// Internet Duct Tape

How to Explain RSS to Normal People – 2008 Edition

Posted in Building a Community, Facebook, Humor, RSS Syndication, Ruby, Technology by engtech on February 28, 2008

Social Software and You

As a geek who enjoys spending too much time on the internet, I like RSS almost as much as delicious toast. As a blogger, RSS is the shiznitz because it lets you consume a lot more information and it makes it easier for other people to read your blog without having to drop by every few days to see if you’ve written something new.

For something so useful, it’s pretty hard to explain why people should use RSS. Lots of people try to do it. This is my take on it. It’s 2008 and explaining RSS should be much simpler because if you’ve used Facebook, then you’ve used RSS.

RSS for Normal People (who use Facebook)

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The Canary in the Coal Mine of Open Source Code Re-use

Posted in Humor, Programming and Software Development, Software, Technology by engtech on February 12, 2008

Programming Tips

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Like all advice it’s much easier to say then it is to do, particularly when it comes to programming. Programmers suffer from a horrible mental disease called Not Invented Here Syndrome (it’s in the DSM — check if you don’t believe me). We will happily rewrite a perfectly good tool because someone else wrote it and it’s easier to rewrite than it is to understand. Sure, we might not handle all the bells and whistles of the original tool (unicode is for sissies) — but at least we got to DIY.

Rewriting from scratch is particularly a bad idea when it comes to open source software. If there’s an open source library or plugin available that does the trick then there’s no reason at all for you not to pick it up and use it. It’s free. If it doesn’t work the way you want it to then you can rewrite that small part or add functionality. There’s no reason to reinvent the open source wheel…

… as long as you can find it. One problem with leveraging open source is finding out if it exists at all. After enough cursing at Google you’ll eventually get a knack for it and know the good code sharing repositories and announcement lists for your languages of choice. The wheel exists! Someone else is having the same problem and came up with a solution, so now you don’t have to! Thank you, lazyweb.

Or that’s what you think, until you try to take the wheel for a test drive. The install instructions are outdated and don’t work quite the way you’d expect. You have slightly different versions of some common components and that causes things to break in mysterious ways. Or you’ve come across a wheel that the wheelmaker gave up on after he got to where he had to go. The wheel looks like it might do what you want it to, but it’s missing the voodoo required to hook it up to anything.

The single biggest problem I have when trying to leverage open source code with my projects is how long does it take me to get it up and running to demo it? If I can see right away that it works and it will solve my needs, then I’m willing to slog through migrating versions of different libraries, sacrificing some chickens and swilling too much coffee to get it integrated with my code on my machine. But the problem is all the installation headaches seem to happen before you reach that nirvana of running a working demo and seeing what it really does (as opposed to what the hastily written release notes ambiguously imply that it does).

I know what you’re thinking fearless reader: this looks like yet another rant about a wasted afternoon trying to be “productive” through code reuse but instead spent glaring at compiling warnings. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel! I have a solution that will keep you from the Poorly Thought Out Install Process Hell that prevents you from making the most out of open source software:

Google Blog Search.

Ok, that was a bit anticlimactic; and it isn’t even Valentine’s Day yet. But stick with me, I have a point lying around here somewhere. If no one other than the author is talking about that tool/plugin/library on blogs then that means no one else is using it. Or, at the very least, that it hasn’t been sufficiently hardened that you should make any assumptions about how smoothly that wheel will run.

At the very least you should be able to find someone writing about what the tool/plugin/library does and any issues they had in getting it running. If no one has bothered taking the time to do that, then that is a huge canary in the mineshaft, dear friend. A huge canary wearing a bright orange tank top with the words “waste of time” written across it.


Photo by tenerife

Google’s Social Network Orkut Gets a New Look

Posted in Humor by engtech on August 24, 2007

The social network Orkut that Google launched in January 2004 (based on a personal project by a Google engineer) is launching an updated look.

Remember the first time that you logged into orkut? Maybe you received a coveted invitation from a friend, heard about it in a blog, or stumbled upon it when searching for a social network on google.com. But no matter when your first login was, whether yesterday or 3 years ago, you were greeted by the simple blue site with a friendly purple logo that remains the same today.

I was lucky enough to come across leaked pictures of the revamped social network.

