April 2004 Archives

MTEntryModifiedDate tag and MT3

A few days ago, I documented a bug in the MTEntryModifiedDate tag for MT versions 2.65, 2.66, and 2.661. Lisa and I were chatting earlier today, and we both wondered if the MTEntryModifiedDate tag worked correctly in MT3 (currently in beta testing).

Lisa and I do not have the MT3 beta, so I asked Les (Stupid Evil Bastard), an MT3 beta tester, if he would mind seeing if the MTEntryModifiedDate tag worked correctly in MT3 or not. Les temporarily added an MTEntryModifiedDate tag to his main index template and rebuilt the page so we could see the dates returned by the MTEntryDate and MTEntryModifiedDate tags side by side.

Somewhat surprisingly, the MTEntryModifiedDate tag appears to function correctly in MT3. Most of his entries showed different 'created' and 'modified' dates (as they should if the tag is working correctly).

This is good news for MT3 - I am glad that the MTEntryModifiedDate tag works there. But I am somewhat disappointed that someone at Six Apart apparently repaired the bug for MT3 but said nothing to current MT users about it, nor issued any sort of patch or update to fix it. It leaves me with the impression that MT 2.x development (which would be only bug fixes now) is dead, and has been for quite a while.

P.S. Les - Thanks for checking this out!

Update 12-May-2004: Lisa and I both believed it was likely that the bug in MTEntryModifiedDate had been carried over into MT3. Come to find out, we were right - the bug had indeed made it into the MT3 alpha code. The bug was reported 2 months ago and fixed 3 days later (March 16). The work I did to figure out and document the bug and its fix was an exercise in reinventing the wheel.

MT3 isn't even out yet, but MT 2.x is already orphaned.

What a shame...

David Lazarus' column in yesterday's SF Chronicle reveals that last Monday night's Senate Banking Committee hearing (to be held in San Francisco) was a non-event - neither Wells Fargo nor Bank of America would agree to show up and the hearing was postponed at the last minute. Now they face subpoenas if they don't come to a rescheduled session next month.

State Sen. Dean Florez, chairman of the banking committee, said he was told by both Wells Fargo and Bank of America that they wouldn't attend Monday's hearing because of lawsuits filed against the two companies last week.

He added: "The banks' boycott of the public hearing now forces me to seek answers in another way. They've just invited me to use all of the powers available to me in the Legislature, including the power of subpoena of critical documents."

My quick take on this: 1) I don't see the banks being able to stall forever (or even for very long), and 2) It doesn't seem wise to me to piss off the government, especially the branch that regulates your industry.

The Tweezer's Edge is one year old today!

I've learned a lot during the past year - HTML/XHTML, CSS, XML & RSS, JavaScript, Radio UserLand's UserTalk macro language, and even some Perl. The weblog was initially created with Blogger; later it was migrated to Radio UserLand, and migrated again to Movable Type.

When I began writing my weblog, I thought that I would write commentary on social and political issues. As I read more and more weblogs, I found that others wrote about these issues much better than I ever could, and in much more depth. One good piece of advice I've tried to keep in mind is "Write about what you know". As I grew in my knowledge of Radio UserLand, I found that what I know best is technical stuff - writing about how to do cool things, explaining bugs, writing code and documentation, etc. So that's what a large percentage of my posts ended up being wrote about.

A fitting mark to the blog's anniversary: My SiteMeter crossed 15,000 visitors today. Many of those visitors wound up here from Google, looking for programming help or information about labor law (among other things). My weblog is not a high traffic site by any means, but its nice to know that people are reading what I write.

Considering the numerous changes in the structure and direction of my weblog writing in the past year, I really have no idea where the next year will lead, other than I plan to stick with the weblog.

I'd like to take this opportunity to acknowledge my blog friends - blogging is definitely more fun and interesting when its a shared journey: Thank you Lisa and Julie!
We do really need to get together sometime. ;)

Just to write something funny, I posted this one year ago today (my second post):

Coconut?

My fiancée says I'm a coconut head. Me thinks she's probably right.

If you ask my fiancée today, she'll tell you I'm more of a coconut-head than ever. (But that's something I'm proud of!) Thank you Rhye for your encouragement and support, even in the early days when you thought I was nuts to want to write a weblog in the first place.

And finally, a big thank you to my blog's readers - without you, this weblog would just be an echo chamber.

On the MT Forums, I documented the bug that causes the <$MTEntryModifiedDate$> tag to always display the same date as <$MTEntryDate$>, even if the two dates were different. This tag has never worked correctly since its release with MT 2.65 (Dec. 2003).

Here's how to fix <$MTEntryModifiedDate$> so it works correctly:

Change line 784 in Context.pm (line 780 in MT 2.65 Context.pm):

` $args->{ts} = $args->{modification_timestamp};

...to the following:

` $args->{ts} = $[0]->{modificationtimestamp};

Save the modified Context.pm, upload to the server in ASCII mode, and the MTEntryModifiedDate tag should now function correctly. (You'll need to rebuild your templates to see the new code take effect.)

Here is why MTEntryModifiedDate did not work:

Dean Esmay's wife Rosemary has started her own weblog - The Queen of All Evil. If you don't know the Queen ("If conservatism is evil, then she's the queen!"), check out "Who Is The Queen of All Evil?" to learn how she came by her title.

Bill from INDC Journal had the following to say about The Queen of All Evil this past weekend:

In a recent thread, tempers flared and insults were exchanged. A couple of commenters made note that the typical level of discourse at Dean's World had hit a low point. Since I am at the con, I felt a bit guilty, especially because I've been one of the belligerents. That is, until I thought ...

What would Rosemary the Queen of All Evil do?

And my answer?

* She wouldn't put up with taking praise away from Pat Tillman just because the sacrifice of others may not receive enough attention ...

* And she also wouldn't put up with the morally equivalent horseshit that refuses to condemn moonbats that root for the forces that are killing our troops in Iraq and sabotaging our attempt to rebuild that country into a successful representative society.

She'd say something like, "You want pussy? Read Atrios."

Needless to say, The Queen of All Evil is now on my blogroll. If you like her brand of evil, by all means add her to your blogrolls too.

Search kungfu

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After finding out from Lisa that I had answered their exact question on the MT Forums a few days earlier, 'Broca' responds with this great line:

Oh wow, my search kungfu is weak =/

I've occasionally seen the question asked of how to list uncategorized entries (entries not assigned to any category) in Movable Type. Movable Type does not really offer any way to do this, so I played a bit with Brad Choate's SQL plugin and came up with the following:

David Lazarus has another update on the controversy surrounding Bank of America's and Wells Fargo's charging non-account holders fees to cash their paychecks here in California.

Class action lawsuits are scheduled to be filed against Bank of America and Wells Fargo by California businesses who now find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Attorneys and consumer advocates have observed that class-action suits were all but inevitable - once the violation of the state labor code came to light, thousands of California employers were immediately subject to fines of more than $100 for every paycheck reduced by a fee.

Employers were left holding the bag because the banks insisted that they're beyond the reach of state regulations on this matter. The suits seek injunctions barring the banks from charging the paycheck-cashing fees and a refund of all such fees already paid.

A Visalia (Tulare County) nonprofit called Karis House, which runs six homes for troubled teens, was expected to file suit against Bank of America yesterday. The organization has 60 employees, about a dozen of whom do not have personal bank accounts.

A suit against Wells Fargo is being brought by a Bakersfield firm called Ability Answering-Paging Service, which has 65 employees, about 10 of whom do not have personal bank accounts. The suit is expected to be filed by the end of the week.

Both plaintiffs are being represented by Nick Roxborough, a Los Angeles attorney specializing in unfair trade practices.

