Archive for the 'blather' Category


translating RSS

Thursday, June 13th, 2002

Jenny asks

my next question is how do we get on-the-fly translation into news aggregators, but I’m sure we’re a ways off from that.

Not that far off at all! I wrote Jenny an RSS cleanser in PHP recently, and it took me about 20 minutes tonight to add translation to it. I’ve showed it to Jenny but won’t post it here because (a) it really burdens the translation service and (b) for some reason accented characters in the description break the RSS feed, even if I use their html entity equivalents.


Translating on the fly

Wednesday, June 12th, 2002

My BlogChat partner Tim points me to a discussion from Jenny about realtime translation.

I’ve been playing with realtime translation with BlogChat. I’m at a pretty early proof-of-concept stage, but have used it to good effect already. Here’s a capture of a session:

It’s simple to use and quite fast. I’ve got a whole bunch of ideas of how to build a useful translating chat. Time to leap into the conversation, I guess!


Ceci n’est pas un Lundi

Tuesday, June 11th, 2002

Michael O’Connor Clarke comments on Price-WaterHouse-Coopers Consulting’s new branding initiative. I was hard pressed from the feel of the site to know the product is consulting. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a new deodorant or a breakfast power shake.

Their advertising campaign says this to me:

We will help you spend tons of money to come up with airy-fairy vacuous mission-statement shite that helps you condescend to your customers. We’ll build you a company website like ours using Lotus Notes, requiring craploads of consulting to keep it going. Our sales guys will be golfing with your CFO while you lay off staff to afford our rates to support our hoity-toity ad campaign.


JSRS 2.1 released

Monday, June 10th, 2002

Now that Mozilla 1.0 is out, I finally made JSRS work with POST for Mozilla. Some changes broke it around version 0.92, so I’ve been waiting for 1.0 so I know it’s safe to fix it without having to revisit it.

It turned out was a pretty simple change to jsrsClient.js – in an iframe, the document is now known as iframe.contentDocument instead of iframe.document as it was before.

I managed to find the problem with the really neat Venkman ECMAScript debugger and the object browser built into Mozilla. I’ve generally found Mozilla 1.0 to be really fast, slick, very nice to work with.

Of course, the very second I say that I find an issue where I can’t insert a URL in the Movable Type 1.4 blog entry page using Mozilla. The button does nothing. Also, the text box doesn’t wrap. Damn. Maybe it’s fixed in MT2.0. Well, I’m still pretty happy with it anyhow.


Who was that masked man?

Monday, June 10th, 2002

The Wireless Bandit stalks Toronto and environs, finding free and/or open 802.11 feeds, documenting and mapping them for the benefit of all.

Hi-ho Itanium and awayyyy!!

…and I never got a chance to thank him!


My expanding family universe

Monday, June 10th, 2002

The story so far in summary: I was adopted at birth in 1961. While in search of some essential medical history, I met each of my birth parents for the first time in 2000. Since then I’ve met a number of half-siblings on both sides, and quite a few aunts and uncles and cousins.

Recently I met a half-brother. He’s a talented musician in a popular local band about to release their first CD to undoubtedly rave reviews. That leaves one half-sister yet to meet and I’ll have met everyone – 6 half siblings all told, ranging from 22 to 40 years old, from Toronto to Los Angeles.

What an enriching experience. Until I had my own children, I had never had any particular interest in knowing my birth family history. It wasn’t until we were compelled to make the search that I really put a lot of thought into it at all. However, it has been very rewarding on the whole, the timing has been good, and I wouldn’t want to have missed out on it.

We hosted a party at our house on the weekend with 40 or 50 guests from my birth father’s family. It was a real knees-up affair with barbeque, sing-alongs, lots of children, filled with a fantastic level of warmth and familiarity.

It’s all a pretty convoluted set of relationships for the adults to comprehend, but the children see right through it – more attention, more kids to play with, more family – what’s so complex?


Woohoo! One Point Oh!

Wednesday, June 5th, 2002

Hey kids, wash up, dinner’s ready! And we’re having Mozilla 1.0!! Get it while it’s hot!

Mind you, good luck downloading it anytime soon. Musta been a whackload of diehard Mozilla nerds camped out just outside the router waiting for the download gates to open. Wristband policy in effect. Maybe I’ll wait for the video.


The Joys of SSH

Monday, June 3rd, 2002

I’ve been using openSSH (Secure Shell) a lot lately – it’s definitely my Tool Of The Year this year.

Of course, SSH provides a commandline interface to your machine just like telnet, but with certificate-based security. That in itself would be great, but SSH’s ability to do secure tunneling, port and X11 forwarding and secure copying make it a veritable swiss-army-knife in your utility toolkit.

My home network is connected to the net via cable modem. I have a perl script that monitors my external ip address and notifies Zoneedit‘s DNS servers if it changes, providing me with dynamic dns. This allows me to get into my network. I don’t want to provide open access to my network though, so I firewall off everything except one obscure port. On that port I expose the sshd secure shell daemon running on my linux box.

Wherever I am on the net, I can connect to my linux box with ssh (usually with the Windows ssh client, PuTTY) and get a shell prompt. (I keep downloadable copies of PuTTY.exe and vncviewer.exe available to me on my public server for quick access – they’re pretty small downloads with no installation or dependencies).

If I want to connect to any of my home machines via VNC or HTTP or whatever, all I have to do is specify a port on the workstation I’m on and have PuTTY forward that port through the ssh tunnel and out to a port at the other end, either on the terminating linux box, or forwarded to any machine it can reach. I fire up VNC, point it to localhost with the right port number, and PuTTY and sshd take care of the rest.

If I like, I can keep this static PuTTY/sshd tunnel going, and then go to another machine on this remote network, connect to the local port on the PuTTY machine and have it forwarded securely through the tunnel and out to a different remote machine on my home network. The mind boggles.

Say I’m running KDE under Mandrake Linux on my laptop and shelling around on my linux box via ssh – if I run Konqueror, it starts up on the home linux box as a kde program, and throws its X11 display to my laptop across the tunnel. On my laptop, the konqueror window opens, but I’m browsing the home machine remotely!

If I want to connect to my the hosting company that hosts blogchat and send a bunch of files back and forth in a secure manner (as opposed to FTP for instance), I can use SCP (secure copy) or WinSCP, both of which talk to sshd on the remote end to do entirely secure copying between machines.

Tim was consulting at a client a couple of weeks ago and found he couldn’t access some things at nonstandard ports. So, he SSH’d to an intermediate point out on the net where he had permissions, and set up a tunnel via there to the services he wanted to consume.

I have a client whose two computers I can only reach from my home due to a firewall rule. From elsewhere, I ssh to my home, and then from that commandline, ssh into the client. I can actually set up doubly-redirected ports through the mess of tunnels if I want. Powerful stuff.

I was at a client last week where we were inside their network but needing to test their application from the outside to test PIX and RADIUS authentication. I grabbed PuTTY and vncviewer.exe, shelled home and started two vnc sessions, one on my linux box and one on the Win2k box, ran 4 different browser versions and used tcpdump and windump to sniff the traffic – all through the one ssh tunnel.

It’s been a long time since I’ve run across something so indispensable.