Facebook: How To Stop Videos From Playing Automatically

A few months ago, Facebook changed its policy and began setting videos to auto-play. This is particularly annoying on phones and tablets where you can pay for data usage. But it’s also annoying on web browsers. Your JoeDog uses the Vimium plug-in for Chrome which gives him vi-bindings for navigation. He scrolls down with ‘j’ and up with ‘k’. Auto-play breaks vimium. Oh, noes!!1!!!1!

Here’s how to to stop videos from auto-playing on Facebook.

First navigate to Settings. On mobile, it should be an option on the left hand navigation menu. In your browser it’s a little more tricky to find. Look for the privacy menu on the top blue banner. It’s a small menu with a lock:


This will present a Privacy menu. Scroll down to the bottom to “See More Settings”  Click that and it will take you to the Privacy and Tools page. On the left hand side you’ll see a navigation menu. Look for “Videos.” On my nav it’s the last item. That link will take you to Video Settings. From there you can turn off Auto-Play

Annoyance resolved.




Posted in Community | Leave a comment

A Three-Column CSS Layout

Your JoeDog has a new look and feel!

The theme remains the same but we’re rocking a better architecture. The previous version was close to six years old and I made a poor design decision. What was that? I used HTML tables instead of CSS. It was a bad decision then but it’s inexcusable now. Don’t use HTML tables …. ever!

Why’s that?

CSS has numerous advantages over HTML.

  1. It eliminates the need for a clipboard. If somebody refers to you as a copy-and-paste programmer, that’s not a compliment. Redundant code is hard to maintain. CSS allows you to manage pages with a single file.
  2. HTML tables contain large amounts of markup. With CSS, you can reduce much of that, lower your site’s overhead and create faster loading pages.
  3. Site redesign is so much more efficient with CSS because it decouples content from its presentation.
  4. CSS is better for SEO because it boosts your content to code ratio and it better enables you to signal which items you want to emphasize.
  5. And the biggest reason CSS is superior to HTML: NO SPACER.GIFs

Now Your JoeDog is no CSS design expert but he knows what he likes: a header and three columns — one for navigation, one for content and one for ads. You’re not blocking his ads, are you? They help pay the bills.

Fortunately, Matthew James Taylor is a CSS expert. To create this new design, Your JoeDog incorporated his Three-column Holy Grail. Taylor achieves cross platform compatibility and SEO friendliness without resorting to hacks, images or javascript. The design uses 2-1-3 column ordering. So while you’re viewing these words in column number two, search bots are viewing them in column number one. Clever!

I highly recommend his templates. If you’re having difficulty implementing them, feel free to steal code and ideas from this website. (In particular, look for the .main #content tag. Your JoeDog used that to prevent Taylor’s floating blocks from crushing his margins and padding.



Posted in CSS | Leave a comment

Is A Port Number Required in the HTTP Host Header?

Well? Is it?

How’s this for a definitive answer: “Yes and no.”

We find the answer in RFC 2616 section 14.23:

The Host request-header field specifies the Internet host and port number of the resource being requested, as obtained from the original URI: “Host” “:” host [ “:” port ]

A “host” without any trailing port information implies the default port for the service requested (e.g., “80” for an HTTP URL).

So if an HTTPS request is made to a non-standard port, say 29043, then you should send a port even though the RFC doesn’t compel you to. And if you make HTTP or HTTPS requests to standard ports, then it’s probably best to omit the port string.

The above is my interpretation. I’ve maintained an HTTP client for thirteen years and this has been a point of contention. In the course of all that time, I’ve added and dropped :port from the header. Like Jason in a hockey mask, it keeps coming back. In its latest iteration, siege implements the interpretation you see above. If the port is non-standard, it appends :port to the string. If it is standard, then it simply sends the host.

Look for this feature in siege-3.0.8





Posted in Applications, Siege | Leave a comment

Fido 1.1.2 Release

I like C. It’s probably my favorite language. Yeah, yeah, sure, it doesn’t have support for objects but that doesn’t mean you can’t write your own. Fido was written in C but it has an object-oriented architecture. This design makes it easy to debug memory problems and simple to re-use code. (I use the same hash table in all my projects.) So I like C but it also sucks. Version 1.1.1 of this application contains a bug that wouldn’t have compiled in other languages. C was all, “What? You want to do something stupid? Okay, fine.”

As a result, fido-1.1.1 doesn’t trigger an alert when a file reaches its target age while logging is turned on. All fido users should upgrade to fido-1.1.2.tar.gz


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Siege 3.0.7 Release

Here’s the format for a location header,  Location: absolute_url

Unfortunately, many developers don’t care about standards and Internet Exploder is famous for letting them get away with it. When siege followed the letter of the law, I was inundated with bug reports that weren’t bugs at all. If siege is confused by Location: /haha that’s your developer’s problem, not mine. Against my better judgement and beginning with siege-3.0.6, I started constructing absolute_urls from relative paths. Unfortunately, my parser missed a usecase: localhost. Siege 3.0.6 will barf on this:

Location: http://localhost/haha_or_whatever

Technically, I didn’t miss localhost. If you look at url.c:459 you’ll see this:

// XXX: do I really need to test for localhost?

