Lorem Ipsum Generator

For
this Friday’s fun, something productive – programs that fill your page full of the type of compelling content that is likely to get your church web site critiqued here, and/or your commercial web site ‘analyzed’ by Vincent Flanders.

To it is with goulish pleasure that I treat you with Mean Dean’s Semi-Definitive List of Lorem Ipsum Generators (*bonus* my comments in bold case) :

  • I still can’t believe someone wrote a Dreamweaver Extension for this:
    Subterrane – lorem ipsum generator – This version of Lorem Ipsum is based on the code written by Captain Cursor, aka Taylor, originally distributed as a Dreamweaver extension and was later adapted by Travis Spencer. This web version by Will Munslow (Subterrane). It’s essentially just stolen outright and tweaked barely to post the data to a form field instead of the clipboard.

    This code is public domain. Taylor and Travis don’t care if you tweak it, bend it, send it, sell it, etc. (So I stole it!)

     

  • The page actually contains some compelling content by documenting the history of the Internet’s must abused filler:
    Lipsum.com – Lorem Ipsum, or Lipsum for short, is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book …. Visit the site for more compelling history.

     
  • This page has a neat picture of a monkey at a typewriter … hmmm … good metaphor … wonder if it has been used?
    i-r-genius.com – Lorem Ipsum Generator
    This page will generate random lorem ipsum with convincing sentence and paragraphing constructs. Just fill in the fields below to suit your needs and a customised random load of pseudo-latin guff will be sent back to you. There is an 100K limit, to stunt the ambitions of l33t haX0rz with novelty DOS attack plans.

     
  • MangyDog.com presents: The Random Dr. Phil Quote Generator
    During these times of trouble and turmoil, nothing sedates a soul or stifles common sense quite like words of wisdom from Dr. Phil.
    Whoops, how Freudian of me … oh well, too late to strike it from the list!

     
  • Want to wind up on next year’s hall-o-horrors? Then you need to roll-your-own generator. Here’s how:
    SourceForge: Development: Tutorial: Drag and drop saving
    This tutorial shows how to write a simple Lorem Ipsum generator, with drag-and-drop saving. It also shows how to add extra widgets to the savebox.
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Clubbed with a Lojack!

Romans 12:17 & 18 offers the following instructions "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone"

I’ve also heard it said in various pulpits and Sunday schools "Locks on the door only keep the honest man honest."

When I lived in NYC, like many 20-sumthins, I had a bike. A nice mountain bike. I’m 40-sumthing now, and still have that bike. One of the reasons is I did not buy the run-of-the-mill light-n-affordable Kryptonite lock everyone else was using. I lugged some 10 pound, imported from the U.K., cold-steel ‘Universal Lock’. Not because this lock was impenetrable, but because it was a a pain in the "ars nova" to break. As a result, thieves would take the bike next to mine.

That is sort of what Mark Pilgrim is talking about when he writes about a Club vs. LoJack approach to securing your email address only our web site when he writes of the "Club" scenario:

The more interesting thing about these “option 2” approaches is that they each only work as long as they are not widespread. Consider the analogy of protecting email addresses from spam harvesters. Enterprising young webmasters who think they’re cool will obfuscate their email address with a combination of numeric entities, hexadecimal ASCII characters, and other junk. And spammers will simply use scripts that cut through such obfuscation like butter (deobfuscation methods explained). Even the vaunted Hivelogic Email Address Encoder is not safe anymore. Why? Because once enough people started using it, it was worth somebody’s time to write a simple regular expression to reduce it to numeric entities, which can be deobfuscated into plaintext.

Eeeyooouuch Mark! That felt about as good as a sharp poke in the eye! Was it something I said?

Actually, Mark is just confirming out something I wrote back in June when I discussed the article associated with the Mean Dean Anti-Spam Email Obfuscator when I said:

Unless the "industrious" spammer has taken the time to build a smart flexible ‘bot, then I’m safer using my ‘obfuscated’ address as opposed to hanging one out there in plain text. I also encode the "mailto:" in a further effort to make email links look-n-feel like hyperlinks.

