Archive for December, 2008

confessions of a pedophile

Friday, December 19th, 2008

I was so looking forward to writing this post a couple of months ago. It was going to be dramatic. [Un]Fortunately, the story didn’t turn out as interesting as I thought it might.

Anyway, I acted in a play. Theatre has been a major life-defining interest for me, but for the last few years I’ve been so busy with websites and stuff I haven’t had much time for theatre projects, but I managed to squeeze in Autobahn, my second show in the last three years.

Autobahn is a series of playlets by  Neil LaBute. Each has two characters in a car. In my scene, the characters are described simply as “Man” and “Girl”. During the course of the scene, the audience gets a series of clues about the relationship between the two characters and recent events: The two have been driving continuously for nearly 24 hours. The man is the girl’s drivers ed teacher. They had an altercation earlier in the day where the man dragged the girl away, kicking and screaming, from a rest stop bathroom. They are headed to a remote cabin. As the scene ends, the man… I won’t give it all away.

I played the scene with two different actresses through a five week run. The first actress was a little younger than the script called for— there are clues suggesting that the girl is around fourteen—this girl was ten. We were wondering how the audiences would handle the very sensitive material, particularly with the extra jolt of the younger girl. There was backstage discussion of how playing such a role might affect my reputation in our small community. Would I be shunned, spat upon, or publicly insulted?

Well, our local audiences seem to be better able to tell theatre from reality than some think. I received a smattering of high praise, and quite a few complimentary “oooh, creepy” comments. But nobody got really upset, or at least they didn’t vocalize their upsetted-ness in my presence.

I’m not sure if I’m disappointed or relieved.

petty gripes from a self-employed web master

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

What a frustrating week so far.  My clients’ sites keep breaking, even (especially) when I’m not working on them.

First thing Monday, I was greeted by a message from one of my clients. His shopping cart wasn’t recording credit card data. After a bit of frenzied checking and troubleshooting, I determined that the problem had something to do with the secure connection, and I needed to contact the host (Verve Hosting) to have it fixed. Their reply was that they’d changed servers for the site, and I’d (supposedly) received an email about this the previous week. They also included the path to the new secure server. I hadn’t received the email, and it wasn’t in any of my spam boxes, but at least I now knew how to fix the problem. The fix, once I knew what it was, was fairly easy and just took a few minutes.

But wait… do any of my other sites have the same damn problem? Which of my sites are hosted on the same server? Which of them use the shared certificate? Just one… I think. OK, fixed that one, too.

Tuesday, I’m greeted by an email from another client. His site isn’t working right. It comes up as “forbidden” on one computer, but it’s OK on another. I check it. The home page isn’t coming up, but the inside pages seem OK. I re-upload the home page. All is well. One corrupted file. Simple enough… I thought. Five minutes later, the site isn’t working at all. All of the files are on the server, the database looks fine, but nothing comes up when I try to access the site with my browser. Arg. I contact Verve again. They reply “there was a problem with the dns zone file”. What’s a dns zone file? Does this problem have anything to do with the server change? I dunno, but at least they fixed the problem.

Wednesday, I get a call from yet another client. He can’t add data to a particular table in his database. A script which has worked for thousands of queries suddenly is non-functional. A simple query is suddenly exploding for no apparent reason. I re-write the query using a different syntactic structure. Same result. I try building the query piece by piece. MySql was choking when it encountered the field name “condition”. It turns out, “condition” is a reserved word in the new version of MySql, which the host had just upgraded to. So I change the name of the field. The problem query works now, but what about all the other queries which access the data in this table, or modify it, or delete it? I have to track them all down and change them, too.

Upon further research, I learned that I didn’t really have to change the name of the condition field. I could have surronded the term with `backticks` to make the queries work.  Many db developers think the backtick thang is good practice for all queries. In this particular case, adding the backticks wouldn’t have saved much time, as I still would have had to track down all of the scripts which use that field. But, if I’d been following that “good practice” all along, the problem wouldn’t have happened. The learning never stops.

It’s 3:30 on Thursday, and nobody has told me that their site is broken all day. Good sign.

medical marijuana info

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

I’ve just posted a series of documents of interest to anyone following California’s medical marijuana adventures. Some of these docs are recent court decisions, such as the Kha decision, which relates to law enforcement being required to return improperly seized cannabis, and the Mentch decision, which defines the role of caregiver as it relates to medical cannabis.

There are also documents related to the use of cannabis, such as a method for concentrating CBD (an important medical compound) while eliminating the THC (the most psychoactive compound).

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