Thursday, December 23, 2004

Technical This site09:45 PM - More MovableType experimentation

I haven't done anything yet about moving to MT 3, commenting or no (please still feel free to have your say on that, I certainly would like to hear others' thoughts on it), but I have been messing with stuff. Specifically, I found a plugin called MT-Rebuild that will rebuild all or just some sections of your site when run on the command line, depending on what switches you give it. Now, I don't have shell access, but the big reason for wanting this is to be able to schedule a cron job from CPanel that will run it automatically.

Once I figured out how to get that working, I went and got a plugin called WeatherUnderground. Using the Weather::Underground Perl module, it grabs various data about the weather in the place you give it, such as temperature and wind chill in both fahrenheit and celsius, the wind speed and direction, general conditions, humidity, and when it was last updated. So I worked up a template that will just generate a section in my menu to display it, then set up a cron job to update that template only every hour at the top of the hour.

So, I'll be commenting out the WeatherUnderground weather image and putting this in its place, I think. The only thing I found lacking was that I can't alter the date format it's in. Well, not with MT's "format" attribute. I could probably make it a PHP file instead of a text file, then use PHP to convert the string to a date, then turn that into the format I want. I was hoping I didn't have to do that, 'cause I always have to look up the date functions in PHP 'cause I never remember exactly which ones I want, but ah well, no biggie.

whining no longer being accepted

Interesting places News Links02:33 PM - Two wholly unrelated but interesting links

I found both of them on the forums when I checked 'em this morning.

The first is an article: Backfire: Turning Pickets Into Pledges.

The second is a Quicklook-converted amateur filming documenting just how easy it is to steal a bike in NYC, in broad daylight with lots of people around: Neistat Brothers: Bike Thief. (Before you freak out, watch it -- they state at the beginning they're "stealing" all their own stuff, not stealing other people's stuff. Social experiment, & all that.)

listening to: All Saints - Alone

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Fun stuff10:49 AM - Marbles on the refrigerator

Better known as Frigits. Don't ask how I got there; suffice it to say I got there in similar fashion as I got to the Gender Genie in the previous post. These would be so much fun to have, though. Totally.

listening to: All Saints - Take The Key
whining no longer being accepted

Interesting places08:11 AM - Interesting gender predictor based on text

It's amazing what sites we stumble across during browsing (and I mean, non-Google-I-Feel-Lucky browsing), and how we get there. See, I was looking up MT plugin links, so I could link to ones I was referring to in an LJ comment, which brought me to also bring up another plugin called AWStatsReferrers out of pure curiosity (it wasn't one I even knew existed before today). And there, I opened up both of the trackback links, one of which said it didn't work. I initially got a "file not found" that was very informative, from which I chased down the new link to the old post from a little over a year ago. Once there, I read the relevant post, which said it didn't work but then how he got it to work after all. In an archived post I found while looking for that one, I found the topic of this entire entry: The Gender Genie, which uses some particular algorithms to analyze a block of text (preferably more than 500 words of it) to predict the gender of the person who wrote it.

First, I fed it this entry, which is pretty much a technical one about the site itself and its commenting system. It predicted the following:

Words: 706 (NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)

Female Score: 1100
Male Score: 1325

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

Hmm. So apparently technical posts are going to have more male keywords (or at least more of the highly ranked ones) than female keywords. Whatever that means. However, when I fed it this post, I got these results:

Words: 955 (NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)

Female score: 1893
Male score: 1486

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: female!

So when I type normally about my day or weekend or whatever, I'm female, but when I talk about techie type stuff, I'm male. Weeird.

Edit #1: For those wondering which words it ascribes to females and which to males, and how those words are weighted, here's the actual word analysis from the very first entry I fed through it:

Feminine KeywordsMasculine Keywords

Edit #2: I fed it a couple more, relatively nontechnical blog entries, and it got me wrong both times, mostly by a somewhat narrow margin. Apparently, I write my thoughts, and I guess think, more like a "typical" male than a "typical" female. Which doesn't surprise me much.