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Opting Out of Technorati – The Break-up

Posted in Humor, Technology, Technorati by engtech on May 24, 2007

Dear Technorati,

I’m writing to say goodbye. With time I hope I’ll have more good things to say than bad, but this hasn’t been the case of late. I know you have plenty of other suitors paying attention to you, and I doubt you’ll even miss me. But I thought I’d write you a note to explain my absence and what went wrong between us.

I’ve decided to follow in the footsteps of Jason Kottke (from 2005) and stop calling you. It was fun watching my rank improve until I was in the top percentile of your favorite people, but I’ll never be one of the top one hundred you lavish your attention on… so why am I bothering? One of the key principles of time management is to put your attention and focus on what gets the maximum return on investment, but you haven’t been giving me anything more than a number and a lot of frustration.

goodbye technorati rank

Technorati, I fully appreciate the magnitude of what you’re doing with only a 45 person team behind you. I think focusing on search makes sense because you’ve already wasted too much time courting bloggers for links. Bloggers truly are such a limited part of the all the people who could be using you. We’re also fair weather friends who are the first to turn on you and complain when things go wrong.

But I’m leaving you Technorati, and I have the following grievances that you don’t seem to care about. I’m glad you’ve shed some pounds, and your dressing better, but looks aren’t everything. It’s the way you treat me that matters in the end.

Problems I’ve had with Technorati

  1. You lost the last month of my blog posts even though they were pinged and indexed before your new cosmetic changes. Because I only show the very latest blog post on my front page you’ll never find them again, even though the last 40 entries are all nicely showing up with full text in my RSS feed. Why don’t your spiders use my RSS feed? This is not the first time we’ve had this problem.
  2. You are inflexible when it comes to my blog URL. My latest posts must appear on https://engtech.wordpress.com, and your spiders will become confused if I ever change it to something like engtech.wordpress.com/blog. I can go from …com/blog to …com but not the other way around.
  3. My Technorati favorites page does not show the latest posts from ALL my 500 favorites – only a small subset of them. It is much better for me to track them with Google Reader or to use a Google Custom Search engine then to use Technorati favorites.
  4. The Technorati API should be a great way to grab information about blogs, but if you are under high traffic you will often fail to return any data at all instead of a standard error.
  5. You ask for entirely too many links back. I’m supposed to tag my posts with links back to you and add big “favorite my blog on Technorati” links on every page of my site in the hopes I can climb the top 100 favorites list, which no one really uses anyways.
  6. You do nothing to fix the long standing ping bug where anyone can ping a permalink post on a blog and have it show up as a new blog. I have to log a support ticket whenever I want to fix this.
  7. You cannot handle domain changes. It is very common for bloggers to start out on *.blogspot.com or *.wordpress.com and then eventually buy their own domain name. Every other search engine understands the 301 redirect just fine, why can’t you? This is by far your biggest limitation.

This isn’t to say you don’t have good people working for you. I’ve seen you help out friends and send them free t-shirts. I fully appreciate how difficult bloggers are to deal with, and how big of an achievement indexing that many blogs is. I appreciate all of the times you’ve gone out of your way to contact people who are having problems.

But there’s no denying that I’m having a very bad user experience with Technorati. Instead of being able to use you how I want, I’m pigeon-holed into trying to get you to display my blog properly and track the other blogs who are linking to it. All for what… a few meaningless numbers?

Technorati Rank got a lot of attention before it was replaced with Technorati Authority, but it can easily be deep-sixed. Google has bought FeedBurner and can combine the data from FeedBurner subscription counts and Google Reader. While you were busy determining authority by blog links, authority by RSS readership is going to come along and wipe you out with a metric that makes so much more sense.

So I’ve had enough of our relationship, Technorati. I know I haven’t exactly been kind to you in return (it would be polite to call me overly critical), so I think it is time for us to put this mutually destructive relationship to end. I’ve often complained that the biggest mistake a blog can make it not to own it’s own name. I’m moving on to internetducttape.com, and I know you’ll never find me. Even though I’m redirecting my little heart out, you don’t care to follow.

