Integrating with your weblog

January 31, 2005

As I touched on yesterday, I moved my 'linkblog' over to and was working on a way to merge those bookmarks with this site. After thinking about the various ways to do this, I came across an HTML generator on the site. It certainly isn't the prettiest solution, but I figured it was something I could get up and running in a matter of minutes.

The basic idea is that will return a chunk of HTML as per the arguments you supply it. The URI for my request looks like this: &rssbutton=no&bullet=&divclass=bit&aclass=bit_link

After figuring out the syntax it was just a matter of coming up with a way to pull it off the server. I decided to use Perl and the following is all the code that was needed. [Note that this could be done in one line with something like curl: curl http://address -o file.txt]

use LWP::Simple;
$bits = get "";
open(FILE, ">/path/to/the/file/you/want/to/write/to");
print FILE "$bits";

You could obviously use PHP or JavaScript to yank this information down each time the page is loaded, but why hit the server every time someone requests a page from you? Instead, just create a cron job that runs the above script every 15 minutes or so and then include the returned file in pages that are requested by your users. I use PHP for the include:

<?php include('/path/to/file'); ?>

Finally, you'll need to modify your CSS so that the text you've pulled down from gets styled inline with the rest of your site.

Like I said, there are a million different ways to bring your bookmarks into your site, but this seemed like the simplest to me. If I decide on a different method in the future, I'll be sure to outline instructions for that method here.

Lift Flickr Pro upload quota?

January 30, 2005

So, as I keep hinting at, I'm thinking very seriously about moving my entire photo collection to Flickr. This weekend I e-mailed them and asked about the 1GB/mo upload quota as it applies to the Pro accounts. I wanted to know if this could be lifted for the first month because I have almost 5GB of photos and didn't want to have to wait 5+ months to move everything over. Not an unfair request if you ask me, especially in light of the fact that I would be paying them. This was their response:

Flickr doesn't have the ability to offer extra bandwidth for an initial upload just yet. It may become something that it offers in the future, for a fee, because bandwidth costs money.

I don't quite understand the logic here. First of all, I wouldn't mind paying the fee given current bandwidth costs. Secondly, it's not like I have 5GB of photos from a week's worth of shooting — we're talking about my entire collection (i.e., I won't have 5GB of new photos every month). What difference does it make if I upload all of that in one month instead of five; the same amount of data is being sent across the pipe either way. I realize their provider caps them at some monthly maximum, but it seems that it would be in their best interest not to deter customers over something so petty and easily resolvable.

That said, my complaint is somewhat trivial and probably won't be a deal-breaker for me. Truth is, the actual number of photos that I would make public would probably not go beyond those that are already on my site, and I'm pretty sure I could at least get all of those up there without crossing the bandwidth threshold. The thing with me is that if I'm going to move everything over I want to do it all at once, not spread it out over months. Like I said, it really is a minor issue but I thought some of you might want to be made aware of it before you threw down your cash.

January 30, 2005

As I mentioned earlier, I finally decided to move my linkblog over to I exported/imported all of my old bookmarks as per Cameron's wonderful guide, and after tweaking his Perl script to suit my needs, everything was good to go.

If I have time later today I'll come up with a method to integrate them with this site so that they're placed under the "Bits" header on the right (until then, those not subscribed to the linked-list feed won't see any updates). I can think of quite a few ways to go about this and I'm still trying to decide which would be best. If you've done something similar and have a suggestion, I'd love to hear it before I start hacking away.

A hollow leg?

January 28, 2005

The NYT ran an article yesterday about how weight loss can sometimes be tied directly to restlessness. Not to toot my own horn too much, but I have been telling people this for years. If you know me personally then you've likely heard me say something along the lines of, "I can't explain it, but I'm pretty sure it has to do with all my nervous energy," in response to a question about how I can eat the way I do and never gain an ounce. I'm not going to go into my eating habits here as it will only work to further disgust those that couldn't dare eat like me and expect to stay the same weight, but suffice it to say that it's healthy's opposite. While I do workout to stay fit and whatnot, it certainly has no bearing on my weight — like I've always said, it's the finger-tapping and pen-twirling that keeps me skinny.

