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Fri, 21 Nov 2003
  /technology  
Voting Machines, Technology, and Confidence

Dan Gilmore has commented on Dennis Kucinich's criticisms of voting machine manufacturer Diebold.

Voting transparancy seems to be a big issue with Kucinich. It's great that someone is talking about this.

People look at the Florida 2000 situation and think technology is the answer. And certainly technology can help. A touch screen can be a more accessible mechanism for chosing from a menu of choices than a punch ballot in small print.

But there is a big difference between clarity in voting, and confidence in voting. You may be more sure you chose who you meant to choose, but how certain are you that your choice was properly counted?

I think our first steps towards introducing more technology into voting should be to address clarity for the user.

But for voter confidence we should still have physical tokens generated by the voting process. These tokens should be able to be examined by the voter at the poll. And of course they should be countable and recountable by hand and by machine.

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Wed, 19 Nov 2003
  /internet  
Fake Blogs

Check out these recent entries in my Apache log files:

217.73.164.106 - - [18/Nov/2003:00:30:21 -0800] "GET / HTTP/1.0" 200 7555 "http://www.kwlablog.com/" "MSIE 6.0"

217.73.164.106 - - [18/Nov/2003:18:50:45 -0800] "GET / HTTP/1.0" 200 7555 "http://www.jennifersblog.com/" "MSIE 6.0"

Both of these entries have a few interesting points. They are from the same ip address, which does not resolve to anything. They both report a user agent of "MSIE 6.0", which is not the actual user agent string of any version of IE. And they both point to fake blogs.

Neither of these sites has an actual link to my site. So the referrer strings are fake.

Looking up the domains reveals that both sites have a lot in common:
Domain Name: kwlablog.com

Name Servers
ns1.kwlablog.com
141.85.3.109

ns2.kwlablog.com
141.85.3.109

Domain Created: 11/8/2003
Domain Expires: 11/8/2004
Domain Name: jennifersblog.com

Name Servers
ns1.jennifersblog.com
141.85.3.106

ns2.jennifersblog.com
141.85.3.106

Domain Created: 11/8/2003
Domain Expires: 11/8/2004
But the sites have different names/addresses for Administrative, Billing, & Technical contacts.

Visiting the sites reveals that they have blog entries that are just links to news stories. And most of the other links on the sites (like the archives links) don't actually do anything.

What is the purpose of these fake blogs? And what is the purpose of scattering them around webserver logfiles in the form of referrer strings? Are these sites trying to take advantage of the recent trend to post referrer links within page content? Are they using this fact to try to boost their search engine pagerank by appearing in this generated page content?

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  /internet  
Referrer Spamming

I've found some blog entries on the referrer spamming I mention in the previous floppaganda post. You can find some good discussion at net warriors.org blog.

Check out these blog entries in particular: More Referrer Spamming, Referrer SPAM updates, Referrer Spamming, wrap up.

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Sun, 16 Nov 2003
  /general  
More Site Tinkering

I've expanded the discussion of ad blocking css on the home page, and tweaked the look of the entire site slightly. Next up is a Python starter project to do some simple Apache log file analysis.

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Sun, 09 Nov 2003
  /programming  
Ad Blocking Page Updated to include Safari

I now have instructions for using my ad blocking userContents.css with the Safari web browser from Apple. Find the updated instructions here.

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Fri, 07 Nov 2003
  /general  
Floppymoose to join A9

So much for lying in a beanbag wearing tighty whities and weilding a remote. I've decided to join the world of the employed once more. A9 looks like a great opportunity to learn a whole pile of new things and try to solve some fun problems. A9 is Amazon's search technology arm, spun off into a subsidiary down here in Palo Alto. There have been a few articles in the press already, even though A9 isn't really started yet.

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Sun, 05 Oct 2003
  /programming  
<lastbuilddate> goes 1.0

What's new: Now RFC 822 compliant date formatting is the default. You can go back to the old MoveableType style dating by setting:
my = 0;
Also perldoc style documentation has been added.

Known Issues: Plugins that provide their own entries routine and do not return the story files in the %files hash will cause lastbuilddate to find no date. In this circumstance lastbuilddate will not emit a field. To work around this, rename lastbuilddate so that it executes ahead of these plugins. For example, rename to 00lastbuilddate.

Download lastbuilddate here.

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Thu, 25 Sep 2003
  /politics/siliconValley  
San Jose Judge Rejects Blight Suit

One Monday, San Jose Judge Leslie Nichols rejected the suit brought by Elaine Evans against the San Jose Redevelopment Agency (SJRA) in an attempt to stop it's Strong Neighborhoods Initiative (SNI) activities. I attended the first half of the arguments in Superior Court on Monday morning.  The heart of the case was whether Evans had properly sought to bring her concerns to the redevelopment board.  In the end the city prevailed on that point, but not before I heard a few interesting bits along the way, including:

  • 5 members of the council wrote the other 5 members, before the public hearing, indicating that they were going to support the SNI plan.
  • Evans was at the public hearing and heard her concerns being addressed to the council by others.
  • The city's own report on the concerns raised by the public included the very issues Evans wanted addressed, namely that the blight designation process was being abused.
  • The city paid an outside agency over $300,000 to "justify" designating the area blighted.
The real problem seems to be a requirement that "blight" be found before redevelopment dollars can arrive.  These dollars come with a terrible string attached: eminent domain.   Once an area has been designated blighted the city has the power to take the land.

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Wed, 17 Sep 2003
  /programming  
floppaganda look updated

I continue to twiddle the look of floppaganda. It looks best on mozilla due to the use of rounded borders (which is a mozilla-only css feature), and it looks best on mac due to use of  Marker Felt and American Typewriter fonts. I'm investigating adding writeback and trackback features... stay tuned.

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  /programming  
Ad Blocking CSS updated

The latest blocks more ad images and also fixes the false positive on netflix's rental page. Go here for the latest.

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Wed, 10 Sep 2003
  /programming  
Changes to Cocoa Embed Test App Project Checked In

I just landed some changes to the cocoa test app project that allow it to build and run again.  You can find it in mozilla/embedding/tests/cocoaEmbed.  Directions for building a cocoa version of the mozilla, and the cocoaEmbed test app, can be found here.   I will write up my own additional directions shortly (the mozilla directions are slightly stale).

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Mon, 01 Sep 2003
  /programming  
Silliness with Javascript and CSS

Remember the early screensavers that just drew random rects? Bring back those epileptic fits today, using nothing more than javascript, dom, and css! Note that this may only work in Gecko-based browsers (Mozilla, Netscape, Firebird, Camino...)    Go here for demonstration...

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Tue, 19 Aug 2003
  /general  
floppaganda gets a new look

Inspired by (and shamelessly stealing from) Asa's great looking weblog, I've updated the look&feel of floppaganda.

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Sun, 17 Aug 2003
  /programming  
lastbuilddate alpha ships!

lastbuilddate is a blosxom plugin that adds a <lastBuildDate> value to your rss feed. Download lastbuilddate here.

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  /programming  
Updated Ad Blocking css

I've made a small update to my Ad Blocking css here. Now some MSN ads should be blocked as well. You may want to also check out a couple of other sites (blizzle and gozer) that have much larger blocking lists. I have not incorporated their additions so far because I want to limit my list to what I regularly use. That way I know from experience that there aren't too many false positives.

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Mon, 11 Aug 2003
  /programming  
<lastbuildDate> blosxom plugin

Blosxom 2.0 just came out. So I'm making a plugin out of my lastBuildDate rss modification to blosxom. Stay tuned...

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Sun, 10 Aug 2003
  /programming  
Tcsh Script for Mozilla Build

Here is a tcsh script for building mozilla and saving all the build output to a file.  In this script "~/mozroot" should be replaced by the path to you mozilla root, and "~/mozroot/buildlog.txt" should be replaced by the filename for your build log.

#! /bin/tcsh
echo "starting build" > ~/mozroot/buildlog.txt
date >> ~/mozroot/buildlog.txt
cd ~/mozroot
cvs co mozilla/client.mk >>& ~/mozroot/buildlog.txt
cd mozilla
make -w -f client.mk >>& ~/mozroot/buildlog.txt
echo "finished build" >> ~/mozroot/buildlog.txt
date >> ~/mozroot/buildlog.txt

Why tcsh?  Well, it's the default on macosx and most folks building mozilla probably have some build cruft in their .tcshrc, like:

source /sw/bin/init.csh
setenv CVSROOT :pserver:anonymous@cvs-mirror.mozilla.org:/cvsroot
 
You can use the above script along with Cronnix to set up an automated daily build on your mac.

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Tue, 05 Aug 2003
  /programming  
First Perl Dabble

I just successfully tackled my very first Perl project: modifying blosxom so that it reports a lastBuildDate in it's rss feed.  Now folks getting my feed can automate notifications of new content.  After some code cleanup I will share the implementation on my website.

I must say, Perl has quite the learning curve.

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Sun, 03 Aug 2003
  /politics/usa  
Not a Pledge of Love (Starr Crossed?)

Kenneth Starr simply cannot resist slinging legal mud at whoever threatens his idea of American Corporate Dominion Under God.  Now he has inserted himself into the Supreme Court case of Newdow vs. The Pledge of Allegiance, and his contribution is that Newdow is a bad dad, and doesn't have standing to litigate.  Apparently Linda Tripp has not recorded any confessions of anyone going down on Newdow yet, though.  Give her time.

Left out of all this is the real issue: what it the real constitutional meaning of the First and Fourteenth Amendments when applied to state funded education?  This was tackled succinctly by the 9th Circuit Court in it's decision.  Scan down to section D: Establishment Clause, for the real meat.  It's a straightforward application of the Lemon test, which has served the court well in these issues when it has the nerve to use it.

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Fri, 01 Aug 2003
  /programming  
Status of building cocoa embedding bits:

Building mozilla/embedding/browser/cocoa/src/NSBrowserView.pbproj, I hit a couple of errors. A couple of the files were stale. I've checked in new versions of CHClickListener.mm and SaveHeaderSniffer.mm to fix build problems.

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Wed, 30 Jul 2003
  /programming  
New Project Time:  Moosilla

While job hunting I'm starting up a little project to keep me busy: making a Cocoa version of Mozilla Composer.   First step is to see if the old cocoa embedding sample still builds and works...

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Mon, 28 Jul 2003
  /general  
Welcome to floppaganda.

This is the weblog of Joe Francis, aka floppymoose.  I just recently returned from a lovely vacation in Hawaii.  In some kind of karmic equalization process, 10 days of Hawaiian bliss was balanced by the discovery, on my return, that my badge no longer opened the building at Netscape's Mountain View campus where I work.  I mean worked.  I am part of the flotsam scattered by the ejection of all things mozilla from AOL.  

So now I'm seeking a software engineering position.  If you have one, give it to me.  Now. 

Not yet convinced?  Perhaps some details of my prior experience is in order.

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