Category Archives: Uncategorized

Spread RIBBA Awareness

For many years, IKEA’s Ribba frames have been the dirty little secret of artists, collectors, and decorators. Modern gallery frames can be expensive, but with Ribba, you could easily toss up as much art as you liked as often as you liked. And, unlike many inexpensive art store and big box frames, Ribba’s affordability didn’t mean it was going to immediately eat your artwork or encourage bad mounting practices: every frame includes a precut, acid-free mat with totally reasonable margins.

Buuut nothing can stay perfect forever, and Ribba fell victim to IKEA’s safety PR blitz and increasing shipping costs.

From its inception, Ribba had shipped with good-quality glass glazing. During 2018, IKEA phased in a new, polystyrene glazing that has the benefit of not being a weight hazard and not being breakable, but it comes with one major flaw: it’s only slightly more durable than room-temperature butter.

You may be thinking “oh, I’ve had old-school acrylic glazing before, I know how to be gentle.” If only that were the case.

If you dust your artwork, no matter how carefully, no matter if you use a fancypants no-scratch carbon duster, you will scratch the polystyrene glazing. The scratches will be visible, and they will get worse over time.

It’s not all bad news, though: IKEA hasn’t changed the dimensions of the Ribba frame at all, so it’s still a good cheap frame into which you can insert your own glazing and artwork (including better-quality styrene glazing, if you so desire).

SB 1062: Say whaaat?

I often find the nonsense coming from our state legislators’ mouths to be distressing, but SB 1062 has brought out a special brand of crazy. Let us turn now to the wire services:

But Senate President Andy Biggs said he sees no chance of a lawsuit. He said women are not a “protected class” under Arizona law.

Your Senate President, ladies and gentlemen. I’m not sure which possibility here is more disheartening: That he simply doesn’t know what the protected classes in Arizona are, or that he doesn’t know what “sex” means.

Instead, Biggs prefers the example of a Catholic art gallery owner who refuses to put on display a painting of a crucifix immersed in urine. He said an argument could be made that being forced to display such a painting burdens the owner’s religious beliefs.

This is not how galleries work.

Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, the prime sponsor of SB 1062, prefers a different example: A corporation formed by some devout Jews to provide kosher catering that is asked to provide pork products at the event.

This is not how public accommodations laws work. Yarbrough should know this (and, like many legislators working on this legislation, probably does). Public accommodations laws require that, if you provide a product or service in your regular line of business, and you offer that product or service to the general public, that you offer it equally to all customers, regardless of their race, religion, national background, sex, or disability.

A Kosher catering service is not going to offer pork products in the course of their business. It it thus irrelevant what color, faith, nationality, gender, or ability the customer is. You are not owed pork by a Jewish caterer any more than you are owed top-notch surf & turf by McDonald’s.

Better RDC: Coming to a Mac near you!

Microsoft’s Macintosh Remote Desktop Client has been… neglected for quite a while. It still generally works, but it’s never been much of a looker, it’s behind in features and performance, and some basic functionality (like trying to save a connection) often leaves users completely baffled or frustrated.

But take heart: a new Remote Desktop will be available on Mac OS X, iOS, and Android later this month. It’s a Halloween miracle, and one that may make Azure services slightly more palatable to cross-platform developers and users!

For Microsoft products that are great, I can’t say enough good things about Exchange Online/Office 365 for Business. If you’re looking for managed push email (and calendaring) and have already scratched GApps off the list, check it out.

The Great Dill-Off

Being of Scandinavian descent, we have a great affinity for dill in my family. There are very few dishes that can’t be improved by a little dill, and as a result it’s been a garden staple for several years. Phoenix being Phoenix, however, dill can be a problematic herb: it tends to prefer steady, cooler temperatures. We often get erratic weather which dill does not enjoy.

So was born last year’s garden lab experiment: Battle of the Dills. The old standby of Bouquet was seeded along with newcomer Tetra (or Dukat). The results were interesting (and again proved this kind of experimentation is well worth the effort and meager garden space it requires).

Bouquet Dill

  • Better overall flavor throughout the season
  • Maximum height of approximately 5 feet
  • Suffered partial losses during varied weather
  • Bolting common as spring began; could be retarded by cutting
  • Dead by mid-spring
  • Large, recognizable seeds; good for pickling

Tetra Dill (Dukat Dill)

  • Good flavor at peak season, bland but recognizable at end of season
  • Maximum height of approximately 4 feet
  • Unaffected by varied weather
  • Did not bolt
  • Survived through summer, though with reduced flavor
  • Smaller seeds; less flavor per seed, but can use more seeds
  • Can address plant as Gul Dukat and shout angry DS9 dialog at it

With the new dill season upon us, the battle royale continues with additional contenders. Joining the fray this year are Mammoth and Fernleaf varieties. CSS Overrides

Contrary to what you’ll probably experience if you try it, (formerly Assistly) CSS overrides do, in fact, work. You’ll end up with hideously ugly and redundant markup strewn across your support portal, and some browsers may be confused by all the ridiculousness, but it is possible to style your portal.

The trick? The default templates use !important damn near everywhere in the default CSS.

This will not work because the stock CSS is a horrible mutant:

#company-header {
background: #123;

This horrible abomination will:

#company-header {
background: #123 !important;

It’s bad form, and you’ll want to smash your head repeatedly into your desk after littering your own CSS with !important for the bazillionth time, but there you have it. If a CSS override isn’t applying and you’re sure you have the right element, add !important and cross your fingers. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe your code being the fifteenth instance of !important-flagged attributes for that element will cause your browser’s CSS engine to do weird and unpredictable things. It’s CSS roulette!

Try it, find out, and hope your users’ browsers behave the same way yours do.

Or you can always pay $19 a month to add custom templates that don’t have completely broken CSS! Wink wink nudge nudge.

Dynamically Configuring RSpec for JUnit

Using continuous integration? Using RSpec? Selectively configuring RSpec to output JUnit with RspecJunitFormatter but finding your output file to be empty?

You need to configure your output file before you set your formatter(s).


RSpec.configure do |config|

  # ...

  # Use JUnit output for CI
    config.output_stream = 'rspec.xml'
    config.formatter = RspecJunitFormatter


Hi. I’m Colin. I write software, do technology consulting, and make photographs, but I’ve found myself boxed in to those topics when blogging in those professional capacities. And so I now have this blog. Here, I’m free to talk about whatever I like—being a photographer, being a developer, delivering awesome customer service, being an avid outdoorsman, or where to find the best chorizo in Phoenix.

If you know me through either of those professional capacities, bully for you; just know that this blog is relatively unfiltered. FCC Safe Harbor rules are not in effect, so there may well be swearing, but I’m also not George Carlin.

Got something to say about something I post? Discourse is always welcome in the comments, just keep it civil.