// Internet Duct Tape

Year in Review – Most Popular Posts of 2006

Posted in Popular Posts, Technology by engtech on December 31, 2006

Most Popular Posts

The end of the year is always a time for reflection; here’s a list of what people found most popular in 2006 (based on my wordpress.com stats). Listed in order of popularity.


Best of Feeds

Posted in Best of Feeds, Technology by engtech on December 30, 2006

My favorite posts from my RSS reader.


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Greasemonkey script: increase size of del.icio.us save bookmark extension

Posted in Delicious, Firefox and Greasemonkey, Technology by engtech on December 29, 2006

This is a modified version of “del.icio.us maxim.us” that extends the text entry boxes (title, url, notes, tags) to 800×600 when bookmarking pages with the del.icio.us extension.

You will need Firefox, Greasemonkey and the official del.icio.us extension to use it.

Not sure what Greasemonkey is? Read the description from my wordpress.com category resizer.

See the full list of free software I have created.

You can get frequent updates about all of my new software, tools or blog themes by subscribing to IDT Labs by RSS or by email. Or you could just subscribe to my main blog, Internet Duct Tape.

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Digest for December 2006

Posted in Monthly Digest, Technology by engtech on December 28, 2006

Every two to three weeks I publish a digest for subscribers who are would rather take their //engtech in infrequent chugs rather than frequent sips.

Subscribe to this digest.

From the I’m a Grumpy Old Man department

From the Tech News deptartment

From the It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Blogging department

From the I am a Big Geek department

From the It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas department

From the I am a Consumer Whore department

From the Meme department

Subscribe to this digest.

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Boxing Day is coming

Posted in Gadgets, Links, Technology by engtech on December 25, 2006

RedFlagDeals has a nice round up of all of the boxing day deals in Canada. The already have all of the boxing day flyers online. And they offer a nice reminder that some of the online store sales have started tonight (Future Shop, Best Buy, NCIX).

Online shopping is the way to go as you avoid all of the hassle (the biggest problem is trying to log on to the web site).

There are a lot of DVD, comic book trade paperback and video game sales to be had, all from the convience of your computer desk.

You might be able to use the flyers for price matching at competing stores.


Gift Guide for Geeks concludes

Posted in Geeking Out, Technology by engtech on December 24, 2006


I’ve finally finished my gift guide for geeks series.

  1. Introduction – Some personal stories of what the holiday experience is usually like for me.
  2. Gifts.com – I go through one of those gift suggestion websites and try to pick out the good from the bad. TIP: these sites suck.
  3. Gamers – A list of what I think is good for the Xbox 360, Nintendo DS and PC video gamers.
  4. Comic Books – My favorite comic books available in trade paperbacks.
  5. Programming/Tech Books – Top ten recommended books for programmers, managers and anyone working in high tech.
  6. Books – 45 of my favorite books (non-fiction, fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, humour).
  7. Movies – 81 of the best DVD recommendations.
  8. TV series on DVD – some shows I like.
  9. T-shirts – 100+ geek t-shirts that I like.
  10. Last Minute Suggestions – waited too long and need a gift in a hurry? Try these.

Related Guides

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Last Minute Gift Suggestions

Posted in Lifehacks, Technology by engtech on December 24, 2006

Hey, guess what? It’s Christmas Eve. And you still haven’t found a gift yet for someone on your list? Don’t worry, Uncle Engtech is going to throw you a bone and give you a couple of last minute suggestions under the wire. But first, did you check out the rest of my gift guide for geeks series?

(photo by debbiedoescakes)


You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger

Posted in Becoming a Better Blogger, Popular Posts, Technology by engtech on December 20, 2006

I am not a blogging expert (although I play one on the Internet), but I do try to learn as much about blogging as I can. I’ve been blogging for eight months and I have grown to around 3,000-6,000 hits a day and I rank as one of the top 6,000 blogs according to Technorati. I’ve had some blog success, but I am not a successful blogger.

What should I have done differently? This is a list of the mistakes I’ve made along the way.

Save to del.icio.us

(photo by striatic)

The Internet is for Trolls

Posted in Digital Culture, Technology, Web 2.0 and Social Media by engtech on December 20, 2006

Meek, normally polite people can turn into the biggest assholes when they don’t have to look each other in the eyes.

When I was involved in the BBS/IRC scene as a teenager I was surrounded by flame wars; one-upmanship was part of the attraction. I thought it was because of the immaturity of the participants, but now I think it is a natural offshoot of digital communication. We lose all the visual and auditory cues that are a normal part of human dialog and instead focus on words that can be easy to misinterpret (especially if looking for a reason to fight).

Throw anonymity into the mix and it becomes a recipe for disaster. Becoming popular on Slashdot or Digg is equal parts excitement at the exposure and annoyance at the new commenters. To be fair this isn’t restricted to these two communities; for a large number of people getting into arguments on the Internet is a major source of entertainment. Two weeks ago I put a comment policy on my blog – I have no problem with disagreement but keep things civil.


