Truly moving… unforgettable.

So.. I have some lyrics that popped into my head while I was driving. Best performed a capella, with deep feeling.

I’d make a video to go with this but wait what the hell am I thinking I have no spare time. One day I’ll be independently wealthy and I will do silly things all day! (And donate a lot to charity)

Amazing grease…
How sweet the sound
That fries two eggs like these!

Melt on some cheese
And lay them down
On toast, with hot sauce, please…

(to the tune of Amazing Grace, of course)

An Approach to Exception Handling

[In response to this post, also posted here, asking about guidelines different developers have come up with….  I actually started a response on the site, then realized I was typing an entire essay into a little comment box.]

Guideline #1: Never discard exception information.

You might either wrap the exception and throw the wrapper, or log it somehow — but discarding exception information should always set off loud alarm bells.  Likewise, catching an exception and throwing a new exception is bad if you neglect to wrap the original one — that stack trace is valuable!

Support Firefox, through Internet Explorer

If you’re a web developer (or if you have to use websites that are still IE-only) you might spend time browsing in both Firefox and IE.

You may also have noticed that when you use the toolbar search box in either one, the browser tacks a few extra parameters onto the Google search URL… so they get credit from Google for sending a user their way.  More specifically, they get PAID.  Which is a great way for Mozilla to support continued open source development… but maybe you don’t want your searches in Internet Explorer to be funneling Google’s money off to Microsoft instead, just because you have to use IE now & then.

Well, if you’ve got a mild anti-Microsoft streak and would like to do a little bit extra to fund open source, it’s pretty easy to tweak IE so that it will build your Google searches to credit Firefox, instead of IE.

Avoiding getting flashed by Dilbert

I’ve been reading the Dilbert comics online for years, always from the archive page — the home page was just overwhelmingly cluttered by ads, and it required extra clicks to see previous comics when I’d missed a few days.

So when the central Dilbert site switched to a super Flash-heavy format for their homepage (including the strip itself!) and the complaints erupted, I snickered smugly.  The archive page hadn’t changed.  I wasn’t affected.

Well, it took about 2 days.  Now the central archive page redirects to dilbert.com.

Les oies sauvages

Mrs. Bang and I just got back from a walk.

I’ve been feeling low for the past few days — I’m alone in the house for a couple of weeks (through the 28th or thereabouts), and my sleep schedule is still in the wild adjustment period that happens when my usual source of “go sleep now” reminders is out of town. Last night I made my way up to bed around 4:30, read for a bit, took a long time to drop off and woke up at 10. It’s not that I don’t need the sleep; my body just isn’t very good about telling me when it’s time to close up shop for the night… and I just walk around seeing the world a few shades grayer the next day. My thoughts get more easily tangled, I’m forgetful, and I’m more likely to plan my day poorly… which tends to lead to staying up late again. Anyway.

We stepped out the door just a bit after sunset, and we’d already walked across the square before I stopped and looked around.

Schlump around

Ever open your eyes in the morning and just know, for certain, that no good will come out of the day? That you have things to do, but you are going to muddle through your standard procrastinations and find yourself still schlumping around when you notice with confused horror that the sun has already set again?

It can happen. It can even happen when you have the kind of life/job/etc. where you have to go somewhere and interact with people, but if you don’t, it can be even worse.

Well, we’ve discussed the phenomenon in depth, and developed a response. It’s not a solution, mind you — just a thing you can do if you find yourself in this situation.

Disconnected ShareThis plugin for WordPress

I see the ShareThis plugin on tons of WordPress blogs — and with reason, because the presentation is quite nice. You don’t have to take up a chunk of the screen listing all of the different social networks (and they keep multiplying…) or offering the option to email this post to a friend; instead you have a simple link that shows all of the useful detail in a little popup.

ShareThis was so popular, in fact, that a business has sprouted up around it — and current versions of the plugin are tightly bound into the ShareThis.com website. They collect data every time anyone even clicks the link to open the ShareThis window, the social networks links all redirect through the ShareThis.com servers, and all that data (associated with your website) is there for detailed reporting if you register with them. They now also encourage your visitors to sign up. I’m sure it has its uses, and they’re supported by advertising revenue, so they want lots of people to sign up and I imagine they use all that data in conjunction with showing those ads.

404 pages on 1&1 webhosting: complaint and solution

I had an unpleasant surprise today when I was testing a new site I’m setting up using 1&1 web hosting… I mistyped the URL, and lo and behold, instead of showing any kind of useful error page for the 404, the server neatly redirected my browser to a completely different URL, “domparking.php” at the “sedoparking.com” domain. [I’m carefully not linking, and don’t visit the page; I’m sure they get advertising revenue from it.]

I’ve seen default 404 pages where the host sneaks in a few of their own ads, and that’s kind of annoying. But there’s still a message in there somewhere that tells the person they hit a bad link.

This, though — it looks like the domain is parked. Like the site doesn’t exist at all. That’s not good.

Curing hiccups

I was googling the word “intractable”, just to make sure I wasn’t misusing it too egregiously in the post I just put up… and right there, the fifth result on the very first page, was a hiccup cure.

Doesn’t everyone who’s ever had the hiccups want to know a cure? And this is not just “my grandma always said breathing into a paper bag would do it, and it seemed to work sometimes”, but an abstract of a paper on the NIH.gov website.

The data (u|dys)topia

Take one simple conversation with a neighbor, add a few late night walks in the dark, and it develops into a complete utopian/dystopian vision of the not-so-distant future.

First, the conversation: we were talking about everyday marital strife, and she mentioned how her husband wants to redo the roof himself — it’s a relatively straightforward project, he’s retired and has the time, and they’d save a lot of money. Her response is that his life cannot possibly be worth the money saved. Result: intractable argument. How can either side prevail? She spoke about couples taking turns “winning” arguments as a way out.

My thought is that it’s actually a question of data. What’s the actual risk that he’d injure or kill himself? If he takes the proper precautions (like a safety line, ladder spotter, etc.), can he make working on the roof safer than driving the car to the store? If yes, her argument goes away. If not — particularly if amateur roof work is dangerous even if the homeowner believes they’re taking precautions — then she wins.