and then there was chat..

it's been a mad week, but I still found time, mostly in the mornings, to throw together a real-time chat system for the site. When I got more time, yesterday, I transformed it into something pretty damned good.

But don't take my word for it, click the link! it's under my (subtle) smiley in the top-right of most of these here pages, next to the printer icon. There's no fancy pop-up info, but there is a cool pop-up chat window!

Login with a nickname and away you go! If you do that in the early evenings (BST) you might just find me hanging around (I can do that you see, other users "drop-off" after three minutes (at least, I think I set that pref to three minutes, it may still be 30 seconds from my testing at home). If you drop in, do say hi! Of course I'll answer your tech questions! *sigh*

it's still full of bugs, of course, but does mostly everything I needed, and much more, even has flood-protection, just try it! You'll need javascript enbled to use it (to even load it), so if you are one of those paraoid sorts with javascript disabled, great! means I won't have to have long conversations with you about "the establishment" *phew*. The rest of us can enjoy real live chat! Once I clear the logs and what-not, I'll zip it up, and drop it into the beta folder so you guys can play with it at home/on your site/wherever.

I like it! it's just like IRC, except without the "R". Get this, you can even use bbcode in it! Aye! Gotta make cbparser work for its living, though note; the css for the chat is still in the early stages.

Feel free to mess about, and, of course, report your findings back to me! okay, that's it, maybe see you in the chat!

for now..

:o) The Writing Entity @

maturity, intelligence..

I got a mail a couple of days ago from a fellow Scot, concerning a recent local news item. I got a bit carried away with my reply, as often happens with email (and blogs), and I thought you voyeuristic sods might enjoy ..(with a couple of minor edits)..

> Did you see the news, a 42 year old female mature student at Aberdeen
> University, jumped to what could easily have been to her death, just
> because a 19 year old male student was looking to steal some
> stationary in an office block, at nine o’clock in the evening. You
> would have thought that at 42 and a university student, she would
> have had the maturity and intelligence-

I must interrupt this broadcast here to state the obvious..

42 years old
university student

together these attributes surely indicate a LACK of maturity I would say, and have done. School's for kids!

Och, further education [for "mature" students] isn't bad 'in itself', it sure can take a good few years to even figure out what you *might* like to do with your life, let alone find the path. Certainly it's impossible to see all the possibilities when you're asked to "pick your subjects" circa age thirteen.

erm.. "I want to be Prime Minister!".. hmm.. okay.

> deal with the situation in a
> rather less dramatic manner. A woman of that age, should easily be
> able to over power any 19 year old male.

Physically; Possibly, possibly not. I've seen no pictures.
Mentally and emotionally; Yes, of course, surely.

She could have sat back, said "help yourself dude, I didn't pay for them", or maybe took the opportunity to stock up her pencil-case! or squealed "take what you want but don't harm me!", or walked out the door, or any number of responses, I guess. She chose jumping out of the window - I presume a window; I haven't seen this story; with no TV, and only rare glances at newspapers, I tend to get only the Really Important Stuff filtering to me.

Current Prime Minister? erm.. it's all the same
Who are we at war with this week? pfff *shrug*

this situation suits me fine -

Her response hints (screams) at deeper trouble. "Do you have suicidal thoughts?" I would ask her on meeting, I reckon. probably, other stuff. As the Thomas Dolby song begins.. "Tell me about your childhood"

> It does make you ask, just what sort of culture is being promoted in
> our colleges and universities where a mature, and one would expect an
> intelligent woman, would chose to leap out of a window, rather than
> confront an unknown male? It was not even dark, nor the office block
> empty!

oh, it really was a window! haha. intelligent?

I spent what was literally years with this singular question burning in my mind.. "what is intelligence?" even as a kid I wondered this. I was clever, you see. In the end I see true intelligence as a measure of our ability to survive; to adapt to new circumstances and thrive (nice couplet, I'll re-use that); to move forward; to reach upward and outwards in thought and action; how easily we are guided by the spiritual, the genius parts of mind.. (insert lots more flowery prose here) only nature seems to possess its higher forms. We are natural, of course, before the school system gets us.

Some really clever people are really thick as fuck, I ken that.

I remember, when I was a young student, a girl I lived with (one of a "pack") got really upset one night, in tears even, just watching the telly! We quizzed her and she reveals that she is upset because.. wait for it.. because she is stupid! something that day had highlighted it, some assignment she couldn't handle. computing, if I remember.

She just couldn't handle math, even arithmetic, her brain simply wasn't wired for it. Okay, she spoke five languages and could tell you the intimate details and full life stories of almost every Soap Opera character in existence, and their characters, doodled the most incredible cartoons, among other marvellous stuff. Stupid she was not.

The moral? We have corruption, the "culture that is being promoted" is one of competitive cleverness. The university system is awash with complete morons who really should be doing something else, freeing up resources for those who could effectively make use of them.

"I'd better go to Uni, or else they'll think I'm stupid"

Of course "technology" has had a lot to do with this. To "know more" is good, and now there is this infinite supply of interesting information for our spongy brains to suck up day and night, I love all this, and I thoroughly enjoy cleverness, too, even wittiness. But lots of folks lack these qualities and more, lots of quality folks, too.

What WE lack, as a society, is a balanced view, and so, the freedom to explore any and all attributes we may and do possess, without the need to feel the need for cleverness! We fail to recognise the full spectrum of human qualities, and anyone who lacks the all-important "clever" gene is instantly branded an idiot. Put a 'd' on his hat and sit him in the corner.

In a future classroom, Johnny tries sums now. Just like the building blocks game, he is completely and utterly useless, even the 1-to-5 of his hand is screwing his face into a confusion. All the other children gaze in wonder; their unspoken thought is "wow! I bet he's like a Leonardo Da Vinci or Einstein or Nostradamus or something! WHAT IS HIS TALENT?" they wonder.

These infants' view is closer to the truth of things.

Most of my best stuff I do when I plain stop thinking; sure, my brain works then too, but subordinated; a calm full-throttle, connecting, calculating; guided by some higher thought. even engaged in what seem purely "intellectual" tasks; coding, writing, other things; I sometimes look up and wonder "woah! did I just do that?" as in life, I'm quite happy to play the idiot or the fool, if that's what's required at the time.

And THAT, my dear signed ******, is intelligence!

for now..

:o) The Writing Entity @

ps.. perhaps she was a wandering Sufi with a point to make
*this* email never made the front page!

> ******.

pps.. I might throw this into my blog. it's a bit good!
is that okay with you?

nothing is foolproof to the sufficiently talented fool

Never say never, huh?

I have an idea for a book. it's a makeshift rag-taggle affair, assorted bits of text that have spewed out from this (seriously worn) keyboard and into the internet at various times over the last ten years or so. Captures. I wonder about all that data. I wonder if my old IRC chats exist in locations other than my gargantuan log folders.

In my calmer moments I wonder if the internet itself is conscience, if the technology and its users have matured enough to create such a thing, a living, conscience entity. Right now, here, I'm considering whether the internet itself, as an entity, qualifies as "being intelligent".

the simple sum is greater than the sum of its parts..

it's made up of little parts, data, programs, people. I wonder about the order of the sentences in their logs, how lag, and all the blips and hiccups that data endures have altered history, just a little, here and there1. It has a memory, then.

I figure there is some other arc, chronology at work in the things I do and say and think and write, a conceptual line being traced somewhere, a (heaven-forbid) "career". I think it would be cool to pin it down somewhere. I wonder too, if we each traced the lines of our lives, do they all meet at the same point?

In a sense that's what I am doing here, at I knew, for instance, the instant I completed the first draft of files 'n' folders that it was good, there was need for it, that it is required work, and this gave me real incentive to continue with that. I have most of the notes for part two collected. In time, the whole lot goes up. Everything in time.

Silly wee scripts I throw into the distro machine just because "well, it's here, and I can, why not?" are often as popular as the big ones I slave over and promote (and others have started promoting for me! ta!). this thrills me. "Oh! I seee!" I often find myself saying.

I don't know if it's tomorrow or ten years, or two minutes from now, that one visitor arrives, or more than one, and says "Yes! This is IT!" just what I was looking for!" But I can feel it NOW, pulling. You believe that? Probably every artist of every sort is really trying to get into your thoughts, to lead you into theirs. I catch me at it all the time.

it's this act of writing; it's a magical act; somehow endowed with a cosmic, magnetic force; coming into existence to be read; and is, attracting only those souls who will benefit in some way, some time, more who will simply en-joy, passing all the others by. Sometimes I see, in some really intelligent writing, phrases, whole paragraphs even, designed to remove certain readers from the text-stream; kick them out, put them off, as it were. bye!

Still here? good, the best is yet to come..

I watch my logs like a hawk still; intriguing anonymous data. I will do this the whole year. Like the matrix screens all streaming numbers, symbols; in time; in time you see patterns, trends, but the details, too can be interesting..

