December 30, 2005

Hook: Oh, jeez...

This is rather embarassing to admit, but I know I'm not the only one who has no idea what the lyrics are to Blues Traveler's hit of over a decade ago, Hook.

The fact that they're playing at the Fiesta Bowl send me packing to iTunes. Finding the well-known "Run-Around" was no problem. Finding the other song I remembered from days long past resulted in a Google search.

Ever since I first heard the song, I thought the lyrics were I wanna burn all of your titties. I always thought it was a completely bizarre lyric, but it stuck. So into Google went the query "blues traveler" +titties, which netted me a misheard lyrics site.

Turns out the correct lyric is "I wanna burn all of your cities (to the ground)."

And it's really not that difficult to distinguish that it's not titties when you're not listening to it on FM radio in a moving vehicle. My mind, she lives in the gutter.

Posted by Colin at 11:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 28, 2005

Dreamhost Revisited

A couple coupon codes this morning for anyone interested in Dreamhost but put off by the setup fee. (It is kind of a deterrent if you just want to test the waters.)

MGNOSETUP: Setup fee of $49.95 is waived on all shared hosting accounts and billing cycles.
MGSAVE80: 80% discount for first month's bill on level 1 through level 3 plans, monthly cycle.

If you're planning on a level 1 account, MGNOSETUP is the better deal as MGSAVE80 doesn't completely cover the setup fee.

Posted by Colin at 10:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 27, 2005

Avoid 1&1 Internet Like the Plague!

So, here's a little story that is very important to anyone who is currently hosting with 1&1 Internet or has planned to host their site with 1&1 Internet. Probably a year and a half ago, a company called 1&1 Internet, who does indeed host a large number of sites in Europe, decided to launch of big U.S. operation. As part of it, they launched a marketing spree which included a front page ad in WIRED Magazine. Promised by this ad as a way of getting their name out there was 3 years—completely free—of their "pro" level shared hosting accounts. Figuring I had nothing to lose with three free years of hosting, I signed up. This blog has been hosted with 1&1 since that day, and is still hosted with 1&1 today. It will not be hosted with 1&1 for much longer if I can allocate the funds to move in the near future, however. There are three major problems with 1&1 's services of which any potential customer needs to be aware: 1. The administrative interface is ungodly slow and terribly obtuse. Getting anything done regarding your accounts (and hosted sites) requires a great deal of waiting because their backend servers are either overworked or underpowered. On top of this, the organization of options is so poorly designed that you spend even more time waiting because you have to continually click around to different areas in hopes of finding a very basic setting. 2. The servers are very unreliable. My guess is that this comes from 1&1 trying to lock down RAM and CPU usage on their shared servers. Whatever causes it, it is unacceptably common for a 500 error to pop up when you're using CGI or PHP. If you intend to host nothing but plain HTML files, you might be alright, but most of us expect hosting companies supporting CGI and PHP to successfully run CGI and PHP scripts. Generally speaking, I can't delete more than 5 comments at a time through the Movable Type interface without the server barfing. As many of us who have taken the time to contact 1&1 about persistent 500 errors can attest, they don't know what's causing them any more than we do. 3. Their administrative and support staff don't have a clue. I've asked two very simple questions of 1&1 over the years, each time getting a completely worthless and off-base answer that didn't address the topic at hand. But the piece de resistance for this point comes from an email received from their staff today, claiming my web space has been hacked. Two major issues (and one oversimplification, but that's minor) stand out. Here's the line 1&1's "Customer Compliance Operative" claims indicates that my site has been hacked: > access.log.46.gz: - - [19/Nov/2005:10:02:36 -0500] "POST /xmlrpc.php HTTP/1.1" 404 1997 If you're HTTP log literate, you'll notice two things that are rather obvious, despite the completely bizarre ordering of the log entry fields. The same two things I did. A: The date. This supposed hacking occurred 46 log rotations ago, and more than a month ago, and they're only just now, on December 27th, letting the affected customer know about it? That's a month and 8 days. That is *completely* unacceptable. If I had customer data stored on that server, God only knows how many nefarious hands it could be in. Who knows, if I was doing credit card processing for orders, how many people could have been ripped off. Who knows how much malware could have been placed on my web site to replace the clean software I myself produce. B: The status code. See that familiar "404" over at the right side of the log entry? That means that their web server returned an HTTP status code of 404, informing the requesting user *that the file didn't exist*. Regardless of how many security holes were in the PEAR XML-RPC library, it can't affect your system if it's not there in the first place. And if the server's returning a 404, the file ain't there. If you want to host your sites with a company that (a) won't be timely in informing you about security breaches and (b) doesn't have a clue even when they belatedly do, then I highly recommend 1&1 Internet. If, on the other hand, you expect your hosting company to be timely in letting you know about issues with your account, and have *someone* on staff with a modicum of technological prowess, look elsewhere. If you're in the budget market, Cornerhost and Dreamhost both are popular. I myself have had nothing but excellent experiences with Dreamhost. Not only do they know their stuff, but they're very good about keeping you in the loop about what's going on with your server and the company as a whole. If you're in 1&1 hell, check out Dreamhost, give it a whirl... This link will give me referral credit, which I'd be much obliged to receive. Even if you don't use me as a referral, do yourself a favor and check it out. They're twice as nice at half the price... Dreamhost charges $7.95 for what 1&1 will be charging you nearly $15 for.
Posted by Colin at 3:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 25, 2005

