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A blog and website by Peter Bengtsson

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Weird spam? Or just a weird girl?

31 May 2006 4 comments   Wondering


This just arrived in my inbox:

From: Carmen <tkunpgdng@jumpy.it>
Subject: metting you

Hi there lovely,
This kind of oppcortunity comes ones in a life. I don't want
to miss it. Do you? I am coming to your palace in few days
and I though may be we can meet each other. If you don't mind
I ccan send you my picture. I am a girl.
You can correspond with me using my email eh@freemailserv.com

If that's just plain spam, how does the spammer intend to benefit from this? They're not going to sell any porn or dodgy medicine on an email address are they?

If the evil spammer intends to catch horny idiots who reply and so keep a list of people interested, aren't there easier ways than having to do it this way?

Or is this just a weird girl who tries to make contact. If so, I'm afraid that I don't live in a palace. I live in a flatshare in Shoreditch.

An idea for a better timesheet tracker

12 January 2006 4 comments   Wondering, Work


Here at Fry-IT we use timesheets, like so many other companies, to track the time we spend on each client project. Despite being a very "web modern" company we still don't use a web application to do this. What we use is a python script that I wrote that uses raw_input() to get the details in on the command line. The script then saves all data in a big semicolon separated CSV file and is stored in cvs. This works quite well for us. It's in fact all we need in terms of actually entering our times which is usually very easy to forget.

But, here's an idea for a timesheet tracker that will not guarantee but will really help in not forgetting to fill in your timesheets. The idea is that you have a web application of some sort that is able to send out emails to registered individuals. These emails will be sent at (a configurable time) the end of the work day when you're about to leave for the day. You might have seen this before on other timesheet tracker applications; it's not new. What is new is that the email would contain lots of intelligent URLs that when clicked fills in your timesheets for that day.

Everybody can click on URLs in emails to open them in a nearby web browser. Obviously all of these URLs need to contain information about the day and the login credentials of the user so that you don't have to login on some site after you click the URL. Every URL would thus contain login stuff and a particular entry to the timesheet tracker. Something like this:

http://timesheeting.com/Xgt4q/_8_hours_Project_ABC
http://timesheeting.com/FpE26/_6_hours_Project_ABC
http://timesheeting.com/2Jt9a/_4_hours_Project_OCH

The first part of the URL is an encoding of the user's login and the date (date of when the email was created) and the second part is so readable that you can find which one suits you by simply reading the URLs. If you need to enter a comment for every piece of work you do, that comment form can be shown when you click the URL on the site.

Another very important detail is that the system has to be smart enough to know which links it should offer. It can do this by cleverly looking back at what the user entered the last time and the time before that etc. It should require much, you hash every different combination of hours and project and sort by last usage date. If you need to start tracking a new project or an exceptional number of hours then the email alert isn't for you. Remember, it's just a clever improvement to the usual "Don't forget to fill in your timesheet!".

Now, feel free to steal this idea on your own timesheet tracker applications. I've got too many other dreams that I need to try first. Writing about it means that I at least won't forget about the idea.

UPDATE

This comic is soo relevant and soo funny that I just have to include it dilbert20060146538113.gif

My new years resolution 2006

09 January 2006 1 comment   Wondering


It's possibly a bit late for a new years resolution but I have had to think about it and here are my new year resolutions for 2006:

Wish me luck! :)

have or has?

08 December 2005 2 comments   Wondering


I stumbled across this at work the yesterday and I'm still not sure what it should be. This is how I found it written by our Britain-born client:

If your e-mail address or mobile number have changed since the last time, please let us know.

Does that sound right? Or more important, is it correct even if it doesn't sound right? How about:

If your e-mail address or mobile number has changed since the last time, please let us know.

It could be that both e-mail address and mobile number are now different. Therefore both of these things have changed. However, it's unlikely in general that either change. It's then also extremely unlikely that both have changed. In most cases, if there is a change, there is only one change.

Neither have or has seem to fit perfectly and I'm making a big deal out of this. It smells like the best solution is to rewrite it like this which circumvents the problems nicely.

If your e-mail address, mobile number or both change changed since the last time, please let us know.

English experts, thoughts?

PS. Computer geeks, resist the temptation to suggest the use of xor instead of or to solve the problem.

Searching for the obvious

29 March 2005 0 comments   Wondering


Have you ever searched Google for something obvious like "news", "software" or "internet"? I have, but doing it felt very original.

Before reading on (unless it's too late) to guess what you'd find on the top spot of a Google search if you search for "news".

Ok, here are the results.

Searching for news
  1. news.bbc.co.uk/
  2. www.cnn.com/
  3. www.foxnews.com/

Searching for software
  1. www.tucows.com/
  2. www.download.com/
  3. www.apache.org/ not bad apache!

Searching for internet
  1. www.microsoft.com/ Thee PageRank gurus
  2. www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.asp page about Internet Explorer
  3. www.ipl.org/ (University of Michigan)

Searching for hardware
  1. www.tomshardware.com/ they deserve this
  2. www.hardwarecentral.com/hardwarecentral/
  3. ww.anandtech.com/ who are you?

Searching for search engine
  1. searchenginewatch.com/ I guess that's fair
  2. www.lycos.com/
  3. www.altavista.com/

On the "search engine" search, where is MSN (bottom of second page) and why isn't Google on the top spot (6th spot). Maybe this "proves" that Google doesn't fiddle with their database :)

Happy Birthday to me!

13 December 2004 0 comments   Wondering


I turn 25 today. Wahoo for me! If you feel extra generous there's always my Amazon wish list