Comment Spam – #1

Comment spam on blogs sucks.  I hate it.  I don’t like it on blogs that I read and I certainly don’t like it on blogs that I write.

The sort of advertising that is in the spam consumes so much time.  For the blog writer it takes the time to set the blog up so that all comments have to be approved prior to appearing.  The approval process means that there will be a delay in genuine elements of the conversation being posted.  It is annoying to have to wade through and “mark as spam” the shlock that some posts seem to attract.

Some blog writers either don’t know how to configure their tool to delay posting comments so that the junk can be filtered out or they just don’t care.  Maybe the do care and they just give up under the burden … I don’t know.  For the reader it is a waste of time to trudge through dozens or hundreds of junk comments to find the handful that relate to the original post.

There’s one post on this blog (I’ll let you figure out which) that seems to attract all of the blog comment spam.  That’s good, I guess, but it is still a waste of my time and bandwidth to figure out which comments are genuine and which are not.

Ok, that’s enough ranting for one day.

Salsa Recipe

I wasn’t a big salsa (as in the food and not the dance) fan until a few years ago.  A co-worker and friend brought salsa into the office one day.  It was far and away better than anything from a jar or even a restaurant.  Gianni was gracious enough to share the recipe.

The basic idea for my version is based on Gianni’s (who was born in in Brasil and who’s parents are both Greek immigrants to Brasil… go figure). His recipe used exclusively jalapeños and habaneros for the peppers (particularly the habaneros if we said it wasn’t “hot enough”). I try to find a balance between bell peppers and hot peppers to find something that tastes good and is hot, but still edible (my son prefers it hotter).  The version I learned this technique from you were in bad shape if you stopped eating … it was less painful to continue eating.

This is largely a guide … not a formula. If you follow it, it will make a very large batch.

64oz bottle of Campbell’s Tomato Juice (brand is important)
4 Bell Peppers (any combination of red, orange, yellow, green)
6 to 12 Jalapeños (seeds make them hotter)
1 bunch Green Onions
1 White or Red Onion
1 bunch Fresh Cilantro
6 Roma Tomatoes
Ground Cumin (to taste … more is better according to my wife)
Olive Oil (not very much)
Black Pepper (to taste)
Salt (to taste)

Pour tomato juice into a large bowl.  Chop the vegetables in a food processor until nicely chopped. Add to the tomato juice. Dice the Romas and add to the rest of the mixture (don’t do the Romas in the food processor or you will have paste). Add the cumin, olive oil, black pepper, and salt to taste. Mix it all together.

It is best if it can refrigerate for a couple of hours. It will last 1 1/2 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator (my guess; not formally tested).

Wear gloves when working with the hot peppers.

Play with combinations of peppers, onions, and tomatoes to get a flavor you like. Other kinds of hot peppers (habaneros, serranos, Thai, Anaheim, wax, and the like) will change how hot it is and vary the color.

You can use other tomatoes if you like. Romas seem to work the best. Hot house tomatoes are a little on the watery side, but that doesn’t make them a bad choice. Regardless of the tomato variety chosen don’t put the tomatoes in the food processor.

You can mix just about anything together and have it turn out right.

Judas Priest / Nostradamus

To those who know me, it isn’t a secret that I’m a big Judas Priest.  I have every album.  The latest album, Nostradamus, is in my opion their best complete work to date.  There are arguably better single songs in their catalog, but no better complete album.

Nostradamus is a massive two disc set.  It comes in at nearly two hours running time, their longest studio work.  The songs flow seemlessly from one to the next.  It is as if the album was written with the thought of Judas Priest staging an opera based on this work.  I’m, obviously, not a fan of opera … but if Judas Priest were to do such a thing and Rob Halford was to play the leading role I would do everything in my power to see it.  (Bill Curbishley if you come across this … hint … hint … )

Priest has always been masterful at creating characters within their songs (The Ripper, Tyrant, Killing Machine, The Hellion/Electric Eye, and Painkiller to cite just a few).  Nostradamus creates the character on a scale they’ve never done before; a scale which few other groups have ever been willing to attempt.

In this effort Priest is mixing things that are new to them (strings, keyboards, …).  This includes some significantly slower, more ballady songs that bridge the major movements.  Some hard core fans won’t like this.  They’ll look at it as being “too soft” or “not Priest enough.”  But you really have to look at these elements as being essential to the complete story they are trying to tell.  And that story is of the man Nostradamus and the struggles, some say madness, that he went through to deliver prophetic visions that endure to this day.  A handful of rocking songs won’t cover that story in the detail Priest accomplishes in this epic work.

