Leeland's blog

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Lengthening Short URLs

I prefer simple things over complex. So naturally I like easy to read URLs and I strive to keep URLs on sites I work on from getting out of control. So I appreciate the idea and the results of compact URL services like is.gd and TinyURL. I also understand the need to more accurately track incoming hits for marketing and usage statistics. But these self same services are also used by less noble people who create malicious sites for illicit fun or profit.

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How I Met Your Girlfriend, Google Opt Out Village, and Other Security Thoughts

Everyone who has an email box and a friend or two gets semi regular stuff in the form of shared jokes. Sometimes stuff comes around multiple times. What is really interesting is how something that has already been around once not too long ago generates entirely different responses on the second pass.

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Programming Exemplar Challenges

Getting ready to present my first seminar in a few years. Naturally the requests were for something on Behavior Driven Design and good development practices. Although I gave myself lots of lead time I am still feeling the crunch. It is hard to believe I use to do the lecture circuit regularly.

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Apocryphal History

Sometimes I wonder why it is my mind takes me around various corners. My afternoon started with a JMX research task and ended by reading a great story by Bryan Hayes on the possibly apocryphal anecdote about Gauss frustrating his teacher as a child called Gauss's Day of Reckoning (http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/num2/gausss-day-of-reckoning/1).

Just so you can see what I mean here is how my afternoon went.

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Locking Up Multiple Systems

At my office we have this thing called the "Dude Protocol." When I first started working here I thought it was a neat idea to make people a little more security conscience. The procedure is that if any workstation, laptop, or terminal is left logged in but without someone sitting there using it everyone is allowed (in fact directly ordered) to pull up the email client and send an email message to the "Fun" email list with the subject of "Dude" and then to LOCK the terminal.

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The CEO and Lead Engineer

Today must be the day for anecdotes, while taking a short break for coffee another lead engineer told me a great anecdote I hadn't heard before.

The CEO and Lead Engineer

One day the CEO of a growing company walked into the lead engineer's office and said, "you have been working really hard for a while, take a break and come with me."

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Managers in Hot Air Balloons

While slugging through some rather interesting (in a bad way) slob of Spaghetti Code (tm) a management type drifted into my office and asked completely straight faced "Why do you need so much more time to complete the configuration control project?"

After re-orienting my brain from the dizzying code I explained that the code was slapstick at best and practically incomprehensible, and that they had laid off every one of the team that had been working on it before they completed the work.

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Ancient Technology Lessons For Software Development

Many times a day I sit and wonder about why something is (or is not). (Sounds pretty Zen I know, however, it is still true.) Technology is evolving so fast as to seem out of control. Yet, there are still fundamental elements we should be following. One of these is usability.

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Development Exemplars

When asked what I do professionally I almost always answer "I'm a Software Sanitation Engineer, more commonly known as a Code Janitor." Many people chuckle at this, however, I have found that it explains my normal daily work to both technical and non-technical people very clearly. In fact anyone who has received an email from me will attest that there is a tag line attached regularly that reads: Let’s be honest "bugs" is a euphemism for developer malpractice.

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Good URLs

Good URLs are a great thing. I am trying to make them come out here. In running around to find the right mix of code to make them nice I ran over this excellent article on "Best URLs". Since I agree with it entirely, and cannot think of anything to add to it just going to reference it and say "ditto". Also in the interest of vanishing Internet resources and articles I include the complete article here (with permission from Gary Love granted on 9/24/2010):

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Short Sprints vs. Long Goals

Running a development using SCRUM mixed with Agile has a lot of benefits. But, every once in a while (read as "yesterday") a requirement comes up that just seems to defy all logic and being able to be split down. This isn't the first time to run head on into this large wall (or immovable object). Although rare, this does happen.

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Adding Anonymous Comments (in Drupal)

Everything is shaping up nicely. I have most of the functions I need and what is left is interesting, challenging, and will give me lots of materials for technical blogs and presentations on development.

Oh hang on, I want anonymous comments to include required contact information. No problem, login -> Administer -> Content -> Comment page ... huh nope ... OK how about something under the user settings? Nope. Maybe permissions section. Nothing looks right. Dang it finding some of the settings for stuff in Drupal is more than a little annoying.

Google save me!

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The Dark Side of CFLs

True or false there are a lot of people who are looking at this issue. Basically the idea is that compact florescence lights produce a kind of electromagnetic pollution which as a radiation has been shown in semi-clinical (meaning not yet in large groups, or with a solid sampling) testing to affect people's health.

YouTube clip to sum it all up compliments of a Canadian news program:

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Semi Safe HTML Tags

The question is always what can be considered safe when dealing with user input. (In truth very little.) However, setting that truism aside, sites can use HTML correction modules to correct input, and then escaping any oddness. After initial scrubbing the question is what should be allowed through to assist in displaying the content as the author wishes. That list is kind of hard to find. Here is my basic list.

Block-level tags
Information about the author (such as contact info)
Extended quotation
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Drupal Issues to Consider

As things ramp up for NOD Software a lot of time is being spent on the learning curve. One of the largest concerns is of course security. NOD Software supports a number of organizations and projects. Most of what is done for the primary site eventually is used to enhance our supported sites. At this stage it is all about pulling together a minimal configuration that provides a solid set of features.

Running around the Internet produces a lot of crumbs to follow. I thought perhaps I should share these as anyone else might be interested in all the circles we are running in.

Thread Slivers eBook at Amazon

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