Author Archives: jeff

Web Browser Cookies Between Sessions (IE, Firefox, Chrome)

Was looking into this for a client, and I’ve come to the following conclusion based on various reading across the ‘tubes:

How cookies are handled between browser instances varies between web browsers. Why do we care? Well various web applications are going to get wonky if you try opening multiple instances of them when those instances share cookies. And by “wonky” I mean it’s just not going to work. So isolating browser instances allows us to have multiple sessions of that web application open simultaneously.

Internet Explorer

IE7 does *not* share cookies if you start another instance of it (e.g. double-clicking on the icon when an instance is already open) but will share them across tabs or if you use “New Window” to open new window.

IE8 *does* share cookies between instances by default, but it can be made to not do this by either:

– Going to File–>New Session

– Starting IE8 with “iexplore -nomerge” (custom shortcut)

Mozilla Firefox

It would appear Firefox shares cookies between tabs and windows if those windows are created under the same Firefox profile. If you’re like me (and using Firefox), you probably only have one Firefox profile setup for yourself. You can force Firefox to use a different profile by creating a custom shortcut that looks like this:

firefox.exe -no-remote -p “myProfile2″

where myProfile2 is the name of the profile you want Firefox to use. If the profile does not exist, Mozilla will bring up the profile management tool which will let you create it. From then on you can then open two instances of Firefox, running under two different profiles, which will *not* share cookies and, thus, will allow you to run two simultaneous sessions of your favorite web application (I know what mine is).

Chrome

Allegedly, Chrome shares cookies between instances unless you use its Incognito feature by clicking on the wrench and going to “New Incognito Window” (Ctl-Shift-N).

Just Haven’t Had the Time

I often hear the expression (I can only imagine you do, too): “I just haven’t had the time.” I contemplate how we might better serve one another – and ourselves – by replacing in our vernacular the words “had the time” with “made the time.”

In all but the most unusual of circumstances, we ultimately determine by the decisions we make where and how our time is spent. Regardless of whether the repercussions of such a decision are foreseen, regardless of whether its impacts affect the next hour, day, year, or decade of our lives, regardless of whether the decision was even a conscious one, only in rare cases may one justifiably relieve oneself from responsibility for one’s own time.

Time, a human construct meant to somehow provide context or perspective – maybe even meaning – to our existence; it would appear it also serves as a convenient culprit, accepting without protest our deflected accountability.

Guide to Bathroom (Occupancy) Etiquette

It happens all the time, all around us, in public bathrooms around the world: people are unwittingly placed in uncomfortable situations which, in all likelihood, were entirely avoidable. Broadly speaking, my goal with this post is to provide you the tools with which to avoid awkwardness between you and anyone else utilizing the same facility.* The bathroom occupancy quandary is not the exclusive domain of men nor women, so I will address the topic for each gender individually.

Men

1. IF there is a single toilet and no urinal, you are in a bathroom intended for single occupancy. Turn around and you’ll most likely find a lock on the door. Use it, and enjoy what’s bound to be a relaxing event.

2. IF there are multiple urinals in the bathroom, you are in a bathroom intended for multiple occupants and bound again for a straightforward, carefree – albeit more social – experience. Claim any unoccupied urinal as your own. In the case where both/all urinals are occupied, forming a line within the bathroom, space allowing, or just outside of it is generally acceptable (as opposed to scenario #1, where lines inside the bathroom are typically discouraged).

3. IF neither section 1 nor section 2 apply, and there is one toilet and one urinal, the odds of an awkward encounter can increase dramatically, but the opportunity for you to demonstrate your savvy increases, as well. The following mental steps should be performed quickly, and appear effortless – in fact, they should be imperceptible – to any casual observer(s):

Take stock of the door. Is there a lock? Is it the type of door you would expect to see in a residential bathroom, which might suggest single occupancy? Or is it a common-style door with no knob/latch, which might be indicative of intended multiple occupancy?

Survey the size of the room, as well as the proximity and placement of the single urinal and toilet in relation to one another. This is key. Would the average male be comfortable operating in tandem with a stranger given the space provided? Go with your gut instinct on this; chances are, it will serve you well. If the answer is “yes, he would be comfortable,” proceed to section 3(a). If the answer is “no,” proceed to section 3(b).