The state Senate Banking Committee is holding a special hearing on the paycheck-cashing fees in San Francisco City Hall on Monday, April 26, at 6 p.m. All interested parties are invited to attend.

Ocean Shores, WA

Yesterday, Rhye's mother was watching TV and saw Erik Estrada in an infomercial, selling properties in Ocean Shores, WA. Rhye's mom made us look at it and told us we should buy a house there, since they were selling for only $22,900. It took a while for me to explain to Rhye's mom that they were selling the land only - that we would be buying an empty lot with no house on it. Don't ask me why she thought you could buy land anywhere with a house on it for only $23K.

I caught the infomercial again in the wee hours this morning and was curious as to what the details of the deal were, so as the infomercial progressed, I snapped screenshots of the details and disclaimers that are usually on the screen for only a second or two. One thing I found surprising is that they're offering financing of the land purchase at 13.9% APR. Why any buyer would accept that rate is beyond me.

Purely by accident, I managed to capture a typo that got past the editors and proofreaders.

ocean<em>shores</em>infomercial7.jpg

What caught my eye was the line:

Obtain the Property Report or its equivalent required by Federal and State law and read it before singing anything.

My question: What song are you supposed to sing after reading the Property Report??

Upgraded again to MT 2.661

With the release of MT 3.0 not too far off in the distance, I decided that I probably should be running the most current 2.6x version of MT. The two most serious objections I had to using MT 2.661 were that 1) the MT-Blacklist plugin did not yet at the time work with MT 2.661, and 2) comment author links were changed so that they redirected through MT.

MT-Blacklist v1.63 is compatible with all MT 2.6x versions, so I upgraded from the incompatible 1.62 version.

To address the comment author link redirects, I installed the Optional Redirect plugin, which reverts MT 2.661 comment author link behavior to what it was in MT 2.64 (no redirects).

With those objections no longer a problem, I re-upgraded the blog to MT 2.661 this afternoon. So far, it's been working fine and I have no complaints.

True photoblogging

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photoblog2.jpg

Sgt. Stryker points out how some of us don't understand what photoblogging really is:

Taking pictures of your cat or a tree isn't photoblogging, it's just taking a picture and posting it to the web. This is photoblogging:

This makes me laugh every time I see it - it must be because it's true. It's even more funny for me because of the many days I spent working on my ImageInfo plugin - basically a photoblog 'taking a picture and posting it to the web' plugin.

Stryker's photoblog entry really is a picture - I ran it through my ImageInfo plugin just to see what EXIF data was in it. The picture was taken at 04/18/2004 00:21:59 with a FujiFilm FinePix A205 camera.

This is just too dang funny!!

The 11th commandment

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Steven Den Beste says:

I know what the 11th commandment is; I've known it since I was a kid: "If you do it, don't get caught.

I learned something similar when I was growing up: "It's only against the law if you get caught." (And I was raised in a Christian Church.)

I normally watch the 'Today' show in the mornings; NBC broadcast Condolezza Rice's appearance before the 9/11 Commission live this morning instead. I was working on some other things so I didn't catch all of the hearing, but a few things stood out:

I had not heard Condoleeza Rice speak before. I thought she presented herself very well - professional, articulate, and intelligent - and gave the 9/11 Commission the best answers she could, considering that a lot of what she knows is privileged and/or classified.

Richard Ben Veniste's questioning of Condi irritated me a lot. He sure had an ax (partisan?) to grind. I thought maybe it was just me, then I read Jeff Jarvis' remarks "Richard Ben Veniste, on the other hand, is an ass, acting like a prosecutor getting his moment in the TV sun.". An even better quote in the comments: "Yes, Ben Veniste was trying to have his Law & Order moment."

Bob Kerrey felt the need to make a statement before beginning his questioning. Funny - I didn't know the 9/11 Commission hearings were being held to take statements from its members. The most any of the 9/11 Commission members should have said before their questioning was to thank Condi for appearing before them.

