Sunday, March 11, 2007

Link mania

I've found these fascinating and hilarious through boingboing. Here are some links to some digital photography / photoshopping contests:

DPChallenge - A Digital Photography Contest
Worth 1000 Photoshop Contests
Fark often has photoshopped photos or contests posted.

The IEEE sees the writing on the wall for CRTs: IEEE Spectrum: Goodbye, CRT I'm looking to snag some nice tasty 19" Samsungs like this at Newegg on sale this month for $179

Also, here's an op-ed by Sam Harris on the 10 myths -- and 10 truths -- about Atheism Unfortunately, the word "Atheist" is so politically charged and has so many meanings to different Atheists that I prefer to stick with "Nontheist" for now. But the tide may be changing with Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins at the forefront, and the skeptical movement picking up steam.

Phrases, sayings and idioms

1200 phrases and sayings and their origins!  They also have fun categories, like fallacies (misattributed quotes, etc.)

Sayings and Phrases - meanings and origins

Of course, I have 3 books on the subject I haven't read yet:

101 American English Proverbs
Random House Dictionary Of America's Popular Proverbs and Sayings
Rawson's Dictionary of Euphemisms and other Doubletalk

In other sysadmin news...

I also finally started using the excellent PromoteThis plugin to create the nice links to digg.

Also, I had to install the MTStripControlChars plugin, but an updated one from an entry at the VOIP and Gadgets Blog to keep Windows 1252 encoded characters (mostly quotes and double-quotes) from creeping into postings. It happens a lot with pasted in text from websites. Ugh.

You know, it's kind of irritating that the MTAmazon and MTBlogroll plugins aren't XHTML compliant yet. I may just contribute some fixes to do proper URL entity encoding. I had a ton of HTML cruft from migrating from various template versions and bad Sidebars I didn't test. Fortunately, the browsers didn't seem to mind. All of the HTML I could clean up should be cleaned up now, save for some possible issues from Performancing-edited posts. Can't wait for the revival of Performancing...

New wider stylesheet for Juxtaposition

I just finally fixed my modified Vixburg style for Movable Type so that it makes use of wider browsers. Many times, quotes or pictures or preformatted text get chopped by the small center column. I tried for hours to get a decent 3 column layout where the center column will be fluid and take up as much available space as is there, to no avail. Best I could do was set 65% as the width and that does most of what I hoped for, at least for a 1280x1024. The true holy grail is at this site, but would require me building a whole new style to match kind of what I have using this as the base The right column does not flitter away underneath the content as happens with mine when the page is sized smaller. *sigh*

Anyhow, take a look at my css for my tweaks at the bottom and I hope this makes things more readable.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

New Life for Old Books with Bookmooch

BookMooch: a community for exchanging used books (book swap and book exchange and book trade)

I am loving Bookmooch. I've mailed out several books so far that were sitting in my basement and am going to hopefully get some good ones in return. This was a great idea that my friend Mike and I actually had in college after the annoyance of paying $60 for a book that the bookstore on campus would only buy back for a pittance; only to turn around and sell it for $60 again. I'm glad someone else coded it. Maybe I'll actually get something for those books I chose to keep rather than get loose change for. Check out my mooch link on the left nav bar: my Bookmooch list

1 billion mazes served

Exactly One Billion Mazes to Solve
This site contains one billion mazes in high-quality printable PDF
format. You may view, print and solve these mazes... and yes, there are exactly one billion mazes!

Borrowing against your 401k: why you should think twice

There are several reasons you may want to think twice before borrowing against your 401k:
  • If you leave your job that provides your 401k, you often are required to pay back any loans in full.  If you can't, it is treated as a withdrawl from the plan, requiring paying income tax on the amount and a 10% penalty if you are not of retirement age yet.
  • While you have the loan, you have less money in your retirement account.  This means, you are not earning interest on the loan amount and you will therefore end up with less money at retirement.
  • People at your company may be able to know that you have taken the loan out. 
  • You may shift your mindset from an investor taking an active interest in the rest of your plan's success to a debtor, so your investment might suffer.
You can -- but shouldn't -- borrow against your 401(k) plan

Notable security quote: Does your company suffer from Employee Infallability Syndrome?

I will say that any government (or other) program which assumes the honesty of employees and contractors is fundamentally flawed, and any associated risk analysis is either incompetent, or in failing to identify risk to travellers, seriously incomplete.

-- Ian Farquhar on the Cryptography mailing list 2/27/2007

Notable security quote: insane probabilities

Yes, of course an infinite number of texts hash to the same
value; that's the way the function works.  But the odds of it happening
naturally are less than the odds of all the air molecules bunching up in
the corner of the room and suffocating you, and you can't force it to
happen, either.

--Bruce Schneier