As you may occasionally find, we're having some CSS issues on the site at the moment (for instance, when I rebuilt the site a minute ago, I lost the sidebar at the left). They're not consistent, which makes it much tougher to track down. Jon and I are looking at our options: fixing the current site, upgrading to the latest version of MovableType, or switching to another blogging software package.
Sticking with the current software isn't likely: it's old and no longer supported by Six Apart. Upgrading is more likely, except that it will require a double-upgrade, once to version 3.5 and then again to version 4.2. The alternative is to switch to something like WordPress (which has the advantage of being already installed at the new ISP).
Short version: no matter what, expect a bit of odd-looking pages for the next little while as we work through the options.
Update: Argghhh! Still having time-outs on just about everything. Even saving and rebuilding doesn't fix all the posting issues (I've got one post that just plain refuses to appear, and another one with a graphic that won't display at all). Very frustrating.
I ran the same test on the blog, once at the old location and once here. Apparently I've developed a written form of Tourette's Syndrome:
We appear to be back online, but at the new location.
At least, I can see the postings . . . I hope I'm not just typing to myself!
Update: Well, the text of the posts appears, but none of the locally hosted graphics are rendering.
Update, the second: Also, I've got to go through a few more hoops to make new posts appear on the main page: after I publish, it seems that I need to rebuild the index page to make the new post visible (this was not required on the old site). It doesn't appear to be a browser issue on my side: I've tried it with Firefox, Opera, and IE with generally similar results.
Update, the third: Boy, is this a pain in the butt! When I create a new entry, I have to copy the contents to a separate text file before I save it, as more than half the time the save operation appears to fail (I get an error page, rather than returning to the Edit Entry page). But sometimes, even though I get an error, the page was actually saved. I've created a couple of duplicate entries this way already.
So, as I'm having a lot of trouble previewing, I'm just posting to the site and trying to fix any markup errors or typo issues after the fact . . .
Vacation over, back to work and back to blogging. Jon's administrative work over the weekend wasn't fully successful, so we're still running the older version of MovableType for the next little while. I'll post warnings again if/when we may experience more downtime.
I'm kinda on vacation this week, so posts may or may not appear as I happen to be near a computer and have anything worth posting. If you're desperate for new stuff, there's a whole bunch of worthwhile blogs over there on the left side of the window: click at will.
Jon, my virtual landlord, is starting to do an upgrade to the underlying blog software that Quotulatiousness runs on (MovableType). In the short term, this may mean a bit of disruption if there are incompatibilities between the very old version I'm using now (2.6) and the current version (4.2).
Just a reminder . . . if something is odd here, check the backup blog for updates.
The drive in to the office this morning was faster than I expected, given that the necessary time had elapsed to allow Toronto drivers to forget that they'd ever seen snow on the road before. Perhaps the lack of accumulation gave them enough clues about how to cope . . .
The end of the drive, however, was a different thing altogether: I very narrowly avoided becoming the filling to a GO bus sandwich.
The parking entrance to our building is near the bottom of a moderate hill, and the left-turn lane was much slicker than it appeared to be. I got into the turn lane and barely touched the brakes (I wasn't travelling very fast), and I was almost instantly in ABS mode: there was so little traction that the wheels started to spin even at that low speed. I continued my slow-speed slide down the hill, past the entrance to our parking area and almost into the back of a GO bus waiting to turn into the GO station adjacent to our parking area. I stopped perhaps two metres behind the bus.
I breathed a sigh of relief . . . and then noticed with some alarm that another GO bus was coming down the hill. The bus driver did exactly what I'd just done, pulling into the turn lane and starting to brake. The bus did the same thing that the Quotemobile had just done: slid slowly but steadily down the hill. At almost the last second, the bus driver managed to change direction ever so slightly, so that he just managed to avoid my right corner, as I desperately tried to get moving further to the left (remember that I only had a couple of metres to move into). The car behind that bus wasn't quite as lucky . . . sliding directly into the back bumper of the bus.
. . . because I'm writing on a borrowed computer. Our office was broken into overnight and several laptops were stolen (including the two I've been using). Investigations continue, but it's looking like an inside job unfortunately.
Sorry for the lack of posts today . . . I was working from home, due to the snowstorm overnight, and never actually got around to updating the blog. I expect tomorrow to be a somewhat more normal day around here.
Today is my virtual landlord's 40th birthday. I'd thought to grab some amusing or mildly insulting image from the web to mark the auspicious occasion, but the pickings were remarkably slim.
He's celebrating by not celebrating.
Update, 27 January: A note from Jon's wife: "Nicholas the text here is not big enough for Jon's geriatric eyes. I am not sure if he will understand the context of this picture without reading the text."
I've had to leave the comments turned off, but if you have anything you'd like to have posted as a comment, just send it to me (Quotulatiousness AT gmail DOT com), and I'll add it from the admin side of MovableType.
Well, it was a nice break, but now that comments have been available again for more than a week, each post is attracting dozens of spam comments, so I'm turning off the comments again. Sorry!
If/when I move to a newer version of MovableType, I'll be able to incorporate some sort of spam control mechanism, but the version I'm using doesn't have anything useful in that line.
Sorry for the unscheduled break in posting over the Christmas-New Year week . . . I had a very traditional cold, which managed to linger over the entire vacation time down to today. I thought about blogging, but that's about all I could manage. (I don't think I even responded to email.)
The "let a thousand comments bloom" experiment wasn't overly successful: even though I wasn't posting over the last week, I still spent nearly an hour each day pruning comment spam (but, oddly enough, only on two specific posts). Once I turned off comments on those two posts, things went back to "normal".
Although the site was partly disabled, I wasn't just sitting around ignoring you . . . I was still posting material over at the backup blog:
Jon thinks he's fixed the database problem, so if this post appears on the blog, we should be back in business.
This is a test post to see if I'm still on the spam-comment bot's distribution list. If this post remains spam free, I'll open up comments again for future posts.
I've been smothered under a spam attack the last day and a half, with spam comments arriving more than twice as fast as I can delete them, so I'm having to turn off comments for the time being.