Canon 50mm f/1.8

My (wonderful!) parents gifted me with the 50mm Canon lens I'd been looking at, and it certainly does live up to its "plastic fantastic" nickname. Inexpensive lens (as far as lenses go), plastic body, the AF/MF switch feels awful, and there's not even a distance scale... but damn does it take beautiful pictures.

Out-of-focus point light sources are a little distracting as they take on the pentagonal shape of the aperture, but otherwise I can't offer up anything critical of the images. And to finally have a fast lens... At 1.8, I snagged a couple pictures handheld with nothing but a tiny bit of morning window light at ISO 400. Very nice.

And oh holy crap do I love what you can do with it wide open for portraiture. Face perfectly in focus, extremities softly blurred, and the background wholly de-emphasized. It's gorgeous.

Posted by Colin at 12:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone out there. Or whatever other holiday you may be celebrating this week. It's not very Christmasy here in Phoenix this year, but that's how it goes sometimes.

Posted by Colin at 9:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 18, 2005

Backwards, but forward-thinking

If there's one thing I really love about Canon's film camera bodies, it's the way they advance the film. With a traditional 35mm camera, only the leader is initially wound onto the take-up spool. As you take additional exposures, each exposure makes it way to the take-up. The advantage of this method is that it's very quick to load — pop a roll in and start shooting once you click off the leader. The downside is that you have no idea how many exposures are on the roll until you reach the end, and occasionally you will get that odd roll that didn't come out of the factory quite right. I ran into that last month, when a roll of 36 actually only had enough film for 32 exposures. With my old Minolta, I would have been SOL and missed several shots when it mysteriously rewound early. Canon takes the rather novel approach of winding the entire roll of film onto the take-up spool, so the film actually retreats into the canister each time you expose a frame. This way you know at the outset how many frames are actually on the roll, the frame counter can accurately count down instead of counting up until the cows come home, and there's no rewinding required. Sure, you have to wait for the film to load before you can shoot, but it's no big secret that film's happier coming out of a cartridge than it is going back in. (If you've ever had the misfortune of having to manually rewind a roll of 35mm, you know exactly what I'm talking about.) Everything comes with its price, though, and contact sheets of a roll shot on a Canon are very bizarre to read. No matter how you try to arrange the individual groups of negatives, you can never get it to read forward. Time warp! Although it just strikes me that if read right-to-left, they'd be in the right order. That took an embarrassingly long time to realize.
Posted by Colin at 7:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Holga pics comin'!

Just as soon as I can figure out how to scan the negatives, a few shots from my initial foray with the Holga will be posted. If it comes down to it, I can scan my fiber prints, but the negs would ultimately be clearer.

I still have an unshot roll in the camera that I need to use. 120 film is quite nice, and despite stories of terror fed to me by others, no harder (in fact, I found it easier) to load onto a processing reel than 35mm.

One lesson to offer to the world: take off the lens cap and leave it off. I've got large gaps in my first roll, and I'm not sure how much of it is my crazy winding and how much of it is me not taking the lenscap off.

Edit: Pics start here on Flickr.

Posted by Colin at 10:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 5, 2005

Focus on Wells Fargo

As much as I dislike Wells Fargo, I almost want to transfer some money back into my Wells accounts now that Focus on the Family is pissing all over themselves. Turns out Wells did matching donations to GLAAD earlier this year, which in Christian fundamentalist land is part of the "bank’s ongoing efforts to advance the radical homosexual agenda." Bonus: Love Won Out, Focus on the Family's tales of how love won out over all that horrible buttsecks and gaiety. Focus bills Love Won Out as "A dynamic one-day conference addressing, understanding and preventing homosexuality." Yeehaw! If you feel dirty just thinking about visiting their site, the choicest testimonial of past conference attendees is this: >"One thing I especially appreciated was hearing from former homosexuals. Anyone can give facts and figures, but honestly, if I want to learn how to build a house, I go see a carpenter." Oh, the possibilities in that statement...
Posted by Colin at 6:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack