Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Gevalia's just not that great

A couple members of my household swear by mail-order Gevalia coffee. After a recent visit from a moving van, there are several packages of Gevalia in the kitchen cupboard.

Normally, I purchase my coffee at Parkleigh in Rochester, NY, pictured above. But, I didn't want to let that supposedly premium Gevalia go to waste, so I found myself driving to work yesterday with a travel mug of that coffee.

It's a little unfair to compare the whole-bean product I buy at Parkleigh to the pre-ground Gevalia, but for what these coffees cost, they're susceptible to reviews. Plus, I use a cheap drip coffeemaker, frowned upon by most aficionados, but I make too much coffee each day to mess with a French press or whatever.

The word often used for Gevalia is "smooth", and that's appropriate, but so smooth that it's bland. It has a rather sweet taste, even though I drink it black. There's just not much to Gevalia coffee, and I don't recommend it. Shop local.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

I think I have more fun finding and downloading crazy podcasts than listening to them.

The latest is WFMU Bitslap. http://wfmu.org/podcast/KB.xml

I also learned all about Pizzagate from the ReplyAll podcast. http://feeds.gimletmedia.com/hearreplyall

Hillary is trying to shut me down.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Not Staying Fired Up over Standing Rock


I'm having a hard time staying fired up over the Standing Rock protests. The protests are located on, and always have been located on private property, and the property owner does not want the protesters there. They're either trespassing or not, and it's a modern legal matter, no matter who might have been buried there a dozen generations ago.

Part of the protest is about water quality and other environmental quality. Of course, no water has been poisoned by the unfinished Dakota Access pipeline, so reports of frightened children are premature. It's true similar pipelines leak occasionally (generally amounts that are apparently not newsworthy). If you're not willing to shut down every pipeline, everywhere, then the localized action at Standing Rock is practically meaningless. I'm pretty sure very few Americans want to shut down all pipelines and accept higher fuel prices and limited supply.

Part of the protest is about the sacredness of the land surrounding the pipeline's path. Every article I have read about this seems to accept the sacredness without question or investigation. I was able to track down some of the legal submissions that do indeed discuss this. There is evidence that the affected lands have been used, and continue to be used, for religious purposes in ways that are specific to the lands. In other words, the pipeline could theoretically disturb specific ceremonial locations, and the ceremonies might not translate well to, say, a room at the local public library.

However, it appears only a handful of people (trained tribal elders, and possibly no one else) know the locations and ceremonies. Tribal experts have identified many sites in legal filings. The Meskwaki people most closely involved with protests number 4000-5000, and the Sioux people more generally number over 170,000. If a particular location was regularly the site of a ceremony involving thousands of people, we would probably have heard about it. I get the impression most Native Americans do not know the details of the sacredness and do not regularly, if ever, participate in ceremonies along the Dakota Access path. Since the tribes are against the pipeline, they are not unbiased in their identification of sites.

That's not to say the sacredness claims don't matter. I'm trying to convince myself they do matter. I wouldn't want a pipeline running through my father's gravesite or through, say, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (a sacred Christian site). On the other hand, there are few references to specific disturbances. I am not aware that any bones have actually been unearthed, or that any of the sites are now unusable. One of the legal documents describes the dredging of waterways that resulted in the end of the formation of a certain type of smoothed stone used in ceremonies, but that dredging occurred decades ago.

Articles describe the destruction of a sacred area in 2016 by construction vehicles even when the site was identified in advance as part of the construction approval process. However, it remains unclear what these sites looked like, how they were identified in advance by tribal historians, and how the construction workers were supposed to know about them while working. The only photos I can find are of mournful protesters supposedly hovering over sacred sites, rather than of the sites themselves. There are simply no photos or videos of a bulldozer driving through an ancient stone prayer ring. I'm not saying the DAPL hasn't disturbed any areas that had been identified, but the documentation hasn't been uploaded. The protesters blame the construction for taking place intentionally in areas identified as historic sites, and that can't be discounted, but to what end? To finish the pipeline sooner at the risk of fines? I am not accusing anyone of lying, but the tribes do, and it would seem that the tribes have more motive to lie than the construction company.

