Strange days

Today was one of those really strange days. I woke up with a bitter disdain for thesis. I knew that I had a bunch of personal errands to run and that was going to be my first priority. I have not gotten my brakes replaced since I bought my Honda a couple of years ago (it was a few years old back then and I still have the original shoes) The age of my brakes really bother me and the last I had them inspected was about a year ago when it was half shaved off. I figure I still have some time to go but brakes are a matter of being safe rather than sorry. Anyways, I had a coupon to get my oil replaced from Midas for $16 and I could have gotten my brakes looked at for free while I was there. However, I get most of my repair work done from an import car mechanics’ at Waterville and I am due for a 60,000 mile service for my car. In addition to that, I get my oil changed from a Valvoline at Perrysburg and I always use a synthetic blend which they carry (goes to 6000 miles instead of 3000). So rather than save a few bucks and get cheap oil and get fleeced by Midas, I decided to go to Perrysburg and get my oil change there. I will have to set up and appointment with Chris at Waterville Imports and get my service done sometime in the next few weeks. I will have to get a rental for the day (which is fine by me and Chris arranges for that as well) and I will ask them to replace the brakes if they are close to completely wearing out. The loss of a few millimeters of brake shoes is worth me having to go through this hassle again. I visited Doug (my old boss from Direct Computer) while I was at Perrysburg and we chatted for a while. Luckey had a good time playing with his son. Ever since I got back from our little excursion, I have been trying to get back into work and tweaking my crawler. I switch back and forth between my thesis and my code to keep my mind from falling asleep. Judging from the amount of productivity I have acheived today, tomorrow will be a busy day! 😉

Total number of WordPress blogs crawler

I needed to relax a little tonight and so I wrote a small crawler that checks the weblogs.com updated list for wordpress blogs and adds it to a database (among other information I will have fun with later :)) Here is the link to the latest count. It is small now, but wait for a few days (might be an erronous count because of the way get_meta_tags() works in php and really dissappointing, but I tried)!
It is broken for now, the time limit on David’s xml files makes debugging a little hard. 🙂

A pre-hacked pre-packaged version of WordPress 1.01

Do you think there would be any interest in a pre-hacked, pre-packaged version of WordPress (just like this blog) with this template thrown in? Would there be any interest in having me setup a WordPress blog (pre-hacked and packaged of course) for someone to just blog with and not worry about the code (or the setup on their server)? Would Matt and other WordPress devs be pissed at me? 🙂

Extreme Blogging

.. should be a sport! I heard of this guy on NPR The HomeLess Blogger. I dont know whether to praise his versatility or criticize his dawdle! However, blogging is a wonderful form of entertainment for most of us and much like any other form of entertainment, we should have co-ed naked blogging! YEAH! How about a mountain climber blogging from atop the Alps on his cell phone or a guy writing an entry from the depths of the Bermuda Triangle? Thats enteratining blogs right there! Step aside Howard Dean, sir!
Know of any Extreme Bloggers?
PS: You notice my catch phrase is now “Co-Ed Naked Blogging” 😉

Sartorial choice for interviews

What does a guy wear for an interview? I foresee a nice dress shirt of a sombre and respectable color, well pressed and groomed of course. A matching tie (preferably chosen by a significant other, as is in my case) and dark dress slacks which are neat and again, pressed. Shiny shoes are not a must, but raggety shoes are unacceptable, no matter how dressy they may be. My questions are raised at this point. Where does this accessorizing end? How does a guy look formal and respectable without looking too preppy or like a slob? In these winter months, is a regular winter jacket too taboo? Should we have to go the extra mile to obtain a dress overcoat? Is the suit a necessity? It is important to stress at some point that we are talking of programmers (though not for the “right out of college with shiny eyes” kind of position) being interviewed. I have had many interviews in the past 5 years where my choices have varied tremendously (I was naive, single and way too cocky back then) and my past experience does not count any more.

My Google WishList

PS: Some of these might be implemented already, please leave me some comments if you have figured them out already!

I would really like to be able to find (and add to my favorite reader) RSS feeds through Google. Considering the amount of stuff that Google stores about each link, auto-discovering RSS feeds and adding them to each link that is displayed on a search results page should be trivial. I have read about some work that was being done at Google with RSS feed searches and adding syndicated sites to news.google.com. However, that was some time ago and I have yet to hear anything contructive of it. RSS, in my opinion, really brings out the content and leaves riff raff aside. I really miss FeedDemon! (which supports autodiscovery and Blog This! using XMLRPC, from inside the program interface) Yahoo is headed in just the right direction with their RSS aggregator.