It didn’t occur to me that people would run siege on the same server as their webserver.  My bad. There are many tests besides load tests.

All siege users running version 3.0.6 should upgrade to siege-3.0.7.tar.gz

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sh Script: Read lines and omit comments and blanks

I perform remote operations on a series of servers. Rather than maintain the server list in several scripts, I consolidated it into a single file called servers.txt  Exciting! The second I did that, I raised my own bar. You’d expect a config file parser to omit comments and blank lines, right? I do.

The anticipated time to write that parser was longer than I expected. In order to save you time, dear reader, I decided to post it here. This sh script reads a file into an array while skipping comment lines and blanks.

Here’s a sample config file:

# Comment line 
# Wed Feb 25 19:28:54 EST 2014

And here’s a script to parse it:

let X=0
while read line ; do
  if [[ ! $line =~ [^[:space:]] ]] ; then
  [ -z "`echo $line | grep '^#'`" ] || continue
  let X=$X+1
done < servers.txt
for (( i=0; i<${#SRV[@]}; i++ )); do
  echo ${SRV[$i]}

Here’s the output from the script:

$ sh ./haha

Here’s another way to coax the data out of the $SRV array. You can convert it into a space separated string and loop through it in a traditional manner:

for S in $SRV ; do
  echo $S

After you guys vet this in the comments, I’ll add it to the sh scripting cheat sheet. Happy hacking.

UPDATE: A reader sends me a one-liner which implements similar functionality.  If you don’t require an indexed array, then it’s only drawback is its perl dependency.

SRV=$(egrep '[^[:space:]$]' servers.txt|egrep -v '^#'|perl -pe 's/^\s+//')
for S in $SRV ; do
  echo $S
Posted in Programming, sh | Leave a comment

It Knows Me Better Than I Know Myself….

robotI write a lot of software with which I interact. If it’s easy for me, then it’s easy for you. I try to keep it easy for me. JoeDog’s Pinochle is the first program against which I’ve competed. It’s been a surreal experience.

The program was designed to be competitive against me. Tonight it took two out of three games. The damn thing knows me inside and out. And why not? I wrote it. And while I can exploit some knowledge of its inter-workings, I can’t predict all its behavior. It was designed to learn bidding from experience.

Bidding is the hardest aspect of this game. The team that wins the bid has an incredible opportunity to earn a lot of points. At the same time, overbids come at a large price. A failure to make the bid means the bid is deducted from your score.

When the game was first released, its bids were implemented programmatically. I like to think I’m a pretty good programmer but that version of the game played like a moran. To improve it, I had the game play itself hundreds of thousands of times. It would store those results and use them to generate future bids.

This implementation has resulted in a much more competitive program. Now it bids more aggressively — much more aggressively. It bids like me which is odd because I didn’t tell it to do that. I told it to learn from its experience and as a result of that experience, its personality morphed into mine.


Posted in Applications, Java, Pinochle, Programming | Leave a comment


Today I’m pleased to announce the first public release of JoeDog’s Pinochle. It’s a computerized version of the classic card game. It plays a four-player variation in which you are paired with a computer player against two computer players. Exciting!

This project is notable for several reasons: 1.) It’s the first time I’ve released software with a graphical interface and 2.) it’s the first major project I’ve completed in java.

JoeDog’s Pinochle is the culmination of hundreds of hours of work over the past several years. The groundwork was laid on planes and trains. It offered an enjoyable way to pass the time as I sat in traveling tubes. Last September I finally achieved a functioning version of the game. Since then, I’ve honed its ability to play a descent game.

Because pinochle maintains a strict set of rules for governing play, most of the “intelligence” in this game was implemented programmatically. Unfortunately, its original ability to assess and bid a hand was very weak. In order to improve that, I’ve built experience into the game. It played itself for hundreds of hours and stored those outcomes. Now when it bids a hand, it consults past experience to shape future results. A skilled human can still beat it but give me time. It will get better with each ensuing release.


I’m currently honing the game’s ability to beat the pants off you people. That may take some time. Once I’ve built adequate intelligence into the game I’d like to add more variation. A double-deck version will be added at some later date. I’d also like to add three and five player variations.


This game is currently licensed under the terms of shareware. It contains some code that was published without licensing terms and the author has not answered my inquiries about its license. It’s probably in the public domain but until I get verification I can’t release it under an open source license. If you’d like a copy of the code, send me an email. Until then, enjoy the binaries.

Posted in Applications, Pinochle | Leave a comment

Because I like esc-esc completion, that’s why

Your JoeDog got a new laptop – happy nice time!

He bought if from System 76 with Ubuntu 13.10 preinstalled. No major work to get this bad boy configured, right? Well….

