Preview: Bogo's Blog
Translating Google+ Posts
I've noticed a few people complaining that it's a pain to translate posts they see in Google+. I made a modified version of the Google Translate Bookmarklet that you can use. Drag this link
to your browser bar, highlight a block of text and click the bookmarklet. It will open a new window to a translate page auto-detecting the language and translated into English. If you'd like another language you can tweak the parameter in the url in the bookmarklet.
Full contents of the bookmarklet for easier reading:
Remember how significant you are.
Whenever you've got a big problem, take a look at this image. Reflect on just how significant it is in the grand scheme of things.
Laptop searches at the border
I know this is a pretty old issue but it's one that has bugged me since I first heard about it. The US Department of Homeland Security apparently has the right to seize your laptop
or other electronics that are capable of carrying data when crossing the border. They can then take a full copy of your hard-drive. This invasion of privacy is all being done under the guise of protecting the country from criminals and terrorists.
The problem is that any moderately competent criminal or terrorist knows this is happening and won't carry their data with them now. It's incredibly easy to take your data, encrypt it, and make it accessible from any machine with a connection to the internet. Once they've crossed the border they can grab a copy of the data and decrypt it. Even more so the data can be encrypted and hidden in plain-sight
for later access.
I assume the government knows this. Assuming this, why is the government doing it? Is it a dragnet for the stupid criminals, ones who pose no real threat to us because they're dumb enough to be caught by these tactics?
Transferred my Domains to Hover
After the recent kerfuffle
over GoDaddy's CEO going elephant hunting I decided to look around for another registrar for my domains. I just happened to be listening to an episode of TWiG
, I forget) and I caught an ad for hover.com
The transfer process was extremely painless (at least on Hover's part). For some reason getting the authorization keys from GoDaddy was like pulling teeth. After requesting the transfer keys it took hours to receive the keys by email. It was also no picnic getting domains I bought through Google Apps
transferred since each domain lived in it's own account at GoDaddy or Enom.
Hover has been generally awesome. The first time I had to call them for support I was shocked. No phone tree to get to a human. A human
picked up the phone in two rings. They were super helpful fixing an issue I ran into transferring a few domains. When I checked my credit card statement today I noticed that they accidentally double-billed me for the domains that I had this trouble with. I sent them an email and within 4 hours (on a Sunday) had a response that they were going to credit me back. Their Twitter account
has also been very responsive
about web site suggestions
The Hover website is great. Buying and transferring domains is a piece of cake and there aren't 150 up-sell items that assault you on your way to checkout. If you have domains you want to move or are thinking of buying a new domain I highly recommend Hover.
Gmail provides a bunch of great ways to filter your e-mail. One of the most accurate is to append a string to the end of your user name (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) when signing up for a service. Gmail strips everything after the + when determining where to deliver a message, however it will still appear in the "Delivered-To" message header. You can then run a search or create a filter by searching for "deliveredto:email@example.com". This allows you to set up auto labeling or other behaviors based on the origin of the e-mail, without having to know where the message might be coming "From:".
This is also useful for setting up forwarding between Gmail accounts. Using this guarantees you can label forwarded e-mail because Delivered-To will always be the address you specified in the forwarding set up, even if the original e-mail was addressed To: a mailing list or you were originally BCCed.
There's one big problem with this set up. There are a lot of... misguided developers out there who set up their registration forms with bad e-mail validation. I'd say about 50% of the time I can't use this method because + is not a valid character in the form.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-mail_address#RFC_specification
I wish people would bother to follow standards. Very annoying.
I haven't been posting a lot here, and it's mainly because I don't have anything that long-winded to say :)
I've started using Twitter to post the random things throughout the day that I used to bundle up into a weekly post. If you're interested, I'm at http://twitter.com/bogosian
Personal Web Hosting with App Engine
A few days ago I got a notice from my hosting company that my year long contract has expiring soon. I was using this hosting for three small websites that are 100% static and figured that there should be a cheaper way to get this done.
My first instinct was to look at Amazon S3
as their storage and bandwidth rates are pretty good. For my usage pattern I'd be looking at paying pennies per month to host all three sites. Unfortunately there's one fairly major flaw in web access to S3 that makes hosting an entire website there a non-starter. There is no way currently to set up a S3 bucket to host a file from the root of the bucket (i.e. http://www.jamesbogosian.com/ cannot be set up to serve http://www.jamesbogosian.com/index.html).
After thinking about it some more I realized that even though Google App Engine
is designed to host dynamic websites that it could be easily used to suit my needs. Here are the steps that I took to get this working:
- Sign up for Google Apps for the domain in question (jamesbogosian.com)
- Log into App Engine and create a new application
- Download all of the content from jamesbogosian.com and place it in a directory named "static"
- Create an app.yaml file at the same level as the static directory that looks like this one (replacing your app ID from step 2 on the first line)
- Using appcfg.py from the App Engine SDK (download this if you haven't already), upload your "application" to appspot.com
- Log into Google Apps control panel and select "Add more services"
- Add your application to this domain by providing the app ID, and choose to host the "application" off of www.yourdomain.com
- Add or edit the "www" CNAME on your domain to point to ghs.google.com
- In most cases you will also want to redirect your naked domain (i.e. jamesbogosian.com) to www. This is different for each domain registar / DNS set-up. I use GoDaddy, and there was a small trick to get this working (I think)
- In the GoDaddy Domain Management tool, set up the forwarding from http://yourdomain.com to http://www.yourdomain.com, as a 301 redirect
- In the GoDaddy Total DNS Control and MX Records tool, change the A Record on your domain to point to 126.96.36.199 (this seems to be the way to get forwarding to actually work)
Now, there are a few limitations worth noting:
- There is a single file size limitation of one meg.
- There is a file count limitation of 1,000 files. You can work around this by using the zipserve module.
- Spikes in traffic may currently be greeted with quota errors, but if you're talking about doing real low-traffic hosting I'd imagine that would never happen
Bailout or Bankruptcy?
Robert Reich has an excellent post on his blog
asking the question on my mind, why don't we just let companies go bankrupt. Chapter 11 is there for a reason.
So why, exactly, is the Treasury substituting government bailouts for chapter 11? Even if you assume Wall Street's major banks and insurance giant AIG are so important to the national and global economy that they can't be allowed to fail, that doesn't mean they have to be bailed out. They could be reorganized under bankruptcy protection. True, their creditors, shareholders, and executives would take bigger hits than they're taking now that taxpayers are bailing them out. But they're the ones who took the risk. We didn't.
I want to move to Toledo to vote for this woman.
Privatize Profits, Socialize Losses
just makes me ill.
Let's deregulate. Let's let the free market run the show. Let's make insane profits. We'll keep them all thanks.
Ohh wait, we screwed up. Now it's everyone's problem.
Umbrella Today - Fail
I signed up for Umbrella Today? on Monday. On Tuesday morning I got a text message to bring my umbrella to work and ended up carrying it, closed, throughout my commute both ways. Now, granted it absolutely poured in the middle of the day but I did not need
my umbrella at all. Today I did not get a text message, however here's the current radar.(image)
This morning I found an interesting little website called Umbrella Today?
The jist of the site is very simple, type in your zip code and it will tell you if you should be bringing an umbrella on your commute today. Even better, they have an SMS service that will text you in the morning if an umbrella would be a good idea. I obviously have no experience with this part of the service, so I'll report back in a few weeks.
Using Google Code
I've decided to start using Google Code
to host some of my little utility scripts that I find I use on multiple computers. They're mainly python and shell scripts and can be found here
. Here's what's currently in there:
ftp_upload.py - uploads a single file to a FTP server
make_gallery.py - renames all of the files in a directory and optionally creates a set of thumbnails
timemachine - performs a backup from a remote location using rsync, only downloading diffs and creating hard-links to previous files where appropriate
One of the cool new features released on code.google.com is a RSS feed for the Subversion changes to a project. For my little project it can be found at http://code.google.com/feeds/p/bogos-utility-scripts/svnchanges/basic
I recently came into the possession of an Amazon Kindle
. I have to say, I never really realized how this would change my reading habits. As silly as it sounds being able to hold a book in one hand and flip the page with my thumb easily is quite different, especially with a baby in one arm :)
The problem I'm running into is that being the... frugal person that I am, I'm trying to avoid buying books from Amazon. I'm a bit annoyed that I can't go to a library and get a book, even with DRM on it, and keep it for a few weeks while I read it.