I find it ironic progressives are frustrated with a fundamentalist rural America that voted for Trump, but the DAPL protesters cite indigenous pagan historians as evidence, which is about as fundamentalist as it gets. Even if you argue Native Americans are "American" in a different way than white Christians, the native Americans are still fundamentalist. Native Americans will never be convinced to accept the bulldozing of a stone payer circle no matter what logic is used and no matter what public benefit there may be. And maybe the Native Americans are right. Or maybe not. Only their tribal historian claims to know.

Friday, October 21, 2016

SEO notes

My home page bounces all over the place with respect to search engine rankings, especially from Google. First, I found a good post about optimization.
 My own tips, in no particular order, are:
(0) Content, content, content.
(1) Remove HTML errors, include a good title and meta tags, target some keywords and use them appropriately, but all serious sites do this.
(2) Optimize for Google. If Google ranks your site well, so will the other engines, and most users use Google.
(3) Get links to your site listed on other reputable sites, to generate hits and improve automated reputation calculations. Don’t bother with disreputable link farms.
(4) Drop your URL everywhere, such as in web forums. You’ll get spam; deal with it.
(5) Individuals who meet Wikipedia notability standards will get an unbiased biography. Don’t create a bio for yourself because it hurt your reputation. Carefully edit Wikipedia articles.
(6) The DMOZ.org policies baffle me. Many categories are populated but never updated and they’re picky about editors. Still, DMOZ is well respected.
(7) I am an editor on syndic8.com. I reject most of the waiting feeds that I review, but there is some good stuff there.
(8) Make sure your target page loads quickly (within a few seconds).
(9) Reduce your link-to-content ratio and ad-to-content ratio. Links and ads are fine, but the search robots can pick out link farms and ad farms.
(10) Renew your domain registration for multiple years so that you don’t look like a temporary ad farm.

Local news on the web

Print editions of newspapers across the country are shutting down these days. I still subscribe to the print editions of two newspapers in the Rochester, NY area, but I’m looking for news sources to carry me when the inevitable finally happens. The print editions support an investigative activity that bloggers and web editions just can’t match (oh well...). In particular, I’m looking for a deep sources of local news. Lots of web sites regurgitate the top stories from the print editions, but that won’t help when there are no print editions. I'm looking for sites that can tell me about businesses that are opening, school sports results, youth group and charity activities, etc., as well as the bigger stories and weather. Comment here on how you find your local news on the web.

Historical tech post: Installing Windows fresh on a new laptop (05 Jan 2013)

I bought a new Samsung notebook PC. Overall, it works well. It came with Windows 8 64-bit, not Windows 8 Pro, but it was one of those Christmas day deals and I have the Windows media anyway. I found out that computers arrive these days without OS media, and with a restoration partition so that Windows can be re-installed if necessary. However, with separate installation media, I had the option of reformatting the whole drive and wiping out the space taken by the restoration data, which includes a bunch of manufacturer applications which I'll probably never use. Note that before I did this, I downloaded the manufacturer drivers from their support site.
 The installation of Windows 8 is slightly different than previous versions, so my process was to boot from the DVD, which required a BIOS change to allow this, so check your manufacturer documentation. I did indeed choose the advanced options to delete and recreate a single installation partition. No license key was requested because on a PC that originally has Windows pre-installed, a key is built into the BIOS. After installing the manufacturer drivers, Control Panel can be used to Add Features to Windows, where the Pro key is requested for certain features. Including a few environment tweaks, this all took a few hours, but I encountered no errors and the hardware works as expected.

Bibles and translations

The Christian Symbols page displays random Bible verses and most of the web page text is available in English, French and Spanish. To see French or Spanish, change your browser’s language preferences. In most cases, translations come from the old babelfish.altavista.com or basic web searches. Numbers and dates are not localized. If you’d like to volunteer to provide more translations, let me know.
The random Bible verses are retrieved in the preferred language by custom software using text from BibleDatabase.org. That site offers many translations. For now, the English version is King James, but I will use a more modern version if one becomes available for free. Each translations stored on my site uses about 5 megabytes.

Historical tech post: Flash updates (Mon, 17 Nov 2008)

I wondered how Flash knew to install updates after a login. After all, it is a browser plugin. The plugin checks for updates if allowed, and that is a user settable option. When visiting a Flash-enabled site, and when the update check finds that Flash is out of date, the plugin installs a RunOnce registry key. This is done silently, and most of us do not check for such a key every few minutes. The next time the user logs in, possibly days later, and even though the browser plugin is not yet running, the registry key starts the update process. The user might then wonder what started the update, but by that time, the RunOnce key has already deleted itself. Sneaky, but safe.

