Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cepheid Historicals

About a month ago, I was e-mailed by the ex-roommate and ex-leader of the Texas A&M Cepheid Variable SF Club, after many years out of touch. I was contacted because of a yearly "Monkeygiving" celebration held by ex-members every year the weekend before Thanksgiving. (Named in honor of an off-campus group residence nicknamed after the famous Kurt Vonnegut short story, "Welcome to the Monkeyhouse") Shortly after, I did a Google search. Perhaps I was using too many search terms, but the only thing that turned up was http://libraryasp.tamu.edu/cushing/collectn/lit/science/sci-fi/science%20fiction%20texas%20am.pdf.

A message or two a week was passed with friends from that era in my life and I noticed that we were CCing the e-mail to more than 10 people. I decided this was enough people to justify a mailing list, so I floated the idea today of starting one one on Yahoo. I'd picked Yahoo because of local L.A. LUG friend Charles's recomendation of their services. I'd picked the name Cepheid Historicals so as not to collide with any current activity of the club, and also since it was mainly just so the 'old timers' could keep in touch. I managed to get started on the project a few minutes after one response to my e-mail.

The process was pretty easy, but I do have a complaint that it required skipping out of my preferred Lynx to use Firefox to navigate Yahoo's group starting process. As usual, it took a bit of floundering around to reach this conclusion. This is in contrast to the Google services I use, which as time goes by seem to get more Lynx/text browser friendly, or at least maintain some core functionality that can be accessed without graphical browsers. However, as I knew from joining and posting to Yahoo based groups, opposed to actually starting one, you could still carry out those activities purely by e-mail.

I sent out the announcement of the group to about 15 people, and one person subscribed while I was deciding on my subscription preferences. Two other people have subscribed on the first day, one person from two addresses. One person posted a link to a wiki already set up for ex-members, http://wiki.cepheid.org/index.php/Main_Page. This spurred me to google again. I don't know if it was using laxer search terms, actually being wide awake or that the 'bots at Google were finally clued into a need to fill, but a wealth a of results turned up. The actual club at TAMU is going stronger than ever, charging semester membership dues, with interest groups working away and Club and AggieCon entries in Wikipedia. I was there, actually just a bystander, for AggieCon No. 2, but there it is in Wikipedia. Must of been for real!

2 comments:

Charles Wyble said...

A comment about the group process requiring Firefox...

I would recommend contacting Yahoo regarding this. They have a pretty fully staffed help department and seem to have a decent developer team which handles issues like this.

I presume that by being required to use firefox there was some nasty bits of javascript present?

As we have discussed a few times, it boggles the mind how many developers REQUIRE the use of js for simple things such as form submission. I can understand it being made available and providing an "enhanced" user experience, but it should never ever be required. The strongest argument I can see for requiring it is for data validation, and we know how effortlessly that can be thwarted. Server side validation is a necessary requirement these days. So necessary in fact, that Apache has a module for pieces of it, and there is talk that the upcoming security standards will require the use of application firewalls.

Obviously the more complex that a site/code is, the more vulnerabilities are present, let alone functionality bugs. Depending on your threat profile one or the other may be more important.

Charles Wyble said...

Oh I ought to link to said application firewall module for apache:

http://modsecurity.org/