I had meant to do some blogging yesterday, but I was prevented from doing so by the horrifying presence of snow on the roads. Not that the snow and ice was that much of an issue, but Toronto area drivers need at least a month's worth of snow before they start to recall that you can't drive on a snowy or icy road as if it's midsummer.
Toronto drivers go through three phases: denial, blind terror, and (finally) resigned acceptance. This week we're just starting the denial phase. It's as if they can't believe that something. Is. Falling. From. The. Sky. It cannot be . . . we will pretend that it is not happening and continue to drive 20 Kph over the posted speed limit.
Sometime next week, the blind panic will set in, and every snowflake will require the army to be called out.
Only after all of that will a few snowflakes not cause the entire GTA to grind to a halt.
. . . but it's been tough getting time for blogging this week. I'm hoping that next week will allow a more regular blog-volume. No promises, however.
After I whined about it a few days back, I guess I should just shut up and hope for the best now:
Unlike James Lileks, who is compelled to blog even when he's officially on vacation, I feel no such compulsion. Today is my first "vacation" day since starting on the new job back in July, so I'm making the most of it by avoiding being online at all.
So I guess I wasn't as successful as I'd originally thought.
Blogging will probably resume at a more normal pace tomorrow . . .
This can't be good:
I didn't think I'd managed to drive away so many of my usual visitors! (Or, you know, it could be an artifact of a reconfiguration at TTLB's ecosystem, but it's so much more bloggable to reach for the unlikely cause . . .).
. . . it's still deadline crunch at work, and I've (literally) got someone looking over my shoulder so I don't dare spend too much time on the blog right now. That, and bolditalic.com seems to have attracted the attention of low-life spamscum, so I'm busy deleting pr0n and pharmaceutical spam comments and banning the IP addresses from which they originate (over 50 this morning alone).
. . . blogging will be light. Apologies, etc. Later.
My apologies again to those of you attempting to read the blog using IE or Opera: I must have done something to the site template that breaks the display paradigm for those browsers, but I don't know what it might be. As I can't seem to track down the problem, I can't manage to fix it either.
And no, it's not some weird attempt to make you all switch over to Firefox, either . . . but the site does display properly in that browser.
I got an email from a regular reader earlier on today, with a screen capture of the blog, showing me that the page layout had broken when viewed in Firefox. I tried looking at the blog in Opera and IE and saw the same thing. But when I view it in Firefox, it looks normal.
What does it look like for you, gentle reader, and what web browser are you using?
It's the Canadian version of the Official Trytophan Overdose Day, so blogging will be limited to this post.
I don't expect to have much free time for blogging today . . . feel free to visit one or more of the blogs listed down the left side of the page!
. . . lack of time . . . work . .. . later, maybe . . . sorry.
I think that covers the territory adequately without over-elaboration, don'tcha think?
If you're really desperate, you could always watch "Pulp Fiction Hockey":
H/T to Jason, Referee, Ciastko (who says he's "Seen coaches like this").
Sorry, busy with other issues. Blogging will probably resume at a more normal pace tomorrow.
And I almost missed it, too . . . my notional 100,000th visitor must have swung by around 8:00 this morning.
The hosting account had a surge of file-usage (not related to the blog), which used up all the available disk space over the weekend. Jon moved the excess files off the server, but I had to rebuild the blog to have it come back online. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but I can only say that I've been quite busy. The new job is going well so far, but I have exactly no time for blogging during the day now, and events have kept me from the blog at other times.
I'd love to say that normal blogging will resume soon, but that would be over-promising, I'm afraid. Evening and weekend blogging may be the best I can offer for the next little while, at least until I get more of a handle on my responsibilities at work.
The view from our hotel window, looking east over Seneca Lake. There is a far shore, but the rain and mist make it look more like Scotland than Upstate New York.
Off on a brief road trip, not sure if I'll have access to email or the web, so you may see updates, but I'm not promising anything.
It's taken a lot longer than I expected, but I have accepted a position with a new company. It's a more responsible position in a smaller company (I'll actually work with the people making the decisions, unlike at some of the larger places I've been employed before). I've now got two weeks before starting at the new job.
Clive just informed me that the server hosting my static web site is down, and will probably be down for a couple of days. I'll let you know when it'll be back in service (once Clive lets me know, of course).
Update, 24 June: As Clive mentioned in the comments, the site is back up again now.
Well, I'm a bit relieved to find that things are still possible on that management job I interviewed for last week. I'd started to assume that silence was a sign that I'd managed to fall on my face despite feeling that the interviews had gone well.
The company had sent me an email which didn't arrive in my inbox, so I was waiting for word from them and they were, in turn, waiting for me to respond. This may be the first time I'm aware that my email spam filter failed me on something important (key word in that statement: aware).
Another interview today: this was the chance to either impress senior management at the firm or to fall firmly — and painfully — on my face. I didn't face-plant, but I don't know if I managed the necessary degree of positive impression either. Time will tell.
It was interesting talking to one of the company founders: after the work-related stuff, we got onto some other topics (economics, history, demographics) and the conversation was quite enlightening. It may not track with a job offer, however . . .
This is for a change of pace . . . a contract training position. I've never done this sort of thing, so it'll be interesting to find out more about it.
If I'm back in time, I may get some posting done later this afternoon.
I'm in the running for a couple of jobs (one technical, one managerial) at the moment, so my attention isn't particularly blog-focussed at the moment. I'm hoping to have some good news in the next week or two. In keeping with my policy to maintain that imaginary firewall between my personal and professional lives: don't expect details on the next employer to be posted here . . . what I write about and link to are my own concern, not my employers' and they shouldn't need to worry that I'll be writing about their business here.
Also, apologies to the poster whose comment I eradicated about five minutes ago . . . I was cleaning out the usual assortment of spam comments and I think I blew away a real comment while I was whacking the dross. Please don't imagine I spiked your comment for content . . . I wasn't paying close enough attention to the list I had ready for deletion.
Elizabeth's cousin Susan died suddenly, so blog-related things will be a bit erratic for the next few days. Regular posting should resume by Monday.
Nearly forgot to mention . . . today is the third anniversary of when Jon invited me to set up my own blog on his server.
