The Furthest Visitor

With all this information at my fingertips I thought I would start a new feature here, The Furthest Visitor. I'll run a weekly query and determine, very scientifically, the furthest locale from which someone accessed this blog.

According to Google Analytics, the visitor who has read my blog from the furthest away in the past week did so from, Sydney, Australia (9168 miles [14755 km] from De Forest, WI).

Sydney is the state capital and most populous city of the Australian state of New South Wales, as well as Australia's largest and oldest city (founded in 1788). With a urban area population of about 4.3 million (2005) and a population of approximately 146,297 people in the city centre (known as the "City of Sydney"), the Sydney metropolis is the largest financial, transport, trade and cultural centre in Australia, rivaled only by its slightly smaller, sister-city of Melbourne.

This isn't the first visitor I've noticed from Down Under, I've also seen visits on more than one occasion attributed to Flemington, Victoria, Austrailia.

The runner up visited from Quezon City near Manila (8012 miles [12894 km] from De Forest, WI), in the Phillipines.

Quezon City is the former capital and the most populous city in the Philippines. Located on the island of Luzon, Quezon City is one of the cities and municipalities that comprise Metro Manila, the National Capital Region. The city was named after Manuel L. Quezon, the former president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines who founded the city and developed it to replace Manila as the country's capital.

If you're reading from a far off land or from one of the locations noted above email me.

The distances were gathered from Indo.com's "How Far is It?"


Witty Marketing

No, this is not an endorsement. I caught this ad on a website tailored towards sports fans. Know your customers, eh?


My Christmas Eve in the back of a police cruiser.

We had an uneventful Christmas Eve Day. We lounged around the house, took a nap and watched a television program on The Christmas Truce, which is in and of itself an interesting story.

Looking back there is a string of events that lead to us being where we were, when we were. In no particular order here is a list of some events that changed the timing of our evening:

* The whole process of making our dish to pass took much longer than it needed to.
* I made the decision to bring soda, and to stop at Amoco near the house to get said soda.
* The gentleman in line at the register in front of us, who looked remarkably like Green Bay Packer Defensive Lineman Grady Jackson, was waiting for his son to pick out some candy. He let us checkout in front of him.

We pulled out of Amoco and up to the stop sign. A car had pulled up to the intersection to our right just a moment before we did. I waited patiently for them to go, after 10-15 seconds I decided they were yielding the right-of-way. They decided to go at the same time so I stopped and let them through. With that turn of events we wound up following the car instead of leading it. Luckily, in this case.

The car bounced between the center line and the shoulder. In the next mile and a half the car crossed the center line and moments later drove with the shoulder lane marker nearly halving the vehicle. We decided that the driver probably shouldn't be driving and called 911.

While I was on the phone with the 911 operator we came upon a church service letting out. Thankfully, the result was only a few nervous moments. I began to close in on the vehicle to get a license plate. Up ahead the speed limit dropped and the two vehicles ahead of the erratic driver slowed down expectedtly. The car in question did not slow down as fast as the vehicle directly in front of him and struck the vehicle. The victim pulled over to the left shoulder, I subsequently learned that nobody was hurt in the incident.

Instead of pulling over the erratic driver took off and zipped though the nearest subdivision. We followed the driver trying to keep a safe distance and named each road as we passed to the 911 operator. On more than one occassion the suspect vehicle sped of as if he were being chased. The first time he took off, I noticed that after a hill I saw a glow of tail lights, brake lights.

The thought crossed my mind that he may know that he was being followed and turn around to retaliate. Oddly though, he followed this pattern of speeding up and then coming to an almost complete stop three times.

In the end we followed him in a large loop coming back to a block from the scene of the original incident. The car pulled into a driveway and the driver got out of the car. Not wanting to be spotted we drove up 3/4 mi and turned around. We got the address of the house and fed it to the 911 operator.

Just as the operator got the address we noticed a squad car racing towards the house and then past. We turned in the same direction as the squad which was now turning around and coming back towards us. I rolled my window down and directed him toward the suspect car.

