Funkaoshi: Year 8

   20 November 2012, early morning

Today is another anniversary of A Funkaoshi Production. It’s been a while since I’ve called out this blogs “birthday”. The blog is 8 years old now. There are very few things I’ve kept up with for this long. The blog is definitely much more quiet now than several years ago, though I still try and post a link or two everyday. I think the first 2-3 years of the blogs life were its golden age. Whenever I stumble on a post from back then it’s always something enjoyable to read. (Remember when I saw Namugenyi on the street two days in a row!? Yeah, me too!) I suppose there are a couple factors that have contributed to this blog getting quieter over the years. The first is that I surf around on the internet way less than I used to. As the blog has slowly transformed into a lame form of Kottke links became the primary thing I post here, and I do that far less frequently now. The second is that the inane blurbs about my day to day life seem to have migrated from here to Twitter. Stupid Twitter. I need to make posting here easier: that’s a project for 2013.

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Malware!

   19 April 2011, terribly early in the morning

Sorry if my site redirected you to some malware site. Apparently someone injected some PHP code into the index.php file that everyone hits when they browse this site. I’m still not sure how. That’s what I need to look into now. Well, after work, anyway.

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Link Like This, Not Like This

    9 April 2010, early morning

When I first started this site I had a category for posts called interesting links. As the name suggests, this was the category I’d assign to posts that were about interesting links. The posts would show up on this site looking like a normal post, with a title, the date, etc. Generally these posts were in a style similar to how Kottke posts links now: they were just smaller blog posts about something I found on the net. One problem with this style was that there were plenty of times where I wanted to link to something without really saying anything more on the subject: some links are interesting without me having to explain why, or write more than a sentence about. So one day I sat down, mucked around with TextPattern, and switched to the style I have now. Lots of sites run their link logs like this. Two of note are Daring Fireball and Shawn Blanc.

If you use my site’s RSS feed, when you click on the title of a link-post you’re taken to the post I was linking to. I have an extra link tacked onto the bottom of the post (when viewed in a feed reader) that will take you to the post on my site about the link. The idea is that people can read the few sentences I have to say on a topic in their feed reader, and then move on to the real content. The only real reason people would want to visit my site rather than what i’m linking to is if they want to comment on my site about the link. I would say this is standard behaviour for a link log. Daring Fireball and Waxy.org link to sites in their RSS feeds in this manner. Shawn Blanc does not. Shawn Blanc is doing it wrong. His site is great though, so I keep reading anyway.

If you use keyboard short cuts when using your feed reader, i’m sure you feel my pain.

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On Tumblr and my iPhone Blog Redesign

    9 March 2010, terribly early in the morning

I have been running I’ll iPhone You for quite a while now. The site has always been a bit of an afterthought. Even if you were interested in iPhones and smartphones and all that junk, I don’t think it was a particularly interesting a place to visit. The site had no personality.

Tumblr makes it very easy to set up a site. The sorts of sites that it is best suited for are those that are about consuming and sharing content, not producing it. I suppose this is the very nature of the tumblelog. The tumblr ecosystem is all about liking posts and reblogging. There are a few sites making content, and that content gets dispersed throughout the network. What makes tumblr so compelling can also make it so boring. There are plenty of good tumblelogs on Tumblr, but my site wasn’t one of them.

I see two problems with the site as it existed. First, it used a theme someone else made. Second, it was almost completely devoid of anything I had to say. There is nothing wrong with using themes, but I prefer sites that look unique, or at least make some attempt to try and stand out. I hadn’t edited the theme for my site at all. There were probably thousands of sites on tumblr exactly like mine. Because I hadn’t spent any time at all working on the site, I also didn’t feel compelled to post anything of substance there. The site was supposed to be my iPhone blog, but It was really nothing more than a link dump. Most of the text on the site came from the titles of the articles I linked to. I’m not an iPhone, so it’s not like linking to lots of stories about iPhones gives you any insight to who I am or what I like (besides iPhones). There was really nothing about the site that made it my own.

