Monday, October 25, 2004

VisiBone: tools I use a lot

There are certain tools that I use a lot when I make websites. Aside from software to make webpages, I regularly use Bob Stein's VisiBone color chart, laminatad reference cards with stuff such as common fonts installed on computers and tag reference and more, and some of his foldup reference cards, such as the one for javascript. I love them, they're (mostly) easy to stash on my desk, and the color wheel is a great poster. Twitch consults it pretty regularly and lets me know if he likes my choices.

Twitch consults the VisiBone color chart
posted by lee on 10/25/04 at 01:32 PM

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Sunday, October 24, 2004

MT-Blacklist: will it ever get updated again? Steal my current list!

A guy named Jay Allen created a plugin for Movable Type called MT-Blacklist. This plugin automates comment spam removal and made my life as a blogger much easier. I was so impressed with it I even donated some money toward this free plugin -- not a lot of money, mind you, but what I could spare at the time. Pretty regularly, I'd go to the newly updated list and add in the latest additions, and I love that my efforts were also contributing to the MT-blacklist clearinghouse. A true community tool.

Only, I noticed a few weeks ago that the list was not being updated -- that it stopped being updated as of October 9. So I wondered what was going on.

Jay's MT-Blacklist plugin was one of the winners the plug-in contest that MT ran when it decided that maybe they should reward the people that made MT functional enough to be able to charge a lot of money for MT instead of giving it away for a $20 donation. Which was cool. Eventually, MT got around to offering Jay a job. Also as it should be, since droves of people would've abandoned MT long ago if not for Jay's plugin.

Jay took the job, which involved a move from Budapest, Hungary to San Francisco, CA. Hence, no blacklist updates. I was surprised at this, since I assumed it was all automated, but I guess it has to be moderated for some reason. I don't speak CGI, so I don't know what the deal is.

I tried to find out when blacklist updating will resume, but to no avail. I hope it's soon. It's a service I would subscribe to for the MT installations that I am not planning on moving to pMachine or ExpressionEngine (I am migrating neurotwitch to pMachine one of these days, just as soon as I have a few spare hours to work on the design. And all the new blogs I've built since June have been on the pMachine/EE platform).

At any rate, since I needed an updated blacklist, I created one based on two blogs I tend (this one and westportnow.com) and merged them, cleaned up extraneous stuff, and have a list updated as of today. You can download my list here. It has 3,036 entries as of today. (Egad that's a depressing statistic -- all those slimy spammers, particularly that bob idiot ... )

And if anyone finds out when MT-Blacklist updates will resume, please let me know. (Or even if it's not going to resume ... which is what I fear.)

posted by lee on 10/24/04 at 09:07 AM

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Thursday, October 21, 2004

just hit “delete”

According to this article: MSNBC - New reason to avoid 'unsubscribe' links, some spammers are sneaking a secret code into the unsubscribe link that may turn you into a spammer as well. Please note that this is being done by SPAMMERS, and not by legitimate companies.

It's always been a bad idea to click the "unsubscribe" link in spam (it lets the spammer know that your email address is live) -- so just delete them instead or report it via spamcop.

posted by lee on 10/21/04 at 10:54 AM

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Sunday, October 17, 2004

leaf peeping in the hills

A mostly sunny day bookended by wild rainy days, peak color in the Litchfield Hills (according to meteorologist Geoff Fox at WTNH), a yen to go on a jaunt: we went to Kent, CT with Helene. It had been too long since we headed up the Housatonic River to soak in Not Fairfield County. Chilly, but a beautiful day.

We were going to grab brunch at a restaurant we like somewhere along Rt. 7 (no, I won't say what or where it is; it's crowded enough), but the wait was way too long today and we wanted to get north. We decided to hit a diner along the way. We passed the diner in New Milford before we knew it. Stanley said we'd probably find the Gaylordsville Diner in Gaylordsville and, sure enough, we did (I still think Stanley saw a sign for it). Good food, good waitress, good prices.

Afterwards, we continued on to Kent, where we decided to go to Kent Falls so Ginger could walk a bit. It was crowded! It was beautiful. So we paid our $7 for parking and took Ginger for her walk. She was delirious.

stanleyginger_kent_101704.jpg


It was beautiful there, but cold!

kent_101704.jpg


I don't know if it was peak, but the colors vibrated.

kentfalls_redtree_101704.jpg


Helene huddled into her coat--I can't believe how cold it got.

helene_stanley_kent_101704.jpg


helene_kent_10_17_04.jpg


The predictions were that the color was going to be intense this season because of all the rain we had over the summer. I'm looking forward to seeing the color around our house -- it should peak here in a week or so. It is at least two weeks later than it was last year.

kentfalls_101704.jpg


We poked around Kent afterward, looking for Stosh's Ice Cream, which I think is the best ice cream on the planet. Unfortunately, they went out of business at the end of the summer. I was pretty surprised since the place was always insanely busy. Too bad. We also stopped in at a new used book store, Richard J. Livesey, which is really a good store. I could've spent another hour there, easily. Wandered in and out of a lot of the other stores. Got a couple of books, some cobalt glassware, a praying mantis, and a grasshopper. It was fun just to wander, look at all the stuff, and look mostly at the trees. Kent is definitely New England.

It was a satisfying day, getting away and soaking in the colors, breathing fresh air, great conversation.

posted by lee on 10/17/04 at 05:48 PM

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Saturday, October 16, 2004

nature hills nursery—superb customer service

It's amazing what a difference courtesy makes when it comes to customer service. Last month, Kinkos screwed up and earned my undying disgust. This month, Nature Hills screwed up and earned my undying loyalty.

weigela variegated

About a week ago, we got a big box from Nature Hills Nursery. I've been ordering lots of stuff for the garden, so I wasn't very surprised -- I just didn't remember what I'd ordered from this particular place. Opening the box, I found five Variegated Weigela and a Red Prince Weigela. Nice healthy plants, carefully packaged and all intact.

weigela red prince

But I, for the life of me, couldn't remember ordering weigela!

I dug through everything until I found the packing slip, and discovered that the shrubs were supposed to have gone to a lady in Fairfax, New Jersey. Ah, a shipping error. But what had I ordered that probably went to the New Jersey lady?

Fortunately, I keep all of my online receipts. Not organized, mind you, but I have 'em all somewhere. So I dug through them to find out that last June I'd ordered a witch hazel, a lilac, and a false indigo bush, all scheduled for fall delivery.

I called Nature Hills and talked to Pete, in customer service. Who apologized profusely. Took all my information and asked if I could use the weigela's since it would be too expensive, and not good for the shrubs, to ship them back. And that he would track down my order and get it right out to me. He was very nice.

If the actual destination for the weigela were somewhere within an hour or so, Stanley and I probably would've delivered them on one of our Sunday jaunts with Helene. But Fairfax NJ is quite a bit further than we normally go, so yes, I can use the weigela. Stanley planted three of them (to further fill out the living fence we're making to block the ugly house of the weasel next door) and I gave three to my sister, who is doing a lot of landscaping now.

On Monday, Pete called me back. Said he was working on getting my shipment out, but, he apologized, the witch hazel was all gone for the fall -- did I want to cancel it or backorder it for spring delivery. I really want the witch hazel, so I told him to just send it in the spring. Then he said, "please go online and look through the catalog and pick out something and we'll send that to you free." Wow! That's a great way to apologize! I didn't need to look -- I just asked him if he had a mimosa tree (silk tree). That's my choice. He said, "Sure, but I might not be able to ship it for fall planting." Fine by me. Stanley and I love them so I was pretty excited to get one.

The bottom line is Nature Hills does customer service right. I didn't expect the free plant as a gift, just courteous service as they fixed the mistake. This company went above and beyond and, as a result, they've earned my loyalty and my future business -- I have a lot more to order in the spring.

posted by lee on 10/16/04 at 02:34 PM

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