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September 2004 Archives

September 29, 2004

Trouble in Paradise

Filed in: Computers.

I have a bit of a problem with's transparent proxy server. Sometimes when I go to look at my web page, I don't get the current version. The reason is because the transparent proxy server is caching the page and not bothering to check if it has changed or not.

Grrr, say I.

I've been watching an anime series recently that my brother, Morgan, bought the box set of called "Chobits". Very very odd series.

Posted at 9:09 PM | Comments (0)

Weblog Landmarks #1

Filed in: Weblogging.

First piece of comment spam.


Dagnab spammers.

Posted at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2004

Updates on previous entries

Filed in: Computers, Weblogging, Website Management.

My strategy for dealing with Yahoo's redirect problem seems to be working. Yahoo has dropped over one hundred redirected pages for from its index and is starting to index the proper URLs at This should hopefully reduce the number of unnecessary redirects and lessen server load.

It occurred that the reason BlogSpot is over-represented at BlogShares is because Blogger's free accounts ping by default, and that's where BS picks up new blogs. Add to this the fact that Google pimps Blogger via the Google Toolbar, and it's little wonder many of the listed blogs are BlogSpot blogs.

OTOH, LiveJournal is poorly represented (around 3000 listed) because only paid LJ accounts (accounting for about 4% of all LJ accounts) can ping, and the pinging is turned off by default (ISTR). LiveJournal doesn't do much in the way of working with the rest of the blogosphere.

There are even fewer Xangas (about a hundred or so), so I'm guessing Xanga doesn't ping at all.

I also today ran Ad-Aware for the first time in a while, and it reported that a cookie my site generates is a tracking cookie. I suspect this may be because it contains the user's email address. Pah.

Posted at 8:25 PM | Comments (0)

El Photos

Filed in: Tetrap.Local.

I done put some pictures in LJ's picture hosting site finally. This picture below and ther preceeding one (click on "Prev" which you look at the picture) are a couple of photos I took in Lower Hutt last week.

Side of building Side of building
The demolition of a building in Lower Hutt revealed the side of the building next to it, which had been covered for who-knows-how-long and included some cool antique signage.

Posted at 6:19 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2004

A Real WTF Moment

Filed in: Computers.

When I switched on my PC today, the scanner software which starts up at boot time reported that the flatbed scanner (A Hewlett Packard ScanJet 5100C) wasn't responding. I took a look at the scanner, and the light on front was flashing.Odd, I thought. So I tried the usual measure of unplugging it for a moment and then plugging it back in.

At this point the scan head started moving backwards and forwards and playing classical music.

Yes, I'm serious. It created notes by varying the motor speed

Current theory is that it's a measure designed to make the user think he's gone mad. I googled for a bit but couldn't find any reference at all to an HP scanner playing classical music, so I'm not entirely sure why it was doing that.

Sadly it did not do it a second time when I attempted to replicate the procedure, though the scanner is working fine... All I can say is someone at Hewlett Packard has one hell of a sense of humour.

Posted at 5:17 PM | Comments (3)

September 24, 2004

May the firmware be with you.

Filed in: Computers, TV & Movies.

As Boing Boing reports, the Star Wars Trilogy DVDs contain a wee surprise for Xbox users - there's software on them which automatically updates the Xbox firmware without telling you. Which might spell trouble for people with modded Xboxes.

And you thought it was bad when it was just bored kids putting out viruses. :P

Posted at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2004


Filed in: Weblogging.

Having been messing about on BlogShares looking at blogs so I can categorise them to get more Karma and Chips, I've observed that a surprising proportion of them seem to be Blogspot hosted. I wonder if this reflects the actual proportions or whether there is something in the way that BlogShares finds new blogs that makes it favour Blogspot blogs.

OTOH it could just be that people tend to link to other people hosted on the same service more readily, so following links around will tend to result in an inaccurate perception.

Posted at 9:30 PM | Comments (1)

Microsoft broke my Windows

Filed in: Computers.