I’m not entirely sure why I decided to redo the blog. I suppose I have had a lot more free time these past few weeks. I added a little header to the site yesterday, and I think that will be that. I used the CSS from 1kbgrid as the basis for my own sass script, which I used to generate the layout grid CSS for this site and my new photography site. Otherwise it’s a pretty simple and plain redesign. I’ve definitely been posting more since making the change, in part because I’d feel like i’m wasting my new theme if I didn’t. Whether it’s actually a better site remains to be seen. I think it certainly looks better, anyway.

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Backing Up A Funkaoshi Production

   19 February 2010, early morning

I’ve been backing up my website from my web host (Dreamhost) to my local computer automagically for the past little while. The process isn’t too complicated, so I thought it might be helpful to explain what i’m doing. (Well, you probably need to know a little bit about computers and what not.)

Read the rest of this post. (376 words)

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TxP 4.2

   22 September 2009, mid-afternoon

I finally got around to updating the site to TxP 4.2. If anything looks strange, please let me know. (Things that are likely to break: RSS/ATOM feeds.)

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A Conscientious Photography Contest

   26 August 2009, early evening

Jörg Colberg runs the website Conscientious, a fine-art photography blog. His site is regularly referenced online when people discuss photography. How he managed to position himself as a goto authority on fine-art photography, i’m not completely sure. As far as I can tell, he’s just some dude that likes photographs.

Colberg is running a photography competition. He plans to showcase the work of the winner on his site. It’s not a pay-to-play contest, and there isn’t any money to be one. It’s all about getting exposure. I think this is a great way to showcase new talent. This seems to be one of Colberg’s goals, since he states, “[the Conscientious Portfolio Competition] is aimed at emerging photographers.”

If you don’t have a website you will not be able to enter the competition; this might strike you as unfair, but I think every serious photographer should have her/his own website, because it shows that s/he is serious about what s/he does (plus, my blog is about linking to websites – and what can I link to if there’s no website?).

I can’t say I know too many fine-art photographers, but one would assume that being able to take pictures and being able to write HTML are two independent skills. More so, if there was a group of photographers who were most likely not to have a portfolio site of their own, I suspect that group would be photographers who need to get exposure by entering online photography competitions. Colberg actually calls out Flickr in particular as being unsuitable for this competition. Certainly there is a lot of crap on Flickr. And then there is a lot of amazing photography. The derision sometimes expressed about the site seem more than a little lame, like my earlier complaints about LiveJournal.

No doubt the contest will produce some good results, but I think by limiting where he sources contributions, it will also be far less interesting than it could have been.

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Short URLs

   11 August 2009, early morning

If you have been paying attention to the internet recently, you may have learned that tr.im is shutting down. tr.im was a URL shortening service, like bit.ly, tinyurl.com, is.gd, etc. tr.im had a winning url, but apparently that’s not enough to make it as a URL shortening service. One problem with URL shortening services is being illustrated right now. At some point in the not too distant future all these tr.im links are going to be dead, despite the fact what they point to is still up and running. It’s probably a better idea for sites themselves to provide short URLs for those cases where they are actually useful (for example, posting links to twitter). So, with that in mind, all the posts on funkaoshi now have short URLs. Right now they are exposed in the shorturl link element in the HTML header for each article on this site. I’ll put them up some place more visible shortly. I need to set things up so the short URLs redirect to the real URLs. These short URLs should redirect to the correct canonical URL.

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Feeds are Working Again.

    7 August 2009, early morning

This sites RSS and ATOM feeds should be working again. I realized very recently that my site was generating invalid guids for the entries in my feeds. This has been happening for ages, since I didn’t populate these fields myself when posting links using my own bookmarklet. Sorting that out seems to have fixed Bird Feeder, which I use to track what links are popular. Links in my feeds should now redirect to the proper sites, rather than dumping you on my homepage. If there are still problems, let me know.

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pinboard.in

   26 July 2009, evening time

Previously, when I linked to anything to this site it would get posted to Delicious as well. I don’t like Delicious as much as I used to — I think the site is too crazy now — so I’ve switched to using Pinboard. I think Pinboard has a much nicer (simpler) interface. I’ve flipped the way I link to stuff as well. I now bookmark things in Pinboard, and then review what I’ve bookmarked to pick stuff to link to here. Ideally, this should mean I link to less crap here on Funkaoshi. You’ll have to let me know how that’s working out. If you want to see all my bookmarks, you should pay attention to my Pinboard page (or RSS).

