Tumblr

I’m not a fan of Tumblr. At the moment I use it for a partial life stream (a chronological aggregated view of your life activities both online and offline – thanks Krynsky). It is just publishing a feed of several of my blogs. It a very limited public view.

The one main thing I dislike about Tumblr is the lack of comments. While my blog doesn’t have a lot of comments, I like that it offers the opportunity. Tumblr not having the opportunity means publishing in a vacuum. Which I think defeats the purpose. So I’d never use Tumblr to replace this or any other blog unless comments appear or comments become less important to me.

A confusing aspect of their service is the “Re-blog”. It wasn’t clear to me for some time items re-blogged were not created by the person doing so. Unlike most other services making life streams, there is not an indicator an item did not originate from another site other than in many cases they are abbreviated and have a link to the source.

I probably will continue to use it for some time to come. It just is not something I use. Stuff just flows there from the places I do use.

Gravatars

Probably I missed or didn’t understand the announcement.

For the past month or so, I’ve noticed all these comments with the poster’s picture next to it on various blogs. I knew them to be WordPress blogs. I noticed my own WP had some default icon in the admin user interface. Today I finally put it all together.

A recent WordPress version incorporated Globally Recognized Avatars into the main code. (They are also known as GRAvatars) Using a hash on the email address, it locates a WordPress commenter’s 96×96 picture for including in the comment. Naturally, you need to register your email account with the gravatar service.

So, now many of you get to see my ugly mug!

Zemanta Pixie

WordPress Error: This file cannot be used on its own.

In posting a comment to a friend’s WordPress blog, it came up with the error:

Error: This file cannot be used on its own.

I was responding to a comment, so I doubted that he broke his blog between making a comment and my response. So I went looking though my own install. Essentially, at a shell I used

find . -exec grep -l "This file cannot be used on its own." {} \;

to locate the file involved is wp-comments-popup.php. This file contains code which checks for the HTTP_REFERER variable has specific values equal to the path and file name for the comments page. If this is not the case, then it should throw this error. The file mentioned in the error is wp-comments.php.

Its seems that I had configured my web browser not to pass the HTTP referrer to web servers, so the check failed and threw this error.

Maybe the WordPress developer who designed this has no idea about the ability of web browsers not to send a referrer. Searching for the error on the WP site yielded nothing. From the tons of comments about people hitting this error, lots of people turn off sending referrers.

Solution for those leaving comments: If you attempt to leave a comment and see this error, then enable referrers. WordPress actually has a decent article on enabling HTTP referrers for a number of different pieces of software.

More friendly error for WP blog owners: Edit wp-comments-popup.php. Change

die (‘Error: This file cannot be used on its own.’);

to

die (‘Learn how to <a href=”http://codex.wordpress.org/Enable_Sending_Referrers”>enable HTTP referrers</a> to fix this. ‘);

RRRv302 REPOST: Did A Stupid Thing

Originally posted January 15, 2004.

v4 means its the fourth incarnation of this blog. This post was in v3. Thankfully, MovableType writes the content to files meaning there is a lasting archive. That reminds me… Need to put on the calendar to do regular backups of this blog.

Back to the post:

Did A Stupid Thing

No, really stupid. About the stupidest thing I have done in years. So stupid that it proves my idea that I am the luckiest person ever. No, really!

Soft sand cannot support weight. Small Japanese cars do not have the traction or capability of getting out of it. So even to attempt to turn around on a dirt road where there is a gate and soft sand between is about the dumbest thing ever. I knew it before I tried it. However, I had just spend 1/2 an hour driving around the middle of nowhere to find a friend’s house using only my recollection of the directions and map from several days earlier.

So my car was stuck and my efforts to get it out probably were only making it worse. This is the worst part in terms of my abject stupidity. Decided to ask for help. Walked down the dirt road to the first house and knocked on the rail leading to the mobile home. The people inside obviously did not hear so I stomped on the step and yelled an inquiry as to whether anyone was home. The lady of the house turned on the light, saw me, and freaked. Her husband was not quite as skittish, but still pretty nervous as he asked me to show him my hands and inquired about the availablity of weapons on my person and car. His dad next door had a tractor that might be able to help so he went to ask. While waiting for his dad, he asked all kinds of more questions.

