incredibly hostile to confused, but excited.
Before I jump into the details of the "Why", I'll make the unformal announcement that I have stopped automated processing of additional spaces until I can provide additional support for authors to remove themselves from the list and to limit how many times a space's content is indexed in a day. The hows of all this are up to me, but I'll give everyone an update within the next couple of days. For those of you who have been included in the list and already voiced your desire not to be included, I apologize, but you will have to wait. Read everything below if you are upset by this.
My List Works Just Like a Search Engine
If your "website" does not completely limit access to its content, the content is said to be "in the public domain". However, search engines recognize that not everyone wants their web pages to be included in the results, so they implemented a solution. Well, more of a "good practice". The program that updates my list is known as a "web agent", a kind of "internet bot" that seeks out information on the internet. It works similiar to a search engine spider. My program could also be considered a news aggregator
How Websites Limit Access to Content
Webpages may include a special HTML tag that tells an internet bot / web spider / web robot whether or not to index the page's content and whether or not to follow any links within the content. Another file, known as "robots.txt", can specify how an bot accesses your website or a specific web directory within the site. Links in HTML may also include information that tells a bot not to follow it, giving the web page's author complete control. However, internet bots that automatically read web pages are not required to respect these standard guidelines. This is an unfortunate reality on the internet. So, an author might specify everything to limit access to their content, but ultimately, unless the content is physically protected, it's up to the internet bot to decide.
How MSN Spaces Limits Access to Content
Most authors of mini-websites, like MSN Spaces, do not have control over "robots.txt" or the HTML tag for controlling web page indexing. So, MSN Spaces has provided the option to physically restrict access to a person's "Space" as well as providing support for specifying that a link is not to be followed. So, what if you do not want to restrict physical access to your space, but want to restrict access to your content by search engines or internet bots?
How MSN Spaces Should Limit Access to Content
Building on their existing support for limiting content, MSN Spaces should provide the additional options for limiting access to content:
- MSN Spaces should give us all the option to limit how an internet bot accesses our content, possibly providing a checkbox in our "Settings" panel for "noindex" and "nofollow" commands.
- MSN Spaces should also enable us to specify whether or not to include our Space in their own "Updated Spaces" list that appears on most spaces or in their "More Spaces" list.
- Posted On: 8/8/2005
Following are some interesting statistics of the "Visits" to my domain ericis.com in the past couple of weeks. Each is listed in order by the total number of visits. For example, the US represented the largest number of hits in the world, so it is listed first. So, please do not assume the list is biased and note that I have purposely chosen not to include other countries whose numbers did not represent a significant contribution of visits to my site.
- Posted On: 8/8/2005
Okay... everyone needs to calm down! My "Updated MSN Spaces" list has grown to include 3,930 new spaces in the last 15 minutes! This means that more than 40 people have viewed the page in that amount of time. I suppose it's good everyone's finding it so useful, but geez...
- Posted On: 8/8/2005
... to top off my very recent rants and raves about MSN Spaces quirks and the members of spaces, I just got the message "Sorry, we are unable to complete your task at this time. The MSN Spaces service is experiencing difficulties. Please try your task again later."
MSN Spaces Team - I get this message daily! What's up?! You guys have millions of customers to provide a free and extemely popular service to or something?
- Posted On: 8/8/2005
"Why do you keep visiting my space?"
I'm NOT! This thread will get lost in space eventually, but let's make one thing absolutely clear... I very rarely visit random spaces!
Here's how this works...
- If you are seeing, "ericis.com" as the referrer to your space, then my automated program for providing updates to my "Updated MSN Spaces" list has found your space adorable and loves it so much that it read everything you have posted in your RSS feed and even listed your space for free among tens of thousands of others just like you! How exciting...
- Someone ELSE visits MY space.
- They see a link to your space from mine most likely in the "Updated Spaces" list provided by the MSN Spaces team and click on it.
- Someone ELSE visits MY space.
- They simply type in your space's URL in their internet browser address bar and visits your space.
Scenario #4 - Not likely
- I am on MY space.
- I see your space listed in the itty-bitty "Updated Spaces" list provided by MSN, or I happen to know your space already and I actually visit it! This scenario is the least likely to happen, because I simply don't have the time to go browing other people's spaces and, if I did, I wouldn't be visiting your space from my own... I would be visiting it from someone else's space that referred to your space as kick-ass and you would see THEIR space in your stats.
- Posted On: 8/8/2005
Yes, the MSN Spaces statistics suck...
First of all, the idea of showing you RSS hits in your statistics is rediculous, because EVERY story displayed in the RSS feed shows as a "hit". I think it ought to simply tell me that I had a single RSS hit, essentially telling me that a person read my blog via RSS. I had 10,000+ hits in my statistics when I first logged on this morning (just this morning!), because of the RSS fluke.
Secondly / Thirdy / Finally - I'm tired of scrolling and clicking!!! Not only are my statistics pointless because of the RSS problem, but I have to click-scroll through pages and pages and pages and pages and pages to get anything useful. Where's my download option?
- Posted On: 8/8/2005
Yesterday my list of "Updated MSN Spaces" was just below 100,000... I was looking forward to announcing the news this morning. But, I wake up this morning and jump on the internet only to find that there are more than 140,000 spaces listed! Apparently the list is getting more popular, because the exponential growth of the list depends on those viewing the list.
Since launch on July 23, the list has grown by an average of a little less than 8,500 spaces. I expect this to climb much higher, considering the last 18 hours have increased the list by more than 50,000.
It also took forever to load the page... I have fixed this and it is screaming fast! The technical details involved indexing the database table for fields that are commonly searched, limiting the total number of records returned to the client, and creating default filters on the data if no search has been performed.