3(a). If you are alone (i.e. the first in), proceed to section 3(a)(1). If one or more people beat you to the punch, check out section 3(a)(2).

3(a)(1). If there is a lock on the door, you are within your right to use it, but do not use it simply because it is there. In the eyes of your fellow patrons, the questionable practice of disallowing the concurrent use of a perfectly good station can easily overshadow the subtleties of etiquette. Be smart about it; take everything into account. The style of the door noted in section 3 can also weigh into this decision, but don’t be afraid to stand by that instinct which got you to 3(a) in the first place. Whatever you decide, act with confidence.

3(a)(2). Under no circumstances do you lock the door. If there is a station open it, go for it. If both toilet and urinal are occupied, make a quick determination whether there is sufficient room to wait in line within the bathroom (in my experience, scenario #3 does not normally lend itself to internal lines); otherwise, wait outside until one person exits.

3(b). If you are alone (i.e. the first in), proceed to Step 3(b)(1). If one or more people beat you to the punch, check out Step 3(b)(2).

3(b)(1). A lock on the door is a green light for you to stake your claim to exclusive use of the facility during your tenure. It would be wise of you to use it. If there is no lock, you will likely be at the mercy of anyone who follows during your time inside; suck it up. It isn’t a bad idea to consider the style of the door at this point; though such knowledge can’t really be put to use by you directly, it might help you get inside the head of the next guy who walks in.

3(b)(2). Someone dropped the ball, and it wasn’t you. If no eye contact is made, casually make your way out of the bathroom to wait. If eye contact is made, diffuse the situation by combining a head-tilt motion toward the door behind you with the pointing of your thumb back over your shoulder, indicating to the occupant you’ll just wait outside.

Women

Enter the bathroom and take note of current occupancy of any stalls. If one is available, use it. If not, turn around and take a seat on the couch until one becomes available.


On a personal note, I had a recent experience with scenario 3(b)(1), which was actually scenario 3(b)(2) for the other guy concerned; one in which *I* dropped the ball. The bathroom offered fairly tight quarters, but I think I was thrown off by the common-style, non-latching door. At any rate, I neglected to thoroughly inspect the door, and it is exactly this kind of cavalier attitude which causes problems.

I had assumed my position at the single urinal when shortly afterward the door opened and a guy about my age made his way to the adjacent toilet. Not only was this toilet in close proximity and sharing a wall with the urinal, but a large mirror between them and on the same wall made the situation doubly awkward. I have to believe this guy was not in peak form, either, because he was fully committed, standing almost directly in front of the toilet, by the time he realized the error of his ways. His next actions, while obviously desperate and wholly unpredictiable, were arguably effective.

He took a step back from the toilet and proceeded to do some callisthenics in order to buy himself some time. I respected that; it struck me as conciliatory but without retreat. As I finished and turned toward the sink, I issued him what I imagined was a knowing glance with the hint of a smile. The look was returned in-kind. As I expediently dried my hands on the way out, I noticed on the door, at an unusual height, a small lock I had not seen during my initial inspection. I grumbled to myself; classic mishandling of a 3(b)(1).




* This post assumes normal operating conditions. It would be foolish of me to ignore the fact there are occasional, unfortunate states of distress where desperation trumps formal etiquette; consider such frightful scenarios hereby acknowledged by me as extenuating circumstances.

Uncool

Was out tonight, looking around, and realizing how uncool I am (specifically from a fashion standpoint, I suppose). While comments are enabled in all of my posts, I guess this was not exactly meant as an opportunity for everyone to pile on, but whatever. The top five reasons I came up with off the top of my head:

5. If my jeans are dragging on the floor behind my heels, I’ll likely cuff them. Oh, and I won’t usually buy “distressed” jeans; I’ll distress them myself, thanks.

4. Chances are, if you see me out, I will not be wearing a button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled thrice. I’m not saying I wouldn’t or don’t; it’s just not my ideal arrangement.

3. If #4 somehow sneaks by, I will have little desire to wear flowered print on said button-down shirt, be it embossed, monochrome, etc.

2. I won’t usually sport the stubble. If I do, it will accurately appear as if I am just being lazy that night (or the past three); those sparsely arranged follicles do nothing but lead me to further question my masculinity.

