Thu, 07 Oct 2021

Minor Migration

big mushrooms

I moved this blog from a virtual host running an unmaintainbly old version of the now deprecated CentOS to a hopefully maintainable Ubuntu installation. I still haven’t figured out what to do about pyblosxom’s Python 2 problem, but I’m looking into it.

If anything seems broken, tag me on Twitter (@ffg)

:: 14:11
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

Fri, 02 Oct 2015

Dumb Placeholder Entry

Sometimes you have to do something dumb because software is being a butt. This has been one of those times.

:: 10:15
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 21 Apr 2014

No More Comments Feed

Comment Feed gone

Well, that was nice. Because of the CMS switch, I can no longer generate a feed of comments (which doesn’t really matter much; I don’t think anyone was using it.) I’m happy to see that telling FeedBurner to redirect it to the source feed, then telling httpd to return “410: Gone” does exactly what I was hoping it would do, at least in NetNewsWire.

This is all I had to do in my httpd.conf:

Redirect gone /ffg/index.commentfeed

:: 21:37
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (1)

Sat, 19 Apr 2014

Transitioning From Blosxom to PyBlosxom


I’ve changed the software that serves this weblog. If I’ve done my job right, most readers won’t notice much of a difference.

read more after the break...

:: 08:45
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sun, 03 Nov 2013

Coffee-Explicated Sidebar Item

Because my caffeine rush is hitting, and because this is my blog, and I can bore the shit out of whomever I want, I thought I’d do a short (but probably still eye-glazing) explanation of how I populate a small area of my blog’s left sidebar.

Rolling Top 10 Sidebar snapshot

TL;DR: I grab XML from a few times a day and render the HTML statically into the sidebar.

read more after the break...

:: 10:07
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (1)

Sun, 29 Sep 2013

Blog Tag Meta Whatever Question


Some of my posts have tags, and I actually started applying them a long time ago (long before the Great Hiatus, even.) Way back when, I think they pointed to Technorati, which ought to give you an idea of how long I’ve been doing it. Then they pointed to Delicious. Considering both of those sites are basically undead, I figure I ought to point them somewhere else. Linking them to Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ searches doesn’t feel quite right either, though. All of those sites “silo” their searches. The world seems to have settled on hashtagging, so I’m formatting the tags that way, now.

Are there any general purpose search engines (or heck, even somewhat user-friendly SemWeb engines) that make use of hashtags in a less, well, selfish fashion?

:: 11:07
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 16 Sep 2013

Sorta Linkblogging

Social linkdanceEven before Google took Ol' Yeller out back and put him down, they killed one of the most useful features, shared items. They were a nice way of sharing links among your social group, without the pressure of coming up with anything pithy to say, and without cluttering up your Twitter feed or Facebook stream. I have my Pinboard feed, of course, but those links are more for me than anyone else.

I realize that what I'm missing now is a way to share links with the vanishingly small number of people who might give a crap about them, without burying my aunts and coworkers with stuff they don't care about. This is where having a blog again comes in handy. The only people running feed aggregators these days are committed web geeks. It's a problem that solves itself.

This is a windy/wordy way of saying I'm going to start linkblogging here again. If you care, you can subscribe to a substream of them (Blosxom, rocking again!) at

:: 11:02
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sun, 08 Sep 2013

Blogging’s Not Dead, It Just Smells Funny

Even before I let this blog be down for an entire year, I'd pretty much stopped writing in it completely. I was trying to figure out why that happened -- early on, I was writing, or at least linking, stuff pretty much every day. So I looked back at the old entries, and a lot of them were one-liners, posts of pictures (my own or ones found on the net), quick links.

Looking at other people's blogs, I notice the same thing. It's no great mystery, then. When I have a quick thought, it ends up on Twitter. If I see a silly pic, I post it on mlkshk. If I take "better" pictures, they get posted on Flickr. Collections of links go to Pinboard. Stuff that doesn't really fit elsewhere goes on Google+.

It's not perfect, though. Anything you post at a place you don't own isn't really yours (I'm thinking of all the stuff I posted on Delicious, Posterous, LiveJournal -- stuff that, if it even exists anymore, is in a form where it doesn't do me any good.)

I'm not promising I'm going to suddenly start blogging again like it's 2002. I'm just saying, well, having your own place is nice.

:: 16:54
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sat, 07 Sep 2013

My Blogfriend’s Back and You’re Gonna Be In Trouble

After almost exactly a year of downtime, I finally got a real (small) webhost and stood my blog up again.

For its entire previous existence, this blog lived on whatever desktop Mac I happened to own at the time. In retrospect, I think I just did it to prove, yes, Macs are actual Unix machines (see, real servers), but, of course, using your desktop machine as a live webserver is really an unnecessary pain in the ass.

Moving it over to an actual webhost was really, really simple: less than 3 hours of work from creating the VM to a fully functioning blog, and that includes the time I spent trying to find the right backup and rsyncing a bunch of crap around. For abandonware, Blosxom is still a pretty robust bit of software.

I’m sure there’s some broken stuff (most of work was weaving a scary web of symlinks so as to avoid having to edit old entries), so if you see anything obviously borked please leave a comment.