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Filtering Comment Spam from a TXP Site.

   23 July 2008, terribly early in the morning

I’m getting much more comment spam on older posts recently. I’m trying out a new plugin that will flag posts as spam or for moderation based on keywords or the number of URLs in a post. Of course, blocking by keywords is kind of obnoxious, so I replaced the default keywords with strings of text that I could see showing up in the comment spam I’m getting, “[/link]” and “[/url]” for example. I’m pretty sure filtering out comments with those two keywords will actually get rid of all the spam I’ve been getting here recently. We’ll have to wait and see how that goes.

Update Aug 07: A couple weeks later and this strategy is working great.

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Flickr For Now

    6 February 2008, evening time

I’ve been posting photos to Flickr for the past little while. (Photos of note are this photograph of Carvill, T&T, and Shima at Spadina ) Despite saying i’m not happy with how Flickr presents things, I do have to admit it’s about a bajillion times easier to put a photo on Flickr than it is to make a post on We Must Abuse the Broadband. I have some ideas for what I want to do with the photoblog here, but they can wait. For now, Flickr wins.

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NetNewsWire, FeedDemon and NewsGator.

   14 January 2008, lunch time

There are three things I really like about GoogleReader: all your unread entries appear on one page; when you scroll past an entry it is marked as read; your reading history — read vs. unread stories — is always up to date since the application is hosted online. Any feed reading application that doesn’t beat GoogleReader at these three things really isn’t worth using.

NetNewsWire is awesome. First off, it’s fast — oh so fast — and works incredibly well. It has the single page view that GoogleReader has, and it also can be set to mark stuff as read as you scroll past it. I have it set up so that clicking on links opens pages up background; pressing the right arrow will open the news item you are reading in the background as well. This way, when you are done reading your feeds you can switch to your web browser to look over the links you thought were most interesting. NetNewsWire is by far the best newsreader I’ve used. I like it a lot more than GoogleReader. Sadly, all is not well in the world. NetNewsWire’s biggest fault doesn’t lie with the program itself, but with the cruft it is forced to play with: Newsgator’s online service, and FeedDemon.

FeedDemon is a RSS newsreader for Windows. Like NetNewsWire it is owned by NewsGator, and the two programs can be kept in sync using Newsgator’s online service. As far as I can tell, FeedDemon is a pile of junk. It is slow — oh so damn slow. GoogleReader running inside Firefox works much better. Worse still, there seems to be no way to view all your unread feeds on one page — I’d even settle for an easy way to view each unread article one after another. Reading feeds in FeedDemon is a slow cumbersome process.

NewsGator’s online service is also incredibly lacking when compared to GoogleReader. In my opinion it works better then FeedDemon, but that isn’t saying much. You can view all your unread posts on a page, but unlike GoogleReader, it paginates them if there are too many unread items. (NetNewsWire also paginates your news items into multiple pages, but it will automatically switch to the next page when you get to the bottom of the current page.) NewsGator also doesn’t mark stories as read when you scroll past them: you can set it to mark everything as read when the news page loads up — this is how Bloglines used to work — or when you click a ‘mark all as read’ button. The site is slower than GoogleReader to boot.

NetNewsWire is so nice to use I’ve been putting up with FeedDemon and NewsGator for the past few days. I’m not sure how long I can keep this up.

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Mo Blogging Mo Problems

    7 January 2008, early morning

I’ve set up a simple page to post the photos I take with my iPhone while out and about. (These are the photos that I email off to Flickr.) To mix things up a bit I’m also pulling in the junk I write on Twitter, which I usually update via SMS. The page works by processing a feed I made using Yahoo pipes. Every half hour a ruby script grabs the feed and generates an HTML using Erubis, which looks to be a better implementation of ERB. This works well enough for now. The first thing I need to fix is having the script do nothing when there is nothing new in the feed. I would also only like to generate the delta between the old feed and the new feed, appending the new information to the old. Right now, old entries are going to disappear when they no longer appear in the feed, which is no good.

