The zombies are here

Dawn of the DeadThe zombies are here and multiplying. Quick! Grab your baseball bat! Fortunately zombies are slow creatures muttering ‘Whoooooowhooooo’. They generaly have a lethargic look, look pale, miss limbs, … So they are easy to spot.

No they’re not. According to Cyphertrust, never heard of them before, their numbers are rising 170,000+ a day. Just take a look at their ZombieMeter. How’s that for a clone army… Palpatine eat our hart out! Quick math: 170k per day. How long to reach 600 million?

So you ask yourself, this isn’t about some sunday-afternoon-I’m-bored-let’s-watch-some-video stuff? You’re right. This is serious stuff. It makes me wonder what if I don’t already have a zombie-seed running around my laptop. Just waiting for the final signal from an obscure IRC channel to attack some helpless website that pissed somebody off. Or worse, sends thousands of emails claiming v!agra is the cure to everything.

‘Whooooowhoooo’

… what bothers me. I don’t get paid for being a zombie. 🙁

Safe browsers don’t exist. True.

According to David Sheets they don’t. He has written a column about the safety of browsers. And I think he’s right. Partialy…

Safe browsers do NOT exist. Agreed. Just as bug-free software doesn’t exist. How hard you try, there is always a funny/strange/malicious kind of input possible, putting your normal day of business off. Due to a novel way of using your software. Be it ‘code’ injection, buffer overflow, social engineering, … As a developer of any kind, you’ll never, EVER, quite anticipate your user’s actions. And that’s just your users. (You don’t design a hammer to kill people do you?) I’m not even talking about the evil hacker dude. You can test your baby till death, but you can never be fail-safe enough.

Or can you? There are many methods of testing your software (web or desktop). I personally like the ‘Berzerk’ testing. 🙂 But basically, let your software be tested by end-users. Or if they aren’t available by some third party. NEVER your client. Do not try to attempt to test your baby yourself. Well, maybe only during initial development. Because? You know your click-paths, your feedback, ‘oh well, that will be fixed during launch’, ‘who on earth will do THAT!’. Subconsiencely we all have a tendency to avoid pittfalls and short-term memory. As does your client. They only want to see what happens what they initially invented (read paid for).

What I’m trying to say. You’ll never know what some person at some time is going to do with your product. Surely enough any good designer will try to anticipate abuse. But that can never be fail-safe. As for software, wouldn’t it be nice that the platform it runs on could jump in where the software failed? Something like SoftX has a buffer overflow, trying to take control over the OS and install this spyware thingy, and the OS would just reject the overflow of the application? Along the lines “Your lack of security, doesn’t mean I will let you!”

Now to the real world: Firefox has a problem on may 9. May 11 there’s a fix. That’s just 2 days. 3 for the general public, OK. But that’s just quick isn’t it? IE patches generaly are released weeks after. So it’s quite a record. Oh no, I’m sorry, that record is held by Netscape 8.

Lesson learned:
try {
fnTest(myBaby) {
bResult = fnRunTestRound(myBaby, aUsers, nTestRounds);
if (bResult == 'OK') {
return bReadyForRelease = True;
} else {
fnReleasePatchASAP(myBaby);
return bReadyForRelease = False;
}
} catch {
fnReworkApp();
}

XTech 2005 Conference

This week, from 24 till 27 of may, the XTech 2005 Conference is held in the Amsterdam RAI. So what is it about?

” XTech 2005 is the premier European conference for developers and managers working with XML and Web technologies, bringing together the worlds of web development, open source, semantic web and open standards. This year’s tracks include:

* Core Technologies
* Applications
* Browser Technology
* Open Data

Formerly known as the XML Europe conference, XTech has widened its scope to incorporate neighboring technologies from the web and business. As the use of XML broadens out beyond traditional core topics, we want to reflect that in the conference. As well as XML, XTech 2005 will cover web development, weblogging, search, the semantic web and more. “

Although I normally work with XML on a sideline (RSS and hacking XSLT), it sounds interesting.

Also interesting to see is that a lot of attendees are bloggers. All the updates can be seen at Planet XTech – Aggregated coverage from XTech 2005. They even have a wiki.
Nowadays its becoming even more common to have an online live coverage of events.

Favorite browser?

Yesterday I furled a CNET article which declared Mozilla Firefox victorious. Ok, ok, firefox won from contenders like IE, Opera & Netscape (8). All of which I didn’t suit me.

Here’s the real story. I’ve been using IE ever since IE3. Why? Well, I’ve won a cd-rom with IE3 along with a videotape of ‘The Net‘. Really! Well IE4 beat NS4 hands down… Ancient history.
Nowadays I’m a webdesigner and somewhat of a webdeveloper and I could use some no-name, obscure, backwards browser. But then I would be cutting myself in my fingers wouldn’t I? Who needs CSS anyway…

As a webdesigner you have to follow the flock. And if the herd is using IE as their preferred browser, you have to design accordingly. I would be happy to design for Konqueror if 90% of the population had installed it. But it’s IE. So? No problem. That’s what they are using, that’s what i’ll design/develop for.

