August 2005


Over the past few weeks I’ve listened to all of the CDs I have in my car and now I’ve wrapped back around again to “Lonely Runs Both Ways” by Alison Krauss and Union Station. On the way through my CDs I listened to Eva Cassidy, Marc Cohn, Dixie Chicks, David Gray, Harrod and Funck, Jewel, Norah Jones, Keb Mo, Sarah McLachlan, Linda Ronstadt, Mindy Smith, Sting, U2, The Wallflowers, and the cast recordings for Into the Woods and Wicked. I listened to ITW 5 times in row and Wicked 11 times before moving on from them. I still love Wicked and I hope to see it when it comes to Atlanta next year (fingers crossed for good tickets).

So do I still like LRBW as much as the last time I posted about it? The answer would have to be yes, yes I do. And I’ve got a few more “favorite” songs now, including “Wouldn’t Be So Bad”, “Borderline”, “Doesn’t Have To Be This Way”, “If I Didn’t Know Any Better”. If I keep listening to this album, I think I might end up with every song being a “favorite”.

Click “more” to see a list of all of the interesting web sites I found this week. I keep track of my favorite sites using del.icio.us, a free web site where you can access your favorite links from any computer and share them with friends. You can also see all of my favorite links (not just the ones from this week).

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Today at work JP rediscovered two of the old bird projects. It turns out we had stashed them in a cubby in Martin’s pod the last time the company moved. We took them over to JP’s pod and set them back up and I got a few extra pictures of the guillotine setup since I only had one picture from the original. We have quite a few new employees since we originally did the bird projects, so everyone enjoyed checking them out.

What in the world is this? Explanation after the jump.

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I have an update on my del.icio.us API post from yesterday. I got an email from Joshua at del.icio.us indicating that they think they accidentally introduced a bug in the API and they hope to have it fixed shortly. I was glad to hear that because I was beginning to think I was going crazy with this whole issue. Also, extra credit to del.icio.us for responding at 12:07 AM. Those guys must be non-stop!

I have a PHP script that I use to automatically generate my weekly del.icio.us links and post them to my blog every Sunday. When the script ran this past Sunday, though, it didn’t return any links. I thought maybe there was some kind of glitch in the system when the cron job ran the script, so I just made the entry for this week by hand since there weren’t too many links.

I tried the script again tonight just to see what was going on, and it failed again. The script is using the “http://del.icio.us/api/posts/get?dt=xxx” function in the API, which is pretty straightforward, so I didn’t think I was making the call incorrectly. I double-checked the del.icio.us API documentation in case something had changed, but I didn’t see any changes or updates.

I fiddled with the script a little and it turned out that the XML parser was only finding one element every time it was called. That seemed wrong, but I didn’t know if it was a del.icio.us problem or an issue with my host since they had just upgraded to a newer version of PHP a few days before. I commented out any extra lines that weren’t part of the core functionality of the plugin and added a bunch of debug statements to the script to try to determine exactly what was happening, but I came to the same conclusion regarding the XML parser.

Since I was getting nowhere with the script, I decided to try calling the del.icio.us API directly from the address bar using my webbrowser. That took PHP out of the equation so I could rule out changes at my host as the source of the problem. I tried the calls using IE and Firefox, but in both cases I got back essentially an empty XML document without any links.

I finally gave up and sent an email to del.icio.us support describing my problem. If they confirm that things are working from their end, I’m not sure what my next step will be. If anyone is having the same problem or has any ideas on how to fix the issue, please let me know.

Click “more” to see a list of all of the interesting web sites I found this week. I keep track of my favorite sites using del.icio.us, a free web site where you can access your favorite links from any computer and share them with friends. You can also see all of my favorite links (not just the ones from this week).

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My boss knows that I saw “Howl’s Moving Castle” several weeks ago and really liked it. He told me that he was in Borders the other day and saw an “Art of Howl’s Moving Castle” book, so I went to check it out. It turns out there are several Miyazaki art books as well as mangas for a few of his movies. I knew there were plenty of Japanese books out there, but I had no idea these books were available in English. All of the books are generally available online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, or the publisher (Viz).

