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So typing in that annoying code before posting a comment was a pain in the ass part of the body. In fact, it was not enough to stop spam, so not long ago I added a vaguely fun (or not, for some people) math entry plug-in as well. Both of those, together, were enough to stop all the spam I was getting.

But I love convenience and ease of use, so I will be trying a few new services to automagically capture spam and do away with it. I do not know how well these supposedly transparent items will work, so if you notice anything strange or confusing or if comments don’t seem to be getting through, let me know. (I will still be able to see your comments if they are caught as spam, so do try.)

If the plug-ins don’t work, I will, sadly, have to bring the numbers back into play.

Thank you for your patience, understanding, and love of fine cheeses.

Permalink Comments Off on Design Mea CulpaComments Off on Design Mea Culpa By

This post started as a small note at the end of the previous post, the one regarding MacBooks. But it grew quickly, like a weed on the side of the highway, demonstrating with utter clarity my absurd attention to useless detail. (Though, really, I think it’s not at all useless, otherwise I would not have written so much about it or care about design as deeply as I do.)

I had formatted my parts of the MacBook IM post in blue, and boy, did it look nice! It was obvious who was talking, and pretty, too! However, I keep forgetting that the design of the Forum is such that anything in that light blue is a link. I have posted stuff before where I have made plain text that same blue because it looked all pretty, but that was wrong, since that color is reserved for links.

This takes me back to another IM I had with Chuck as I was designing the new Wren Forum. Chuck did not like underlined links from a design standpoint. I thought it was a good concept, since anything underlined on the Web is, as everyone now knows, a link to something else. You can do anything you want with the text, color- and font-wise, but no matter what it looks like, if it’s underlined, it’s a link. Simple. Ugly at times, perhaps, but simple and, once grasped, intuitive.

So why didn’t I design The Wren Forum with underlines? Because style won out. Every link in the sidebar (Latest Musings, Categories, Wren Peeps, etc.) would have been underlined. In one of the first designs, I did this, and it was a mess! So I decided to do away with the established norm. A bad idea for ease of use, definitely. To compensate, though, I decided that all the text links in the Forum would be the same light blue color. Any text that color would be a link. Anyone visiting the Forum would soon be able to figure this out at least subconsciously. To keep the light blue links tied with the expectations of most Web users, the links change color on mouse rollover, and the underline reappears to assure the user that they have, in fact, rolled over a link.

Excellent. So it is. And I like it. Except that I have fudged on my own design standard in one place: The top link bar (About The Wren Forum, FAQs, etc.). Since I’m on a roll, I might as well explain that to you as well.

See, the links in that bar can not be my blue link color because they will not stand out enough from the bar’s background color and would therefore be hard to read. The solution, of course, was to make the background bar the same darker blue as the other blocks of blue in the Forum. But, once again, I chose looks over propriety. Having yet another bar of that very same color made the site that much more dull to look at. Having one bar of lighter blue ads a nice dimension to the look of the site. I have justified this change from my own convention this way: The top link bar is, upon glancing at it, different from the rest of the Forum. The text items in the bar are topics and suggest linkage. Therefore, the lack of the light blue is not detrimental, and the links still become underlined on rollover to confirm that they are, indeed, links.

I offer this all up as a sort of apology to those who believe, as I do, that user interfaces (which is what the entire Wren Forum is) should be clean, consistent within themselves, obvious, and, in the end, nice to look at. While I am okay with having dropped the underlined links because most nicely-designed sites have since done so and have, therefore, created a new expectation of Web users, I am less happy with my white text links at the top and my lapses in text formatting on some of my past posts.

I hope you can all forgive me and find mercy in your hearts for my wayward choices.

Permalink Comments Off on Intellectuals and Poor ChoreographyComments Off on Intellectuals and Poor Choreography By

Today brings two items of interest.

First, a nice essay by Aaron Swartz, who always writes so well. It’s called “What It Means To Be An Intellectual.” Using Aaron’s concepts and definitions, I am proud to discover myself an intellectual, as I enjoy both contemplating items of minutiae such as the stylistic quirks of Manga and a change in the federal highway sign font, and subjecting others to such contemplations through fiendishly clever and well-worded writing. (You may or, more likely, may not be interested in knowing that while in Austin this past weekend, I saw Clearview in use everywhere and, as expected, it was just simply no good.)

If the discussion of such trivialities are no good for you, then perhaps you will enjoy this, a delightfully horrible music video from the ’70s. There is no intellectualism at work here AT ALL.

Permalink Comments Off on Upgrade Time!Comments Off on Upgrade Time! By

For Your Information: I will be upgrading WordPress (the underlying structure of The Wren Forum) to a very new version, 2.0. While this is happening, some of the wonderful features you’re used to, such as spell check and live preview, will be turned off. If things go horribly awry, I’ll go back to version 1.5.2.

UPDATE: Well, that went well, though many fancy additions I’d included are not working. I’ll have to get on that tomorrow. However, there are many wonderful new features behind the scenes, so if you write posts here, have fun!

It seems the short film David and I made (yes, Food Code), was referenced in a 2004 review of the original movie, Timecode. The problem is that the review is in Spanish.

Putting it through the trusty Google translator, you get this:

Despues de Timecode, Mike Figgis remained with the desire to make another “brilliant analysis” of its own universe and I make Hotel (2001) an extension of Timecode, about madness to make a film of high budget and what all the equipment of production must support, presenting/displaying a documentary one to us of the tape that is being made. The concept presented/displayed in Timecode already quickly was copied in several cases: in the series of television 24, in a cortometraje that tried to parodiar it call Food Code (Steven Lekowicz and David Melito 2000) or a video of the group of Mexican rock Arizona.

I can not tell for sure, but it seems we’re being dissed. Are we being dissed? Are they dissing us? They’re dissing us.

Well, if anyone speaks Spanish and can properly translate, I’d love to know so I can be properly insulted.

It’s that time again… Time for me to point out some of the fine newer features of The Wren Forum. If you have any thoughts on them, good or bad, leave a comment here!

Latest Musings! That handy list in the sidebar will take you to the most recent posts. That’s more handy than a Swiss Army knife!

Categories! I have painstakingly added category tags to all past Wren Forum posts. Now, just by clicking a link in the Categories box in the sidebar, you can view all posts listed in a certain category. Or if you’re as lazy as I am, subscribe to the RSS feed for that category so you won’t miss a single one of my Bush rants! (I was hoping for a drop-down list to keep the Categories box small, but no good code or plug-ins are available. If I ever find one, this will change.)

Search Posts AND Comments! I found a plug-in that will search comments as well as posts. It takes longer, but I feel it’s worth it. Don’t you?

Live Comment Preview! This has been up for a while, but I had to point it out. The little line break glitch aside, this will be very handy for previewing any HTML you add for links or text formatting. And despite fears, this is not live on the site itself until you post it.

Spell Check Comments! Why should posters have all the fun? (A question asked by many a banner, postcard, and leaflet.) Now anyone submitting a comment can see just how atrocious their spelling really is.

Spam Security! Behind the scenes, I have already been receiving lots of comment spam. Luckily, it is caught before appearing on the site, but to make sure it never gets to my approval box in the first place, I have added a code thingy. Sadly, it’s one more step to contend with, but on the plus side, if I find it works well, I will get rid of the comment moderation so comments will be posted immediately in the future.

Now with Stain Fighters! Spill your Coke and Ragú all you want. The Wren Forum is moisture-resistant and colorfast!

Hello friends. I’ve been working on fine-tuning the Forum, and I simply had to point out a couple of the new improvements.

Check Your Spelling! You can now check your spelling in the Write Posts area. How groovy is that? (I used it just now, in fact.) I have not found a good spelling checker to use while writing comments, but the checker will work when editing comments.

Recent Posts! A list of the most recent posts is now in the sidebar so your brilliant rant will still be easily accessible, even when pushed down the page by useless posts like this one.

