web stuff

Thursday, February 06, 2003

watching out so you don’t have to

Consumer WebWatch, brought to you by the folks at Consumer Reports and The Pew Charitable Trust, is on a mission to investigate and improve the credibility of information on the web. They list guidelines for judging a website's credibility and kind of serve as a clearinghouse for web credibility initiatives (there are many). Definitely worth a look, especially if you're building a website other than a personal site.
posted by lee on 02/06/03 at 07:09 PM

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Thursday, December 12, 2002

Gel (Good Experience Live) Conference 2003

Register for the Gel Conference (Good Experience Live), May 2, 2003 in NYC. Find out the details and get a discount if you buy your ticket early. When you buy your ticket, please type in "Lee Fleming, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)" where the form asks who referred you. Pretty please.
posted by lee on 12/12/02 at 01:15 AM

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Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Poopdex - yet another blog tracker we never needed

Popdex : the website popularity index launched, when? I don't really know. Recently, I guess. Oh, I just looked at the Poopdex blog -- Dec. 7th it seems (what an icky blog - Shanti, remember, hubris). Already blogged all over, but of course I have two cents to add. I thought it was kinda cool, until I read this by Shanti Braford, creator of the site:

Should a link shoot straight to the top just because a bunch of little-known sites linked to it, or can the ranking be based on the importance of the sites linking to it? This is where I would like to take Popdex...

Now, what I want to know is, what consitutues an "important" blog, fer cryin' out loud? The ones with the biggest buzz? The ones most people link to? The ones that get visited the most? (And how could you tell?)

Ah well, wish I had that much spare time on my hands.
posted by lee on 12/10/02 at 04:53 AM

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Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Hey, it’s really useful!

I got a message from Macromedia this morning about this new content product called Contribute. Supposed to make updating content on websites much, much easier. So I checked it out. I love it. I managed to get a backlog of content updates done very fast. I will defintely buy this when it's released for sale next month. It's $99, at least that will be the intro rate, a little steep for what amounts to an add-on. But I figure the time it will save us will pay for it pretty quickly.

The one thing I did notice about it is the code has to be absolutely correct in order for Contribute to work for updating content. If there are missing tags, such as unclosed table cells for example, it warns the content contributor not to do anything until it's fixed. I think this is a Good Thing.
posted by lee on 11/12/02 at 09:59 PM

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Monday, November 11, 2002

Durable Digital Depository

MIT launched DSpace, which is basically a searchable repository for digitized research reports. Apparently, this is just the beginning. The search seems to work well. The documents are abstracted so you don't have to waste time downloading .pdf files you might not need. It's a promising start in an attempt provide some persistence to digital creations, which have a tendency to disappear as technologies change or webservers are shut down, moved, or rearranged.

The software for the library is open source, so other organizations won't have to pay royalties to create their own digital library using the MIT (developed with Hewlett-Packard) software. It's the first link in what they hope will be a consortium of digital archives.

The one drawback that I've noticed is there is no way to tell if the contribution has been peer-reviewed before being accepted into the depository.

More information about digitized research archives: "College Archives 'Dig' Deeper."
posted by lee on 11/11/02 at 05:04 PM

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Saturday, November 09, 2002

mt panic & the “friendly” worm

This afternoon, I did a little rearranging of my journal index page. I wanted to add the Movable Type 2.1 search feature -- mainly so I can find things in my archives -- and reorganize the side matter some (I'm not finished with it. Seems I'm never finished with it.) Went to make sure the new template worked fine -- oh man, what a mess!

I'd forgotten that I'd changed SSH to upload on in binary because I was uploading a Flash file last night. Okay, so changed that and then I reloaded the template in ascii format. Better -- but still not quite right. I needed to rebuild.

Headed for the templates page. But no matter what I clicked, I was thrown back to the login page. Over and over. Panic -- I broke it! I'd already had muchas trouble upgrading (had to do with case-sensitive cgi. I had to change the case of about 15 files or so that uploaded as lower case instead of mixed case) so I was NOT HAPPY about this. Headed to the forums, but didn't find an answer there (which left me feeling really dumb -- could I have broken it in a unique way? I doubted it, which meant the fix was so obvious anyone could fix it). I changed the permissions on the files, reloaded this and that, tried all kinds of tweaks. No dice.

AHA! I know, I'll READ THE F*ING MANUAL. Lo and behold, down there in the Troubleshooting section, there was my problem: "I keep getting the Movable Type login screen." With an answer in plain English no less. Which was: if you've set ZoneAlarm to block cookies, the thing ain't gonna work. And what had I done before I began my MT tweaking? Upgraded ZoneAlarm -- where I'd just decided to try a tracking cookie block. I untried it. Problem solved.

