February 02, 2004

Launch of Andremolnar.com

The time has finally come to consolodate all of my web presences under one banner. This is Andremolnar.com version 0.0.1 Beta.

I have just gone through the process of installing moveable type. From all accounts that I have heard this is a solid product that meets most people's needs. Of course having just installed it only time will tell if it meets my needs. I still have to get under the hood and see what makes this machine purr. The goal will be to of course completely customize the product to make it do what I want. The good news is that on the surface all my core features and functionality are already included. I just have to make this my own.

Posted by andre at 11:52 PM
o our Prudential guy is a good company man (who is not being quoted by name because he was not authorized to speak for the company, and the Pru gets tight about such things all over the world) and earns a nice salary, right up there with a programmer if not slightly higher. He's single, so he lives well, and friends say he has access to many potential girlfriends since he's in charge of hiring and training a workforce composed primarily of young women, which he acknowledges is a major fringe benefit."

So why would he find it to be a major fringe benefit? Its all part of the class and dowry system in India that has made finding a 'good bride' very difficult.

In an article about women's rights in India you can read:

Gender Screening:

"According to a recent report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) up to 50 million girls and women are missing from India' s population as a result of systematic gender discrimination. In most countries in the world, there are approximately 105 female births for every 100 males. In India, there are less than 93 women for every 100 men in the population. The accepted reason for such a disparity is the practice of female infanticide, prompted by the existence of a dowry system which requires the family to pay out a great deal of money when a female child is married. For a poor family, the birth of a girl child can signal the beginning of financial ruin and extreme hardship. However this anti-female bias is by no means limited to poor families. Much of the discrimination is to do with cultural beliefs and social norms. These norms themselves must be challenged if this practice is to stop."

Or find out more about the dowry system and foeticide here

andre

Posted by andre at 03:43 PM

A blog I came across

Hey - another developer chatting about developer stuff

http://www.dekay.org/misc/net

andre

Posted by andre at 05:08 AM

HTTP Headers

So I've been monkeying with HTTP headers in PHP.

This is something I figured i would have to learn sooner or later. Right now I just want to read headers returned when calling remote files. So far no luck. But I've done a ton of interesting reading on the subject.

PHP rocks. There is really so much that is built in. Virtually every programming task that I would like to do CAN BE DONE - without having to shell out for some third party application. (*cough ASP sucks).

WHOOHOOO - while I was typing this a lightbulb went off in my head so I decided to try something out... DUH - it was something so silly. I can indeed read the headers.

<?PHP
@$file = fopen('http://www.andremolnar.com/some-file-that-doesn't-exist',"r");
print_r($http_response_header);
?>
I was having a combination of PHP version issues and typo issues.

So - back to what I was saying - anything I would like to do in PHP I can do. Now that I can read returned headers I can decide what action I want to take depending on the status of the requested file. Hella cool.

andre

Posted by andre at 04:57 AM

February 25, 2004

A friends Blog

I set up another blog for my friend.

He's an actor... don't know exactly what he'll have to say - but you might want to check it out.

Its pretty bare - we will be working together to make his site prettier - but all in good time - this is a freebee project so you can guess where it sits on my list of priorities.

http://bfroud.com

Posted by andre at 11:56 PM

February 20, 2004

Internet

The Internet is a communication device that allows people the world over to bitch about movies and share pornography with one another.

Holden (Ben Afflek) from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Posted by andre at 08:50 PM

February 18, 2004

Women are a catty bunch

There's a new study out that says that women put down other women to compete for men.

An article on Torstar.com goes through all the details.

This isn't surprising news. In my experience I have always found this to be true. Women are always putting each other down. Women do the most awful things to one another, particularly in their teenaged years.

If you happen to be a woman, try remembering back to highschool. How often were there conflicts between your girlfriends? How about with other women that weren't part of your 'clique'. How many stories can you think of where one woman did something awful to make another woman look bad? How often did another girlfriend steal a boyfriend?

Exactly! It happened all the time.

I happen to be a man - but I witness this behaviour all the time. I saw it a lot throughout school and still occasionally hear of it in my adult years. But, most of all I hear these stories from my female friends.

Women don't like other women very much.