In a previous life Your JoeDog was a UNIX guy. He earned his chops on AIX before moving to an HPUX shop. On commercial UNIX, AT&T’s korn shell is king. In the 1990s, it showed its flexibility by accomodating both vi and emacs editing. But c’mon. Any UNIX geek worth his salt ran it in vi-mode. Along the way, JoeDog developed a habit of completing filenames by hitting the esc key twice. /usr/lo esc-esc and he was in local. Bash weenies arrive at the same location by hitting the tab key. Only one stroke they say. Perhaps. But Your JoeDog gets emotional satisfation from banging esc twice. [pop, pop]

Now unfortunately, Ubuntu didn’t include ksh on his shiny new laptop. No problem, ‘apt-get install ksh’ Unfortunately that version didn’t support esc-completion. No problem, ‘apt-get install pdksh’ And ah-way we guh …. WTF? That didn’t support it either.

That’s okay. Your JoeDog is pretty adept with a compiler. He snagged pdksh from source and rolled his own. There’s a couple things to remember when you do this: 1. make sure the shell you install is in /etc/shells or you won’t be permitted to login. 2. You need to add ‘set -o vi-esccomplete’ to your $HOME/.profile in order to achieve esc-esc completion.

During the build, the following error was encountered:

gcc -c -DHAVE_CONFIG_H -I. -I. -g -O table.c
./siglist.sh "gcc -E -DHAVE_CONFIG_H -I. -I." < ./siglist.in > tmpsiglist.out
sort: cannot read: +2n: No such file or directory
make: *** [siglist.out] Error 1

Well that sucks. Your JoeDog punched that error into the Google machines and boy did he get an earful. There were plenty of people who encountered that error. They were frustrated and turned to the Internets for help. Hey, anybody know how to correct this? Oh, the Internets had opinions all right. You know what they had to say? “ksh sucks, use bash!” Well, that’s certainly one thought. Here’s another one: fsck you! Flies gotta fly. Bees gotta be. And UNIX grey beards gotta esc-esc.

So the Internets weren’t much help but the sort’s documentation helped shed some light. To fix the error above, you need to go POSIX. So before you run ‘make’ run this command:

export _POSIX2_VERSION=199209

Are you with us so far? If you’re an esc-esc guy, we’re pretty sure you are. With his new pdksh in place, Your JoeDog was esc-esc’ing all over the place … until he tried to log in to a new Xsession. WTF? Basically, he was locked out of his brand new laptop.

To get into single-user mode in Ubuntu, hold down the shift key while it’s booting. That will provide a menu through which you can navigate to the root shell. Once you’re in the root shell, you’ll have to mount file systems read-write in order to fix the errors that locked you out of your system. Here’s how you mount root as read-write:

mount -o remount,rw /

Here’s what Your JoeDog discovered inside his $HOME/.xsession-errors file:

/usr/sbin/lightdm-session: 15: set: Illegal option -o vi-esccomplete


So the directive that provides the feature he wants prevents him from logging in. If that’s not a Catch-22, then what is? Since we rolled our own shell, let’s just alter its code so it does our bidding. Unfortunately, the pdksh source wasn’t the most intuitive read but Your JoeDog slogged through it so you won’t have to.

On line 1142 of vi.c you’ll find this:

 case Ctrl('['): /* some annoying at&t ksh's */
    if (!Flag(FVIESCCOMPLETE))
        return -1; 
 case '\\': /* at&t ksh */

Do you see that? Try searching for the word “annoying” in the code. Okay, to do esc-esc completion by default without resorting to ‘set -o vi-esccomplete’ change that block of code so it looks like this:

 case Ctrl('['): /* some annoying at&t ksh's */
 case '\\': /* at&t ksh */

Now esc-esc falls down to esc-\ and its behavior is the same.



1. Download pdksh-5.2.14

2. Unzip the tarball: gunzip -9cd pdksh-5.2.14.tar.gz | tar -xvf –

3. Edit vi.c

On line 1142 of vi.c you’ll find this:

case Ctrl('['): /* some annoying at&t ksh's */
    if (!Flag(FVIESCCOMPLETE))
        return -1; 
 case '\\': /* at&t ksh */

Make it look like this:

 case Ctrl('['): /* some annoying at&t ksh's */
 case '\\': /* at&t ksh */

4. Run: ./configure

5. Run: export _POSIX2_VERSION=199209

6. Run: make

7. Run: cp ksh /bin/pdksh

8. Run: cp ksh.1 /usr/share/man/man1/pdksh.1

9. VERY IMPORTANT: add /bin/pdksh to /etc/shells

10. In /etc/password change your shell to /bin/pdksh

Happy double-escaping.

Posted in Environment, System | 2 Comments

An Old Dog Learns A New Trick

Beginning with version 3.0.6-beta2, siege reacts differently to –reps=once.

In the past, when you invoked –reps=once, each siege user would invoke each URL in the file exactly one time. If urls.txt contained 100 files and you ran -c10 –reps=once, siege would finish its business with 1000 hits.

That was then.

This is now: siege runs each URL in the file exactly once. If you run -c10 –reps=once, then siege will split the file among all 10 users and hit each URL one time. Whereas in the past, you’d finish with 1000 hits, you now finish with 100 hits.

This should give you greater control by making tests more precise.

Posted in Applications, Siege | Leave a comment

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