Friday, December 30

My One-Man Accidental Google Bomb

Not sure if you’ve seen it, but if you click “More contact info” on this blog’s index page, you’ll get a list of ways to reach me, one of which is my mobile phone number. For added contacting convenience, I made the number link to Cingular’s SMS form, with a little query parameter (“min”) so that the number is filled in in the “To” field. Makes it very easy to SMS me from the Internet, if you’re so inclined.

I’ve been getting a lot of odd SMSs recently, though:
hello naeem wah go on man what you up to man
i kinda want those bbq gluten things from that vegan place in the les, or maybe wings from red bamboo... or possibly mexican.
baby ruth??
Romeo can you get out at 1:00 p.m. today? We need to go to Emily’s appt. I’ve been calling you! Hit me back, LUV YOU!!!
How can I see my account online as well as to make payments online.
hmmm... i thought so much more highly of you than this. just how long has this been going on anyway?


Anyhoo, Google — as always — has the answers. Take a look at the top search result for Cingular SMS. You may recognize that URL as the same one from my blog, including the bit that puts my number as the default. Seems folks are getting there and forgetting to replace my number with who they really want. (As expected, typing “Cingular SMS” in the address bar in Firefox gives you the same page.)

So now I have to make the moral (and economic) decision about whether to leave things as-is, enjoying the random SMSs and hoping they don’t blast my plan, stick a rel=“nofollow” on the link to keep the crawlers from finding it, and/or be a good netizen (and employee) and drop a note to the search quality folks when I get back from vacation.

Bonus fun thing: Looks like my number is #10 on a straight-up search for “Cingular.” That ain’t right.

Bonus disclaimer: This is at the bottom of pages, but it’s probably good for me to note that, while I work for Google, I don’t speak for them, and God knows they wouldn’t let me anywhere near the search results. I work on Blogger. Did you know that Blogger loves all the children of the world?

Friday, December 16

Ostracized Finder

Looks like the Finder got kicked out of my Dock. Either that, or he got scared off by the SSH Agent. At any rate, I don’t have much to blog about these days. :)

Wednesday, December 14

Extra Delicious Grog

I was talking with Case yesterday about how we’ve been pretty steady users even when we haven’t been blogging so often. It’s nice to be able to just drop a link and a bit of text without worrying about the clever prose and subversive hyperlinks required of a blog post.

So, I just finished del.icio.usifying the blog. First up, I have FeedBurner burning in my new links every day with their Link Splicer service. Then, for those of you who actually visit this fair website, I have a little JavaScript magic to insert the 5 most recent links right below the latest post.

The list of links is made possible with’s JSON interface to my bookmarks. JSON is a convention for data literals that is used here to get around the cross-domain restrictions of XMLHttpRequest. Instead, the template contains a script tag that points at a dynamically generated JavaScript file on the servers that, when loaded, populates the global Delicious variable with the data from my last n links. Since, in practice, browsers load external JavaScript sequentially, the data from will be in place by the time an inline script expects it and builds the definition list out of it.

I have to credit the JSON example from for the very clever idea of loading favicons into the list. I adapted the rest of the code, using the DOM helpers from (the most excellent) MochiKit. I was a bit disappointed that MochiKit doesn’t include a fold alongside their map, hence the hack to return a span to get a space between the tags.

Monday, December 12

Pirate Nutcracker

Pirate Nutcracker
Originally uploaded by OldMainstream.
Pirate + Nutcracker = best tree ever. And yes, we do have Dumbledore at the top. Because the DA is ready to fight in the war on Christmas.

Nice Leather Books at Barnes and Noble

Cait and I were at Barnes and Noble today and noticed that they expanded their leather-bound reprints of public domain books to include the complete works of Lewis Carroll. They also have a nifty leather-bound edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

I have to say I’m a bit of a sucker for Barnes and Noble’s “really nice looking versions of books we don’t have to pay for” publishing strategy. They do look quite nice lined up next to each other.

Sunday, December 4

Grogmaster Redesign

I just finished putting up a redesign of the blog. Well, it’s more like a design, as up to now I was using a stock Blogger template. I decided to change things up to exercise my design skills and see how I could integrate some data stored on other websites into the blog.

I tried a little bit of Powazek’s idea of putting a lot of content at the bottom of the page (something I’ve written about here and on Buzz), stashing the recent posts and content from various other websites (, Flickr, and down there. Hopefully you’ll have somewhere fun to go when you’re done reading a post. is working on adding custom styles for its chart images, so once that’s available I’ll probably tweak those things a bit more.

There are also some elements of Nielsen’s usability guidelines for blogs. In particular, I’ve updated my bio a bit and I’m also planning on including links to useful/popular posts I’ve made (as soon as I make some). Though, looking at the logs, my post about the Hamster Dance song is far and away the most read; certainly not a highlight, even though it gets tons of search engine traffic.

The icons are all from playing in the Mac OS X Character Palette. I’ve recently taken to adding the skull-and-crossbones to the end of my name in work e-mail (because of Gmail’s Unicode support it’s become a bit of a fad at Google to put fun characters in your display name), and I wanted to incorporate that design into the site. The rest just sort of followed from that. I liked the finger especially, as it reminds me of the way P.T. Bridgeport would speak in old Pogo comics:

I have a few changes here and there to clean up, in particular the way images show up in posts. I liked the old template’s image borders, and I’ll probably add back something similar. Also, I haven’t tested it in IE yet. Meh to that browser.

Thursday, December 1

Today’s Fun IE6 Float Bug

I’m working on a bit of CSS where I’d like a div to take up only as much space as its contents require. Normally, this is trivial to do with the float property.

Unfortunately, in IE the div was still trying to take up 100% of the available space.

The problem was that the div had a few child divs with their height property set. This erroneously caused those divs to expand their width, which expanded the parent as well.

My solution was to switch from height to font-size and line-height to get the height I wanted in the child elements. To adapt this for Firefox I needed to put a single non-breaking space in each child div.

A Folksonomic Question

I was thinking more about my grumbling that someone tagged R.E.M. as “canadian” on when a thought struck me:

Should I tag Dropkick Murphys as “irish”?

After all, they play Irish music (albeit in a punk style), so it seems like an accurate tag. But they’re not from Ireland. They’re from Boston.

Perhaps R.E.M. is just playing Canadian style music, and therefore it’s okay that they’re from Georgia? That seems wrong, but only because “canadian” isn’t really the name of a genre.

So is there a workable, consistent standard to go by here? Maybe tagging bands by the name of their country. So the Clancy Brothers get both “Ireland” and “irish,” while Dropkick gets “irish” (and maybe “Boston”), and I can get righteously pissed if someone tags R.E.M. with “Canada.”

Or is it just the nature of the game to deal with other people’s flawed tagging?