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the official mrchucho blog

Site Updates

Posted 2004 Dec 18
Couple of small updates:
  1. Re-enabled plugin after a bug fix. Thanks!
  2. I am now using a Creative Commons license. So, as of now, is Some Rights Reserved. This is the right thing to do.
  3. I’m trying out the Textile plugin for WordPress. It is a very cool ”... Humane Web Text Generator”, similar to Markdown. While Textile is highly intuitive, it never hurts to have a Cheat Sheet.

Unfortunately, one side-effect of using the Textile plugin is that it makes some of the older non-Textile posts appear a little funky. Oh well.

I have a couple other things in the queue: namely upgrading WordPress. I’m also working on hacking the wonderful phpicalendar so that I can upload my TODO list from iCal and display it on the frontpage.

Updated: WordPress Upgrade complete!

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Cocoa for Christmas

Posted 2004 Dec 17

There’s a pretty funny “article” over at It is worth reading, if only for the part about Santa’s elf, “G. Nome”.

All joking aside, I think the article highlights a pretty common thread with Java developers: Use Java for Everything. I think that is mistaken and probably detrimental to the Java cause. Santa uses Cocoa for his current applications, but now he needs something for his PDA (a platform that Cocoa obviously does not support). So, he looks to Java. That’s great! But, why should using Java for one application precipitate a changeover to “a Java only environment”? I don’t think it should (and maybe it won’t), but I have seen it happen too many times… Trying to force a Java solution on a problem that is better suited to something else (e.g. like Perl or PHP). This generally happens after Java has been successfully implemented elsewhere. It’s like some sort of Java buzz that no one wants to wear off…

Sometimes I think there is a fear - that increases going up the IT ladder - of mixed environments. But, there shouldn’t be: many technologies can co-exist (and even interoperate) and talented developers needn’t be pigeonholed. I think Java has great coverage—there’s a Java version of just about everything. So, when there is a new problem, Java developers look for a Java tool, not the right tool. Is this catastrophic? No. Does it harm the Java cause? I think so: because it is dogmatic. I’m going to mix metaphors and explain it thusly: Java developers end up trying to fit a square peg in a round hole and the messenger (Java) gets blamed for the message (failure)!

So, to all Java developers out there: Let go a little, maybe Java isn’t the right solution for everything. Having said all that, I sure hope I don’t end up with a Coal icon next to my name!

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thiswindow Firefox Extension

Posted 2004 Dec 16
I have updated my old Firefox extension, “thiswindow”. Here’s a quick blurb:
A pretty trivial extension that adds the ability to force a window to open in the current window. This is helpful if you don’t want to open another browser window.
Behold, a screenshot:

thiswindow Firefox Extension

The main issue was making it compatible with the new Firefox extension scheme—which it now is. I sent an email to the Extension Room with the update, but in the meantime:

Download: [thiswindow.xpi]

Note: you may have to “Allow” to install software

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Firefox autoproxy Support

Posted 2004 Dec 16

One of my favorite things about Firefox is support for autoproxies via a javascript file. I don’t know how well-known this feature is (and when I see extensions like SwitchProxy, I worry that it is not). Basically, you can use javascript to examine a URL and decide whether or not to proxy requests to it and, if so, how and where. Below is an example that I use. Note that I use an ssh tunnel (listening on port 8080) to port-forward to my machine at home. My machine at home, in turn, runs TinyProxy.

function FindProxyForURL(url, host)
    if  (dnsDomainIs(host,"") ||
        shExpMatch(url,"**") ||
        dnsDomainIs(host,"")) {

        return "PROXY localhost:8080; DIRECT";
     else {
        return "DIRECT";

The code (API here) basically does comparisons on the URL and host and, if there’s a match, sends it to the proxy (or tries to connect directly on failure), otherwise it makes a direct connection. To use this in Firefox, put the code in a file called “autoproxy.js”, then go to “Connection Settings…” under the “General” preference and put your entry in the “Automatic Proxy configuration URL”. The format is like so:


This works well in conjuction with this hint. For my local ssh tunnel, I use the autossh to keep the link alive, like so:

autossh -M 20000 -NnqxT -L 8080: home

comments (0) in sidebar

Posted 2004 Dec 14

I have temporarily disabled the “clippings” in the side bar. It is causing the front page to load much too slowly. The plugin uses caching and a short timeout, but it still seems problematic. I will do some debugging and, hopefully, re-enable it later.

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The Arcade Fire photoset

Posted 2004 Dec 14

Found this great The Arcade Fire photoset on flickr (via feedster). Google image search still doesn’t have any good shots, so this is a great find. I think the buzz is at its apex, but if you have not heard of The Arcade Fire: they are highly recommended! Their music will remind you of another favorite song—while sounding completely original. A+

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Site Update: Kubrick

Posted 2004 Dec 14

I, like many other WordPress users, am now using the Kubrick template for my site instead of the default WP layout. I have every intention of customization beyond modifying the contents of the sidebar and removing the images. I hope to build something more original—is that even possible these days? In meantime, I need something that’s not such an eyesore.

Kubrick is really nice looking. A little heavy on the whitespace, but otherwise attractive. I added the plugin for WordPress for the little “clippings” and organized some of the clutter. Otherwise, it’s pretty much a stock conversion.

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Dear Santa

Posted 2004 Dec 13

I now know exactly what I want for Christmas.

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RSS Readers

Posted 2004 Dec 13
I’m back to considering which RSS Reader I’m going to use. I’ve been using NewsFire happily for quite some time, but it lacks two simple features I need:
  1. Ability to mark a single entry as Unread. Often I will skim short posts, then go back to read longer posts once my initial scan is over. Unfortunately, with NewsFire, once I’ve viewed a post, there is no way to reset it to Unread. Although, in a recent version the ability to “flag” a message has been added. Still, I want to see that I have unread messages, not flagged ones—two different meanings.
  2. Hover feedback over URLs. I’d like to know where I’m going! That one should be a gimme.

So, I am going to try NetNewsWire for one week. See, I told you I do Switches all the time…

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Another Day

Posted 2004 Dec 12

I had every intention of spending this afternoon working on the layout of my site, updating my Firefox extensions and perhaps even taking a crack at a J2ME version of my weather code. Alas, I was thwarted by an unusually spectacular Winter’s Day. It was 60 degrees and sunny with a cloudless blue sky. So, I loaded up the new SonomaAero CD into my discman - I have no iPod - and spent the better part of my Sunday afternoon enjoying a walk.

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