1. For whatever reason, when I towel-dry my hair after a shower, it automatically ends up in fairly well-formed faux-hawk. I flatten it out.

The More You Know

An excerpt from an article in the May 2009 edition of Discover magazine:

“Pinar Letzkus, a vision researcher at Australian National University, rewarded bees with sugar whenever they extended their tongue at the sight of a yellow rectangle on a computer screen. He then fashioned tiny eye patches and put them on a new set of subjects. Bees with their left eye covered learned almost as quickly as did bees without a patch. But bees with their right eye covered did far worse.”

I would like to emphasize the broader implications of this finding: there is a man out there who makes bees watch television, and he can also make bee eye patches.

The World is Not Ready

I received the most ominous text message today. And it was simply, “hi Jeff.”

I was not as much spooked by the content as much as I was the sender: my mother. My mom, who I have just forever assumed to exist in a universe parallel to the one containing such digital trinkets as text messaging; and yet, here was this text message, staring at me, its origin apparent. It was as if some mad, forgotten experiment, after years of compiling, suddenly blinked into sentience with the words, “hi Jeff.” I just kind of looked for a minute, in awe, at the screen of my cell phone.

And so, while coming to grips with the full realization of the unholy alliance struck between these two universes, my fingers slowly tapped out a reply…”the world is not ready.”

Housecleaning

Everonward may be in a state of flux for the next few days…or weeks. I have upgraded to the latest version of WordPress and find myself tinkering around with some different layouts and looks. While the precious content will remain consistent, the site’s appearance may not.

Ave Maria

Tonight was a relatively brief night out for me to the local establishments, and I found myself finishing off the evening at a bar known for its live entertainment and animated patrons. By animated I mean youthful, I think, or wanting, or both; at the very least, responsive to the rhythms and lyrics emanating from the band, even if such animation stemmed largely from liberal consumption of alcohol. Whatever their motivation or justification, the crowd was boisterous tonight.

Nearby a man vomited at his feet, the ensuing odor trumped in short time by the stench of an absorbent material meant to contain it. Some would consider such an environment the dregs of a community; I felt quite at home. Looking around me, amidst the staggering strides and slurred sentences, I saw purpose. Foreign, yet intimate, embraces presented an outward manifestation of raw emotion: a vital, human baseness we are often instructed to avoid; the desire for acceptance, affection, acknowledgment. In a world and city suffocated by self-righteousness and starved of altruism, people strain in a conflicted, desperate search for validation.

As the band fades and lights rise, there is a great bustling for the door; a din comprised of shuffling feet and raucous laughter is gradually overcome by a final song played over the loud speakers: Ave Maria. Full of grace. With all our faults, in all our frailty, it seems that at some primal level, it is absolution from each other that we seek.

Merry Christmas.

PDF: Windows vs Linux File Size

I’ve recently switched to Linux (Ubuntu 8.10) as my main operating system. I find it’s a more effective workspace for most of my tasks. Check it out if you haven’t already; Linux really is growing up. I do keep Windows around for a couple tasks, mainly gaming, but Linux is closing the gap on that, too, through the latest implementations of Wine.

One thing I’ve noticed, though, that I haven’t been able to pin down a reason for, is that PDF file sizes in Linux seem high compared to those generated in Windows. I know, this is a somewhat generic statement given the fact that, Linux or Windows, the process is dependent on the software doing the compression. Yet there seems to be a consistent discrepancy between the two operating systems when it comes to PDF file sizes. Looking around online, my observations seem to be somewhat validated. A popular solution on forums is to use the DjVu compression scheme, but I’d prefer sticking with the fairly universal PDF file format. To its credit, DjVu seems to match or better PDF when it comes to black-and-white documents, but it falls behind in grayscale.

