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Category: Internet

WordPress, nginx, and category links

I’m dabbling in gaining experience with web services in my spare time. I decided to bring my blog up under nginx rather than Apache. Everything seemed fine except that the category links oddly stopped working and led to a 404 result from nginx. Googling was strangely unproductive at first until I realized that the common guidance for fixing permalinks (which I did not see a problem with) also applied to category links.

The solution is to modify the location / directive in the server block to include a last-change rewrite to feed the URI back to WordPress’s index.php, and more importantly, to remove the =404 that causes nginx to fail when it can’t match the permalink to a file on disk. Specifically, my location originally read:

location / {
    try_files $uri $uri/ =404;
}

and needed to be changed to:

location / {
    try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?$args;
}

Now nginx will do the right thing. Yay.

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Blocking autoplay videos on Macworld

I hate ’em, you hate ’em; even the writers hate ’em as well.  I finally got fed up enough to figure out how to completely block the autoplaying videos on the Macworld website.

Most instructions tell you to disable Flash, but I don’t even have Flash installed on my main computer (outside of the player embedded in Chrome, but I primarily use Safari).  It turns out that the Macworld website will then load a video player from Brightcove, so you have to block that too.

I’m using AdBlock, so I click its toolbar icon, choose Options, and go to “Manually Edit Your Filters”.  Click “Edit” and insert this text:

! Block autoplay videos on Macworld/PCWorld (need to block Brightcove as well)
www.macworld.com##DIV[class="video-wrapper small-player"]
www.pcworld.com##DIV[class="video-wrapper small-player"]
players.brightcove.net

That seems to be the lowest common division; higher level entities are named “how-to” or “security” or some such. Might as well get PCWorld while we’re in there. Don’t forget to click “Save”, and you’re done. (Also don’t forget to pay for AdBlock; I’m doing that right now…)

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Downloading Office 2011

What do you do when it turns out that your downloaded disk image of Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac is on the 3TB Seagate drive that failed last week, and you didn’t back it up because you thought all that was on it was archived TiVo recordings?

Turns Out™ TJ Luoma knows what to do. Thanks, TJ.

(Next time: recovering data from a 3TB Seagate drive…)

Update 2016-01-21: Also Turns Out™ that if you already have Office 2016 installed, you can log into your Office account and go to the Install page; there is a link that says “Install previous version”.  Clicking this will download a disk image file containing an Office 2011 installer.  (The creation date of this installer is November 20, 2015, and the contents appear to be version 14.5.9; the most recent update as of this writing is 14.6.0, so remember to run Check for Updates after installing.)

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Will no one rid me of this troublesome plugin?

So, facing the “Would you like to install Flash Player 10?” message in the browser page at Adobe’s, I had a micro-aneurysm or something, and thought, my daughter spends all her free time playing Flash games, so I’ll need this soon anyway, right? So I clicked “Yes.”

[If you’re reading along at home: STOP! DON’T DO THIS!]

Whereupon Flash downloaded and tried to launch some oddly named helper program which bounced in my dock for about a minute, while Safari spun its rainbow pizza. Finally, the system asked me to confirm I really wanted to run this program downloaded from the Internet —

[Reader, I implore you again, turn back!]

— and finally launched the installer. Which proceeded to ask me to close all running browsers. OK.

No. Wait. I can’t close my browser BECAUSE YOUR STUPID PLUG-IN IS STILL SITTING IN A LOOP WAITING FOR THE HELPER PROGRAM, so it won’t respond to the quit request.

Criminey. Doesn’t anyone at Adobe ever test this stuff out?

I know, I must have this odd configuration where I’m running the latest update of the operating system with the standard system web browser. There’s no way they can be expected to test for that.

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Insta-poll: Adobe Flash Player 10

Which slightly annoying and possibly overused net meme best describes this effort by Adobe to publicize the new features in Flash Player 10?

Adobe outlines Flash 10’s new features on a page that, for people running older Flash versions, leads off with the following instruction:

“To view the feature tour, please upgrade to Adobe Flash Player 10”

Is it:

  1. FAIL
  2. EPIC FAIL
  3. UR DOIN IT RONG

To be fair, when I tried it just now, I got a different result: a pseudo-dialog appeared in the middle of a gray box, with the message “This content requires Adobe Flash Player 10. Would you like to upgrade now?”

No. Not really.

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I'm really trying not to be "smug"

… but news items like this one make it hard:

An insidious computer virus recently discovered on digital photo frames has been identified as a powerful new Trojan Horse from China that collects passwords for online games – and its designers might have larger targets in mind.

The virus … recognizes and blocks antivirus protection from more than 100 security vendors, as well as the security and firewall built into Microsoft Windows. …

Deborah Hale at SANS suggested that PC users find friends with Macintosh or Linux machines and have them check for malware before plugging any device into a PC.

As Gruber points out, it seems inaccurate to call this a “computer virus” and not a “Windows virus”.

Remember, folks, if you must use Windows … be careful out there.

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Signs of the Apocalypse, part 12

Sending an S.O.S. for a PC Exorcist (New York Times):

I called John C. Dvorak, a prominent columnist for PC Magazine and a podcaster on the Podshow network. “I advise everybody to buy a Macintosh because Apple products are the easiest to use,” he said.

Wait a sec, let me double-check… yes, 2 + 2 is still 4, and the sun appears to have set in the west.

(Oh, yeah, the article? The author took delivery of an $1800 laptop running Vista, and less than three days later it wasn’t working — something about the anti-virus software — so he paid this guy another $800 to wipe the hard drive and reinstall Vista, and now he’s happy. Couldn’t make this stuff up…)

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There he goes, folks…

Rick Downes, writing at Rixstep, has gone off the deep end (and not for the first time, either).

If I understand this post correctly, he believes that Apple’s engineers are spending so much time reading his misanthropic ravings that they’re neglecting their more important work, namely fixing all the bugs in Leopard. To this end, he’s actually blocked access to his website from Apple (the entire 17/8 network — yes, Apple has a Class A network block).

Well, that will certainly help. Now they can spend their time instead reviewing all the bug reports that Rick has faithfully filed… oh, wait, Rick gave up filing bug reports because Apple’s engineers ignore them.

But Rick, if they can’t read your site, how will they find out what the bugs are?

Oh, well, no matter — it wouldn’t do any good anyway; clearly none of the engineers at Apple are anywhere near as smart as Rick (as a quick perusal of Rick’s site will make clear). Might as well give up and switch to Linux or Windows, eh, Rick? No? They’re worse? Really? Hard to believe, the way you talk. (By the way, you kiss your mother with that mouth?)

Well, I suppose I’ve wasted enough time reading Rick’s site, too. Time to block it myself so I don’t accidentally learn how to be a better programmer, or something.

(What a Rick.)

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Voĉo el pasinteco

While researching the previous post, I was surprised to find that the most recent reference to me in USENET is in soc.culture.esperanto from 2004:

[Ĉu] estas pluraj “Esperantistoj en MIT kaj Harvard”? En mia tempo
(malfruaj sepdekaj jaroj) estis nur po unu – respektive iu Russell Finn,
studento pri komputiko, kaj mi.

— Angelos TSIRIMOKOS, Bruselo

Are there multiple “Esperantists at MIT and Harvard”? In my day (the late seventies) there were only one at each – respectively, a computer science student named Russell Finn, and I.

— Angelos Tsirimokos, Brussels

I’m amazed that Angelos remembers me after all those years. I had learned Esperanto in my teens, and had made an abortive attempt to form an Esperanto club at MIT, but as I recall I knew Angelos only through meetings of the Boston Esperanto Club. I remember him, of course, but I haven’t thought of him in years. It’s been years since I was active in Esperanto, too.

Saluton, Angelos. Mi devas baldaŭ retpoŝti al vi… kaj jes, nun ekzistas MIT Societo por Esperanto!

To learn more about the international language Esperanto, visit the World Esperanto Assocation or Esperanto-USA (formerly the Esperanto League of North America).

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