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Graphite portrait of Hedy Lamarr by Catrina

People are talking about Catrina's beautiful drawings.

My daughter, Catrina, has been working on more of her fantastic portrait drawings. You can see some of them, including her more recent works, on her gallery.

Web server performance tuning and benchmarking - grab bag

I've been working on web site performance optimizations lately (though you might not believe it when visiting this site...)

I've come across a few useful performance-related resources that I've been using lately:

Download AT&T Samsung Impression A877 drivers and manuals - no manuals, no drivers included with product.

My daughter bought a Samsung Impression A877 AT&T cell phone the other day. It's an interesting phone, and it looks like a high-quality mobile device (at least so far.)

She decided to connect it to her computer. She inserted the CD-ROM in the computer's CD-ROM drive and was greeted with a nice Flash-based menu which included links to install USB drivers and the 'friendly' PC Studio application. She clicked the link to install the software -- and was rewarded with a web browser opening up to visit the Samsung website in order to download the requested software. Same with the USB driver and documentation -- each resulted in a web browser directed to a Samsung web page to download the requested items.

Living without antivirus software

[adsense:728x15:5447199818]Ok, I'll admit it. I've been living dangerously for the last several years.

To be blunt: I refused to install any kind of antivirus or personal firewall software on most of my computers (but see Update 1/1/2012, below.) This included a Windows XP Home system that was used by my children as a web surfing / email / game system. I suffered zero infections during this time. (The only time I ever suffered a malware infection was before, when I did rely on Norton Antivirus to protect the kids' computer.)

Why do I refuse to use these massively popular widely-used products? Simple. I am convinced that in my case, they may cause more harm than good, and that they foster a false sense of security - leading some users to engage in riskier behavior.

Further, antivirus software is almost always behind the curve - by definition, the antivirus people are playing catch-up with the malware writers. It's a good living for them, but I choose not to contribute to it.

As a software developer, I cannot afford any downtime due to buggy software, and yes - antivirus software has bugs. Not long ago, one major antivirus package ran amok, causing widespread damage by deleting harmless user data and programs.

A few bad apples

One or two bad apples may not spoil the whole bunch but they sure do make a foul-tasting pie

I've built, from scratch, a few useful Drupal contributed modules for my own use, and shared them via the contributed modules system. I shared them as my way of supporting the Drupal community (since I benefited from the freely-available Drupal core and other contributed modules).

While the vast majority of users have been polite and reasonable, and a few have offered support, on the whole I find that the majority of users seeking help or reporting bugs do so without offering much in return. Most of the time it seems like a one-sided relationship.

I do appreciate the information most issue reports have to offer but I am unable to respond to all requests in a timely manner. I've been very busy with other priorities over the last year or so, so I've not had much time to dedicate to maintaining the modules I've contributed. The support requests and bug reports have been piling up. As a result I'm seeking new maintainers for all of the modules.

Further, I've decided that I will think twice before sharing future custom Drupal modules via's contributed modules project hosting.

Be careful what you wish for

Many years ago, I worked with a firmware engineer. We'll call him 'Bill'. 'Bill' was an interesting character, for he was fond of saying provocative things in order to observe your reaction.

I walked in to Bill's office one day, and he was sitting there with his feet on the desk, leaning back in his chair. Hands clasped behind his head. I'd have thought he was napping except I noticed that he was staring at the ceiling.

"What's up, Bill?", I asked.

Bill replied: "Oh, I'm working on the firmware for the new color printer, and I'm thinking about what to do if someone opens the cover in the middle of a print cycle. It's giving me fits."

He continued: "Sometimes I wish humans were descended from dogs instead of apes." He paused.

"Why's that, Bill?" I asked, taking the bait. By then, I was on full alert.

"Maybe then they wouldn't be messing around, pushing buttons when they shouldn't." Bill said. Clearly, this was the punch line he was waiting to deliver.

"Yeah", came my immediate reply, "but then, you'd be sitting here, pondering what to do when the user urinates on the printer with the power on."

Bill broke out laughing. Clearly, he wasn't expecting that response.

Mission accomplished.

This is too funny! Spam ad for spam ad posting position...

I found this one one of my classified ad sites today:

Join one of the best Advertising Company of India. We pay you for your hard work. 100% Payment urance. Its a Ad Posting job (copy-paste work). Unlimited Monthly income. For Details visit : www. [spammer-site]. com or Email us at [email deleted] or Call us at [phone number deleted]

This is too funny - spammers dropping spam ads for spam ad droppers who will then drop spam ads onto more sites. It's "copy-paste work". Indeed. This is recursion run amok.

Slick JavaScript-based browser-specific CSS helper

Here's a nifty tool for your bag of tricks: JavaScript snippet that tags HTML elements with browser- and OS-specific attributes so you can target browser- and OS-specific 'peculiarities' without resorting to the usual bizarro selector tricks or Internet Explorer-specific conditional comments.

Using this script, you can target browser-specific elements via simple CSS selectors as follows:

.ie6 #targetElement { border: solid 1px #eee; }

OS Codes

win - Microsoft Windows

Is Google Evil?

In a Reuters article, Eric Schmidt talks about their stated philosophy - "Don't be evil" - and how this translates into practice, and what it means to the company.

In an on-stage interview with writer Ken Auletta of the New Yorker magazine, Schmidt said "Don't be evil" is meant to provoke internal debate over what constitutes ethical corporate behavior, rather than representing an absolute moral position.

Metric vs. Imperial system smack-down

Here's a funny (and over-the-top) diatribe on the advantages of the Imperial over the metric measurement system:

The metric system also fails to be sized appropriately for humans. Because of its derivation, units of measure are divisible by ten, but ill-suited for labor that does not involve extensive mathematical computations. Is it any wonder that a man is still six feet tall? Measuring a six-foot, 31-year-old man's height in centimeters (182) makes as much sense as measuring his age in months (372).

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