Of course, this is better than last year, when I missed the anniversary by almost a week. The year before that covered pretty familar topics. And most of the original readers from the first year are still around (and even occasionally commenting, which is to be encouraged).
Well, it took a while, but Jon just let me know that our bandwidth problems are (at least for the next couple of weeks) resolved. This has been the longest outage since I started blogging, and I set up a backup blog at http://quotulatiousness.blogspot.com/, which a few of you may have found while the main site was down.
I'll copy the "missing" posts over from the backup site when time allows.
I've just been reminded by Jon, my virtual landlord, that a server move may be imminent. This will require, at a minimum, moving all files off the current ISP's server and re-installing them on a new ISP's server, then configuring whatever settings that may need to be updated at the new site. This could be as easy as running a simple backup or as complex as starting all over again, and manually re-importing over 3500 individual blog entries plus templates and then rebuilding. Which could drag out over a few days.
Doing system administration for Quotulatiousness isn't Jon's primary job, so I apologize in advance if the site goes dark for an extended period of time. I'll send updates to the members of the Red Ensign Brigade as and when needed. The URL you use to access the blog will probably not need to change.
. . . try not to kick up too much of a ruckus in the comments while I'm out, okay?
I just noticed that the time stamp for my last few postings is off by roughly an hour. I guess bolditalic.com didn't get the daylight savings time patch.
. . . it's a tough sell in deep snow and icy wind, but Trent's main campus is well laid-out and looks very impressive. The tour guide we had was quite well informed, although she did try to push prospective students into her area (Women's Studies).
I only embarassed Victor once during the tour.
Our guide was pointing out the separate area in the dining room of (I think it was) Champlain College, where the alternative café is located. They only serve vegetarian/vegan "Fair Trade Certified" dishes, and are not included in the food plans. I asked her if they required payment in "Cruelty-Free Currency". Victor hit me.
Victor has a campus tour booked at Trent University, so we'll be heading off to Peterborough in a few minutes. Expect a paucity of posts for the next few hours.
I just got back online, after a few days (literally) offline in Boston. The trackback spammers had a little celebration while I was away:
All of those entries in the Inbox and the Spam folder are comment spam and trackback spam notifications — the vast majority of 'em are trackbacks. The MovableType UI, at least in the version I'm currently using, doesn't give me an easy way to verify which trackback pings are from legitimate blogs and which ones are from scumbag spammers, so I've turned off the trackback permission for new postings going forward. When you have about a 400:1 ratio of spam to legitimate pings, it's time to close down that attack method altogether.
I'll be out of town for a few days, with (at best) spotty access to the net, so I've asked Jon (aka "my virtual landlord") to guest-blog for me while I'm away. He's threatened to do an "all kittens, all the time" theme, but in spite of that I gave him the keys to the blog . . .
I hope it's still here when I get back!
I should probably also mention that it's Jon's fault that I'm blogging today, and it's indirectly his fault that the blog has an unpronounceable name: he started blogging at Blogulaciousness, and invited me to start my own blog at his site — since he already had the software installed on his server. I chose the name of this blog (assuming that only three other people in the world would ever actually read it) as a play on the name of his blog.
See? It's his fault, okay?
So far, so good . . . no reports of earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, cyclones, terrorist attacks or sudden plagues. Pretty good for the first hour and a bit of 2007.
. . . well, that's my excuse for the lack of posting. That, plus the fact that traffic is waaaaaaay down anyway, so damned few of you are reading what I'd have posted anyway.
I don't have much to say today, and most of you won't be reading blogs anyway, so I'll confine my thoughts to those wonderful people who just keep on giving, and giving, and giving. Yes, I'm talking about those great folks who set up 'bots to post spam comments and trackback links on blogs like this one. I've had a huge upsurge in such items in the last few days, so they're much on my mind.
However, in the true spirit of Christmas, I'm not wishing their authors dead and dismembered by dingo packs. I'm charitable, possibly even filled with that elusive "goodwill to all men" thing. I think having them suspended upside-down in a barrel full of fire-ants would be a suitable reward, actually.
And seasonal greetings to everyone who doesn't post spam!
I'll be AFK again most of today . . . but a lot of sites seem to be staggering under the holiday load, so perhaps not many of my usual readers will even try to drop by today.
Yesterday was spent entirely AFK, so posting wasn't even theoretically a possibility. Sorry 'bout that, chief.
If you're interested, there's a gathering of the bloggerati tonight at Fiddler's Green (check Bob Tarantino's blog here for more details). We'll be up on the second floor. I may take my camera along for more
blackmail blog fodder.
Sorry for the unexpected lack of postings yesterday. We had some lengthy power outages here in Brooklin, and I had a badminton tournament all day. Between the two, I never even got the computer turned on until this morning.
The tournament started off badly: I overslept. I woke up almost exactly at the time I'd planned to leave. After a very fast shower, some coffee, and a tiny breakfast, I got on the road 20 minutes late. I had to stop enroute to pick up some Gatorade and light snack food for my lunch, so I arrived just in time to sign in and get changed for my first game.
This tournament involved playing four games against another team every hour (men's doubles, two mixed doubles, and a women's doubles). One of our female players hadn't showed up, so we had to borrow a player from another team for the women's doubles game and one of the mixed games. Chris and I struggled to get something working in the first set: we lost the men's doubles game 15-8, but Judy and I managed to win our mixed game 15-13.
My play improved as the morning wore on, so that at lunch, I was very happy with my record of 4 wins and 2 losses.
For the afternoon, the teams were re-selected, and I ended up (after some administrative confusion) playing with Jim and Heather, both of whom are excellent players. At the end of the tournament, I had my share of 10 wins and 2 losses. And I was totally exhausted. I was barely able to drive home and drag myself into the house to collapse.
We had some server issues late last week, and I couldn't get access to the blog UI. Once that was cleared up, I was too busy with other things and didn't get online very much, aside from deleting spam comments and spam trackback pings (of which, there were lots and lots).
. . . I took a quick trip out of town for a few days, and I discovered that I didn't even have access to email, never mind the blog, so I didn't manage to post anything. Normal-ish activity should resume in the near future.
All I can say is that I've been just a tad distracted this week.