Sure women have great close caring relationships, but they are also quite catty to one another. I can't say for sure what is more common - a good female - female relationship or a bad one, but the bad ones happen enough for me to have noticed.

Boys and Men - well thats an altogether different story.

andre

Posted by andre at 08:08 PM

Copyright Law vs. Privacy Law

Copyright Law vs Privacy Law

I've just been catching up on the legal cases being filed against people in Canada for alleged copyright violations.

In a nutshell record companies are trying to persuade the courts to have ISP's hand over information about 'suspected' copyright violators. i.e. anyone using a large amount of bandwidth for uploads.

Some good news:
"Calgary-based Shaw Communications argued that its obligations to clients under federal privacy legislation trump the rights of the recording industry under copyright law."

Some "so-so" news:
"The others are taking softer approaches. Bell Canada and Rogers want time to notify their clients so alleged music thieves have time to retain a lawyer."

Some bad news:
"Quebec's Videotron is the only company not fighting the order, saying owner Quebecor is concerned about piracy in other parts of its business, which include newspapers, television, Internet services and CDs."

andre

Posted by andre at 02:33 PM

February 14, 2004

Regular Expressions

So, I've decided to dink around with regular expressions to do some data validation.

I am amused to find that every available resource on the internet dedicated to Regular Expressions comes with a standard disclaimer. i.e. "Whole books have been writen on the topic of regular expressions - So we can't get into all the details here"

In other words - the author of all those articles can't be bothered to share anything useful beyond the basics.

Ah well.

So far things have been going great. I've been building an input validation class. My only comment on regular expressions is that they are finicky. You really do have to be careful when crafting your regular expression.

I found this tool. It is limited - but somewhat useful in the crafting of regular expression - at very least it will point out syntax errors as you enter the regular expression.

Back to work

andre

Posted by andre at 04:04 AM

February 12, 2004

Tracking Back

So here's a first attempt at a trackback. (This is more about me trying out a new feature in the world of movalbe type than a real comment on a story - but what the hell)

For those of you into the world of wi-fi.

Alex over at Wireless Bandit points out a story about a town in michigan thats gone wireless. The town allows a startup to put repeaters on utility poles - the startup sells access to the wireless network - the city gets a 5% cut.

Why won't Toronto go for a scheme like this? They might - but who's dumb enough to start this up. Megatropolises like a Toronto have all the infrastructure in the world - that includes fibre, cable and DSL. Add to that a growing number of wireless hotspots and it begs the question - who would pay for 256k wireless access when there are so many other options available.

Shurg. So there's the test of track back and my thoughts on city wide wireless in Toronto.

andre

Posted by andre at 03:07 AM

February 11, 2004

Conan In Toronto

Conan O'brien taped the first show in a week long engagement in Toronto.

I caught the show and it was very Canadian eh? The joked on air that you could here the US audience tuning out with each additional joke funny only to Canadians.

A couple of personal notes of interest:

1) Mike Myers pointed out a person in the audience wearing a flashing suit. The person was "flyerman"... (It turns out "flyerman" is a movie and the suit is a product of enlightened designs - but I didn't know that until I googled him just now... ) What was weird was I just saw "flyerman" not 5 days ago at the SFA concert in Toronto. I just thought he was some weirdo there to trip people out during the show with his flashy suit. Then he shows up on Conan... weird. But its just a marketing gimmick - getting people to talk about "that flyerman" guy - and eventually find out about the movie and enlightened designs. I feel duped... oh well - it was still an interesting coincidence.

2) There are three degrees of separation from me to Mike Myers (and McCormick of Will and Grace and indeed Elton John) - it goes like this... My former boss is friends with David Furnish - who was in the same highschool class as Mike Myers and Kevin McCormick and happens to be Elton Jon's life partner. Mike Myers told a story on the Conan show of how the three of them went to school together. Small world.

More reviews and related links of the show here:
SUN
SUN
Star
A less than enthusiastic review by the Globe and Mail.

I'm interested to see what (if anything) the US media will say. I'll post some links later in the day as Google picks up the stories from the US press.

thats all for now.

andre

Posted by andre at 03:40 AM

February 10, 2004

Random thoughts on the new new economy.

You can read a thousand articles on the outsourcing of high tech jobs to India and China.

Here is the whole topic in a nutshell:
1) Jobs are being outsourced to places with educated work-forces that can produce better results for a lower cost.
2) People who are "losing" those jobs are frustrated.
3) This has happened before - in agriculture, manufacturing - now in knowledge.
4) The only constant is change.
5) Many people fight change - others try to adapt.
6) The losses felt here are gains felt elsewhere.
7) With every closed door there is another to be opened.

One interesting thing I discoved researching all of this is that Canada is ranked the number 2 place in the world to outsource your IT needs. It makes sense. Canada has a educated workforce. The adoption of technology is high. The workforce speaks English (eh?). IT workers make a bit less than their US counterparts - add to that a relatively weak Canadian dollar and the cost of outsourcing is lowered. You can check out a stolen graphic that shows Canada in the number 2 spot.

The topic also got me thinking about intellecual property. One of the arguments tossed around in the debate over outsourcing is that the rest of the world is welcome to do the grunt work - we in North America will continue to inovate. The thinking is that the places to which the work is outsourced will not become inovators - they will happily continue doing grunt work. I don't believe that. Its only a matter of time before they become innovators themselves. They will not only do the grunt work - but find new ways to do the same old things. They wont just write the same old code - they will write new - better - faster code that does things that we didn't think of. Add to that the fact that they will have our entire libraries of existing code as a starting point and the offshore innovation is almost assured.

What does this have to do with IP? Its tough to stop anyone from reverse engineering something. It happens all the time. The intellecutal property is stolen in a way and new clone products emerge. But what happens when you actually hand over the blueprints. Not just the product - but the detailed instructions on how to build it. How long will it take for that code and IP to proliferate? How long before you have cloned software that was re-writen by improving the original code?

I'm not saying such a cenario would be a bad thing - I just wonder if the outsourcers have given it any thought.

thats all for now

andre

Posted by andre at 07:02 PM

February 09, 2004

Election Reform

Someone pointed me to an article here:

here.

Here are some thoughts on the matter.

First of all lets look who is behind this.

"The NCC -- a conservative lobby group formerly headed by Alliance leader Stephen Harper --" - quote taken from a related article Here.

To see what the election act actually limits one can read Bill C-2 here.
specifically (the part about third parties) Here.

The truth of the matter is that third party advertising IS ALLOWED. Perhaps not as much as conservatives with DEEP pockets would like. A quebec high court has already said that such restrictions could still be constitutionally justified! (Alberta and Ontario have ruled otherwise - but then again look at the political landscape in Ontario and Alberta).

I am all for any sort of campaign reform that restricts spending by special interest groups (i.e. third parties). Restrictions are not the same as Prohibitions! If all third parties are bound by the same rules - then the restrictions are fair. This seems to be the case in this legislation.

Most people are for the separation of Church and State. We should be equally interested in the separation of Corporation and State. By limiting third party spending on campaign adds - you limit the ability of corporations to lobby for their own special interests and support candidates willing to cave to that lobby during an election.

I would be willing to allow unlimited spending by individuals from their own personal pocketbook - This preserves the freedom of speech in individuals. But I am not willing to grant a corporation (which is not a person by any definition in reality - though sometimes granted 'person status' under the law) with the same freedoms as individual persons.

Lets Look at the source:

The globe and mail is a very right of center publication. The editorial policy of the paper clearly has a right of center bias.

But even if we assume there is still some journalistic integrity at the Globe that present both sides of an argument (even if there is a bias towards one) the article itself is not an article - IT IS AN EDITORIAL! It has not been edited - nor is it held to that standard. This is purely the opinion of GERRY NICHOLLS - and "...[his] group, the National Citizens Coalition" - Unfiltered opinion of an involved party.

Lets Look at the Pitch:

It is clever of the NCC to use examples such as Kyoto and same sex marriage and gun control. Hot button topics that resonate on an individual level. He doesn't talk about campaigns for Pay for Service health care. He doesn't talk about campaigns for increased logging. He doesn't talk about campaigns for lowered environmental regulation for oil and gas. He doesn't talk about relaxing other lobbying regulations at the federal level. And it is precisely those kinds of issues that 'third parties' with deep pockets would get behind and spend big.