In other words, a smart, determined thief, I mean spammer, is going to getcha if you put your email address up on your church website. The trick is to make it such pain in the posterior and to camouflage it in such a way that they move onto easier prey. So yes, Mark P. is right when he opines that what is really needed is a LoJack solution so we can hunt down spammers and prosecute them with every legal means available to us. So in response, I’ve made some modifications to the Mean Dean Anti-Spam EMail Obfuscation Tool.

You can now encode email addresses mangled such variations as:

  • foo<REMOVEME>@foobar.com
  • foo-AT-foobar-DOT-com
  • foo<REMOVEME>@foobar-DOT-com

Yes, I know, these are still Club-like solutions that trade-off usability for security. So I’ve made one other modification. For those of you who have the ability to create email forwarders and or have an email catch-all (usually those of you who have ‘Real Domains‘), the obfuscator now encodes crude almost LoJack-like addresses such as:

  • foo+FLAG1@foobar.com
  • foo+30OCT02+@foobar.com
  • foo+FLAG1+30OCT02+@foobar.com

These entries are based upon a LoJack-ish approach taken by Anders Jacobsen in his article entitled ‘Email addresses with a "+" are VALID‘. An article that came to my attention after he left a comment on my website with a very identifiable, traceable and if need be, blockable email address merely by encoding his address with some additional information between the ‘+’ signs.

Using this technique, the email address I use on this site is no longer as easy to cut through butter – at least for now. After all, Mark P. gets it right when he asserts that at some point it may be "worth somebody’s time to write a simple regular expression to reduce it to numeric entities." Though considering the nature of the spammer, I tend to think deflection and camouflage this level do provide me slightly more protection than the average bear.

In fact, I only disagree with Pilgrim’s process in one degree. There should be a third option I call the "dye-pack" solution. An email address that explodes all over the spammer and indelibly marks the address, rendering the address ‘unsellable’ and making it easy for the authorities to track down spammers like the filthy dogs that they are.

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WMDI: Mad Scientist Experiments v.01

I’ve been remiss in my participatin regading the The Weblog MetaData Initiative: Next Step: HTML [meta] Experiment. Even after NZ mentions me by name! At Dean’s suggestion, I’ve gone ahead and taken a rather quick-and-dirty approach to our encoding problem. I’ve developed a specification which shows how to encode our general schema’s metadata using only HTML [meta] tags. Along the way, I’ve also “Dublin Core-ized” our data schema, and tried to use DC tags wherever possible and appropriate.

But because some of you are not programmers, and because some of you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, I’m going to offer two ‘baby-steps’ parsers that show how to take a WMDI encoded page and display the various tags. Even if you’re not into the WMDI, you may find these parsing mechanism useful:

First in Perl (console version)

#!/usr/bin/perl

use LWP::Simple;

$url = “http://www.truthlaidbear.com/001388.html”;
$text = get($url);
unless (defined $text)
     { die(“ERROR * Cannot Load $url – $!”) }

use HTML::TokeParser;

$parser=HTML::TokeParser->new(\$text);
while (my $token=$parser->get_tag(“meta”))
{
     print $token->[1]{name}.” -> “.$token->[1]{content}.”\n”
          if $token->[1]{name} =~ m/^(DC|WMDI)\./i;
}

Now PHP

<?
$url = “http://www.truthlaidbear.com/001388.html”;

$metatags = @get_meta_tags(“$url”,1);
if (!$metatags) $metatags=@get_meta_tags(“$url/”,1);

while (list($name, $contents) = each($metatags))
{
     if (eregi(“^(dc|wmdi)_”, $name)) {
          $tags = split(“_”, $name);
          $type = array_shift($tags);
          $tag = join(“.”, $tags);
          echo “$type: <b>$tag</b> – $contents\n<br />”;
     }
}
?>

There, now that wasn’t so painful was it?

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MS Office == XML

For those of you who have read The Book, and all of my faithful should have chapter 14 memorized by now, you see there is talk of how XML is going to shape the future of the internet.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. XML, “… nah, none of that fancy-stuff for me. Our site works very well with some deprecated HTML thank you very much. And I can understand that sentiment considering the hype XML is getting. But some of this hype is butressed with substance.

