Monthly Archives: July 2008

From the "Would You Believe?" Dept.

I am trying (seriously, I am…) to get my possessions organized to take or ship out to Seattle for my first long-distance, long-term move, but I keep getting distracted by the things I am finding in my closets…

Here’s a couple things I took pictures of because I think they represent things I’ve done in my life that even some of my friends would probably not know about me. Help me waste a few more minutes of my last two packing days reliving a bit 🙂

Would You Believe: I was in Order of the Arrow in Boy Scouts?

Order of the Arrow Sash and Cub Scout Graduation Arrows

Yeah, not only did I actually go outside when I was in high school, but I defied the geek stereotype so far as to actually be recognized for it.  (Order of the Arrow is the “National Honor Society” of Boy Scouts)  Though in the interest of full disclosure, I did not pursue it further, and am only an Ordeal member. The other arrows here are one I received when I completed Cub Scouts, and one that I fletched myself for the Archery merit badge.

Would You Believe: I earned NRA Shotgun Sharpshooter and Rifle Marksman qaulifications?

NRA Proficiency Medals

Another throw back to the Scouting days, I spent a fair bit of my summer camp weeks at the gun range, earning the Shotgun Shooting and Rifle Shooting merit badges. In the process I earned my NRA Shotgun Sharpshooter (17 of 25 targets six times) qualification, and NRA Rifle Marksman (2 courses of 150/300 3-position light rifle) qualification.  Only had to go back once to the canteen to buy more shotgun shells 🙂

Would You Believe: I was an over-achiever in High School?

High School Awards Banner

Yeah, actually you probably would believe that :-/ But my mom made me this awesome banner my sophomore or junior year of high school, and it was a lot of fun filling it.  Most of the medals are from math competitions and Solo & Ensemble for band, to be honest, but there’s a fair bit of other things mixed in for one-off events and scholastic stuff.

Would You Believe: I was Senior Ball King?

Senior Ball Crown and SceptreSenior Ball BK Crown

True story.  Don’t really know how…  (My sash is in the above picture by the banner)

Hm, well, that was good for killing 20 minutes 🙂 I suppose I should go back to sorting out junk.

HowTo: Fix 404 Errors When Upgrading to WordPress 2.6 on Windows / IIS

This post is only for WordPress users who have upgraded to 2.6 on their Windows / IIS server and other users who use “index.php” in their permalinks and are encountering 404 errors after the upgrade.

The problem is already known to the WordPress folks and fixed, as described on the WordPress forums.

I’m posting this just to help out those Googling for answers, as I just recently was after upgrading the Enlight website and watching them go up in flames 🙂

To quote the WordPress support page, the bug is known and fixed for WordPress 2.6.1.  In the meantime, here are temporary fixes.  I verify that #2 restored my Windows / IIS 6.0 installation, BUT, I want to stress that this is a temporary solution only, as you will be changing your permalink structure, which is contrary to the very nature of “permalinks”.  So, I recommend #3, which I also verify works, as it will leave your permalinks (which other sites are intended to be using) intact.

  1. If you’re using Linux/Apache on your webserver, you don’t really need the index.php anyway. Try removing it. The index.php thing was only meant for IIS servers, which don’t support mod_rewrite.
  2. If you need/want the index.php to be there, then on the Settings->Permalinks screen, add some values in for the category and tag bases. The words “category” and “tag” will do just fine. As long as they are not blank, this should work around the bug.
  3. (For advanced users only) If you want to patch the problem yourself, there is a fix available in trac ticket 7306(Colin adds: The fix here is to integrate the 3 modified files from changeset 8365.  If you don’t know how to do that, I strongly recommend you stick to option #2 until WordPress 2.6.1 comes out.)

Green Bay Favorites

Red Owl Produce.jpg

I made a stop at Mason’s Red Owl today for some Friday perch. I love that stuff, and will definitely miss it when I move out this week. While there, Jared also showed me his newly reset produce section. Looks great, Jared!

New Apartment in Seattle

Well, I know I’ve done a poor job keeping folks up to date with my goings-on, as several of you had to call me in Seattle just to get me to let you know that I had arrived there.  Sorry about that… lots on my mind 🙂

That said, I had a pretty successful weekend.  I found an apartment up on a hill near downtown Bellevue, but yet not in the city.  Here’s a map.  Before saying any more about it, here a few pictures… (on a geeky note, I’ve been itching to try out ZenphotoPress, the plugin to integrate my new photo gallery with WordPress.  It seems to work quite slick, except that it takes you to the gallery instead of showing a lightbox.  I’ll work on that later.)

New Apartment BuildingNew Apartment ComplexNew Apartment Edge-On

The apartment should be about 15 minutes to work with no interstates.  It’s probably not the best bargain or the newest place or in the location with the most culture in walking distance, but it should be a reasonable spot to start my career in Seattle.  I picked this place over some others I had looked at for its proximity to work without being on the campus, its proximity to Bellevue (which seems to me a little more active like Madison versus the giant suburb of Redmond), and also because it is up on a hill, which attracts me for some inexplicable reason.

I did not pick the place for its internet access, which I initially feared was a shared T1 for the entire complex, but have since come to find is actually cable-based, up to and including allowing me to use my own DOCSIS modem.  That’s reassuring, though the jury is out until I see it in person.  That cable modem might still be fed by too small of a link to the premesis.  DSL is also available if I dislike the cable internet for some reason.  This probably shouldn’t be such a concern for me, but then again, I’m a nerd and like my interwebs to be fast when I want to use them.

At any rate, I think it will be a good spot to start out at, and when I find some better options for living or even for setting up something with roommates through work or whatever down the road, it will be much easier to look into that when I’m doing the looking from the city in question, instead of from 2000 miles away 🙂

For good measure, here’s a few more pictures from the few days my mom and I were out in Seattle:

Work: Building 28Mt. RainierPasta at Pike Place MarketProduce at Pike Place MarketSeaFair PiratesTraveling IKEA Ad

Debugging IKEA

Debugging IKEA.jpg

So the rest of these screens all said “Scan item to check price.” I guess this one wants you to play a game of Spot-the-VB-Bug.

Leave Your Keys On The Way Out

I moved out of Madison for something like the 6th time today (Christmas break in the dorms included), and my last for the near future. This is my keyring for the PLC, the brains behind the fountain – back in “my day”…

The Great Mail Merge of 2008

So, like a lot of computer people, I have the odd clepto-esque habit of saving all of my email.  Now, this wouldn’t be anything newsworthy if I had done a decent job of it, and just kept some nice little archive folder somewhere, or fed it all into GMail and had done.

Unfortunately, what I actually kept over the years is a mess of “I’m about to reformat this machine, copy all the mail off and I’ll deal with it later” backups.  In fact, I have no less than 123 mbox files from past Thunderbird installs, 4 more mboxes from an Evolution backup, 4 Outlooks PSTs, and for good measure two Outlook Express profile folders and a maildir from… well, I actually have no idea where that’s from… maybe KMail once upon a time?

So, upwards of 132 independent message sources.  Nice work, Colin.

First off, some interesting stats about this pile of mail:

Earliest Date
March 15, 2002
Latest Date
June 21, 2007
Total Emails Archived
Number of Duplicate Copies
Percent of Messages With ≥1 Duplicate
Average Number of Duplicates (of those with ≥1)
Maximum Number of Duplicates

And for posterity’s sake (aka, the next time I have to do this…) here’s some tips on how to clean up the mess:

  • Use Thunderbird + the Remove Duplicates (Alternate) Plugin
    I really can’t say enough about the “Remove Duplicate Messages (Alternate)” plugin.  I highly recommend it over the non-Alternate version.  Here’s the basic idea.  Install the plugin.  Right-click a Thunderbird folder and select “Set Original message folder(s) for next duplicate search.”  Then, right-click some other folder and select “Remove Duplicates…”.  Up pops a window (after a few brief seconds of churn) with a list showing all duplicate (or triplicate or more) messages, side by side to make it abundantly clear that they are true duplicates.  Hit [OK] and they’re gone.  Perfect.  Clean, simple, and effective.
  • How to Import mail from Outlook PSTs
    The one key point to make here is that the only program I trust to read Outlook’s PST format is Outlook. I’ve seen a few open source / third party tools, such as LibPST, but mostly they’re shareware “recovery” apps, and they just scare me :).  Besides, if you have Outlook to make the PST, just use it to read it.  Or ask a friend.  Whatever.
    The magic to getting your messages out of Outlook is: Thunderbird! Just install on the same machine as Outlook, have Outlook running with your PST opened (File->Open->Outlook data file…), and use Thunderbird’s Tools->Import… feature to suck in all the messages from Outlook.  Remove those you weren’t interested in and you’re done.  The rest are now present in Thunderbird.
  • How to Import mail from Maildirs
    The magic here is a neat little shell script by Joerg Reinhardt, which I found on  Drill is, run it like:sh <maildir>and you’ll get an mbox out named maildir.mbox
  • How to Import mail from Outlook Express
    Yeah, I know.  Outlook Express is old, not geeky, etc.. but back in the day (these messages are dated from 2002) I was young and naive, so here we are.  How to deal?  Well, the simplest way I found is just to copy my dbx files back over top a blank identity in Outlook Express on an XP box.  Use a VM or an old machine, either way.  Then install Thunderbird alongside, and import just as to extract messages from PSTs.  Notes: I was not able to get readdbx from libdbx working, nor was I able to open the dbx’s in Outlook 2003 by tring to import them using the Import/Export tools.  Sad face.

And there you have it: how to build your very own email archive Frankenstein, bootstrapped up from over a hundred pieces and jolted into life with a dash of Thunderbird.  (And yes, Jason, I know you could write me a VBA app in 5 minutes to do this whole mess in Outlook… but you’re not here :-P)

Unnecessary Sensationalism

I’ve long since gotten tired of American news, in all media: print, evening news, 24-hr talking heads, etc.  Everything is so sensationalized and marketed to capture the interest of your average disinterested, entertainment-hungry American.

But this is trite; I’m saying nothing new.  I just wanted to preface the following example, which pissed me off this morning because it’s blatantly sensationalized, and utterly unnecessarily.  It’s a story about two “proximity events” near JFK airport, in which two planes came close to their safety margins in terms of distance in air.  Notice that the headline is “2nd near collision,” and yet in the article itself very specifically says: “The [FAA] said it was not classifying either incident as a ‘near collision'” (emphasis added).

I’m not sure how much more hypocritical that could possibly get… and this is not our local paper saying this, it’s the Associated Press’s title.  If you guys are going to make up headlines without reading the articles, why not go the whole nine yards?  I’m thinking: “OMG! Terrorists Nearly Blow Up Planes AGAIN at JFK Airport!”

No, AP, as you state in the article, these were NOT 'near collisions'.

Jared's Fireworks Extravaganza

With some $800 worth of fireworks, Jared and Co. put on quite the fireworks display this year!  I’ve missed out the last two years due to internships elsewhere in the country, so it was great to see everyone and placate my inner pryo a bit 🙂

Also gave me a chance to play with my camera a bit again.  It has a pretty decent Fireworks shot mode, which seems to take about 2 seconds worth of exposure data, and then immediately process it in the onboard Digic III processor to highlight the fireworks and darken the rest of the image.  The results were quite decent, in spite of my unsteady hands.

Here’s a few shots I took last night:

New Websites

In the two weeks since I returned from my extended vacation in England, I’ve put a fair bit of work into tying up some loose ends from Enlight before I move out to Seattle. One of those loose ends was tidying up our website, which I present to you now:

In fact, I actually created two websites recently. The second website I’ve put together is closely related, and is the new web home of the Maquina Project:

The Maquina Project

Both pages are set up using WordPress on IIS 6 with PHP via Microsoft’s FastCGI module. It was an interesting install… a bit more involved than when I’ve done it under Apache in the past, but successful nonetheless. (If you’re looking to do the same (IIS 6 + PHP + WordPress), I would refer you to these two helpful articles on WordPress on IIS and Using FastCGI to Host PHP Applications on IIS 6.0)

The theme for both pages is Cutline, by Splashpress Media, with a fair bit of additional tweaking of my own. For instance, I removed all the “Blog-looking” stuff (essentially, the entire sidebar and comments) from the static pages, and rewired the links on top so that the news updates (blog posts) would look more like just another page.