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Funkaoshi: Year 4

   27 November 2007, early morning

I’m a week late for this site’s anniversary; November 20th 2003 is the day I consider to be the first day of funkaoshi.com. (I summed up the history of the site reasonably well the day it turned 1 year old.) This site has been online for 4 years and change now. That seems like a long time. The site hasn’t changed too much in those 4 years. I watch a lot less movies now then I used to, which sucks, but otherwise I think the site still has the same vibe. Lots of inane posts with me bitching about America mixed in. (I actually feel like I’ve toned down the bitching about America a lot, but that might just be in my head.) At times I feel like I should redo this layout, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

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The Links Section is No More

   16 October 2007, lunch time

That page where I had links to blogs I read and what not is now gone. It was bith horribly out of date and, according to Mint, unused.

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A Funkaoshi Production and del.icio.us Links are Friends Again

    2 August 2007, early morning

I started using del.icio.us links back in May 2004. At the time I didn’t post links to this site the way I do now, inline with larger blog entries such as this. Interesting things I found on the net would get their own little blog post, regardless of how long or short that post might be; I wasn’t fond of doing things this way. Shortly after I started using del.icio.us, I began posting the links from there on the links page here. The page was populated with my last 10 or 20 links on del.icio.us, in addition to the links that are currently there. I also wasn’t too happy with this scheme, since it forced people to browse to another page to check for new links. That solution was short lived. When I started posting links here inline with my posts, I also started cross-posting those links to del.icio.us. This worked seamlessly till August 9th 2006. By this time I had really stopped checking my del.icio.us links page to see it was being updated properly, so I didn’t notice things had stopped working till some time in December. del.icio.us had changed its API and I hadn’t noticed.

Recently Jody mentioned he wished I posted my links to del.icio.us. (He is a lot more creative with the way he uses del.icio.us than I am.) Up until this time, no one had really said anything about the loss of my links on del.icio.us. I had really only been cross-posting for the sake of doing so. It was a programming exercise and that’s about it. Yesterday, I sat down and tried to figure out what had changed between del.icio.us and my script. The details are short and boring, but it didn’t take too long to fix things. My links are now being cross-posted to del.icio.us again.

A side note on PHP, and languages that let you pull variables out your ass: declaring a variable before you use it is a good thing. For example, in Pascal I wouldn’t end up with a bug like $title = urlencode($tittle);, which left me wondering why $title is empty when you urlencode it. Maybe i’m just a sucker.

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GYOB

   20 July 2007, early morning

John Gruber links to a post by Joel Spolsky on weblog comments, presumably because Spolsky’s take on the subject matches his own. The choice quote from the article according to Gruber is the following:

When a blog allows comments right below the writer’s post, what you get is a bunch of interesting ideas, carefully constructed, followed by a long spew of noise, filth, and anonymous rubbish that nobody … nobody … would say out loud if they had to take ownership of their words.

Now that’s a little fatalistic: if Spolsky ends up with a bunch of “noise, filth, and anonymous rubbish” whose fault is that? If you are too lazy to maintain your site, then yeah, I can see why turning comments off would be a great idea. But it’s a bit of a disrespect to assume your readership is too ignorant to post a thoughtful remark in your space.

My site is low traffic enough that it’s easy enough for me to trim comments I think are a waste of space. A busier site like Daring Fireball or Joel on Software would probably get a sea of comments, but even then there are all sorts of schemes one could put in place to make managing this sea easier — moderation and throttling are the first two ideas that come to my mind. John Gruber actually has a very simply means to allow a limited subset of his readership to comment on his site: he could make commenting an option only for paying members of his site. Turning off comments completely is of course easier, but to pretend that doing so improves the experience for yourself and your readers is disingenuous.

Until it is truly easy for true back-and-forth conversations to take place via disparate weblogs comments are the best way to go.

Of course, I don’t read Daring Fireball to hear what some schmuck on the Internet thinks of the latest thing to come out of Gruber’s head.

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Textpattern Drama

   17 May 2007, early morning

Discussing the state of Textpattern is in vogue at the moment. Apparently Textpattern, which is the software I use to run this site, is in dire straights, and “the long term prognosis isn’t good.” It would seem that it lacks direction. The developers disagree on that point. This topic comes up on occasion in the Textpattern forum. People seem to want Textpattern to become Wordpress, but at the same time, don’t want to simply use Wordpress. Drew’s post on this topic is actually one of the better ones I’ve read, though I’m not sure I agree with his take on things.