This isn't a defense of personal free speech in Canada. It is a lobby to allow BIG corporate spending in individual ridings to elect candidates that are sympathetic to BIG corporate needs.

This is precisely the reason the legislation was put in place. It is a form of campaign reform. It is a way of keeping the playing field level. If all third parties are bound by the same rules it makes sure that the Monsanto's can't outspend the Greenpeace's in getting their message to the electorate.

ASIDE: It is also clever that the article was crafted to sound as if 'third parties' were smaller political parties. No 'third parties' are not political parties like the liberals or the conservatives or the NDP. They are bound by their own set of rules under election legislation. Third parities here means outside special interest groups.

andre

Posted by andre at 08:44 PM

Plugging Away

As I bumble through my exciting education in the world of unix, php and other scripting, I keep coming across tiny barriers.

Essentially I know what I want to accomplish, but I don't know how. So I start down a path and when I don't know what to do next I have to do some reading to learn how to do whatever it is that is stopping me from going further. As I learn that I will come across another roadblock that further diverts me. Finally when I have cleared all the road blocks I can get back on the main track and finish what it was that I originally wanted to get done.

I kind of call it Zen learning. Just keep following the diversions and don't get frustrated by them. Everything I learn will come in handy one day... and in most cases comes in handy right away. So as long as I plod along and not get frustrated the whole experience is going to be fine.

Tonight I started with learning about how to create classes and instantiate them. But I don't want to hard code those Then I wanted to learn about including files. But I don't want my includes in the same directory. That took me to php_value include_path. But I can't change my hosts php.ini file. That took me to httpd.conf and .htaccess. Which opened my eyes to some issues I hadn't even considered. So I tackled those. And am still tackling others. I hope that by the end of all this I will have completed my original task.

See everything here is new. Every hurdle is a new one. I have solutions for all of these issues on another un-named platform - but I have to find new ones for this platform.

Once again thank god for the open source community and the abundantly documented nature of all these products.

andre

Posted by andre at 04:06 AM

February 08, 2004

Super Furry Animals

Thursday February 5th 2004 had the Welsh supergroup SFA come around to Toronto. At $15 it was a steal. An outstanding show - entertaining - and crowd pleasing.

For those unfamilar with the Super Furry Animals check out their site.

They've been around for about 10 years or so and have not gotten the recognition that they deserve. They are most often categorized as psychadelic rock - but they are much more than a stoner band. A good starting point would be their 1997 release Radiator. Pop - Fun - Rock - riddled with catchy licks and lyrics.

I will write more about the super furries on my music site - but I couldn't help but mention them here.

andre

Posted by andre at 08:53 PM

February 05, 2004

ASP to PHP

Slowly but surely I am making the transition to PHP from ASP.

The great thing is all the knowledge is transferable - its just a matter of getting a hang of the syntax. I have to stop thinking in terms of Response.write and response.redirect and start thinking echo and header("Location: http://someurl.com").

Thankfully I have found PHPedit - which is making the transition easier as I don't have to fumble with syntax quite as much.

God bless the open source and freeware community. Without them this transition would be a waste of time.

andre

Posted by andre at 03:59 AM

Stephen Regoczei

I just caught a lecture/talk on line from one of my former profs Stephen Regoczei.
Here.

In the talk he wonders around issues of saving the world and the sharing of ideas and concepts - and how its done.

The conference was about:
The Zap Your PRAM Conference is a gathering of creative professionals, academics, and intriguing people from around the world interested in design, the web, and emerging technologies. It's a conference to relax and discuss current issues in technology, business, and whatever else comes up. A kind of think-tank, conference, have-a-conversation, type of gathering.

This stuff is what I am all about. This is what keeps me interested in technology. The power of the web isn't in the software. The power of the web isn't in the machines or the wires that connect them together. The power of the Web is people - people sharing ideas - people connecting - people changing the world - and saving it.

The talk also focused on blogging and the power it has. Two notable quotes:
"b'logs [sic] are an oral artform propagated through writing"
"b'logs [sic] are the un-edited personal statements released to the world"

There was also a cameo by Dave Winer at the end of the talk. He makes some interesting observations about the drawbacks of blogging as a medium - how no matter how 'real' you want to be - you can still get crucified for it. Google "I write shitty software" and you can see how true this is.

