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     The pitfalls of a hosted site
    Filed under: — David @ 12:48 pm

    It started with not being able to get my email. When I tried checking the web site to see if it was up, I was greeted with a generic portal page. The uncommonplace.com domain name had expired. It’s pretty scary when this happens.

    A few months back I had a similar problem where it was time to renew my hosting account, but I had neglected to update my contact email address - it was still the one from my ISP back in Salt Lake City. This got sorted out quickly enough, but it turned out my domain name contact address did not get updated, even though it’s all managed by the same hosting company. So just like before when I didn’t get the notices that it was time to renew my hosting account, this time I didn’t get the notices that my domain name was going to expire.

    It reminds me of the iPod video out problem I had recently, where I didn’t realize you have to explicitly set it to use the video out instead of using the built-in screen. I might have saved myself some aggravation if I had been paying better attention, but there were also things that could have been done to make it easier for me. In this case, that would be having only one set of contact information. If some people do have a legitimate reason for having separate info for their hosting and domain names, the web site could at least remind you when you update one that you might want to update the other.

    Using web hosting services can be very stressful because you have to be completely dependent on someone else maintaining the server and the domain name. If the server goes down, or if somehow my domain name were to get hijacked, there is nothing I can do directly to fix the situation.

    A few years back I lost iconmachine.com because of basically the same thing as what happened today, and it took me too long to notice I had lost it because I wasn’t using it as my primary domain name. I haven’t bothered contacting whoever is squatting on it because I’m sure they’ll ask for some ridiculous amount to give it back to me, and I would consider pretty much anything more than the standard registration fee to be extortion.

     Old thoughts
    Filed under: — David @ 12:04 pm

    I was going through some of my old files and found a couple of things I had written with the intention of posting them on the blog here, but I never got around to it. I decided to post them finally today, back-dated to when they were originally written.

    The first, from two years ago, was inspired by stumbling across an anti-Mormon web site. The second, from last year, was about the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

     The spirit of Christmas
    Filed under: — David @ 11:48 am

    For a long time people have complained that the true spirit of Christmas has become lost among all the over-commercialization. While I don’t dispute the over-commercialization part, I think the spirit of Christmas has survived remarkably well. For one thing, the very fact that this complaint persists is a testament to how well this idea of the spirit of Christmas has survived and become a part of our culture and values.

    These are, after all, inherently enduring core values of life. Even non-Christians can agree on these principles of generosity and sacrifice, not to mention simply getting the family together now and then.

    Some people, sometimes cynically, like to point out that the only reason we celebrate Christ’s birth at this time of year is because, a few centuries back, they wanted something to take the place of the pagan winter solstice rituals. This doesn’t bother me at all, even though, being LDS, I believe that Christ’s birth actually happened in the Spring. It gives us something to actually look forward to in the winter time (Eurocentrically in the northern hemisphere, anyway). I find it very life-affirming to have this great celebration of life in the middle of Winter, which would otherwise be the season of death and sleeping.

     Puzzle Pirates
    Filed under: — David @ 7:46 pm

    As a reader of Mac Hall, I got into Puzzle Pirates since Ian, the artist, got hired to work at the company. I played it for a while, then lost interest, and now I’m into it again, especially now that I understand the game a bit more. (If you use that link to sign up, I’ll get a referral bonus!)

    My pirate is Dorfin, a resident of Tigerleaf Mountain on the Cobalt Ocean. I like the Swordfighting game, and my ranking varies between Respected and Master depending on how lucky I am. Treasure Drop is fun too, though I don’t get to play that one as much because I haven’t subscribed - I’m afraid if I did I’d spend too much time playing!

    I think it’s really cool that they’ve put together a MMORPG and yet is totally nonviolent. There’s a whole in-game economy driven by people playing puzzle games, each one themed according to the various elements of a pirate’s world. Operating a ship involves people playing the Navigation, Sailing, Bilging, and Carpentry puzzles. Building a ship involves buying and trading for the necessary materials, and then having people play the Shipwrightery puzzle.

    I should probably get more into pirate stuff anyway since the day after my birthday is Talk Like A Pirate Day.

     Feedback
    Filed under: — David @ 9:38 am

    In the “just couldn’t resist this one” category…

    Bush says his microphone has never been louder. I think someone should tell him it’s because he has his mic plugged into the speaker jack instead, which is why it’s making noise in the first place.

     Google yourself
    Filed under: — David @ 8:52 pm

    I hadn’t Googled myself in a while, so I took a look again today. It’s not quite as interesting at the moment as it has been in past years when I was more active in the shareware and gaming communities, but there were some surprise finds. One was a blast from the past: a page on the Toy Story Activity Center, the last thing I worked on at Pixar. I’m credited there as a Production Tools Engineer. You can also find my brother Ben’s name there, for the Marble Art Stencils; I believe that was his first opportunity to show off his artistic skills at Pixar. He later went on to do animation on several Pixar films.

    Ah, those were the good old days…

     Technical Data
    Filed under: — David @ 8:32 am

    I just noticed that on the side of the Soundwave box there is a little section titled “Technical Data”, listing the same standard eight attributes as in the original Transformers’ Tech Specs: Strength, Intelligence, Speed, Endurance, Rank, Courage, Firepower, and Skill. Actually, it says “fireblast” instead of “firepower”, which could be just to make it fit in the odd-shaped border, which it does just barely.

    It’s a shame, though, that it lacks the picture and character description that the original Tech Specs had. There is such a paragraph on the box, but it’s completely separate from the Technical Data, and there is no dotted line indicating that you should cut any of these things out and keep them, or in other words, that you should care at all about the character rather than just the toy.

    I once tried to come up with a role playing game system based on Tech Specs, though I eventually lost interest because it was a solo effort. The idea was appealing because you wouldn’t have to figure out any scores because they came with all the toys. On the other hand, the scores weren’t always consistent. For example, the speed scale changed: originally cars got a 7, but this was later changed to something like 4.

     Cocoa eats Carbon menu shortcuts
    Filed under: — David @ 8:35 am

    I found previously that an active Cocoa window in a Carbon application can eat window-switching hotkey events. Yesterday I discovered that this also applies to menu shortcuts.

    The interesting thing is that if you type, for example, command-C while a Cocoa window has focus, the Edit menu title will flash in the menu bar, but you’ll get a beep. Apparently this shows that Cocoa does indeed use Carbon menus internally. I figure Cocoa is finding the Copy menu item, only to discover that there is no target or action associated with it, so it beeps and gives up.

    Fortunately the solution to this is straightforward: install an event handler on the Cocoa window that uses IsMenuKey to filter out menu shortcut events and handle them in the Carbon way… and of course translate any appropriate Carbon commands into corresponding Cocoa messages.

    The next challenge is keeping the menu items updated while a Cocoa window is focused. One problem there is that there is no standard notification when the first responder changes. Hopefully there’s something else in the way Cocoa does menu updating that I can hook into.

    Edit: It turns out Cocoa menus are updated after every user event, and that’s easy enough to imitate.


    This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

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