For those of you who contacted me, thank you for your concern. Unlike the last time I faced sudden unemployment, I will not have to sue my former employer . . . the notice and severance package they've offered me is actually quite generous. I won't need to worry about not being able to feed the family and keep a roof over our heads. Not immediately, anyway.
But, as a result, I've been neglecting the blog . . . and with the work situation deteriorating over the last few weeks, it has clearly shown in both number of posts and in their quality. Sorry about that . . . full refunds are, of course being offered (original receipts required).
I literally just got home from my Florida business trip. I had the worst flight experience I've had in a long, long time. If you've been following the news, you already know much of what has been going on with air travel in the last 24 hours, but I was in the dark from noon yesterday onwards. At noon, I left our local office with a co-worker from down there and we headed to the local pistol range. (A couple of range photos will probably appear here later). So, as far as keeping up with the news, I was completely off-the-grid.
After punching lots of holes in innocent paper targets at the range, I got a quick shower and changed clothes, collected my luggage and rental car and drove to the airport. Everything went smoothly (which perhaps should have been my first clue) . . . rental checked in with no problem, picked up my boarding pass and checked my bag with the Homeland Security guy, passed fairly quickly through the security screening, and sat down at my gate to wait for the flight to Atlanta.
The incoming flight from Atlanta was delayed for nearly an hour, which automatically pushed our departure time back by over an hour. In the event, they turned the plane around very quickly and we backed away from the gate only an hour and ten minutes late. We were the only plane waiting for permission to take off, but the tower had some electronics problem which delayed us for another fifteen minutes.
Atlanta was having some very exciting electrical storm, so we circled for quite some time. Eventually, the captain came on the intercom and told us that if we hadn't managed to land within 20 minutes, she'd have to redirect to a different airport, as we were running short of fuel. Apparently the storm had been bad enough to delay scores of planes from landing, so our final approach to the runway took on a bit of an aerial ballet quality . . . there were so many other aircraft in the night sky, including two almost exactly parallel to us on the approach. With all these delays, we were very late getting in (scheduled in at 8:07, but we didn't deplane until 10:30). Even having landed wasn't enough: there were planes scattered all over, waiting for gates to open up for them.
Of course, the terminal we arrived at was under construction, so there were no arrival/departure boards active. I walked halfway across the terminal before I found a set that were working — my connecting flight had already left. A call to the Delta ticketing hotline left me on hold for about 20 minutes before I was able to talk to a live agent. There were no more flights to Toronto until the following morning, but she couldn't transfer my booking to that flight; I'd have to find the ticketing desk at the airport to do that.
You don't really get an idea of the scale of Atlanta's airport until you've walked from one of the outer terminal buildings to the South Terminal (the trains were looking Tokyo-crowded). It's a freakin' big place. And the signage could certainly be improved. Just saying, y'know?
I managed to go the wrong way and found every other airline's baggage services desk. But not the one for this odd, you've-probably-never-heard-of-it-airline called Delta. If I'd turned left instead of right at the top of the escalator, it would have bit me, but I do have a bit of a talent for taking the wrong direction.
And the people. Did I mention all the people? The literally thousands of others who'd also missed their connecting flights? Yeah, they're all straggling around at the same time, looking just as lost as I'm sure I did.
When I'd finally exhausted all the wrong alternatives, I did find the Delta baggage services desk. Yes, my bag would still be going to Toronto, but no, I couldn't get it out before it arrived at its final destination. But they did give me a nice little "emergency overnight kit". It included a toothbrush, toothpaste, folding brush, tiny little deoderant stick, and (most important) a T-shirt. All I had with me was my laptop case, two books (one already finished), a magazine, my camera, my Treo, and my travel documents. The T-shirt was a welcome addition to my collection.
The nice lady at the baggage services desk also suggested I'd want to rebook my ticket tonight, rather than waiting for tomorrow morning. That way, I could just "breeze through security" and as long as I was there within an hour of take-off, I'd be fine. She also told me that the airline would help me find a hotel for the night (that was more than I'd have expected, based on my earlier dealings with airlines). Perhaps the best advice I've had in a long time. There were a hundred or so people waiting for re-ticketing, but where else would I be going? It was after midnight before I got to the head of the line, reticketed, and got a discount coupon for a local hotel. All I had to do, I was told, was go to the ground transportation area and the hotel's shuttle bus would pick me up. Great . . . I'm getting tired, so just falling onto a shuttle bus is as complicated as I could handle.
Remember those thousands of milling, lost, temporarily-immobilized travellers? A significant number of 'em have been ahead of me, doing the re-ticket and get hotel coupon trick.
And they're all standing in line ahead of me, waiting for the hotel shuttle bus. So I jumped the queue and took a cab instead (I hope my employer will understand the urgency of that expenditure!)
The hotel was a real fleabag . . . when I turned back the covers, there were earwigs under the sheets. Because of all the delays at the airport and getting reticketed, I didn't manage to get in to the hotel until nearly 1, and I had to have a 6 am wake-up call to be back to the airport.
I have this problem sleeping when I know I need to be awake for a certain time. I wake up too early, assume I'm late, and start to panic. It wasn't too bad last night . . . 3am, 4am, 4:30am, 5:20am and 5:50am. I'm operating on too few ZZZZ's.
And today, security at Atlanta was just horrendous . . . I got to the airport at 7:00 and just _barely_ made my 9:15 flight . . . which then sat on the tarmac until 11:30. If I hadn't taken the advice from last night, I'd never have made my flight at all.
It was very weird . . . things that were perfectly acceptable items yesterday were now banned (water bottles, shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste, etc.). There was a huge pile of personal toiletries being dumped just outside the security screening area. I was "lucky" that my toiletries were in the checked bag which remained at the airport when I went to the hotel.
Update, 11 August: I've been reliably informed that the insects I identified as earwigs were actually bedbugs. Ick. (Actually, looking at the images in those two links, I'll stick to my original identification.)
I'm off on business for the next few days and I'm not sure how much time I'll have for blogging. Posting may not resume "normal" until late this week (no, I didn't consider last week to be "normal", in case anyone was wondering).
