Silly on the internet

November 4th, 2012

I was curious about the benefits of ABP vs Ghostery (Firefox plugins that hide ads and/or tracking), and my research lead me to some rather silly places:

Ghostery CRACKED ME UP with their Halloween contest winner. I took a screenshot in case they ever remove the post I LOVE IT THAT MUCH:
Sparkly vampire!

On this thread, one commentator wrote, “No, i don’t give a **** about tracking cookies”. A follow up pleased me almost as much as Ghostery’s Halloween trick/treat:

“I admit I don’t give several asterisks about tracking cookies either, but I am curious about how I can still get them though.”

I don’t know why, but it really grates at me when people substitute asterisks in place of swear words. It’s like they’re trying to “clean” their language, but not so much so that they’re will to actually choose a new word. We all know you’re swearing under there – you can type the actual letters, I promise we’ve all seen the word before.

By the way, if you’re not using Ghostery, I recommend it: it’s an easy way to limit ad networks’ ability to track you from site to site. I have yet to experience a downside to using it. Install it here

Text a reminder to the members of your houseshold

October 4th, 2012

Every week we forget trash day, so I’ve been meaning to write a script to remind all of us the night before to put the trash cans out.

I only wanted to type the phone numbers once, so I hard-coded them as variables into the script. Turning the command line argument ‘kj’ into the value of $kj was by far the most difficult because I had to look up how to do indirect references in bash, which, as it turns out, is kind of a pain.

In an effort to spare you that same pain, I’m posting the code here.


If you call the file, the usage is as follows: [path to reminder] [recipient(s)]

[path to reminder]

This script can be used to send you several reminders. It looks for a file at the specified path, then uses the text of that file as the body of the e-mail/text. Be sure to create the reminder file before you run this script. For the purposes of example, let us assume it’s in ~/reminders/reminder.txt. Remember to keep it brief – it will be split into 140-character increments, so if you send an 1,000-character reminder, it’s going to arrive as eight annoying, disjointed texts.


I hard-coded shortcuts into the code so I can use aliases instead of relying on myself to having to type a phone number more than once. You can set up as many recipients you want, but note that the code, as it is pasted below, will fail because there are no real recipients set up. You’ll need to add at least one to get any use out of this code.

Setting up a recipient is fairly simple: most (all?) cell phone companies allow you to text message customers via e-mail with an address following the format [10-digit phone number]@[domain]. Finding the value of [domain] is the most time-consuming part, because each company has a different domain, so you need to ask each potential recipient who their cell phone company is, then dig up the corresponding domain. I used this page as a reference, but it may be out of date by the time you read it. If your phone number is (503)555-1234, and you’re a T-Mobile customer, the address at which my phone receives texts is

As always, send several tests before using it for real.


# etc, you can set up as many aliases as you like.
if [ "$#" -lt 2 ]; then

    echo Usage $0 [path to reminder] [recipients]
    echo Recipients defined: kj, eric # CHANGE THIS

    if [ ! -f $reminder ]; then
        echo The reminder you specified, $reminder, does not exist.
    let i=2;
    while [ $i -le $# ]; do
        varname=`eval echo $numvar`
        vartoeval=`eval echo $varname`
        recipient=`eval echo $recipient2`
        if [ "$recipient" == "" ]; then
            echo I do not understand the recipient $recipient
            echo mail "$recipient" -s 'Friendly reminder' -r -a $reminder
            mail "$recipient" -s 'Friendly reminder' -r "" < $reminder
    let i=i+1

Cron job

In order to make this run regularly, you’ll need to create a cron job. You can do that by running “crontab -e”. On most systems, this will default to vi, which can be kind of scary to the uninitiated, so here’s a cheat sheet.

I’m going to assume you’re uninitiated: Copy and paste the following into a text editor you feel comfortable with:
0 21 * * 1 ~/bin/ ~/reminders/reminder.txt kj eric

This will send a text to each recipient listed reminder at 9 PM every Monday night contain. Change the path and recipient(s) to your liking, then copy the whole thing. Switch to the window where you ran “crontab -e” and vi awaits you. Type “i” to enter “insert” mode – this will allow you to use vi like a normal text editor. Paste.

Hit the “esc” key (top left side of your keyboard) to exit “insert” mode. Type “:wq” to save your changes and exit. If you screw up and you don’t want to save your changes, you can exit with “:q!”.

