websites and stupid assumptions

I just went to a blog and wanted to leave a comment. So the site redirects to blogger.com where I can leave a comment. The site correctly detects I am located in Finland. Very good! That’s so clever! Amazing what you can do these days!

The only problem is that like most of this world (barring around 4-5 million native speakers) I don’t speak Finnish. Not a word. Really, I have a coffee mug that lists pretty much all knowledge I have of this beautiful but incomprehensible language. I haven’t even managed to memorize most of that. And somehow I don’t believe “maksa makkara” (pay the sausage?) is going to help me here.

So, no problem, lots of sites make this mistake. Just click the little “gimme the english version” link that surely must be hidden somewhere …. missing in action. So I check the url …. no obvious way to change fi to en there either. Maybe on the frontpage …. nope, www.blogger.com insists on Finnish as well. So www.blogger.com is unusable for me. Lets just hope it doesn’t spread to the rest of the world. That would be really annoying.

Anyway, this assumption of setting the language based on IP address is just stupid and wrong. First of all, the site should respect my browser settings: doesn’t list Finnish, at all. Neither does my OS. And the browser sends this information as part of the http headers so you can know that my preferred language is US-en. Secondly, Finland is bilingual and for some 500.000 people the right language would have been Swedish. I happen to speak some Swedish at least. And finally any modern country like Finland has a large number of travelers, tourists and migrant workers like me. So not offering a way out is just stupid. Confronting hundreds of thousands of users (just in Finland) with the wrong language when each of them is providing you with their preferred language is even more stupid. Additionally, not offering a link for English is just retarded.

Another Porsche

1/2 TB ought to be enough for anyone. So I bought another one 🙂 For backup, you know.

At 100€, it’s not really something to consider for very long. Data must be safe, so more is better.

Head tracking

I stumbled on two interesting programs that effectively turn my webcam into a head tracking device. The first one is a reasonably priced commercial package called Cachya. They have a trial version available that I installed to play with. The second one is a french open source product freetrack.

Why is this interesting?


(cachya, sightseeing)


(cachya, dogfight)


(freetrack)


(freetrack with a race game)

So, basically this stuff allows you to look around while flying around in your flight simulator. Since I spend quite some time in x-plane that is highly interesting.

Of course I installed both packages.

Freetrack is free but has one disadvantage: you need to attach a bunch of leds to your head for it to work. Since I don’t have any, am not planning a career as a Christmas tree and since the documentation is in French, I didn’t get very far with it. But it’s free and definitely tempting to give another try.

I also tried Cachya. It seems quite nice and doesn’t require any leds. Instead it works with a symbol that you can print out and attach to your cap. You will still look silly of course but not so bad as with a bunch of leds attached to your head. And considering the above videos, I might end up buying it. The only problem is that the trial version so far is not very convincing. A problem is that I have some nasty backlight from the window which tends to confuse it. Also I had lots of issues controlling the demo with my head. So altogether, I’m not quite ready to get my wallet out yet.

Then of course the expensive option is track-ir. This one apparently works but it is quite expensive and you still end up attaching reflectors to your head and connecting a bulky tracking device to your PC.

xampp, skype and port 80

For some time I’ve been considering setting up some php development environment. Not that I like php but I want to play with some php stuff nevertheless (e.g. Drupal seems interesting). So I downloaded one of the popular all in one packages that combine apache, mysql and php: xampp. I have actually set up apache, mysql and php manually once on windows and know that it is A) doable and B) very tedious, hence the integrated package this time.

Xampp sure makes it really easy. Download, install, run xampp configuration tool, start mysql … green, start apache … ???!??!!! WTF, it won’t start. So I go to localhost with the browser, blank page instead of the expected error. So I check my processes list, no sign of httpd. Now this is weird, some process is definitely listening on port 80. So, I run netstat to find out who is guilty of this crime. It turns out that skype is actually listening on port 80 for some stupid reason. That just sucks. Luckily there’s an option in the skype preferences to turn it off but still, don’t open port 80 if you are not a web server.

Anyway, problem fixed and 2 minutes later I’ve created a database using phpmyadmin and installed drupal 5.2 and configured it. That’s just what I wanted: 2 minutes of work and *poof* instant website.

In case you are wondering, yes I am considering to dump wordpress. The reason is the lack of clear progress in getting proper openid, atompub and microformats support in wordpress. You can all sort of bolt it onto a wordpress install but not without editing php and default templates (and this tends to break during upgrades, i.e. every 2-3 months). Drupal seems much more feature rich and configurable than wordpress and it sure is tempting. Concerns I have include import/export of data (including e.g. uploads); openid support; comment & referral spam blocking; etc.

Update.

After playing with drupal 5.2 and a development snapshot of 6.0, I’ve decided not to migrate because simply the migration is too hard currently. There is only a seriously outdated module for drupal 4.7 which can only migrate wordpress version 2.0. In other words, this is unlikely to work for my blog without a lot of tinkering. Additionally, moving from drupal to something else is likely not exactly trivial either. I migrated from pivot to wordpress early 2006. That was quite painless since wordpress has excellent import feature. Drupal lacks such features and wordpress has no Drupal import as far as I know (would be hard due to the generic node datastructure in drupal).

BTW. I’ve spent some time researching the topic. This link here is the most informative I was able to find: http://drupal.org/node/69706. Be sure to also check the comments.

I’ve taken a brief look at joomla too. Interesting product but not really designed for Blogs. Overall, I’m pretty happy with wordpress. It’s just that I want proper openid support.

links for 2007-08-07

links for 2007-08-01