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Onward and upward
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Published Sunday, August 14, 2016 @ 11:24 AM EDT
Aug 14 2016

Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write a book.
-Edward Gibbon

While waiting for the Social Security to kick in and hoping the intermittent consulting contracts continue, I've decided to take advantage of the self-publishing outfits like Createspace and Kindle Publishing and try to make a buck or two by publishing various unpublished works I've written over the years.

I have no J.K. Rowling-like delusions of grandeur here, but I do think one or two of my projects might be slightly successful.

A few years back I self-published Eff the Ineffable, Scrute the Inscrutable, a collection of quotations I'd gathered over the years. On-demand published through CafePress, I sold a couple each month until, for some reason, CafePress somehow damaged the .pdf file and could not generate new copies of the book.

My new untitled quotations collection will be in e-book form, link-accessible by subject and author, thus eminently more usable than the print-based "Eff". Categorizing each quote is not precisely a trivial effort, and I have to write the software to generate the book in a Kindle-usable format. I also want to add another 2,500 or so quotations to get the total up to a nice, round, marketable 40,000.

So please indulge me should I miss a day or so here on the blog. I'm fairly active here and here on Facebook, where I generally hang out ro maintain the few feeble remaining social contacts I have.

Will keep you all posted. And thanks for your continued support.


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Christmas vacation
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Published Wednesday, December 23, 2015 @ 10:21 PM EST
Dec 23 2015

KGB Report will be off the air until January 4. I'm taking an actual vacation break.

Merry CHristmas and Happy New Year!

2016 promises to be interesting...


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The devil you know
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Published Friday, July 17, 2015 @ 8:24 PM EDT
Jul 17 2015

I originally scheduled my FIOS installation for July 13. Then I got an email asking me to reschedule; the customer service person to whom I spoke said my original installation order "dropped out of the system."

I rescheduled for today. I received an email this morning saying the technician would be here between 11:30 am and 2:30 pm. At 2 pm I went online and saw the new scheduled time was between 6:30 and 7:30 pm. Another check at 7 pm... underneath the photo of a smiling lady greeting a Verizon technician with the words "Congratulations-Your FiOS Installation Day Is Here!" was the notice:

We are sorry that we were unable to install your Verizon services. To reschedule your installation appointment for a later date, please select a new date that is convenient for you.

How about never? Is never good for you?

In the five years since I've been back here, Comcast has never been late on a service call. They've screwed things up from time to time, but immediately apologized and gave me credit on my bill to compensate for the inconvenience.

Bah. I don't need another hole drilled into the house, anyway.


Categories: Comcast, KGB Blog News, Verizon


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Temporary inconvenience, permanent impermanence
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Published Thursday, July 16, 2015 @ 1:57 PM EDT
Jul 16 2015

Fascinating how we can receive high resolution photographs from a 12-watt radio transmitter on a spacecraft 3 billion miles away, receding from us at 75,000 miles per hour, but cable companies can't equalize the volume levels between channels.

Anyway, I'm switching internet service providers tomorrow, a process that should take four hours and begin sometime between 11 am and 2 pm.

This process should involve simply unplugging from one router and plugging into another, but things are never as simple as they should be, and I can't shake this sense of impending doom.

Anyway, we'll be back on the air as soon as possible tomorrow. We're signing off early because the cellar needs to be cleaned so the installation technication doesn't flee in terror or call the board of health.

Stay tuned...


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Oops
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Published Thursday, February 12, 2015 @ 10:11 PM EST
Feb 12 2015

A configuration problem rendered the quotations system inoperable for the past day or so. It's been corrected. Sorry for the inconvenience.


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Here we go again...
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Published Wednesday, December 31, 2014 @ 8:11 AM EST
Dec 31 2014

It is not true that life is one damn thing after another- it is one damn thing over and over.
-Edna St. Vincent Millay

KGB Report welcomes you to the Eve of 2015: May this arbitrary, transient point in your solipsistic sense of the space-time continuum delineate the initiation of a series of random events which trend in a manner which you perceive to be favorable.

