on the edge

computers & technology, books & writing, civilisation & society, cars & stuff

Greg Black

gjb at gbch dot net
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If you’re not living life on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.

FQE30 at speed

Syndication / Categories


Worthy organisations

Amnesty International Australia — global defenders of human rights

global defenders of human rights

Médecins Sans Frontières — help us save lives around the world

Médecins Sans Frontières - help us save lives around the world

Electronic Frontiers Australia — protecting and promoting on-line civil liberties in Australia

Electronic Frontiers Australia


(Coming soon…)

Software resources

GNU Emacs


The FreeBSD Project

Fri, 24 Mar 2006

Full feed without the seemore plugin

Somewhat to my surprise, some people don’t want to be saved from having to see the full text of my posts in their RSS feed by the graces of the seemore plugin.

Read the entire post ...

Goodbye to Technorati

Nothing like being interrupted at exactly the wrong moment to give me a nice opportunity to look like an idiot. Here is the content that was supposed to be attached to this post when it first appeared.

Read the entire post ...

Thu, 02 Feb 2006


I’ve been aimed at Technorati by various people, and I have to embed something in my blog so that I can “claim my blog” there. This post is just to allow me to do that.

Tue, 17 May 2005

Categories at last

This blog is one year old today, so I thought I’d finally stop promising to provide category links and actually do something about it. So, finally, you’ll find the main categories I’ve been using with links to the blog pages and “XML” buttons that you can use for RSS feeds to any of the categories, including the main blog, as usual. This should not be too tricky, but it’s possible I’ve broken something. If so, let me know.

And, while I was improving things, I also shrunk most of the images that might still appear in stories to help them load faster and I’ve cut down the number of entries that get shown on the main page from 40 to 25, also in the interest of speed.

Wed, 17 Nov 2004

Six months on

I reflected on my blogging experience after two months and said I would come back to think about it again in a few more months. This blog is six months old today, so this seems like the time for that. Nothing has changed much since then—I’m finding time to write the occasional article, but not as much as I’d like; but it’s not taking up so much time that other things suffer. It’s pretty clear now that I’ve found a rhythm that suits me and that I’ll probably continue much as I have begun. I don’t plan to come back to this topic unless something dramatic changes.

Thu, 26 Aug 2004

Blosxom setup

Thanks to David Starkoff, I’ve now “fixed” blosxom’s RSS output so that it no longer confuses Planet Humbug. Since this may prove useful to others in the future, I’ll provide the fix here. It seems that you need to add the <pubDate> field to blosxom’s story.rss file. The version I’m now using—taken direct from David—is below.

        <pubDate>$dw, $da $mo $yr $ti:00 +1000</pubDate>

If you want to download a file, rather than cut and paste from the above, you can find it here. Once again, apologies to all for spamming Planet Humbug with all that stuff. Hopefully this will be the end of it.

Wed, 25 Aug 2004

I hate this

Sigh—I really didn’t mean to take over Planet Humbug. For some reason, the other aggregators that I’m aware of don’t seem to be regurgitating most of my old posts the way the Humbug one is doing. I have no idea which is wrong. And I certainly don’t understand why Planet Humbug shows all that stuff in random order. I guess I’ve learned that it’s unwise to “fix” blog bugs, and I think I’ve made a resolution never to do that again. One of these days, I’ll carry out my plan to move on from blosxom and I’ll have to figure out how to more-or-less preserve the old entries without flooding the universe with crap at the same time.

Of course, if somebody who has made the same mistake as I did actually found out how to fix it—without making things even worse—then I’d be happy to hear from you. Apologies to everybody who has a (new) reason to hate me.

Tue, 24 Aug 2004

Fixed a blosxom buglet

About three weeks ago, Adrian pointed out a bug in the RSS output for the links in my blog. I think I’ve fixed it now. I’ll know for sure when this entry shows up in the various aggregators.

Well, that was not such a success, since blosxom then went and updated everything in the universe and the aggregators ended up with tons of old stuff—which was, of course, still incorrect. Sigh. Maybe this time …

Now if I could only be bothered to fix blosxom so that it would date all the RSS files according to the modification times, then this would not have been so bad—but I’m not going to modify any part of my blosxom setup again, so I think I’ll just get some sleep instead. My apologies to everybody who gets to see old news again. My only consolation is that I’ve seen similar things happen to other people who are much more dedicated bloggers than I am.

