Hobos are Cheap Robots

I've hated, since time began, most web-based "verification" services: those that require you to enter your age, to click a link in a "return email" (or to even enter your email at all), to read some fuzzy letters in CAPTCHA (hopelessly inaccessible), and so on. The topic of verification and login came up in today's development chat of Drupal (the best CMS eveerrrR), and my stance was, simply, that I didn't want to ask for email addresses at all (I don't care for 'em, so why should I even store 'em?), nor perform verification on them. The immediate response was "Well, how will you tell a robot from a human?". My reply was simply:

Vertification with CAPTCHA, or anything else, can be easily broken by waving a twenty at a hobo.

This prompted one person to sway their opinion. There are, of course, many other approaches to the verification issue: for example, "how would you stop duplicate accounts?", to which I'd reply (cunningly and without a solution) that the mass availability of free accounts prevents the email address metric from even being considered.

Drupal developers want to give administrators choices: to allow them to customize the login process as they feel is appropriate, and to streamline it so the user can take advantage of the Drupal goodies as soon as possible. I'm fine with choices: hell knows I love clicking little boxes. But, give me the opportunity to choose no choice at all: to disable email collection and verification of any sort. Then I'll be happy.


World of Warcraft Quest Tracker

I've released a new Perl script today, wowquests.pl: a World of Warcraft Quest Tracker, which collects quest and zone data from Allakhazam's site and tabulates it into a small and compact list, suitable for printing. You can see the quest output for Morbulin, my level 58 Troll Shaman, here. Quests with asterisks next to them, I've completed.

How's it work? Welp, this is largely because I looOove collecting stats. Ever since I started playing World of Warcraft, I've been keeping track of what quests I've finished, on paper. Now, with this script, I just print out the master list, circle the ones I finished, and feed those quest IDs back into the script the next time I run an update (every couple of months or so). Those IDs are then asterisked and counted: so far, I've finished 526 quests available for the Horde.

Yes, there are in-game-client, user-contributed, mods for this. However, none of them allow you to enter in previous quest data, before you started using the mod. So, until I start a new character (probably a blood elf, though, if sbp ever gets on, we'll be Alliance), this is more than adequate. I looVe lists, I do.

Web Apps with Tiger: Backups and Speed

My newest O'Reilly article, Web Apps with Tiger: Backups and Speed has been published. The fourth in a new series with a focus on software for your OS X-served web site, this bit focuses on database optimization and backup, plus speeding up execution of PHP scripts with eAccelerator. As with all my Apache articles, however, this reads equally well for Linux-based installations. Make Mine Morbus!

Upcoming Game Releases

As I wait with bated breath for MAGNA CARTA: TEARS OF BLOOD (November 8th, 2005) and DRAGON QUEST VIII (November 15th, 2005), I picked up Rockstar's new game, THE WARRIORS yesterday. Horrible mistake. Long loading times ("Yes, I know, I died. Can't you cache the damn level?!"), annoying missions ("I just want to FINAL FIGHT shit. Stealth sucks!"), crappy split screens ("HELLO?! I can see Player 2! REMOVE TEH SPLITZERS K TNKS"), pointless announcers ("Yes, I know, I died. Please don't make me listen to your whole spiel before I can choose 'continue'.) and repetitive voices ("I get it! Looking for Maria is an in-joke from WEST SIDE STORY. ROFFLE. Shut the hell up!") do not a fun game make. I'm trading it in today for SOUL CALIBER III.


Our Days are Constant Nightmares?

When we sleep, the assumption is that we dream. Everyone dreams - there's no question about that. It's as much an unspoken assumption as when we breathe, we breathe air. Now, when we have a particularly bad dream, it's called a nightmare. But, when we're awake and mentally wandering off, we're having a daydream. So, if a dream during the day is called a daydream (explicitly using that assumed word dream) and a bad dream at night is called a nightmare, does mare carry the same assumption as dream? If, when we're sleeping, it's assumed we're dreaming then, when awake, is it assumed we're mare-ing? Is it quite intentional that our waking lives are hellish affairs and the demons are merely working overtime?