Edit #3: After experimenting with a lot more posts, which meant going back into August stuff so I could find long enough posts to use, it seems to get me right about 40-45% of the time (not a calculated figure, just me guessing). Also, the two or three posts I've had that were more than 2000 words, it guessed me as female every time. I should also note that only one of these long posts I've tried in this additional experimenting was a technical one, and any times I was quoting someone/something else, I removed those parts so that all the words were mine.

Final edit, I swear! After doing a bunch more, I'd say it's closer to 40% correct on me or maybe a bit less, and I actually had a 3000+ word post that had me very, very decidely male. Also, I just got one that only had one point difference with one more point on the male side, and personally they ought to say if your two scores are closer than so much (say a percentage of the total, or something, rather than a flat number) it should say "I don't know! It's an androgenous passage!" or something.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

This site02:43 PM - Seriously considering moving to MT 3.1 to use TypeKey

I don't get as much comment spam as the rash I had a while ago, but it does happen periodically, even after the modifications I made such as renaming the commenting CGI and using a unique (I hope) hidden field that the form needs in addition to the standard stuff that by now every comment spammer knows the form needs. It's getting to be a pain.

With that in mind, I'm seriously considering installing MovableType 3.1, so I can move to TypeKey. Basically, they manage the authentication for whoever wants to use it, and once you're signed up there you can comment anywhere that uses it. They don't ask for your name, just a valid email address you can confirm, and whether you want your own key generated for use on your own weblog. I just signed up so I could have a key ready for when that time comes, and it was insanely painless. It's free, it's easy, and according to their FAQ there are several levels of posting I can allow from MT's implementation of it. (Keep in mind, the FAQ appears to have been written before either TypeKey or MovableType 3.0 were released, and MT is now in version 3.1, so I think it's safe to say that TypeKey is out of alpha by now. ;) )

I could just move to MT 3.1 and only switch to moderated comments. But then no comments appear until I approve them, which makes for slower commenting when I'm AFK since not only will it not appear until I know there's a comment and then allow it, which could be hours, no one will be prompted to comment on someone else's comment, until it actually appears, etc. So I'd have to either monitor my email all the time, regardless of whether I'm home and at the PC, which is unacceptable, or deal with comment chains happening more slowly and thus probably dying a lot sooner than they already do.

However, there's also the possibility that the few of you who comment here, won't be too keen on signing up for TypeKey just to comment here, unless it turns out you're already signed up there for other blogs anyway. So I also have to worry whether (almost?) all commenting will cease altogether.

So... I ask you, anyone who comments here and would hope to continue doing so, how you would feel about me implementing this? I would probably have it not have TypeKey send me email information of posters (and their privacy policy states they won't give it out anywhere else unless you explicitly tell them they can, or if there's a legal investigation that requires it). They do need to work on the accessibility of pages on their site; the FAQ is kinda hard to get to unless you're on the main page, the privacy policy and ToS aren't anywhere to be found outside the registration page, and the registration page can only be reached by trying the login page first. However, they asked for very minimal info on registration (a username to use, a password, a valid email so you could validate your registration, a nickname you'd like to appear as when commenting, and to verify the text typed in an image, so their validation form can't be spammed).

I figure this is a far superior alternative to turning off comments altogether, or attempting to plug my blog posts and my forum into each other to have commenting go there (how would it start a new post if no one's posted, or post in an existing one for an entry, or would I have to create a new forum entry whenever I post, and how would the blog entry be updated with how many replies there were, how would I automatically get the right topic ID for the forum, etc.?). However, I'm trying to figure out if this is a far superior alternative to just leaving the commenting system the way it is and dealing with the spammers as they come along. And I'd like anyone reading this to help me weigh this balance, if you would, including if you don't care one way or the other.

*sigh* Why do there have to be assholes that make things like this necessary?

whining no longer being accepted

Technical11:02 AM - Anyone know Perl?

