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FTC disclosure guidelines for website publishing

I just stumbled on to this PDF file that provides examples of misleading advertising or claims and how to avoid them when building a web site or page.

Update 10/10/2009: The FTC now requires disclosure if you've received gifts or other consideration from an advertiser whose products or services you write about.

More info:

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.

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

DIY - Silver Lightning™ cleans silver via electrochemical reaction

OK, this is off-topic but what the heck - it's interesting (to me, anyway).

I've seen commercial advertisements for the Silver Lightning™ Tarnish Remover Tray
on various television shows, The product demonstration shows a person placing the Silver Lightning plate under water, then placing tarnished silver on the plate -- and like magic, the silver brightens and the tarnish vanishes.

I'm an inquisitive guy, so I assumed this was due to some kind of chemical reaction involving electrolysis, so I searched the web to see what I could find on the subject.

It turns out that silver tarnish is silver sulfide, much of which comes from the trace amounts of sulfur in the air. The Silver Lightning product is apparently nothing more than an aluminum plate, which, when placed in a solution of baking soda and water (about 1 cup per gallon) causes an electrochemical reaction that draws the sulfur away from the silver and to the aluminum.

Nero Essentials: DRM gone bad.

I was debugging a Windows application that makes use of DirectShow to render media - and for some strange reason, the application would terminate without warning when run under Visual Studio's debugger.

No error message, no exceptions, nothing. The application ran fine outside the debugger. I was able to debug the same code base several weeks ago without incident.

Programmer Fonts

Here's a great page with a roundup of programmer fonts: ( seems to be down at the moment, so here's an archived version courtesy of

Other resources

Consolas (Microsoft)

Another preinstalled software mop-up operation

I had the 'honor' of rescuing yet another victim of a pre-installed software nightmare. A new co-worker was working with his notebook (a Hewlett-Packard, recent vintage, less than a year old with Vista Home Basic installed).

The complaint? Minimum five (yes, FIVE) minute boot time from power-on to desktop interaction.

After a cursory examination, I found that it wasn't a hardware problem, nor was it due to memory limitations: the system had 512MB RAM, Vista was using just over 300MB with no other applications running (yes, that's a lot, but this is Vista, after all).

Computer Use, Eye Strain, and RSI

It's one of the occupational hazards of computer use: eye strain, fatigue, and repetitive strain injury (RSI). Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a definite risk.

It's important to take a break from time to time - but how do we do that when there's so much work to be done? So many web sites to visit? Another forum post to read?

Remove unwanted items from the Vista Welcome Center

You can remove items from (or add items to) the Vista Welcome Center.

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