It’s our turn

Al Gore has a piece in the New York Times today describing his five-part plan for shoring up the US economy while simultaneously laying the groundwork for making major reductions in our consumption of dirty energy sources. (It’s just the usual stuff; the prescriptions aren’t the part that’s been stuck in my mind all day.)

In closing, Mr. Gore shares the following amazing, humbling thought:

In an earlier transformative era in American history, President John F. Kennedy challenged our nation to land a man on the moon within 10 years. Eight years and two months later, Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface. The average age of the systems engineers cheering on Apollo 11 from the Houston control room that day was 26, which means that their average age when President Kennedy announced the challenge was 18.

Excel tip: Relative references in named formulas

Named formulas can be very useful when your Excel workbook needs to contain many cells that use the same formula, but they are limited to containing static references. It is easy to get around this limitation by creating a self-referencing formula named “Self”:

=INDIRECT(ADDRESS(ROW(),COLUMN()))

You can then access other cells using the OFFSET function, e.g. one cell to the left would be

=OFFSET(Self,0,-1)

Styling WordPress author comments

Update: these instructions don’t apply to WordPress 2.7+. See my newer article for more information.

Ever wonder how to apply special styles to highlight WordPress comments written by the post author or another registered user? Good advice on this point is very rare. Most recommendations are to check against either an email address or a specific user ID. Both of these options are kludges, and both are fragile.

Here’s the right way to do it: Continue reading Styling WordPress author comments

Disabling the Pantech C150’s annoying web browser

I use a Pantech C150 mobile phone from AT&T. It’s a moderately well designed, sleek piece of hardware, but the UI is terribly clunky. I could rattle off a laundry list of gripes, but my biggest is that pressing the joystick button launches the web browser and requires furious pressing of the “End” button to avoid data charges and exit to some more useful function. The prominence of this button makes it very easy to suddenly find yourself in the browser:

  • during normal use, when using the joystick for navigation;
  • when you’ve finished using the phone and stuck it in your pocket, but it hasn’t automatically locked yet (starting a data session prevents automatic locking, of course); or
  • while on a call.

Unfortunately, Pantech and AT&T have decided that being able to change this button’s behavior is not a useful option to include on the phone. So much for the obvious answer.

I guess you get what you pay for.

Looks like we have to go to Plan B. Fortunately, there is a way to save the situation Continue reading Disabling the Pantech C150’s annoying web browser