The "Friendly" Worm
Yesterday I got a message from a woman at the place where I no longer spend three days a week. It contained a message with a link to download a greeting card she'd sent via friend - greeting (or something like that). I have to admit, I was a bit surprised to get a greeting message from her -- but I figured she was just touching base with all us refugees or something. It wasn't until I'd clicked the link and "install" button that the alarm bells started going off -- would she really send a greeting? But neither Norton AntiVirus nor ZoneAlarm Pro protested ... so maybe it was okay ... I did LiveUpdate only yesterday ... why's it taking so long ... and what a cruddy card -- this isn't something she'd send! OH NO!

I sent her a message asking her about it, and she wrote back apologizing profusely and telling me not to install it because it is a worm, etc. etc. etc. But of course I had. Then my desktop started going haywire. Hoo boy. Here we go ... the SECOND time this week Norton failed me.

Stanley immediately started researching it; it's called, according to Symantec, friend greet or friend greetings -- and they provided removal instructions. Which wasn't easy -- uninstalling it is incomplete, I had to freaking do a liveupdate on Norton AntiVirus TWICE to get the right virus definitions, then NA could not either quarantine or remove the files until I rebooted. Then there was a bunch of registry changes I had to make because Norton could not, and though Norton warned you to clean out all the temp files in the browser cache, it did not warn you to clean out the files in the temporary download file, were I found it again today (it did not execute, fortunately).

A would say that all's well that ends well, except that my quickstart programs are still all rearranged and I'm really pissed that Norton AntiVirus failed yet again. This is one instance where virus definition updates should be automatically pushed content, rather than scheduled pulls. At the very least, Symantec should send out warnings, like McAfee does (I dumped McAfee because it kept crapping up my operating system). At any rate, Stanley told me it's time to update ZoneAlarmPro -- he's the person in charge of all this stuff, so I did what he told me to do. And that, ultimately, is why I had the MT problem.

It amazes me sometimes, the cascade of consequences.
posted by lee on 11/09/02 at 11:01 PM

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Monday, November 04, 2002

building this site made my soul happy

buddha_t.jpgWe launched Beneath Buddha's Eyes today. Beneath Buddha's Eyes is website for a novel of the same name written by Tony Anthony: "Based on a true story, Beneath Buddhas Eyes offers a tender story of love amidst the hell of war, a singular perspective of the Vietnam conflict, and ٗ especially at a time when the country appears on the brink of entering another war a thoughtful questioning of what America is really fighting for."

What made this site so satisfying to build is that we really like Tony, and it was a pleasure working with him. He communicated quite clearly what he wanted the site to be like, and provided us with some digital sketches (he is a graphic artist) with his concepts, and we took off from those.

Part of the site is devoted to Tony's recently rediscovered photos, which he took while he was a draftee assigned as a correspondent in Vietnam. Impressive photos.
posted by lee on 11/04/02 at 09:54 PM

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Saturday, November 02, 2002

coming soon ... Mahalakshmi

Monday, November 4th, is Mahalakshmi. Mahalakshmi means great wealth.
Maharishi says: "Mahalakshmi is a very precious element, it's an element of all possibilities; it's prosperity; it's fulfillment; it's a field of all possibilities. It makes life absolutely fulfilled."

So, Monday is the day we will launch our latest creation; a website that has been a pure pleasure to build both because it's beautiful and because we really like this client. Stay tuned ...
posted by lee on 11/02/02 at 12:12 AM

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Monday, October 21, 2002

small victory

A small victory in the war against spam: Spammer must pay $98,000 fine. It's a start, albeit a small one. Now I wish our showboat CT Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, would get on the anti-spam bandwagon. He was able to kick Microsoft's corporate butt, but I bet he'd have a much tougher time with spammers.

I wonder if Connecticut has any anti-spam laws? I'll have to research that.
posted by lee on 10/21/02 at 12:19 AM

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Friday, September 13, 2002

Launched: Edit Strategies

Edit Strategies is launched! This is our latest site; Edit Strategies provides custom editing services for school applicants, students, and business professionals.

It's an e-commerce site, launched using a free shopping cart from NOP Design and hooking into to an Authorize.net gateway. The NOP shopping cart needs some more twitching since it's somewhat limited (hey, it's FREE -- I'm not complaining, just commenting) but it works perfectly with the gateway for one-item purchases. Just need to figure out how to adapt it for multi-item purchases, if possible, and state-specific sales tax (one would think the payment gateway would take of sales tax, but it doesn't. PayPal does a much better job of this.) The solutions are already in the NOP Design forums -- just have to spend some time looking for the answers.

Also incorporated a cool form maker: CSMailto from CGIScript.net. I highly recommend this. Not only does the product work very well, and is very flexible and the programmer, at least I think Andy Angrick is the programmer, is extremely helpful. They also publish a couple of other CGI scripts I want -- I will probably order them soon. I just love it when products work the way they're supposed to! (Software, especially!)

This site was a lot of fun to build, and we were glad to get back to doing ecommerce solutions (e-commerce on a shoestring budget is possible -- this site is proof). Check it out; comments are welcomed. And, if you need essays or papers edited, our client's rates are very reasonable.
posted by lee on 09/13/02 at 04:02 AM

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