Well a few months ago I did something bold. I had phoenix/firebird or what it was called back then. Nevermind, I had this option in the ‘Tools’ > ‘Options…’ > ‘General’ section with a checkbox to make Firefox my default browser. So I clicked it. Just to see if my Outlook would open links in Firefox instead of IE. It did. Having grown to IE I turned back to it to make IE my default browser again, who wants a beta version of a browser as their default? But… someone please, NOT, show me where the option is hidden… I couldn’t find the damn checkbox to make IE default again. 🙁

Having being stuck with Firefox wasn’t that bad. 🙂 I found that when there’s a javascript error, Firefox could show me the EXACT line of code that was bad. In IE times it was just guess and trackback. How sweet the alert(“over here”); was. 😉 It showed me what kind of HTML I was missing, or at least put in the wrong place (HTMLTidy). Where that &*(#&*$-div went, or didn’t went. What Google & Co could make of my pages. Well as a developer, I’m happy.

I’ll think I make a series of the goodness that came with firefox. But later…

Lorem Ipsum Dolor

No this isn’t a fake post. It’s something almost every designer (web or print) out there uses as a placeholder for text in his/her design. But using the same text over and over again can get a little boring. How many headings can you see starting with Lorem ipsum?

Fortunately some people have made fake-content generators for us designers to use. 🙂

First off: The Lorem Ipsum Generator at lipsum.com. You can specify the amount of paragraphs or words. But best of all, you have the option of NOT starting with lorem ipsum. *Thank you!* Repetative text can kill your design. I’ve had clients who thought they we’re getting a 2-column design, because the repeating text created a virtual gutter in the middle… I was young… 😉

But wait there’s more. Yesterday I came across Kuro5hin’s list of Web Apps. In there I found the the SCIgen – An Automatic CS Paper Generator. This one basically creates scientific papers on-the-fly, including graphs, figures and citations! Now there’s something your clients won’t understand and will be impressed by.
Actually one ‘report’ was so convincing it was accepted for a submission for a conference…

If you know more I would love to hear about them.

Update: It seems that ‘Lorem ipsum’ isn’t just popular with designer. Technorati seems to be overflowing with people testing their weblog with it. If only they’ve read this post…

Netscape 8 released

Get Netscape 8 BannerApparently the latest version of the Netscape browser, version 8, was released thursday. I don’t know if it’s any good. It has the ability to show webpages like IE or Mozilla Firefox does. Whichever you prefer. So when you get stuck on a page you can switch to ‘IE’.

I think I’ll just stick to my Firefox, because Netscape 8 is based on version 1.0.3 of Firefox. You know, the one with the big security exploit.

Update: Netscape got wise and released a new version (8.0.1) within 24 hours of initial release. Apparently they forgot to squash some 44 bugs. But this time around they’ve got “all Firefox security patches up to 1.0.4”. Shall I wait another 24 hours before trying myself? 😉

Who are my neighbours? (Formerly known as Test)

Blogwise meant. What blogs are my visitors also reading? Traditionally your/my visitors are tracked using ‘exits’. But that only means where your visits stopped reading or where they went (according to your click-outs). It doesn’t say anything about what sources your visitors also depend upon.

Feeds4all.com has something innovative…

What are my visitors also reading:

There’s something the major blogsearch engines might want to take on…

ThinkLemon in *Alpha* stage 2

I’ve just finished setting up my FeedBurner feeds. No site can go without it. Well… if you just prefer to scan your serverlog(s) for anyone consuming your feed(s), than it’s OK. For me it’s just a bit cumbersome to filter out the good stuff. Unfortunately my provider doesn’t support AWStats, instead it only provides Webalizer. So I need to keep a track on what’s been watched. (I don’t like watching my serverlogs every hour or so)

FeedBurner is just like any ol’ visitor counter, but just for feeds (Atom, RSS, RDF). It fetches your feed(s) and tracks who’s consuming and clicking trough. So it’s ideal for tracking your most interesting posts, if they are reading your feed instead of your site. In addition FeedBurner can make your feed browser-friendly, splice your Furl/Del.Icio.Us/Flikr stuff right in there, etc., etc. And best of all it gives you insight into what kind of aggregators are being used, how many click-throughs you have and more.

* To-Do: Make disclaimer not being affiliated to any service mentioned…

Furthermore, I’ve included StatCounter on every page available up here on ThinkLemon.com. Personally it’s not quite THE visitorcounter I’ve envisioned. But hey, it’s free and it show you your search engine traffic quite nicely. It’s just a shame you can only track the last 100 pageviews.

Therefore I present you my feeds:

Don’t worry about the rest. I’ll track you through StatCounter >:-)

ThinkLemon in *Alpha*

This is just the opening post of ThinkLemon.com

So there it is. The official first post on ThinkLemon.com. 🙂

This is just *Alpha* stage, ’cause I’m still furnishing my space. So please be patient. Just installing stuff & testing ‘m out. So far:

  • Weblog Check!
  • Wiki Check!
  • Redirects Check!
  • Robots.txt Check!
  • Favicon Check! … needs a makeover.
  • Design Working on…
  • Content Working on…

Moving to *Beta* soon!