Would anyone care to tell me why my CGI file gives me a generic Internal Server Error, with nothing showing up in CPanel's error log? (It's not a permissions problem, and the syntax seems to be fine.) It's a test file made by a forumite, which he says runs fine (and I made sure the Perl path was correct for me -- it's the same, in fact), that I can't get to run. all the Perl modules are installed according to CPanel, which has a section that lists all the Perl modules installed on the server.

Here's the guts of the thing for anyone wanting to take a peek. I'm not a good enough Perl programmer to have any clue what's wrong with it, especially with no useful error messages. My thanks to anyone who takes a crack at it.

Edit: I figured it out. In addition to needing to hardwire an ASIN instead of reading from input, since I can't run this on command line, the other modification I needed was to add "use CGI;" to the top -- apparently you have to have that line to make a Perl file actually run on the webserver as a CGI. Oops. My excuse is that I haven't even written anything in Perl in ages, and not much on my own at all, and I suck at Perl programming.

whining no longer being accepted

Monday, December 20, 2004

Life10:32 AM - Busy weekend

Saturday, I went and got Christmas cards to send out, and a fresh color cartridge for our printer so I could include small pics of the kitties with the cards. I got a picture all cropped and ready to go, got the cartridge installed and aligned, and... the damn thing will only print black & white. I went in every place I could think of and changed all color settings from "automatic" to "vivid color" and it will. not. print. color. I don't know why. I know the color cartridge works, or at least blue does, because the alignment sheet it prints after installing a new cartridge, so you can set the 6 different alignment settings properly, printed just fine, and it requires both the black head and the color head, which it uses just the blue of. And it came out great. The pictures I tried to print out came out in complete grey scale, not even bluish tinted because of only the blue printing. And of course, after fiddling with the bloody thing for 10 or 15 minutes, one of the printer driver EXEs locked my entire system up. So I gave up. :(

Anyway, Sunday morning J's parents got back with us with Christmas gift lists for everyone, and after that we went out for lunch (mmm, St. Louis Bread Company! - aka Panera to those not in the area - it was an awesome day for some hot soup) and on to shopping. We shopped for something like 4 hours, too, and my heels were absolutely killing me. We hit Target first, and got some good stuff there, then went on to Lowe's for J's stepdad. After that we ended up at Jamestown Mall trying the different department stores for round waffle irons (when did they start making them so small? the one J's parents want to replace makes bigger ones than that... round, too), and a particular skillet his grandma wants.

Funny story about that one... apparently she found one particular 10" nonstick skillet made by Farberware that actually has a solid, rather than hollow, handle. (We presume she wants this because the hollow handles are also open at the end, and if any food or sauce or whatever gets in there, good luck cleaning it to get it out.) The only place they'd found it to date was at the outlet mall in Warrenton. That's nearly an hour away from us west on I-70, just to get one relatively small item. So, we were trying to find the exact same one around here. I tell you what, it's hard to find any large amount of Farberware anywhere, and a couple places didn't have it at all. So... with the super ultra detailed description he had, he went ahead and picked up one that was the exact same skillet but made by another brand. He still might go out to Warrenton if it turns out he's going to go out to help his grandma with stuff, since it's not too far past that, but this may be what we go with. We tried 6 different places: Target, Dillards, Famous, and Sears at Jamestown, and Kitchen Collection and Bed Bath & Beyond at The Mills. I suspect it's either the "open french skillet" in their Select line, or the same in their Restaurant Pro line. Those are the only ones that appear from their pictures to have not-plastic, solid handles, and neither of which did we see at any of the stores we visited.

Anyway, we got almost all our shopping done except for each other Sunday afternoon. I finally got a chance to shop for J at The Mills while he hung out at Animagination, but damned if I could find anywhere selling what I was looking for. I knew that was gonna happen -- I'd wanted to look in the department stores, but we were there so fleetingly, and I didn't really get the chance to separate from him while looking for cookware -- the great and bad thing about The Mills is that they have mostly specialty shops. But I did finish shopping for my sister while I was there, so it wasn't a total loss. :) Also, The Mills visit was a complete success according to J. There's this place called Soda Jerks, and they sell Sprecher root beer, which we'd formerly known only to be sold in the Milwauke, WI area. He got an entire case of bottles. He's totally jazzed about that. :p

Sunday evening I got all 5 cards ready that I'm going to send from the results of this post, and they got dropped off at the post office this morning. Also, I was going to make pancakes but my heels were (and are -- I just gimped to the bathroom, or certainly felt gimpy anyway, it's hard to limp when both your feet hurt ;) ) very very sore and I didn't want to stand there making the darn things. So we went to Cancun restaurant at Northwest Plaza for dinner. After that, I got to make a quick run into the mall to shop for J while he found something else to do (turns out a mall haircut place was still open, so he got a haircut). I tell you what, Sears was awesome. They were my last minute shopping savior. :D

Now I just have to work up a list, with J's help, of family to send Christmas cards to, and start wrapping presents. I got all the current bills paid this morning, either with or my bank's free bill pay feature, so even all that's done, at least until on or after Jan 1 when the house payment, J's car payment, and the main CC all come up, and there's plenty in the bank for those. Woo, I guess?

Friday, December 17, 2004

Web Quizzes11:27 AM - A couple personality test thingies (personality disorder & Jung Explorer)

This first one, I took 9 months ago:


So, in 9 months' time I've either increased my "schizoid" leanings and decreased my dependent leanings, or I've had a change in my thought patterns that made me interpret and thus answer some questions differently. Or, more likely, my perceptions of a lot of these questions are likely to fluctuate all the time, and said perceptions are probably heavily effected on my current mood, environment, and status of sleep. I probably shouldn't take these quizzes when I'm tired; I don't know when I actually took it previously, timewise, except that this post and that one are being made within half an hour of each other, but I know I took this one a couple hours ago when I was still pretty mentally out of it. (What am I saying? It's only just now lunch time, and I'm still pretty mentally out of it. :D ) However, I imagine my mental state is probably greatly effected by how much sleep I've had in the last few days; I know I was feeling pretty apathetic to a lot of the questions, which got plenty of "50% accurate" answers.

(Edit: I used the copy/paste codes of the last one to make this one, so it was all formatted right and stuff, and apparently pasted in the wrong one. Has been changed to reflect the results of the test I took this morning, which makes my comments make a lot more sense.)

On to the other one...

Jung Explorer Test

Actualized type: INFP (who you are)

INFP - "Questor". High capacity for caring. Emotional face to the world. High sense of honor derived from internal values. 4.4% of total population.

Preferred type: INFJ (who you prefer to be)

INFJ - "Author". Strong drive and enjoyment to help others. Complex personality. 1.5% of total population.

Attraction type: ENFP (who you are attracted to)

ENFP - "Journalist". Uncanny sense of the motivations of others. Life is an exciting drama. 8.1% of total population.

Take Jung Explorer Test
personality tests by

It's partially accurate. I think in some ways I got myself all confused over the questions that differentiated over what I preferred to be and what I actually am, so really I would switch those, or make both the first one. As for the last part, that's probably at least half right. J definitely has an uncanny ability to know how I'm feeling and put words to it, and he was able to do this before we really knew each other that long or that well.

([side rant]I must say, the person who came up with the HTML code to be generated for these quiz results is a complete and utter smacktard, and in the future should ask for help from someone else. I'm not talking about the use of deprecated tags; those mildly annoy me, but aren't the source of my rant. I'm talking about extraneous empty tags, bad nesting of tags, missing closing tags... the list goes on. So I completely reformatted it from scratch. It doesn't look like it did before, but it was a lot shorter, was properly nested, and to boot doesn't have deprecated tags. A lot of the excess formatting was just a poor attempt at fru-fru-ness anyway, if ya ask me. Even after I cleaned up the nesting and extra/missing tags problem with their code, it was a lot longer, and why use table tags to format small pieces of the text anyway? Okay, I'm done.[/side rant])

Life10:34 AM - Cool Christmas stuff in my mailbox!