As you've probably noticed, my blogging time has dropped to almost nothing in the last couple of days. I have a work deadline which is most unfairly stealing all those spare moments that I'd normally use for blogging. I hope to resume a more normal pace a bit later this week.
My apologies for the lack of new material in the meantime.
No chance to blog.
Perhaps I'll find some time later.
I'm sorry, I (literally) must have been asleep as Quotulatiousness recorded its 50,000th visitor. I had all sorts of nice prizes lined up for the lucky reader, too. Oh, well. We'll save them up for the 100,000th visitor.
. . . my employer has just announced they're being acquired. Situation at work is . . . fluid.
How soon I forget . . . that May 10th was the second anniversary of Quotulatiousness. It just seems like a few months ago that Jon installed a copy of MovableType and opened up shop as Blogulaciousness. He invited me to start a blog on his account, so of course I was delighted to do so. I wasn't sure just what I'd end up blogging about, but I knew I'd be putting up a "Quote of the Day" entry regularly, so my blog name came about as a backhanded compliment to Jon.
Jon decided that blogging wasn't for him after a few months, and Blogulaciousness went dark, but he was kind enough to allow me to remain on the site as a tenant blogger. Jon is still an active reader and commenter, but in spite of my repeated suggestions, has not returned to active blogging.
Off on another quick wine-tasting tour today. I may post something later tonight when I get back . . . but the smart money is betting against that outcome.
My main Quotations site (http://www.quotulatiousness.ca/) may be offline for part of today, as Clive is committing maintenance on the server. He assured me that it would be only a temporary interruption.
Sorry if you attempted to visit the blog yesterday and didn't find it . . . I'm still not sure why the blog went dark, as there was no evidence of any external tampering. My thanks to the kind folks at The London Fog and also to Darcey for hints and suggestions to get the blog's invisibility shield de-activated.
If you can read this, I guess it worked.
I'm away on business today and tomorrow, so I have no idea whether I'll get a chance to update the blog. If you're really desperate, try some of the fine blogs listed in the Reciprocal Links section of my sidebar. There are plenty of fine blogs there to keep you busy for a while . . .
As sometimes happens, I managed to avoid getting sick all through the winter, only to come down with a severe cold the day I left on vacation. The cold symptoms are mostly gone today, but I'm still well short of 100% fitness.
This, as you'd probably imagine, cut down on my holiday-making opportunities a wee bit. Especially the wine tasting parts: with no sense of smell whatsoever, it's tough to pretend to be a wine snob!
Expect my usual idiotic burblings on holiday matters to show up later this week, as I have a business trip coming up which won't allow me much leisure time for blogging.
I'm going back to bed now.
. . . Virginia wine country, that is. I don't know what my online access will be like (if any), so no promises on postings for the next week or so.
Not quite as bad as it could be — one looming deadline moved further out — but two others still doing a good job of filling the gap.
For you, is no post.
Jon was having access issues with the site admin page, so I had to check to see if it was going to be a problem for blog administration. Apparently not, so I deleted the test message . . . which may have puzzled one or two visitors.
Well, having a brief look at the old traffic stats, I'd have to say that elections are the viagra of the blogosphere. During the last month, my traffic almost tripled, boosting me back up to the "Large Mammal" group on the TTLB Ecosystem. I don't expect that temporary boost to last much longer, but it's been pleasant thinking that I'm providing an interesting blog for a larger group of readers.
This is the first time I've broken into the top 1000 on the TTLB, so pardon me while I revel in it for a second:
Okay. I'm done. Back to the desert of the real . . .
After a glorious two-week break, it's back to the office for me. And I forgot my security badge. And there's several hundred new email messages waiting for me to wade through. And I forgot to set an autoresponding message on my email, so several people have been waiting for responses since early last week. And so on.
No wonder the first day back at work is so trying . . .
Sorry for any confusion if you hit this site during the last 24 hours or so: the folks at the ISP had some sort of minor disaster which resulted in a very old backup being installed. Things appear to be back to normal now.
And my apologies to Jon, my virtual landlord, who had to get out of bed early this morning to try to track down the problem for me.
Sorry for the lack of posts . . . but not a lot. I'm still enjoying the tail end of my vacation, so my attention to the affairs of the outside world are still pretty spotty. I have to be back in work mode on Monday morning, but that's still far enough in the future that I'm not worried about it yet.
For more active blogging until then, I direct your attention to the fine blogs listed on the left side of the window (scroll down to see 'em all). There's plenty there to keep you interested, amused, or embittered until Monday — at the very least!
My main quotations site, quotulatiousness.ca, will be offline today, as the server it lives on is being physically relocated.
I've been theoretically on vacation this past week, which usually means time away from the computer (both home and work). I had to do some work on Tuesday and Wednesday, so my actual vacation was the wine tour on Monday (more notes coming, eventually), and Thursday and Friday. Thursday was given over to a family emergency (of which you do not need to know more).
Today, I'm off to Stratford to see the latest PlayMakers! classes give their first public performances of the year. Hence, posting prediction: less than 10% chance of light posting in this area.
Oh, and if you're attempting to access this site from IP address 188.8.131.52x, you'll find I've banned your sorry ass for the couple of dozen trackback spam attempts. Have a nice day, loser.
. . . and what happens? I quickly devolve from a TTLB Large Mammal all the way back to being a flippin' Rodent? You'd think I'd at least have been able to cling to one of those branches in the Marsupial zone, wouldn't you?
Of course, I'm not the only one to notice a sudden devolution:
I spent a large chunk of the Thanksgiving holiday revamping the Ecosystem's algorithms and code as a part of my continuing effort to ensure that TTLB provides as useful a guide as possible to the best of the blogosphere.
Most of the changes are complete, but some are not, so bear with me for a few days as I complete the work. In particular, a significant change to Ecosystem ranking was implemented last night, so you may have seen significant shifts in particular blog's rankings.
I'll explain more once I've polished the changes; thanks for your patience...
There's a wide range of reactions in the comments to that post, including some pats on the back for NZ Bear, a couple of teeth-gnashing/cloth-rending whinges, and a couple of funny hints of legal action. All for a free service. Sometimes, people are just weird.