Sincerely,

Formerly known as Honeycakes


Over the top, but I couldn’t help it.

https://engtech.wordpress.com is now http://internetducttape.com, which means my Technorati Authority has dropped to 0. I’ve freed myself from my ball and chain and now I will focus on content and readers instead of traffic and links.

And of course, cool hacks, tricks and mash-ups of existing web services thanks to a little bit of internet duct tape.

comic: The Spider-man Alien Symbiote Costume

Posted in Harold is a Robot, Technology by engtech on May 16, 2007


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I’m sorry about the picture of the plantar’s wart.

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Lions, Tigers and Managers Oh My – The IT Animal Kingdom (by guest blogger logtar)

Posted in Humor, Programming and Software Development, Technology, Workhacks and High Tech Life by Guest Blogger on April 11, 2007

This post is by a guest blogger.

John Guzman aka logtar is a computer programmer that rants about daily life, movies and culture. He was born in Colombia and also does translation and interpretation.

Now that I have liberated myself from the last zoo I worked at, I feel that it is my duty to document the IT (Information Technology) ecosystem for those that happen to enter it. I’m intending this as a good PSA (Public Service Announcement) for all the non-IT people out there. It is no accident that I have made all of the managers predators. You may find yourself fitting one of the animal profiles.

The Eager Beaver
eager beaver shavedI think there is a little Eager Beaver in all of us when we start in a new department. This character is the one that is always coming up with new innovative ideas that, while brilliant, will never be implemented. There are many varieties of this beaver, from the one that eventually gets beat down and controlled to the one that actually tells his boss he is just stupid. And, yes, to his face… and, yes, I have seen this one in the wild. Eager Beavers know what they are doing when it comes to technology; however they spent too much time on new ideas and not enough on actual production.

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This is Harold

Posted in Harold is a Robot, Technology by engtech on April 04, 2007



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Dedicated to the 300 entry on encyclopedia dramatica and the This.Is.Meme. Unsure who did the “This is DATAAAA” image.
Harold likes to read Passive Depressive, althought he doesn’t always understand the jokes.
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 <a href="http://internetducttape.com/2007/04/04/this-is-harold/" title="Harold is a Robot #7 - This is Harold">Harold is a Robot #7 - This is Harold</a>

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How to Create LOLCats aka MemeCat aka Kittah aka Cat Macros

Posted in Humor, Technology, We Welcome Our Feline Overlord by engtech on April 01, 2007

LOLCats are pictures of cats with funny sayings on them (wikipedia page for LOLCats). On their own they aren’t so funny, but for some reason a page full of them can really get you going.

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Global Warming 2007

Posted in Harold is a Robot, Technology by engtech on March 23, 2007


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I was surprised as anyone that She’s still running Windows 2000 Server Edition.

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5 Reasons Why Blogging Is Better Than Sex (With Me)

Posted in Asides, Becoming a Better Blogger, Humor, Technology by engtech on February 16, 2007

NYC condom sexOr “Please Don’t Call the SPCA”.

  1. Reason Number One
    • Blogging: I can connect anonymously with thousands of strangers a day.
    • Sex: I can connect anonymously with thousands of strangers a day *IF* I move to New York City.
  2. Reason Number Two
    • Blogging: Technorati will show all the people who are linked to me and it doesn’t make me look like a big slut.
    • Sex: Six degrees of Paris Hilton.
  3. Reason Number Three
    • Blogging: I can get the cat involved without the horribly judging eyes of friends and strangers.
    • Sex: Fur is hard to clean.
  4. Reason Number Four
    • Blogging: Increased visibility means more page views and a larger audience.
    • Sex: Increased visibility means someone is going to call the cops.
  5. Reason Number Five
    • Blogging: Googlebot will crawl your pages quite often and share them with the world.
    • Sex: Googlebot never calls you back.

This would have been a great entry to my 5 Things contest.

