Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Useless but amusing: SA Emoticons in Colloquy.

I recently made the switch to Thinking Different, and while there are a lot of things to like here, Adium doesn’t support IRC, and Colloquy didn’t have any emots worth using.

That didn’t leave me many options, but I had the Something Awful emoticon pack for Adium, and the Adium emoticon pack for Colloquy, too much free time, and a minimal amount of skill with perl. I’ll cut to the chase and just toss a link in here if you’re in a hurry.

There’s a file,, in that archive, that should be useful if you want to see how it works, but this post is mostly to lay out any issues, and put the link out there for download (It should be on the Colloquy extras site soon, unless they reject it because some of the icons aren’t work safe, and the official SA emoticons site, unless the maintainer there doesn’t feel like posting it). I was going to do a post about the inner workings and process, but it’s fairly boring, basically poking around the Adium Colloquy emoticon file layout and XML structure, and very light XML parsing. All told I spent around 2 hours on the whole thing, including testing.

By way of caveat, this still has some weirdness.

More » RSS parsing and screen-scraping, poorly.

Since I moved to New York, I’ve found myself facing an extra hour and a half a day on the train, with nothing to do but wish I had a seat or could afford a closer apartment.

It’s left me scrambling for things to listen to, or to read. So I’ve done two things. One, I started downloading and listening to podcasts - they require too much of my attention to listen to during work, and generally don’t hold up against the myriad distractions of home, but episodes of This American Life and Scientific American’s Science Talk podcasts are perfect for the train.

The other thing, which I’ll go into an absurd level of detail about in a minute here, has been to dust off of the old Sony eReader that I thought was going to be so important and ended up sitting on my desk for months on end unless I was going to be on an plane.

The trouble with the Reader, and I don’t think I’m overstating things to say that this is the problem with all portable media devices, is that it lives and dies by the content that you can get on it. The iPod thrives off of the iTunes store and people’s MP3 libraries. Amazon is trying to do the same with the Kindle, though I honestly think it’s a losing plan, for a number of reasons.

The Sony reader, then, by that standard, failed horribly, at least out of the box. The store it connected to had a small selection of overpriced books, and RSS support, which was pretty much why I wanted the thing, sucked. Hard. Through a combination of programs that other people wrote, I managed to get RSS feeds converted to PDFs that were readable on the umm, reader.

This time, I decided to do things differently. Becki’s got me reading New York Magazine, and it occurred to me that what I really wanted wasn’t 30 snarky Gawker line-items to read on the train, but one or two longer, in-depth pieces.

So what I did was throw together a perl script (, because I should never be allowed to name anything, ever) to make this a little easier.

I’ll warn you now, this is long and exceptionally dry, so I’m hiding it behind the jump.

More »

This wouldn’t fit in Twitter.

So, I’m back in Maryland. Work wanted me down here tomorrow and Friday, which turned into wanting me down here Tuesday through Friday. I changed my train tickets, woke up at 5 AM yesterday to get to Penn station (too early by about half an hour, I might add, but that’s how I roll), and got to work.

It’s actually nice to be back working back at the mothership again. The team I work with is all down here, and while we keep in touch over IM, phone, and email, it just can’t compare to being there in person. I don’t have my Aeron, though, which sucks, because I’ve been spoiled rotten by that thing.

On the plus side, they’re putting me up in the corporate apartment, which is swank, and I’ve got the keys to the company car, which, because this place is awesome, is a Dodge Charger. I could get used to that car - after driving a tiny, refined, very practical Volkswagen hatchback for the last 8 years, I like driving a big old V6 sedan that makes no excuses about being obnoxious. I’m sure the charm will wear off before I leave, when I have to put gas in it.

Also, courtesy of the irrepressible Jon Tan, who is apparently some form of harbinger for Twitter , the half of the office that didn’t already use it is using it now, myself included. I’m still not sure I “get” Twitter, but it’s fun to screw around with. It’s an insanely simple but dead effective community of sorts - they’ve pared discussion down to the absolute minimum, and it works very well. I know I’m late to the party on this one, but damnit, I think it’s cool.

Twitter pretty much proved it’s worth to me earlier tonight, when I posted this, and fifteen minutes later I had a private message from Wez with the WEP key in it.

Though, to be honest, it didn’t go down exactly the way I described it in the tweet - I actually did print out a page with the key, but I left it at work (along with my laptop charger - I’m running low on battery, and Twitter can’t really help with that problem) and since it was in a Word doc, I couldn’t just open it on my phone. I took some self-deprecating liberties with that one, because it made the story funnier.

This one, though, was 100% true. It took me half an hour to find the damn thing.

I just found something, via the Something Awful forums, that scares the bejesus out of me. I’ll let the poster there, Darth Mirth, explain it:

Ever get an e-mail from a business, perhaps your bank, whose reply address is [something] It is their way of telling you, well, not to reply directly to the e-mail. But what if some people don’t pay attention, and hit “reply” anyway? Or better yet, what if the original e-mail is bounced back as undeliverable — bounced back to

Of course, is not the internet’s equivalent of the Dead Letter Office. It is, in fact, a valid domain… owned by a guy named Chet.

Turns out, Chet gets lots of e-mail. Some of it has very private information it it. Some of it even threatens national security. He posts some of these e-mails (with harmful information redacted) at his blog site,

All I can say is that if I did business with any of these companies, I’d be a little worried, and that I’m very, very glad that this Chet guy is ethical enough to redact anything critically important.

OK, so we know that Halliburton pays $2.93 for a “unit” of Soy Sauce (bottle? packet? 55-gallon drum? Who knows.), but think of the massive, gaping security and privacy hole here.

You send someone their personal information, an account number, login info, whatever, with a fake email header that sends their reply to, because you don’t want anything coming to you, where you have to deal with it.

But when it bounces, or the recipient doesn’t read the message, and tries to reply, now Chet Faliszek has their info, and he can do a lot of terrible things with it, and the only reason he doesn’t is that you got lucky and he’s a good guy. You’ve just put your customer’s personal info in the hands of some random guy on the internet. Good job.

Idiots, deal with your own fucking emails. Don’t have your fake Reply-To header be a domain you don’t own, because seriously, what the hell?

Fortunately, at least according to GMail’s search, there’s no one I have ever received mail from that pulls this crap, but if I were you, I’d search your inbox and find out if you have. Seriously, look at this shit.


Some new blogs I like.

New to me, at least. Overheard in NY has been kicking around for a while.

I like Overheard in New York because of things like this:

Black guy: Where you from?
Tourist: Maryland.
Black guy: Cool. I’ve seen The Wire. I know how you guys get down.

I’m filled with equal measures of pride and horror at that statement.

And I like Stuff White People Like because of things like this:

“If you are in the position where you need to take a white person to lunch for business or pleasure, saying “I know a great sandwich shop,” will always bring out a smile. The white person will then tell you about the great sandwich shop in the town where they went to college and how they had a crush on a waiter, or that there was some special sandwich that they always ordered.  This will put the person in a good mood.”

It’s all very tongue-in-cheek, and it cracks me up.