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San Francisco, USA

 

Electronic Payment

People are talking about PayPal is becoming a virtual monoploy in US after the shutdown of Yahoo's PayDirect. This reader from Estonia is wondering why US still don't have any decent service, when over ten years ago it is already possible "for anyone with bank account in any Estonian bank to pay anyone else with a bank account."

I use the free Yahoo Bill Pay to pay my bills whenever possible (hope this service won't be affected.) The downside of this free service is that it can only pay to a limited number of participating merchants, payment have to be scheduled one week in advance, and the website goes offline regularly. All other places charge a ridiculous amount of monthly fee to use this kind of services. Come on, I elect to make my payment electronically and the merchant's bottom line is stand to benefit, since they can avoid the costly paper check payment processing. Now you even ask customers to pay for this?

2004.10.24 [, ] - comments

 

30 Days to Becoming an Opera7 Lover

While I'm a happy user of the Opera Browser, when I come across this web series 30 Days to Becoming an Opera7 Lover I am still a little bit skeptic. Does Opera really has so many unique features to write about for 30 days? Doesn't IE suppose to have everything we need for the Internet already? I imagine this must be some passionate fan's touting about his favour browser. But it turns out these are really excellent, full length articles about the browser and it actually run for 30 straight days. Some described great features I have taken for granted but are unique innovation of Opera. Others demonstrated overlooked features and usage tips that helps even experienced users. A lot of seemingly simple features, like extracting notes from web pages, start to make sense after he explains the motivation and show its intended use.

Who say there are no more innovation in web browser? Don't get stuck with the stagnant IE. The great Opera is just getting better and better.

2004.09.25 [] - comments

 

The New Browser War

The launch of the Firefox preview release has drawn enthusiastic receptions. It has reached its goal of 1 million downloads in only 4 days. For the first time since Netscape's downfall, there seems to be a real challenge to Microsoft. Would this be the start of a new browser war? Let me help beat the drum here.

After a series of high-profile security issues that have plagued IE, there are finally some numbers showing alternative browsers are taking a small but noticeable market share from IE as reported in eWEEK and CNET. Last year we were worried when AOL unloaded the browser development to create the non-profit Mozilla Foundation. Nevertheless developers have not disappointed us by rolling out successive releases of this sleek and fast browser. In retrospect, the establishment of the Mozilla Foundation is more of a blessing. Rather than AOL, now it can find better corporate sponsors like IBM, Sun and Red Hat.

Perhaps it could not get a more high profile sponsor than Google. Rumors has floated that Google is going to release a browser based on Mozilla. The New York Post has made such speculation base on a number of new hires. Blogger Jason Kottke has made some strong arguments for a Google Browser. He has also discovered Google has already registered the gbrowser.com domain. This could be tipping point for Mozilla to gain wide spread acceptance.

It is often accepted that the vast majority of consumers are not likely to switch from IE given is already the browser installed by default. Users are seen as dummies that downloading and installing another program is just beyond their ability. But look at how applications such as KaZaA and BitTorrent gained such popularity without corporate blessing. As is the case for ICQ, which has gained a hugh following as an independent company. People do know how to install software. Give them something compelling and we will find people switching in droves.

2004.09.23 [] - comments

 

Another Use of the Wayback Machine

Just find out another use of the Wayback Machine. I am thinking about buying from an small time online merchant whom I do not know of. I used the Wayback Machine as a way to check on their creditability. It shows how long this website has been established (or how long since Internet Archive has visited them) and how it looks throughout its history.

In this case I declined to use this online merchant. With one and half year of history it is good enough. However its front page has not been updated since day one. I have a feeling that it is an inactive website.

2004.08.22 [] - comments

 

The Wayback Machine

I have looked back to a previous post "Bill Gates' Inbox" and was very disappointed to find the link to the very funny mocked mailbox of Bill Gates' was broken. Did the author took it down after getting some letters from Bill Gates' lawyer? I turned to the wonderful Wayback Machine, which crawls the whole World Wide Web and archives historical content for public reference. Easy enough the picture is still available here. Indeed I can find the historical record of my own website. Thanks to the Internet Archive for bringing this invaluable service!

It turns out the link is broken not because of Bill Gates lacking a sense of humor, but for a simple reason that the author has moved the URI. Alright, I will update the entry with the new link then.

2004.08.19 [, ] - comments

 

Checking for Cross-Site Scripting Vulnerability

Netcraft.com brings my attention to cross-site scripting security problem. I have examined this website for vulnerabilities. This problem is usually caused by systems not checking input received from user or third party before using it. One place this website receives input is the RSS new feeds. I have crafted a test RSS with embedded javascript. Some RSS feeder (including this website) display the content as is. They should have (arguably) strip off the embedded script before displaying it. I promptly plugged this by escaping the meta characters before outputting them on the web pages.