According to Dilbert Creator Scott Adams 95 Percent of Men Would Have Sex With a Robot

Posted in Harold is a Robot, Technology by engtech on February 16, 2007



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95% of men would admit to having sex with a robot and 5% would lie about it.
Harold likes to read Passive Depressive, althought he doesn’t always understand the jokes.
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Link to this comic:

 <a href="http://internetducttape.com/2007/02/16/according-to-dilbert-creator-scott-adams-95-percent-of-men-would-have-sex-with-a-robot/" title="Harold is a Robot #5 - According to Dilbert Creator Scott Adams 95 Percent of Men Would Have Sex With a Robot">Harold is a Robot #5 - According to Dilbert Creator Scott Adams 95 Percent of Men Would Have Sex With a Robot</a>

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Show Your Geek Love with Code Poetry (in Perl)

Posted in Humor, Perl, Technology by engtech on February 14, 2007

Nerd Valentine Day Geek LoveI’ve seen a few posts going around the net about geek Valentine’s Day ideas. If you really want to geek out why not go back a few years and use some Perl poetry?

Reprinted without permission.

# open HEART by Eric Windisch, Feb 15, 1999

   open (HEART, ">for_me");
   for ($this-valentines-day; $you and $me; $together++) {
     $you = "My special one";
     $me = "Your darling";
   }

   %time = ($you => $me, $together => "forever");
   while ($you = push(@me, @away)) {
     foreach (@second) {
       die a_bit to my $death;
       goto hell;
     }

     pack $my_bags, @and_leave;
     package my_love;
     unless(!$i_see_you) {
       write YOU_SOON;
     }
   }

   reverse keys %time;
   bless me;
   for (last; kill $me;) {
     if ($you) {
       die;
     }
   }

# rush by Sharon Hopkins, June 26, 1991

    'love was'

      && 'love will be' if
	(I, ever-faithful),
	  do wait, patiently;

    "negative", "worldly", values disappear,

      @last, 'love triumphs';

    join (hands, checkbooks),
      pop champagne-corks,

	"live happily-ever-after".

	  "not so" ?
	    tell me: "I listen",

	      (do-not-hear);

    push (rush, hurry) && die lonely if not-careful;

    "I will wait."

      &wait

# Perl Haiku by Mike Badger

    my $Life;			#Defineing my life
    $Life=$me || $you		#A Union of Me and you
      if ($ourLove);		#if our love is true.

# Perl Haiku by Bob Meyers

    use strict; my @love;
    my $wounds = open(FLAME, "of_passion");
    foreach (<FLAME>) {
      push @love "fully";
    }

More Perl Poetry Links

Related Posts

comic: Harold Is a Robot #4 – Ode On a Silicon Yearn

Posted in Harold is a Robot, Technology by engtech on February 13, 2007



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Because motherboard doesn’t end in “oo”. Also see these tips for Valentine’s and this list of romantic movies.
Harold likes to read Passive Depressive, althought he doesn’t always understand the jokes.
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Link to this comic:

 <a href="http://internetducttape.com/2007/02/13/comic-harold-is-a-robot-4-ode-on-a-silicon-yearn/" title="Harold is a Robot #4 - Ode On a Silicon Yearn">Harold is a Robot #4 - Ode On a Silicon Yearn</a>

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How to Earn a Six Figure Income from Blogging in Two Easy Steps

Posted in Harold is a Robot, Technology by engtech on February 09, 2007



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Or if you want to do it in slightly more steps, you could visit problogger.net
Harold likes to read Passive Depressive, althought he doesn’t always understand the jokes.
Subscribe to comic: RSS, email. Subscribe to blog: RSS, email.

Link to this comic:

 <a href="http://internetducttape.com/2007/02/09/how-to-earn-a-six-figure-income-from-blogging-in-two-easy-steps/" title="Harold is a Robot #3 - How to Earn a Six Figure Income From Blogging in Two Easy Steps">Harold is a Robot #3 - How to Earn a Six Figure Income From Blogging in Two Easy Steps</a>

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 <a href="http://internetducttape.com/2007/02/09/how-to-earn-a-six-figure-income-from-blogging-in-two-easy-steps/" title="Harold is a Robot #3 - How to Earn a Six Figure Income From Blogging in Two Easy Steps"><img border="0" class="comicblogger-comic" src="https://engtech.files.wordpress.com/2007/02/harold_003__how_to_become_a_six_figure_blogger_in_two_easy_steps.png" title="Harold is a Robot #3 - How to Earn a Six Figure Income From Blogging in Two Easy Steps" alt="harold is a robot, comic, cartoon, web comic, robots wordpress, blog, blogs, blogging, problogger, career, money, income, profession, job, seo, smo, adsense"/></a><br /><a title="Harold is a Robot" href="http://internetducttape.com/tag/harold-is-a-robot">Harold is a Robot #3 - How to Earn a Six Figure Income From Blogging in Two Easy Steps</a>

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Q+A: What is your favorite online web comic?

