Archive for category Meta

Date: September 6th, 2009
Cate: Meta
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Needful Upgradation

In celebration of upgrading to the very latest and guaranteed secure (at least for the next 5 minutes or so) version of Wordpress, here is a picture of the evilest doll at the Shelburne Museum:

Date: March 15th, 2006
Cate: Meta
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What I’ve been up to

old and busted:


Date: October 8th, 2005
Cate: Meta
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Starting with this perfectly good theme, headed downwards to THE BADLY DESIGNED FUTURE!!!!

Update: I hereby declare this done enough, for now.

Date: August 23rd, 2005
Cate: Meta
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Things look a little different? This is the very latest version of Wordpress, and it’s going to take me a little while to A) bring the old style over or maybe 2) come up with a TOTALLY NEW RAD LOOK FOR THE YEAR 2K5!!!!

Also I’m very sorry for spamming your RSS readers with my stupid new ever-so-slightly-different “perma”links. That is if whatever URL you were using for the feed even still works.

Date: July 22nd, 2005
Cate: Meta
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Comments fixed (sorry)

Somehow about 10 days ago something happened that broke commenting completely. It’s fixed now. I’m sorry if you tried to post something since then and were blocked.

Now I get to go through the 5237 (not kidding!) comments made since then and see which ones were real and reinstate them. Recently I’ve been getting .6% real comments, so there may be around 20 real ones buried in there.

Date: May 25th, 2005
Cate: Meta
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Yay! links!

Look over on the right. Just below the “recent comments”. See it? The thing that says “links:”? Those are my 10 latest links, which were trivial to add, thanks to this wonderful plugin.

Update: The “display extended description” feature of that plugin is bugged. Here’s the fix. Just add these two lines to the beginning of the _delicious_startelem function:

global $_display_tags;
global $_display_extended;
Date: April 25th, 2005
Cate: Meta
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Wired, Tired, Expired

Wired Couples who communicate through weblog comments
Tired Couples who communicate through IM
Expired Couples who communicate through cell phones

Date: February 1st, 2005
Cate: Meta
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Objective comparison of Google, Yahoo, and MSN search

As of today, on Google I’m the 89th Steve. On Yahoo I’m the 81st Steve. On MSN I’m the 15th Steve.

Conclusion: MSN is the best search engine! Yahoo comes in second, and Google is the worst.

Date: January 22nd, 2005
Cate: Meta
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Fixed the category pages, fixed the word of the day archive, fixed the word of the day quiz (try it! it’s fun!), removed some non-working links from the sidebar.

I also found this 2004 todo list. How did I do?

  • Get Master’s degree – DONE!
  • Go on big huge vacation – DONE!
  • Upgrade to WP1.0 – DONE! – even better, I’m at 1.2!
  • Enhance word of the day – not done.
  • Spam filtering – not done. Back on b2 I had a Bayesian spam filter which was working really well. When I upgraded to WP, it seemed I didn’t need it since the built in spam filtering was so good. That only lasted a few months. I’m told that WP1.5 has recalibrated the deflector harmonics or whatever to completely defeat current-generation spambots. We’ll see.
  • Feed on Feeds – release 0.2 – not done, I’m only at 0.1.9. But, I’ve released all sorts of features I hadn’t even thought of back then, like Atom, I18N, CSS and frames, and better SSL and HTTP authentication support.
Date: January 19th, 2005
Cate: Meta
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A refinement to rel=”nofollow”

I’ve implemented a refinement to rel=”nofollow” that strikes a balance between denying any benefit to spammers, and penalizing legitimate comment posters.

If you post a comment to this site, and include an author URL, or any URLs in your comment body, they will have rel=”nofollow” slapped on them. But, after 10 days, rel=”nofollow” will come off and Google (or whoever) will follow your links and calculate rank appropriately. For the first 10 days, your comment is in a sort of probation.

The theory here is that I maintain this site fairly well, and although some comment spam does make it through the filters and appear on the site, I always delete it. I usually delete it the same day, so 10 days gives me plenty of time to take care of it before the spammer would begin to see any benefit.

The obvious next refinement would be a dead man’s switch, so that if for some reason I’m unable to come around and prune back the spam for more than 10 days, the rel=”nofollow” is applied universally as a fail-safe.