Potential improvements

This was pretty quick and dirty, but a couple glaring improvements stand out:

  • Allow the user to specify a subject. At the very least, make the hard-coded subject a variable so that it remains uniform between the line that sends the mail, and the line below that prints the send command used.
  • I could have put the aliases in some kind of array, which would have allowed for more robust error-checking and prevented the user from having to manually change the usage instructions.
  • Some of the variable names in the while loop are awful.

Tuesday silly: A sports bed

October 2nd, 2012

I noticed this on the foot of a hospital bed. I’d heard of sports cars, but never a sport bed. But from the diagram, it looks like you can luge on it.

Tuesday Silly: A door with an identity crisis

September 25th, 2012

The text says do not enter, but the symbol indicates otherwise.

See more likes on Pinterest

August 28th, 2012

Pinterest relatively recently limited the number of “Likes” it shows. To see previous likes, add &page=2 onto the URL.

For example, my Pinterest likes are located at:

To see older likes, I go to:

To see even older, try:

You can increment the number as high as you like, but when where are no more pins, it’ll show you a message along the lines of “You haven’t liked anything yet.”

I discovered this by opening the Firebug console and seeing what Ajax call was sent when I scrolled down. I noticed the relevant URL variables, so I tried adding them onto my “likes” URL.

Grape Nuts is not vegan

August 3rd, 2012

After finding Grape Nuts referenced positively on a couple No Meat Athlete pages, I wondered if I had gotten bad information about the ingredients.

I initially found a web site that claimed that the Vitamin D was derived from “oily wool”, but when I went to check back, the page was gone. Although I found another page that claimed the same, but it was 10 years old. I found lots of pages that seemed to indicate they were vegan.

To address this once and for all, I wrote to the company. On August 1, at 9:19 AM, they wrote back:

This cereal does not contain any animal bi-products in it, and you can find all nutritional information for Grape Nuts and our other products on line at www.Post

Somehow that didn’t ring true, so the next day at 5:06 PM I replied to inquire about the Vitamins D and B12 specifically:

…I read that the Vitamin D comes from wool. Your letter tells me that’s not the case, but I’m curious as to what the actual source is. Would you be so kind as to enlighten me? Also, do you know the source of the Vitamin B12?

I awoke this morning to see that at 7:05 AM, they corrected themselves:

We do apologize for the miscommunication [sic] with your last inquiry. Vitamin D is derived from sheeps [sic] wool. The information about Vitamin B12 you inquired about is information that we do not have. We do however recommend speaking with your physician or a nutritionist.

Why they think a physician or nutritionist would know what their cereal contains when they do not, I’m not sure. But now I know, Grape Nuts is not vegan. Now to get people on the internet to stop claiming it is.

Firefox’s dictionary doesn’t include the word “phasers”

July 31st, 2012
Firefox marked "phasers" as misspelled.

What kind of nerd lets their product ship with such a glaring omission?

Work attire

July 24th, 2012
In an e-mail, a co-worker indicates that we will soon have clients visiting the office. I reply that I will wear my Star Fleet uniform and set phasers to stun.

I don't remember if I actually sent this or not.

I love WordPress I hate WordPress

July 21st, 2012

“WordPress” can refer to one of two things: free software you can install on your server to run a blog (available from, or a web site where you can sign up for a blog ( Obviously, the former powers the latter. This web site is powered by the free software package. I love the free software package.

I hate Every interaction I’ve had with it has been bad. I signed up for an account to tinker with hosted blogs. After that, when I tried to post a comment on a blog hosted on, it prompts me to log in. I don’t want to have to log in. I just want to leave a damned comment. You can’t ever delete a WordPress account.

They tell you that if you don’t want to be prompted to log in, change the e-mail address on your profile. I went to my favorite disposable e-mail address site, got an e-mail address with a shelf-life of 60 minutes, and changed my WordPress e-mail address. Satisfied my account was now as close to deleted as it would ever be, I went on with my life.

Tonight I went to comment on a blog which, unfortunately for all involved, was hosted on You’ve probably guessed by now it prompted me to log in. I tried my garbage password. It didn’t work. I wouldn’t have bothered to think up a real password, so I have no idea why it’s claiming my garbage password is no good. I immediately clicked “Forgot my password”. I submitted my e-mail address. You can imagine my rage when I saw the following screen:

Error: There is no user registered with that email address.