I would really like to be able to use Froogle to my advantage. That site needs some serious work to be a true competitor. No e-compare site is complete without personalization and reviews (albeit from external sources) and Froogle lacks both reviews as well as any personalization. I would like to head to Froogle the next time I need DVD+Rs but dealtime.com does a much better job.

Google should support some sort of web service through XMLRPC or REST (or some other protocol). I am aware of Google APIs that can be embedded within a webpage to search the the site but I am not aware of any web services offered through Google. That would be really useful. I guess all of this could be implemented through the google.com url, but web services would be cleaner (much like waypath, only different!). Froogle would be a nice candidate for XMLRPC as well.

I would also like to be able to run searches which return unique results. I wish I could type “show only one result from a domain” I understand that this would break down real quick because websites exist in folders everywhere, but the concept can be really useful and I miss it dearly. This would also make internet statistics easy to gather and would actually be dependable.

Stemming from this idea, I would actually like to be able to search meta tags through Google (or through any other search engine for that matter). I understand that Google pays very little attention to meta tags, but I would, at times, like to know what lurks in those bloated tags and find sites with only a certain set of tags (again very useful in data collection and collation) I really want to know how many people use Frontpage to design their site, for example.

I know I thought of a couple more. I will post them as and when I think of them. Do you know of any of these that are available already? Can you think of anything else you wish of Google?

This has been all round shitty end of January

Friday morning was a definite 9 in the level of bewilderment and complete disgust at the University of Toledo. I found out, in the third week of the semester mind you, that my position as a TA and webmaster for the EECS Department had been terminated as of Thursday evening (after having been confirmed in writing three weeks prior). They simply took away my funding without any official reason. On further enquiry into this fiasco, I find out that this was not personal or related to my performance at all. They needed to cut some funds and decided that 4 semesters were too long to hang around for a graduate degree in computer science (though my undergrad was in physics and I was only funded for one semester prior to this one! I had paid my way through the four undergrad CS courses I was forced to take) and that they were going to cut my assistantship. (Knock on wood) I still have my tuition waiver and I was offered a part time position as webmaster by the chair of the department. I will take the position in spite of being disgruntled about the whole situation because some money is better than none and it will get my out of the house. All the more reason to get the frick out of this God-Awful-Place (ha! GAP) and get my ass into gear.
Needless to say, I have been listless, a little worried (though I am financially quite secure from my own savings and with a lot of help from my wonderful parents) and just cannot concentrate on what is really important, my thesis. I have been chugging away at it all this weekend though not producing as much as I would have liked to. I am hoping to have the literature review and the introduction done by the end of this upcoming week. The reason I had not posted this yet was twofold. I have not spoken with my parents about this (I will discuss it tonight before they read this) and I did not want them to be rudely surprised by the entry. The second reason is that I was still deciding whether to take the temporary position or not. I obviously have made up my mind.

In conclusion, I would like to say this to everyone in any position of responsability in the educational community: Please do not shaft students. We are already poor and completely at the behest of the puny little stipend that you provide. Unlike losing a real job where you *might* have had some backup or might have a spouse to help out, losing the “$400 every couple of weeks” could mean dropping out of school for a lot of kids. International students are even worse off, but they dont count because they choose to come here. Thankfully, I am not out on the streets yet and will continue to face the stupid, assenine, farcical and riduculous music till I am done.
Heh…..Peace

WordPress Blacklist Comment SPAM Filteration System

I wrote a little script to fight comment SPAM much along the lines of Jay Allen’s MTBlacklist filter (but for WordPress). This really simple script is compatible with all versions of WordPress and uses a powerful master blacklist from Reflective Reality. I would really like to get some people to try and install it and see how well it works. So if you are using WordPress and have been receiving some SPAM in your comments, please help me in testing this script. WordPress 1.0+ will even allow you to view the SPAM comments without them ever being displayed on your blog (using moderation) which would mean that if you do receive SPAM and the filter catches it, you will know that the script is working. Here is a link to WPBlacklist.

A couple of interesting hacks for WordPress

A couple of hacks to mention. The first adds the ability of a user to update a LiveJournal blog (as tested below) when posting to WordPress. A very simple install.
The second is my version of the famous Phil Ringnalda right click Blog This! (contextual menu) plugin for Mozilla. ALL of the code belongs to and is attributed to Phil or Ted. I moved stuff around and broke it down for people to understand easily and modify to suit their needs. This could also be modified to be used (quite easily actually) for posting to MT or any blog application which support bookmarklets.