Date: January 18th, 2005
Cate: Meta
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Rumors on the Internets

The rumor was true!

Date: January 17th, 2005
Cate: Meta
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A very interesting rumor, apropos to my previous post. Implemented. Die, spammers, die.

Somebody should do a plugin for this. I don’t have time right now.

Date: January 17th, 2005
Cate: Meta
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Texas Hold ‘Em

Texas Hold ‘Em is a very popular variety of Poker. I mention this only because I had a half-baked idea about comment spam offense.

Texas Hold ‘Em is one of the topics I get the highest volume of comment spam on. Spammers spray weblogs with comments including links to their own Texas Hold ‘Em sites, hoping to boost those sites in the rankings at search engines. Then they make money when people click through from searches to those sites. Often their sites are completely useless and simply redirect to other sites, or to nowhere, or are just full of ads but with no real information.

So I thought: why not hit them where it hurts? If I post a story titled “Texas Hold ‘Em”, with links to legitimate resources, that story will probably rise fairly far in the rankings, pushing their sites down. Also, my links to legitamate Hold ‘Em resources will help push their rankings up, also pushing the spammer sites down. And it will help people who are searching for information: it will make them a little more likely to end up at a “real” result, and less likely to end up at some bogus useless site propped up only by spammed links.

What if I did this for all frequenly spammed topics? And,what if lots of people with weblogs did this? Would it result in a world where a search for “debt consolidation” resulted in tons relevant hits to good advice and genuine, not-for-profit services, instead of page after page of “”? And would comment spammers realize this, and understand that every weblogger they annoy may become another crusader in the new info wars, redirecting more traffic with one well-resarched post than they can with months and years of mindless spamming?

Probably not. But I did say the idea was half-baked.

Date: October 30th, 2004
Cate: Meta
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3750 new items

My feed reader has collected 3750 new items over the past two weeks. When I try to display them all, I see this:

Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 8388608 bytes exhausted

Maybe it’s trying to tell me something.

Date: October 16th, 2004
Cate: Meta
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We are in Beijing! Flight was fine, hotel is fine, the internet exists and works! Jenny forgot her batteries! IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?

More as it develops….

Date: October 15th, 2004
Cate: Meta
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北京 – 西安 – 桂林 – 上海 -周庄 – 蘇州 – 無錫

We’re off! Updates from China? Who knows? Word of the day is on vacation, but there might be a few pictures if I have time and access. Otherwise, see you in two weeks!

And spammers, I won’t be around to delete your comments, so please save them for when I’m back.

Date: October 10th, 2004
Cate: Meta
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Vota Minutillo!

New! and

Date: September 25th, 2004
Cate: Meta
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Impossible-grade service

Rememeber my iBook災難? Here’s a timeline of what happened with that:

Friday: Problem occurred.

Saturday: Called Apple. Described problem. Hesitantly suggested that it might be the iBook logic board issue. They instantly agreed! They didn’t even ask me to try to reinstall Windows or anything. They said they’d ship me a box, which I’d use to return the computer, then they’d fix it in about 14 days and ship it back, unless they have to wait for parts. Entire call took about 10 minutes.

Monday: Box shipped, just like he said.

Tuesday: Box arrived! Put computer in box. Called shipping company. Left computer in box in door.

Wednesday: Shipper picked up box.

Thursday: Computer arrived at Apple. Problem replicated. Entered repair. Completed repair. Entered testing. Completed testing! Repair complete! Computer shipped back to me? Is that right?

Friday: Indeed, computer arrived back home, was found to be in good working order, and as a bonus, they even replaced the case, which had a small crack!

Total cost to me: $FREE.

Date: August 23rd, 2004
Cate: Meta
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Spam-buster rewired by spammers to become spam-buster-buster

I just deleted a spam comment where the spammy words (the name of a drug and links to sites where you can buy it) had some of the characters encoded as entities, to foil simple keyword-based spam filters.

It’s funny because this exact technique has been used as a counter-measure to spam for quite some time to “safely” publish email addresses, on the theory that an automated email address harvester won’t be smart enough to resolve the entities.