Send multiple SMS/MMS on Windows Mobile?

January 27, 2005

UPDATE: A reader pointed me to the MoDaCo forums where I stumbled across this post that links to a program called SmartSMS, which kind of does what I want, but not really. It allows you to create lists of people to whom you want to send SMS messages, but it doesn't let you choose these people on-the-fly; in other words, it doesn't let me do what I describe below, but it's still useful.

Does anyone know of a quick way to select multiple SMS/MMS recipients (instead of having to insert each contact individually) under Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphones (2nd edition)? I'm fairly certain this can't be done through the OS itself and so I'm assuming some third-party software will be required (this is fine).

Symbian Series 60 implements this perfectly. When composing an SMS/MMS it presents your contact list and allows you to check off those whom you want to receive the message. Then, after you've chosen those recipients, it walks you through all of them and if a contact has more than one number it presents you with those numbers and lets you choose which to use. The entire process is very fluid and you get the sense that there isn't a more efficient way to go about it. Indeed, I couldn't come up with a faster method (though the ability to specify a "default" message number would obviate the need to choose which number to use).

I'm asking about this because, as I mentioned here, I picked up a Motorola MPx220 a couple of weeks ago, but have since sold it and grabbed an i-mate SP3i (which also runs Windows Mobile). Expect a 'review' as soon as time permits — it's an amazing device.

CO-Trading escrow service

January 26, 2005

Anyone ever used the CO-Trading escrow service? I'm selling a rather high-value item and the best offer I've received so far is from a guy in Spain who wants to go through this group. He offered to let me choose a company, but I've never used an escrow service before — if you have any information on CO-Trading or if you can recommend a service that you've personally used, please let me know.

PBS's Frontline

January 24, 2005

I meant to post about this months ago, but never got around to it. Frontline, the always engaging, documentary-style PBS series, now has 42 'streamable' episodes available online. You'd be remiss not to take advantage of this — look through their topic list and treat yourself to some great journalism and wonderful story-telling.


January 23, 2005

I've got 43 Starbucks locations within a five-mile radius of my apartment. First of all, what the fuck? Second of all, and I can't help but to get competitive here, can anyone beat that?

UPDATE: 170 is the new high (around Broadway in NYC).

UPDATE: If you are interested in this at all, Jason has opened the topic up for comments.

"Outsourcing" this website

January 19, 2005

I'm thinking about offloading some features of this site to third-party "web services" (for no other than reason than the fact that I'd like to play around with them).


The only obvious web application for the sharing of photos is Flickr. They are currently offering a $41.77/year program which allows for unlimited storage, no filesize limit on individual pictures, and shows no advertisements on the display pages. The only problem with this is that if I do decide to use it to store and display my pictures I won't want to use it just for those pictures that I want to display publicly — I'll want to put my entire collection on it. This might seem weird to some, but the idea would be that it would become my primary storage medium for photos while my computer and any backups I do locally would be just that, backups.

Moving them over would be pretty seamless given this plugin available for iPhoto that will do all of the uploading while retaining album names and metatags. What is more is that there are plugins available for Movable Type that allow you to integrate your Flickr albums with your CMS.


The only real option here is After coming up with a rather quick and efficient way of doing this on my own through Movable Type, I'm a little hesitant to move this feature to a third party, but there are a few upsides, not the least of which is the community aspect of


It had never crossed my mind to move my syndication feeds off-site until I saw a few other people doing it with FeedBurner. The main reason I'm thinking about FeedBurner is that I think I might want to consolidate the two feeds that I have on this site (the main content feed and the linked-list feed) into one. Though this might be all that I use it for, there are all kinds of other neat things FeedBurner can do (e.g., if I were to move to Flickr, FeedBurner could add the photos I upload to Flickr to the all-in-one feed so that those subscribed would see the pictures in their aggregator as they were uploaded). As much as I like (and am constantly preaching) consolidation, I'm still a little iffy about merging all aspects of this site into one, potentially unwieldily feed (cases in point: Tom Coates and Matt Haughey).

