Blog
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Defensive Web Programming
Date: 27/7/2004
I had to do some more defensive PHP programming today to stop the crazy GoogleBot from loading random non-existant URI's on my site and filling the stats mechanism up with junk. It seems to be the worst of the bots in that regard. If it was anything other than Google i'd just block the bot in the robots.txt or even by hostname but I guess I like my site being indexed by Google. ;)

I still remember the day that GoogleBot went postal on me and got stuck in a loop loading weird URI's off my site made up of combinations of bits of path and script names. 61000 times. Thats a lot of page loads in one day.

These days it's just a few pages here and there but still annoying enough to detect and fix. Btw I found a bug in PHP to, if you go to a page in the form 'http://site/page.php/' the $PHP_SELF variable has '/' in it. Instead of '/page.php/' or something. Dumb PHP.
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Linux Sucks
Date: 24/7/2004
When you use free desktop software you generally get what you paid for. Quality is never that important and the little details seem to always get lost along the way. Case in point, check out KDE's clock applet in the bottom right of my screen:
It's just a little thing. But a 1000 little things isn't so little any more. Like how I can't adjust the sound cards levels at all. Like how every now and then X gets the windows Z order wrong and I close the wrong window. Like how I need to master linux kung fu to do the most basic tasks under linux because some snotty teenager wrote the code and had no clue how to write solid reliable applications. Let alone any documentation or help.

I think I need to get a mac.
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More Sube
Date: 19/7/2004
Hot diggity. There is a place out past Parramatta with an Air Flow Meter for $150 AUD... (as opposed to $600 new). And it's the right part... an obsure STI part no less, complete with pink badging. I'm still amazed to find one here in Australia.

Anyway I limped the Sube there and back, as the old AFM starts to malfunction when it gets hot. So I was driving along keeping the RPM below 2500 and trying to avoid stopping at lights. Or the engine bay would start to heat up without the air flow and then as the car moved off it would splutter and jerk. Hmmmm fun fun fun.

But over lunch I install the new AFM all by myself and it's working like a charm. For once I didn't have to pay someone to work on the car. (Well we all have to take baby steps first)
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Sube
Date: 16/7/2004
For the last 2 weeks our car has been dead, sitting in the garage feeling rather sorry for itself. For the weeks before that it was sick, having trouble accelerating, burping and coughing and mis-firing. Anyway it went in to the mechanic and they couldn't work it out so they gave it back to us and told us to drive it around till it got worse. And so we did, until it wouldn't even idle properly, I think it was running on 2 cylinders... it was so rough.

Anyway it's back in the shop today and the news is kinda good, that they found the problem and are fixing it. It's the fuel pump, not... er... pumping fuel I guess. The bad part is that it's going to cost a pretty penny to fix, and no that isn't the only thing wrong either. The air flow meter is giving notice that it's on the way out as well. And the car being an import is not easy to find parts for, and the parts are 2nd hand at best anyway.

The whole owning a high performance import thing is wearing thin right now, it's just costing us so much every month in repairs. I'm sorely tempted to to break down and buy a nice v6 Accord (got any better ideas?) or something that isn't going to break down every 2 months. But gee, I'm going to miss the 206kw.

Cheap - Good - Fast... pick any 2. *sigh*
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Refining Scribe
Date: 16/7/2004
I've been hard at work removing some of the more obsure yet damaging bugs in Scribe's back end code. You know the ones that cause weird "write errors" for no apparent reason. Well I'm trying to be diligent and not ignore those at the moment. Because I'd really like to be able to call the next release or 2 the new "stable" build for the next 6 months or so.

Basically the process for debugging these hard to track down bugs, that never happen on my machine, is to put debug output statements through the relevant code to dump information about the state of the program to a file while it runs. And then the user experiencing the problem runs this debug build and sends me the output text file. Which I pour over, wondering why the heck it's breaking. Then I go an stare at the code for hours, change some small thing and send off a new build. Get back a new text file and repeat. Often 4 or 5 times before it becomes obvious whats going on.

This is not the "fun" part of what I do. This is the least fun part. But for the user I do what I must... how noble of me. Ha.

Anyway, I hoping that I won't have to do much more in the short term and that Scribe will be nice and well behaved for everyone. New release soon...
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Smug
Date: 14/7/2004
You know it's hard not to feel smug as the latest wave of viruses and 'bounce' messages go mostly unnoticed due to the bayesian filtering in Scribe. It's like sitting in a nice warm castle while the unwashed hordes of Outlook users outside are ravaged by plague after plague.

So save an Outlook user today, install Scribe for them! ;)
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