Network Problems

I’ve just upgraded the OS on the machine that hosts this site, and I’ve developed networking problems. If you see corrupted images or pages, that’s why. I’m working on it, but so far it looks nontrivial. Sorry for any inconvenience.

And happy 2010 to you too.

Ack! Missed Milestone

I just happened to notice that that last post was #666, a milestone of sorts. I’d meant to commemorate it with something suitably satanic, but missed it.

Anyway, enjoy post #667, the Neighbor of the Beast.

Followup on Luke 6:30

As I mentioned earlier, I asked commenter Flabberghasted for money, and he came through. Which left me with a not-terribly-fungible Amazon gift card, and the question of what to do with it.

I wound up taking Shelley’s advice: used the card to knock $50 off my Christmas shopping, and then made a $50 donation to the Secular Student Alliance. Because today’s students are tomorrow’s future that the Terminators will come back in time to try to undo. Or something like that.

Luke 6:30

Luke 6:27-31 (NIV):

27“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.

This has long been one of my favorite Bible verses, especially with biblical literalists, because so few of them actually obey it.

Over in the comments on the Jo Hovind Update post, I asked Flabberghasted whether he obeys that injunction. He said yes. I asked him for a thousand smackers.

To my surprise, he came through. Oh, not the full kilobuck. But he did send me a $50 Amazon gift card. After I pointed out that this was an object lesson to illustrate that the passage above was not one of Jesus’ better-thought-out ideas. And in the credit-where-credit-is-due department, he didn’t drag his feet. The main delay was that I didn’t give him my email address as quickly as he wanted it.

So first of all, to Flabberghasted: thank you.

Secondly, while he gets points for consistency and obedience to Jesus. Unfortunately, I maintain that my point still stands, and being a doormat is still not a good long-term strategy for Christians. So minus a bunch of points for that.

I haven’t decided yet what to do with the card. As I said, I just got it, and am considering my options.

Keywords Seem to Be Working Now

Those links at the bottom of posts that say “Tags: foo, bar, baz” should now be working.

Back when I started this weblog, WordPress didn’t have keyword support, so I installed a plugin to implement them. Then at some point keywords became a core feature of WP. I think that having tags in the core and keywords in the plugin broke things.

So I finally consed up a quick and dirty kludge to transfer all of the old tags to new-style keywords, deactivated the plugin, and things started working again. Yay!

Character Encodings Are a PITA

Character encoding schemes (UTF-8, ASCII, ISO-8859-1/-15,
Windows-1252, etc.) are an incredible source of headaches. Stay away
from them.

(Oh, and if you tell me I mean “raw character encoding” or “codepoint
set” some such, I’ll whack you upside the head with a thick Unicode

In case you hadn’t noticed, I upgraded WordPress not too long ago.
Being the cautious sort, I did a dump of the back-end database before
doing so, as I’ve done every other time I upgraded. And, like every
other time, I noticed that some characters got mangled. This time
around, though, I decided to do something about it.

It turned out that when I originally set up the database, I told it to
use ISO-8859-1 as the default text encoding. But later, I told
WordPress to use UTF-8. And somewhere between dumping, restoring, and
WordPress’s upgrade of the schema, various characters got mangled. For
the most part, various ISO-8859-1 quotation marks got converted to
UTF-8, then interpreted as ISO-8859-1, and converted again. On top of
which, some commenters used retarded software to post comments, which
insisted on using cp1252 or cp1258 (and I even saw something which
might’ve been IBM-CP1133), which also got converted to and from UTF-8
and ISO-8859-1 or -15.

Obviously, with 13 Mb of data, I wasn’t going to correct it all by
hand; I needed to write a script. But that introduced additional
problems: a Perl script that’s basically “s/foo/bar/g” is
pretty simple, but when foo and bar are strings that
represent the same character using different encodings, things can get
hairy: what if bar is UTF-8, but Perl thinks that the file is
in ISO-8859-15?

On top of that, you have to keep track of which encoding Emacs is
using to show you any given file.

iconv turned out to be an invaluable forensic tool, but it has one
limitation: you can’t use it to simply decode UTF-8 (or if you can, I
wasn’t able to figure out how to do so). There were times when I
wanted to decode a snippet of text and look at it to see if I could
recognize the encoding. But iconv only allows you to convert from one
encoding to another; so if you try to convert from UTF-8 to
ISO-8859-1, and the resulting character isn’t defined in ISO-8859-1,
you get an error. Bleah.

The moral of the story is, use UTF-8 for everything. If the software
you’re using doesn’t give you UTF-8 as an option, ditch it and use
another package.

Name Change

What with the new year, I’ve changed the name of this weblog from “Ooblog” to “Epsilon Clue”, which I like better.

All of the URLs, RSS feeds, and so on should stay the same, so no need to update your bookmarks.

Update, Mar. 25, 2008: In case anyone’s wondering, the name comes from this comment at The Daily WTF:

The designer must have had some clue about Web authoring, as he clearly understood complex Javascript, PHP etc. I can’t comprehend how anyone with even epsilon clue could engineer a pile of crap like this.

Tenth Anniversary

I didn’t notice it at the time, but last week was’s tenth anniversary. Woot!

If you have time to waste, you can browse the Wayback Machine’s archive of crap I used to have.

Gallery Comments Disabled

I’ve disabled comments in the photo gallery. I’m sorry to do this, but the spammers were just getting too obnoxious, and Gallery‘s crappy captcha just wasn’t keeping them out.

I’m not happy about this, but it was just too much work deleting spam.

LJ Plugin for WordPress

I’ve made enough references to LiveJournal users like and enough that I got tired of copying and pasting the standard LJ HTML to link to them.

So I did what any good hacker would do, and wrote a WordPress plugin to expand <lj username> tags.

You can download it .