Blog Web Development

10 Years

Looking at my calendar (which includes things like domain renewals) I noticed that I’ve owned this domain for a decade.

   Domain Name: ACCETTURA.COM
   Whois Server:
   Referral URL:
   Name Server: NS1.ACCETTURA.COM
   Name Server: NS2.ACCETTURA.COM
   Name Server: NS3.ACCETTURA.COM
   Name Server: NS5.ACCETTURA.COM
   Name Server: NS6.ACCETTURA.COM
   Name Server: NS7.ACCETTURA.COM
   Status: clientTransferProhibited
   Updated Date: 05-sep-2008
   Creation Date: 13-sep-1999
   Expiration Date: 13-sep-2012

In 1999 Bill Clinton was president, Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France, David Cone pitched a perfect game for the Yankees, NATO bombed Yugoslavia, John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash, Melissa Worm tormented the web, the Euro was just established, Napster just debuted, Windows 98 Second Edition launched, Apple just announced the iBook (Jun) and Power Macintosh G4 (Aug).

I wonder what will be nostalgic in September 2019.

Audio/Video Internet

The History Of The Internet

History Of The Internet

This is an awesome animated documentary of the creation of the Internet. Way back in 1999 I did a paper on the same topic. Back then information on the creation of the Internet was not as plentiful as it is now. ISOC has a nice page and of course there is Wikipedia. I had to scrape it together from various sources. While Usenet documented it rather well, it wasn’t considered an acceptable resource for research purposes.

Bonus for being in HD.

Programming Tech (General)

Z2k9 Bug Strikes The Zune

From the company that brought you Windows ME, and Windows Vista, Microsoft Corporation today introduced the world to the Z2K9 bug. Apparently all 30GB Zune’s reboot and freeze due to a bug in the date/time drivers. Classic. Microsoft’s solution is to simply wait until 2009 (a few more hours). Even more classic.

This does bring up one of every programmer’s biggest pet peeves: date/time code. I’ve mentioned my hatred of time before. It’s one of the most obnoxiously complicated things to work with due to all of the complexities from leap seconds to leap years. If you need to do something involving old dates, it gets even more complicated. Remember Julian Thursday, 4 October 1582 was followed by Gregorian Friday, 15 October 1582. Yes you read that right. Also don’t forget that only certain countries (mostly those under strict influence of the Pope) switched on that date. There was dual dating for some time. Then you have timezones, which ideally would be geographically correct and 15° of longitude apart, but instead zigzag and not even along territorial borders. Worst of all is daylight savings time. Not everyone participates in that, and sometimes just not every year, or at the same time. Even states are split, just check out the chaos in Indiana.

Griping aside, none of these likely caused the Zune bug. Since it’s a freeze, I’d guess it’s nothing more than an infinite loop or some other trivial programming error on a leap year.

Everyone remembers the infamous Y2K bug. Many uneducated folks still claim it was nothing to worry about and overblown, but it still cost between $300-600 billion dollars depending on whose estimates you believe (3.596 billion from the US military alone). Since a large portion of the cost was in the private sector, there’s no true tally.

The next big day to keep in mind is January 19 2038 3:14:07 GMT. That’s when the 32 bit computing will officially freak out since most Unix-like computers store time as a signed 32 bit integer counting the seconds since Jan 1, 1970 (Unix Epoch). After that we go back to 1901. There will likely be some 32 bit computing left in 2038 considering how long embedded systems can be ignored and silently slaving away in the background. For reference the B-52 Stratofortress entered operation in 1955 (they were built until 1962). They are expected to be taken out of service in 2040. This is the exception for US military aircraft, but don’t think this is the only old hardware out there. The Hubble Space Telescope has a 32 bit 486 processor and launched in 1990 and assuming the backup computer is functional it will be serviced soon to extend it’s life by another few years making it’s service life 20+ years. It’s unlikely Hubble will make it to 2038 but Hubble shows how long expensive systems can survive in active use. This date is only 30 years away. This will cost the world some serious cash.

On the upside according to Wikipedia 64 bit systems will be good until Sunday, December 4, 292,277,026,596. Odds are that won’t be a concern for most people alive today.

Reassuring? Yes. But your Zune is still fried for a few more hours.

Update [1/5/2009]: Here’s some pretty detailed confirmation that it was indeed an infinite loop error. I know my crashes 😉 .


Shell Stats

Since it seems like everyone else on Planet Mozilla is doing it… My twist: multiple systems. Actually I found it interesting too see the variation based on what I use them for.


$ history | awk '{a[$2]++}END{for(i in a){print a[i] " " i}}' | sort -rn | head
114 ls
91 cd
63 sh
41 ssh
37 sudo
14 pico
13 exit
12 ping
10 ./gl_tail
8 top

Home Server

$ history | awk '{a[$2]++}END{for(i in a){print a[i] " " i}}' | sort -rn | head
68 ls
64 dig
55 cd
45 whois
27 ps
24 clear
23 sudo
14 pico
12 top
12 exit


$ history | awk '{a[$2]++}END{for(i in a){print a[i] " " i}}' | sort -rn | head
67 top
65 ssh
31 ls
29 sudo
26 dig
23 cd
20 ps
19 svn
17 php
8 ping
Firefox Tips Mozilla

Firefox Tip: Delete One Item From History

Do you want to delete one item from your browsing history? Say that splash page, or misspelled site that you keep visiting when ever you type a url with a similar name because you type to quickly? Gogle instead of Google? It happens. Just select it by entering the partial name in the url bar, and press shift delete. That will remove only that one entry from history.

Want to remove that memory of the time you forgot to put on pants before you left the house? Sorry, that feature hasn’t been implemented in Firefox just yet. Perhaps in the next version. Patches welcome.

Firefox Tips Mozilla

Firefox Tip: Keeping Things Private

Using Firefox on a shared computer such as an office workstation, library, or school computer lab? Don’t want people seeing what you did/saw? That’s a very good idea. When your done browsing the web go to the “Tools” menu and select “Clear Private Data”. Check the data you want to delete and “Clear Private Data Now”. This will ensure the next person doesn’t see your browsing history, or have access to site you forgot to logout. Here’s a list of the options and what they mean in simple terms:

  • Browsing History – The list of sites web pages you visited.
  • Download History – The list of files you downloaded to your computer.
  • Saved Form and Search History – Every time you fill in a form your browser will store some info so that it’s easier to fill in next time (that’s why it can suggest your address when you signup for something). This data in addition to your history of searches.
  • Cache – Temporary files from the web pages you visited stored on your computer. Examples include images in the pages as well as the pages themselves.
  • Cookies – Data used by websites to store info, such as login information or preferences.
  • Saved Passwords – You’ll definitely want to delete these. 😉 Remember you can also disable the password manager.
  • Authenticated Sessions – Certain sites you are currently logged into that use a technique called HTTP Authentication. If in doubt, clear this.

Want to do this every time you close out of your browser? Go to “Tools” and select “Options”. Then click on the “Privacy” icon on the top. Check the “Always clear my private data when I close Firefox” checkbox.

Another option is to use Portable Firefox. This special download is designed to be installed and run from a USB drive. It saves all preferences/settings to your drive, so you take your data with you. This will only work in places where you are allowed to use a USB drive, and can open applications off of one (not every public computer may do so).

Firefox Tips Mozilla

Firefox Tip: What was that website?

Firefox HistoryRemember that website you were at a few days ago? That really interesting one… you know. Forgot? We all do. The internet has many interesting pages. Thankfully that’s not such a big problem. Go to the “History” menu and select “Show in Sidebar”. You’ll see a sidebar show up on the left side of your browser. Just click around to find the site you were at. You can search (somewhat basic, but can be helpful), or view by different criteria (sort by date, site, most visited, last visited). If you surf the web a bit, this list may be a bit large, but after doing this once or twice, you’ll find a strategy that matches your web browsing habits and learn to navigate it quicker and quicker. It’s a very worthwhile tool to master.

If your someone who clears your history periodically this functionality will be limited or not available. That’s obviously a feature not a bug.

Want to remember further back? For the future you can retain more history by going into options and selecting the “Security” tab. Under “History” change the number of days to remember to something more desirable. I’d recommend keeping it under 2 weeks (14 days).

Politics Programming Tech (General)

Time Sucks

One of the hardest things to program is the Date and Time. This is especially true when your doing it on the web. Why is that? Using a unix timestamp is immensely helpful and resolves many of the complexities, but it does have some issues (besides the Y2K38 bug). Well lets take a look at some of the “typical” things you need to be aware of:

  • Your server is in one timezone, your users are in 23 others.
    Users don’t care what the time is at the site. They want things in their time.
  • Does your server even know your users timezone?
    You could do this with JavaScript, and send it to the server, but that’s a mess. Or send a timestamp to the client, and let JavaScript print it out. But that’s still messy.
  • Timezones aren’t obvious (think Indiana).
    Did you know some even use :30 such as UTC-3:30 for Newfoundland Standard Time.
  • Looking back in time (or forwards) is difficult (how many hours between X and Y accounting for leap years, and DST changes)?
    This is a mess, enough said. And just in case you have a formula, did you account for the conversion between Julian and Gregorian calendars? Don’t forget not everyone switched in 15 October 1582 / 4 October 1582. Going forward remember we’ll eventually have another leap day, since the Gregorian calendar isn’t perfect.
  • Your server observes DST. Does your user? When?
    Get the picture? Remember most states do, except for Hawaii (yea, that’s another Timezone) but Arizona doesn’t either, except for Navajo Nation. Again Indiana!
  • The Politics of Time…
    If you call UTC+2 Israel Standard Time, you upset visitors from Muslim nations like Egypt. Call it Central Africa Time, or Egypt Standard Time and your considered anti-semitic. Same goes for UTC+8, is it Chinese Standard Time or Hong Kong Time? Most avoid this by just listing UTC±N. Unfortunately this confuses people, especially Americans who only refer to timezones as “Eastern” (UTC-5), “Central” (UTC-6), “Mountain” (UTC-7) “Pacific” (UTC-8). Note these American names aren’t so common in all of North/South America.
  • Daylight Savings Time for 2007+
    Then you have a bunch of clowns who voted for the Energy Policy Act of 2005, creating the Y2K7 bug. The idea was an extra hour of daylight in the evening would reduce electrical use. What they didn’t realize is that it cuts daylight from the morning. My guess would be a follow up bill may fine the sun for failing to provide adequate light, and eventually include economic sanctions. 😛

I thought a while back this could suck. Think about all the time/money that goes into updating and testing systems for these few extra weeks of DST. What a drag.

Swatch Internet Time was an obvious bust, but perhaps we could all just use UTC?

Around The Web Audio/Video

Building the Stonehenge

Wally Wallington can build the Stonehenge, despite tons of stone to move. And he makes it look easy! Very cool. Now that’s some awesome use of brains.

Around The Web Tech (General)

Underground bunker from 19xx

This is just a scary image. According to the caption it’s:

One of five underground bunkers built for the East German Foreign Intelligence Service.

Take a guess what year, then click on the image to see the original which has the date on it (I cropped and scaled this one).

German Command Center Scaled

According to Wikipedia, the image is a work of the US Government (and therefore in public domain) and is found on the CIA website.

Does anyone else think it looks about 30 years older than it actually is? Looks like 50’s-60’s to me. Yikes, that makes me feel old. Check out the awesome tech!