After two years without missing a single daily post, I'm taking tomorrow off, immediately eliminating the pressure of attempting to attain illusory perfection in 2015. If there's something you can skip tomorrow, I heartily recommend it.

As long as it doesn't involve personal hygiene.

-----

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.
-Abraham Lincoln

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.
-Bill Vaughan

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.
-Benjamin Franklin

Before celebrating too much, you should be certain the statute of limitations expires on January 1 and not the date of the original offense.
-Unattributed

Celebrate what you want to see more of.
-Tom Peters

Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.
-Brooks Atkinson

Every New Year is the direct descendant, isn't it, of a long line of proven criminals?
-Ogden Nash

For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice.
-T.S. Eliot

Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.
-Oscar Wilde

He who breaks a resolution is a weakling; He who makes one is a fool.
-F.M. Knowles

I am resolved to grow fat, and look young till forty.
-John Dryden

I have never heard anything about the resolutions of the apostles, but a good deal about their acts.
-Horace Mann

I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.
-Anaïs Nin

I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the year's.
-Henry Moore

Many years ago I resolved never to bother with New Year's resolutions, and I've stuck with it ever since.
-Dave Beard

May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions.
-Joey Adams

.New Year's Day... now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.
-Mark Twain

New Year's Eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights.
-Hamilton Wright Mabie

New Year's Eve is like the death of a pet- you know it's going to happen, but somehow you're never really prepared for how truly awful it is.
-John Oliver

New Year's Eve we got five dollars for the evening- but that was from eight to unconscious.
-Sid Caesar

New Year's Eve, where auld acquaintance be forgot. Unless, of course, those tests come back positive.
-Jay Leno

New Year's Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.
-James Agate

New Years Eve: when the beautiful promise of tomorrow is transformed into the ugly reality of today, and the disgusting miasma of now becomes the rosy nostalgic netherworlds of yesterday.
-J.C. Duffy

Resolutions, like the good, die young.
-Fulton J. Sheen

Resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer.
-Abraham Lincoln

Resolve to be thyself: and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery.
-Matthew Arnold

Resolve to edge in a little reading every day, if it is but a single sentence. If you gain fifteen minutes a day, it will make itself felt at the end of the year.
-Horace Mann

Resolve, then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.(From the comic strip Pogo)
-Walt Kelly

The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.
-Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk. This drunkenness culminates on New Year's Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you're married to.
-P.J. O'Rourke

Time has no divisions to mark its passage; there is never a thunderstorm to announce the beginning of a new year. It is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.
-Thomas Mann

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.
-Hal Borland

Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever.
-Mark Twain

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.
-Helen Keller

Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to.
-Bill Vaughan


Categories: Holidays, KGB, KGB Blog News, KGB Opinion, Quotes on a topic


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Scheduled downtime
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Published Sunday, October 12, 2014 @ 6:03 AM EDT
Oct 12 2014

Dreamhost is upgrading our shared web server's operating system tonight at 11 pm EDT and says KGB Report may be unavailable for approximately 30-40 minutes.

Life is full of disappointment.


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Oops...
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Published Friday, July 18, 2014 @ 8:50 AM EDT
Jul 18 2014

Forgot to mention- today is also the birthday of Hunter S. Thompson and Nelson Mandela.


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Website update
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Published Tuesday, July 08, 2014 @ 12:57 PM EDT
Jul 08 2014

Yeah, I'm still limping along with Thingamablog, the now-ophaned blogging software that creates scads of individual .html pages instead of depending upon host-based applications to produce on-demand SQL-generated output. Call me old fashioned.

Anyway, Thingamablog takes about two minutes to generate the files associated with a new post. But a post containing a new category? It was absurd. The other day it hit the wall, as far as I was concerned- nearly three hours to completely regenerate every file on the website.

Fortunately, I discovered the cause of the problem: the "Latest Posts" entry over on the right column, which lists the most recent blog entries. It appears the software needs to scan the entire database to produce that list. For every page that contains the "Latest Posts" code.