Read the rest of this post. (424 words)

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Not So Anonymous Blogging at Banu

    1 February 2007, terribly early in the morning

Carvill and I went to Banu for a late dinner last night. The restaurant is run by two sisters: one has long hair and wears black boots, the other has short hair and doesn’t wear black boots. They both sit down next to you when they take your orders, which gives the place a very casual vibe. It is easily my favourite kebab place in the city.

One of the sisters stumbled on my post about my first trip there, and left a comment. I didn’t say anything about it because, frankly, I had no idea they would even know what I’m talking about. Also, even if they did, I imagine we’d have a short and boring conversation about it:

“Hey, I’m Ram. You left a comment on my website.”
“Yes I did.”
“Cool…”
“Yeah…”

It is always strange when the real world and this virtual one overlap. I was of the opinion random people who stumble on the site don’t match my face to this website. You can figure it out easily enough, but it’s not so straightforward. There aren’t that many photos of me here. The last one was from September. I mean, when the site was profiled on BlogTO the picture that went with it was of Mezan and Patrick.

Carvill and I finished dinner, paid, put on our coats, and started to make our way to the door. As we were leaving, the short haired sister said, “Thanks for coming Ram, have a good night.”

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Using Bird Feeder with Textpattern

   31 January 2007, early morning

Here are instructions for using Bird Feeder with Textpattern 4.0.4. This isn’t an ideal solution, as it involves modifying atom.php and rss.php. C’est La Vie.

Read the rest of this post. (281 words)

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It Wasn't All in My Head

    4 January 2007, early morning

Yesterday I was so frustrated with how slow the site felt I emailed Dreamhost. Over the last few days I noticed it was taking upwards of 6 seconds to get anything form the database. If we were living in the 60s I think I could let that slide, but it’s 2006: nothing you do on the internet should take 6 seconds. Dreamhost responded to my email very quickly. I got a reply to my email from a fellow called Justin who sounds like he is a real person. They moved my database to a new server, which looks to have fixed everything. I can’t stress how much of an improvement Dreamhost’s customer service is over 1&1s. I mean, the fact you don’t have to seriously dig to find their support contact form already made them winners in my book even if they ignored my email.

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Slow Site

   13 December 2006, mid-morning

Is it just me, or is this site particularly slow now? I wonder if Dreamhost just isn’t as fast as 1&1. I need to check out my Textpattern setup and see if I can improve on how quickly it generates pages. I hate waiting for this site to load.

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How to get on the front page of Digg: Part 2

   23 November 2006, late morning

Today, dd-wrt made the front page of digg: Turn your $60 router in to a $600 router, FOR FREE. There is nothing new or exciting about dd-wrt. It’s one of the oldest firmware updates for the Linksys WRT54G. (I linked to it in December of 2005, and it wasn’t new or exciting then either.)

This is a common problem with digg. Since everyone who uses the site is a twelve year old boy who has just discovered the Internet, stuff that isn’t new makes it to the front page fairly often. With this in mind, I present my second way to get on the front page of digg: write about stuff that has already been on the front page of digg. It makes sense if you think about it: people liked the story the first time, so of course they’ll like it the second time. And since digg users have memories a little worse than Goldfish, they’ll be happy to rediscover this gem of a news item you are providing them with.

As I cautioned before, use this knowledge for good, not evil.

If digg isn’t your thing, you may recall I’ve also written about how to get on the front page of Reddit.

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Moving Hosts

   16 November 2006, early evening

If you are seeing this, it means the DNS server you are using has updated to point to my space at dreamhost. Right now, this blog is all that works. My photoblog and shima’s site are both down. Sucks I know. Lets see how long it takes to get them back up.

update: Well, now seems as good a time as any to stop using Movable Type. I imported all of Shima’s stuff in to Textpattern. Need to do the layout next. We Must Abuse the Broadband will be next.

update: Shima’s site is sort of back up, but running of Textpattern. My photoblog is still down. I’m not sure what to do about it.

update: Krishna’s blog is back up.

update: The photoblog is back up, though without MT in the back-end.

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