Dylan: August 2004 Archives

AOL for Broadband

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AOL is advertising on radio their new AOL for Broadband service. On first listen it seemed to be a simple AOL service you sign-in to through your existing service provider. The 'broadband' aspect just seemed to be a requirement since they were feeding you large media files.

Some rapidly spoken words at the end of the radio commercial perked my ears, and I confirmed it through their website. Get this: "AOL FOR BROADBAND REQUIRES PURCHASE OF A SEPARATE HIGH-SPEED CONNECTION FROM YOUR LOCAL CABLE OR TELEPHONE COMPANY". Yep. They expect you to purchase a second broadband connection (on your own dime apparently) and then download AOL branded media exclusively through it (more dimes required).

Incredible, eh? Two broadband connections to one house. One for AOL, the other for everything else. Considering the cost of a single broadband connection can be upwards of $40, would people really be eager to drop an additional $40 to get AOL content? How good could it be?

Criterion Collection

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If you are on the lookout for a good movie to watch, check out movies released through the Criterion Collection. In their own words:
Criterion began with a mission to pull the treasures of world cinema out of the film vaults and put them in the hands of collectors.
In our seventeen years, we've seen a lot of things change, but one thing has remained constant: our commitment to publishing the defining moments of cinema in the world's best digital editions.
Their selections are not always what is expected. For instance, they released The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but they also released The Rock. The released Brazil, but they also released RoboCop. An interesting and eclectic selection for sure. A full list of their collection is here.

So far, from working from their list of releases, I haven't been disappointed. According to my brother, who works at a video store, each new Criterion release is only available for a short time fir purchase so they don't pay licensing fees indefinitely. Keep watch on the coming soon section and then keep your 1-click-purchase trigger finger ready.

electronic jihad

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If tomorrow morning, when you come back to your computer, you find a huge smoking crater where the Internet once was, now you'll know why.

Outsource your own job

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via MetaFilter: This article describes the practice of an employee outsourcing their own job to India and pocketing the savings himself. The example given comes from an anonymous Slashdot post, perhaps making this more of an urban legend, but still, the idea of it definitely appeals to the greedy bastard in all of us.
About a year ago I hired a developer in India to do my job. I pay him $12,000 out of the $67,000 I get. He's happy to have the work. I'm happy that I have to work only 90 minutes a day just supervising the code. My employer thinks I'm telecommuting. Now I'm considering getting a second job and doing the same thing.

Browse Happy

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Still using Internet Explorer? Unaware that other browsing options exist? Oblivious to the fact that your browsing experiences could be richer and more fulfilling (while being less-fattening and oh-so-full of lubricating ruffage)? Check out Browse Happy, a site that provides plain information about different browsers, their pros and cons, their risks and rewards and their daily caloric content. Learn about your local (browsing) environment. Minimize your every (HTTP request) impact on the world around you. Brag about your lack of ecological (memory) footprint. All while basking in the glory of international (W3C) standards.

Ah hell. Just switch already.

Virtually Topless

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BloodRayne via BoingBoing: A virtual character from a video game will be 'posing' topless for Playboy magazine. The character's name is BloodRayne and she is a vampire. Definitely not the first nude animated character, nor even the first topless video game character, but definitely the first to be given exposure in a national nudie mag. Or so they tell me.

Pausing in shell scripts

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Sometimes in the middle of a shell script you may need to have a command pause for a few seconds, minutes or hours. Although there are some simple programs you can download to help you with this, few realize that you can also just use the ping command to create a delay.

Within a DOS batch file you can execute the following:
ping -n 1 -w 1000 >NUL
By modifying the -w parameter value, you can specify the amount of time to wait for a reply in milliseconds. The above will wait for 1 second. You do need to make sure the address you are trying to ping is unreachable, otherwise the command will finish quicker.

The UNIX equivalent is the following:
ping -c 2 -n -i 1 >/dev/null
You don't get millisecond precision with the UNIX version of ping. Modify the -i parameter to specify the delay in seconds. This method of creating a delay doesn't rely on a non-reachable address, instead you are setting ping to send 2 packets to your local machine and to wait for -i seconds in between.

Nifty, eh? I used these methods to upload a webcam image to a server once a minute from both a Windows and UNIX machine.

Update: Alright, I've already been informed twice of the existence of the unix command sleep. Just between you and me though, the cool people use ping.


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Push me.
And then just touch me.
Till I can get my satisfaction.
Those are apparently the only lyrics of this techno dance song by DJ Benny Benassi from Italy. I came across what first seemed like a commercial, but is actually the music video, and was instantly mesmerized. And not just because of the exposed flesh. The music is an extremely catchy and relaxing techno beat with computerized voices repeating the above quotes over and over. Synchronize the beats with beautiful oiled women in bikinis using power tools in slow motion and we definitely have a winner. Check out the video here, or click the image.
Click to view Benny Benassi's satisfaction video

The full band name is Benny Benassi and the Biz from their album Hypnotica. There is also a CD released with 10 version of just the song satisfaction but I can't find it except through iTunes and don't like linking there.

Firefox Extension Development

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I've been playing around with Firefox extension development lately and am finding the experience a little mixed. On the plus side it seems like a powerful interface that allows for many cool extensions. On the other hand, the documentation is somewhat lacking in real world examples and the development can be tedious because of silent runtime errors.

Am I the only one having problems with my sourced JavaScripts just silently failing after a change? I find the best approach so far is to (yech) insert alert() calls intermixed with almost every second line you are writing. Once you test it and it runs properly then remove the alerts. Whichever alert you see last is usually the failing point. Tedious. JavaScript 1.0 (ECMAScript) was standardized in 1996! Is this really the height of JavaScript development?

One aspect of extension development that was not as documented as one might expect is how to do quick XUL modifications and reloads. The compile-package-view steps. I finally came across this page that describes how to disable the XUL cache (so you don't need to restart FireFox each time) and also explains that you should be working on an 'expanded' extension and not one that has been jar'ed up.

My last gripe is a lack of discussion around Software Design when writing extensions. Things like appropriate, flexible and efficient ways to interact with preferences and clean ways of separating logic and presentation. So far it seems most examples re-invent the wheel and do so without thought to code reuse.


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If you have ever been irritated by a news article link that drops you at a 'free' registration page, then definitely check out bugmenot.

It is essentially an online free index of usernames and passwords to sites that require 'free' registration. No more typing garbage into a registration forms and trying to figure out whether to click the checkbox labelled [  ] Shall we not never not (not) send you spam and sell your email address? Just use bugmenot to get a currently working, updated when needed, username and password pair to give you access.

If you happen to use Mozilla or FireFox, you can get a bugmenot extension to retrieve login information for a site with a right-click. The extension even auto-fills the form fields and submits. There is also one for IE, and also a barebones bookmarklet.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Dylan in August 2004.

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