Secure Email, Secure Web Site – Thanks

One of my top pet peeves in my field is the use of self-signed SSL certificates for public web sites. I have no issue with using self-signed SSL certificates for a development environment or something internal, but when you have outside users, you need to show them that they can trust you. Just today – I got a “secure” email from my student loan company (which first got marked as junk). When I clicked on the URL in the email (https://securemail…) I got the error message “certificate was signed by an unknown certifying authority”. My blood began to boil.

A. You have all kinds of personal information about me, my loans, etc and you cannot pay $199 a year to get a certificate that my browser recognizes and trusts?

B. You make an extra effort to send a “secure email” to a “https” (secure) site, and choose to setup a “securemail” sub-domain – and when it comes to the certificate, you skimp? Wow.

Land Rover Anniversary

It has officially been one year since we bought our Land Rover. Did I write this down? No. Land Rover sent us an “anniversary” present in the mail with a card. We got a very classy box with a card, a $2,000 off coupon for a new Range Rover (thanks – that should cover the floor mats) and a Land Rover duffle bag. I am continually impressed with the service and thoughtfulness of this company.

Doing What's Right

I would like to think we all have standards of some sort. I expect people to treat me with respect as I will treat them with respect. Other people demand to be catered to at all costs – all the time. This morning at the train station the police were out and about issuing tickets for all people who crossed the tracks (there are 3 sets – closest: from Chicago, middle: express trains to and from Chicago depending on the time, far set: local to Chicago). Anyone who has ridden the Metra for a few days/weeks/years has crossed the tracks (after looking both ways of course) to catch their train (and we have also seen people get killed doing the same thing too). It is not always smart, but when you know the schedule, you also know what other – if any – other trains are coming and going. This morning, I was trying to catch an express train. Unfortunately, the train showed up early, and after seeing the police there, I was not going to cross and get slapped with a $250.00 fine. Don’t worry, some idiot did…and got fined. What I loved best about this situation came after the guy got issued the ticket. The people who could not cross the trains (where I was standing) starting yelling and swearing at the police officers for “not letting them cross”. Not only did the people yell at the police as the train sat at the station making up for it’s early arrival, when it passed, a mob of people went over and got in the police officers’ faces and began complaining. As frustrating as it was to miss my train, at least I could see the point of the exercise. The police were trying to help prevent careless crossers from being killed.

I felt pretty good about myself not getting all flustered and patiently waited for the next train…until an express train was on it’s way through and someone started crossing the tracks just as the bells started to go off. The crowd of people started talking and yelling at the police to ticket him. No ticket. The crowd then started talking about ok – it was like a yellow light. Then…after the express train made it past our stop – bells still going off and lights still flashing, the “yellow light guy” crossed the other set of tracks and the police did not blink. You can imagine the crowd…yelling at the police to give him a ticket , etc and I have to say at that point I also joined in. Did the police officers even attempt to ticket him? No. Double standards? Yes. I have always said this…I can understand and appreciate standards…but double standards drive me crazy! Fun times. Happy Birthday A!

Color, gimp.app, and Photoshop

I love Photoshop. I always have. I can still remember the first time I saw it. It was version 3 in a computer lab at Penn State, running on 7100s with Mac OS 7.5.1. It was a rainy day and I was enlisted to help the instructor keep the class of PSU faculty and staff on task as well as help with any technical difficulties. One look at the program and I was in love. I spent many of the following weeks in that lab on the weekends, after training faculty, staff, and students creating all kinds of graphics and whatnot for fun. Since I believe that software should be purchased and used as the license agreement states…I gave up Photoshop at home and now only use it at work for work related projects. As most people know, I like to do a lot of projects at home…so since I did not want to put out tons of money for Photoshop, I decided to try gimp.app…an open source graphics program.

