Archive for November, 2003

This Month in History…

About 4 years ago I bought a domain name and set up a website. It wasn’t the first time that I had done such a thing, but for the first time I managed to write on the site for some significant length of time, now covering more than 10% of my life to date.

Sometime in October 1999, I saw an early demonstration of Manila. I got my grubby hands on a copy of it and made a new website on the 27th, at about 7pm according to some timestamps. In the middle of November, I started putting up some pages about some of the Frontier programming projects I wanted to play with. The record isn’t really clear on how I was organizing things at the time — I think I was just changing the home page instead of flipping it.

As far as I can tell now, I started writing rants about the state of local politics around Thanksgiving 1999. Then there was the WTO thing – teargas flying and the state of emergency. Editthispage.com, Userland’s foray into the weblog hosting biz started about a week later on December 4th. Some of the people who set up sites in the first few weeks are still on the blogroll. Some others I met at a Seattle weblog meetup at the old Speakeasy Cafe.
It’s been a wild 4 years.

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Floats and Sinks

I can’t figure out how to do this with straight css, and it’s not even that easy to do with ugly table hacks.

I’ve got: {pictureRef(, align:”right”)}

	<p>more content></p>

What I want is an image aligned with the lower right of the containing div (like the image), the equivalent of background: white url(‘foo.jpg’) no-repeat bottom right; but with the text flowing around it. So it would need to be floated. But the top of floats are aligned with the point where they are declared, not with the bottom of the enclosing block.

What I’ve done for now is make it be a background image, and float a transparent gif of about the right size in the about the right place. But that’s an ugly hack. But it’s a lot better than having the whole block be an image.

you can either sink or float...

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This Morning’s Pictures

There was snow on the ground and roofs this morning. A neighborhood cat apparently went exploring. I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t one of ours, since they have bigger feet than that. The paw prints look about twice the size of a squirrel.
I don't think it was ours, they have bigger paws than that.

The strawberry bed is resting for the year.
Strawberry cage in snow

So is the cat.
Cat wondering why I'm pestering him with a camera.

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Late Afternoon

a candelabra at sunset

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We have made the man…

To paraphrase Jason, Habenero is very danger.

I’m still not sure what possessed us to plant a habanero pepper plant this spring. But I’ve now come across the second time when I wished that I have a laminar flow hood in the kitchen. Both times due to peppers from the garden.

We used about half of the harvest (30 or so) to make some hot sauce. Roasted, then blended in lime juice and salt. We were smart enough to use gloves for the stemming and seeding process, but opening the blender releases enough capcaisin to cause coughing fits. Hence the desire for biotech grade lab equipment to contain the fumes. A bit on the tongue delivered by toothpick is enough to cause burning. We even cut the intensity with a couple of anchos, but still too hot for me.

Oh, and we still haven’t really made a dent in the cayenne or thai dragons, but they’re drying nicely and should store through the winter. So if there are any locals who are interested in some organic fire, let me know.

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Voting and Diebold

Today was one of those quiet minor voting days where only local questions are asked. so I had a good chance to look around and see where our particular system is more secure than the Diebold ‘Swiss Cheese’ electronic voting system.

My polling place has scantron style ballots that are fed into a central machine. So it is electronic voting, but there is a voter and election official verifiable paper trail.

The government knows:

  • That I voted, or rather someone showing my voter registration card and signing my name voted.
  • That I recieved a specific serial numbered ballot. The ballots are in two parts, a serial numbered tear off stub and the main portion with the choices. I did not see a serial number on the main portion. Both portions are printed iwth the precinct number. The ballot number was entered next to my signature by the poll worker.
  • Presumably that the ballot was fed into the voting machine, as far as a count of ballots distributed vs. those collected.

I know:

  • That I voted for a certain collection of candidates, and that if there should be a recount, an election official could determine who I intended to vote for.
  • That I was about the 60th person to vote in my polling place today.
  • I strongly suspect that the ballots are handed out in numerical order in any given precinct.

This system is supposed to provide an anonymous secure ballot. Strictly speaking, someone with access to the ordered stack of ballots and the precinct ballot numbers could come very close to determining whose ballot was whose. It could also be done with a surveillance camera noting the order of people exiting the building. not perfectly, but I’d bet you could get 95% confidence if the polling place wasn’t all that busy. (and they aren’t, at least in off years.)

Security seems better. I am confident that if the ballots were taken out and inspected by officals, they could arrive at an accurate total of votes in the event of a recount. This is the area where the Diebold systems fall down. There is no paper trail, so you can never objectively recount the ballots.

This system isn’t perfect, but any system that is proposed to replace it should be at least this secure against tampering. the only way to do that is to retain a voter and election official verifiable paper trail.

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Pictures from the trip

The indoor weather exhibit at the Tate Modern Art Museum.
The mirrors in the tate modern, with indoor sun.

A 22 mile long dry stone wall that runs over the tops of 15 mountains, in what passes for wilderness in Southern Northern Ireland. 22 miles long and goes over the peaks of 15 mountains.

the top of the dam in the slient valley, mourne mountains.

London has such interesting architecture. 1000 years, all on top of itself.
Three vintages of towers

London also seems to attract eccentrics who want to live in glass houses.
Guy hanging in a box

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