Aside from crazy referrers, wacky search queries; are many thought-provoking bytes; that surfer who lands and leeches, goes (make that many many surfers; some return later, of course); the dude who came looking for one so particular thing but found something completely else, something that clearly fascinates him, leads him all over the place; the other who just refreshes that page over and over and over, as I have done with that page, over and over; and so on and so on2; I intend to author a php surfer-tracker some time, kinda follow these number around a bit.

I reckon some other body wants that very same thing, see. I know it. I know it by the shape and form of this thought. The way it persists in my mind at just that frequency. Somewhere else along the line, someone wants that tool, not just me; I feel it, pulling. You believe that?


When I was still at what I usually refer to as the spikkin aboot it stage of my whole getting to grips with Belief, I would quote regularly and melodically to anyone at all; "Belief is just a framework to hang your experiences on", and I believed that belief itself was a just stage we pass through, getting to grips with an unknown thing, an essential first step; to believe.

I believed that eventually I'd pass through all my beliefs and out the other side would have knowledge. I don't believe in my knees, I don't have to, you know. But with "farther away" things, less solid things, belief is generally required, if only for a wee while, right up until you know.

And so it is with all this tech, this big internet thing. The grand "spikkin aboot it stage" for man's next advance; ideas and information à la carte. Believe whatever your heart desires, whatever you fancy! Then you can start to test it out, see if it's right enough, squares with the other stuff you know. Real or not-real, like so much of what we imagine, is.

we're all at it, as if the internet itself were the means to some planet-wide parallel-processing experiment, each doing his little bit; could be a comment on a website, maybe a whole website, a blog even. and newsgroups. and mailing lists. and IRC and ICQ and mud and all the other networks that have these wires of ours buzzing 24/7/365.

Now, maybe your thinking I've been hitting the wacky-backy and that this has nothing to do with maturity and intelligence anymore if it ever did to begin with, but Ha! I mean, HA!

My belief is this: The internet is intelligent. I'm at the spikkin aboot it stage, and There's a lot of ground to cover, you get to watch.

In the same way that the intelligence of God, Nature, the mind of universe flows through our matter, our animals and plants, and each cell, each atom; unhindered by mental activity, follows a higher pattern, higher mind; performs its activities perfectly.

In this same way, our Virtual Earth exists, Techno Garden of Eden. The male and female a one and a zero following a higher will, doing our bidding and we all its cells; except, doing whatever the hell we think we want to do, whenever. No way could this kind of chaos work without a thorough soaking in higher intelligence. it's going somewhere.

Maturity, simply3, is realizing our place in all this.

for now..

:o) The Writing Entity @


Like light waves, IRC can be viewed as either chat, or logs. The point of view decides its form, excludes the other.
2: which one is you? huh? what's your IP kiddo?
3: Maturity, simply, is getting the good seats on the bus. *

download troubles

If you use the distro machine, or indeed develop with PHP, then this matters. If you've had any problems downloading files from, this will explain why.

I thought I was clever, well, I mean, I am, but I thought my wee line of code was clever. inside the distro machine, at the point where it catches and sends the download to the user, it switches off zlib compression. I figured this might interfere with the download process.

For those that don't know, zlib compression compresses everything the server sends to the browser. all browsers understand this and decompress the page at the other end. the page you are reading now was sent across the wire as a gzip file.

But I was still getting erratic downloads. Sometimes they would be fine, the next, not. very weird. Tonight, as I tested the newly uploaded, slightly improved textview.php script, and its corresponding zip archive, it reached a new level of wonkiness, it plain wouldn't work.

the download was okay, it happened, but the resultant file was a mess, and wouldn't decompress nomatter which browser I grabbed it with or which decompressor I used. hmmm.

Then, for some reason, I decided to disable zlib compression in my .htaccess for the machine's folder..
simple .htaccess directive:
php_value zlib.output_compression Off
and TADA!

this has serious implications. either that or my web host has something weird going on in their server configs. I noted previously, with interest, that it was possible to enable zlib compression AND a zlib output handler simultaneously, a thing usually guaranteed to bring your website to a halt. it didn't, strangely. I left it like that for a couple of weeks even, just to see what would happen; nothing.

In short, at last, your server may simply ignore the setting inside the script smiley for :aargh: In this case, I recommend you add a line to the .htaccess file for that folder, which I have thoughtfully done for the distribution.

All ßeta testers, please upgrade to 0.7b3 a.s.a.p.

for now..

:o) The Writing Entity @

2004: part two

And a happy un-birthday to me!

The second half of years always seem to be better than the first, don't you think? Not that the first half was bad, far from it. Well anyway, here we are, part two of 2004, and already I'm getting excited about it.