Woo, two nifty Christmas things came in the mail this week. First, I got my Baxter the Angry Elf ornament from stolenmilkcrate for donating to her comic, Catharsis. Yea! I'm still trying to come up with where to hang it, so right now it's sitting on the top of my computer tower where it's (relatively) safe from kitties, so long as they don't see it up there. I must, must find somewhere in the livingroom; he's just too cute to hide. :) Second, I got a Christmas card from sinovia. It was funny, initially I found just one Christmas card that was delivered to the wrong house, which I walked over to its rightful home. Then, I noticed the lid on the mailbox was still up, so I peered in to make sure I'd grabbed everything before shutting it, and lo and behold there was another Christmas card! And this time it was addressed to me! Yea! And, kitties! Nifty card. :) Happy holidays to you too (which will be echoed again once I get my own cards out to everyone, hopefully tomorrow if I can get 'em done tonight)!

Also in the last few weeks: various gift cards arriving from my aunt and uncle in NC, one to both J and me and two each to us individually. Plus, we got a card from my cousin Lisa and her husband & two kids, who live in NY. I need to get a list of addresses from my mom this weekend so I can do family cards that, if I'm lucky, I can send Monday. Plus, I need to pick up a new color cartridge for my printer, 'cause I'm thinking of printing out a small cute pic of our kitties to put in 'em. That, I should really do some time tonight, since if I'm gonna do it, I want to send 'em in the cards I sent out Saturday too. :)

Argh, so much stuff to do, and only a week to do it in! *scramble* Gotta check with my mom on whether we'll be hanging out with my cousin Andy and his wife, and his mom and grandma and sister (dunno if he'll be in town from Honduras, either for Christmas or New Year's, and there's drama associated w/ his sister that I'm not gettin' into, that caused there to be no hangin-out Christmas Eve last year like we'd been doing for years... yeah, gotta really check w/ Mom on that one). I have no clue what to get my cousin or his wife, or a collective present... gift cards and stuff are kinda out 'cause they aren't very useful in Honduras, heh, and I don't know enough about 'em to have any idea what they really like, or what they might need, or... yeah, I'm kinda spazzin about that. Plus I need to order stuff for my aunt & uncle in NC, though I have ideas there, and we still haven't gotten a list for J's family.

I love this time of year, don't get me wrong, I just feel rather rushed this year, probably because I want to do a bit more (i.e. Christmas cards), plus we haven't been as on the ball with the shopping and stuff as we were last year. Just a bit stressed. I'm jealous of J, who has all next week off instead of just Friday as I do, and of my coworkers who're taking vacation time some or all of next week. I could use the time off, especially during the day when shopping would be a less crowded affair. Ah well, I'll get there. Perhaps Sunday will be cold enough that a lot of people won't be venturing to stores, or something... heh, not! :p

whining no longer being accepted

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Life Technical03:37 PM - Hyooooge update

Since I have some time to break away from code testing, being that some random asshole is sucking up Oracle sessions to the point where no one can connect due to the number of connections being exceeded (400 being the limit)... :roll: *sigh* (It's no one on our team; Tim knows the ID but not the hot body it's connected to, and he knows it's not us. There are a ton of people who use Oracle on this box, so it could be anyone.)


First, and by far most important: my mom's doing OK. I visited her yesterday after work. She was fairly awake all things considered, though she did say she dozed off in recovery before they moved her to a room. She hadn't had to push the morphine button much either (only will react to the button every 10 minutes minimum, etc.) at all yet. All her vitals were good, with her BP elevated a little higher than usual, but I guess that's pretty normal for right after surgery and wasn't alarming. They told her she was going to be on liquids this evening (Jello, popsicles, juice, and water), but get to be de-catheterized tomorrow and on solid food then too. My husband and I are going to visit this afternoon after we're both off work.

Second: I had a hair appointment yesterday evening (even though mom was fine and I stayed for an hour, and I'd scheduled the appointment a couple weeks ago, I felt guilty having to leave for it). I was 15 minutes late, but my stylist was outside having a quick smoke/phone break since she'd run a bit over with her previous appointment anyway, and I wasn't there yet. She said not to worry at all, and that she was going to call me if she'd finished up and gone in and I still hadn't arrived.

