February 2009

Monthly Archive

In opposition to the TSA’s proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP)

Posted by on 28 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: aviation, USA

I write in opposition to the [United States Transportation Security Administration]’s proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP), Docket No. TSA–2008–0021.  I am a United States citizen residing in Canada, and a private pilot licensed by Transport Canada and the FAA. I fly for fun. [Background: this blog post consists of a public comment I just submitted to the docket.]

Security is valuable, and I’m in support of sensible measures to advance security. But security measures are trade-offs, and the trade-off has to be a good one. The benefits must outweigh the costs. The TSA’s proposed LASP fails this test spectacularly.  The costs will be huge, the benefits meagre. Additionally, the TSA’s justification is based on flawed reasoning. Continue Reading »

Seeking listings for the BC Polyglot Blog Directory

Posted by on 19 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: British Columbia, language, multilingual

Do you know a blog which is by or for people in BC, and is in some language other than English?  If so, submit it for the BC Polyglot Blog Directory!

I created this directory in honour of the 2009 Northern Voice conference, which starts tomorrow at UBC. I wanted to highlight all those minority-language bloggers in BC.  In a little bit of searching I already have blogs in French, Traditional Chinese, and Japanese. I fully expect to find blogs in simplified Chinese and Punjabi as well. After all, 18% of people BC use a language other than English at home, according to Statistics Canada and the 2006 census.

I’ve created the directory on my site, at http://jdlh.com/en/pr/bc_polyglot_blogs.html. See the Rules and Q&A there for more information. You can submit listings for the directory by leaving a comment on this post, or by sending a message using that website’s Contact form for Jim DeLaHunt. Please supply the name of the blog, the URL, the language(s) in which it publishes, where the blog is located, and what geography it addresses.

I look forward to seeing this baby grow!

Heads up for 1234567890 day!

Posted by on 12 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: software engineering, time, Vancouver

1000000000 seconds since the POSIX epoch, as celebrated in Denmark in 2001During a high school class, my teacher interrupted his discussion of classical Greek history to say, “it’s twelve thirty-four on the fifth of June, 1978”. In other words, 12:34 5/6/78 (in the British notation). Alert people in the United States had already celebrated that moment on May 6th. If you missed that moment, you have another chance on Friday: 1234567890 day.

Humans love to find patterns, and dates have rich potential for that. For instance, I was walking through a train station on a business trip in Tokyo in February, 1990. I noticed that people were making an unusual fuss about the train tickets. 1990 was 平成2年 , or “Heisei year 2”, in the calendar based on the Japanese era name. The date was printed on the train tickets as “H2-2-2”. The symmetry made them collectors items. (I wish I could lay my hands on a ticket from that day, to convince myself I didn’t invent this memory…)

I have a fondness for finding leaks in the software engineering abstractions that represent our messy real world.  I wrote last year about POSIX time, and the limitations in its representation of modern calendars and time zones. So when a leaky abstractions turns up as a pretty pattern, it’s irresistible.  And that’s what happens this Friday.

Continue Reading »

How to resolve “XML Parsing Error at 1:1. Error 4: Empty document” when installing a Joomla template or extension

Posted by on 08 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: Joomla, robobait

Recently, I remodelled a Joomla template for one of my clients.  As I was installing newer versions of the template, I noticed an error message started appearing on installation:

XML Parsing Error at 1:1. Error 4: Empty document

However, the installation seemed to be successful. And I had a valid templateDetails.xml file in my template’s .zip file. There was a Joomla! forum thread “XML Parsing Error at 1:1. Error 4: Empty document” dating from December 28, 2008 about this problem, so it wasn’t just me.

Here is my diagnosis of the problem, and my solution.  Since this is one of those problems that drove me crazy, I’m going to put my findings here in hopes that search engines will find it and bring it to others who might benefit from the tip. Hence, it’s tagged “robobait”.

The short answer: the error message comes from a metadata file named ._templateDetails.xml, which the Mac OX 10.5.x Finder inserted into the ZIP archive. This file didn’t have XML content, but the Joomla installer interpreted it as such. And the content it did have, happened to be the kind of invalid content that provoked an error message instead of silent failure. The immediate solution is to generate the ZIP file in such a way that there is no metadata file named ._templateDetails.xml . Long-term, it would be nice if Joomla! would not display an error message in this situation.

Read on for more about the problem, the diagnosis, and possible solutions. Continue Reading »