Categories
Burningbird

I’m here. Where are you?

If you see this, then you’re seeing Burningbird in the new home. Expect rough times this week, as I continue the move. For instance, I’ve had to drop my recent comments/trackback list, though I am working an alternative. I also have several trackback pings that I have to find a way to move from there to here.

Hopefully the move is a smooth experience for SiFarrago and the ever popular and far too quiet Mr. Golby.

Moving on Monday (17th): Joe Duemer’s Reading & Writing (new digs in that direction)(Done), and the ever infamous Stavros the Wonder Chicken’s Empty Bottle – the site that proves yes, chickens can be scary.

I’m glad that I’m splitting For Poets sites from the Burningbird installation, and putting the photos into their own domain, mirrorself.com – but what a lot of work this has been. Work that’s continuing, but I can’t hold the rest of the gang up while I screw around.

Still, it will be very nice to be all clean and sparkly, and ready to do some front-end design.

Update:

Many thanks to Girlie Matters for a dirify function in PHP I was able to incorporate into my recent trackbacks/comments. This emulates the Movable Type dirify function that converts titles to file/directory naming compatibility.

Categories
Burningbird Technology

You might see this

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

You won’t see this. It doesn’t exist.

Or at least, it doesn’t exist – yet – in the new Burningbird home, but does in the old.

I had hoped to be farther along in the transfer, but limitations in the software in the shared environment are slowing things. Rather than being able to log into each system using SSH and FTP files directly, I’m having to download them to my PC and then upload them to the new site. The first of many limitations I’ll face moving from the dedicated server to the shared environment.

However, once moved, the limitations will be offset by not having to worry about constant software upgrades or installing patches. A good trade, all in all.

I did implement the new file system naming here in the old site to make sure it would work on the new. Worked beautifully. You have to love Movable Type templates.

Yes I am aware that my recent comment/trackback functionality is broken with the new naming system. I am looking at solutions, or the possibility of using something else on the new site. You’ll need to click through to the individual page for now to see these items.

I’ve also added a link to the PostCon RDF file for each individual page. Right now all the link does is pull up the RDF meta file. When I’m finished, it will provide either a raw RDF feed, or a prettified HTML feed. I still want to see what RDF vocabularies created elsewhere I can incorporate in. If you see anything, let me know. The files are created by a template – let me know if you want a copy.

I’m itching to get into the design on some of the pages, I’m in a re-design mood. First things first, get everyone safely moved and working, and then I can play. Since I have 9 webloggers, and 15 weblogs (10 of which are MT), with about 23 domains, I think I have enough to do.

I can’t believe what a difference cleaning out the old Burningbird made – from 3000+ entries down to about 1100 or so. Most of these were drafts never posted, or entries used for the photo blogs. And the new naming system is based on category and title – I don’t care much for the date-based directory.

The kicker is going to be doing a string substitution in the database to replace the old photograph URLs with the new one for mirrorself.com. Can’t do that, though, until the DNS change for the domain makes it through. I have a feeling this is going to be slow, and we’re going to be in for interesting times this week.

DNS. You can see start to see increasing problems with DNS. For those who asked about my prediction for a rough year next year, here’s what I wrote in an email (with some edits):

Why bad? It’s a contentious US election year, with a much more web enabled populace, not only in the US but throughout the rest of the world. More software is being built with holes in it, managed by more web holders who know little or nothing about web technology. ISPs, to stay competitive, are adding more people to individual servers so they can cut costs. And more sites like slashdot and other sites that serve up mass traffic attacks act as a DoS because we just can’t handle any variation in established access patterns. Nothing has room to give.

As more and more webloggers voice an opinion on political issues, or religion, or even spammers, more and more sites will become the targets of DoS attacks. But this doesn’t just burden the site – it burdens the entire system.

Other forms of ‘junk’ connectivity are being outlawed, including junk mail and phone solicitation. The only avenues left to the swarms determined to separate us from our money is door to door, and your computer.

Add to this an increasing privacy issue: with governments becoming more aware of how web enabled their populaces are. My site being scanned by the California tax organization is just one example. And other governments will block, but they’ll use our own paranoia to do so. For instance, some of the original comment spammers had a Chinese IP address, and people were blocking entire networks of Chinese readers because of it.

Which leads to blacklisting. Blacklisting is going to grow as a problem, which means huge blocks of IP addresses are going to get into SPEWs and others lists like this, tainting them so they can’t be used again. IP addressing is enough of a problem now without this.

(Do you know that once an IP is ‘dead’ to a spammer, its released back for some poor old soul to use for their legitimate site? Do you know how long it can take to clear an IP address from all the lists?)

