Midwinter Travel Tip: Flying United? Checking Luggage? Save $3!

United Airlines, along with many other carriers, has instituted a policy of charging for checked luggage. For United, the first bag is $15 and subsequent bags are $25 each. If you check-in for your flight online between now and January 31st, however, you can save $3 on each the first bag. The online check-in process asks for your credit card to complete the transaction. You can also print your boarding pass during the check-in process. When you get to the airport, use the self-service kiosks to start your check-in process again. The baggage tag will then automatically print behind the counter and you’ll soon be on your way.

Central Ohio E-Waste Drop-off Locations

As part of our winter holiday activities, our family has been busily clearing out the basement to set up a play area for the kids. In doing so, we created a stack of old electronics — monitors, printers, stereo receivers, and such — that are of questionable working condition and worth. In looking around the web, I found the list of e-waste disposal locations on the SWACO website. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell which one was the closest because it was in a static list. So with a little spare time I put them on a map to help me find the nearest location; hopefully it will help you find the nearest location as well.

What Makes Google Tick? A Pointer to an Analysis

Why does Google do what it does? A report by the faberNovel management consulting firm describes Google’s “key success factors” and how it goes about achieving them. The report talks about “Google as platform” and goes on to describe how it makes money serving the network effects of that platform. For instance, it subsidizes one side of its platform — search engine users searching for free — to gain large amounts of traffic (eyeballs) that advertisers want (the network effect). Even more than that, though, Google sees advertising as a form of information in and of itself. The report says: “With [its system of selecting ads to be placed on a page], Google is able to claim that their ads are in fact a way for them to provide additional information to the user.”

Clay Shirky on the Need for Better Information Filters

Last month, Clay Shirky gave a presentation with the title “It’s Not Information Overload. It’s Filter Failure” at the Web 2.0 Expo. 1 Shirky admits up front at the start of the talk that the topic is something new that he is exploring, and as a result the ideas are not fully formed. (I get lost in how the last of his three examples applies to the topic at hand, for instance.) But his viewpoint is a refreshing way to look at the issue of “information overload” from a new perspective, and it is worth looking at even in this raw stage. For starters, he says that we’ve been facing information overload for the past 500 years — since the introduction of the Gutenburg movable type press gave readers more books than they could possibly read. What has changed in the last decade has been how past information “filters” are no longer effective.

The Jester Joins Twitter

It was only a few months ago that I was teasing Dan Chudnov for joining Twitter. Now I’ve gone and done it myself. I don’t expect to be using it much, but after observing the “Falls Church, VA” incident yesterday, I thought it would be an useful tool to have at-the-ready. Here’s the story of what inspired it.

DLTJ Updated to WordPress 2.5

Unlike previous upgrades, this left some functionality broken — notably some of the links in the second block under the “about” heading to the left (if you are reading this from http://dltj.org/ itself). But, you know what? — it’s Friday afternoon and all of the important bits are working. I think. So if you see anything odd, please let me know.

SSL for WordPress Admin and the Problem with XMLHttpRequest

Note! The updates to SSL handling in WordPress version 2.6 handle the problem of SSL-encrypted admin sessions in a much less hackish sort of way. It doesn’t make any sense to use this plugin with WordPress version 2.6 when you can simply add define(’FORCE_SSL_ADMIN’, true); to your wp-config.php file.

The WordPress Codex has documentation for running the login, registration, and administration interfaces on an SSL server. There is even a plug-in that will do much of the heavy lifting for you. I have found both of these methods, by themselves, to be rather unsatisfactory, though, in that admin services that rely on AJAX calls back to WordPress break (such as the periodic saving of drafts). What happens is this:

DLTJ the Target of Real Dead-Tree Junk Mail

Dorothea Salo started a conversation late last year that was picked up by Walt Crawford and others about receiving unsolicited “PR spam” with the expectation that the content of the message will be blogged about. In a related matter, I got my first example today of someone scraping DLTJ to send me junk mail through the U.S. postal service.

Junk Mail to DLTJ’s President, Tom Wilson [?]

DLTJ Updated, Readers Yawn

At least I hope that is the correct headline. I’ve been having some problems with this installation of WordPress lately — in particular, I could no longer activate or deactivate plugins — and the only solution offered in the WordPress codex was to start with a fresh installation of WordPress. Now you know how I spent my free time this weekend. While doing so, I updated the Barthelme theme and along the way gained some really need Semantic Web coolness to the underlying XHTML of the blog pages. The version of Barthelme is still a heavily, heavily hacked one, but hopefully the clean up this weekend will make it possible to keep up with new versions of the underlying theme files without major headaches. I also updated all of the plugins and cleaned out lots of old cruft in the plugins directory and in the theme files. As a result, the pages seem to load faster. Maybe that is just my wishful thinking.

Pointless E-mail Disclaimers

I’ve been collecting disclaimers that appear on the bottom of e-mail messages in a draft post on DLTJ for about a year now — every time I’d get a new one with a different twist, I’d save it anticipating the day would come that there would be enough humor here to share with the rest of you. That day has come. There wasn’t one that disclaimer that finally pushed the publication of this post over the edge; just the accumulation of examples. Identifying information has been removed, but the humor was left intact. If you recognize your institution/company in these examples, please laugh along with me. If you are the lawyer or pseudo-lawyer that drafted these, please do us all a favor and find something else to work on. Like drafting disclaimers for toothpicks and such.