The mare in nightmare is not a female horse, but a mara, an Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse term for a demon that sat on sleepers' chests, causing them to have bad dreams. Dialect variants ... include the forms mara, mahr, mahrt, mårt, and others. In High German, the demon who causes bad dreams is most often called an Alp, a word that is etymologically related to elf. A mare-induced bad dream is called a nightmare in English, martröð (mare-ride) in Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic, mareridt (mare-ride) in Danish, mareritt (mare-ride) in Norwegian, and Alpdruck (alp-pressure) or Alptraum (alp-dream) in German. (Source: Night-Mares: Demons that Cause Nightmares)

World of Warcraft: Wickerman Festival!

I play World of Warcraft, as does everyone else. For some odd reason, I've just decided "hey! screenshots are fun!" even as those who said that years ago are now groaning in despair. Attached is a screenshot of the Wickerman Festival near Undercity (click on the image for Satan-sized version.) which'll be ending shortly; this is also my submission for this year's Halloween screenshot competition. Wicker man festivals really DO happen in real-life, and have been, for a long, long time. I first encountered them when I watched the insanely excellent THE WICKER MAN many years ago.

World of Warcraft: Wickerman Festival!

Drupal Conversion Notes

A few notes on the Drupal conversion process and design:

  • I'm attempting to do a network-site sorta thing so that I don't have multiple layouts for each of the individual sites - think planetquake.com vs. planetdoom.com. This will be handled via a taxonomy vocabulary (defining the different sites) and/or flexinode types (defining the different types of content for the different sites), which'll determine which stylesheet and images to load. I will probably use the sections.module, though I suspect I'll have to add some custom tweaks. Thankfully, this decision doesn't have to be made right now, since it'll be a bit before I move another existing static section into Drupal.
  • If you want any sort of black background, you will spend a long long time trying to get the admin pages of Drupal (hell, even the menu sidebars with their little graphical widgets) all converted over. This was not something I expected.
  • You'll also notice that I've moved to a liquid design. I realize this is good for viewing accessibility for those with large monitors, but I've always been a fond proponent of "the shorter the line length, the easier it is to read." So you, with the gargantuan monitor, have a blast - I'll go right on resizing my window to a size I feel comfortable with, and now, so can you.
  • If you're seeing this message, you're visiting the new Disobey web host as well. After nearly eight years with my previous host, circumstances led me to move onward, even though it made me quite nervous, jittery, and saddened.
  • I've added the ability to receive email updates. Comments, too. As a negative, a side effect of the tweaked design is that all those crappy automated pre-2001 titles from the Blogger to Movable Type conversion years ago are now front and center in bright red and white. And, even before that, the conversion from handwritten to Blogger left lots of little one-sentence posts that I never merged properly. One of these days, I'll fix it. Uh huh. Seriously. I have, however, had quite a blast reading over my old entries. Too much linkrot though.

Let me know if there's anything I've missed, eh?


Drupal Conversion In Progress

Browser-based visitors may have noticed something has changed: I am in the gigantic process of switching eight years of webbery over to the Drupal content management system, whilst still maintaining some semblance of anti-linkrot and anti-clean. After spending too much time deliberating, I decided to simply jump in, and crazily so. Thus, you can expect many many things to be broken. Don't hesitate to send me an email.

Web Apps with Tiger: Security and MySQL

From Kevin Hemenway, O'Reilly Network:

In this, the second part of "Web Apps with Tiger," Morbus focuses on protection. He'll replace the default PHP configuration with a more secure version, and explain some of the differences. Finally, he'll install MySQL and run through its own security tweaks. Read more from this post.

Web Apps with Tiger: Getting Started

From Kevin Hemenway, O'Reilly Network:

Morbus is back with more web serving tools and tricks, updated for Mac OS X Tiger. In this first article, he'll take you on a whirlwind through the basics: turning on the Apache web server, learning a teensy bit of its configuration, then enabling and testing PHP. Read more from this post.


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