So I ran RegClean, a Microsoft product, to clean the Windows registry on my PC. It was so thorough that it also deleted a number of references to explorer.exe - resulting in My Computer and folders in general to lose the Open and Explore options on their context menu, and no longer open in explorer by default.

One would think that a piece of software purposely written by Microsoft for cleaning the registry would not do that sort of thing, wouldn't one?

But apparently one would be wrong. The odd thing is I'd run RegClean before with no problems.

Posted at 6:56 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2004

Star Wars Trilogy box set

Filed in: TV & Movies.


So clear you can see Mark Hamill's nasal hair!

So crisp you'd swear it was filmed yesterday!

Of course, it's still version 1.2 or whatever we're up to now, but I don't care. The visuals are so clean it hurts.

What I need right now is a huge-ass TV set and 5.1 stereo system.

Posted at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2004

Björk + Enya = ?

Filed in: Music.

The Sunday Star Times a couple of days ago had a review of Björk's latest album Medulla. I was a bit confused as to whether the reviewer actually liked it or not. "It's called "Where is the Line?", to which most sensible citizens would surely reply, "several hundred yards short of this song"." he says, but goes on to give it four stars anyway...

Meanwhile there was a bit of excitement in Enya fandom, when a Japanese site reported a release date for an Enya album. Sadly it turned out they'd jumped the gun - as reports, Enya had recorded a song called Sumiregusa for a marketing campaign, and someone assumed it meant an album was on the way. There's a very-choppy streaming version of the song on

It's been four years since A Day Without Rain came out with no sign of another album. With a five-year gap before that, only punctuated by the best of, her album gestation periods seem to be getting longer. :/

Posted at 7:39 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2004

A Modern Regeneration Story

Filed in: Doctor Who.

With the filming of the new Doctor Who series in the UK, there's been talk of a regeneration story. I have to agree with the idea it would be silly to have a regen story (I'm going to abbreviate this to save typing :P) at the start of the series, due to the fact that after a regeneration the Doctor almost always starts out with an unstable personality and it'd be better to start out with an established Doctor so the audience have a better idea what to expect.

OTOH, I'm all for them doing a flashback to a regen story later in the series. Of course, it's unlikely to be like any regen story we've had before.

Most regen stories are along the lines of "The Doctor regenerates at the start and then has this unrelated adventure". I would think that a modern regen story would make the regeneration part of the story. Little really has been done with the concept of regeneration during Doctor Who's run, other than to use it as a plot device to change the leading actor occasionally.

You could have a story, for instance, where the bad guy tortures the previous Doctor to death, followed by regeneration, then the Eccleston Doctor kicks the bad guy's arse and steals his leather jacket. Or my favourite concept, where the previous Doctor and Eccleston Doctor meet up at the start of the adventure, and at the end the previous Doctor is wounded and sent back in time to the start of the story where he regenerates into Eccleston and encounters his previous self. Just to make things confusing.

Posted at 6:27 PM | Comments (2)

September 19, 2004

Something which I've just realised Yikes needs

Filed in: Computers.

It can already search for text within files on a disk, but it also needs to have an option to search in zip files... Though that would mean hunting down code to decode zip files. Hrm.

I did a quick Google for applications, which do this already, but they're not free. WinZip 9.0 doesn't appear to do it (Why not?! That would appear to be an invaluable tool!) and there isn't even an official add-on to do it.

I believe Window XP does that already, which might be why it's not in WinZip. But still, needs to be in Yikes, definitely.

Posted at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

Attack of the Mood Icons

Filed in: Weblogging.

My LiveJournal mood icons have turned up in yet another place: Allyn Gibson's WordPress blog. Perhaps I should just retitle them mood icons. :)

No doubt there's a plugin for Movable Type to use mood icons. I should hunt it down.

Posted at 7:00 PM | Comments (2)

September 18, 2004

This could be horribly annoying

Filed in: Links.

Textual @traction

What makes the film unique is that the audience does not actually get to see the messages on screen. Instead, by pre-registering, they receive the texts to their own phones at the same time as the characters on screen.

The chorus of text message beeps would be deafening.

Am about to turn 31 in about 25 minutes time. Gah.