To protect against the bad guys we’re loading our systems down with software that checks this list or that, lists of which are growing exponentially in size. Each of us doing so burdens already over-burdened CPUs on machines holding more and more people, each added to keep costs down in a Net, which is becoming increasingly cheaper to get into, but still being supported on the same architecture that existed years ago.

Used to be you needed to be a smart hacker to cause problems. No longer – not with today’s new user friendly destructiveness. There is DoS software you can download and run without any programming experience. There is software you can get from the W3C that will allow you to post comment spam. And people are hurting themselves – they still won’t stop opening attachments!

How about IM, chat rooms, IRC, moblogging, audio files, video files – do you think that bandwidth grows out of thin air?

We webloggers have to accept that our own actions are adding to the increased burden – very few sites update, check, or send bots out like webloggers. Tell me, how many times were your index.xml and index.rdf files accessed in this last hour? We’re putting significant burdens on the system in comparison to our numbers.

And all of this hits us at our most vulnerable spot – the DNS and the routers.

All in all what we have is a badly educated populace using the Net more and more, buggy software, smarter hackers, and a great deal of overreaction. And just to make things fun – lets put voting online.

I was glad to see I’m not the only one talking about the problems of blacklists by URL or IP – Mark Pilgrim has also covered it, and many of the same concerns I’ve had. (And I love Mark’s new header.)

I’ve already had two ‘poisen pill’ blacklist entries with URLs for weblogs.com and fda.gov. Mark talks about reactions to his writing that are similiar to what I’ve had – why am I saying this negative stuff? Where’s my solutions?

You want a solution? Drop your weblog, sell your computer, have the electrical company turn off electricity to your home, or better yet – move to a cabin on a mountaintop somewhere. Use paper and pen, and get yourself a carrier pigeon – the spammers haven’t gotten to them yet.

I’m not dooming and glooming to scare people away from the Net, but more to get people to realize that comment spammers happen, down times happen, s__t happens – but overreaction just makes it worse.

And knowledge. Knowledge is power in this environment. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to ride the rough tides without getting wet. Speaking of which, I added a new For Poets site: MySql/SQL for Poets.

Back to work. Hoo-rha.

Categories
Just Shelley Photography

Fraud, Fiction, and Flaws

Recovered story. I no longer have the collection, but you can see photos of what once was.

I am a poor collector. All other collectors know the name and origin of their rocks and crystals. Show a spark of curiosity and you’ll also here anecdotal material, history, and even industrial uses of base mineral.

I had the best of intentions when I started my collection. When I’d purchase a new crystal I would ask its pedigree, and diligently record it in my rock ledger. However, over time as the collection grew in relation to my time, I would delay writing down the information until all I could barely remember was the minerals name, and perhaps where it came from.

For a few of my crystals, I don’t even have that. Luckily though, I would usually stumble across the name somewhere and it would trigger my memory and I would say to myself, “Of course!”. For instance, a green crystal, a lovely green crystal. I couldn’t remember the name at all. However, while visiting the well known mineral photographer, Scovil’s, web web site to once again look at and admire his photographs of minerals, I discovered the name of the green mystery mineral. It’s Vivianite.

/photos/viv1.jpg

It’s not a perfect sample, but at least it’s not blackened as so many Vivianite samples are with exposure to light (she says as she looks at her sample, sitting in the sun). Obvious holes in the matrix show where better crystals have been pried loose, probably to be sold separately. Personally, I think imperfections in the piece adds to its character.

I have always collected based on beauty and character rather than value and perfection. Because of my undisciplined approach, my collection is interesting rather than profound. That’s not to say that the collection isn’t worth money — sometimes beauty and character do go hand in hand with monetary worth, as demonstrated with this virtually flawless rhodochrosite.

rhodochrosite.jpg

Still, there are a few of my samples I shouldn’t include in the collection photos because they’re obvious fakes, or novelty items and of no serious value. When you show your collection, you don’t show these rocks. You certainly don’t photograph them.

Mineral collectors will only show you their good pieces, the ones they’re most proud of. However, if you look into their dark corners and hidden drawers, you’ll find their bits of fraud, fiction, and flaws — samples they think about tossing some day, but they won’t. The imperfect pieces, the mistakes, and the fakes add life to a collection. They add history. They make a collection interesting.

For instance, the photo below is of bismuth, which is normally a featureless blobby white/grey mineral. However, put it into a centrifuge, spin it at fast speeds and inject a little oxygen, and viola — you have a beautiful bit of color. No value to it, but I like my eccentric no value pieces. This particular one reminds me of an Escher drawing. You can also use it as a pencil — now, how handy is that?

bismuth.jpg

I have a few frauds, too. My favorite is a hand-sized rock with quartz and appetite crystals in it. I have no doubt about the nature and quality of crystals, but the sample itself is an obvious fraud. I knew it was a fraud when I bought it. I still bought it, and therein lies the value of the rock.

