New OS X Mail Behavior

Mail Delete Box

Mail Delete Box

This one caught me by surprise this morning as I was forwarding a message in OS X Mail. It seems if you have a threaded message (at least two levels deep) and you click within a nested level, a new delete marker comes up. Clicking the “x” on the upper left of the box will wipe out the nested threads. Never saw this before and have to say I’m pleasantly surprised.

The reason I’m blogging about this is to prove a small point. Whereas Windows seems to be out to get you, working against you at every step; OS X works with you and tries to help at every step. When asked why I use OS X, this is what I try to explain and this is just a small example of that in action.

A couple years ago I was talking to an executive in a fortune 500 company about this. The other day, I found out that I had converted him with this logic and he is now a die hard Mac fan.

Anyway, I have a couple big posts waiting in the wings that need a bit more research. Hopefully I’ll get one of those up today.

The Recent Google Knol Furor

Google KnolI’ve been sitting on this one for a while as I read countless reports on “Knol vs. Wikipedia”, “Why [Knol|Wikipedia] is dead”, “Knol has failed”, “Why Didn’t Google Kill Knol?”, etc.

I’m going to keep this one short as a) I see that a lot of people already have already come to conclusion I present below, b) I have a raging cold and want to get back to bed. Check out the comments on “Why Has Knol Survived Google’s Ophan-Killing Spree?“, btw I haven’t even read the article, just the comments.

So here is the deal with Knol:

1) Knol allows you to select New Yorker comics to insert into your Knol for free, WTF? If you are a Seinfeld fan, you’ll appreciate the comedy behing how cryptic these comics are. Well, it turns out Udi Manber is a huge fan. Who is Udi Manber? He is the Google’s VP of Engineering, Core Search.

2) Knol is Udi Manber’s 20%-time project. Udi Manber controls the levers operating Google’s empire, this is important stuff. What Manber wants, Manber gets so this project will never get killed (unless Udi kills it).

3) Udi Manber has a small little goal for Google – “human understanding and intent”. How is this done? Semantics and the semantic web. Manber has been involved in search for a long time and has published many papers and written many applications to harness the power of words/computing to make a better search experience.

4) So the point of Knol? Provide a corpus of structured knowledge to experiment with Manber’s search technologies.

So Knol is not about competing with Wikipedia, it is not about making money for authors or Google via adsense. Google couldn’t care less about these things, they (Manber) want to improve search. Once you can crack the “human intent” nut, search is yours for the taking.

image: Google

Bolting A Framework Onto WordPress

This took me about 10 minutes to figure out and implement. I’m surprised how easy it was. The first thing I did was create a new template and called it “dynamic”. Any wordpress page that wants to use the framework needs to be created with this template and the content left empty.

The dynamic template is then called and the $_SERVER['REDIRECT_URL'] is parsed and if the appropriate page resides within the framework, load it all up and serve the dynamic content. If not, throw some negativity at the user.

So the dynamic page acts as the entry point to the framework and passes off the directive in a switch type fashion. Pretty simple and works fine so far.

Has anyone else done something similar or is there a better way of creating dynamic pages? Am I being lame?

Added New Reading List Section

booksI’ve added a new “Reading List” section to the main navigation. These are books I’m currently reading and books I’ve recently finished. I’ve limited this to technical books so you won’t see the fact that I’m currently reading The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder.

Lately I’ve been more into reading articles and that is where you will see the most action – I read several thousand blog/magazine articles a year and I’ve documented most of them. The political, non-PC, cracked, etc. aren’t listed for obvious reasons.

Also, I spend a ton of time watching lectures and documentaries. Most recently, I just finished watching the 200 or so talks on ted.com. There are a ton of mind blowing speakers in this collection and wish to some day attend. If I were to recommend a single video at the moment it would be Larry Brilliant‘s TED Prize video. Simply brilliant (pun intended).

Now I’m on to the Watergate Scandal for some reason. My mind wanders and I just follow it.

suPHP Premature end of script headers

I don’t really advise using suPHP these days when the power and flexibility of mod_php will handle most of your needs. However, for a shared dev environment where you want to specify the apache user in the config file, suPHP works pretty well.

There is one major problem with it though and that is the logs fill up pretty fast and once you hit a 2GB log file, apache will start throwing 500 errors. The first thing people check are the apache log files and see the dreaded “Premature end of script headers”. And since this offers no other useful info, you go search on Google for what the hell this means. Google comes back with the official suPHP site which gives you some mumbo jumbo on CLI versions being installed in the place of CGI versions. But you know this isn’t the case, because you haven’t touched the machine in months and everything was working fine. You panic.

Most of the other stuff Google brings back are threads of people panicking because these 500 errors are being thrown on live sites. Some threads suggest you look at the log files. And this is good advice. However, there are a couple things to watch out for:

  1. usually the suphp.log file is the culprit. It lives in /var/log/suphp.log. If this has hit 2GB, roll it and apache will be good to go.
  2. there is no suphp.log file in /var/log. In this case, check your suphp.conf file for the location. The conf file is usually located in /etc/httpd/suphp/ or similar.
  3. if your conf file is pointing to a log file that is under 2GB, you need to dig a tad deeper. Check out your php.ini file and see if/where you are saving your php error file. Check if this file is over 2GB.

If the above doesn’t solve the problem. You need to take some drastic measures and find all files on your system that are 2GB or larger. The “find” command will work nicely for this.