Historical tech post: Bugs I have seen - MSIE6 and replacing innerHtml with images (01 Feb 2007)

A table cell with an ID can have its innerHtml replaced by Javascript, without a page refresh. But if the content is img HTML markup, IE6 does not automatically download the image. If the image is already cached, it works sometimes. The general solution was to switch to an AJAX technique, which really does download the image.

Historical tech post: Bugs I have seen - National Weather Service web service (Tue, 27 Sep 2011)

 The National Weather Service web service returns XML data that does not conform to the latest security standards (first reported in 2005), so clients using .NET Framework 1.1 and later report an error ("The server committed an HTTP protocol violation..."). The solution is to edit the proxy class generated by Visual Studio to process the returned data according to an older version of the protocol.
The web service intermittently throws, "Unable to read data from the transport connection." This appears to be a timeout error which I work around by requesting less data at a time, multiple times.
 I noticed errors on 2011-09-26; the web service URL changed from http://www.weather.gov/xml/DWMLgen/wsdl/ndfdXML.wsdl to http://graphical.weather.gov/xml/SOAP_server/ndfdXMLserver.php?wsdl, and there were breaking changes to NDFDgen(). I struggled with Visual Studio, so I deleted the old web reference, closed and reopened VS, added the new web reference, modified NDFDgen(), and then it worked (without editing the proxy class to adjust the protocol version, at least there’s that).

Historical tech post: Bugs I have seen - Firefox and synchronous AJAX (01 Dec 2006)

 There is a problem with the way FireFox (in 2006) handles the Javascript XMLHttpRequest object. This object is used to implement AJAX techniques that allow access to remote information via HTTP without refreshing the whole web page. If the open method is called synchronously, the readyState property never gets set to 4 (completed). Some blogs suggest declaring the onreadystatechange function after the call to open, but this didn’t work for me (I had to use an asynchronous call). My page behaves better with the asynchronous call, but from what I’ve seen in the blogs, FireFox is either the only browser that does it right, or the only browser that does it wrong.
Also: I had a few issue when loading an XML document with Javascript. My XML document was being cached by the browser, and this caching apparently cannot be avoided with an HTML no-cache header. A simple but hack-ish solution is to do,
 xmlDok.load("file.xml?rnd=" + Math.random(1000).toString());
 so that the browser thinks a different URL is loaded each time.
 Also, one would expect to be able to select nodes with XPath, via selectSingleNode and selectNodes. This works as expected in MSIE, but Firefox implements a different DOM which throws exceptions ("selectNodes is not a function" or "selectSingleNode is not a function"). Try these:
 function XSelectNodes(xmldok, elementPath)
 if (window.ActiveXObject)
 return xmldok.selectNodes(elementPath);
 var xpe = new XPathEvaluator();
 var nsResolver = xpe.createNSResolver((xmldok.ownerDocument == null) ? xmldok.documentElement : xmldok.ownerDocument.documentElement);
 var results = xpe.evaluate(elementPath, xmldok, nsResolver, XPathResult.ORDERED_NODE_SNAPSHOT_TYPE, null);
 var i, nodes = [];
 for (i=0; i < results.snapshotLength; i++)
 nodes[i] = results.snapshotItem(i);
 nodes[i].text = nodes[i].firstChild ? nodes[i].firstChild.nodeValue : "";
 return nodes;
 function XSelectSingleNode(xmldok, elementPath)
 if (window.ActiveXObject)
 return xmldok.selectSingleNode(elementPath);
 var xpe = new XPathEvaluator();
 var nsResolver = xpe.createNSResolver((xmldok.ownerDocument == null) ? xmldok.documentElement : xmldok.ownerDocument.documentElement);
 var results = xpe.evaluate(elementPath, xmldok, nsResolver, XPathResult.FIRST_ORDERED_NODE_TYPE, null);
 return results.singleNodeValue;

Historical tech post: Bugs I have seen - ASP.NET checkbox controls (01 Nov 2006)