Most of my time spent in gimp.app is enjoyable. I love working with graphics, but for nights like last night, I wanted to buy Photoshop. Why? Color. Alone, Photoshop is worth the price tag for color options. I am extremely picky with color…and with every design, I get more pickier. I have a fully functional XOOPS install up and running, but I refuse to provide a link for people to see it because I am unhappy with a shade of blue. I spent two hours yesterday in gimp.app struggling to get a decent color, without any luck. Perhaps it is learning curve…perhaps it is user interface…perhaps it is just me being stubborn, but I just wanted to let everyone know that the hold up with my XOOPS install is because of color. I am trying to stick to my overall template, but sometimes color drives me so crazy I start from scratch because I cannot handle it (look at the serveral versions of jappler.com I went through this year). I am hoping to figure my color problem out tonight, but I am confident if I had Photoshop…I would not have any problems.

PS, I am downloading the PS Elements demo right now.

Humidity

This humidity is driving me crazy…how is it that so many others, including myself live in an area that has such extreme temperature changes? I remember a few months ago barely able to go outside to walk Triscuit in the cold, now here I am with extreme heat and humidity. On another note…I have been using public transportation for a number of years now, but never did I see what I saw today…someone clipping their nails over their purse, then pushing the clippings into her purse. Wow.

The Decent Thing To Do

After a confusing day filled with follies of all sorts…I have to ask someone (because my answer is biased): do standards (both technical and personal) and hard work really matter? The day started off by me losing the last spot in my normal train parking lot to someone that I waved in front of me so they could make the turn (it was easier for me to do it, so I thought I would give them a break. Little did I know, they would take a quick turn into my parking lot and take the last spot causing me to miss my train and park much further away than I am accustomed to park.

As the day went on, I was reminded that double standards seem to be the standard. How is it that the others, who do the bare minimum (hopefully soon to be featured on thebareminimum.com (what you wonder why it is still at the bare minimum…it is called redoing the CSS and design for this site)), and seem to be stress and worry free, yet content to live like that while I am stressed out and produce quality solutions? (and then are the same people who complain about things that do not seem to be up to their standard) (which is well above their own in comparison)? (can you tell I like brackets?)

To follow things up, how is it possible I get the “are you fucking serious?” look from Mr. 1990 who is taking up 2 seats on the train and makes me ask him twice if he would please move his stuff so I could sit on the only empty seat that I have found in the past two train cars. PS Mr. 1990s, taking off your lame boots to itch your foot (with a sock with holes) is not very attractive.

To top it all off, as I was driving home, I have to cross the tracks, and as I was at a red light, tracks behind me, some jack ass decided to pull up, and wait on the tracks while we were waiting for the light to turn. So my final questions…what is the thought process with these people? Do they not care? Will I ever be appreciated because I do care?

Clean Code With Tidy

When I first started creating web pages with using SimpleText or BBEdit, my code was super clean…it might not have been as complicated as it now, but everything was in it’s place and it was damn impressive to look at. Enter in GoLive CyberStudio (now Adobe GoLive). Lots of great features and awesome site management, but my god, the code is nasty. Since I decided to design my pages using CSS instead of tables, I have once again found myself coding web pages in text editors or in GoLive’s source code editor. I am a much cleaner coder than Adobe GoLive, but I still make mistakes, and sometimes forget to properly code something, making my pages not compliant with the W3C’s standards. So what do I do? Enter Tidy. I use the command line version, but there is also a cocoa implementation of Tidy that is also pretty cool. So, no more excuses for nasty, non-compliant code.

Day 3: Panic, Day 4: Done.

Well, yesterday after hours of frustration and CSS style sheet number three, I started thinking that what I wanted was not possible…not even close. Thoughts entered my mind like : “maybe I will forward all IE users to a nice web site on standards” and “maybe I could pdf my web site and make users do that.” These thoughts were the desperation speaking. I dreamt all night about CSS classes, divs, and elements and woke up determined to find something that would work. Enter my new hero: Tonico Strasser who authored an awesome layout which I based my design on. I have learned so much about CSS…and this experience has been an education. I am still not a fan of IE, but it is something we have to deal with and I have dealt with it. I have a few spacing issues with IE still, but everything looks pretty good. Sixty plus hours worth it? Yes. Standards are important.