About two years ago, I suggested our church office avoid locking themselves down with various publishing and office suite products that weren’t forward-thinking enough to include XML. A point appearently made prophetic now that the newly XML-enabled version of Microsoft Office, code-named “Office 11,” is in its first official beta release.

Still don’t see the significance to your situation? Here let me help with this link to the Christian Classics Ethereal Library and suggest to you to start rethinking your newsletters, sermons and dicipleship data online.

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The (not so evil) Color Schemer

Last week, I preached on the evils of color inconsistency. One of the comments to that post reminded me of yet another useful tool for warding off bad color combos: Color Schemer – Online Color Scheme Generator.

A word of caution though. Just because this chart offers 16 colors, doesn’t mean you have to use them all!

Remember, in order for colors to be effectively used as visual cues, you need to make sure they have enough contrast soas not to get lost in the background, and used sparingly enough TO MAKE SURE IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE YOU’RE YELLING AT US ALL THE TIME, FOR ALL YOUR LINKS ON ALL YOUR TOPICS JUST THE SAME WAY WE STOP READING EMAILS SENT TO US BY OUR AUNT RUTH WHO JUST GOT A NEW COMPUTER AND AN AOL ACCOUNT AND WHO HASN’T LEARNED THE JOYS OF THE CAPS KEY!

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Sunday Sermonette: Confessions of a Netaholic

The following scene from some of OUR lives comes from Andrew Careaga’s new book – About “Hooked on the Net” — Internet addiction resources:

Hi. My name’s Andrew, and I’m a Netaholic.
It’s been five minutes since my last e-mail fix. Although I’m now logged off from the Internet and busily working on this text, still the Net’s siren song beckons. Softly and tenderly, e-mail is calling. In my gut I know the in-box holds nothing that can’t wait until later. Still, it draws me to its promise. Its promise — of what? A note from an old and distant friend, perhaps? Adulation from a reader? (A rare occurrence indeed.) Breaking news? Inspiring commentary? A special offer? A computer virus? Spam? A recycled joke — not even a funny one — from someone whose idea of staying in touch means punching the “send to all” command, forwarding stale jokes and urban legends (stolen kidneys, money from Microsoft, the infamous Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe) to in-boxes everywhere?

Hmmm. Sound too close to home for some of us? But honestly, how many of you are late to work or church because you just had to be the first to blog about a new book because your referrer logs indicate someone major media outlet like Weblog Central has linked-you up?

If your favorite pick-up line is “yo baby, what’s your domain name?” if you get the irritable and moody when your DSL goes down, or if you’re answering the question “Where do you want to go today” with a boil on you butt and bifocals because you’re fingers do more walking than the rest of you, then I suggest spending some time offline with a hardcopy of Andrew’s manual on managing internet addiction.

What’s that you say … you can quit anytime you want?

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Dixie Internet Systems 2 for 1 Blowout

More than once, I have preached that we need to GET REAL! That is, considering the low cost of obtaining a domain name these days (I prefer GoDaddy.com at $8.95), and the ever plummeting prices offered by host providers, there is no excuse for hosting your church’s web site on Tripod/Lycos or AOL. I mean what does an indiscriminate ad for a casino and an email address from DiscoMan123@hotmial.com tell potential visitors?

Well today, I happened to cruise by Dixie Internet Systems and found that they were running a not-so-evil Halloween 2 for 1 sale. That is, for $19.95 A YEAR you can run a site with 80meg and 10 emails – or two with 40/5 each. Either way, this is one treat that should to the trick!

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Color Consistency

One of my ‘beefs’ with church web design are those pages designed by webservants who assume that because there are 216 browser-safe colors that they need to employ all of them on their web site.

Don’t do this! Instead, settle on a simple color scheme – three colors is the industry norm, five if you add black-n-white. If you don’t know where to start, here is a nice little resource that offers color combination for web pages, color combinations, color charts for web pages, web page color combinations, web page design and layout – all via webdevelopersnotes.com.

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