Sat, 17 Jul 2004

Second anniversary

I marked the first month of this blog, so it seems reasonable to take another look now that it’s hit two months. I think I’m reasonably happy with the way it’s going now. I was concerned that it might take up too much time, and that has not happened. I was also concerned that I might not get around to writing about everything that seemed worthy of comment and that concern was more on target, although the time constraints mean that I’ll never be able to do everything I want to do. On balance, I’m glad I started it and I think I’ll continue more or less in the same way. Maybe I’ll have another think about it in a few more months.

Wed, 23 Jun 2004

Blogware options

Having played with blosxom for a while now, I’ve started looking around and I’ve spotted a couple of alternatives that seem to offer some benefits:

Of those, Drupal seems perhaps to be overkill for my needs, although it does offer just about anything you could think of. WordPress, on the other hand, seems to be more like the size of thing I’d be interested in.

The chief problems with both are that they require the Apache, PHP, MySQL combination—and my current Pentium-100 web server box just can’t be expected to manage all that baggage; it can cope with static blosxom pages quite easily. But I do plan on building my “new” server soon, and then I’ll install all that stuff and see how WordPress works in practice.

Thu, 17 Jun 2004

An anniversary

Well, it’s now one month since I started this. Since it’s impossible to guess how long it will last, I thought I’d mark that as at least one anniversary that I’d managed. I thought I’d know more about how I felt about doing this by now, but I’m starting to see that it might just take a while to settle down. For now, I plan to keep going and maybe I’ll find a better way to approach it …

Wed, 19 May 2004

Why publicfile?

Several people have asked me why I’m using publicfile rather than, say, apache. Several reasons come to mind:

  • Nearly everything I’ve ever wanted to publish on the Web has been static html, so publicfile has been entirely adequate.
  • When you don’t need the complexity of apache—regardless of your belief in its security—there’s no point in exposing yourself to needless risk.
  • My long-serving gateway box—bambi (a Celeron-366 with adequate memory)—died recently and its duties are being handled by a Pentium-100 that would be hard-pressed to run apache on top of its principal responsibilities.
  • Whether you like Dan Bernstein or not, his software is reliable (even if badly-written) and performs efficiently.

Notwithstanding the above, I will be changing to apache shortly, as I plan to provide some web-based services that will not be possible with publicfile—once I get time to setup felix (the Celeron-2200 box that’s sitting quietly in a corner) as my gateway.

Tue, 18 May 2004

SmartyPants and titles

I already knew—from AJ’s blog—that “the Planet aggregators don’t seem to like smartquotes in titles.” So I’ve now modified SmartyPants to leave them out there. Sigh.

Mon, 17 May 2004

Blosxom interaction with publicfile

Made a change to the blosxom.cgi thingy so that it will, I hope, generate a correct link from the RSS doodad. The script carefully strips off the trailing ‘/’ that I had carefully put there. But publicfile won’t work without it.

SmartyPants suckage

I hate “normal” web display, so I was pleased when AJ mentioned SmartyPants as it looked like the solution to my concerns about presentation of stuff like quotes and dashes, at least.

It turns out to be a mixed blessing. As far as I can see, Mozilla displays the mutilated text correctly on screen. However, it does not allow for cutting and pasting from a selection that includes smart quotes, etc. Nor does it print the pages properly. What to do? My current feeling is that the suckage will probably get better in time and that probably nobody will want to print this stuff.

That leaves the problem of situations when people might want to cut and paste a couple of sentences to quote somewhere. Often, that will work anyway, as there won’t be problems in every paragraph. Where there are issues, I guess people will either complain; or work around it—either by careful cutting and pasting, or by saving the source and extracting what they want with their editor of choice; or else they’ll complain to me. I think I’ll wait and see.

You're in charge

I’ve selected Blosxom to drive this blog; and I’ve tried to leave most of the display decisions in the readers’ hands. I assume that you know what size and style fonts suit you and how wide you want your browser window to be. I try not to override your decisions or to get in your face. If I’ve failed, feel free to let me know how I can make things better. Of course, I can’t promise to accommodate everybody …

AJ's blog rocks!

This should be entitled “At Last”, given that it’s taken me nine months to progress from talking about writing a blog to doing it. But, since the original inspiration was AJ’s indolence log, and since most of the harassment aimed at getting me started came from AJ at HUMBUG meetings, it seemed only fair to give him the first title in this thing. The wording is AJ’s—as scribbled on my notepad just over a week ago—and does not imply endorsement of the things he writes, especially the stuff he’s wrong about. On the other hand, I find most of his writing to be interesting and often thought-provoking.