The operator gave me some instructions, thanked me and hung up. I gave a deputy my statement and after nearly 20 minutes in the back of the squad car we were off to our annual gathering at the Crowne Plaza to celebrate Christmas with my mother's family.

So, things fell into place. We did a good deed and have a story to tell. Nobody was physically hurt. The downside being that the suspect driver hid in his house and the cops didn't have cause to enter the house. Therefore they weren't able to deal with him tonight.


Doc Martins Back door

Doc Martins Back door
Originally uploaded by jremsikjr.
I took the camera to lunch with me on Friday since we were going to the Orpheum Theatre on State Street for the blue-gill lunch special.

There is a vandalized sign that is never cleaned, fixed or removed. Despite the fact that this in no longer in-fact Martins Back Door.

After passing this sign for 5 years the opportunity arose finally to photograph it. It's mildly amusing and the shot came out pretty good. Add-in a little Picasa post-processing-black-and-white-magic and you get what you see here.


November - December Analytics

November - December Analytics
Originally uploaded by jremsikjr.
Here's a look at the executive overview provided by Google Analytics. This is a quick view of the visitors to your website. You can see the obvious drop off as a result of fewer posts in the last month or so.


[Good Idea] Ask if the email sender if they want to save the recipients in their contact list.

[Bad Idea] Prevent them from saving contact info if that user uses a competitor's free web based email

Here's an approximation of the display:

Your message has been sent to (the following recipients). Would you like to add them to your contacts list?:

babixl@yahoo.xom [can not add]
nostil_p@yahoo.xom [can not add]
hkremsik@hotmail.xom [Already a Hotmail Contact]


Sharing the Season ... [Update1]

The response my earlier post about helping out a family in need as been tremendous. Jen and I went out last weekend and purchased a large number of items on the wish list that was given to us by the Community Action Coalition of South Central Wisconsin.

I just got off of the phone with the mother of the family and she is ecstatic that her kids will have items to open Christmas morning. She wasn't as concerned about herself or her husband but, I think she'll be very happy with the JC Penney's family portrait gift certificate that my parents, Jen and I have put together. In addition a large part of my family has put together a surprising number of gifts and clothes for the kids.

The father asked for work boots and the youngest daughter snow shoes, so we got them matching Stanley work boots, the little pair with a zipper down the side for easy on/off.

We plan to drop stuff off this Wednesday. It should be fun for all involved.


WikiBooks: the open-content textbooks collection

What a great idea. There is a metric ton of information out there that doesn't belong in an encyclopedia but, have strong user communities willing if not wanting to share this stuff.

Essentially, this provides groups of people to collaboratively write books. I stumbled across this as I was looking for more information on a Python module and found Programming: Python.

See also:
Learn Mandarin Chinese
International Cookbook
GuitarSpace Invaders (The Textbook)


Last Mammal Standing

OK. Who wins this battle? Female Bull Terrier or Porcupine?

The answer? Neither but one of them "survives" (Warning Explicit Content, It's safe for work but shocking in nature). I caught this on, of all places, The Naval Safety Center's Photo of the Week.

The Terrier named Inca apparently took exception to a porcupine that sauntered up to the home of her and two other dogs. She bore her stubborn terrier attitude and didn't lay off until the porcupine was dead. Inca paid a hell of a price, though. Reportedly she made it through with only pain meds and anti-biotics, amazing.

Are you a cynical bastard that doesn't believe anything you see on the internet? I submit for your approval (or not) that Snopes researched the story and found it to be true.

Sharing the Season ...

We contacted several organizations about volunteer work this Christmas season. We didn't get much response, indeed only the Community Action Coalition of South Central Wisconsin got back to us. The CACSCW works with folks that are, or recently were, homeless to get them back on their feet.

They, much like other organizations, have a sponsor a family event. After playing some phone tag we finally were offered a family.

The Doe's (name with-held to protect their privacy) were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. We don't have their whole story which is likely a little scary while also fascinating. It would be interesting to know whether they are re-locating to Wisconsin permanently or if they even had much of a choice.

