Archive for June, 2008

Rare Clouds

I found a brilliant blog post today which details a number of rare clouds that can occasionally be found in the skies and provides some stunning pictures of them. Really quite fantastic I thought, in fact it makes me think I should be looking to the skies more often!

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Widgets : Help or Hindrance?

I’ve been using WordPress as a CMS in many of the new sites I commission however I’ve always been willing to make modifications to themes and plugins to achieve what I want. WordPress is free software. In my book this means that I should expect to have to make changes to how things work to get everything I want. I’m not paying anyone so its not someone else’s responsibility to make the code do specifically what I need.

Widgets hail a new breed of free software users. Those who do not know how and do not want to know how to make their own modifications to site layouts or styles and yet still expect someone else to make it possible for them, indeed in some cases harass them to do so. Sure widgets are nice. They allow users to drop things in easier and not always having to edit files is a bonus. But someone has to code them, and no one configuration will be right for everyone.

By promoting an architecture that allows anyone to make what were traditionally code based changes to a site we up the ante on developers to provision these things in the first place. Lets not forget that these developers are writing for free and perhaps release something for the common good rather than with a desire to support every user’s whims. Further more there is still the hope that we can support old versions and the differing way with which widgets work make doing so increasingly harder.

So if there is a widget you use but are not 100% happy with, why not thank the developer for making your life easier and then look in the WordPress Codex for how to make the changes you want. Waking up to 30 complaints in your inbox is enough to make any developer want to hang up their keyboard. Waking up to 30 messages detailing the wonderful and amazing ways your free software has been modified and implemented in interesting and exciting ways is enough to make you want to extend your working day to better provide for these innovators.

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Google change favorites icon

Regular Google users will have noticed that the favorites icon has recently changed from Old Google Favorites Logo to New Google Favorites Logo. Given how infrequently images and layouts related to Google’s home page have changed over the years, does this small change mean fundamental changes might be in the air at Google?

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Webperf Issues

For the last few weeks or so, Webperf has been having back-end CGI issues. This has resulted in their usual colourful array of graphical statistics being missing in action. These are an invaluable resource for web hosts and similar to keep tabs on how they are doing compared to others in terms of their availability and bandwidth provisioning etc. Without it many people, myself included, have been getting frustrated.

If Webperf are not able to keep on top of the work required to run and maintain the site they should hand over to one of the many willing volunteers that have sprung up since the downtime. We need this site and this inaction is annoying and frustrating.

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WordPress Security Stupidity

I was reading a blog the other day and because the author had made reference to my calendar plugin I decided I would like to comment on the article. The site was setup so I had to register in order to post. I did so and was able to login and make my comment immediately – I wasn’t required to verify my e-mail address. I was also able to modify my credentials in a stripped down admin panel and it was here that I noticed something stupid.

Splashed across the top of the panel was a notice saying “This WordPress installation is out of date. The latest version is 2.5.1. Consider informing the administrator”. I considered shouting at WordPress for their stupidity with respect to security. If there is one thing we should learn from the telnet/SMTP hacks of days gone by its that shouting out that you have a vulnerable installation on some kind of banner is a bad thing to do. Luckily I’m on of the good guys and didn’t decide to compromise this individual’s site. Someone might do in the future though, with that site or any other displaying such a readily available banner. Why does this banner need to be there? Sure, it might need to be for an admin user but someone who has just registered? No. Sheer madness.

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Degree Classification


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