...composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries...

© 1994-2017. David Sklar. All rights reserved.

NSA Cookies

As has been widely reported, the US National Security Agency was caught out violating a federal government policy on persistent cookies.

I think this actually revealed the warm and fuzzy side of the NSA, though. All the reports say that the cookies were set to expire in 2035. The maximum expiration date most servers and browsers can handle, though, isn’t until 2038 (due to the size of a 32 bit integer.) If the NSA was really sinister, they’d want those cookies to expire as late as possible. Instead, they were giving us humble citizens a break by forgoing three whole years of data retention. Thanks, NSA!

Bad UI == No Food Stamps

From Immigrant Victims of Abuse Are Illegally Denied Benefits, Suit Says:

Hundreds of battered immigrant women and children are being illegally denied food stamps and other aid because of programming errors in New York welfare computers and faulty staff training, according to legal papers that poverty lawyers plan to file in federal court today.
. . .
At its most basic level, the problem lies in the pull-down computer menu that caseworkers use when they enter information about a noncitizen applying for aid. The list of eligible immigration categories mistakenly omits "battered qualified alien," the category in which these women and children fit. So workers systematically reject them, with faulty state training manuals compounding the problem, the lawyers said.

Ning Badges

Jon made some badges for Ning apps. I need to get some more wishes:

PHP 5 - Elementi di programmazione

Yesterday was an international day around here. The delivery man also brought PHP 5 - Elementi di programmazione, the Italian translation of Learning PHP 5. It looks great, although I have to admit I’m a tiny bit disappointed that they didn’t take the French approach and transpose all the Chinese food references into local delicacies.

PHP Cookbook in Russian

The Russian translation of PHP Cookbook, PHP. Сборник рецептов, arrived in the mail yesterday. My rudimentary sound-out-Cyrillic-letters skills that remain from a trip to the Soviet Union in 1989 have been helpful as I stumble my way through.

Big Nerd Blog

Some of the largest pieces of French Toast I’ve ever encountered have been at the Big Nerd Ranch. In less breakfasty news, however, the fine cowpokes at Big Nerd Ranch have a new-ish blog that features, among other things, a look at XML in PHP 5.

Ning App Idea: List of DRM-encrusted or otherwise corrupted CDs

A Boing Boing post today discusses some sites that list malware-corrupted audio CDs.

If you’ve wanted to play around with Ning but haven’t thought of an app idea, consider this my lazyweb (lazyning?) request to built a corrupt CD tracker. Cloning Restaurant Reviews or Wishlist could be good places to start.

Confidential to XEmacs: jEdit is poaching on your turf

At the risk of getting beat up by elisp hoodlums the next time I find myself alone in a dark digital alley at night, I must admit that I am spending less time with XEmacs these days and more time with jEdit.

Jon turned me on to it at work* after it became his preferred editor for writing Ning apps. The initial thing that made me switch was that jEdit’s SFTP support is excellent, while XEmacs’s is (via tramp) is nonexistent.

You come for the SFTP, but you stay for the rest of the features. jEdit really has been an almost perfect balance of providing all the things I want but otherwise not getting in my way. There has been a bit of a learning curve as I figure out what key combos do what or which plugin is appropriate for a task, but it’s not bad. Each time I think that jEdit doesn’t have some feature I need, it turns out I’m wrong.

When I complained about missing isearch-forward, Jon pointed out that C-, does incremental search (and C-g moves to the next match.) When I thought, “a File-Open dialog box is so clunky compared to C-x o and then typing a path with tab completion”, I discovered that the File-Open dialog box that C-o brings up in jEdit supports tab completion and auto-navigates to subdirectories as you type them.

That said, I am not completely gaga on the jEdit kool-aid yet. XEmacs has better source control system integration and its php-mode does better “indent to the right place (with spaces) when I hit tab”. I also have a juicy set of elisp macros for writing Docbook XML and haven’t tried any XML writing in jEdit yet. jEdit has somewhat better PHP intelligence than XEmacs – its PHPPlugin can find various syntax errors, while XEmacs has nothing like that. However, jEdit’s PHPPlugin isn’t up to the code-completion of, e.g. Zend Studio, which is really nice.

* Does saying “at work” really make sense when I’m in NYC, he’s in BC, and “the office” is in Palo Alto? I suppose “at” is virtual now, too.


We launched Ning yesterday – a playground for building and using social applications.

I’m very excited to have this out and about now for experimentation and use. It’s been incredibly fun to build and noodle on the consequences as we built it, but I suspect the feedback we now get from users and developers as well as the apps that new developers build will create an even bigger wave of neat ideas.

Working with such a spectacular team of folks has been (and continues to be!) a thrill. (As well as with all the spectacular folks who don’t have blogs to link to.)

If you don’t know PHP, dive in and clone existing apps to get your own social apps up and running in seconds. If you do know PHP, use our PHP API and components to build a cool new app in (slightly more) seconds.

Plenty post-launch cleanup and coordination to do (as well as absorb all of the nice traffic from /.,, digg, MeFi, boingboing, etc.) but I’ll have plenty more to say in the coming days, weeks, and months.

At OSCON 2005

If it’s August and I’m in Portland, OR, it must be time for OSCON!

Things got off to a great start yesterday with the beautiful view of Mt. Hood out of my airplane window as we approached Portland. We don’t have mountains like that in New York City.

Today started off with my Learning PHP tutorial this morning, which went well. Lots of attendees, lots of good questions, lots of interest in the snazzy new features of PHP 5.

Tomorrow brings some tutorials for me to attend, lots of catching up with old friends, and ideally some making of new friends.