Month: May 2004

I’m Glad this One Is Over

It’s been one bumpy semester for me. After a relatively smooth and relaxed Fall 2003 semester, this semester was quite a shock. I don’t recall being this busy ever, and I know that my life has never been as hectic as it was these past eight weeks. Somewhere between Barefoot in the Park, the two ten-minute plays that I acted in—my first time on the stage in two years—for the New Director’s Workshop, or the papers that refused to die. Anyway, I’m looking forward to a little bit of downtime in the next few weeks and then hopefully I’ll have some web design work so I’m not reduced to panhandling in my own house.

Update: I also plan to finish the redesign of this site so that all the pages are consistent. It’s really been that busy.

A Sneaky PayPal Fraud

I read this interesting snippet on Boing Boing:

Until now, it’s been easy to spot a PayPal fraud site by the telltale URL. But here’s a PayPal fraud page that uses a Microsoft feature/bug (take your pick) to overwrite the scammer’s URL with a legitimate-looking URL. If you make the page small, you’ll be able to see the fraudster’s URL.

The scam page does a pretty good job of covering up the URL, but if you have the Google Toolbar, the script for the page breaks and it shows you the scam URL in the address bar and the faked PayPal URL in the Google search box on the Google Toolbar. Score another one for Google’s Toolbar.

I just noticed that the script that displays the fake PayPal URL also will show that URL on that section of the screen even if you have other windows opened over the web browser window.

Google AdSense Image Ads

Apparently, Google is now offering image ads in their AdSense program in addition to their established text ads. They are targeted—or relevant, as they say—but it seems a little odd for Google to divert their focus from a non-obtrusive advertising format to images. Perhaps Google isn’t making as much money with their AdSense as they did when they were new.

Most likely their reasoning behind this has to do with the fact that most large publishers already serve image ads on their pages along with text-based ads. However, one has to wonder if Google’s upcoming IPO has convinced them to increase the value of the company? They wouldn’t be the first company to sacrifice some ideals in the face of Big Money. Anywho, it’s all speculation.

Gmail Goodness

For much of the past month, there has been a lot of buzz about Google’s new email service, Gmail. I wondered about the features of Gmail, but it was by invitation only so I felt left out. However, all that has now changed. I’m happy to announce that I now have a Gmail account with an invitation courtesy of Joe Casabona! Great stuff has already been written about Gmail, so there’s no need for me to restate the obvious.

I would like to say that the Gmail interface is slick—it’s much easier to do the simple things like add contacts, search for a message, or compose a new message (or reply) than most other email services. It’s likely that I’ll be forwarding all my email to that account due to the 1 GB storage limit. Of course, Google probably has bigger plans than just email, as Jason Kottke speculates. I wonder when Google will become self-aware?

A South Park Weekend

Stephen as a South Park Character

I don’t know if it was the stress getting to me or just pure procrastination, but I watched quite a bit of South Park this weekend. I’ve watched the show before—many times, in fact—but it’s not something like 24 that I watch with quasi-religious devotion. I watched a few episodes of South Park on Saturday night as they were having a marathon of sorts; then I watched (and taped) South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut which was shown unedited at 1 AM. I can’t believe that I’ve missed out on something so funny for so long.

It’s interesting how a show that is so decidedly low-brow can manage to make so many valid points. I read an article from the New York Times that expertly summarizes the morals in South Park and does a much better job—than I would—of describing why the show is so likeable and strangely intelligent for a cartoon.

In a funny coincidence, I happened to catch the last bit of a Mad TV cartoon that featured a Peanuts-like gang of kids, but drawn (and behaving) in pure South Park style. I did a little research and found a video of South Parknuts, as well as a website devoted to South Park references in all mediums. I’ll bet Charles Schulz rolled over in his grave when Mad TV aired their version; Trey Parker and Matt Stone probably rolled over laughing.

The picture that accompanies this post is a South Park Stephen—or at least what I’ll look like this week as I write the 17 pages for my two English papers. I created it using the South Park “Create a Character.”

Version Five

Today is a big day for Stephen’s Stuff! I’ve been working on a new version of the site for quite a while now. I’ve been busy so it had to be done in little steps, but I have the new design ready now and the PHP/MySQL backend is just about completed. Now, before you say, “Nothing’s changed,” let me explain a few things.

First of all, many new archival options have been added. For instance, each post has been categorized which enables you to see all posts filed in that category. Secondly, it is easier than ever to keep track of posts and comments on this site by subscribing to the RSS feeds (or Atom if that turns you on) for comments or just the entries (blog text). You can do this by using Bloglines or Kinja. I’ve also cleaned up the code even more than I did a while ago.

Most of these new features (sans clean code) are possible because of WordPress, which is now powering this weblog. Rather than spend an untold amount of time to create a new system for something that’s been done many times before, I decided to use WordPress and customize it to suit all of my needs. That way, I can spend my time doing other things.

In the next month or so, I will be completing the shift to the new version five design for the other sections of this site, updating the content of the other pages, restructuring the Archives, and adding a few new things. In the meantime, look around and please let me know if there are any errors that I have overlooked.

Update: This post refers to my old website.