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Long time no post

So… its been a while. And truthfully, I haven’t been all that busy. I’ve just been lazy, and out of the posting habit. A full catch-up will have to wait until a later time, as I have a test in my philosophy of science class that I can’t help but feel somewhat ill-prepared for in about an hour, and I have the intention of sneaking in some last minute studying.

Everyone seems to be getting older these days. First Theo, and now my good friend Kat is 21 today. Now she can go party hardy, although I suspect that she has somewhat more important things on her mind right now.

And now, off to eat.

Happy Birthday Theo

Mystery Hunt

Last weekend, I participated in the MIT Mystery Hunt, an annual puzzler extravaganza put on by the most famous of nerd schools. My participation came via Scott, a friend who currently attends said instution. My team-by-proxy was “death-from-above”, and though I directly helped solve only one puzzle out of more than 100, my “team” solved 79, placing solidly above some teams, but solidly below the top-tier teams this year.

Here’s a look at the one I helped with, called “Logomania”:

Mystery Hunt Logomania

To solve it, the Washington sub-team figured out the name of the company associated with each logo, then we took the first letter of each compnay and made a sentence out of it, which pointed us to the “company of the sixth logo,” or N-Star, which was the answer to the puzzle.

Sounds complicated? It was. And this was also, I assure you, one of the easiest puzzles in the game. Oh, and if you read Bobby‘s AIM profile, yes, “(03:33:48) Ryan McElroy: I’m a whore barbie ok” really is a quote from me, said at 3:33 am. It was an attempt to solve another puzzle, called “ten times a second.” My guess was way off base, in case you were wondering.

Dinner at 10

I’ve gotten myself onto a late schedule recently. Today, I had dinner at 10 pm; this after missing a 9:30 class in the morning. Thus, new year’s resolutions are upcoming; one will be a midnight bed time, mostly, I think. Something like that. Anyway, this 2:30 stuff just doesn’t cut it.

Where Does It Go?

The usual experience when submitting forms and recieving errors, is that one can click “Back” (or, as I most often do, hit my backspace key), and the just-submitted form will still have the info you just submitted entered in, so all you have to do is change the offending field, and resubmit. Take, for example, my comment spam protection idea – now implemented by several people. If a real human forgets to check the “I am human” checkbox, they see a rather blank looking page with the text “Error: You are inhuman scum!”

“How dare you insult me, Arcanius!” They wonder aloud, as they click back (or if they are cool, like me, they use their backspace key), to figure out why I am insulting them. But then – gasp – the 15 page comment they meticulously crafted in the small textarea box is gone – apparently forever.

I have lost more than one comment this way to wordpress. The question is, where does it go? Its not just a Firefox thing – IE looses the comment too. I suspect that it is related to the die() command, but I have no idea why. Or perhaps someone more skilled than I am in the behavior of WordPress, or Web Forms, or something or another, can inform me as to what is really going on here.

More Tweaks

Some of you have undoubtedly noticed the rotating/random title image. Along with that, I have introduced a few other tweaks on the blog. First, I split the title banner up into three images, each with its own alt text. This allowed for the random graphic at the top, which I actaully had planned for a while, but just hadn’t gotten around to implementing. Next, I moved the “I am human” check box down so it is near the “Say it” button for comment posting. This is to, hopefully, prevent more real people from accidently seeing the “Die inhuman scum” message that awaits would-be comment spammers, and accidental non-humans. This move was inspired by Bernie, who has elegantly implemented the checkbox idea in his custom blog software. Whereas my implementation just calls the PHP die() function, which is pretty terrible (although, in my defense, WordPress does it elsewhere – for shame… something I have to fix, some day), Bernie’s takes you back to the page you attempted to comment on, and displays a nice looking message explaining why your post hasn’t appeared.

Add that to the list of things to do: To do. And no, that check box doesn’t do anything. Thanks for asking though.

Designing a site

Tim and I recently committed ourselves to revamping the wonderful but aging website of the Titan Robotics Club. The site won last year’s “Best Website” award at the Pacific Northwest Regional, and with good reason. Pedro, the webmaster of over two years, spun up a nice looking, feature-rich website. Sure, there’s a mondo security hole (I’ll disclose the nature of it later, when the site is no longer running), and there were a few incomplete or dubiously useful features, but the big things were all there an worked wel, and the site has been great so far.

However, a revamp is in order. So when Tim agreed to work on I site, I was overjoyed, and I, being the dolt I am, of course decided to pitch in as well. It was at this point that I remembered how long its been since I did any database-driven website design. When I started thinking about it again, I began to remember how hard it is to get the right balance of functionality and flexibility. I was struck by how amazing Pedro was for the websites he created. You can read the archives of (or even subscribe to) the TRC-web mailing list for more updates, although I will probably post more here as things get moving as well.