At an outdoor mineral show consisting of tents set up in the parking lot around a rather seedy motel in Tucson, Arizona, I came across one table filled with yellow-green appetite crystals from Mexico. Most were still attached to their rust-red matrix, making the pieces quite pretty overall.

I tried to effect a knowing attitude, but I swear, I must have had rube tatooed on my forehead. The Dealer, an older man who was very gallant to me and kind to my niece (not all that common among the tents if you’re not buying in bulk), sized me up, came to some kind of internal decision, and brought a rock from underneath his table for me to look at — a hand sized piece with a couple of relatively nice appetite crystals in it.

“That’s what you want”, he said in heavily accented English. “That’s good rock. Nice crystals. I give you good deal on it.”

I picked up the rock and looked more closely at the two larger crystals. They were both wedged into the rock but even a cursory examination showed that the crystals were cut at the bottoms and then glued into the rock, with bits and pieces of broken crystal glued around them in an attempt to hid the obvious manipulation. (Crystals in matrix always sell better than those that are loose.)

I looked up at the dealer and he beamed at me, nodding his head, pointing at the rock and kept saying, “Good rock, nice crystals, eh?”

“It looks like the crystals have flat bottoms and aren’t attached to the rock”, I said.

“No, no. This happens sometimes. Pressure on rock force crystals loose, but they held in by rest of rock.” He assured me, shaking his head a modest display of genuine sincerity. “No, this is good rock. Good crystals. I give you good deal.” Pause.

“Fifty dollars.”

I gaped at him. Literally gaped at him, mouth open in astonishment at the chutzpah of the dealer. I held the rock in my left hand, and pointed at the crystals with the index finger on my right hand and just looked at him.

He smiled back, beaming in pride of this treat he was bestowing on me.

“Fifty dollars?”

Beam.

“Are you kidding? This is a fake!”

His smile faltered. A hurt look entered his big brown eyes (before, bright black and alert, now suddenly taking on aspects of one’s favorite dog just before it dies). His age set more heavily on his shoulders and he shrunk in slightly, as if in despair. His body said it all: His son has died; his daughter has run off with a biker. I even thought that, for a moment, I could see his upper lip trembling, and a hint of moisture appearing in the corner of his eye. I watched his change of expression — from certitude to dejection — with utter fascination, and more than a little consternation.

“Madam,” he said quietly. “You wrong me. This is no fake. Please, I would not do such a thing”

Placing his hand over his heart, he lowered his head slightly and pulled away from the table, turning his shoulder away from me as if flinching from a blow. I looked back at him and I realized in that moment, I have met fraud before, but I have not met artifice. And artifice is a ceremony, as precise as the tea ceremonies in Japan — my response was equivalent to not taking off my shoes, spilling the tea, dropping the cup, and then farting when I go to pick up the pieces.

I didn’t know what to do. Putting the rock down and walking away would have flawed the moment and marred the experience, for both me and my young niece who was with me that day. But I didn’t know how to recover.

“I, uh, I’m sorry,” I stammered. “Uhm…I didn’t mean to..uh”

The dealer was not a cruel man; or perhaps he was used to dealing with gauche Americans who buy their goods marked with barcodes and stickers, with heavy assurances of quality. He turned towards me, his face now that of one’s favorite wise old Uncle, the one mother invites to dinner but then hides the booze.

“Madam, I understand. There is so much evil in the world. You must be careful. But see now, I am an honest man. But I am not a selfish man. I will give you this rock, this pretty rock for … forty dollars. It is a steal at forty dollars.”

Shrewd eyes on my face. Next line was mine. I had my opening. I could have put the rock down and say that I hadn’t that much money and I still needed to buy lunch for my niece and thanked him and walked away and the moment would have been salvaged, but it wouldn’t have been right. Besides, the crystals were good if small, and there were some interesting bits to the piece, not counting the ingenious use of glue.

“I’ll give you ten dollars for it.”

“Madam! Ten dollars! You are joking! No, no. Ten dollars. No, no!” He exclaimed in dismay, but he also smiled at me in approval of my response — there was hope for me yet, me with my wits dulled by years of supermarket shopping and sell by dates.

“Thirty-five dollars. I will take thirty-five dollars.”

I was about to counter with fifteen, feeling more confident in this bargaining game when the Dealer picked up another crystal on the table — a small one. A very small one. Barely more than pretty dust.

“And I’ll throw in this lovely crystal for your niece. See? It is a fine crystal. Yes? Good offer?”

“That’s very kind of you,” I said, clenching my teeth at the exclamations of delight from my niece who loves getting something for free even more than she likes sparkly things that cost money.

Artifice.

myfavoritefake.jpg