Imported From Epistula internet

Wikipedia as spam validation

So I recieved an interesting piece of spam today:

Interesting, because it uses Wikipedia as a reference point. My first thought was that they had edited the Wikipedia page on their particular field to recommend their own product, which would be sneaky and more interesting. What they have actually done is used it as a real reference on the subject, which is possibly cool. Either way it wended its sneaky way though all my spam filters. Mostly because the subject line is completely accurate and not at all filterable on.

Imported From Epistula internet Metablog SubscribeMe

The RSS Problem

“All those icons” says Dave , “Where will it end?”

He then goes on to describe a system that is as overcomplicated as it is reliant on his own OPML spec. Jeremy thinks the answer lies in the browser, but that would rely on users having things installed. This is my solution:

  • User clicks on first “Subscribe to this” link.
  • User is forwarded to or something
  • User is asked which web-based aggregator they use (Or “I use my own” which will serve it as a text/xml+rss document)
  • sets a cookie with this information
  • User is forwarded to the “Subscribe to this feed” page of their selection
  • User clicks on subsequent “Subscribe to this” links
  • User is forwarded to or something
  • User is automatically forwarded to the “Subscribe” thing they selected last time.

    We store no information on the user – we just read the cookie, and maybe the front page has a link to delete the cookie – but that just means it takes nothing to serve it beyond a simple perl script.

    Remember: It should be the simplest thing that could possibly work.

    Update: So I coded it

Computer Games Imported From Epistula internet


Yeah, you wait a week for an entry and then two come along at once

I also bought Half-Life 2, because there never existed a universe where I didn’t.

The game is amazing, captivating, well constructed, well plotted and has a gun with which you can throw washing machines at your enemies.

This is Good. It means I need more memory, but hey.

Steam is less good. Steam is Valve’s media distribution technology thingy. It’s blisteringly fast, easy to use, and doesn’t get in the way.

Except, of course, when it does. You see, the technology I can live with, it’s a good example of what can be done. It’s the politics I object to. Because I object to being made to feel like a criminal, and since in order to play the game (which I bought for 32.99 in Game) I have to prove I bought the game every single time I play it by contacting the Valve Authentication servers. And what happens when the servers aren’t working? Or my net connection isn’t working? I’m SOL. Okay, Steam has an ‘offline’ mode, apparently. But without a net connection… I can’t play the game, because I don’t own my copy of the game, I’ve merely got a license for it with Valve, which they can revoke at any time they see fit with no compensation.

Oh, and I still need the CD in the drive to play it. As well as the Internet connection.

Of course, within 24 hours of Half-Life 2’s release, a version with no CD requirements and that didn’t ever talk to Valve was up on bittorrent, ed2k and Kazaa. The only reason for people who don’t care about the legalities to buy the game is because at 5 CDs it’s probably quicker to walk to your local games shop and buy it.

On the other hand, the download version doesn’t take 20 minutes “Unlocking” the files it spent the previous 20 minutes installing.

Imported From Epistula internet


I’m assuming everyone who wants a gmail invite has one by now, but in case not, I have a couple spare. Any takers?

All Gone

Imported From Epistula internet web development

How to make Firefox or Firebird use the new personalised google

Google have just released into beta testing the new ‘Personalize’ interface. From mucking around with it this evening, I have to say that it rocks, but most of the time when I’m using Google, it’s though the Search box in Firefox, so here is how to make that use Google personalisation:

  1. Download this file
  2. Save it into the searchplugins directory of your Firefox install directory.
  3. (Optional) Copy the “google.gif” file that is in the same directory to be called “google-personalisation.gif” (You don’t have to do this, but you get the google icon for it instead of the default magnifying glass)
  1. Restart Firefox

    (As far as I know, this also works with Firebird and anything else that has the Mycroft extension installed)

aqWiki Imported From Epistula internet Projects webRPG

Those who resemble spammers from a distance

So, one of my major projects at the moment is to rearrange my online existance away from Aquarionics. Aquarionics remains as it is, mostly, but all the extra things (Like PFd4, ForEver and the forthcoming projects codenamed Touchstone, Threadnaut, and Angelica to move to a whole new domain – and empire – known as will have an integrated login system – so if you have an account on one, you have an account everywhere – and with this was going to come logging in for putting comments on Aquarionics.