July, August, September, October, November, December, luv 'em! Even though my birthday is in the first haf of the year, I still find it difficult to dredge up significant memories with any of the early months' names' attached. October, on the other hand, fairly leaps out at me, like December does to most folk. I'm ramblng, yes.

Some of you have spotted that I'm been devoting all my spare time (if ever there was such a thing) to getting the distro machine into shape. it's coming along beautifully too. For your entertainment, here's the current updates..

corz distro machine v 0.7 ßeta

expanded the editing functions in the stats page. as well as nudging things up and down, you can just edit scores straight in. this will assist while I track down why one of my onsite score file reset itself. fortunately I had a backup from the previous day, but you might not!

.. either it was something nefarious, in which case I have a hole in the security somewhere, or more likely; there was a real busy spell and the server tried to do too many things with the one flat-file all-at-once.

by the way, if it was something nefarious, and it was *you* that did it, could you please do it again, say, every day for a week, so I can get to the bottom of it!

anyway, the machine now puts an exclusive lock on the file for the duration of the write operation, all three microsecods of it, or thereabouts. we'll see how it goes. if you get a wiped score file, please report it to me!

completed the title customisation. if you specify "info" as the title for your source area, for instance, that will be used throughout, mostly.

you can now specify an alternative css file for your "clean" embedded menus. see the distro machine download page, which includes two embedded menus from two separate distro machines, each using a different native css file, yet on the page, both using the same, as specified by that page.

removed the "download which file?.." message from embedded menus. I reckon your own titles are better for these.

improved the downloading still further, and almost by accident. it's all snapped into focus. I figured it might be better to get all the score-file stuff out of the way before sending the file to the user. I was right!

switched the default colour scheme to blue. I use this more myself, and this is purely to save me having to edit the three separate distromachines onsite that use the blue scheme. I upgrade my machines more than anyone, of course.

new: secure area. I wanted this for my "friends" folder. it's neater, and a wee bit more secure than the old http authorisation methods, which apparently, some browsers aren't doing any more; seems like a smart idea. We are using POST variables to send our password, which is held as a 32 byte md5, in a temporary session cookie. even the worst case browser scenario should only have the md5 flying around the wires. In other words, it's fairly secure.

users are presented with a simple (and quite cute) password dialog. once logged in they can access all your menu systems, files, whatever.

don't use your password-protected machine to deliver back-end menu services; it won't. (it's so easy to just chuck another one somewhere for this)

new: the name of the sections is now displayed in the menu itself. you can also now (optionally) have your custom text displayed inside the menu, too, which fills that space on the right!

new: expanded list of downloadables. we now check for, and send mime-types, so mp3's, ogg's, excell spreadsheets, and such things can be delivered easily with the machine. I'll expand this list as I go along, no doubt. so far..

doc, xls, htm, html, jpg, png, pdf, txt, ogg, mp3,m3u, zip, rar, sit, sitx, tgz, gzip, bz2, arc, bzip, pict, mpg, mov, and others.

if you use the machine to distribute, say, mp3's, this should cause whatever the user's operating system is set to do with these filetypes, i.e. open the mp3 player.

new: made a few more things customisable. stuff like the main titles. you can have a "foo viewer" menu now, or whatever.

I also improved the overall download handling, there should be less browser stalling, and associated weirdness. we DO send size headers now, too.

I dropped in the code for all this pretty quick, so it's into the beta folder for a bit, until it's had some field testing, any feedback on the new secure area features are especially welcome.

have fun!

so there you have it, features galore. I've spotted a few downloads of the new betas, so please do let me know if anything wonky happens, particularly with the downloading functions or security features.

I'm thinking about ways to deal with modern download managers. My logs are a mess with idiots who think it's perfectly cool to download a 5k file in three separate parts, and just grab-em-all like that while they're at it. *sigh*. "site-suckers" are just about as bad. it's like having a pack of msn-bots round for lunch; no fun.

What will happen, most likely, is that I'll have the machine block multiple connexions from the same IP, or something like that. Perhaps display a wee message along the lines of "Are you fucking mental? This file is FIVE KILOBYTES! Why on Earth would you need to download it in three parts?"

I could, of course, just have the machine block all known download managers completely, easy, but I can imagine my subsequent inbox, so probably not.

for now..

:o) The Writing Entity @

ps.. okay okay, I'm considering a separate blog for the dev updates.

the bus:
nae him, nor them, nor me, nor us,
a'body's gettin oan the bus.

  - The Writing Entity

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