Anyway, Jen was really excited when she finally received the information. They are modest requests, really. Mr. Doe wants work boots and thermals, the temperature change has to be one helluva shock but it's just one more thing. Mrs. Doe wants a family portrait and scrapbooking tools (trying to rebuild the memories lost?). They've got two daughters one of five years and the other eightteen months. The kids have "asked" for diapers, barbies, and learning toys.

Mr. Doe also asked for "sports stuff" (football: Saints). I suggested to Jen that we purchase otherwise identical Green Bay Packer and Saints items and repackage the Saints gear in the Packers box. She said that would be mean. :)

We'd love to have any donations or refer folks to the CACSCW if anyone else is interested in helping out. I'll keep posting on the progress as we get nearer to Christmas. Stay tuned.

See Also:
A Katrina-themed Christmas
My Katrina: An American Refugee
CubbieGirl: Can you help?


Spammers adapt again ...

It shouldn't be news to anyone that people are trying to abuse your website to sell viagra, market a pyramid scheme, or invite your visitors to some insidious site. This was particularly popular among Slashdot trolls** who would link to websites containing things you didn't know were possible, beyond your imagination in the worst sort of way. (**I hesitate to link to this article and highly recommend that you not click on any links without thinking about whether you want to see something horrible. It's not worth it.)

So, where were we? Ahh, yes the spammers have a new tactic that is using the system which is in place to help you find information and abusing it to promote their own sites or that of their customers. By creating members, with profile links to bad places, in forums that are spidered by search engines these sites are linked from high-trafficked sites with "normal" content. This boosts their relative search rankings and leaves you with less effective searches and more face-time with scams.

If you are the administrator of a community or even a devote user, Read the article. Understand the current wave of "silent spam" and do what you can to make it go away.


Caveat venditor - A follow-up article on the PriceRitePhoto.com saga

You saw it here: Caveat Emptor: PriceRitePhoto (AKA C&A Marketing, TheCameraMall.com).

Now the Denver Post follows up with a summary story which is nowhere near as interesting. Despite an "Apologetic E-mail" from PriceRitePhoto.com owner Ed Lopez, and the assurance that this was an isolated incident and the employee will be terminated it still leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouths.

See Also:
Are TheCameraMall and PriceRitePhoto (and EmpirePhoto.com) the Same Company?

Reseller Ratings: PriceRitePhoto

Santa's checking his list, Cashiers should watch their barcodes ...

Nice: Mac Bedor

Naughty: Jonathan Baldino

Baldino was detained by Target security personnel after making an age old mistake of being greedy. The 19-year-old University of Colorado electrical-engineering student made faux barcodes (with Barcode Magic) and applied them to an Apple iPod for a $225 discount. He got away with it too, once, he might have made it out of the store twice, If it weren't for those meddling security agents and their dog.

The story ends with a sad plea for forgiveness due to ineptitude. Either he's not right in the head or he's just a whiny brat.

Big brother is watching you pee.

A principal, Howard Fore, at Jasper County Comprehensive School placed a video camera in the ceiling to combat vandalism in the boys restroom.

An eighth grader, Mac Bedor, removed the camera and took it home to show his mother. Now, he has been suspended for "taking school property."

Apparently, cameras in public school bathrooms are legal because schools have more leeway on privacy issues. Not only are children going to be paranoid about bullys in the bathroom but, whether their private business is going to end up on the internet.

Good job kid. Go do something fun with your day off school.


Caveat Emptor: PriceRitePhoto (AKA C&A Marketing, TheCameraMall.com)

Caveat Emptor. The link above is to the unfortunate story of Thomas Hawk who just wanted to get a good deal on a camera. He did his homework and waited until the unit was in his price range. The retailer was rated on Yahoo! Shopping with four stars after 858 reviews. Just enough that I probably wouldn't have done too much more looking into the retailer. It all went down hill from there. There are credit card companies, Yahoo!'s Director of Marketing, "Police", "FBI" and "Lawyers" involved and it's a good lesson to remember as we are in the Holiday Shopping Season.

Check it out. It's the most Digg'ed story of the year, and this is November. ;)

See also:
Sleazy Online Camera Sellers And The Digg Death Penalty

Danger: PriceRitePhoto/USAPhotoNation

The Right to Bear Cameras