May 11

What Goes Around

Back when I started this blog my Internet service provider was Comcast, which didn’t support any scripting of the web server. So, I used a rather simple tool, bloxsom, that could generate all of the HTML pages and the XML news feed which I would then upload via FTP. Before long I started using another provider and launched dolben.org to serve the blog as well as a family tree and a few software doodads. In subsequent years I used a few different popular blogging systems including Movable Type and Blogger. I gave up on Movable Type and switched to Blogger after the blog was hacked for the second time. Blogger provided a mode in which it used FTP to load the generated web files onto my server. I had decided to avoid having any blogging application on my server that could be attacked. But then Blogger ended its publishing via FTP.

That’s when I returned to generating the content on my home computer and uploading it to my server. I looked at a few existing tools for doing that, including once again bloxsom, which hasn’t changed since I first used it. In the end it seemed to me that it would be easier to write a little tool myself than to deal with their arcane and poorly documented customization interfaces. Indeed the generator I wrote has only a couple of hundred lines of python code.

My apologies to anyone whose feed aggregator (like mine, Google Reader) has given them a few fresh copies of the last dozen entries over the past couple of days as I tweaked my generator.

posted @ 11:02 AM EDT

2010 Pan-Mass Challenge

For the eleventh straight year I’ll be riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge which, through the Jimmy Fund, raises money to support research and treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. For more information you might look at this year’s fact sheet (PDF).

You can contribute online if you’d like to support my effort.

posted @ 11:22 PM EDT

May 15

Jessica Watson's Circumnavigation

Jessica Watson, a 16-year-old from Down Under, sailed into Sydney harbor today, completing her non-stop, solo circumnavigation of the world. Brava!

posted @ 08:07 AM EDT

May 19

What the Internet Knows About You

Websites that you visit can find out what sites you’ve visited from data stored in your browser. Mozilla is planning to plug one hole in Firefox, but warns that other issues will remain.

posted @ 12:17 PM EDT

May 31

The Gulf Gusher

The Wikipedians have an extensive article on the Deepwater Horizon blowout—calling it a spill. The question remains: why did the blowout preventer fail? Then, what is the record of blowout preventers working under similar conditions? Are there other blowout preventer designs that would have been more likely to perform correctly in this instance?

posted @ 01:01 PM EDT