Anyway, she redid my roots plus put some color on the rest near the end to freshen it, plus did the highlights (I think she just had to do the roots part of 'em, don't really know), and then after washing all that off followed up with the 6-8 week temporary dye to make the highlights be a lighter red rather than blonde. I hadn't realized just how much my color had faded until she was done rinsing that out and had me back in her chair for a trim. So my hair's a lot redder again, like it was after the last time. She also reminded me I could come in between "full" appointments to have the toner reapplied to liven things up (I guess the toner is the temp stuff?). So my hair looks a lot better with the color and trim; I was getting rather shaggy and the faded color didn't look anywhere near as good.

Plus, the store hasn't gotten any of the full size product in that she recommended, only the little sample bottles, almost since they opened. Corporate does their ordering, and they're just not ordering more of it for no apparent reason, in spite of emails sent to them about it (there's other even more important stuff they haven't gotten in at least a month, as well, such as the brochures that detail the pricing on all their services). So... even though it's technically not supposed to happen, my stylist gave me her cell so I can call her when I'm nearly out, and then she'll get a bottle from "state" (I assume they can order products for their stations from their state office directly), and meet me somewhere else other than the store so I can pay her for it. Which is just unfathomably awesome. If she hadn't offered, I would've given up and started walking into other hair places (probably Custom Cuts, Great Clips, whatever) to see if they had it, or seen if I could order it from some place like or some such. In any case, while they certainly aren't having half empty product shelves, whoever does the product ordering for different stores needs a swift kick in the pants.

The rest: I've been insanely busy, and wow. Last night my appointment was for 6:45 and started a little after 7pm, and I was there till about 9, and of course I hadn't eaten except some of the cashews I'd brought with me 'cause I knew I'd be coming straight from the hospital, but ended up eating after I got there rather than in the car. And J had waited for me so he was starving (he was starting to feel weak from it, I think), so we went out almost immediately to Applebees, one of the few non-fast-food, non-breakfast places open after 9 on a Monday night). So we didn't even get home till almost 10:30. I still need to go get Christmas cards and start those. I'll start the "public" (i.e. non family, etc.) ones I said I'd do first, and then see about family ones. If I don't get to those... well, I'd only feel slightly guilty, since we haven't done mass emailing of Christmas cards to family yet, so I'd just feel guilty that I did those few and not the rest, as opposed to feeling guilty that I didn't do family Christmas cards this year after having done them last year. (Run-on sentence, anyone? :p ) Sooo... I still have to do that.

Also, J still hasn't gotten Christmas lists from his family, and I need to get working on this smallish cross-stitch project I started to give to them. It's started, but I just haven't had time to work on it, or when I have had time, I've been unwinding doing something else, like reading the massive Dark Tower VII book or leveling like crazy in Diablo II (all through Act 2 so far, in nightmare difficulty, I've been plowing through except Fangskin, and it's been leveling me like it's goin' outta style). So I need to sit down and do that. Tonight is gonna be pancakes night though. I got eggs so I can make some, but I didn't end up making them this weekend so I figured we could do pancakes and either bacon or sausage (we have both) with it for dinner. Mmm, real maple syrup. :D

I think I'm pretty much spent. My coding issue from last Friday is solved, thankfully. Somehow when changing some things around I'd managed not to use the method that will convert the "request.getParametersMap" into a Map of Strings instead of a Map of String[]s, and I didn't realize until Monday, using Google, that [Ljava.lang.String as a type meant an array of Strings rather than Java's funky way of saying String. As usual, hours wasted on something really, really fucking stupid on my part. But that's ok, I spent most of the time between figuring that out and about an hour ago figuring out that in order for my form bean to be recognized, I needed to be using the struts "html:form" tag instead of a regular form tag in vanilla HTML. Not entirely my fault; I'm really, really new (as in greener than green) at struts tags and JSP in general, and through most of it our contractor who's supposed to be well versed in it, never noticed I'd had it wrong. It finally took me seeing something about form scope found in, again, Google, that led me to change over to the html:form struts tag, and then it worked. And when I mentioned I'd changed that, he said "I bet that's why, yadda yadda, that makes perfect sense." *sigh* Now, of course, I have to wait until the database is accessible again, but then it's also now 3:30 and my going-home time, so the hell with it, it'll more than likely be plenty available tomorrow morning, since whoever's been thrashing it probably won't still be thrashing it then too.