And if your website has over 4,600 pages...

So, "Latest Posts" now appears only on the front page and the archive index page.

-----

Some other configuration notes:

Hotlinking to images on the site has been re-dis-enabled. Perhaps re-dis-enabled isn't a word, but it's accurate.

We've blocked a bunch of Russian and Asian scrapers, scammers, and would-be hackers by blocking access from a lot of sites in those areas.

http://www.kgbreport.com/wp-login.php is a text file that contains the single line

"This isn't a wordpress site. Sorry."

So give it up, willya?


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Temporal displacement
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Published Thursday, July 03, 2014 @ 8:17 PM EDT
Jul 03 2014

To accommodate advancing age and the fact that I'm usually a lot sharper in the evening than I am at 6 a.m., beginning today the usual quotes of the day or daily post will show up on or after 8 p.m., instead of at midnight or some other ungodly hour.

"Quotes" is usually tied to someone's birth or death date. For example, the "Quotes of the day: Marie Curie" post below is tied to tomorrow, July 4. But "tomorrow" is relative. In Sydney, Australia it's been tomorrow already for 13 hours.

For you old fogies, just think of this as the bulldog.


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Sigh.
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Published Sunday, June 22, 2014 @ 11:42 AM EDT
Jun 22 2014

Well, for some reason the sidebar has disappeared on the front page. That big grey bar to the right, with the Quote-A-Matic and all the links? Gone. But if you click on the permalink of this post in the header and go the post's archive page, everything in the bar reappears. The problem? The code is identical for both pages.

This requires more reflection. Talk amongst yourselves. I'll give it another shot this evening.


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Settling in
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Published Thursday, June 19, 2014 @ 3:31 AM EDT
Jun 19 2014

The move from XO/Concentric to DreamHost is about complete. The KGB Quote-A-Matic is back up and running, thanks to Random Text, a script from the fine folks at www.phpjunkyard.com. It's faster and easier to configure than the randomizer server side include from XO. phpjunkyard has lots of interesting scripts available. If you're into that type of thing, drop by and take a look.

The KGB Quotations Database search function is also online, thanks to DreamHost support and a standard cgi implementation sorely lacking at our previous host.

I'm sorry I had to leave XO/Concentric, but there was no choice. I've been with them since 1998, and they've been ultra-reliable and trouble free- until last year. Since last summer, there have been several extended service outages that affected thousands of small businesses. One would think they would have learned their lesson after Forbes raked them over the coals, but apparently not.

I spent over an hour and a half on hold on XO's support line this morning, longer than it took to open an account with DreamHost, redirect the DNS nameservers, and upload the site's files. The DreamHost server seems much more responsive, at least from my location. And ftp uploads take about a quarter of the time they previously did.

Anyway, expect a few bumps as we get settled in. Please drop us a line if you find any dead links or other problems.

-KGB


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If you can see this...
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Published Wednesday, June 18, 2014 @ 2:10 PM EDT
Jun 18 2014

Then the move to DreamHost was successful. Some things probably won't function correctly for a while- like the KGB Quote-A-Matic and KGB Quote Search- but I hope to have them up and running soon.

Sorry for the inconvenience.


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Déjà vu all over again
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Published Wednesday, June 18, 2014 @ 11:47 AM EDT
Jun 18 2014

The website went down this morning at 6 a.m. After 80 minutes on hold, the support person for XO Communications/Concentric, my hosting provider, said ""It's part of our DNS outage. I can't give you a time when it will be back up, but it should be soon."

That was at 11:20 am. I'm writing this at 11:51 am, and it's still down, and there's still nothing on their website or social media, aside from their response to my post on their Facebook page.

Sorry for the inconvenience. Again. I've been a Concentric customer since 1998, but I think it's time to move on...

----

Update: It appears the site came back up around 1 pm.

Whatever. I am now in the process of moving to DreamHost. Things may be a bit flaky for a day or two. Sorry for the inconvenience.