So, I'm looking for some recommendations. What are some classic books that I most likely missed reading while in high school (I didn't do any work) or college (I only took engineering and psychology classes). I've found two sites, manybooks.net
that have many public domain books available in Kindle format.
Thank God for Gmail
I decided to run an experiment over the last month. Instead of checking my spam folder in Gmail on a regular basis and emptying it I'd let it build up over 30 days worth of spam (spam older than 30 days gets auto-purged). I just checked back with the spam folder and it has reached a steady state of around 1,100 items or roughly 36 emails a day. 36 emails a day and I do take precautions using SpamGourmet
. I can't imagine what life would be like if all of this nonsense made it to my inbox...
I was very sad last week to read what appears to be the final Fake Steve Jobs blog post
. It's quite unfortunate too, as two days later the "iPocalypse
" hit. If you've been living under a rock for the last month, you might not know that July 11th, 2008 was the release date for the iPhone 3g as well as the firmware upgrade for the first-gen iPhones.
Apparently Apple and/or AT&T were not aware that many people would want to purchase new iPhones and upgrade existing phones. That's the only rational explaination as to why the activation servers virtually melted down for most of the day. This left people at stores unable to play with their new phones once they bought them and, more annoyingly, those who already owned first-gen phones got caught mid-upgrade with a phone that would only dial 911 as the device could not be re-activated after the upgrade.
Thankfully I had manually upgraded the night before and did not run into any of these issues, though apparently I upgraded with a pre-release or debug version of the firmware which was a bit glitchy. I re-upgraded using the official firmware a day or two after the activation servers started responding again :)
P.S. Apple/AT&T, why did we have to re-activate a phone where the OS was being upgraded? Seems silly to me.
Open Source at Google
I've noticed quite a few projects being open sourced lately that I thought I'd point out:Protocol Buffers
Protocol Buffers are a heavily used inside Google as a data interchange format. They're beautiful. Generated classes for C++, Java and Python that output very compact binary data that parses very quickly and can be backwards compatible across revisions of your data structure. Here's the blog post
.Google C++ Testing Framework
I don't know a whole lot about this since I don't write C++ but it sounds pretty cool. Who wouldn't want to write "death tests". Here's the blog post
.AdWords API Starter Kit
This project aims to help advertisers get started easier with the AdWords API (my manager played a big role in developing this). There's a blog post
that explains it on the AdWords API Blog.BrowserSync
Unfortunately tools you use go out of support from the companies that built them. Google's BrowserSync now falls into this category. Thankfully the team has open sourced the project however there's still the minor sticking point of where will all of the data be synced to? Here's the blog post
If you're a Mac user, use Google Docs or Google Bookmarks and use Spotlight this will be of interest. This tool will let you index Docs and Bookmarks and add that into your Spotlight index for easy searching of data on your computer and data at Google. Here's the blog post
Using Beryl on Linux
I recently decided to start using a Linux desktop at work in place of my MacBook Pro as my main computer (I now leave my MBP mainly at home). Immediately I realized that I had grown very used to having nice looking windows and fancy effects
. After a bit of searching I turned up Beryl
. Not only does Beryl beat OS X in the fancy effects department with it's windows catching on fire when you close them and 3D-spinning-cube desktop
, it also provides some very useful features like:
- the ability to have a window stop moving once you've dragged it up against the side of the screen
- the ability to control the opacity of a window on the fly by holding down ALT and moving the mouse wheel
- the "AddHelper" which can darken or completely black out the windows other than the active one on your screen to help concentration
Google User Research
Interested in helping Google make our products better? Sign up for a usability study. If you're chosen you can either come to a Google office to participate or do it remotely.
When you sign up, use the referral code "CandyCane".
Here's a great explanation of what the writer's strike is all about. It seems to me that the writers are totally getting hosed here, and I really haven't heard anything from the studios to debate that. I really hope this doesn't continue long enough to kill Lost for the season...