An important element for cross-site scripting is that a third party can use a reputable website as a conduit to inject questionable code in their context. In this case the news feeder's communication is only between this website and the news source. I am not aware of any loop hole for third party to get involved. But in the world of open communication it is better to be safe to test for all input before use.

2004.07.20 [, ] - comments

 

pyBlosxom Upgrade

I have finally ditched my home grown blog formatter for pyBlosxom, a very simple file based weblog server. It only take me several hours to setup and integrated with my web pages. Customization is fairly easy. I have designed the style to look, well, like the same old home page (pyBlosxom itself does not come with any decent template anyway). So far the only thing new is the calendar on the left. But I plan to add other features in the coming days.

I have downloaded Movable Type for months and never get to set it up. The database and third party library requirement really puts me off. Yet I am able to setup pyBlosxom within hours. I am really please with its light weight design and the text file based repository.

The main motivation for upgrade is the need to add permalink to the entries. I have some successful experimented with pyBlosxom but I still need some more work before publishing them. After all, permalinks means permanent. So I want to get it right.

2004.07.01 [] - comments

 

HTML formatting and line breaking?

Formatting HTML is often a maddening exercise. Browsers all have their own mind and would refuse your every attempt to size things right. Specifications offer little help here. They are either too vague or too technical. What is completely lacking are test suites and examples.

I ran into a problem where I put a very long string (a URL) in column 1 of a table. Opera and Mozilla treat it as an unbreakable string. Rather than break it down and format it within the column boundary I specified, they expand the column far off the right side of the screen and completely displace column 2. I have exhausted every trick to break the line to format it reasonbly. Then I found an very thorough article Word division in IE about this subject. It even have test results with Opera. Great article but I still don't find answer to my problem.

Finally I resigned by swapping column 1 and column 2. This seems quite satisfactory since the later part of the long string is as interesting.

2004.06.29 [] - comments

 

Opera is cool!

I promised to purchase the Opera web browser when they come out with unicode support. It happened in Opera 7 last year but I was still procrastinating. When I discovered the customizable search features today I have to send my order right away. An undocumented configuration file allow defining search engine and I am already adding some personal searches. The possibilities seems to be too great!

Perhaps Opera can grow to become the Sherlock for Windows.

2004.05.03 [] - comments

 

RSS News feeder added

Thanks Mark Pilgrim, who has posted a Python RSS parser. With this parser, it is trivial to add news feed boxes to the home page. I added some news feed from O'Reilly to this web site for the start. Now the home page look more interesting! Still have to work on the scheduling of feeding.

2003.04.22 [, ] - comments

 

Python screen scrapper

At last I have built the application I always wanted, a weather and news email alert for my mobile phone. While my T-Mobile phone is capable of internet browsing, the connection is so poor that it make web surfing an unenjoyable experience. The email alert deliver the information and does not incur the painful delay in interactive browsing.

This is mostly a HTML screen scrapper in only 200 lines of Python code. Within a few hours I have success in the implementation. That is while I am still learning the language! If it is not so easy because of Python this would probably remain on the drawing board for a long time.

2003.04.21 [, , ] - comments

 

past articles »

 

BBC News

 

Trump Russia: Bannon 'ordered to testify to grand jury' (16 Jan 2018)

 

Trump's cognitive ability is normal, says White House doctor (16 Jan 2018)

 

Turpin case: Shackled California siblings 'victims of torture' (16 Jan 2018)

 

Venezuela helicopter pilot Oscar Pérez killed in raid (16 Jan 2018)

 

Margaret Atwood faces feminist backlash for #MeToo op-ed (16 Jan 2018)

 

Mount Mayon: Philippines volcano spews out lava (16 Jan 2018)

 

US holds back aid to Palestinians (16 Jan 2018)

 

Larry Nassar case: Victims confront 'repulsive' predator (16 Jan 2018)

 

Dolores O'Riordan: Police say death is not suspicious (16 Jan 2018)

 

Moscow's 2017 December was its 'darkest' on record (16 Jan 2018)

more »

 

SF Gate

 

Bay Area News (7 Jan 2012)

 

City Insider (11 Feb 2012)

 

Crime Scene (13 Feb 2012)

 

C.W Newius Column (10 Jan 2012)

 

C.W. Nevius Blog (11 Feb 2012)

 

Education News (10 Jan 2012)

 

KALW (11 Feb 2012)

 

Matier and Ross Blog (11 Feb 2012)

 

Ship traffic, Jan. 17 (16 Jan 2018)

 

Goodbye, diesel: California school buses drive toward electric age (16 Jan 2018)

 

Intel underfoot: Floor sensors rise as retail data source (15 Jan 2018)

 

Big bets on AI open a new frontier for chip startups, too (15 Jan 2018)

 

Inside Uber’s ,000 payment to a hacker, and the fallout (15 Jan 2018)

 

Philippines shuts down news site critical of Duterte (15 Jan 2018)

more »

 


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