Sunday, March 27, 2011

Website: Ctrl-Alt-Bkspc’s new sidebar, more bug reports, and minor layout changes

Another day, another update to the website. Here’s what’s new:

<Ctrl><Alt><Bkspc>’s new sidebarScreenshot of CAB Sidebar


When I updated the sidebar for my website last spring, one section that didn’t get the treatment was my webcomic, <Ctrl><Alt><Bkspc>. Part of that was because I was having trouble configuring it so it looked reasonably OK, and I didn’t want to hold up the update for all the other pages.

A few months later, and it’s here! Every page contains handy links to the RSS feed, my Twitter account, and the comic’s Facebook page, and the front page contains links to various voting portals (because TopWebComics isn’t the only one out there.)

(Oh, and <Ctrl><Alt><Bkspc> now has a Facebook page!)

There’s a few more things in the pipe for <Ctrl><Alt><Bkspc> (including actual comics :p ), so hang tight!

Bug Reports layout updateScreenshot of a bug report with the new style


Let’s face it, the various pages in the Bug Reports section were looking pretty terrible and bland. So with some generous tabling (what, it’s tabular data!) and a sprinkle of CSS (see below), the pages are certainly looking a lot better than before.

24 new bug reports submittedScreenshot of the list of bug reports

I’ve just submitted twenty-four new bug reports into the system, and updated information for two more. Why would I voluntarily do this, you may ask?

  • Transparency: I want to keep people who use my products in the loop, and to let them know that yes, I know about these problems, and yes, I’m fixing them.
  • Encouragement: I hope that by submitting bug reports myself, I can encourage others to do the same. I want to know about your problems with the product, so I can fix them – but I can’t do that if you don’t tell me!

Tables style updateScreenshot of a table with the new style

Tables now look a heck of a lot better, with borders, blue headers to match the headings on the rest of the site, and a whole lot more padding than before.

New RSS iconrss

The old one was in pretty dire need of a makeover, so there’s now a new icon to take its' place.

Over the next few weeks I plan to do more (and potentially bigger) updates. I’ll let you know when that happens.

Updated 14/07/2013 to fix broken links.

Monday, March 21, 2011

How A Simple Bug Creates A Larger Problem: The Logoff Bug in Software Updater (Or: The Perils of Using e.Cancel in a FormClosing)

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Is Charlie Sheen Crazy? I Don’t Think So

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past week, no doubt you’ve heard about Charlie Sheen’s recent interviews with various news stations. So, always wanting to get the full picture, I decided to watch the full interviews myself.

(The interviews I watched: 20/20’s “In His Own Words” [parts one, two, three, four, five, six], MSNBC’s Today Show interview [parts one and two], and the Piers Morgan interview [part one, two, three and four]. The Piers Morgan one is especially good, since it's the only one of these interviews that were both live and unedited.)

And you know what? If Sheen is crazy, insane, or otherwise psychiatrically unfit or unwell, I’m not seeing it.

It’s quite clear to me that he was joking around a lot in all those interviews. The fact that people are taking it as if he’s being serious, that they think he’s having a mental episode, is in my mind beyond bewildering, especially considering that when he’s actually seriousness in those interviews, it doesn’t sound crazy at all.

The man obviously does not believe he has tiger blood and Adonis DNA, or that he’s on a drug called Charlie Sheen, or that he actually has magic in his fingers, and I don’t think he was “banging 7g rocks” either. His new catchphrase “winning” doesn’t seem any different to, say, How I Met Your Mother character Barney Stinson’s obsession with the word “awesome” – in fact, many aspects of his interviews seem to share traits with the character. Do we take Stinson seriously when he’s obviously not? Of course not!

The tone, the way Sheen said those things, was so obviously a jocular manner that the way the media (and psychiatrists) has latched on to it is the only crazy thing about this.

Let’s face it, if his comments were scripted for Two and a Half Men, we wouldn’t bat an eyelid. If someone in a bar said as a pick-up line or says to his girlfriend “I’ve got tiger blood flowing through my veins”, we wouldn’t present the person making them as manic or crazy. If this was part of a stand-up routine, we’d be fine with it.

And If these were any other interviews, we’d take them as witty comments and leave them at that.

But no, Sheen just got rehabilitated for drugs, so it’s got to be some kind of withdrawal symptoms, or maybe they were driving him mad, or something. The way the media is psycho-analysing the man is sickening to watch, and even more sickening is the way the public is lapping it up.

Part of the problem are the medical experts weighing in. 20/20 got leading expert on mental health and head of the Hazelden Foundation, Omar Manejwala, to review the full recorded material without cuts, and he said that Sheen could either be suffering withdrawal or having a manic episode. Unless the crazy parts were cut out of the interviews (and why would they do that?) I can’t see it at all. Sure, I’m not a leading anything, but I honestly can’t see where the guy’s coming from.