A little later this summer I’ll being seeing Judas Priest again and from the second row (again).  I’m looking forward to seeing how they incorporate material from this album into their live show.  Will they start with Dawn of Creation/Prophecy or will they go for the ear-breaking intro of Rob riding a Harley on stage to start Hell Bent for Leather?

Modular Windows

There is alot of speculation that the next version of Microsoft Windows will be “modular.”  ArsTechnica has a fantastic discussion here.  The article misses the point, though.  Microsoft certainly misses the point.

I want a modular operating system.  What’s that mean?  To me it means an operating system that installs just what’s necessary to boot the computer, enable support for all of my devices (like video cards, printers, keyboards, network cards, external drives, …), and provide a graphical framework for my applications to run on.  Graphical framework?  Well, strictly speaking that isn’t necessary to run a computer; but we are in the 21st century and that’s what users expect.  It should povide support for common communications protocols (via libraries) that my chosen applications can use.

Modular operating systems should allow me to install whatever web browser, email client, ftp client, picture software, office software, anti-virus/anti-spam software, or instant messaging client that I want.  An arbitrary piece of software like a web browser shouldn’t be wired deeply into the OS and then claimed as an essential part.  The operating system should provide a simple and well-documented method for any class of software to be installed and provide its services.

The OS shouldn’t come with any “helpful partner” applications to “make my experience better.”  At the very least if it going to recommend some “helpful partner” applications then the default option should not install anything the user didn’t explicitly give consent for (it should be opt-in, not opt-out).  My experience would be better if the OS just worked.

Ok, the part about a web browser being wired deeply into the operating system is an old complaint.  And taking it out isn’t what is being talked about when the term “modular Windows” is thrown about.  I’d like my “consumer” system to be as bare as possible (but with support for all the cool graphical interfaces that can be made).

I know, some of you are going to say “Just use Linux; all your desires for a modular OS will be met.”  Well, I have some installations of Linux floating around.  The problem is:  Linux never “just works” for me.  When Linux attempts to install and can’t figure out my nice, new LCD monitor then there is a problem.  I realize where the “fault” is, but Linux gets the blame because it didn’t “just work.”  I know I can take the Linux source and do whatever I want with it to make as modular as I want.  But, while I am a software developer, that’s just too much work for this consumer.

If Microsoft is really basing the idea of “modular Windows” on what users of their software really want, please, Microsoft, come talk to me.  I have some idea about what real consumers want.

Safari / CSS Issue

Recently I’ve been updating one of the web sites I work on in my spare time ( and testing the updates in a variety of common browsers. Apple Safari on Windows is one of those browsers; Safari on my iPhone another.

I’d been having one tiny issue: some of the typefaces would not display correctly on some pages. The problem was most noticeable in the title in the masthead. The title should be in Copperplate Gothic Bold at .9em, but is instead some sans-serif typeface and is significantly smaller than it should be. Other text items on the page are not set in the correct typeface either.

Safari CSS Problem

The problem wasn’t on every page. Some pages rendered completely correctly. The whole scenario really confused me as it worked correctly when testing locally in Safari and other browsers (like FireFox).

Safari CSS Correct Local
FireFox CSS Correct

The problem only showed when the pages were finished and viewed from the server.

The problem was one stray line in the <head> section of some pages.

<meta name=”copyright” content=”R. A. Long High School Alumni Association” />
<!– this css file doesn’t exist –>
<link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”./styles/navbar.css” />
<link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”./styles/main.css” />

The navbar.css file didn’t exist on my server or on my local system. The entry in the <head> section was leftover from earlier experimental versions of the website. And those versions were built before I had access to the Safari browser.

I “discovered” that navbar.css was the problem by accident. I figured that as long as I was trying to figure out why pages worked in Safari when served from the server and others did not, I would clean up the markup. As soon as I did that, it all worked … magically.

First Post

Testing … testing … 1 … 2 … 3 …

Is this thing on? I don’t think this blog is actually on.

Where is the on switch?

Ok, not very interesting for a first blog post. But, hey, it is a first blog posting. There should be many more to follow. Hopefully we’ll cover a wide variety of topics.

Behind the screen you hear the clatter of dice. The Dungeon Master begins to laugh. What do you do?