I did lie here. Told him that I was visiting my friend earlier. On my way home, I realized I left something at the house and was going to turn around to go back over there. Because of the hills and speeds of cars on the highway, I didn’t want to turn around in the middle of the road (this sentence is true). Didn’t want to let these people know that I was out here essentially kind of lost and helpless.

The dad came, asked more grilling questions and asking for specifics. Stuff like my name, where I live, where I work, what I do. Turns out he has a web site. They pushed the car enough back with it in reverse that it was able to get traction. I turned around in their driveway and went home.

Called my friend to let him know what happened and that I am okay.

In talking with one of my assistants this morning, I found out that someone had used a ploy of asking for help to murder a family not all that far from there. Their timidity was certainly understandable. Their bravery in assisting me seems so much more impressive. The guy could have seen me there, killed me and probably not gone to prison. That is why I am still the luckiest guy walking on this planet.

Posted by Ezra at January 15, 2004 11:27 AM

Comments

Good story, though. Why didn’t you go to their front door and knock?

Posted by: lacey at January 15, 2004 05:58 PM
Knocked on the railing because I didn’t want to be extremely close to the door. As a black male, I know that white people tend to be a little skittish around “my type”. Them looking out the window and seeing me right there might have been a little nerve wracking.

I did notice that the husband stayed in his truck quite a bit with his right hand on the seat. I really think he might have had something there to take care of me should I have been a threat.

Posted by: ez at January 15, 2004 06:15 PM

Turing Digitalization

Some 60 million CAPTCHAs are solved daily according to Luis von Ahn (on Wired Science on PBS). His technology project reCAPTHCA will use unknown words in these challenges for solving the unknown words in OCR digitalizing books to solve these words in an a quasi-automated sort of way.

I wonder though. Even if reCAPTCHA a) becomes the default at major sites like Yahoo or Google and b) is solved 100% right ever time, then how many books would be completed per day? Certainly no one really comments on this blog, so its almost why bother. (hint, hint)

tag: ,

UPDATE: Trying to clarify. reCAPTCHA integrates two technologies.

Optical Character Recognition always has questionable results. The worse the quality of the text (age or damage), the less capable the software. It takes a human on average about 10 seconds to recognize and provide the correct spelling of a piece of unknown text.

CAPTCHAs are the little pictures used to verify you are a human and not a spammer at various web sites. The problem is coming up with good digital letters OCR software cannot easily recognize.

Luis’ reCAPTCHA idea is if OCR software has trouble with a piece of text from these scanned books, then they have would make excellent candidates for objects to confuse the spammer bots trying to defeat CAPTCHAs. At the same time, humans validate the correctness of the unknown words where the OCR was confused.

Better?

Germane

Maybe its intrinsic to human nature to seek our relevance. To our family. To our friends. To the world. We label those who fail to care about the impact of the behaviors on others as sociopaths. That is a bad thing in case you didn’t know.
đŸ™‚

I’ve heard people are happiest in jobs where what they do has meaning to the organization. These employees must feel germane to the organization to have satisfaction. Languishing in a job with no idea how what one is doing helps anyone engenders a feeling of uselessness. Maybe even paranoia about termination could arise. By contrast, knowing the organization completely depends upon every decision made by an individual dispels fear. So many people want to work for Google because Google makes software millions of people use. We provide facilities for thousands of students to conduct their higher education at my work. Its no Google, but I am content.

Mythology, cosmogony, cosmology, and especially religion help define for us where we are in the world and especially what we can do to improve the world around us. We can even find pertinence on the Internet. The popularity of blogs, I think, lies in two things: 1) hoping others find the posts useful in some way and 2) the pertinent comments others leave in feedback.

