“Houdini” plugin for WordPress is no magician

I’ve seen some pretty absurd WordPress plugins show up in the Plugins dashboard widget on this site, but the recently-released “Houdini” takes the cake so far. It claims to prevent spammers from copying the contents of any post or page upon which the [houdini] shortcode is placed. The fact is the internet is open can lead to theft especially to content stealing and plagiarism. Until now, there was very little to discourage and deter this serious crime. Yes content theft and plagarism is a crime in some jurisdictions. You cannot rely on others or the authorities to continue to police…

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My First WordPress Plugin Patch: Wibiya Toolbar

The beauty of using WordPress instead of Blogger is, in a nutshell, the freedom that comes with using an open system instead of a closed one. Under Blogger, I had very little freedom to extend the platform. Everything I could do had to be added by someone from Google, with the exception of a few JavaScript- and Flash-based sidebar widgets. Under WordPress, I have access to literally thousands of open-source plugins to modify, extend, and replace the functionality of the site. The beauty of using this open system is that if something doesn’t work the way I want it to,…

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Portable Computing

I really have no right to talk about this subject, as I have never actually done it. I thought it might make for a good hypothetical post, though, especially since I don’t have any other good ideas right now. What can I say, it’s on my mind. That’s because of where I was when I wrote this. I’m thinking about portable computing right now because I keep everything on my hard drive. Well, stuff that isn’t email or associated with a Web service. Applications and stuff all live on my computer. When I go somewhere else, I can’t get at…

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Financial Reports Waste Paper; Use the Internet

Financial reports are a colossal waste of paper. Well, perhaps that’s not entirely true. I’m sure some people read every last character in those thick stacks of paper sent out by investment agencies at the end of the fiscal year. But most of us just shred them and put them in the recycling (or, unfortunately and probably more commonly, the trash). What’s in one of those things? Usually it’s just a summary of all transactions conducted by the agency on your behalf since the last report, with a few statistics thrown in for good measure. Yes, it can be useful.…

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Debug Constants vs. Secret GET Parameters

A while back I commented on one of possible248’s posts on CodingExperiments.com that secret GET parameters aren’t the best way to do debugging. The problem is that if someone discovers your “secret” parameter (which most people would probably set to just debug=1), they can get all sorts of information about your site’s underlying code structure. What I like to do is have debug mode switched in the source code itself, say in a global include file that defines constants and variables for the entire site. (MediaWiki’s LocalSettings.php is a good example.) Since it’s usually wise to do your development on…

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Programming Game Show Idea

My friend i80and had an interesting game show idea the other day. He thought of a show where contestants (probably two) are given a whiteboard, a marker, and a programming problem, and the person who designs the simplest and most efficient data structures for that situation wins. It gave me an idea, too. What if the show involved not just data structures, but entire class abstractions? Or perhaps actually writing code for a specified operation within the given situation? I think I need to give an example. Let’s say the show begins with the original idea of designing data structures.…

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It’s Good to Have Talents

I deviate from my usual technobabbling to reflect on some of the things that have happened in the last couple of days. I designed a website for the Southwest High Robotics Team, the launch of which I announced earlier this month, and now the team captain would like me to be the Media Captain, in addition to my current position of Website Captain. This would mean that I would not only maintain the site, update the upcoming photo galleries and video pages, and develop new features like our planned wiki, but would also take photos and possibly create posters/edit videos.…

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MediaWiki Developers are Quick

I submitted a MediaWiki bug this morning (bug 11438) and it was patched in SVN under 30 minutes later. That’s just, wow. Of course, I have to either patch my current local installation or download a new SVN version (which might have unknown issues that will be fixed before the next release), but by hook or by crook it’ll be fixed in the next release. Special thanks to Niklas Laxström for the quick fix! A few details: I was trying out a new extension I installed that generates trees from lists and has expandable/collapsible nodes using JavaScript, and tried using…

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New Website Goodies

Over the past week or so, I’ve added some new goodies to my website. The message banners now have “close” links, so you can get rid of them manually, and the automatic fade-out has been removed. The design has been tweaked; the current link in the sidebar now has white borders and a black background, and the width is increased slightly so it overlaps the border of the content frame. This provides a more tab-like interface to the site. Also added are jQuery tooltips (plugin from Bassistance.de). They display on all major links (like the badges and sidebar links) and…

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