Still - being real and saying it as it is or as you see it really does make blogs interesting. To change the world we need more voices to be heard. No where else can so many people from so many different places be heard than on the web.

Posted by andre at 01:42 AM

February 04, 2004

Index page is now PHP

One of the great features of Moveable type is that it builds static pages out of the content stored in the database. After an update to a news item or blog you "rebuild" your sites pages using the templates provided. This is a great performance enhancer for your site. If you have a lot of traffic serving up static pages is a lot kinder on your server than serving up dynamic pages that grab information from a database.

Still, you may want to include some dynamic content and add some PHP functionality to your home page. But if MT is building static pages how can you get that functionality. Simple. MT allows you to specify which file to build when it does its "rebuild". So instead of having the template of the Main Index create a file called Index.html - you can tell it to build a page called Index.php.

This is what I have done here. Its a best of both worlds situation really. I can include some lightweight (low server load) php functionality to my index page and still leave the heavier lifting of database access to MT on an AS NEEDED basis when I re-build the site.

Of course the template file that MT uses to do the re-build must now include the PHP code that I want to include. Having PHP code that changes regularly written into a template file doesn't seem to make much sense though. Template files should be initially modified and then left alone. After all that is the power of the template file - build the template once and never have to worry about it until you decide to make a major change.

Still, there is an easy way around this. In your template file all you really need to do is add a few simple PHP include statements that point to other files that you can modify and update freely without touching the template itself.

Done and Done.

As of right now this is what is going on here at this site. I can still harness the power of the templating system. I can still reduce the stress on the server by having the majority of the page's content pre-built. AND I can include some PHP code for some specialty features. The best of all worlds.

andre

Posted by andre at 03:11 AM

Resources

Well it seems that I will be adding a resource section to my site.

Essentially I will be putting up an online version of my bookmarks to the resources that I have found or am finding useful in my persuit of knowledge in the world of PHP and MySql development.

Check back for a launch of the resources section.

andre

Posted by andre at 01:33 AM

February 03, 2004

Expanding Moveable Type

I'm quite new to the MT world - but i have been a web geek for quite some time. That means that I have built hundreds of web applications and customised countless web sites.

One of the great things about the web is that it is relatively easy to add features to a web site. You are usually one hyperlink away from a completley new section of your web site. In some cases you are only a few lines of code away from added a great deal of functionality. It appears as though the moveable type community has been busy adding those "few lines of code" to increase the functionality of this (what i consider) solid product.

For those new to the MT game (like me) you will be glad to know that you can add plugins to your site from mt-plugins.org. And after a little bit of examination - it appears as though it will be really easy to add my own plugins in the future. Quite exciting.

On an unrelated note - I'm curious about the trackback feature of this site. So I'm going to test it out.

Stay tuned for the next post.

Posted by andre at 03:26 PM

Further Updates

Got a chance to get a bit under the hood and see how MT does its magic. Nothing too fancy and it looks like it will be pretty easy to manage major changes to the way things are displayed and where information is being pulled from to display the contents of the default page.

I've been monkeying with the index page template as you might have seen.

ToDo items: (Main Page)
-start including other content and features from other applications.
-strip out features not needed on the main page
-build sub content pages
-build link library
-finalize graphical look
-re-write CSS file for optimum look of text and layout and SE friendliness

-pretty up all content pages to match look and or feel of main page
Nice to have's:
-Add a spell checker in the backend

Open for suggestion. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Posted by andre at 03:56 AM

February 02, 2004

Launch of Andremolnar.com

The time has finally come to consolodate all of my web presences under one banner. This is Andremolnar.com version 0.0.1 Beta.

I have just gone through the process of installing moveable type. From all accounts that I have heard this is a solid product that meets most people's needs. Of course having just installed it only time will tell if it meets my needs. I still have to get under the hood and see what makes this machine purr. The goal will be to of course completely customize the product to make it do what I want. The good news is that on the surface all my core features and functionality are already included. I just have to make this my own.

Posted by andre at 11:52 PM