I think for me, personally, I have not done such a good job understanding my relevance to individuals in my life. Nor have I considered the relevance of other individuals to me. Has anyone systematically done this?

Racism

Lacey’s story about her first brush with racism in Houston reminds me that they were well intentioned. I am not very hard on such people because my so very white grandmother has made similar comments. Hers was that the neighborhood was suffering from all the crime, the specific example was that my bike was stolen out of our yard. Actually it was stolen by a white kid on the street.

Despite that my father is black and my mother (her daughter) is white, to my grandmother I wasn’t black. I pointed out that to most people who make similar comments who don’t know me consider me black and part of the crime problem because I am black. She never made such a comment again (at least in my presence). I was 13 or 14 at the time.

A couple years later, a guy who was part of my “crew” told me he believed it was morally wrong for blacks and whites to interbreed. However, he didn’t consider me a bad person. I was highly offended at the time. It took a while for me to understand people have lines they consider good or bad, but the line can be easily moved at whim.

Being a mixed kid, race is something I have to deal with almost every day. For the most part, I have come to have blinders to many things that upset those who are still sensitive. There are plenty of opportunities to get upset:

  • Slow service at a restaurant.
  • Sales people following me in a store.
  • Police officers stopping the path changing directions to shadow me.
  • Evil glares from women of African descent when I am with a woman of European descent.
  • Assumptions about my intelligence.
  • Assumptions about my athletic ability.

Why get upset over other people’s ignorance when it doesn’t have an impact on me? The police officer who arrests me just because I am “black” would, of course, have a lawsuit coming.

Racism

Lacey’s story about her first brush with racism in Houston reminds me that they were well intentioned. I am not very hard on such people because my so very white grandmother has made similar comments. Hers was that the neighborhood was suffering from all the crime, the specific example was that my bike was stolen out of our yard. Actually it was stolen by a white kid on the street.

Despite that my father is black and my mother (her daughter) is white, to my grandmother I wasn’t black. I pointed out that to most people who make similar comments who don’t know me consider me black and part of the crime problem because I am black. She never made such a comment again (at least in my presence). I was 13 or 14 at the time.

A couple years later, a guy who was part of my “crew” told me he believed it was morally wrong for blacks and whites to interbreed. However, he didn’t consider me a bad person. I was highly offended at the time. It took a while for me to understand people have lines they consider good or bad, but the line can be easily moved at whim.

Being a mixed kid, race is something I have to deal with almost every day. For the most part, I have come to have blinders to many things that upset those who are still sensitive. There are plenty of opportunities to get upset:

  • Slow service at a restaurant.
  • Sales people following me in a store.
  • Police officers stopping the path to shadow me.

Why get upset over other people’s ignorance when it doesn’t have an impact on me? The police officer who arrests me just because I am “black” would, of course, have a lawsuit coming.

Comment Spam Protected

Sorry… A comment spammer found my blog today. WordPress did an okay job to moderate the ~150 it tried to post. Rather than see the emails from the spammer attempting to post, I decided that since I don’t get many comments anyway, to just require one to login to post a comment.

So, if you are interested in comment, then email me (you know where).

UPDATE: It doesn’t seem turning off comments did any good. The spammers must be hitting a vulnerability in WordPress.

Personal Security

I am not sure many of us take our personal security strongly enough. Nick Bradbury recently mentioned he had lied about being out of town in a previous entry. I say kudos!!

There are too many cases where I see people put in their blogs when they will be out of town. In most of those cases they feel that probably only their friends read the blog. However, how do you know exactly who is reading your blog? You do not.

Several years ago, I read about how criminals in the UK would send out emails to as many addresses as possible to see which would bounce back with an autoresponder saying the owner was out of town. It was easy to then look up the name in a phone book and often determine where the person lived.

When our house was burglarized when I was younger, the police said it was likely done by someone who was in the neighborhood because they were pretty specific what they went through. It was as if they had been in the house before and knew what to take.