I don't, don't, don't want to say it, but I think I'm mostly done with this particular item. Once I can properly iterate over my parameter map so I can output all the other form values as hidden tags (they never change, but they need to be passed when someone clicks that button; otherwise it doesn't know about 'em anymore and it'll go to the error page instead). Of course, eventually once the driving part of the system is up and running, I won't have to do any of that because I won't get all these parameters separately, and once I find what they are based on the single item I will get (directly on the request, rather than on the URL or via a "POST" on the form), I can stick 'em in their session based on that single item I do get or something like that, and I will only have to submit the single thing that changes. But... that's probabably at least 2 months away, so... for now, I need to make the damn thing work. :)

whining no longer being accepted

Monday, December 13, 2004

Life04:18 PM - Eep: Update 1

My dad called around 3:20 to say mom's surgery was finished, that they were moving her into recovery for a half hour or so, and that at initial glance the mass is indeed benign (they just have to confirm it with whoever tests those things).

I'm headed to the hospital in the hopes she'll get set up in her own room soon.

Life02:19 PM - Eep

My mom's in surgery right now, assuming they weren't running horrendously late, and while I've no reason to worry, I'm worrying anyway. It's a procedure that'd be outpatient if she were under 40, even, so it's not this big hours-long thing. But... she's never had surgery before since I've been born. Well, unless root canal counts, that is.

Mrrf. Surgery was scheduled for 1pm, and my dad's supposed to call me when she's out. And of course I'm gonna visit her after I get off work & stuff. I have no reason to worry -- it's a simple surgery, no reason to worry beyond the whole "all surgeries have a slight risk" thing, but I'm worried anyway. At least work has kept me plenty busy, but I definitely didn't forget to get my cellphone back out from putting it away to take with me to lunch, that's for sure. Hell, I even stuck it in my pocket when I went to the bathroom a few minutes ago, 'cause it'd been a whole hour since her surgery was scheduled and I didn't want to miss being called. (That's the one thing I forgot to ask: how long they expect the surgery to take. Half an hour? An hour? Two hours? I have the impression it's short 'cause mom was saying I only needed to have my cell available in case I wasn't at my desk at work, and I only work till 3:30, but I still don't know what to expect.)

whining no longer being accepted

Friday, December 10, 2004

Rants02:34 PM - WTS??

I mean, really, what the shit?

I've been staring at this for an hour now. When you have a HashMap in Java, that you do a "get" on for a specific key (i.e. myMap.get("KEY_NAME_GOES_HERE");) and you know for a fact that the result should be a String (even the IDE's debugging says that the Object that this map is returning, while stepping through it line by line, is a String), then you should not get a ClassCastException when casting it to a String!!! (In other words, assigning the value to a String, by using String myStr = (String)myMap.get("KEY_NAME_GOES_HERE"); should be a-fucking-OK.)

Wwwhhyyyyyyy meeeeeee?!

whining no longer being accepted

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Rants This site10:36 PM - A friendly note...

To the motherfucker who keeps spamming one of my old blog entries (literally almost 3 months old)...


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Life08:18 AM - Does caffeine fix lack of sleep induced stupid?