I have run into a couple of issues with ASP.NET CheckBox server controls. When a CheckBox is nested inside an ItemTemplate inside a Repeater control, the CheckedChanged event doesn’t fire for me. But let's say the Text of each CheckBox is set like this:

    Text='<%# DataBinder.Eval(Container, "DataItem.columnX")%>’ CssClass="hideme"

 where the hideme CSS class looks like:

 <style>.hideme LABEL { DISPLAY: none }</style>

The result is that each checkbox can have a unique Text property, and the CSS class makes it invisible, so it's essentially a custom control property. Then do:

 foreach (RepeaterItem dataItem in RepeaterDataTable.Items)
    CheckBox itemCb = (CheckBox) dataItem.FindControl("CheckBox1");

The loop gets at each CheckBox and you can then see the Text property.
Also, an onclick property can be specified for a CheckBox, but the CheckBox server control has no such documented property. Microsoft documents that arbitrary attributes can be applied to the rendered HTML control. For example, a CheckBox is rendered as an HTML input control of type checkbox. A CheckBox can be created to call a JavaScript function, client-side, by adding the following line to a code-behind method:
    cb1.Attributes.Add("onclick", "jsFunc();");
The CheckBox will also invoke server-side methods as usual.

Friday, September 23, 2016

I don't understand why anyone pays for recorded music any more. Aside from shady activities like peer-to-peer sharing, podcasts and YouTube offer almost every commercial recording. I'm listening to new stuff and stuff from the days of 78 RPM, and I found two podcasts from guys who play wax roll recordings from pre-vinyl days. There is more good music than I can listen to.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Summer winds down

One of the hottest summers on record in update New York comes to an end this week, at least on the calendar. My lovely wife and I took a long road trip in August to see Elizabethtown, PA, Newport News, VA, Belmar, NJ and Salem, MA. Let's hope the fall is long and not too much cooler.

Historical blog topics

April ‎3 - Ads at gocek.org

I have been gradually updating content on the gocek domains to be more "responsive" so that the pages appear properly on full-size PC screens as well as small phone screens. One of the things publishers must worry about are advertisements. Do ads negatively impact the content? Are ads always bad for all visitors, or are some ads OK for most visitors?

The gocek domains get about 35,000 unique visitors per month, according to my hosting company’s statistics program. Details are available on the site map page. I use Google Adsense to monetize my site. I make about $25 per month from ad clicks. This pays for the hosting and domain registration fees. Ad revenue has decreased over the last year or two. The decrease is partly due to the way visitors get information these days; much internet traffic in general has transferred from web sites to phone apps. Most gocek traffic comes from web searches, rather than branded information, so a gocek app probably doesn't make sense.

Ad-blockers probably reduce my revenue. My response as a publisher is that Adsense ads support LEAN standards (see IAB LEAN). The gocek domains don't currently use HTTPS (that's the E part of LEAN), because there are no logins or financial transactions here. (I'm thinking about HTTPS, but it costs money to do it right.) You won't be exposed to huge ads here or popups/popupunders. Page load times are not noticeably affected by the ads. The ads scripts are a tiny portion of the overall page content and Google determines the context and serves the ads very quickly. Compared to a miserably slow site like Huffington Post, the gocek pages simply don't hang up your browser.

We independent publishers are aware that advertising on some sites ruined your surfing experience. However, it remains the case that the internet isn't free, and we white-hat publishers are trying to stay on the right side of the line between reasonable monetization and heavy ads that overshadow the real content.

‎March ‎22, ‎2015 - Redneck Driving on Route 104

I live near Rochester, NY and have family in Oswego, NY, so I have been making the drive along NYS Route 104 a lot for the last few months. What is it with you people? Do you really think it's just bad luck when a snowmobile rider gets hurt, or might it be related to sledding through the woods at 60 MPH while road vehicles are passing each other on the shoulder because their trailers full of tree trunks have to get somewhere as soon as possible? Do you really think the Troopers patrol 104 so heavily because they hate you, or might it be that ticketing is so lucrative for the towns due to your redneck driving behavior? Do you really think that the red light can be ignored at the intersection with Route 3 near Fulton? Doesn't the white strobe give you a hint that you really need to stop? I don't know how to describe your driving without using the word "redneck".