Today I'll be off wine-tasting in the Beamsville Bench and Niagara-on-the-Lake areas, so there'll be no posting until much later today.
Every now and again, I have a look at the last 100 visitors to the blog, just to see where in the physical world you (the readers) live. The distribution is pretty predictable: usually similar numbers of Canadian and American visitors amounting to 2/3rds to 3/4ths on a typical day. The rest of the world is unevenly represented:
Number of visitors
Serbia and Montenegro
This is pretty typical, although I get the occasional visitor from Chile and South Africa, both South America and Africa are seriously under-represented in the referrer logs. China and India, in spite of the growth of their internet-using population rarely show up at all.
I don't think there's anything particularly surprising here . . . I just find it interesting.
I'm being unwillingly dragged into a day-long training session for a piece of software my employer acquired recently (the company, that is, not just a software license). I might be able to duck out occasionally, but that's about it. Don't make a mess while I'm gone, okay?
This is a public letter to my fellow bloggers. If you link to a graphic on my site, you will use my bandwidth every time someone views your page. If you link to several of my graphics, you will start to eat up a significant portion of my bandwidth. One of you is currently siphoning off 3.5% of the total bandwidth for bolditalic.com. And I'm not the only user on this site.
Later today, my virtual landlord has threatened to take action if this "borrowing" does not stop.
Consider yourself warned.
Update, 14 October: Had a look at your hijacked graphics today, pirate boy?
Update, 15 October: The blogger in question has apologized and removed the links to graphics on my site.
Most of my postings here don't attract more than one or two comments. When a post more than a week old gets a comment, it's a bit suspicious. When an older post gets 41 comments, that's highly suspicious. So, "184.108.40.206", either you're an incompetent spammer or your computer has been zombified. Oh, but of course . . . you can't read this because I've banned your sorry-ass IP from ever coming back here.
. . . except this time it's in my favour: I've jumped up 700 spots in the TTLB ecosystem to the lofty branches of Large Mammaldom (that sounds even weirder than I thought it would). I expect N.Z. Bear to have fixed that glitch tomorrow, to dump me back down to the Crusty Crustacean level or lower.
Still, the view from the higher branch is quite bracing.
Hmmm. If I didn't know better, I'd think that the TTLB Ecosystem is running in cruise control right now.
What are the chances that the number of links and the daily traffic would remain so stable for such a long period of time? Slim and none, I'd guess.
Still, NZ Bear does the Ecosystem for free, so it's not particularly sporting of me to poke fun at it, given that I'm the definition of a "free rider", economically speaking.
You can view the last n visitor locations on a world or regional map. I'm a bit of a map geek, so this was very, very cool.
I took as much summer vacation as my work schedule will allow (an extra-long weekend). It's done now. Once I get caught up with the couple of hundred emails that piled up while I was away from the computer, I hope to post something worthwhile . . . but it's far more likely that I'll just post more of the usual, unfortunately.
The spammers have been busy trying to use my blog as a redirector for their various online pharmaceutical, p0ker, and vi/\gra spams. It's taking much longer every day this week to clean the bastards out and ban their IP addresses . . . and I know that most or all of the IP addresses are just zombies, not the actual spammers themselves.
I'm having to turn off comments and trackback pings for anything over a week old (basically once they've scrolled off the opening page) to cut down their opportunities to get free ad space.
I'll be offline the rest of today, as I've booked a rare vacation day to take Victor to the Mark Knopfler concert at the Molson Amphitheatre tonight. Elizabeth and I used to go to the old Ontario Place Forum fairly regularly, but I've never been to this replacement venue. The reviews of the place are pretty much all over the shop: some think it's terrible, others think it's great. I just hope that the acoustics are good in the area in which we'll be sitting.
Sorry for the relative dearth of posts over the weekend, but I was hors du combat on Saturday and out on a wine tour yesterday. This morning has been a bit of maintenance on the site: while my attention was briefly elsewhere, a bunch of trackback spammers got onto the site. I think I've squashed 'em all for now, but it's kinda tedious to find 'em (MovableType doesn't give you an easy method to do this — at least in the version I'm using).
If I get some time this afternoon, I'll hopefully get something useful posted.
Sorry for the dearth of new stuff . . . major deadline at midnight, so I'm just a tad busy. This is the first year of Quotulatiousness after I added a Site Meter counter to the page:
Although there was some oddness during December and March (funny how the traffic drops off when people get vacation time, isn't it), the overall trend is pretty encouraging.
Too busy today to skive off and find interesting stuff to blog about. Victor's graduation ceremony (they have a graduation ceremony for Grade 8? Who knew?) is tonight, and I have to leave the office early to get home for that. Perhaps something will appear later tonight, but sorry, no promises.
Work has accellerated towards that looming deadline I've mentioned once or twice. This week's postings will probably accumulate and be tossed out in a bunch as opportunity arises.
This posting is brought to you by Web Works Professional and Source Off Site Classic, both of whom are conspiring to hijack my machine for a few minutes, allowing me to post something really short.
Every now and again I check to see where some of my traffic originates. A large percentage comes in from Google, Yahoo, and MSN search engines. Not that this is a bad thing: it's nice to have folks find my blatherings from outside the traditional blogosphere (sometimes it seems as if almost everyone who visits here is also a blogger).
Sometimes, however, I wonder just how my blog hits the search criteria shown. For example, among the last 100 visits, these have been some of the search strings used:
My boss is visiting the office (the group I work for is based in the US, even though it's a Canadian company), so I may be called into meetings — or on the carpet — throughout the day. Expect intermittant posts, if any.
My sitemeter referrer's log shows a lot of people visiting the site over the last 24 hours looking for "Belinda Stronach Nude" and "Belinda Stronach Photos". Not here, guys, sorry. Perhaps someone out there is providing this sort of content, but even if I had such photos, I don't think I'd be posting them here.
Even odder, there were several folks looking at old photos I posted last year (before the meme about "blogging the cat" went round the 'sphere). I wonder what the sudden interest is?
Update: Jon offers this eBay auction listing as a form of compensation.
Today is the one-year mark for blogging. It's been an interesting experience, I'll have to admit. I'm still not really sure whether I'll have anything interesting to say from day-to-day, but even if I'm only writing for a half-dozen regular readers (you know who you are), I'll keep posting if you'll keep reading. Deal?