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Mea culpa, XO/Concentric and Comcast
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Published Thursday, November 07, 2013 @ 10:02 PM EST
Nov 07 2013

The good news is I solved my ftp problem. The better news is it was wasn't XO/Concentric's fault.

One would assume the 550 access denied message comes from the ftp server.

It doesn't.

The message seems to be generated by the ftp client software on the user machine. The client displays the message when the command is not executed.

However, failure to execute the command isn't the server's fault; the problem is the failure of the user's system to open a TCP/IP port.

I discovered this when a Google search for ftp 550 errors returned a number of hits containing references to Comcast, my broadband internet provider. Like a good Comcast customer, I didn't bother to call support... I just unplugged the router and hit reset on the cable modem.

It took a good five minutes for the modem to come back up, indicating a configuration change or firmware update was being performed. Once the reboot was completed, I plugged the router back in, waited for the computer to reconnect to the net, and the fired up the ftp client:

Command: STOR qcount.txt
Response: 150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for qcount.txt.
Response: 226 Transfer complete.
Status: File transfer successful, transferred 8 bytes in 1 second

Relieved, I regenerated the website pages and started formulating nasty things to say about Comcast. I ordered my ftp client to begin the transfer, and:

Response: 550 Access is denied.

Arrrgh!

What could have changed in the ten minutes between connect attempts?

I glanced at the Network and Sharing Center display I had opened after rebooting the modem to make certain all the machines on the home network were up. They were- along with a VPN connection to my office in Chicago, a connection I rarely use but had activated to connect via remote desktop to my workstation there.

I disconnected from the VPN and tried again:

Command: STOR qcount.txt
Response: 150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for qcount.txt.
Response: 226 Transfer complete.
Status: File transfer successful, transferred 8 bytes in 1 second

So, the problem wasn't XO's ftp server, or Comcast blocking ports, but rather a network connection conflict and a misleading error message.

I apologize for blaming XO/Concentric and almost blaming Comcast.

I've been working with computers for over 30 years, and yet I still fell for the oldest mistake in the book: believing the error message.

The older I get, the more I discover the new stuff I learn every day is actually old stuff I just forgot.

Sigh.


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XO blows it again (Updated)
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Published Thursday, September 12, 2013 @ 8:49 PM EDT
Sep 12 2013

(It probably wasn't XO. See this more recent post.)

After a massive outage last weekend, XO Communications- the host of KGB Report and thousands of other sites- has followed up its sterling record of customer service by making their hosted sites unreachable by ftp.

FTP- file transfer protocol- is the method we use to transfer and update files on the website. I just discovered that XO's host won't allow me to upload anything using standard ftp clients.

So, I had to use their incredibly inconvenient web-based file transfer mechanism to upload this page to post this status report.

I also discovered XO's web hosting support team only works from 8am to 8pm eastern time.

After last weekend's disaster, XO called me and offered me five months of free hosting to compensate me for my inconvenience.

That's nice, but if I can't get to my website to update it, free hosting's rather pointless, isn't it?

After 15 years, I really hate to have to move the site to another hosting company. But it's beginning to look like it's the only responsible thing to do.

So, if you click on a page, and it's not there, I apologize.

I hope to have things up and running again tomorrow morning.

After 8 am, of course.

-----

(The file protection problem was resolved ahortly after this post; probably unannounced maintenance and/or a transitory issue. No matter. I need 24/7 support.)


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Looks phine oot meee...
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Published Thursday, June 06, 2013 @ 7:05 AM EDT
Jun 06 2013

"Just because you can't decrypt the cipher doesn't mean there's something wrong with the code."
-The Covert Comic

My favorite post-modern aphorist, CIA spook, and fellow webmaster, The Covert Comic (follow him on Twitter; friend him on Facebook) sent me an e-mail yesterday telling me that the column on the right side of the page isn't rendering properly on Internet Explorer 8.