Posted in Humor, Request for Comments, Technology by engtech on January 31, 2007

I think online web comics and blogging go hand-in-hand. I find it very interesting how people express themselves and ideas using computers as a medium.

I’ve always been a fan of comic books and cartoons (I’m still an awkward teenager at heart). Here are some of my favorite web comics.

If you have some favorites, I’d love if you’d mention it in a comment on this post, or by posting your favorites on your blog and sending a trackback (maybe this can start a meme). My interest in web comics is coming to the forefront because of my own desire to create one.

UPDATE: I decided to ask the same question on Reddit.

My Favorite Online Web Comics

Not Quite Web Comics But Still Cool

  • Drawn! isn’t really a comic, but it is a blog that showcases artists. Very inspirational.
  • Indexed is a collection of graphs on index cards. A great way to convey ideas. If you like XKCD you’ll like Indexed.
  • PostSecret is a staple of the Internet.

Recent Discoveries from Best of Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards

What web comics do you enjoy? Drop a comment or post the list on your blog.

Related Posts

External Links

comic: Harold Is a Robot #2 – Sexual Innuendo

Posted in Harold is a Robot, Technology by engtech on January 30, 2007



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If only he knew about Urban Dictionary.
Harold likes to read Passive Depressive, althought he doesn’t always understand the jokes.
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Link to this comic:

 <a href="http://internetducttape.com/2007/01/30/harold-is-a-robot-2/" title="Harold is a Robot #2 - Sexual Innuendo">Harold is a Robot #2 - Sexual Innuendo</a>

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comic: Harold Is a Robot #1 – She Sucks

Posted in Harold is a Robot, Technology by engtech on January 22, 2007



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A Roomba is a robot vaccuum cleaner.
Harold likes to read Passive Depressive, althought he doesn’t always understand the jokes.
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Link to this comic:

 <a href="http://internetducttape.com/2007/01/22/harold-is-a-robot-1-2/" title="Harold is a Robot #1 - She Sucks">Harold is a Robot #1 - She Sucks</a>

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Top 10 Resolutions That I Will Not Feel Bad About Not Keeping (2007 Edition)

Posted in Humor, Technology by engtech on January 02, 2007

Writing New Year’s Resolutions is very cathartic but a complete waste of time. It is good to take a moment to reflect on your life, especially with an eye to the detrimental or “weak” areas that need improving. But the act of writing down your resolutions gives you a false sense of accomplishment; most people never go beyond the step of creating a list.

You’re better off contributing to the Mayfly project with a summary of your year in 24 words or less.


(photo by t!nk)

I took a moment to look back a past lists I’ve made and to my chagrin I have a near zero percent success rate. Did I spend less time on the Internet, and more time on the phone? Do I spend more one-on-one time with friends? Did I learn another language? Have I moved to another city and bartended my way through Europe or Australia? I did manage to stop drinking so much, but any goal to be more “sporty/active/less nerdy” fell to the wayside.

So here are my Top 10 Resolutions That I Won’t Feel Bad About Not Keeping (2007 Edition)

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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.

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Bill Gates for President

Posted in Humor, Links, Technology by engtech on November 30, 2006

I don’t often foray into the realm of politics (I’ll leave that to Beats Entropy), but this is one I can’t turn down. Scott Adams makes some compelling points that Bill Gates would make for a fine president of the USA. Someone has even created a website: http://www.billgatesforpresident.net/

Scott makes a *very* compelling argument:

I was amazed at the reaction when I first mentioned the idea. Most of the comments were one of these.

1. I would vote for Bill Gates.
2. Bill Gates did (some evil business thing)

The fascinating thing is that even the comments about his evil-doings are FAVORABLE to the concept of Bill Gates for president. The man took one look at capitalism and beat it like a 14-year old boy with unrestricted Internet access. Bill Gates is a winner. Wouldn’t you prefer having him on your side for a change, beating the crap out of North Korea instead of Netscape?

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