It's Just this Little Chromium Switch Here

Weblogging and commentary by Chip Rosenthal

Stylin' Code

I just got email from Eric Raymond saying he was planning to use some of my code in his forthcoming book The Art of Unix Programming. He is planning to cite my blq script as a case study in Perl programming.

Here is what he said:

blq is a good example of a small Perl script, illustrating both the strengths and weaknesses of the language. It makes intensive use of regular-expression matching. On the other hand, the Net::DNS Perl service library it uses has to be conditionally included, because it is not guaranteed to be present in any given Perl installation.

blq is exceptionally clean and disciplined as Perl code goes, and the author recommends as an example of good style (the other Perl tools referenced from the blq project page are good examples as well). But parts of the code are unreadable unless you are familiar with very specific Perl idioms

The City Does Wi-Fi

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This week, the City of Austin deployed its first public access wireless Internet hotspot. The hotspot covers the John Henry Faulk main library, the Austin History center to its north, and the Wooldridge Square park to the north of that. This is part of the City's Public Library Week celebration.

Also, at this week's Telecommunications Commission meeting, City staff informed us that the current plan is to provide public Internet access--wired and wireless--in the new city hall now under construction.

This is all encouraging stuff.

Drama--and Hypocrisy--at the Council Chambers

As previously threatened, I did attend tonight's public hearing on the proposed No-Smoking Ordinance for Austin. It was a surprisingly difficult experience. Further, I encountered an incident so bizarre and surreal, I'm still reeling four hours later.

Continuing the Wireless Discussion

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We continue the discussion of wireless networking initiatives at tonight's meeting of the City of Austin Telecommunications Commission. I'll be noting some articles of interest: some discussing recent issues, others covering the City of Long Beach free wireless project.

Cough! Cough!

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A friend emails me asking if I'd like to go to Ego's on Thursday to listen to The Nortons. I write back, declining. I find myself listening to less and less music these days. One reason is that I'm getting sick and tired of coming home smelling like an ashtray. Another is that I'm getting sick and tired of getting sick.

So, instead, on Thursday, I'm going to visit the City Council, where there will be a public hearing on a proposed new no-smoking ordinance. It's scheduled for 6 p.m., but these things usually run late, sometimes considerably late.

I've talked to so many people who have dropped out from or cut back on the music scene due to the annoyance of cigarette smoke. It would be great to see a bunch of them out there testifying they are ready to return when the clubs go smoke-free, to counter the doom-and-gloom forecasts the smokers are sure to give.

I Need a Shower

I'm doing some work for EFF-Austin, helping to support the Texas Open Source Software bill, SB1579. Last night, I spent some time on the state Ethics Commission web site, looking over their list of registered lobbyists. I'm trying to determine which tech companies that have an interest in OSS might have a legislative presence, and, therefore, might be helpful.

I found a few, but I'll tell you what I found more of. The healthcare industry, the insurance industry, and--man oh man!--SBC Communications have so many freaking lobbyists, it makes my head spin. There truly is a strong correlation between evil, profiteering industries and size of legislative presence.

I believe lobbyists (or lobsters, as a friend in the HRO calls them), serve a useful purpose. It's important for constituencies--both businesses and interest groups--to help legislators understand how proposed laws and regulations affect them. Some of these industries, however, have amassed such overwhelming armies, it's clear the goal is not to inform but to conquer.

There are 188 people registered with the State of Texas to lobby on behalf of Southwestern Bell, SBC Communications, or one of their subsidiaries.

No wonder homeowners are getting screwed so badly on insurance, patients and doctors are getting the shaft, and Ma Bell gets whatever it wants. I feel sick and I feel dirty, and I want to go take a shower.

Most Reviled Woman in America

Rachel posts an entry to her blog speculating that Linda Tripp is the most reviled woman in America. That's an interesting proposition, and I thought it deserved serious investigation. So, I gathered the research crew and we initiated a controlled, double-blind, statistical study. The massive undertaking exhausted our entire spring budget for laboratory rats, but it was a small sacrifice in the name of scientific advancement.

Here are the results obtained by our crack research staff:

"Hillary Clinton" reviled       491 Google hits
"Ann Coulter" reviled           225
"Linda Tripp" reviled           113
"Nancy Reagan" reviled           73
"Ethel Rosenberg" reviled        57
"Leona Helmsley" reviled         10

So while Linda Tripp does indeed exhibit a high degree of revulsion, it appears that Hillary Clinton is 369% more reviled.

So, congratulations to Sen. Clinton. America says, "You're our bitch!"

"Buy Our Cheap Crap"

ugly ass web pageLink: OSU-Tulsa Bookstore.

I really can't complain about these lamers stealing the artwork from my website, because....uhhh....I stole it from somebody else. (And goodness knows where they stole it from.)

What frosts me is these thieves don't have the decency to host their stolen images on their own web server. Instead, they link to the copy on my server. This redirects my bandwidth and my server capacity to their users. It's like siphoning a cup of gasoline from your neighbor's car every morning before going to work.

This has been going on for months and months, and I finally got tired of it. So I performed a little Apache rewrite-fu, and now visitors from their web site are redirected to an alternate image.

How long do you think this will last? My hunch is low clue, long time.

April 6 update: They have updated their web page to stop pirating the graphic from my server.

Must. Resist. Temptation.

I have a comment submission form on my web site. Sometimes, I wonder why I've got a comment submission form on my web site. Over the past five years, I think I could count the number of intelligent messages I've received from this comment submission form on one finger.

Reasons why Microsoft Internet Explorer Sucks (number 46,841)

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If you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer as your web browser and were encountering problems with this web site earlier, I want you to know we were not experiencing technical difficulties. The problem is in your bloody set.

Over the weekend I converted this web page from HTML version 4.01 to XHTML version 1.0. The W3C validator says the site is a-ok. The standards compliant browsers, such as Mozilla and Opera, are delighted with the change. Microsoft Internet Explorer, however, started crapping bricks.

The first problem is that people were reporting they were seeing the RSS feed and not the normal web site. It turns out this was triggered by the addition of the XML declaration:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1" ?>

I downgraded the page by removing the declaration. Then IE started botching the page styles. The font styles weren't rendered correctly.

In the end, I decided I'd have to appease the 20-ton monopolistic gorilla, and fall back to the old HTML 4.01 standard. It's a shame so many people--and the net as a whole--are held victim to Microsoft's inferior products.