I jumped over to a remote machine running XP and IE8 and confirmed his report; the right column was appearing under the left column, and the horizontal position was wrong, too.

The page looked fine in Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and the various browsers on my Android phone. It also rendered correctly in IE9 and IE10.

W3C's online markup validation service showed the style sheet was valid, but it did reveal some errors on the page. I manually corrected the bad code, ftp'ed it up to the website, and:

Big effing deal.

Back over to the XP/IE8 machine. Rename the page so I don't grab a bad, cached version. Type in the new url, and:

Swell.

Alrighty, then.

If you're still using XP and IE8, you have much bigger problems than reading this page. You know what they say:

We now return you to our regularly scheduled whatever.


Categories: Covert Comic, Internet, KGB Blog News


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IE8 glitch
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Published Wednesday, June 05, 2013 @ 10:10 AM EDT
Jun 05 2013

A reader reported, and I've confirmed, that our pages aren't being rendered properly in Internet Explorer 8.

It looks fine in Internet Explorer 10, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and assorted Android browsers.

Odds are that if you're using IE8, you're also using Windows XP. That's because if you're using XP, you were stuck on IE8 because IE9 wouldn't run on IE8 due to some stupid Microsoft design decisions.

So, if you're using IE8- stop doing that.

Seriously, I'll research the problem and get back to you.

But if you're running XP and IE8, you have bigger problems than seeing a distorted version of this web site. You're using a 12 year old operating system. Mainstream support for it ended in 2009, and extended support will end next April.

Time to move on, amigos...


Categories: Internet, KGB Blog News


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Rollover
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Published Thursday, May 30, 2013 @ 7:18 AM EDT
May 30 2013

The KGB Quotations Database has passed 18,000 entries, for those who keep track of such things.

You're welcome.


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Tweaks
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Published Wednesday, May 22, 2013 @ 8:59 AM EDT
May 22 2013

I've been tweaking the blog to reduce the page load and link generation times. The biggest change is that the categories and archives links no longer appear on every page. They've been relocated to the "about" page.

Fixing one thing generally breaks a half-dozen others, so please let me know if you come across something that doesn't work.


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Seventeen thousand
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Published Friday, April 12, 2013 @ 11:05 AM EDT
Apr 12 2013

The KGB Quotations Database has reached 17,000 entries.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled ennui.


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Wow.
(permalink)

Published Saturday, December 01, 2012 @ 10:04 AM EST
Dec 01 2012

Thanks for the great November!


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A word from engineering...
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Published Thursday, November 29, 2012 @ 9:09 AM EST
Nov 29 2012

As Tom Lehrer said (although in a different context), I'm beginnning to feel like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis.

Thingamablog, the now-orphaned software that powers this blog, continues its flaky behavior and trend toward unacceptable instability.

Sounds like it may mean the inevitable leap to WordPress.

In the meantime, I'll try whacking the database a few times and see if I can keep 'er running...


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In the shop
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Published Sunday, November 25, 2012 @ 7:52 PM EST
Nov 25 2012

Doing some behind-the-scenes maintenance to the web site. Should be running on all cylniders again tomorrow.


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Learn stuff, indeed...
(permalink)

Published Monday, October 01, 2012 @ 7:31 AM EDT
Oct 01 2012

Thanks to Hannah Edwards of LearnStuff.com for pointing out a bad link in a post containing a video from Comedy Central's The Colbert Report.

The clip itself displays correctly; the error was in the code of the html "border" Comedy Central wrapped around the video. When Comedy Central redesigned its assorted sites a while back, it somehow mananged to properly retain the links to thousands of videos files, but screwed up the URLs to its main pages.

This isn't a problem any more- I routinely remove any extraneous material around the videos I embed here, and I also fix dead links on old pages whenever I encounter them. But with 1,900 pages dating back a decade or more, I really don't go looking for them. Thus, I'm appreciative when someone takes the time to point them out.

You can check out LearnStuff.com's article on The Colbert Report here.


Categories: KGB Blog News, learnstuff.com, Stephen Colbert


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