Susan Sontag: why style is important

Why style is the most important element in a work of art

I love reading things that introduce me to a new way of thinking. To hold a (good) book in your hand is, as Anne Michaels wrote in Fugitive Pieces, to be  “a pilgrim at the gates of a new city.” Susan Sontag‘s Against Interpretation, particularly the opening essays, is exemplary of just such a book.

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Some useful modifications to Joomla Podcast Suite

Modifying the feed view to display an image, and altering the module to provide easy CSS access

The Podcast Suite is a useful podcasting component (plus plugin and module) for Joomla 1.0 and 1.5. As I recently deployed it on a client’s site, though, I encountered some limitations. While I’m sure these will be addressed in future releases, I decided to share some quick code modifications that others may find useful.

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Securing passwords in your database

Add salt to your encrypted passwords for extra tastiness

There’s a good post at the Errata Security blog (The Importance of Being Canonical) that discusses going behind encrypting passwords in your database, to appending or prepending random characters (“salts”) to your password hashes, effectively neutralizing a common way of cracking encrypted passwords.

How to email a CEO

Basically: first a letter, then email

Karen Gedney has some good tips on emailing CEOs (and other high-ranking officials within an organization) in C-Level Event Invitations: How It’s Done.

Probably her best advice, though, is that email should be a backup to your personalized letter or courier package. If email is all you send, you’re unlikely to get through.

The Napoleon Dynamite problem

This is an old (If You Liked This, You’re Sure to Love That, Nov ’08) but good article from the New York Times that I read parts of online, but just read in its entirety in the NYT print version. Very interesting discussion of the ability of computers to predict our movie preferences, especially in the cases where computers seem to be able to discern some sort of hidden pattern, opaque to human interpretation, behind our preferences.

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