Monthly Archives: July 2007

Make Your Own Montblanc Pen

I hate cheap pens that have bad writing characteristics with a passion. If they skip, leave smears, feel flimsy and light in my hand, etc. I just won’t use them. So, I have settled on the Pilot G-2 (about $1 each) as my pen of choice. But thanks to a neat set of instructions somebody posted online I can try out what it would be like to have a really nice pen.

This Instructable points out that a certain Montblanc refill can be had for about $6 and with a minor modification it will fit into a G-2 shell, letting you try out the same ink used in multi-hundred dollar pens.

OpenID Is The Future, Ask Me Why

If you’re not familiar with OpenID and you would like to be, this slideshow lays it out so clearly and quickly that you don’t really need audio to go with it. It covers the what, why, and where so you know why you should not be building another username and password system for your web application or if you already have why you should add OpenID as an alternative.

If you’ve already got an existing user account system in place and you want to add the ability for new users to sign up with their OpenIDs or for existing users to switch to their OpenIDs then A Recipe for OpenID-Enabling Your Site by Plaxo should be a helpful roadmap of issues and design considerations. Plaxo recently did an OpenID makeover on their own site and this should be helpful to you.

I Really Like This ZDNet List Of Security Utilities

This is a really excellent list of security applications and sites that you can use from a PC and at least one (OpenDNS) that could be used from any machine: 

The author shows a screenshot of each tool/site and explains how it can be used to protect you.

I thought that I knew the basics because I was used to using AdAware (or SpySweeper), ZoneAlarm, and AVG to secure PCs in their basic respects. But this list taught me a whole list of new tools and also recommended some alternatives to my old favorites that I’ll have to check out.

Harry Potter And The Moron With A Cameraphone

The world’s biggest dumbass has released Harry Potter early and he did it in a way that pretty much only helps those who want to spoil it for everybody and won’t help anyone who actually wants to read it protect themselves. There is a huge ZIP file (72.5M) with a photo of every two page spread in the book. Now, lest you think the results are readable, they aren’t. If you squint real hard you could probably make out what all the words in these low res photos are, but they are taken obliquely with a hand in the image holding the book open and the pages are way overexposed. So basically the idiots who want to scan through the book to figures out who dies and any other major spoilers are free to do so and start spreading them everywhere. Anyone who wants to read it will need to wait patiently for the printed edition or else risk blindness from trying to read this mess.

If you are wise you will be very very careful of where you go on the net in the next four days.

A Follow Up On Sun’s JavaOne Sessions

I mentioned the other day that Sun was making their JavaOne technical sessions available online and they have continued to upload more and more of the multimedia versions since then so you can listen to the audio while watching the synchronized slide presentation. In addition to that they’ve uploaded the instructions and materials from their hands-on labs as well. If you’d like some in-depth step by step tutorials on a variety of different subjects then you should look through and see if any of them appeal to you. I spotted at least three that would be worth the time for me.

Keep Track Of Your Reading Online

I like to keep track of my reading. I record all the books I read online, give a short review, and I regularly recommend the best stuff to anyone who seems at all interested in reading. Since late 2005 I was using an online application called Reader2 to record all that info, but I was never very happy with it. There was lots of stuff it wouldn’t keep track of and sometimes when it did ask you for stuff it would give you a very restrictive set of options. For example, if you would like to label each book fiction or non-fiction Reader2 would let you label something as fiction but had no non-fiction label. The closest label I saw was “documentary”. When was the last time you read a documentary?

I had asked the Reader2 author about allowing generic tagging but that was out of the question and when it went for a really long period with no big improvments I finally decided it was time to jump ship to something else. Where I landed was LibraryThing. It seems to be getting upgraded regularly and while there are probably enough features to choke a horse, I was able to figure out enough fairly quickly to get all my books, ratings, and the short reviews I had for each moved over. If you’re looking for a place to keep track of your reading and (optionally) share it with your friends, LibraryThing looks pretty good.