Here is the first post on the blog. Still somewhat topical today: Abu Ghraib. Only one other post that day, on AK-47 MP3 players. Not too unrepresentative a sample of the next thousand posts, n'est pas?
As you may have noticed, I'm trying to mess around with my MovableType stylesheet to try to get Quotulatiousness looking a bit less "standard, out-of-the-box, boring, monochrome, etc." If it wasn't already obvious that I have no artistic talent worth mentioning, it will be by the time I settle on some changed CSS file. Apologies to anyone who has problems reading one or more of the various background/foreground colour combinations that may appear here.
I've noticed some odd quirks in my primary MT Index template lately: when I've made a change and saved the template, occasionally one of my opening angle brackets "<" gets converted to the HTML symbol "<". This, of course, has odd results in the rebuilt index page (usually ending up with the HTML tag and arguments that should have been in the page appearing as literal text).
The odd thing is that it's only one or two instances which get replaced, and usually near the end of the template. You'd think that something like this, if it occured at all, would be a global search/replace thing, not a random one. The places it's happened have not been where my intentional edits were, either.
This has only been happening during the past week or so, and I've been using a variety of web browsers to edit the template (Opera 8 and IE 6 under Windows and Konqueror and Mozilla under Knoppix). Has anyone seen similar behaviour?
My home machine has finally given up the ghost . . . or, to be more accurate, the Windows 98 system loaded on it has gacked. I'm live, such as it is, using Knoppix as my temporary operating system. This is an incredibly cool little utility . . . which is actually an entire Linux system, bootable from CD. You can find more information on Knoppix here.
I was flat-out amazed at how well Knoppix works: you change your BIOS settings to allow your machine to boot from the CD drive, put the Knoppix CD in, and reboot. When I rebooted, it correctly found my video card, hard drives (by manufacturer and model number), DVD and CD drives, and sound card, configured for them on the fly, and opened up an X-Windows desktop. It loads into a RAMDisk (a virtual disk in memory, for those of you who don't remember the "good old days" of DOS), and I was able to access my Windows data on the hard disks, and burn backup CDs using K3b, one of literally hundreds of useful programs included on the Knoppix CD.
Even if you never expect to use Linux on your home or work machine, I strongly urge you to download a copy of Knoppix, burn it to a CD and leave it handy: you never know when being able to reboot your machine without Windows will be a critical need. I'm happy I had a copy available just the other day . . .
I may have time to post something later in the day, but no guarantee either way.
Posting will resume after my brief foray into badminton tournament-land: the Lindsay club's annual open tournament. There are five teams (two men and two women per team) attending from the Bowmanville Badminton Club. Of that five, we are acknowledged to be the weakest team. I expect a lot of low-scoring games today . . .
Well, you've probably already seen Clive's introduction, so I won't waste words doing further intro-type stuff. I'm headed down to New Orleans for the next 7-8 days (weather allowing), and the forecast for tomorrow's drive indicates some snow pretty much all the way to Louisville, Kentucky. Just wonderful — and apparently the weather is great down there right now, but will turn wet and cold just about the time we cross into Louisiana.
If I get a chance to find an internet cafe, I may be able to give a few short updates, but I promise _nothing_!
Don't trash the place while I'm gone, okay?
Nicholas is going to be offline next week, and he's asked me to guest blog for him while he's away (no idea if he'll be able to get web access while he's out of town).
It has been a long time since I last helped Nicholas by writing anything. What I write will be somewhat different from his work. For example I barely even drink wine. <a warning to those of you that drink wine. Skip to the next paragraph> I like about a sweetness level of 10. Please pass the syrup.
My own interests tend to run to the technical. Woodworking, leatherworking, computers, anything mechanical have been, or are, my interests.
Many years ago I learned about an experimental new device that would work like a TV. But it would be mounted on a wall and used far less energy than a TV. It had no moving parts and it was only a few inches thick. I was amazed and looked forward to one day owning one of these incredible devices. The decades passed. (Yes, decades.)
This week Samsung announced their latest LCD Screen. A Whopping 82" wide screen model. Here.
When we look at the future, our perception of the time that it will take to accomplish is completely askew. Things in the future seem to develop either much faster or much slower than we expect. This doesn't just occur with technology. Politics is an arena where things seem to crawl at a pace that any snail would sneer at. Then suddenly zoom ahead and into full bloom in very little time.
In politics, I tend toward being a liberterian. The phrase, "There ought to be a law." Sends chills up my spine everytime I hear it. Probably because it is a reaction to an event rather than a plan for a needed law.
I have burned out most of the idealism of my youth, but I still cling to the belief that we are essentially good. Misguided, misinformed, often mistaken, but good.
Our media seems to delight in the sensational. I think that is a leading cause of the malaise that affects our society. That hasn't always been the case. Read a local newspaper from a hundred years ago or more. "The John Jones family have raised a new barn," isn't an uncommon article. Simple bits of news without comment or bias was common. Unlike todays headlines.
Websites and Blogs seem to have taken over much of that simple news reporting. People are developing communities online. Sharing many of their simple bits of news in these communities, fostering discourse and building concensus.
When Nicholas asked If I would guest-blog here on Quotulatiousness I felt a bit of trepidation, followed by gut wrenching fear and finally by a simple delusion that I can do that. Hi everyone, it's Clive, things will be different, I hope that you enjoy the blog.
The TTLB Ecosystem has been down for the past few days, but apparently is back . . .and I've evolved up to the dizzying heights of Marsupialdom! Hurrah!
If the preceding paragraph made no sense to you, it's actually a good sign: you're not spending any time obsessing over relative rankings in the blogging world. You may have a life, in spite of the evidence that you read this blog.
I'm in the grip of some damned flu bug which leaves me an hour or so of relatively lucid time interspersed with an hour or so of total lethargy. I'm not sure which phase I'm in now, but blogging will now be dictated by when the phases shift.
So, if I post something even more out-to-lunch than usual, I'm probably in a lucid phase. . .
Update, next phase: Jon is back to blogging. Go read his stuff while I wait for the next phase transition.
