Sep 11 2009

Recent Projects: Picasa and ancient breadmakers

Tag: computer,food,recent researches — 3:31 am

How To Make Picasa Index All Of Your Frigging Images, Rather Than Merely The Ones Of Which It Approves

Picasa by default does not index PNGs, GIFs, or TGAs. It indexes, but does not display, pictures of under 250×250 pixels in size. The problem with this is not that this is the default setting – this set-up makes sense for people using the software mainly for photo management, who probably make up most of its user base, and who don’t want Picasa indexing all the GIFs in every piece of software on their machine’s UIs.

The problem is that failures that this causes happen silently. In Windows, when one right-clicks a PNG, GIF, or TGA and selects “Open in Picasa,” Picasa opens, but the image doesn’t. There’s no pop-up to explain this. When one attempts to add such a file to the Picasa index through the “File >> Add file to Picasa…” menu option, it scrolls down to the appropriate folder and behaves as if the file was added. There is no pop-up explaining that it wasn’t.

One can open an undersize image in Picasa by clicking on it in Windows Explorer, but it won’t show up in the directory view. It also won’t upload with the rest of the folder if one attempts to publish to Google Photos.

So, if one (today, one is me) finds that not all the files in a folder are showing up, one doesn’t know why, and assumes the problem to be a bug in Picasa’s indexing. (I would bet that some of the people in this thread are actually having this problem.)

So, to make Picasa recognize PNGs, GIFs, and TGAs:

1) Open Picasa. Go to “Tools >> Options…”

2) Click on the “File Types” tab.

3) Check the boxes for the filetypes you want it to index and click “OK”.

To make it recognize small images, go to “View” and click the menu item “Small Pictures”.

Something else to keep in mind, if you find Picasa still isn’t showing all of your images after doing this, is that it is by default set to detect duplicate photos and only load one – which seems to apply to thumbnails and their larger versions. I found that with duplicate detection turned on, Picasa (version 3.1.0) would about half the time index my thumbnails and then skip over the original version. (The other half it would index the original and skip the thumbnails, which I think is a more desirable behavior.) This, I would label definitively as a bug – it’s just not something you want your image management software doing in any circumstance. The only solution I could find for this was to switch duplicate detection off entirely. To do this,

1) Open Picasa. Go to “Tools >> Options…”

2) Click on the “General” tab.

3) Uncheck the box for “Automatically detect duplicate files while importing.”

Finally, if you were for any reason to want Picasa to show transparent placeholder images of the type used in web design, you’re probably out of luck – I haven’t been able to find any way to accomplish this.

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How To Make Your Elderly Breadmaker Blend The Dough Properly So There Aren’t Big Clumps Of Dry Flour Left In There

1) Remember to actually screw the kneading paddle in there. (Not that I have ever made this mistake more than twice.)

2) Put all the ingredients except the yeast into the basin, and mix them up with a spoon just enough that all the flour is at least damp. Then add the yeast and start the machine.

(This is a Welbilt Baker’s Select ABM6200. If the internet is to believed, it doesn’t even exist.)


Jul 19 2008

Why Yahoo Private Domain Registration Is Not Private

In short:

It’s not possible to either transfer or cancel a domain registered this way without making your personal information public. Yahoo’s description of the service is dishonest about this.

At length:

Continue reading “Why Yahoo Private Domain Registration Is Not Private”


Jul 13 2008

How to Retrieve WordPress Comments Accidentally Marked As Spam

WordPress doesn’t delete comments you mark as spam – they remain in the database to help train the spam catcher. If you accidentally mark a real comment as spam (or, perchance, a whole page of them), and you have access to phpMyAdmin, you can get it back pretty easily.

Standard disclaimers: This is for WordPress 2.5.1 – I don’t know if the database is organized in exactly this way in all previous versions, or whether they’re going to change it in later versions. Don’t do anything big with this without backing up your database, and don’t do it at all if the idea of messing around with MySQL by yourself scares you. I suspect there are plugins that’ll help you with comment recovery out there – go look for one if you’re worried you’ll mess something up. (But back up your database anyway. No, seriously. There’s a plugin for that.)

Continue reading “How to Retrieve WordPress Comments Accidentally Marked As Spam”


Jul 04 2008

How to Get WordPress Working Under PHP safe_mode on NearlyFreeSpeech.net

NearlyFreeSpeech.net does not get along well with a brand-new WordPress installation. The WordPress installation will do stuff like this:

Continue reading “How to Get WordPress Working Under PHP safe_mode on NearlyFreeSpeech.net”


May 07 2008

Recent Researches: How To Tell If The Japanese Post Office ATM Is Closed

Tag: japan,personal,recent researches — 3:32 pm

I don’t think you can! The door is still open! The service window is still open! The machine itself is still turned on! The problem is not obvious until you put your crazy moon country debit card in, and it spits it out at you and says it can’t process the card! It doesn’t say that it’s past ATM bedtime! And then you panic, and you think someone’s got into your card in the forty-eight hours since you ordered those Moomins books, and you’ve only got like 6000 yen in cash, and you email Mom because she probably knows what to do!

Actually, now that I’ve managed to find and use a non-closed post office ATM, I’ve realize there was one other symptom – the button saying “visitor withdrawal” didn’t show up when I clicked through to the English language screen yesterday, which it should have done, and did on my successful withdrawal today. Maybe they close visitor withdrawals extra-early during Golden Week, but leave the other options open until normal-early? It’s a mystery!

In related news, I’m thinking of taking the shower curtain out of my shower because it smells weird.


May 05 2008

Recent Researches: World of Warcraft Registration And Proxies

Tag: computer,recent researches — 5:28 pm

This is what I do with a four-day weekend.

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World of Warcraft Registration Error 202

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Apparently, when you try to upgrade World of Warcraft from a trial to a normal registration using the “Upgrade Online Now” button (possibly also when entering an authentication key), while,

1) using an IP that maps to somewhere far away from the billing address you’re using (say, if your IP says you’re in Japan and your billing address is in Kentucky)

or

2) not on one of the continents supported by the version of WoW you’re trying to set up (say, if you’re in Japan and trying to set up the North American version, or in the US and trying to set up the Taiwanese version)

you’ll get an error message saying “Error 202: We were unable to process your request with the information provided. Please contact our Billing and Account Services team for assistance – (800-592-5499).”

I post this here because if you contact Blizzard about it, you will get an unhelpful form email that doesn’t explain the problem, because their system got creaky and ended up giving this error to lots of non geographically-unconventional people when Burning Crusade came out and their servers couldn’t handle it.

You could theoretically get around this by using a proxy located in the appropriate country. However, there is a problem with this proposition.

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Free Proxies: They Are Probably Not Really Safe

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When someone wants to access something through a proxy, they generally google something like “free proxy” or “web-based proxy,” go to a list like this one, and pick a proxy at random.

This is a short guide written by a middle- or high-schooler explaining how he set up a web-based proxy to steal his classmate’s passwords*, using a piece of free GNU software called PHProxy and a shared hosting account.

I’m pretty sure the kid’s not the only person, or the most technically advanced one, who’s thought to do something like this. Nor do I see any reason to believe that the people running those big proxy directory pages run background checks on the maintainers of every single proxy they list.

(When you’re talking secure connections – the kind over which one generally sends credit card information – I’m not sure at what point the encryption goes into effect (ie, whether or not it’s encrypted before it hits the proxy and only unencrypted after it comes out the other side), but the proposition seems iffy enough that I don’t really feel comfortable attempting it myself.)

If you want a web-based proxy to use at school/work/etc., probably the absolute safest thing to do here is to set up PHProxy or CGI Proxy on your own webspace. Making one of these do SSL right is my new project.

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* How this works: The kid’s school, like many, uses filtering software to keep the kids from playing on MySpace or whatever. One can bypass these filters by using a proxy. The kids will generally find these proxies using one of those huge lists I mentioned above. However, the companies that run the filtering services also look at these lists, and go around blocking the proxies on them as quickly as they find them.

The way out of this arms race is a private proxy not listed on any of these sites and only used by a few people, so that the filtering company never knows to block it. So, Villainous Kid gives all his friends/enemies the address to his private proxy, and off they go.

(Villainous Kid is my new evil hero. This is such a perfect con. It works by taking advantage of its victims’ desire to Do Something Bad! If the victims catch on, they’ll be unlikely to report it because of their guilt over the Something Bad! It subverts the larger authority (y’know, the school) by taking advantage of a policy said authority implemented to make the kids more safe to make them less safe! If the authority catches on, they’ll feel horrible because of course their policy was going to lead to this, and they’re just lucky it wasn’t worse! Blame splatters everywhere and makes everyone all sticky! It’s perfect.)

If I were a school staffer/parent/employer using filtering software, I’d be considering whether it’s really worth the risk, given what people seem to be doing to get around it. If the point of the filters is to make your network/users more secure, I’d say a policy that encourages the use of proxies is counterproductive.

If the purpose is merely to keep them from fooling around on the internet, however, I think you would probably be happiest with a filter in place, for in my childish mind a person opposed to fooling-around-on-the-internet is just the kind of heartless bastard who would be pleased to see a kid lose her savings to a PayPal hacker as punishment for using Facebook at school.