23 September 2007


I've been using the flashblock Firefox extension for a long time. There's nothing more annoying (to me) than going to a Web site littered with a bunch of flash movies which slow the page load, distract me from the important content, or crash my browser. The flashblock extension replaces each flash movie with a link you can click to enable that flash movie, allowing you to enable only the individual movies you want to view.

The noscript Firefox extension disables all JavaScript in your browser. You can temporarily or permanently whitelist Web sites in noscript, allowing JavaScript from the sites you trust. This is a good idea: just start reading some of the stuff at Planet Websecurity if you need convincing.

Unfortunately, the two extensions are incompatible, because flashblock uses JavaScript to replace the movies (and noscript disables JavaScript). Until this week, I'd chosen flashblock over noscript, because my annoyance with flash exceeded my fear of JavaScript. I really can't defend that decision. shrug

But this week I took another look at noscript and discovered that noscript can disable flash in the same way that flashblock does. Looks like the developer(s) added that feature in version 1.1.0 (August 2005). Guess it's been that long since I'd tried noscript (or else I didn't look at the feature list very well). Anyway, I've switched to noscript.


A recent issue of Wired clued me in to dailylit.com. dailylit.com has a bunch of public domain publications (mostly classical literature) which they have carved up into bite-size chunks deliverable via RSS feed. So you can go to dailylit.com, pick a book, and subscribe to it in your RSS reader. You get a post every day (or 3 times a week, or every weekday) which you can read in a couple of minutes. It's pretty cool. I'm reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet (the first Sherlock Holmes story).

There's also the feature that each post comes with a link to tell dailylit.com to release the next post (rather than waiting until the next day). This feature has a caveat if you're using an online RSS reader like Google Reader: although dailylit.com immediately puts the next post in your feed, the post won't show up in your reader until the RSS service checks the feed again (which might take hours).

Be warned that the catalog at dailylit.com isn't nearly as extensive as something like Project Gutenberg. But the selection isn't bad, and it's a neat way to read a book.

17 September 2007

Sirens of Song (Internet radio)

I'd never tried Internet radio, but became interested when I read a recent polishlinux post about how to listen to Internet radio. The post didn't say much about how to find content, so a quick google search yielded www.live365.com. live365 has lots of stations of all kinds of music. I've been enjoying Sirens of Song (which has its own site at www.sirensofsong.com).

09 September 2007

OOXML Monkey in the Wrench

I've been meaning to write about the OOXML nonsense, but just haven't had time. Microsoft failed in its recent (but probably not final) attempt to have OOXML listed as an ISO standard file format. Groklaw has the details of the vote.

The Groklaw article also discusses Microsoft's version of the results--Microsoft tried to spin it as a success. When I first skimmed Microsoft's press release (which I saw on Google News before reading any intelligent analysis), I was fooled into thinking that OOXML had passed.

There has been a lot of criticism of the ISO process, accusations that Microsoft has effectively purchased the votes that they did get. Hopefully ISO can reform some of their processes before the next vote on OOXML (which I think happens in early 2008).

DIY Laser Microphone

At times (can't think of specific examples) I've seen movies (or watched TV shows, or read novels or comic books) in which someone eavesdrops on somebody else by pointing a laser at a glass window separating the speaker and the eavesdropper: the idea is that the speaker's voice vibrates the glass in a way that the laser can detect. I figured that was science fiction, but a recent LifeHacker post suggests that it's possible, easy, and inexpensive. Pretty cool.