Why I Like PHP

Most programmers at my level of genius and experience scoff at the PHP language for web development. So why do I use it on my web page?

1. Back in the day, I wrote a lot of code in C, and PHP reminds me of those heady, mostly-untyped days of youth. The days when you had no idea what you were doing and just threw code all over the place without any regard for structure or organization, hoping and praying that you ended up with something that worked more often than it crashed your hard drive.

2. I use a “budget” Linux web host, so it’s the only option available.

Okay, admittedly reason #2 is probably the more dominant of those two reasons. But I still enjoy tinkering with my PHP web site. It’s like tinkering with an old car. It’s held together with spit and duct tape in some places. You have to use old-school tools like hammers and wrenches. But at the end of the day, it’s YOUR car made just the way you like it, with YOUR sweat and blood and tears in it, with YOUR soul driving it. And sometimes, when the morning sun strikes that old chrome at just the right angle, it carries you back to the day your car came rolling new out of the factory, shining bright and ready to take on the world.

Launch Day

Today I am officially launching the new site.

Don’t everyone shower me with adorations all at once! I know it’s better than every other portal out there, but still we need to maintain some level of modesty.

Rita’rded Reporting

The level of absurdity in the news media is approaching mind-numbing proportions. I saw one reporter holding up a busted-up streetlight and talking at great length about how it had come hurtling down in front of them. Last night there was some “new video” of the aftermath of Rita being shown (on several competing news channels simultaneously). The video showed house after house after house that appeared to be perfectly fine. One of the anchors, struggling for something to say about the video, commented about some missing shingles.

Seriously, is there nothing else going on in the entire world for these people to talk about? What about the first successful test of an elevator into space? To me, that is far more interesting than how many streetlights have been blown down by a hurricane. Here’s a scoop for ya. Hurricanes happen EVERY YEAR. They do they same thing every time: They destroy buildings on coastlines. They knock down trees. They cause flooding. They knock out power. It’s quite routine.

Why don’t we do some investigative journalism into why the gas prices at my local gas station a thousand miles from Texas went up two days before the hurricane even made landfall? That would be something I’d like to see.

Firefox’ed

I found this article on Slashdot comparing the number of security patches released for Internet Explorer and Firefox in the same time period to be highly amusing. Basically they are saying that Firefox, the allegedly “safer” open source browser, has released 2-4 times more security fixes in the same time period than Internet Explorer. Ha ha. See? Open source products suck. Hey let’s get a bunch of college hackers together and make up an application! Yeah, what a great idea.

I find it particularly ironic since my previous employer insisted we use Firefox because it was safer. Doh!

Cynthia found this nice article about the transformation of objective reporting into dramatic infotainment, most recently seen in the wake of Katrina and in the pre-wake of Rita. Actually, I think the transformation is already complete.

Not much else to report this evening, except that the notification system in my portal is still coming along nicely.

Water Bridge?

I just got an email containing a picture of a “water bridge” over the Elbe River in Germany. The picture looks fake to me, but maybe I just assume all such email circulations are fake. I Google’d for more information, expecting to find a bunch of “urban legend” hits, but found only one article about it dated 10.10.2003. The lack of Google references to such an engineering spectacle makes me even more suspicious. But hey, what do I know?

Cats, Keyboards, and Crime-Fighting Grannies

Here are some more interesting stories you may have missed in the swirl of, how shall I put it… crap… in the mainstream media.

From The Register, here is the story of a crime-fighting granny with a unique super-power. Could a Marvel Comics movie be far behind?

In the “beware of strange people with microphones” category, Slashdot reported that some students from UC-Berkley found that they can take an audio recording of someone typing at a computer keyboard and figure out what they typed with 96% accuracy. Try to make a Spyware blocker for that, Norton.

And finally, cat owners beware: Reuters reported that a German inventor has made an engine that runs on “organic” diesel fuel, “a home-made blend of garbage, run-over cats, and other ingredients.” Seriously. Or is it? The inventor later told Reuters, after an uproar from the animal rights community, that he did not, in fact, use dead cats to power his car.

Web Overhaul

Remember a while back when I said I wanted to do a ground-up rewrite of my website? Well, it’s underway! Actually, it’s been underway for about a month, but it’s only just now starting to look like a working web site.

In this new version, I’m attempting to be more portal-like in the design. I’m hoping to be able to throw in some RSS feed aggregation and things of that nature, so I can see news without having to see a bunch of stinkin’ ads. I’m also planning to add an RSS feed of my blog, since it’s so hard to keep up with all my updates.

Don’t panic about the word “portal,” though: I’m still going to keep the site pretty simple. Cynthia has told me that she can’t stand the complexity of the average portal application, and since she’s basically my target audience at this point, she has a lot a influence on the design. 🙂 Actually, I don’t much like having menus everywhere either.

Creativity Extinct, Creationism On The Rise

In my ever-widening search for news that didn’t make it onto NBC’s Nightly News, I have found the following information for you.

Slashdot, our favorite source for useless trivia, reports that we can eagerly look forward to 10 crappy movies based on Marvel comic book characters nobody cares about. Yay. In a related story, talented, creative Hollywood screenwriters were added to the endangered species list.

An article on The Register explains that a surprisingly large percentage of people in the U.S. are cheerfully willing to ignore quantifiable scientific evidence of evolution. Those same people probably enjoy the realism of reality television shows, too.

It looks like the crooks are watching television, too, according to this article from Reuters. Now if we could just keep the crooks from making the television shows.

I’m sorry I missed Andre’s magical come-from-behind win last night at the U.S. Open to make it into the semi-finals. Unfortunately the women’s match prior went long and I have a strict bedtime these days.

And one final editorial note: Have you ever noticed how many Reuters headlines contain the words “might,” “may,” or “could?” For example, “Tropical Storm Ophelia may hit the gulf region” or “Terrorists armed with knives might storm cheese shops” or “Aliens could be living in Earth’s core.” How about, “Journalists might stop baseless conjecture and report actual facts.”

And one more final editorial note: I was extremely disappointed in Jon Stewart’s comments on the 9/6 Daily Show after he returned from vacation. He actually complimented the news media’s coverage of Katrina! Did he actually watch any of it?? I didn’t think I would ever stop laughing at Geraldo’s antics in front of the Superdome.

This Week In The News

If you’ve turned on a television lately, you’ve probably seen that the Superdome in New Orleans has turned into Thunderdome. But you may have missed these other important news items from this week:

Slashdot reported that Nintendo has patented insanity. This could be bad news for a lot of people. But seriously, patenting software algorithms is a very irritating topic for this programmer.

Slashdot also “reports” (ie. links to the real article written by someone else) that scientists have created genetically altered mice that can regenerate. Yes, they can grow back severed limbs and mutilated internal organs. One has to wonder about the mental state of scientists that enjoy chopping off mouse limbs.

Another fine link on Slashdot points us to an article about the ruination of computer games by corporate fatcats (my terms). This former gamer knew this years ago, when he sat on IRC with his Quake clanmates wondering when there would EVER be a new game out that didn’t suck.

But perhaps the most disturbing story of the week: According to Reuters, scientists have discovered an inexplicable hot spot on one of Saturn’s moons. Could Enceladus be the alien’s base of operations in this solar system??