There are art books for “Howl’s Moving Castle”, “Spirited Away”, and “Porco Rosso”. There is also an out of print art book for “Princess Mononoke” and there will be a new one published this fall for “My Neighbor Totoro”. There are mangas for “Spirited Away” (5 books, box set available), “My Neighbor Totoro” (4 books), “Castle In The Sky” (4 books, box set available), “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” (7 books), and the set for “Howl’s Moving Castle” (4 books) is currently being published (one book each month from August through November). All of the mangas except for Nausicaa use actual color images from the movies. Nausicaa was written (at least partially) before the movie was released, so it uses black and white line drawings.

I’ve got about half of the books in hand and the other half in the mail. So far they are all very cool and I’m really glad I found them.

When I first set up my website, I used Fantastico to install my WordPress blogs and Coppermine image galleries. The installs went smoothly and everything worked just fine. Over time, though, I noticed that there was quite a long delay between when WordPress would release an update and when that update would be available in Fantastico. I guess that’s to be expected because once an update is released, Fantastico has to incorporate it, and then my hosting company has to get the new version of Fantastico and install it, and all of those things take time.

But I’m one of those people who always wants the latest, greatest version. So over the past few days I’ve removed all of my Fantastico installs and reinstalled everything myself. There wasn’t a lot of documentation available on how to do that, but it wasn’t too hard to figure out. I basically worked from instructions I found online that were intended to be used when moving from one host to another.

During the changeover I discovered that, at least for WordPress and Coppermine, the normal installs are just about as easy as using Fantastico. The only thing you really have to know how to do is make a new mySQL database and user, and the WordPress site has excellent instructions for doing that if you don’t already know how. All in all, if you are comfortable using FTP, I’d highly recommend installing things yourself instead of using Fantastico. You won’t have to deal with any of Fantastico’s installation restrictions, and you’ll be able to easily upgrade to the newest versions of scripts as they are released. I’m very glad I made the switch.

I was listening to Sting’s “Mercury Falling” on the way to work this morning, and it got me thinking back to when the album first came out. When it was released I was in college and my friend Kim was spending a semester in England. I bought the CD here in the US and she bought her copy in the UK. She kept telling me how great and catchy track number 8 was and I couldn’t figure out why. On the US version track 8 is “La Belle Dame Sans Regrets”, which is a perfectly good song, but I certainly wouldn’t call it catchy. Of course it turned out the UK release had an extra song, “Twenty Five to Midnight”.

I think it’s strange that a lot of foreign releases have extra tracks compared to the US versions. Why is that? Is it because the record companies know that a good number of US fans will buy the US release and then fork over more money to buy an import copy just to get an extra song? Why is there never an extra track on the US release? If the goal is to make more money, why not put a different extra track on the US release so people in other countries will import it in addition to their own domestic release? Are Americans the only people silly enough to actually hand over the cash for an extra track or two?

Driving home from work today I saw a pickup truck with an unusual bumper sticker: “Have you KNIFED a boar lately?”. My answer to that question would have to be no, actually, now that you mention it, I haven’t knifed a boar lately. Or ever, for that matter.

I searched around the net a little to see where you might be able to buy a bumper sticker like that, but I couldn’t find one like it anywhere. However, I did manage to find this description of what it’s like to knife a boar:

“Kenny grabbed it by the hind legs while I stuck that noisy 55-pound boar (which sure seemed bigger at the time!) with Jim’s Arkansas toothpick knife. Talk about an adrenaline rush! Wooooooooohooooooooo! There is nothing like it in the world, I can tell you that. I had taken a lot of ribbing about sticking a hog with a knife, but when it came right down to it I probably would have elbowed somebody else out of the way so I could get in there and get it done. I didn’t know whether I’d be ready for it, but I can tell you right now that I am ready for more! It simply can’t be explained… it is intense, dirty, hard, ugly work — and I’ll take all I can get.”

So is this something I’m missing in my life? Nah, I don’t think so. I’ll pass on the boar bumper sticker and just stick with the TiVo window cling on my car for now. :-)

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