Welcome to my site. Here you will find some info about me, the things I do and a listing of upcoming (and past) presentations and lectures. While I initially expected most of my posts to be about Open Source/Free Software (hence the name), these days it's mostly rants and ramblings about running.

A digital picture is worth 1024 words?

I've been working this weekend on building a site for a friend recently diagnosed with a nasty illness, so I'm not really in the mood to write. So today: no links, no rants, just a photo of a fire hydrant that is looking forward to spring.

Not the apple that I used to love.

Once upon a time, apple computers were built explicitly with the idea that the end-user should be able to repair and maintain their own computer. Apple went to great lengths to make things easy -- far easier than other computer makers. This is one of the things that led me to love apple. While my friends were having their hands shredded by their pc hardware and cleaning their bloody knuckles, I was happily and easily swapping hard drives, ram, video cards, etc.

Slowly, apple has become more user-hostile -- where once I could remove my laptop drive in 2 minutes, now it would take me hours and I'd probably never be able to put the thing together again. Where once I could open up and clean my machine, now I can't even figure out how to open the case. It seems that with every new mac I get, my ability to control my own machine has become more and more restricted.

Apple took this one step further this week -- where once an iPhone used simple, industry standard, phillips head screws, they are now using screws that are so proprietary that you can't even purchase a screw driver that fits. Seriously, folks... Proprietary Screws!

Not only are they doing this on new devices, but if you bring your device in for service, they are replacing the screws. Full details on this insanity can be found at http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/21/us-apple-screws-idUSTRE70K0BO2...

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Today's photos are:

Rat condo?
 
 

 
 

snow cone?

How'd you get here?

I was looking at my site traffic today and discovered something interesting. Normally, when you click a link on one website that sends you to another part of the data sent to the server linked to is the location of the link. This part of the http header is referred to as the referrer -- although in the http specification (and therefor in the header itself) it is misspelled as referer.

There's a lot more data passed along when you click a link than you might realize. See wikipedia for a full list of headers.

One post I made recently got a lot more traffic than normal, so I went looking to see where these folks were coming from. I was surprised that most of the requests contained no referrer information. It seems that facebook strips out the referrer info from the header when you click a link on facebook to another site.

The motivation is to avoid accidentally leaking private information. While I think it's a good thing that facebook (after being sued) decided to pay attention to this, I'm rather disappointed at how they have implemented the solution.

Facebook's engineering team posted info about this a little while ago. In that post they detail the requirements of their referrer code, and it states that outgoing clicks must include enough header so it is clear that the link comes from facebook, while stripping out a user's profile id or other data that could compromise a user's privacy. From what I can see, they have not met their own specs on this. I have to dig deeper into this before I am convinced I am correct, but from my initial examination it seems that they do not pass on that data. So, if you clicked a link on someone's blog, or a google search, I know where you came from -- but if you got here via facebook, I have no idea how you got here.
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Today's photos:

On a snowday, some things close and others open
 
 

rat chow?
 
 

2 links and 4 photos for a snowy day

The President Ignored the Elephant in the Room
http://robertreich.org/post/2942788440
This is an interesting critique of Obama's State of the Union address

What the President should have done is talk frankly about the central structural flaw in the U.S. economy – the dwindling share of its gains going to the vast middle class, and the almost unprecedented concentration of income and wealth at top

Susan G. Komen Foundation Elbows Out Charities Over Use Of The Word 'Cure'
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/07/komen-foundation-charities-cure...
It is really annoying when non-profits forget why they exist and take on corporate mentality, spending money to harass other groups over "ownership" of simple words, like "cure"

So far, Komen has identified and filed legal trademark oppositions against more than a hundred of these Mom and Pop charities, including Kites for a Cure, Par for The Cure, Surfing for a Cure and Cupcakes for a Cure--and many of the organizations are too small and underfunded to hold their ground.

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Today's photos

 
 

 
 

 
 

If it has a motor, it's not a bicycle!

I was in a good mood today until, while walking to the subway after a client meeting, I got hit by a jackass riding his bicycle on the sidewalk. His brakes were wet and his electric powered "bicycle" pushed him along as numerous pedestrians jumped out of his way. I managed to avoid a full-on collision, but still got clipped. If my shoe was not stuck in his spokes, he'd have merrily continued on his way into the crowd waiting to cross the street.

There was a little bit of instant karma, however. After a heated exchange of words and numerous people calling the police -- he tried to flee the scene, slipped off the pedals and was dragged by his motorized machine into a knee deep swamp of slush (where he was surrounded by a few angry witnesses and forced to wait for a cop to show up).

I'm an advocate of bicycling in NYC, so this puts me in an awkward place. I don't want to jump on the "bikes are dangerous" bandwagon, but I really think that something is out of control here. I'm even an advocate of bikes ignoring traffic rules when doing so does not impact anyone else (no one there? run the red light, that's why you're on a bike and not in a car) -- but an outlaw needs to remember to be polite (respect pedestrians! even when they might be acting stupidly).

One way or another something is going to happen. The bicycling community needs to enforce a certain base etiquette before it gets to the point where legislative solutions are put into place.

We also need to make a clear distinction between human powered transportation and motorized vehicles. I was not hit by a bicyclist, I was hit by a jerk on a motorcycle!

And with that off my chest, on to today's photos: