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September 22, 2006

Checking in
Posted by Patrick at 11:56 PM * 41 comments

It’s possible that, after a ten-hour interruption, you can now post a comment to Making Light.

More later. Right now, sleep.

Comments on Checking in:
#1 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 12:07 AM:

Yes! It works.

#2 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 12:12 AM:

Hah! It wasn't just the world sulking because it was raining!

#3 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 12:27 AM:

And I just thought that you all had gone off to the Montreal de jour.

p.s. "view all by" is broken, so I couldn't steal an accented "e" from Mike Ford.

#4 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 12:29 AM:

Actually, xeger, it was the world sulking, but Patrick continued the beating until moral improved.

#5 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 12:34 AM:

I kinda wondered.... after four days of heavy labor pushing electrons up the hill from 8-5 with a short lunch in the middle, today I had 1/2 hour of real work and a day catching up on filing and my few blogs.

It seemed kinda slim on posts after about 1. CDT. But then I'm kind of fried.

#6 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 02:59 AM:

Mr. Houghton, if you want an acute accent (right-leaning), try alt-0233 for . If you want a grave accent, try alt-0232 for . This isn't the table I have copied into a notepad file, but it's got most of them.

#7 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 03:12 AM:

Aha! This is the table I have copied. This time I put the URL into my file, too.

#8 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 03:37 AM:

#4 ::: John Houghton updated me:
Actually, xeger, it was the world sulking, but Patrick continued the beating until moral improved.

(with apologies) Will he also read Tom Swift and The Boy's Own Paper to the world?

#9 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 07:11 AM:

And Making Light evades the secret police yet again.

#10 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 07:48 AM:

Important blog navel-gazing:

The following makes no sense to me:

"Our readers are the best thing about this weblog. If youre not reading the comments, youre missing half the fun."

How can only *half* the fun be the best thing about this weblog?

Why isn't the other half of the fun an equally good thing (in which case the comments are no longer best, merely tied)?

Why aren't there other good things in addition to the fun, in which case the other half of the fun, when added to the other good things, would be the best thing, instead of the comments?

This I could understand:

1 the comments are 3/4 of the fun.
2 There is no good other than the fun.
3 The comments are the best thing.


1* the comments are half the fun
2* in addition, they are the exclusive repository of all the other good-making properties in this blog (and there are some)
3* the comments are the best thing.

But as it stands? I just don't get it.

#11 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 08:01 AM:

kid bitzer: I counter your navel gazing with geekery. Consider an ordered list of items 1, 2, ...; let the kth item in this sequence represent 1 / 2^(k+1) of the fun of the blog. Thus, the first item is 1/2 the fun; not a majority, but clearly the most significant given that items 2, 3, ... are 1/4, 1/8, ... of the fun.

This is also known as "how to win an election with a minority of the votes."

#12 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 08:01 AM:

Welcome back.

W/r/t your LJ post on the subject of your difficulties with your ISP...

Sorry for the dumb, perhaps nosey question, but other people may be wondering about this too...

Do you do ML the way you do (i.e., run your own blog software on the, um, difficult ISP's machines) because of the volume of traffic? That is, is it economically prohibitive to just do a Typepad-type deal which would give you less control over the look/feel of the blog, but would maybe make your life easier?

Not that Typepad or others like it are even close to perfect, but if the way you are doing it now is wearing you out, maybe shifting to a situation where others are doing more of the work might help?

I don't know much about how you are actually set up now, nor do I grasp the economics of the thing, so I'm perfectly prepared to be told this question is even dumber than it seems to me.

#13 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 08:12 AM:

Your error, Kid Bitzer, lies in thinking that there are only two elements: the comments and the not-comments. But there are several elements composing the not-comments, and while together they add up to half the fun, each fractional element of the not-comments is only a proportional fraction of the fun. Hence, taking "best thing" to indicate a plurality not a majority, the comments are the best thing.

Next: does "best thing" equal "most fun"?

#14 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 08:32 AM:

Mr. Houghton, if you want an acute accent (right-leaning), try alt-0233 for . If you want a grave accent, try alt-0232 for .
No more "right-leaning" acute accents for me. I'm a bleeding-heart liberal, and proud of it! If I must accent things, I'll accent them gravely. To hell with typographical correctness.

#15 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 08:33 AM:

Okay, so parse it as:

"the fun of the comments, while perhaps no more than half of the overall goodness of the blog, is nevertheless the single largest non-composite good-possessor, and thereby the best *single* thing."

All the other good-making properties, including the other half of the fun, are distributed around into various non-agglomerating constituencies.

Yeah, maybe I'll accept that.

But then I might counter: "sure, by skipping the comments I'm missing the best *single, non-composite thing* in the blog. But I can still gain over half of the good of the blog by:

1) collecting the other half of the fun from the other sources;
and combining that with:
2) the other sources of non-fun good (assuming there are non-fun goods such as information, political enlightenment, moral edification, etc.)

might require more trawling, filtration, and assembly.

But at least I wouldn't have to read the comment-section (ughh!)

#16 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 08:35 AM:

Hmmm. There's a bumper-sticker that I'd display:
Jesus Christ is a bleeding-heart liberal

#17 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 10:17 AM:

kid bitzer:

By not reading the comments, you'll miss things like the nuclear ice cream and the roasted pygmy mammoth.

Hi, Patrick. I was wondering where everyone else was! (But I got more work done than I otherwise might have, so it was good anyway.)

#18 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 10:23 AM:

Glad to see it's back, though for most of the ten hours I was, ahem, sleeping. Most of the rest of the time, I've been marking student essays. I have learned, inter alia, that "Federalism has been looked at with scrutiny for many years by the people of Germany and The United States." Also that "Unlike American government, Germany adopted democracy after the Nazi rule." I am continuing to look at these essays with scrutiny, and trying to find out about Nazi rule in the United States.

#19 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 10:40 AM:

"By not reading the comments, you'll miss things like the nuclear ice cream and the roasted pygmy mammoth."

right. Which for many people would be two good arguments for not reading the comments.

but I assumed that my shudder of disdain at comments threads would be easily seen to be tongue-in-cheek, given that I was writing it *in a comments thread*. Sorry not to have been clearer.

#20 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 10:53 AM:

The problem with using direct character codes like Alt-0232 is that you're depending on the remote machine to have that character at that position in the current display font. They *should* be reconded into HTML numerical entities, but why take the chance? In places where you don't have an alternative, it is better than nothing. But here, on the Intarthingy, we have HTML. More importantly, we have HTML entites.

HTML entites are defined by starting with an ampersand and ending with a semicolon, thus, &foo; is theoretically an entity. What you put in the middle is the magic. "¥" gets you ¥. Δ gets you Δ, but δ gets you δ. See the difference? Yes, it works for α through Ω.

Many of them are simple to remember. UK Currency is £ (£). Those of you who have deal with character escape issues are wondering about the ampersand, it's "&", and yes, I typed "ampersand a m p semicolon a m p semicolon", insert the great "and and And and" sentence here. Typophiles will be happy to hear about —

The reason for this whole digression is that HTML capable browsers will work with you to make sure the character shows correctly. You don't have to assume that 0232 is the magic cookie for an acute accent on an it. You'd use either &eacture; or &Eactue; to get é or É and you work all the accents by that pattern -- the accent names are grave, acute, circ(umflex) tilde, and uml(ate).

A full list of the 252 named entites is here, along with their numeric values.

Named entites aren't perfect, but if the browser supports HTML4.0 or XHTML1.0, they will either put up the character you told it to, or put up the "Unknown" character, rather than just grabbing whatever character happens to be in that spot.

You can use numerical entites to access the entire unicode space, but you're much more likely to run into someone who doesn't have a glyph to display. Numeric entites are � for decimal numbers, and &x0000; for hexadecimal numbers (warning, older browsers don't render hex entities. Go figure.) Most modern browsers should see a hebrew letter here: ק and a chinese character here: 葉. If your font set is very good, you'll see a rune here: 𐍆. Most likely, though, you'll see something from your system's Unicode Fallback Font, or some symbol if your system doesn't have a fallback font. In my case, the fallback font the Unicode BMP font, which is ugly, but lets me know what characters the system was trying to render. The prettiest fallback font is, unsurprisingly, Apple's LastResort. Mac users may find something interesting here: 􏿾

#21 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 10:55 AM:

This is really useful. For some reason, my browser kicks me back to the previous screen when I use [alt]-[three-or-four-digit number]. But the character entry references work like a charm.

#22 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 11:12 AM:

kid bitzer, unless you hate ROFLMAO, the comments on the way to (and from) the nuclear ice cream and the roasted pygmy mammoth are the best part.

Have you looked at James MacDonald's post on how Folksongs Are Your Friends? (Anyone making promises, get their signature in blood on a list of those promises.)

#23 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 11:47 AM:


"unless you hate ROFLMAO"

I got lost there on trying to figure out whose A was involved, when you ask me whether I hate ROFLMAO. (I just wasn't sure how *my* ROFL was going to make *your* A fall off--but never mind).

Sure--I'd like to read 'em. Point me to the threads, and I'll be your debtor.

#24 ::: claire ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 11:56 AM:

Glad to see you guys are back on line.


#25 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 12:57 PM:

kid bitzer - I've got a guy named xeno that you've just got to meet ...

#26 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 01:09 PM:

Look, I've been trying to meet Zeno for a long time, but he keeps saying he'll meet me half-way.

#27 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2006, 01:53 PM:

Mr. Houghton, I apologize for using the phrase "right-leaning." I couldn't figure out how to describe it otherwise. I appreciate your concern and will give more thought to other more suitable descriptions.

Mr. Olson, I agree with your view about the "alt" key, but on the other hand, I rarely use more than about four of the special characters, and "alt" has always been successful for me (if by successful one means it shows up correctly on whatever preview screen I happen to be entering data into).

#30 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2006, 09:21 AM:

It works. We appear to be back.

#31 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2006, 09:35 AM:

Linkmeister #27:

Might I suggest an analogy with the slash and backslash as an apolitical alternative?

An acute accent looks like a tiny slash, a grave like a tiny backslash.

Mind you, you have to be careful about the word slash among some typographers...

(NB: While searching for the above reference, I couldn't make "view all by" work. It hates me, it does.)

#32 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2006, 10:33 AM:

Aha. After many many iterations of "An error occurred: Bad ObjectDriver config: Connection error: Access denied for user 'pnh_bloguser'@'localhost' (using password: YES)" when I tried to post corrections for the broken links in #28, things do indeed seem to be working again. So here goes:


#33 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2006, 10:51 AM:

Thanks, Dave - don't know what happened, think it's the search thingie's fault. Preview should be my friend.... (There's an extra '' in the linkies.)

#34 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2006, 01:40 PM:

Checking in - checking out - this recent weather's been wreaking havoc on my sinuses. Although this isn't an open thread, may I hijack it for long enough to ask if anybody has suggested remedies for dealing with pressure change headaches?

#36 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2006, 06:01 PM:

I see that Makinglight has 404 haiku:

Bad news, web surfer:
Low tide, flat sea, page not found.
Try the search engine?

#37 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2006, 10:31 PM:

P J Evans @ #33:

There are two types of URLs you can use in links: absolute URLs, which include the entire address, and relative URLs, which refer to another page on the same site, and only include the part of the address that is different. is an absolute URL.
006812.html is a relative URL; the "" bit is added automatically.
Either would have worked.

What I suspect you did was use - which, since it doesn't begin with "http://", doesn't include the entire address; the server is therefore obliged to assume that it's a relative address and stick "" on the front.

#38 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2006, 11:54 PM:

May I say that it's nice someone is lighthearted right now. The torture compromise thing has me pretty beat down. It's been a refreshing change to smile about kid bitzer's wacky shenanigans.

#40 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 01:39 PM:

"View all by" appears to be broken.

#41 ::: Edward Oleander (Detox Nurse) ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:17 PM:

Obviously, the (view all by) function has been attacked by the secret Nazi shadow government which Fragano's students have loosed upon this nation. We must all increase our level of scrutinizationismnessability to deal with this problem.

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