Email Image Protection

Many people think that making an image out of an email is a good way to protect it from being harvested by spam bots. It’s now possible to convert it from an image to email link via a Firefox extension. Guess what, an email harvester can do this just as well. What’s a better solution against email harvesters? Don’t put any trace of an email address online, use a form. Yes you could distort the image a bit to make it more difficult, but using a CAPTCHA as an email isn’t going to make you any friends. JavaScript can also be done, but no reason why it can’t be interpreted (though that may be more difficult in some cases, since a JS engine isn’t the easiest thing to work with, and implementing anything less can easily be defeated by throwing some extra JS in there. Some discussion on the Firefox Extension implementation can also be found on Gerv’s blog where he proposed the idea.

Comcast Problems?

There are quite a few sites linking to this post about Comcast problems with Mac OS and/or Firefox users. I personally fall under both categories, and haven’t had a problem, though I admittedly have had Comcast for several years, and never installed their software/branding, nor do I use any of their services/websites other than connectivity.

I was curious if this is a big problem for Firefox users. A quick scan of reporter data shows a few reports a day (somewhat high, but they are a portal site for many so volume is expected), and comments on the site are somewhat varied. Most are from a very non-technical audience. I didn’t get the sense that there were certain items that were consistently a problem. My general observations are:

  1. Homepage misrenders at least part of the time.
  2. Games are “optimized” for IE/Windows (at least some appear to be .exe downloads).

Anyone have experiences? They are a somewhat flash centric site, which tends to be pretty good cross platform, making this somewhat of an unusual case. Typically sites that are problematic for Firefox/Mac users are very antiquated sites that still reference Netscape 4.x as “supported”. They on the other hand are relatively modern.

So if you, or someone you know has run across problems, let me know. I’d like to get an idea of what users face on a daily basis.

Coda Coolness

So I downloaded and tested out Coda a little bit today. My initial impression is that I’m very impressed. It could be the new standard. A few like Alex King point out that it uses Safari as the default engine. I don’t think that’s so bad. Nothing stops you from using 2 windows one being Firefox (obviously running Firebug). I think the editor itself is rather well polished and very refined. The use of Bonjour to allow for collaboration makes it perfect for multi-developer environments. And yes, you can have more than two developers collaborating in 1 document.

My typical workflow is very abrupt. I tend to have Firefox, IE, and an IDE open at all times when coding pages. Not to mention a KVM switch to go between platforms. This still consolidates several things, and with a much nicer UI.

I’ll need to try it (for actual development purposes) for a few days before I could tell if it really works as well I hope. Panic is one of my favorite Mac developers. Really well polished products are their specialty.

Site Backups And Bandwidth Fun

I keep regular backups of everything on this server just in case something happens. Recently I switched to a more automated and secure (PGP encrypted) solution for this blog due to it’s fast-paced nature. Just the critical stuff (database, media, templates). I choose PGP (implemented using GPG) since it’s easy, and I only have to store the public key on the server, making it safer than most alternatives.

I’m strongly considering moving it all eventually over to Amazon’s S3 storage. At $0.15 per GB-Month of storage used and $0.20 per GB of data transferred it would be very affordable to keep backups in an even more secure fashion. I’d still use my own encryption on top of theirs for extra security. For things like media, I could even see myself hosting it solely at Amazon. It just seems like that may be a more practical and scalable approach.

Unfortunately until either FTTH or DOCSIS 3.0 comes to town, it doesn’t look like Amazon’s S3 will be practical for home backup purposes. This server has a beefy connection to a few large pipes to the internet (Level3, Global Crossing, and Cogent last I checked). They provides high speed connectivity so a backup would take only a few seconds. At home with a cable modem on a DOCSIS 1.1 network (such as Comcast) the bandwidth is just to slim to allow enough upload capacity. Comcast still only allows 384kbps up. Even the top plans in select areas don’t top 1Mbps. Of course these are Comcast’s numbers (the actual performance is often less). In areas that they currently serve, Verizon FiOS (FTTH) is available at 15 Mbps/2 Mbps. Much better suited for such purposes (though more would be welcome). As strange as it may seem pricing is quite competitive, giving cable a run for it’s money. Perhaps one day DOCSIS 3.0 will appear, though that seems to be a while away. Perhaps one day all homes will have 100Mbps full duplex connections with low latency.

The only real way to get around this limitation is to perhaps use rsync to perform backups. Initial backups would still suck, but after that it wouldn’t be too bad. Though that wouldn’t work with services such as Amazon’s S3, which are token based. There is an rsync-like clone, but it’s still not the real thing. Perhaps Google’s upcoming GDrive will be cool enough to allow the use of rsync over SSH (I could dream) in addition to WebDAV (which is what I expect to see). Last I checked rsync doesn’t support WebDAV because WebDAV is done over HTTP. If I understand it right, RFC 3229 would add Delta encoding support to HTTP, making something like rsync over WebDAV possible since it uses delta encoding.

Secrets In Websites

When a you browses the web, a fair amount of code is transfered from a server sitting in a cold lonely datacenter to your computer. It’s mostly serious business, but sometimes developers like to embed small jokes, and traditions.

A lot can be told by just a quick glance at a website’s design and it’s underlying data. From Infrastructure, design methodologies, CMS (content management system), among other things.

Here are some of amusing, interesting, and [in some cases] strange things I’ve seen on websites. Everything in this post is valid as of the time of the post. Keep in mind websites constantly change so anything seen here may be invalid as time goes on.

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Small Changes

Over the past few days I’ve made about a dozen small changes to this blog, including code cleanup, slight layout tweaks, optimization, etc. I also managed to cut page size and requests down a little bit, which is always welcome.

Every once in a while it’s necessary to stop developing and just cleanup after yourself. Overall, while most of the changes should be pretty transparent it resolves some of the rough edges that have been around for way too long.