Posted at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2004

The Right Tool

Filed in: Website Management.

Today's lesson: get the right tool for the job and the job will become much easier.

A long while ago now I opted to mirror Paul Harman's Web Guide to Doctor Who in order to avoid having to maintain my own directory of Doctor Who links. This didn't quite work for two reasons:

  1. People still emailed me to ask me to add a link to their web site, despite the word "Mirror" in large letters and a link to the page for adding sites to the Web Guide, and
  2. I ended up volunteering to assist Paul in maintaining the Web Guide.

The Web Guide has 21 sections and almost 700 sites listed in it. It's pretty kick ass and I don't think there's another comparable Doctor Who directory in existence. Most other sites mirroring the Guide would simply use a copy of the HTML-Version Paul sends out on a mailing list every update, but I had to be different and split the guide into sections, thus making my job slightly more difficult.

My first technique for doing the update was as follows:

  1. Take the HTML web guide and...
  2. Replace all the links to graphics to point to the same graphics on my server, avoiding the sticky issue of stealing bandwidth.
  3. Copy and paste each section separately into the individual pages.
  4. Process the pages into real HTML.
  5. Upload all the pages.

But this took too long, and I decided to write a program to make things easier. The technique now became:

  1. Copy and paste the HTML web guide into a file with my site format.
  2. Feed the resulting page into my Windows-based program, which produces some CSV files to be used to generate the section pages dynamically on the site.
  3. Copy and paste the compile date into the mirror index.html.
  4. Copy and paste the changes into the changes.html page.
  5. Process the pages into real HTML.
  6. Upload the three pages and CSV files.

This resulted in a process which was not actually a hell of a lot faster than the first process. Tonight I wrote a completely new perl-based program to turn the process into the following:

  1. Upload the HTML web guide.
  2. Run the script to process it into all the separate files.

Leaving me more time to play Unreal Tournament 2004, swim the Amazon, invent cold fusion, achieve world peace, etc. Teh skillz.

Posted at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2004

New Zealand's Broadband

Filed in: Computers.

Bruce Simpson writes a pretty good article on the current state of broadband in NZ. Telecom still had the market pretty much to itself and is making the most of it.

Ironically there was an item on TV1 news tonight about how Auckland University is offering streaming video of lectures over the internet so that students can attend lectures without leaving their home. In my experience, streaming video works very poorly over dial up. Are they suggesting students, many of whom have no other source of income, should borrow even more from the government in order to afford broadband?

Posted at 6:17 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2004

Random Links

Filed in: Links.

From the Weekly World News: How to tell if your prostitute is an extraterrestrial - a classic.

Electoral Vote Predictor - all eyes are on the US for the upcoming election.

Posted at 8:37 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2004

TSV 26

Filed in: Website Management.

I spend some of this weekend getting TSV 26 ready to go online. There is some pretty good material this issue, including:

In addition to a bunch of other cool stuff.

The Doctor's Dilemmas are difficult to do without them looking like just a bunch of paragraphs of text. I have bolded the first three sentences of the paragraphs in which a question is begun, but it still doesn't help much...

There is also the problem created where the article going online has been revised and no longer matches the description in the index (e.g. the Doctor Who in Advertising piece is described as containing the transcripts of two Prime Computer adverts, which is accurate for the copy which appears in the print issue, but the revised version has transcripts for all four adverts). I have opted to leave the descriptions as is, purely to keep it consistant with the rest of the index, but this leaves the description not quite matching the archived piece.

...And that completes the 1991 set of TSV issues, or Volume 5 as it is referred to in the front cover.

Posted at 7:29 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2004

Star Wars 1.2 Images Revealed

Filed in: TV & Movies.

(Via Nostalgia) Lucas still can't leave Star Wars alone, so the new DVDs coming out have even more changes as shown here

Greedo still shoots first. Come on! With Han shooting first, it make him look like a rogue. When Greedo shoots first, it make Greedo look incompetant and makes Han slow on the draw.

Just don't mess with the classics, hey?

Nos' is right though, the fact they're fixing Jabba so he looks more realistic and less like a Playstation game character is good. Even though that scene is pointless and just covers the same one as the previous scene with Greedo.