Five Things You Don’t Know About Me meme

Posted in Asides, Technology by engtech on December 15, 2006

aka the It’s Almost Christmas and I Don’t Feel Like Working meme. I got the idea from Matthew Ingram (although I wasn’t tagged).


It’s official: StumbleUpon Video rocks

Posted in StumbleUpon, Technology by engtech on December 15, 2006

I’m not a big fan of YouTube, because the signal to noise ratio is so high. I am a fan of StumbleUpon. It is a quick way to find interesting and useful websites. They’ve released a new service for videos only, and it’s great. I was immediately getting relevant results because I am already a Stumble Upon user. The results speak for themselves

Stumble #1: A song I like.

Stumble #2: A guy who hooked up his synth to a tesla coil.

Stumble #3: A monkey giving a dog a hand job.

Stumble #4: Leonard Nemoy singing the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.


Ottawa’s Sexiest Blogger

Posted in Asides, Technology by engtech on December 14, 2006

Lorelle’s current blogging challenge:

Who do you think would be on your favorite sexy blogger list this year?

Now, there are some guidelines. A sexy blogger can be sexy because, well, they are a sexy person. They can be sexy because they talk about sex, but I think a sexy blogger is one who makes their blogging subject sexy. A sexy blogger is one who is exciting to read, a thrill to communicate with, and one who ignites your “flame”, no matter the subject.

If they happen to meet whatever criteria you find physically pleasing, then that’s okay, too.

So, who is on your favorite sexy blogger list?


107 t-shirts for geeks that do not suck

Posted in Popular Posts, Technology, Tshirts by engtech on December 14, 2006

Being naked sucks.

Not for you, but the people around you. You might be living the geek dream, but a chubby belly, pale skin, and the muscle tone of a newborn calve isn’t doing anything for the people who have to look at you.

That’s why t-shirts are good.

(bad example, she probably looks good without a t-shirt)

Save to del.icio.us

Nerds like shirts-with-funny-things-on-them like a fat kid likes cake. I don’t know why; I’m not a psychologist (although I play one on the Internet). But you can use that to your advantage. It’s might be too late to order t-shirts online in time for Christmas, but I thought I’d continue my Gift Guide for Geeks by taking a look at some of the best shirt choices on several popular websites.

If you’re a t-shirt addict, you might want to check out some of these fine blogs that are devoted to t-shirts: addic[tee]d, Preshrunk, iloveyourshirt, and tcritic. I’m only doing this for one post; they do this all the time.

On to the t-shirts!


Hey Bloggers, PayPerPost is Illegal

Posted in Technology, Web 2.0 Blogging by engtech on December 13, 2006

Matthew Ingram and Tony Hung go into it in more detail, but the FCC FTC has made a ruling on schemes (like PayPerPost) where bloggers get paid to review products without having to disclose the agreement. Quote: “such marketing could be deceptive if consumers were more likely to trust the product’s endorser “based on their assumed independence from the marketer.”

Raised concerns about a specific type of amplified word-of-mouth marketing, specifically the practice of marketers paying a consumer (the “sponsored consumer”) to distribute a message to other consumers without disclosing the nature of the sponsored consumer’s relationship with the marketer.

We are at the crossroad of determining what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour on the “social” Internet. There’s been a few snafus lately with major corporations and astroturfing (word-of-mouth marketing gone bad). Notably the Walmart story a few months ago, but in just the past few days there has been a fake Playstation 3 blog / viral marketing campaign was revealed.

If bloggers try to do paid reviews via a more ethical / legal service like reviewme.com, they may still be penalized by search engines (more recent) [1]. Search engines like Google use links heavily in their algorithm to determine the top results, and companies have been trying to use sites like PayPerPost and Reviewme.com to buy links and increase their position. Being in the top three results on Google for a search term can make or break a business.

I find the subject interesting because I have participated in word-of-mouth-marketing campaigns for Nokia, O’Reilly and Wiley (free products if I write about them — always disclosed.)

[1] Avoid the search engine penalty by using rel=”nofollow” on the links for paid reviews.

TV on DVD – A bunch of series I like (GGG8)

Posted in Geeking Out, Technology by engtech on December 12, 2006

My list of gift suggestions continues. This time I’ll be focusing on TV shows.Watching an episodic TV series on DVD is more satisfying then arranging your life around a timeslot. 24 and Family Guy showed how big of a market this can be. There are now websites devoted to it like TVShowsOnDVD. The golden price point of around $25-$50 a season was reasonable and affordable. Then everything went downhill when the studios got greedy and decided to start releasing half-seasons.

This is a collection of series I own, and ones I’m thinking about owning (even if it means downloading a torrent.) This is what I like, and if your tastes match then you might find some other series to try out as well. If there’s something I’m missing that I’d like then leave a comment.

(photo by reddirtrose)


81 movies for geeks that do not suck

Posted in Movies, Popular Posts, Technology by engtech on December 09, 2006

Write what you know. In this case, what I know about is being a geek. Over the next few days I’ll be suggesting things that I liked. The list is sci-fi/fantasy/comic book heavy. Surprisingly low on the “computer related movies” tip, but we blame that on the fact that most computer-related movies suck ass.81 flicks in total, but I’m sure I’ve missed some. Leave a comment and tell us your favs. I didn’t include any movies I hadn’t seen, so that may be why your “this list sucks because it’s missing XXXXXX” was missing. Also, it is skewed to the mid/late-20s demographic.

Is this the definitive list that should be written in stone for the children of the future? No. It’s a geek listing some of his favorite flicks on a personal blog.

Links to Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB for each movie to make the list easier to cross-reference. Trailers are hosted on IMDB (but we have not double-checked that all of the links lead to a trailer). Movie review scores are taken directly from Rotten Tomatoes and provided for reference — if you have a beef with the numbers, take that up with the professional film critics of the world. It’s not my fault.

Romance movies for men and women

My girlfriend and I have done another list like this for romantic films. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.

(photo by ehoyer)


Switching back to real full feeds

Posted in Asides, Internet Duct Tape News, Technology by engtech on December 09, 2006

There’s always been a huge debate in blogging about whether to use full feeds or partial feeds. I *hate* partial feeds. They only display a fixed amount of text before the cut-off, and it is so unsatisfying to click more only to find out that you were missing two sentances. As a feed reader, I find I stop subscribing to partial feed sites unless I really like them. Currently I only read three partial feed sites:

and in all of those cases I don’t read them in my feed reader. I go visit the site, usually after I’ve read all my other feeds.

Where the hypocracy comes in: I realize that I’ve been using the READ MORE break too often. I wanted to only show one post per page on the main site to keep things manageable for readers to skim, but unfortunately it also impacts the feed readers.

So what I’ll be doing is leaving the full post up for a week, and then chopping it with the READ MORE break. (Unless the post is ridiculously long like some of the recent gift suggestion posts.)

And if you aren’t yet a subscriber, you can subscribe to my blog by click on this link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/engtech

Related Posts

Is Santa Claus Real? – A Look at the Physics

Posted in Geeking Out, Humor, Technology by engtech on December 08, 2006

No idea who the original author is, but this is a good take on the physics of Santa Claus.


1) No known species of reindeer can fly. BUT there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.

2) There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn’t (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total – 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that’s 91.8 million homes. One presumes there’s at least one good child in each.


Three new themes and Bryan is leaving WordPress

Posted in Asides, CSS and Web Design, Technology by engtech on December 08, 2006

Bryan Velesco (Avalonstar) is parting ways with WordPress. While Bryan was with WordPress he had this to say about my Theme Review series:

Thanks for the review. These have really helped a lot in not only solidifying my knowledge of the template system, but getting rid of these damn bugs too. What you said about ChaoticSoul is really flattering, since I hold it so dear… I might have to fix the little annoyances that you and timethief are finding so it can be the best theme there is. ;)

Also, I’ll be trying to make my wordpress blog the place where I store all major theme updates that don’t fit onto the .com blog, so keep your eyes there too.

I don’t know any details (not officially announced yet), but we’ve known for a while that Matt Thomas is on board.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the recent spout of theme releases is related to Bryan leaving, and why there was a name error with the 281 theme by Paul Stamatiou and Neil Patel (plug: I subscribe to both of their blogs — they’re excellent).

UPDATE: Nope, not an error. This is Eli Foner’s extension of 281 called 2813.

Bryan has this to say about his departure:

Automattic and I are parting ways. Thinking about it now, I see the reason being a more fundamental one. The way I work just didn’t fit with their expectations. I could get into how the expectations for designers and programmers differ, or how using Trac to measure output might not be the best way to track my progress. Honestly, that would do nothing for the situation. It was an awesome four months working with some of the smartest minds in the business. I know they’ll get far.

I wish him luck with his future endevours, and I’ll be keeping my eye on his work (when looking for CSS ideas to steal).

Hacking for Hollywood – Programming in the movies

Posted in Movies, Programming and Software Development, Technology by engtech on December 07, 2006

teh matrixdrivl.com is an entertainment site by seomoz.org. I think the content is written intentionally to spread virally, but who cares because some of it’s good. This time around Matt tackles programming in movies. I liked the spirit, but it needs a title fix, some editing and a stronger intro/conclusion.

  • Code does not move

    Do they honestly think we can read shit that isn’t sitting still?
  • Code is not green text on a black background

    Most programmers use syntax highlighting and sysadmins configure their shell to use ANSI color.
  • Code has structure

    It’s got line breaks, spacing, and indentation. [Unless it’s a nasty perl hack.]
  • Code is not three dimensional

    Last I checked my terminal app doesn’t require OpenGL. I’m working here, bitches — I’m not playing quake.