Comments Links Go to Comments! Clicking Comments in the header of a post brought you to the post’s page, but not to the comments on that page. This is now fixed. I hear cheering from many lands.

Modifications Noted! Now, if a post is changed after a certain time from the original posting (currently set to 6 hours), an Updated date shows up at the bottom, to the right. It’s beautiful. (This snazzy feature can not be added to comments due to a limitation in WordPress.)

Advanced Photo Tips! In the Adding Pictures to Posts page, there’s new info on how to create padding between the picture and text, and how to make a thumbnail picture open the full-res photo in a separate browser window. WARNING: Contains jargon!

Now Smoother and Creamier! Using a new blend of emulsifiers, The Wren Forum is now 60% creamier than before, with less chunks and lumps. Throw those forks away!

Permalink Comments Off on Oh, That’s What Ebullience Means!Comments Off on Oh, That’s What Ebullience Means! By

So a quick thanks to Robb for the kind words and the link! And for the laughter! And the tears!

For the record, while I do see the definition that Robb found for ebullience on my Mac here, the following is the one I used when choosing the word for The Wren Forum:

“The quality of lively or enthusiastic expression of thoughts or feelings.”

That came from an old-fashioned dictionary, with paper pages. It’s 12 years old, so perhaps an “archaic” needs to be added before that definition.

The other definition is “cheerful and full of energy.” Well, “cheerful and full of energy” certainly fits, huh?

Well, gents and gams, here it is. The love of over two weeks of labor. Headaches involving such arcane essentials as CSS, MySQL, PHP, and .htaccess files have all been hammered together to create this new and, I hope, attractive ranting platform.

I am very proud of this beast. Too proud. I should be locked away, I’m so proud. I am especially tickled that all the old Wren Forum posts are here, as well as the comments. This took a lot of work, and I want to thank Ben Lee for his help on this. He got the dates properly converted from one data type to another, which was challenging.

New and exciting features include: A Forum-only search box (it won’t find who wrote something, though—use the Wren Writers area for that); RSS feeds for new posts, new comments, comments to specific posts, or posts by specific authors; TrackBack, which allows you to create a link to and from your own site; Permalinks, so you can link to a post for good; Archives by day, month, author, and more; Multiple pictures per post; and on and on.

ANYONE can comment on posts, but the new format requires that anyone wanting to write actual posts register for an account. Really, all this requires is a user name and an e-mail address, and you’re good to go. For now, as soon as you register and receive your password e-mail, you can post. If security becomes an issue, I may have to add an approval step, but I hope to not have to do this.

If you see your name in the Wren Writers area, it means you already have an account and can write posts. (Click on your name to see everything you’ve written!) I’ll be sending out info with how to log in later today—if I have your e-mail address. People like Rodney, who I know only through the forum, will have to ask me for their info or create a new account and I’ll port all their posts to the new account (though this is hard to do, so please e-mail me). You can e-mail me at if you want to get the info privately. (Put [The Wren Forum] or Groovy in the subject or it won’t get through!) If you want to write posts and have not written before, just click Register in the Wren Control box, and you’ll be done in no time! You can change your password and all info once you have an account. Your e-mail will never appear anywhere on the site.

Many other topics are covered in the FAQ page. The link is under the Wren Forum banner logo.

I have many things to tweak yet, but the Forum is good to go. Have at it! Have fun! Try it out! Put it through its paces! And please let me know if you have any comments, issues, problems, or chocolate.


I have to announce that the brand new Wren Forum is ALMOST DONE! The design and navigation all work, as do the RSS feeds and links! It’s so exciting.

Before I open it up, however, I have to do two things:

1) Set up the account structure. I hope to leave the comments area open to everyone, but to post your own stuff, like you can now on the Wren Forum, I have to get some kind of accoutn system set up.
WordPress does this already, it’s just a matter of me figuring out how it works.

2) Transfer the old Wren Forum posts and comments. This will be complicated, but I believe that once I figure out how both databases are structured, I will merely have to re-name the elemetns in a duplicate of the old one, and off we go. If I wait to do this until later, I’m afraid I’ll end up deleting any new posts that show up in the new Forum.

That’s the scoop! I really want to post a link so you can preview it, but I htink I’ll just wait until it’s all done and ready to go. I am, as you can see, too excited.

Permalink Comments Off on New Spam Already?Comments Off on New Spam Already? By

So get this:

I finally found a WordPress theme that was close to what I want to use for the new Wren Forum, and I’ve been altering it today. Somehow, during my altering, I got spam posts in the comments. Already! The new forum has been up on my site, just with no links to get to it, but I suppose a bot found it or followed me there and left two spams.

And so it begins anew…

Permalink Comments Off on Lookie Here!Comments Off on Lookie Here! By

Just a note that I have finally made two new entries to the Forum. Just now! Lookie lookie!

Oh, okay, three new entries. Stickler.

Permalink Comments Off on Password… No PasswordComments Off on Password… No Password By

Well, gents and ladies, my database was hijacked yet again. I wanted to set a password for posting, but it only works with comments, not with posts. Now, why is that considered a helpful feature?

Man, I GOTTA get the new Wren Forum up and running!

Permalink Comments Off on Never You MindComments Off on Never You Mind By


Earlier today, there was a message here about needing to use a password to post comments (but not original posts). Ignore that now. I am trying something where you don’t need to bother with a password but spammers will, hopefully, stay away.

Thank you for your interest and time.

It’s a small triumph, but I finally fixed the off-kilter “o” in the Click to Add button at the top of the page. Photoshop was not rendering it correctly, so I had to do a manual tweak…

What? What was that? You had never noticed? Oh. Well, I did. And it drove me fruitin’ batty! [NOTE: The new Wren Forum has no such button, so no, you’re not going crazy.]



I can’t believe I missed it, but The Wren Forum is one year old! As of May 6th, this little part of my site has been up for a year.

What does one buy a website as a gift? More storage? Faster servers? A Spam sandwich?

I liked your site, really informative website, some good links too. [Name Removed for Everyone’s Protection] old and rare books. BOOKS AND MEMORABILIA including literature, performing arts, first editions, Pacificana, sport, cricket, music, antiques, military, shipping, aviation history, art, craft, Australian, old postcards.

spamidiot’s old books
Permalink Comments Off on France! LIVE is DoneComments Off on France! LIVE is Done By

Well, that’s it. France LIVE! is finished. Oh, except for the tweaks I plan to make. It needs a once-over to fix spelling errors and factual problems. But it’s done!

I think I went overboard this time, writing way too much. But hey, it’s my webspace, I guess. Why not post something I’ll remember forever? Until nuclear destruction wipes out everything electronic? In that case, we’ll all be too busy scrounging for food amongst the ruins of civilization to much care what kind of pastry I ate in Paris.

Hoo ha! Well, thank to anyone who read it. I had fun doing it!

Permalink Comments Off on Hackers’ RevengeComments Off on Hackers’ Revenge By

Man, oh, man! The hackers did something really weird this time! There was a “too many users connected” page that came up instead of the Forum. When I went to check my databases, they were gone! The only backups available were the hacked databases.

Panic time!

I sent in a help ticket, then, for fun, I tried deleting one of the dozen or so new database user accounts that had been created. That did something, ’cause then my databases were back and the page was up again.

But I’m now afraid there’s been some kind of back door opened into my database and one of those remaining user accounts can be used to get to the Forum. What the hell?

Well, I have started work on a more robust and, hopefully, secure Wren Forum. It’s complicated to change the CSS page to get the design how I want it, so it may take some time.

This is all so annoying!

Permalink Comments Off on France! LIVEComments Off on France! LIVE By

I’m gonna do it. Yes, friends, I’m a nut-job. I’m gonna do the travelogue again for my trip in Paris, April 7–20.

Happily, the page is up and ready to go, so please stop by often and see what’s happening in good ol’ Pahree.