I've come to the conclusion that I do indeed make incredibly stupid programming errors while tired after two nights in a row of not having enough sleep. I'm actually drinking a cup and a half (mug holds about 12oz) of *shudder* coffee, heavily doctored with powder creamer & sugar plus a couple scoops of Cafe International French Vanilla, in the hopes that (a) the caffein from a mere single large cup o' crappy coffee will wake me up before lunch time, and (b) the added wakefulness will lead to less stupid mistakes. I'm not very hopeful though. I don't drink much caffein as a rule, and yet it still doesn't have much of an effect unless I drink gobs of it, and due to a rather slow metabolism it takes quite a while to have said effect if it's going to. Also, I'm guessing artificial wakefulness from caffein, instead of genuine wakefulness from having enough sleep, probably still has almost as much stupid contained in it as being sleepy does. Let's face it: improved physical and mental reaction rates may improve things like driving capability, but I doubt it necessarily makes for any improved mental acuity or logical processes.

And yes, I have access to big words and complex sentence structures in a useful way even when I'm tired as hell. I also tend to ramble even more than usual.

listening to: Tori Amos - A Sorta Fairytale
whining no longer being accepted

Monday, December 06, 2004

Life03:34 PM - Lots of stuff to talk about, no time to talk about it

I've had all kinds of things I'd like to have updated about, but I barely have time for this. :( Busybusybusybusy! (Sewing, programming, sewing, programming, etc. etc.)

Hopefully by the end of the week I'll have time to actually sit down and write something.

whining no longer being accepted

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Technical This site10:30 AM - Any Perl experts out there who know a lot about XML::Parser and/or XML syntax?

I recently found there's a problem with the stuff that generates my current and next reading lists with all the nice links, full titles and authors, etc., based on Amazon's "ASIN" (which is usually the ISBN of a book). I've managed to track it as far as the XML::Parser being no longer able to parse the XML Amazon generates, and also that it's definitely not being fed some undefined variable or empty string, or even unfinished XML; it's getting exactly the entire thing you get when you put in the actual URL MTwair is using.

So either my web host has upgraded XML::Parser, or Amazon has changed their XML, such that the parser can't read the XML. The only thing I know is that this change has occurred in the last month or less, which is when I last refreshed the list and thus when it last worked. I had made no changes to MTwair code, or to the XML::Simple that I stuck up in MT's "extlib" directory for it to be able to use Perl modules otherwise not installed on the webhost, and the only changes I've made since then were temporary debugging things to trace things as far as I could, which I've since put back. (Though, I did tweak MTwair today so that instead of just returning a string, which is useless and ends up getting printed in the file, it makes all its MT tags be empty so I can use the MTIfEmpty plugin to test the values. Also, I added a tag called MTwairASIN so I could grab that back, which always gets set since it's passed in anyway and thus not dependent on the parser, so I can spit it back out in my "no data" message. None of this has made it worse, and has made it a lot better in terms of having good output to my web space through the template.)

So, if you know what structure the XML should have, that might be missing, the sample URL I'd been testing with, built from how MTwair builds the URL exactly, is this. (Well, not precisely... I changed, to no effect one way or the other, the type=heavy to type=lite since MTwair uses absolutely none of the extra info provided when type ias passed as "heavy". I've also changed MTwair to this, with no change in the behavior. And besides, I know from tracking it down that it isn't MTwair having problems.)

I'm not well versed in proper XML syntax, beyond making sure all tags are closed, either with their appropriate closing tag if a container, or with a forward slash in the end of the tag when it's not a container, so if there's anything in there remotely badly formed, I'd love to know so I could tell Amazon they have a problem. Also, I know nothing at all about how the XML::Parser module works, and of course can't play with the code in it like I can for XML::Simple since it's not self-installed like that one is, so I can't dig into it with debug statements to figure out where it's having its fit.

Edit: Well, someone else posted in a thread I started on MT's support forum, who is having a problem with a different plugin that also uses Amazon's XML, and who is on a different host. Since it's unlikely that both our hosts made changes at roughly the same time, it sounds like Amazon changed something about their XML that chokes the XML::Parser module. No idea if there's any way we can find out what the problem is... definitely speak up if you're good at checking XML syntax or know of a good syntax checker I could run one of their URLs through.

whining no longer being accepted