If you were tangible, I'd cut you.

If you have no one with that e-mail address, why the fuck can’t I comment with that e-mail address without being prompted to log in?

So, not only can I not DELETE the account, I can’t get in. At this point, I wish I could nuke the damned thing from orbit.

Don’t even get me started on Gravatar. I hate them with a fire normally reserved for bad drivers.

Link ALL the things!

July 19th, 2012

This is a way ancient link dump.

Smosh: Best Of The ‘X All The Things’ Meme! – This meme is based on this classic post from Hyperbole and a Half. If you haven’t read it your life is incomplete. Anything related to Hyperbole and a Half is necessarily awesome. This post is updated occasionally. Sadly, they removed the link to the Hunger Games version – I suspect they got a strongly-worded letter from the movie studio because the only one I could find on the internet is tiny.


Fark: Bad: Getting busted. Worse: Performing community service. Fark: Getting more time added onto your sentence for affixing a sex toy to the County van (Comments) – I’m going to go ahead and disagree with the police who called it “physically offensive” and declare it awesome.

Slashdot: EFF Launching ‘Patent Fail’ Campaign

Slashdot: Why Open APIs Fall Far Short of Open Source – I often hear having access to a site’s API being compared positively to having the source code and/or owning your own data. It is not, and I’m glad some smartypants is saying it more loudly than I can.

shit-thatblows: [no title] – This site is awesome, not that anyone needs to spend more time dwelling on shit that blows. This one also made me giggle.

Margaux Lange: Rings – This artist makes fascinating jewelery out of old Barbie dolls. As far as I can ascertain, she’s not selling them from her web site, which gives me a little bit of a sad. This might be way old news, but it’s the first I’ve seen of it.

Wikipedia: Voltaire’s last words are definitely old news, but still funny: According to one story, when he was on his death bed, the priest asked him to renounce the devil, and he replied, “Now, now, my good man, this is not the time for making enemies.”

Smosh: 25 MORE Super Cool Bras!

Ars Technica: Preorders begin for Spark, the open KDE tablet – No credit card necessary, they’re just trying to get a feel for how much interest exists. I hope they realize how rough a figure that is.

Slashdot: Booktype: An Open Source, Cross-Platform Approach To E-Book Publishing – one thing I love about the free software/open source community/communities is that whenever there’s a fluster of cool stuff in the closed software world, free-as-in-liberty versions start appearing. Free-as-in-liberty software also comes first sometimes, but I emphasize the opposite because sometimes new free software/Linux users think that giving up proprietary software means going without. It might entail some waiting, but if you really want it, code it yourself.

Fark: The FCC is about to make robocalling a lot harder (Comments) – I thought this story was going to be about tougher sentences for those who break the laws, but:

He expects the commission to approve new rules that will require telemarketers to get written consent before making such calls.

Three cheers for everybody even tangentially involved with this! Now if only I could find a way to get vengeance on all the telemarketers who illegally call my cell phone.

Fark: Six terrifying user agreements you’ve accepted. WE OWN YOUR SOUL (Comments) – <free-software-snob>Most of these can be avoided by using software that respects your freedoms instead of handing your data over to others.</free-software-snob>

Fark: Tokyo rabbit cafe smash hit with stressed-out Japanese. “‘I came here during my break to relax,’ said a smiling woman in her late 20s as she fed fresh vegetables to some of the rabbits” (Comments) – Petting bunnies sounds like an awesome way to spend a lunch hour, especially on a stressful day. I wonder if animal shelters could set up similar places to generate revenue, find potential adopters and keep the animals well-socialized. My only concern would be that letting just anybody pet the animals would result in harm to the animals.

…love Maegan: Old Hollywood Glamour ~ Lace Halter Bustier DIY – I’m a sucker for DIY projects like this that make an ordinary thing awesome with very little effort.

Man Boobz: Are dog bitches superior to human bitches? A misogynist dingbat says yes. – A nutty misogynist gives a long list of unpleasant activities a romanitic partner might do that his dog doesn’t. Man Boobz proprietor David Futrelle writes,

I don’t know from dogs, but if my cat were actually capable of any of these things, she would do them. That’s part of the charm of cats. They’re tiny little monsters — selfish, self-absorbed, amoral creatures we let into our homes because they’re cute, they’re fascinating, and they’re too small to kill us. Not that mine doesn’t try.