I may even start writing again. The past 18 months of my life have been ridiculously eventful.

:: 22:32
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sat, 07 Jul 2012

The Style Switcher is Gone

It was buggy, and I didn’t have any evidence anyone was using it, so it’s the dark theme or bust. If you’re really attached to the old white theme, I’ll bring it back, but I’ve shaved enough yaks for one morning so I’m turning it off for now.

:: 08:08
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

Fri, 25 Feb 2011

Sorry About Being Off The Air

Warts n' Lice

Hardware problems, the usual, whatever.

I haven’t actually tested it externally, but dynamic page generation should be much, much faster. It still doesn’t get around the problem of me not ever really writing anything, but “Small moves, Ellie. Small moves.”

:: 12:01
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sat, 14 Aug 2010

New Visual Reblog:

Screenshot of miniblog

I have a new miniblog for linking to linking to visual stuff, silliness, and random crap. I have a couple of weeks worth of content(?) there already. I finally got around to doing this because Pulse makes it pretty much effortless. If you have an iPad, it’s one of the first things I’d recommend you install.

Actual writing, of course (whenever that happens) will still live here.

:: 10:58
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 09 Feb 2009

Location Services and Stuff

Chris added location stuff to his blog and blamed me. :) His solution was a little more technically involved than mine— he used an actual framework, where I just parse a feed into its constituent atoms (pun intended.)

(Disclaimer: as Chris argues, and I fully agree, I’m not worried about the privacy implications of the service— my stored location is only updated when I choose it to be, and I completely control the update frequency and geo-resolution of the updates)

I signed up for Yahoo’s Fire Eagle long ago, back before I even had an idea of what it could be good for. I liked the architectural purity of putting location data in one place and permitting apps to use it, as long as I could opt-in / opt-out at will. Rather than updating several “silos” with location data, Fire Eagle provides a location store and a defined API for apps to fetch it. Fire Eagle looked like it would be fun to play around with, but I didn’t do anything at all with it for a few months:

  1. I didn’t have a handy way to update my location,
  2. Even if I did go through the trouble of doing so, there weren’t any turnkey ways to get the data back out and do anything useful fun with it.

A few months ago, that changed. I signed up with Brightkite during their closed beta. Brightkite is a social network that lets users leave 140-character updates, photos, etc. (sound familiar?) but with one killer extra feature— every update has a geographical component. Optionally, you can just use it to “check in” at locations. When you do so, your Brightkite location gets updated, and if you “connect the dots” so does your Fire Eagle store. They’ve got a very nice mobile site and an even better iPhone app.

A guy named Richard Metzler wrote a mashup-enabler called Eaglefeed that talks to the Fire Eagle service and provides location data in several easy to digest forms: namely, Atom, JSON, and GIF. I julienne the Atom feed with the feed parser and plop the peelings into the left sidebar of the blog along with a PNG version of the map graphic. Like almost everything else in the sidebars, I display the location info statically, refreshing it once an hour— since I generate my blog pages dynamically, making the sidebars static keeps page load times reasonable.

:: 17:01
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

Tue, 21 Oct 2008

Fall Weight Loss

For the 0.0 of you who care, I did some long-overdue cruft cleansing from the ffg front page. The template shrank in size by nearly a third, and (more importantly) I dropped two old script files that were almost never used. I haven't profiled it, but it certainly seems to load faster now.

:: 12:10
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 04 Aug 2008

ffg on the go

I spent about 10 minutes in Dashcode (and really, that’s all it took) making a better Mobile Safari version of this site. It’s nothing fancy, it just repurposes the Atom feed and wraps it in some CSS and JavaScript.


It’s probably not useful to anyone other than me and Dad. :)

:: 06:28
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

Tue, 01 Apr 2008

Another Excuse To Never Post

I’d heard about Tumblr before, but I’d never quite figured out what it would give me that I couldn’t already achieve via this blog, or Twitter, or, or moodmat, or any of the other places I sporadically attempt to bore people. I’ve finally figured it out — it works best for things that are a little too substantial to be tweets, are more than just random linkdrops, but don’t quite justify a full blog entry (general purpose nor music specialty). So I have fractional horsepower freeform goodness.

The stalker feed covers it all, anyway, and then some.

:: 09:52
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sun, 13 Jan 2008

Dino Status

The newly free NetNewsWire has this way of letting you know that your weblog isn’t updated enough — it turns its display of the feed title a lovely Zune-y brown:

Brown ffg

I’m in Philadelphia for the week, if anything fun happens I’ll let ya know.

:: 20:54
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sun, 04 Nov 2007

The Spots, They Burn!!!

OK, not really. I'm about to move to Leopard on the machine that hosts this blog, so, if it doesn't come back and you can't read this, you know why. :).

:: 14:30
:: /administrivia/weblog | [+]
::Comments (0)

“Anything else, sir?” asked the attentive bellhop, trying his best
to make the lady and gentleman comfortable in their penthouse suite in the
posh hotel.
“No. No, thank you,” replied the gentleman.
“Anything for your wife, sir?” the bellhop asked.
“Why, yes, young man,” said the gentleman. “Would you bring me a