July ‎12, ‎2013 - The pope is a good papist

Pope Francis this month cleared two former popes for sainthood: John XXIII (even though he has not been credited with the traditionally required second miracle) and John Paul II (on track to be canonized eight years after his death, beating the former fast-track record of 27 years for the canonization of Opus Dei founder Josemaria Escriva). So then, why these divergences from tradition? If sainthood is important, which is clearly the position of the Roman Catholic church, isn't the process important? Regardless of Francis' authority to make these adjustments, why adjust
this process for these men? Are they just that saintly, or are do they get extra points for having been popes? I do not accuse Francis of trying to set himself up for sainthood, but what's the rush for John and John Paul? John simply doesn't have that second miracle, and John Paul left a legacy of sex-abuse coverups and Vatican scandal. I'm not saying John and John Paul would not eventually deserve sainthood, but one more time, why are they so special? If the traditional canonization process is flawed, then should all traditions be adjusted? Will we soon see women priests, same-sex marriages and birth control? Or, just more sainted popes?

February ‎8, ‎2013 - Chicken soup

I will laugh in the face of winter storm Nemo as I make Grandma's chicken soup. I suppose there's not all that much special about it. I peel the chewy strips off the celery, but still, it's just celery. It's fun to think of Grandma, though.

October ‎25, ‎2012 - Fracking

I used to be mildly against hydraulic fracturing. The continued exploitation of fossil fuel resources distracts us from the development of cleaner or renewable energy sources. But, then I moved from an all-electric house serviced by a cheap municipal energy provider to a house that uses both electricity and natural gas, serviced by a commercial provider that charges a LOT more for electricity. My new home's summertime energy bills were three times my previous bills. Regardless of how long New York's fracking discussions have dragged on, does anyone really believe that fracking will be outlawed in NYS forever? Opponents should be focusing on oversight rather than what I believe will be a fruitless quest for outright bans.

2016 update: Fracking is currently banned in NYS. So much for my prediction.

June 18, 2011 - Royal Wedding

At the royal wedding of William and Kate on April 29, 2011, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams welcomed the world to his "house", that most prominent Anglican venue known as the Westminster Abbey. This was an opportunity to show off Anglicanism, the English ancestor of the American Episcopal Church. The spectacle left us wanting more of Harry and Pippa, but it was not a good day for the Church of England. The archbishop's unkempt hair and eyebrows were distracting, and one of the female "chaplains" (nuns) sitting next to Will and Kate has been the object of internet jokes about her Reeboks.

Although 65% of churchgoers and 40% of full time clergy in the Church of England are women, Canon Jane Hedges was on the altar only briefly, with no active role. Even the choir was all male. Consider that historically, Western Christian Churches supported the abuses of colonialism. The colonies are mostly independent now, but the indigenous people remain poor while Westerners get fat. Maybe the couple and the hundreds of millions of viewers wanted a fairy tale, but so what? It is not the Archbishop's job to look pretty, but it is his job to promote social justice in the name of Jesus Christ. Instead, he put trees inside the Abbey, the beautiful people oohed and aahed, and an ugly world turned even though they pretended it had stopped.

On July 14, 2014, the Church of England's Synod voted (at long last) to allow female bishops.

April 9, 2011 - UVa Moot Court

On April 9, 2011 at the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville, Dan Gocek and his teammate Chris Cariello won the 82nd annual William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition. The contest began with preliminary sessions during the 2009-10 school year involving close to 200 law students. The students wrote briefs and presented oral arguments until only two teams remained. In today's final session, Dan and Chris faced Lynzi Archibald and Matt Hanson. The teams argued their points in front of federal judges who agreed to participate in the contest. Lynzi won best oralist. The four students will graduate in May, 2011. Dan passed the New York State bar exam on November 2.

Previous winners include Ted Kennedy, that's a 2004 photo of Dan looking at Senator Kennedy, is that prescient or what?

May 31, 2009 - Gary and the Liverpool Fine Arts Hall of Fame

Gary was inducted into the Liverpool Fine Arts Hall of Fame.

Gary's new blog

I plan to manage my blogging at blogger.com rather than directly on gocek.org as I have been doing for many years. Mainly, the issue is managing comments to blog posts. I don't get many comments, but I have been getting a lot of spam lately and a blogging platform like blogger will help me manage that. So, here's my first post for my personal blog, where I comment on web site updates and miscellaneous news events.