In Kerrey's statement, he says, "It's not a war on terrorism. It's a war on radical Islam. Terrorism is a tactic." In just a few sentences, Kerrey demonstrated amazing ignorance on live TV before the entire country.

The terrorists we are at war with are radical Islamists. We need to know all we can about the enemy to defeat them, and that is a significant piece of information. But we're not at war with them because they're radical Islamists - we're at war with them because they're terrorists.

Kerrey's statement could easily inflame (anger) or intimidate (alarm) Islamists in general, and it gives the true enemies (the terrorists) a reason to keep fighting and not give up trying to attack us: If our enemies believe our intentions are to destroy them for what they believe, rather than for what they do, why should they abandon their fight?

Donald Sensing was pretty disgusted with the whole affair; I certainly was disappointed by some committee members' behavior and I agree with him about the playing for the camera.

Is the 09/11 Commission just a witch hunt? The audience applause at some of the commission's questions and remarks (not to mention the questions and remarks themselves) certainly had me wondering.

Condi's appearance before the 09/11 Commission was voluntary. Some of the committee members seemed to forget that. I know I'd certainly be thinking twice before volunteering to appear before such a committee again.

Again without fanfare or announcement, Sgt. Stryker's XML feed was switched from excerpts to a full post feed. Thank you, Sgt. Stryker!

I ran across an MT forum thread yesterday that stumbled into an interesting MT licensing issue. I really, really wanted to post there, but my views on MT's license aren't exactly welcome there. At first I let it go, then changed my mind because it had been a long time since I had posted anything about software licensing.

The usual disclaimer applies: I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice and should not be construed as such. If you have legal difficulties in this area, seek out and consult with a competent attorney.

Quotes from the forum discussion are in colored text; my comments are in black:

SF Chronicle's David Lazarus has written 3 more columns this past week on the issue of Bank of America and Wells Fargo charging non-account holders fees to cash paychecks drawn against their banks:

Last Monday, Sen. Florez unvelied two new bills: SB1917, prohibiting banks from charging paycheck-cashing fees to non-account holders, and SB1916, to specifically exempt state workers from such fees.

At last Wednesday's CA Senate Banking Committee hearing, Bank of America and Wells Fargo offered the following 4 reasons as justification for the fees:

  • There's a cost involved in cashing checks, and someone has to pay it.
  • Non-account holders take up tellers' time that might otherwise go to serving those who do have accounts at the bank.
  • Honest-to-goodness account holders shouldn't be inconvenienced by long lines resulting from the presence of non-account holders.
  • The chance of fraud is greater when a non-account holder brings in a check because the bank doesn't necessarily know this person.

The banks did not answer other committee questions. After the hearing, banking committee chairman Sen. Dean Florez said, "It was the worst form of stonewalling I've experienced chairing committees in the Legislature."

Future hearing are planned, one in San Francisco and possibly one in Los Angeles. In the meantime, Sen. Florez plans to ask state treasurer Phil Angelides to consider pulling out all state funds on deposit with Bank of America and Wells Fargo until there is a resolution to the fee dispute.

Instapundit - Now with full XML feed

Sometime last night, without fanfare or announcement, Instapundit's XML feed was switched from excerpts to a full post feed. I don't know why it happened, but I'm glad it did.

I like full post XML feeds - it's fewer clicks to read an entry. Most excerpt XML feeds are useless - they're too short to figure out what the entry is even about, let alone if it's interesting.

Based on a suggestion from Lisa, I've written my first Movable Type plugin.

Digital cameras often store lots of EXIF data in a picture, such as time stamp, f/stop, shutter speed, ISO setting, white balance, etc. MTImageInfo allows this EXIF data to be displayed with the image on a weblog page. This plugin should be most useful to those with photo-weblogs, but its use is not limited strictly to photo-weblogs.

Version 1.0 of MTImageInfo can be downloaded here.

Documentation is included in the .zip file, which can also be read here.

UPDATE 20040407: MT-ImageInfo at MT-Plugins.org