This was never, and will never, be a requirement to comment here, but registering – which would be beside and an alternative to the “User/Email/Webpage” would give you certian benefits, like an extended triggers interface (Recieve an XML-RPC ping,SMS Message or email whenever this range of things happens) the ability to edit your comments (With revision control) and – if the spam gets too much for me – I can always turn off URL display for non-istic users for a time without losing any actual content.

Typekey, however, I’m against for anything outside Typepad, because it appears – at first glance, so I could be wrong – to be an all or nothing. You have to register to comment. Actually, “You have to register to post comments on anything more than $foo days old” might be better, but we shall see.

Imported From Epistula internet

Tortoises running marathons in treacle

I hate dialup

that is all.

Imported From Epistula internet intertwingularity

Event Share Framework

gilmae alerted me to the fact that someone is creating an RSS 2 extension called Event Share Framework or ESF. This could be interesting.

I’ve just sent them this email:

I’ve just discovered your site, You should probably be aware that there is a syndication standard called ‘ESF’, the Epistula Syndication Format, invented at the height of the ‘RSS needs to be extended’ argument two years ago. It’s more or less obscure, but a high number of people are still generating it (Sam Ruby, for example, at and there exists a number of modules and extensions for weblogging systems to use it. The spec is at
I would – as the creator of an existing syndication standard – prefer it if your syndication standard extension did not share the name, to be honest.

aqcom Imported From Epistula internet shopping

Selling Out

Google fascinates me.

Somehow, despite gamers over the globe whining about how someone should patch Broken Sword 3, the top match for “Broken Sword 3 patch” is my review of it.

Google UK lists my Driving Test article as number four site, and the first with comments, so the article has become a mecca for people wanting to rant, rave and whine about their own experiences. Okay, so it’s hardly on par with Kottke’s Matrix thread, but it’s still interesting. Well, to me, anyway.

So, the first question is the social one. It’s a good example of how Google is fading away as the Blogs become more and more of the top matches. Sometimes that’s good, because if – for example – Mark Pilgrim’s essay on RSS becomes top match for the format, it provides a good introduction for developers trying to get to grips with the murk.

OTOH, My two year old whinging about failing my driving test due to excessive rain helps nobody.

My ‘That Which Is Relevant’ feature is somewhat circular in this regard. There are a couple of searches which I would not be highly matched for if I hadn’t been a low match last month, printed the exact phrase (as ‘incoming search for’) which Google then indexed on. My solution to this has been to only display searches that have lead here more than three times as of today.

So where’s the selling out? Well, I kind of feel guilty that people searching for driving lesson tips are being led here under false pretences, so I’d like to provide some more relevant links. So, I’m now supplying Google Adsense adverts on any articles/entries over three months old (The age thing is basically because anything recent should *be* relevant somehow, and I’m not really looking to make real money out of this (though it would be nice) and displaying adverts on new entries seems over-commercial).

This is mostly a trial balloon, really. If it works, it’ll stay. If I get accused of being a money-grabbing commercial git, I’ll probably try to rejustify it.

Accessibility Design Imported From Epistula internet windows

Reasons IE Sucks chipmonks though chainlink fencing, Number 11 in a series of infinity

Given this URL:[and]_Suzi’s_New_Year_2003

IE does the following:’s_New_Year_2003

Now, I realise the escaping error in the generated URL was my own stupid fault, but the fact that IE automatically reverses any backslashes in a URL – to retain compatibility with Windows’ broken directory seperator – is interesting. It means, for example, we can do this:

@import url(”/assets/cssspecial-ie-stylesheet.css”);

and IE will load it (It will try to “fix” the broken backslash) where Gecko/KHTML will attempt to load a file called “cssspecial-ie-stylesheet.css” in the assets directory is interesting. New browser-hack?

This isn’t news, really. When the first version of the new, all accessible RNIB site went live (And I ranted about it) some of the links contained backslashes, and thus broke for Mozilla, and it’s still annoying, but it might be useful.

What would be really interesting would be combining this with an IIS server. Does the server resolve it as the right path on the system (The Windows one) or as the RFC 2068 compliant one?

My solution, by the way, was to rename the album to “New Years 2003” and leave the escaping problem until I’ve got time to fix it properly.