Posted at 8:18 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2004

Yahoo's search bot and your web site

Filed in: Website Management.

A year or so ago now I moved the NZDWFC page from drwho/nzdwfc/ to To ease the transition, I placed a permanent 301 redirection from the old URL to the new one. Anyone going to the old URL gets bounced to the new URL without having to do anything.

Yahoo uses a spider called "Yahoo Slurp" to crawl the web looking for pages to add to the search index. Slurp hits drwho/nzdwfc/ and gets redirected to like everyone else. Unfortunately Slurp has a bug in it, and adds the page to Yahoo's search index under the old URL.

Most of the NZDWFC page is indexed in Yahoo under the old URL, even pages I've added since the move (There are, in fact, only 5 pages in the Yahoo index for the subdomain). This means that if the NZDWFC page comes up in a search and the user clicks on it, my server has to redirect them to the new page.

Last month the main domain got 4633 hits which resulted in redirects, a good number of those caused by people coming from Yahoo search results. Obviously I want to reduce this number so my web server has less work to do - the trouble is how to tell Yahoo Slurp not to index the old URL without breaking the redirection for users who surf in.

To do this I use Apache's rewrite engine like so:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} help\.yahoo\.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/drwho/nzdwfc/.*$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^.* - [G,L]

This all goes in the .htaccess file which sits in my root directory. The lines work as follows:

  1. Turns the rewrite engine on. Kinda essential.
  2. Checks the user-agent of the bot for the string "". Slurp uses this in its user agent.
  3. Matches any file they request in the /drwho/nzdwfc/ directory or below.
  4. Tells Apache to send back a 410 response. 410 means "it's gone, matey, and it ain't coming back". Additionally the L indicates to Apache not to process any more Rewrite stuff because we're finished.

So put them together, and the server tells Slurp that the file it is requesting is gone, but lets anyone else through to hit the redirection. There are still a lot of redirections happening, but hopefully Yahoo will gradually drop the old URLs in favour of the new ones, and the redirections will decrease.

That's the theory, anyway. I'll update this weblog with the results in a few month's time, hopefully...

The Apache rewrite engine is a great and powerful thing, but also a dangerous thing.

Posted at 9:18 PM | Comments (0)

September 9, 2004

Messing with the look

Filed in: Website Management.

I've mucked about with the template a bit to make it look more like the rest of my site. I started doing a complete template to make it look like my LiveJournal but then realised how long it would take. LiveJournal's method of creating journal styles, named S2, may be tricky to learn, but it's much easier to customise every page without duplicating a lot of effort.

I will have to fiddle with it a bit more to put in cool stuff like a blogroll and some links, and maybe install some plugins, but that should be fairly easy.

Posted at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

Spam and Movable Type comments

Filed in: Spam, Weblogging.

Back last year I posted about a possible way Movable Type could combat the spam problem thusly:

Even Movable Type has problems with spam, and they've been talking about ways to combat it.

Personally I'd have thought the easiest way would be to have a page which lists all the recently posted comments, in chronological order... that way the blog owner would be able to see comments made on months-old entries.

I see Movable Type 3 not only has such a page, but it does email notification like LiveJournal does. In fact, the back-end of MT 3.11 is pretty cool all told. :)

Posted at 5:23 PM | Comments (0)

September 8, 2004

Right, this should all work then

Filed in: Weblogging.

This is a new weblog. It's not intended to replace my old one, which is a LiveJournal, but to suppliment it. I'm still working out how I'll decide how to split the entries, and I may just end up using my LiveJournal for boring personal entries and this one for boring technical entries. You have been warned.

The main reason this is a Movable Type weblog and not another LiveJournal one, is because LiveJournal is missing a number of features which I don't expect will be implemented in the near future. Not limited to:

  • Trackbacks
  • Categories
  • Decent commenting for people who don't have a LiveJournal themselves
  • Etc

So this weblog here (I'm not too keen on the term 'blog' myself) now exists.

Posted at 9:27 PM | Comments (1)


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