Still Mulling It Over

While I am seriously thinking about all of these things, I'm just not sure I'm ready to make the plunge. Flickr probably has the best chance of receiving my attention (and money), but I'm going to wait a bit more before I make what will surely be a very time-consuming move if followed through.


January 13, 2005

If you, like me, are looking for some really neat sounds for your mobile phone (for received SMS messages, e-mails, phone calls, etc), then be sure to check out Soundrangers. I stumbled across these guys about a week ago and I'm still running through all of the sounds they have for sale (it hasn't really been a priority this week, being that it's the first week of another semester of law school).

On a related note, I picked up a Motorola MPx220 earlier today and have been very pleased with it so far. Assuming I keep this phone (and I think I will), I'd like to get a decent review up sometime soon (at least to explain the sudden move to Windows Mobile), but I'm not quite sure I'll have time. That said, if anyone wants to buy a mint-condition Nokia 7610 and save me the usual eBay/Craigslist hassles, let me know.

Arrested Development

January 06, 2005

OK, I have to get this off my chest: Arrested Development might be the funniest sitcom I've ever seen. While I do have a TiVo, I still abstain from watching sitcoms, not necessarily as a rule, but more because I just got so bored with them and the ones I did enjoy I fell out of sync with once law school started. That said, Arrested Development is a complete break from the tired, predictable crap that was Seinfeld, Friends, etc, none of which I ever got into (and yes, I realize everyone and their brother loves those shows).

Like most non-reality shows, I only watch them anymore when I'm back home on break — friends throw the DVD sets at me and I can't resist. I'm so glad I got to watch this one on DVD because just one a week would have made me crazy — it's that funny. Every single character is a riot and my favorite seemed to change from show to show. I never thought such humor could be derived from such narcissism, but the "mockumentary" way in which it is shot coupled with the depth of the writing makes you want to "rescue" all of the characters while laughing at the absurdity of their situations. It's brilliant.

Dreamhost redux

January 06, 2005

Just thought I'd do a little more advertising for DreamHost now that I've had my site there for a few months. I've yet to have any real trouble with my account and have been rather pleased with the communication from them when minor problems have presented themselves. If you have been thinking about switching hosts, I strongly encourage you to look at DreamHost; the hosting plan I'm on has changed quite a bit just in the short time that I've been with them:

  • 2.5GB 7.5GB of storage
  • 64GB 192GB bandwidth/month
  • Unlimited MySQL databases
  • Access to raw log files
  • 75 sub-domains
  • …plus all the obligatory usuals like SSH, multiple server-side spam-filtering options, mod_rewrite, etc

All for $20/mo. Can't beat it.

Top ten of 2004

January 04, 2005

I almost wanted to extend my top 10 records to 15 or 20 this year; it was difficult nailing it down to 10 given that I listened to nearly 200 new albums this year. Those appearing in the list below are those that I've listened to most over the course of the last year.

  • My Chemical Romance - Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge
  • The Faint - Wet From Birth
  • Interpol - Antics
  • Wilco - A Ghost is Born
  • The Arcade Fire - Funeral
  • Surgarcult - Palm Trees and Powerlines
  • The Killers - Hot Fuss
  • Modest Mouse - Good News For People Who Love Bad News
  • Green Day - American Idiot
  • Kanye West - College Dropout

Some honorable mentions include The Walkmen's Bows + Arrows, Velvet Revolver's Contraband, Snow Patrol's Final Straw, The Streets' A Grand Don't Come For Free, Taking Back Sunday's Where You Want to Be, DJ Danger Mouse's The Grey Album, Franz Ferdinand's Franz Ferdinand, and The Cure's The Cure.