So I ran a little test, scanning the front page of my offer letter for my new job. It consists of a company logo at the top and a full page of text. It is somewhat indicative of what I archive. All scans were done in black-and-white or grayscale. Results (file size in bytes):

18474 150dpiLinuxDjVu-BW.djvu
241812 150dpiLinuxDjVu-Gray.djvu
55298 150dpiLinuxLZW-BW.pdf
813876 150dpiLinuxLZW-Gray.pdf
50213 150dpiWin-BW.pdf
29172 150dpiWinG4-BW.tif
34410 150dpiWinG4-Gray.tif
58947 150dpiWin-Gray.pdf
47280 150dpiWinLZW-BW.tif
1304736 150dpiWinLZW-Gray.tif
29229 300dpiLinuxDjVu-BW.djvu
688967 300dpiLinuxDjVu-Gray.djvu
113726 300dpiLinuxLZW-BW.pdf
2670089 300dpiLinuxLZW-Gray.pdf
81978 300dpiWin-BW.pdf
59188 300dpiWinG4-BW.tif
73842 300dpiWinG4-Gray.tif
114967 300dpiWin-Gray.pdf
5024631 300dpiWin-Gray-300dpiPDF.pdf
5024632 300dpiWin-Gray-600dpiPDF.pdf
5040863 300dpiWin-GrayThenPDF.pdf
8955576 300dpiWin-Gray.tif
132170 300dpiWinLZW-BW.tif
5577814 300dpiWinLZW-Gray.tif
759067 CNNLinux.pdf
237794 CNNWin600dpi.pdf

In order of size:

18474 150dpiLinuxDjVu-BW.djvu
29172 150dpiWinG4-BW.tif
29229 300dpiLinuxDjVu-BW.djvu
34410 150dpiWinG4-Gray.tif
47280 150dpiWinLZW-BW.tif
50213 150dpiWin-BW.pdf
55298 150dpiLinuxLZW-BW.pdf
58947 150dpiWin-Gray.pdf
59188 300dpiWinG4-BW.tif
73842 300dpiWinG4-Gray.tif
81978 300dpiWin-BW.pdf
113726 300dpiLinuxLZW-BW.pdf
114967 300dpiWin-Gray.pdf
132170 300dpiWinLZW-BW.tif
237794 CNNWin600dpi.pdf
241812 150dpiLinuxDjVu-Gray.djvu
688967 300dpiLinuxDjVu-Gray.djvu
759067 CNNLinux.pdf
813876 150dpiLinuxLZW-Gray.pdf
1304736 150dpiWinLZW-Gray.tif
2670089 300dpiLinuxLZW-Gray.pdf
5024631 300dpiWin-Gray-300dpiPDF.pdf
5024632 300dpiWin-Gray-600dpiPDF.pdf
5040863 300dpiWin-GrayThenPDF.pdf
5577814 300dpiWinLZW-Gray.tif
8955576 300dpiWin-Gray.tif

Make note of the file extensions; there are actually three different file types in those listings. The file names lead with resolution, with the exception of the two starting with “CNN.” Those two were PDF’s created by printing cnn.com’s cover page to PDF in Linux and Windows (using PDF Creator). The cover page contained slightly different content but not enough to explain the file size difference. After the resolution in the file name comes the operating system, followed by compression algorithm where applicable. Immediately after the hyphen is the grayscale/black-and-white indicactor and in those cases where there is a second hyphen, it indicates the file was post-processed with a PDF printer at the stated resolution.

For Windows, where a compression algorithm is not listed, I used the software included with my Canon LiDE 50 scanner, which saves directly to PDF. In Linux, I used the popular gscan2pdf GUI. Having OCR on or off did not seem to make much of a difference, as far as file size. For gscan2pdf, the file was also processed with Unpaper, which should optimize the file further (it also creates blockiness in the document’s whitespace that is undesirable to me, but it’s fine for archiving documents).

So there you go. The difference is significant. One would have to dig into the underpinnings of the software, I think, to expose the reason for this, but I’m definitely curious. Again, DjVu pulls close and surpasses PDF when it comes to black-and-white scanning, but even it falls short when using grayscale (which happens to by my method of choice). I’ll admit I don’t relish the idea of booting into Windows simply to archive documents.

I’m Wondering…

…why I have this compulsion to wash an old pair of boxers after wearing them for the last time, before throwing them out. Why can’t I approach the event with a “one last time for old time’s sake” mentality, then toss them? On some level, do I value the opinion of anyone who happens to go through my trash? Is it simple consideration for those downstream of me in the chain of garbage collection? I…just…don’t…know.

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