You know, clearly the bastard who's littering my comment section with P*nis Enl*rgement, Onl*ne P*ker, V*agra, and Ph*ntermine ads took the week between Xmas and New Year's off, because he's making up for lost time this week. I've banned nearly a hundred of his zombie IP addresses since Monday: given my daily traffic, you'd think he'd be polluting Instapundit or Daily Kos instead of my little piece of the 'sphere.
Anyway, I apologize if you've been bothered by any of his garbage: I delete and ban as fast as I can, but since he's clearly using a 'bot, and I'm just human, the temporary advantage is always his: I can't clean and ban as fast as he can post. But I'll get caught up eventually.
And he'd better hope I never run into him in meatspace: I'm not a trained killer, but I know how to maim fingers as required.
And I shouldn't need to say this, but please don't feed the troll: don't click on any of his links — that's how he makes a living. Starve the f*cker!
Sorry for the sudden dearth of posts again. Between a total lack of network access at work (courtesy of a virus outbreak in another workgroup) and a burgeoning cold, I've been sadly lacking in opportunities to post. The other half of the wine tour notes will probably make their way online tomorrow or Thursday. More traditional scattershot posting may take a bit longer to get back on-track.
And sometimes the work gets you.
Today, it's the latter. Expect posting to be light for the next couple of days.
Jon waved his magic wand and the comments are working again. At least, they appear to be working. I apologize to anyone who tried to leave a comment yesterday.
Jon just emailed me to let me know that our comments mechanism is temporarily busted. . .he's hoping that fixing it will be fairly straightforward, but he's having trouble getting FTP access to do that. I'm confident that things will be back to normal soon.
Six months ago, I started polluting webspace with my drivel. You'd think I'd have learned by now, wouldn't you?
I was also pleasantly surprised to find that my TTLB ranking changed today from "Flappy Bird" to "Adorable Little Rodent". And if that means something to you, you spend waaaaaaaay too much time reading blogs.
As I was groggily waking this morning, I had a reminder on the radio that it's another anniversary too: 25 years ago today, I thought the world was ending. More info on that in another (probably long) posting a bit later today, if work permits.
Update, November 11: Time is not permitting very much right now, as work is consuming all my waking hours. I'll try to get some time free soon-ish to tell that story. Sorry for the unavoidable delay!
I don't get an overwhelming number of comments on this blog: a couple per day, on average. What I do get in higher numbers are spam comments (usually for 0nline p0ker, v!agra, c!al!s, and T3xas h0ld-em). Does anyone have a suggestion for some form of relatively unobtrusive Turing test plug-in for MovableType?
I don't want to use what Damian Penny is using, because I've been unable to comment there since he installed whatever it is (my login doesn't work), and I've talked to a few other bloggers who've had the same problem.
Suggestions are very welcome!
Too busy pretending to work to get down to pretending to blog. Hopefully the situation will improve tonight or tomorrow. No promises, mind you.
As we have to have our Thanksgiving turkey earlier (before they freeze too solid to cook), today is a statutory holiday here at Quotulatiousness (oh, and in the rest of the country, too). I'm not a turkey fan myself, so I'll be having prime rib instead. Yum!
More tomorrow, as time allows.
Sorry for the long absence. . .our ISP seemed to have some significant difficulty getting the SQL database back online. 97 hours and 45 minutes worth of difficulty, if you happened to be counting.
Blogging gets trumped by real-world workload, film at eleven.
If I'm lucky.
Update: Turned out to be 11:55 p.m., but at least I posted something of some value before midnight!
As Danron is another case where I have absolutely nothing useful to add, I'm declaring this blog a Rather-free zone as well as a Kerry-free zone. If you're interested in following the slime-by-slime in grotty details, Instapundit is following developments closely and you'll certainly find lots of links from his site to breaking (or should that be "squelching") details.
On the upside of my temporary minimal posting regime, I'm not having to spend five minutes every morning deleting spam comments and banning the IP addresses from which the postings were made. I guess that counts as a positive!
I'm also closing the comments for older postings which seem to draw more than their fair share of spam. I doubt whether anyone bothers to post legitimate comments for postings over a week or two old anyway, so I don't think this is going to be a problem for anyone.
Posting will continue to be very light until the end of the month or perhaps a bit later: work has expanded to meet the available time. . .and then some.
My apologies to both of my regular readers!
I've had some server problems this morning (no, nothing to blame on Jon, ISP stuff), so until the connection becomes a bit more steady, posts will only trickle in as I manage to get brief windows of opportunity
Well, the playoff run of my soccer team is over after we dropped a must-win game this morning. The game was a must-win for both teams (the winner advanced and the loser went home).
I'm still adding the ugly details in game reports on the team weblog:
On the bright side, now that my soccer season is over, I can concentrate on NFL football instead.
I anticipate very little time this weekend for updating the blog: three soccer games tomorrow and either one or two on Sunday (depending on how we do in the three tomorrow). If anyone is actually worried, I might get a chance to post game summaries on the team website (http://www.bolditalic.com/soccerblog/), but no guarantees.
'cause I'm off to have a day out with the family to celebrate my birthday. See you all (so to speak) later!
If you're not currently messing around with your own MovableType blog at the moment, this is a skippable entry.
Specifically, I'm at my wit's end about how to fix the fairly obvious differences between the way my banner appears at the top of the main blog page:
And the way it appears (ugly and font-mangled) at the head of the individual entries:
Any hints or tips would be very much appreciated!
. . .because I'm workin' my tail off. Or at least attempting to appear to be doing so. I've got half a dozen quarter-written postings that need a bit of uninterrupted time to be ready for prime-time (or, in my case, 3am-filler-crap-infomercial-time).
As you've no doubt noticed, today is a non-posting day.
Except for this, which doesn't count.
. . .blogging will be non-existant until Monday or Tuesday.
Sorry for the temporary blackout...our ISP had made some configuration changes which apparently broke the link between MovableType and the SQL database it requires. I'm hoping that normal blogging can resume this afternoon.
As work and other demands on my time unfairly crowd out the fun activity of blogging. Hopefully more later today or tomorrow.
Visitors since 17 August, 2004