(sounds like the same guy hit Dougal’s site too)

Date: August 19th, 2004
Cate: Meta
7 msgs

jwz is blog-stalking me

I have determined that jwz, ex-hacker and now seller of beer, is stalking me, by posting things to his weblog that are eerily, alarmingly, intimidatingly similar to things I’ve posted on mine. The best advice on dealing with stalkers available says to keep a record of every incident, in detail, and to notify everybody you can, so I submit this evidence:

THE FIRST INCIDENT occured all the way back on January 5th, 2003. A week earlier, I posted this story, titled “I’d cry too”. Then on that day, jwz posted the same thing, except his was titled “you’d cry too”. Secret message? No, that’s ridiculous. It must be a simple, if unnerving, coincidence.

THE SECOND INCIDENT occured on August 16th, 2003. The day before I posted a story about radioactive wasps. I mentioned that “I, for one, welcome our new RADIOACTIVE WASP MASTERS”, and made a comment that jwz must be busy because he hadn’t posted it yet (by this time I had already noticed the stalking but was trying to laugh it off). Within 12 hours, my suspicions were confirmed, with a post by jwz called “yes yes, our new nuclear wasp masters, etc etc…”. I knew it.

THE THIRD INCIDENT occured on October 13th, 2003. My sumo-robot post. His sumo-robot post. Same image. Chilling! (note that my post came first: I post in EST, he in PST)

THE FOURTH INCIDENT occured on March 4th, 2004. My combat exoskeleton post, his combat exoskeleton post. Same story, same picture, AGAIN. The stalking had now entered its second year.

THE FIFTH INCIDENT occured on April 7th, 2004. My jewel-eye post, his jewel-eye post. My mind is still saying “just a coincidence, just a coincidence” but my gut is saying “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE”.

THE SIXTH INCIDENT occured on June 16th, 2004. My nine million angry bees post, the next day his nine million angry bees post, with the EXACT SAME LINK TEXT and EXACT SAME CHOICE OF BLOCKQUOTE!!!! It gets worse…

THE SEVENTH INCIDENT occured on July 19th, 2004. Four months earlier, I had found a gallery of photos of Japanese kids in Harajuku. Nothing happened until July, then to my horror jwz blogged it too. Nothing to worry about? That photo gallery, now shut down, contained hundreds of photos. How can you explain the fact that jwz chose two of the EXACT SAME PICTURES TO POST AS I? On that day, I seriously considered shutting down my weblog and going into hiding. It was especially ominous because I had just returned from San Francisco, where he lives. Was this his message to me? “I’ve been watching you…”

THE EIGHTH INCIDENT, and hopefully the final one, occured yesterday. My CirculaFloor post, his CirculaFloor post. Same picture. I’m really not even surprised any more. My fear has turned into a steadfast resolve.

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this is no coincidence, it MUST be intentional, and I think you can feel the malicious intention just as I can. So what’s a good way to deal with a stalker? Confront him in public, in his own space, turning the tables? jwz thought of that, a long time ago, disabling “anonymous” (non-LJ clique) comments on his site.

So instead, I have to post here, and call on my fellow bloggers to stand with me and say “jwz! The interweb does not tolerate your macho head-games. THIS WILL NOT STAND!!”

Date: July 15th, 2004
Cate: Meta
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1. Did you notice the subtle change? Look at the right, under “Recent Comments”, there’s a new section (sometimes), “Comments on Older Stories”. Certain stories I’ve posted a long time ago have taken on a life of their own, and attract a constant stream of comments that some highly influential readers of this site find somewhat uninteresting. The 183rd “KeiicHi! You rule!” comment arguably doesn’t need to be published right on the front page, so instead they’ve been relegated to the “Comments on Older Stories” section, which is hidden until you click it open. Currently, “Older Stories” means all the Mario-music related stories, and the one on Rekkaturvat. Todo: make it remember when you’ve opened that section, and allow you to click it closed again.

2. Remember how voting for Bush and extreme stupidity were highly correlated? Except they actually weren’t, the data was sourceless and probably made up? Well it turns out that it actually is true that voting for Bush and being extremely uneducated actually is highly correlated, according to the U.S. census.

3. All you people who responded to my plea to send in your feeds that break FoF: Thanks! I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ve still got all those links, and will check them out next time I work on FoF. I think you probably all already understand that I work on FoF only in my spare time, but I will get to it eventually.

4. Yes, I did finally go and watch the new Mario piano video. Yes, it rules!

5. I posted a somewhat funny anecdote from JavaOne at There’s actually lots more funny/interesting/mind bending (to a mega-geek) things like that from the conference, maybe I’ll post them one day. For example: Can you understand what this class declaration means, and why? It’s how Enum, the base class of all enumerated types, is declared:

class Enum<E extends Enum<E>>

There are some pictures from San Francisco and JavaOne available, at Ofoto.

6. PHP 5.0 is out. I have no idea if FoF works with it!

Date: June 27th, 2004
Cate: Meta
1 msg

Live from San Francisco!

With packets flying at an eye-popping TWENTY EIGHT THOUSAND BITS PER SECOND! Plane ride was fine, van to the hotel was fine, hotel is fine, internet connection… at least it works. For today, we’ll explore, apparently there’s some sort of parade right outside our hotel, try to find something fun for dinner. Tomorrow, Java.

Date: June 20th, 2004
Cate: Meta
3 msgs

Spam buster buster buster needed

This attack is not only theoretical. I just deleted a comment that was a verbatim copy of a previous comment, but with the links replaced with links to spam sites.

Date: May 22nd, 2004
Cate: Meta
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I’ve upgraded to WordPress! Expect breakage, and assume it’s all my fault! Migrating two years of b2 hacks isn’t that easy. Well, the migrating is easy, thanks to the new plugin system, it’s just that remembering where all the hacks are is a bit difficult.

Just now I’ve thrown the big switch to put WP into production, and I think all the major stuff is working. I’ve got a kung fu movie to watch, then I’ll come back and fix the rest.

Date: November 29th, 2003
Cate: Meta
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Happy Birthday!

Messy-78 is one year old! Happy birthday!

Let’s review my plan for this weblog:

1) post stuff
2) ???
3) world domination

I’m pretty sure I’m still at step 1. But I think progress is being made.

I do feel really bad that I don’t have a present for Messy-78. I had meant to get it something really good, something every weblog wants: Bayesian comment spam filtering. But I ran out of time! I hope it will accept a belated present…

Date: July 14th, 2003
Cate: Meta
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messy-78 hits the big time

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer today on the disappearance of the weblogger:

What happened? Just as we were getting to know him — and even like him — Ted disappeared from our lives, without so much as an explanation, or a farewell post. We feel so … empty.

Hey, wait a second! We don’t even know Ted’s last name. Come to think of it, he deftly avoided giving his e-mail address, instead offering a feedback form and explaining that he didn’t want to attract spam. And his posts seemed almost too real. As a different weblogger who noticed Ted’s weblog observed, the tone of his writing was “not 100% human.”

Me, two weeks ago, on the weblogger:

I wonder how long this will keep going? The tone of “Ted”’s writing is not 100% human, but it’s still interesting to me for the technical details. So far I learned that they use Perl and Mason.

Date: June 15th, 2003
Cate: Meta
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<TV Announcer>
  If you only see one episode of Chinese Word of the Day this year, SEE TONIGHT’S.
</TV Announcer>

It turns out that whoever is in charge of naming numbers in Chinese has a good sense of humor. What we call Ten Vigintillion (1064) they call “INCONCEIVABLE”. And there’s more!

Now that I have the ultimate table of Ridiculously Large Chinese Numbers, my next research project: Exceedingly Small Chinese Numbers. I wonder if they have equally ingenious names for one quadrillionth, or a picosecond?

Date: June 13th, 2003
Cate: Meta
3 msgs

Power laws

According to the NITLE Weblog Census, my site has 18 incoming links (roughly agrees with Technorati). That puts me in the 97th percentile of well linked weblogs.

A weblog like Homer vs. Kidd, with 2 links, is in the 75th percentile. About half of all weblogs counted by the census have no incoming links, and another 25% have one.

The highest you can get is a weblog like dive into mark or Where is Raed ? which are both in the 99.99th percentile. It’s all part of this power law stuff.

Date: June 1st, 2003
Cate: Meta
1 msg


My influence is worldwide.

Date: May 28th, 2003
Cate: Meta
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My URLs are now cool

For instance, the URL of this post is

Which, in case you are wondering, is much cooler than what it used to be, which was

Archive and category URLs are similarly upgraded. Of course, the old URLs will continue to work.

Fellow cafeloggers may wonder how I did it. Short answer: mod_rewrite and a few well placed b2 hacks. Long answer: View the source! That’s what it’s there for. Start with .htaccess.

Date: May 23rd, 2003
Cate: Meta
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Danger! One of you may have a worm!

I just got a copy of W32.Sobig.B@mm (an email from, with a .pif file as an attachment) in my mailbox. That means somebody who has my email address on their computer somewhere is infected. IT MAY BE YOU. The above link should tell you how to check yourself out and clean it if you have it.

UPDATE: I checked the headers on the message, if I’m reading them right, the worm came from a computer in Korea, at the “KORNET” ISP. (The address is in the range – I don’t want to give the exact address because the computer may be vulnerable now that it is infected.)

Date: May 23rd, 2003
Cate: Meta
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Disturbing search requests

One favorite pastime of webloggers is to talk about the horrible search keywords people use to find their sites. Today somebody found my site with a search that is absolutely CHILLING:


There is no information about how to do that here, nor will there ever be. Sickos.

Date: May 11th, 2003
Cate: Meta
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The Zeitgeist is now updated daily.

Date: April 18th, 2003
Cate: Meta
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OK, it’s done. I’ve got a new design, which looks about the same as the old one, but is more consistent among different browsers. And, I’ve got a new name. I’m no longer “Steve Minutillo :: weblog”, instead I’m “messy-78″. I’m trying on the new name to see how it fits. Why? Why? Why?

There’s still a few annoying problems with the new design. I don’t feel like fixing the PHP code so it doesn’t put an <hr> before the first date, so I just cause it not to be displayed with the magic incantation HR:first-child { display: none; } Everywhere except IE/Win, that is. It doesn’t support first-child or adjacent style CSS selectors.

Also IE5/Mac (somehow I thought it was 5½ but it’s actually 5.22) is showing a horizontal scrollbar, for no scrutable reason. I think in the history of my site there is only one person to ever show up with that ridiculous browser and he’s me and I only did it as a test. What self respecting Mac type person isn’t running either Mozilla or Safari in this day and age?

Finally I’m facing the “CSS doesn’t let you make two columns that are the same height” problem. I want the yellow and coral-y colors to go all the way to the bottom of the browser window, no matter which column has more content. Back in the good old days we’d just use a <table> and probably even a bunch of 1px transparent GIFs. That’s the way it was, and we liked it. We LOVED it! I tell you, when we first did the liquid-stretchy new layout for Outpost it was chock full of tables and spacers and crazy secret techniques of hiding <form>s in between <tr>s so they wouldn’t break up the display. It was invalid to the very core, but it worked.

But not any more, oh no, <table>s are bad now. Valid markup is “cool”. So guess what, I used an onLoad JavaScript to peek and poke values into the DOM, to force the main content area to be at least as tall as the right column! (if the main content area is longer, it doesn’t matter, because the page background color is secretly that coral-y color.) Anyway. Not a particularly satisfying solution.

I keep trying to find other sites that maybe have solved it: a.whole just uses a <table>. a.swartz uses the incredibly dodgy display: table CSS style. a.ponderful looks like it might have the problem licked, until you see a page where the content is longer than the sidebar. Boom.

Enough raving. I’ve still got to do word of the day. So let me know if you see any anomalies. By the way, I’ve turned the style off completely for 4.0 grade browsers, so don’t be surprised if you get time-warped back to 1991.

Next project: Something that actually matters. Cool URIs.

Date: April 12th, 2003
Cate: Meta
Comments Off Zeitgeist

Here’s a way of visualizing the searches people use to find The Zeitgeist. Bigger words means more searches. Color is just for decoration.

I got the code for that at Everything Burns, which has lead me to a whole genus of new, strange, and interesting weblogs.

Date: April 7th, 2003
Cate: Meta
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More on the Register story…

The other webloggers featured in the story are starting to post about it:

A Life Less Interesting
The Worst Weblog Ever
Darn Tootin’
Right Thoughts

Date: April 6th, 2003
Cate: Meta
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Does this count for my 15 minutes?

New Haven Register: Dear Digital Diary

Scroll down almost to the end, and what do you find?

Stephen Minutillo of Hamden, at, blogs about everything from video games to favorite restaurants in Taipei.