The movie list was a bit easier to make. A couple of films that I haven't seen yet and that would have most likely made this list are Sideways and Kinsey.

  • Saved
  • Napoleon Dynamite
  • Ray
  • Monster
  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
  • The Incredibles
  • Miracle
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Meet the Fockers

Happy now?

January 04, 2005

I'm constantly told that I don't have enough (any?) pics of myself on this site, so I figured I'd put one up that I kind of like. I realize it's a bit dark, but that's probably why I like it.


An eventful year

January 04, 2005

2004 was a very busy year for me; let me recount some of the more notable events:

  • I survived my first year of law school despite some very serious personal obstacles (and despite somewhat disappointing grades, I received a couple of writing awards from the law school)
  • I spent my summer doing a legal internship at a great software company (and will be there again this semester)
  • I managed to lock down a summer associate position (for next summer) at a well-known intellectual property firm
  • I was approached by not one, but two, very large publishers about contributing to, and even writing my own, book on Google-related matters; I ended up contributing to one book and being the technical editor on both
  • I welcomed the fifth-year anniversary of this website and watched its audience grow exponentially
  • And to top it all off, I've finally let myself like someone again, and she's wonderful


December 30, 2004

From Andy Budd's BlogAid:

You can help the victims of this terrible natural disaster by pledging the proceeds of any advertising or affiliate schemes you have on your site for the month of January to your country's Tsunami Earthquake appeal.

What a great idea. This is a no-brainer for me and I'm pretty sure most webloggers feel the same; this project has the potential to raise a lot of money. Good luck Andy.

Top five (individual) weblogs

December 27, 2004

I'm occassionaly asked whose sites I read and which I most enjoy. My response usually involves a pointer back to my links page and/or my OPML file, which contains the addresses for all of the feeds I read each day. For those that don't want to work your way though my admittedly long and somewhat eclectic list, I present to you my top five personal websites:

John Gruber
If you have a Mac and a single nerd bone in your body then there is a good chance you've read this site. John has a wonderful way with words and consistently writes interesting and compelling articles pertaining to "Mac nerdery." His writing sometimes walks a fine line between flowery description and superfluous overkill, but he always seems to pull it around and make clear his point.
Jason Kottke
Let's face it, when it comes to weblogging, Jason is the man. He's been doing this for a very long time and is constantly bringing something new to his site and the medium. What is more is that I'm not sure I've ever felt someone was as "like" me as Jason seems to be — it's absolutely uncanny how his posts sometimes read how I think.
Russell Beattie
Russ is me, squared — he takes my gadget passion to a whole new level (at least as far as mobile phones go; just wait until I have money Russ  :P). I think what I like most about him is the fact that he absolutely holds no punches — he's going to tell you exactly how he feels whether he's talking about the latest Symbian OS or the dingbat we currently call president.
Rui Carmo
There is no question that Rui is the most prolific writer of the bunch and I sometimes wonder how he has time work on his "day job." One needs to look no further than his index to feel compelled to write about something, anything. He has a great grasp of "tech," and like Russ above, has no problem telling you exactly what's on his mind.
Dunstan Orchard
As I've said to many people (and probably even to Dunstan at some point), this is one of the best looking sites I've ever seen — his attention to detail is truly inspiring. Beyond the dynamic cartoon weather headers, the site is rich with content, not the least of which are his gorgeous photos (which he seems to be posting more frequently).

Soliciting comments on the Belkin TuneBase FM

December 26, 2004

I recently got an iPod mini for the strict purpose of using it in my car (and on flights) to sample new music. I'm looking very seriously at the Belkin TuneBase FM for iPod mini and am pretty sure that quite a few readers of this site already have one. I'd appreciate any information you guys could give me. I played around with an iTrip on my 2G iPod a couple of years ago and was very disappointed — hopefully Belkin has made some progress in this space.