I think part of the problem is that the media is asking psychiatrists What’s wrong with Sheen rather than Is there anything wrong with Sheen or What’s the likelyhood of these diagnoses being accurate, or How likely is this a mental episode rather than just something normal, and they therefore are pressured into analysing Sheen with the presumption that something is wrong, rather than analysing if there is, in fact, anything wrong. Additionally, there’s pressure to maintain the consensus (that Sheen is crazy) rather than have the potential to be ridiculed.

Is Charlie Sheen crazy? Does he need psychiatric help? I don’t know for sure. Do I think Charlie Sheen is crazy? Not in the slightest, or at least, no more crazy than the rest of us.

Searching the web, I’ve found I’m not alone in this opinion. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly:

“I don’t think you sound that crazy at all,” said Morgan. And indeed, Sheen came across as an intelligent, complicated man — jumpy and a yammerer, to be sure, compulsively rephrasing nearly every sentence he uttered, but by no means out of control or incoherent.

As noted above, Piers Morgan himself felt that Sheen wasn’t crazy, and he’s one of the few people who know Sheen; the two go back almost a decade. He points out that about 80% of the stuff he said then was non-serious joking stuff too, and I get the feeling he doesn’t get the media reaction either.

Marissa Foglia, who writes a blog called “Confessions of a Clever Wordsmith”:

I do not see a man who has lost his mind.

What I do see is a man who is well-aware of every word he speaks, every point he makes. His injections of verbal passion and honesty are surely overwhelming for most people, but I get it. Yes, that scares me, but only a pinch.

I see a man who speaks with no filter…something the general public are not used to. Someone who, God forbid, is 1,000% real and honest about what he TRULY believes and stands for. And there’s nothing wrong with that. He should not be judged on his words, no matter how outlandish. He should not be judged on his beliefs, no matter how much you may disagree.

Robert Pattison and "The Cynical Christian" of PoliPundit apparently both think Sheen's awesome crazy, not insane crazy, for what that's worth.

So I don’t think Charlie Sheen is crazy, and there are other people out there who don’t think he’s crazy either. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Thoughts on Christchurch

This past week, many New Zealanders played witness to the worst natural disaster they have seen in their lifetime.

Few are alive that remember the Nelson earthquake, the only earthquake in New Zealand similar in destruction and loss of life. So will few recall the Tangiwai disaster, in which a lahar destroyed a rail bridge off of Mt. Ruapehu, causing the second-worst transport-related disaster in New Zealand history. The sinking of the Wahine was long before my time, and I only know of it from reading about it, as with the tragic loss of life at Mount Erebus. All these disasters now live only in textbooks, and in the memories of the generation that lived through them.

I’m not comparing or demeaning the loss of life in any of those disasters. All of them are equally tragic, and many of us would give anything for the people who died in them to have lived their lives normally.

However, I feel that the 2011 Christchurch earthquake will be our generation’s disaster in New Zealand. It’ll be the disaster that we will have the most emotional attachment to, because we were there, because we remember it.

I’m not going to go into the details of the quake itself here, mainly because there are many publications that have done a much better job than I could. However, I will share a few of my thoughts.

We’ve heard much news over the past week. We’ve heard happy stories, like the woman who protected her son from a falling air conditioning unit, or the girl who walked out of the window of the CTV building as it crumbled around her. Someone survived being crushed in a bus by talking with one of the rescuers. The woman who rushed to her husband’s workplace and waited for him until he was pulled out and ran into her arms. The pair who survived the quake and got married in the week following. The happy chances that make this bearable.

We’ve also heard stories of tragedy. The man who tried to rescue someone else in the street from a pile of bricks, only to be killed by falling debris. The woman who got her family out of a superette, only to rush back for her phone and then get crushed when the building collapsed. The baby squashed by a falling television set. The groups of exchange students who were in the CTV building at the time, of which only half have been recovered alive. These are the stories that show how co-incidence is a cruel mistress. It makes survivors wonder what could have been if only they’d been in their loved one’s place, and brings sorrow to the rest of us, as well as reminding us of the fragility of life, and that death can come from anywhere.

The probability is high that we have all met or know someone who was in Christchurch at the time of the quake.

I knew someone who used the nom-de-plume Adaminator1. He frequented a chat room I visit often, but he hasn’t visited since the day before the quake. Though I only knew him for a few months, I have to be honest – I’m frightened. I fear for his safety.

I fear for everyone’s safety.

But we must be strong. We need to help, in any way we can. Even if it’s not directly, even if we give our best wishes to those who live in Christchurch still. They need our words of comfort and support, now more than ever.

We must show Christchurch that, although they may feel it, they are not alone. We must show them they have New Zealand behind them. We must show them they have the entire world behind them.

We must stand together as one people. Whether it be in mourning, in support, in remembrance, or in guidance, we must not let Christchurch stand alone.

We must stand as one.