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Category Archives: web

I’ve been a member of the W3C html working group for a couple of years now. I don’t really participate as much as I would like, but I still think the group’s work is important.

So, with that in mind, I figured it was time to finally convert my website to html5. While technically it is still just a draft proposal, the fairly basic features are set, so a simple site like mine should be easy to convert.  I figured it might be worth putting what I did up here, even if just so I can see it later.

Up until now, I’ve always used XHTML. This means I kept presentational elements to a minimum and didn’t have the mess of tag soup that many older html documents contain.

The first thing was to change the mime-type the page is served as. xhtml has to be served with the application/xml+xhtml type to be valid (even though the broken IE browser can’t handle that). The correct type for html5 is simple text/html This can be done in your .htaccess file with the line:

RewriteRule \.html$ – [T=text/html]

Then, I replaced the top of each file (up to the title tag) with:

< !doctype html>

Other than that, I only had a few minor issues to fix.  I used the tag in one place (replaced it with css font-size:300%;), put the align properties for the tables in css

table     {
    text-align: center;

And finally since the name element is deprecated, any time I used it, I just replaced it with an id in a nearby tag (usually a heading tag, but sometimes a paragraph).

I haven’t yet dealt with this blog (but due to blogger’s messy templates, I never even got it to be valid xhtml, so this may not be easy). I also have a bunch of pages that are generated by a perl script. I modified the perl script, but just don’t feel like testing it tonight. But otherwise, goodbye XHTML, it was fun.  All told, the html5 pages are definitely smaller since there is less junk on the top of each page and I can’t be lazy and put styling all over the place, it has to go in the css.

Either everyone on the internet decided to take the day off today, or Bloglines has failed me for the last time.

I guess it’s time to try google reader.

It looks like I was wrong about the problem with Facebook notes since it was able to import a new blog entry without duplicating everything else. So I guess the first time was some sort of fluke. Definitely the kind of time when I’m happy to have been (probably) wrong.

Yesterday I wrote about Facebook Notes importing an external blog rss feed.

For some reason, I assumed that because it gave no errors it worked properly. Of course I should know better than that. I noticed today that it had each entry (and it went back a full year) listed twice except for the most recent one which was posted after I put it up. I deleted the extra entries, but I suspect that once it updates from the feed again and sees this new post the same thing will happen again. My feed looks okay to me, so I don’t think that is where the issue lies. I guess I’ll see for sure after this post gets noticed by facebook.

I just discovered something that Facebook does that I wanted to have in Myspace for a long time. There is a Facebook application called Notes. It is sort of a poor-man’s blogging tool, but it can import an external blog through an rss feed. That mean I can do this blog on blogger (assuming I ever post anything) and have it automatically show up on Facebook. I think it is very cool that I can have a blog on Facebook without having to trap my info in Facebook. Myspace has a blog, but has no way to import from another blog unless you want to copy and paste text each time (which is a really poor solution). I appreciate being able to fully participate in the flavor of the month social network while still keeping my data where I want it and can control it.

Up until now, I never realized how hard it was to find web hosting. I guess since I never needed to do it before I just sort of assumed it would be easy. I’ve always been able to keep my webpage on my department’s server, but now that I’m not going to another astronomy department, that isn’t really possible. And with our new policy of deleting old users after a short time (a policy which I was in favor of as the grad. student rep. to the computer committee but realize will give me some trouble), I can’t just coast and leave my stuff up where it is.

I have a few options. I could move my pictures to Picasa, use this blog more, maybe move ZEUS-MP to Google Code, and forget about having an actual webpage all together. I could try and find some sort of free hosting. Or I could actually pay for hosting.

My current preference is to pay for hosting since I like having a webpage and I like having full control over it. So, I started looking at cheap providers. One of my main requirements is that I really want ssh access. I’m far too used to that to be willing to deal with any stupid site builders or ftp or anything like that.

Here is where things get a little hard. There are an unbelievable number of places that offer hosting and as far as I can tell no unbiased sources of information. Most of the “review” sites seem really sketchy and out of date. Reviews from actual people tend to only come from unhappy customers who are complaining about their bad experience. While that is understandable, it is not too helpful. Even worse, ssh access is not too common. I’ve seen a few places that require a copy of a driver’s license if you want ssh access. That seems totally nuts to me. They can do far more harm to me with my driver’s license than I can do to them with shell access to a virtual server. (Unless of course they really are that bad at security in which case I don’t want to deal with them anyway).

The two places that looked the most interesting were Host Gator and DreamHost. Both are fairly cheap (around $10 or less per month for a one year commitment). Both offer ssh access. I’m leaning towards DreamHost since they give more disk space and transfer allowance plus much nicer seeming mail stuff (at least for someone who prefers command line access to stuff). They did have some billing issues recently (but I pretty much only pay for things through credit cards which would have protected me from some of that trouble) and some people complain about uptime issues, but I don’t think I’ve seen a single shared hosting solution that doesn’t get some complaints about that.

One big plus to DreamHost is I might be able to use them for my main email which would be great since Gmail doesn’t exactly get along with my cell phone or pine/alpine nearly as well as I would like (and I need a new home for my personal email for the same reason I need a new home for my webpage).

I think I’ll give DreamHost a shot this weekend (unless something more interesting comes to my attention before then) and will try to write about it soon after.

Partly, I’m writing because I’m bored, partly, partly in an attempt to start updating this blog, and partly because I’ve finally used facebook enough to officially be annoyed by it.

When I first joined facebook I was impressed by how much faster it seemed than myspace. It also have a much cleaner seeming interface. Even better it displays more or less correctly (including buttons working regularly), something I can’t say for myspace. But I still liked myspace better for all the bands and the messy pages that don’t look the same. Oddly enough for the site owned by Fox, it seemed a tiny bit less corporate than facebook.

Now, I’m not sure I think any of those things are true any more (except that one about preferring myspace).

First, I’ve noticed that facebook just in not that fast anymore. Maybe this is due to their growth (but as a fairly late adopter, that is hard to believe). It could be the third party add-ons. But whatever it is, the responsive interface I was getting used to is not so responsive anymore. I know you can do complex AJAX programs and still be responsive (google seems to have figured that one out).

So here is a test of ping times just to see how quickly the sites respond. This is of course totally inaccurate and stupid, but here it is anyway. You will notice that myspace and facebook have the same average time (roughly twice that of google).

john@ganon ~ $ for i in; do ping -q -c 10 $i; done
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.

— ping statistics —
10 packets transmitted, 10 received, 0% packet loss, time 9000ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 49.553/51.214/53.625/1.027 ms
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.

— ping statistics —
10 packets transmitted, 10 received, 0% packet loss, time 8997ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 102.313/103.110/104.222/0.609 ms
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.

— ping statistics —
10 packets transmitted, 10 received, 0% packet loss, time 9000ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 102.409/103.892/105.161/0.837 ms

I also have a non-speed related interface problem. When one signs in, one can click on either profile or facebook. Each link brings you to something that is almost your main page with updates that may be either important or interesting. But neither seem to actually be the main one. Having two separate main pages that you need to check if you don’t want to miss a notification seems like really bad (and obvious) design flaw.

I hope to write a little more soon about some things I’ve noticed about the friends I have listed on facebook.

I just signed up for facebook last week. Mostly because I thought it was cool that I got an invite that came by AIM which sort of impressed me compared to the way myspace works.

I know I’m a bit late coming to facebook, but I thought it was sort of funny that this week (just one week after I signed up), facebook was on the cover of Newsweek. So does this mean that facebook is still popular, or does it mean that it has now permanently descended into uncool? And what does it say that I just joined right before this?

I do have to say that I like myspace better (and I do not use myspace very much) because every damned page doesn’t look exactly the same and I like the presence of bands and authors and the like. That being said, it is amazing how much better facebook works. Myspace may be the slowest web interface I’ve seen in years. Not to mention the unbelievable number of times certain pages will just return errors instead of loading. I could not believe how much smoother facebook worked. Too bad it is way more boring.

I just do not understand why Blogger would provide a template that claims to be XHTML 1.0 Strict, but doesn’t validate properly. They also serve it as text/hml to Firefox and the w3c validator, which isn’t right, but that might be too much to ask.

I guess I will have to fix the template before I do anything else with this.