10 Ways to Ensure Your Data is Safe From the Feds

News that our US Customs agents can stop and look through a person’s laptop and digital devices when they enter the country happened to hit me very late. Only yesterday did I actually read an article explaining this gross violation of privacy; US citizen or not. While I would love to go off on the legal, constitutional, and ethical shortcomings of a policy such as this, I promised my editors (read: bosses) I would try to provide a bit more of an upside with my rants, instead of just straight ranting.

Thus I am here today to offer a few recommendations for those of us that still believe in the right to individual privacy. (And a few that might get you into trouble on your next time at the airport.)

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Posted in: How To, Rants

You Suck At Programming And I Hate You: Things NEVER To Do In PHP & SQL

One of the more exciting (by which I mean soul-crushing, murderous-rage inducing) things about my job is getting to look at the terrible, terrible code that runs all sorts of different websites on the internet. Chances are, you wrote some of this terrible code; I know I did.  It’s even possible that you still write such code. In case you do, go grab yourself a stiff drink (a strong vodka martini, or gin and tonic is recommended) and get comfortable, because I’m about to lay some edumacation on you.

Things You Should Never Do

First, I’m going to talk about some things I’ve come across that you should never, ever do. If you do these things and I ever have to work on your code, be prepared for the fury of ten-thousand burning suns to come crashing down around you, for I have warned you. Pay it forward by writing decent code, for one day you may find yourself having to maintain someone else’s heap of terrible code and woe, for you shall feel some tinge of guilt, having made other developers go through your new hell.

All of the snippets in this article were found in actual code being used in the wild. (And most of them come from a single, disastrous, amalgamation-of-fail file.)

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Posted in: Development, Rants

Incoherent Ramblings & Buzzword Science: The Steve Gillmor Story

This is admittedly a bit off topic for our normal look at all things code, but I couldn’t let this slide and HTMList represents the best place to publish my rant. With that said, I’ve tried, with great focus and much medication, to read through Steve Gillmor’s incoherent ramblings on TechCrunch. I’m clearly on the wrong stuff. Just the opening paragraph alone from today’s post is enough to make me wonder which psychotropics do it for him:

Who controls TinyURL controls the high ground in the battle for the Internet platform. Here’s why: Our brains are wired to protect ourselves from threats to our food, oxygen, and water sources. Most attacks on our supply chains come from those closest to us, our families, friends, business associates, and combinations of those groups.

The hell? So clearly, the logical conclusion to draw is that a commoditized, simple service which I could create myself in 5 minutes and teach you to create in 10 has any bearing on the “battle for the internet platform”? Let’s start with “most attacks on our supply chains come from those closest to us.” I don’t personally recall the last legitimate “attack” on my food, oxygen or water supply chain from either friends, family or coworkers. Or my internet service, electricity or cell service for that matter. Let’s get into it full on, after the jump.

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Posted in: Rants

VW plans 235mpg car…made out of popsicle sticks..

Ok, so maybe not popsicle sticks, rather magnesium and carbon fiber. Anywho, this prototype is slated for production by 2010..which is quite soon. As always, I am all for getting off our dependency on fossil fuels but I don’t think that ultra efficient cars and alternative fuel sources are going to help all that much.

Yes, they are steps in the right direction but I think that the big change we need will not happen until the American people change their minds about the concept of excess and greed.

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Posted in: Rants