The miracle of a modern education

I made a visit to the local Burger King the other day. My order totaled $10.63. I handed over a twenty dollar bill, a quarter, and four dimes. I knew that was a big mistake the moment I saw the cashier holding the coins in the palm of one hand, slowly pushing them back and forth with a finger from his other hand, a befuddled look on his face. He moved the coins about for about a minute, stared at the cash register knowing he had to enter the amount tendered, then finally he entered a number. I see the change due comes up as $9.57.  Sensing this just MIGHT be wrong, he asked the cashier next to him for help. Now two lines are being held up as this two try to figure out what to do next. Another minute passes by as the lines grow longer. Finally one of them asks a manager for help. She hands back the twenty and asks if the coins were my change. I explained they were my coins, but not the change. I hadn’t paid yet, that was just a part of the $10.63 I owed. She was confused and cancelled the order. I had to reorder. The lines are growing. Total is $10.63, change due is $9.37. I explain that no, it isn’t. You haven’t taken the five coins I handed over into account. Some more figuring. She hands back a ten.  Now we are making progress, but where is my other two cents? So I say I am still due two cents.  I don’t think she believed me, but tossed over another two cents just to get the lines moving again.

Normally, I wouldn’t care about two cents, one way or the other. But after spending about five minutes just trying to place a simple order, I wanted the two cents.

I know sometimes people can get nervous and forget how to make change, but this was ludicrous. The cash register is fully automatic. You enter an order, it pops up with the total due, in this case $10.63. No math involved. You enter the amount tendered, in this case, $20.65. The magic is done and it tells the cashier how much to give back, in this case $10.02. All that had to be done is to add $20 plus 25 cents plus 10 cents, plus ten cents, plus 10 cents, plus ten cents. $20, easy. It’s a twenty dollar bill. Now for the cents. Count 25, 35, 45, 55, 65. Was that really so hard?

If the three people involved were second graders, I would understand. They were all, presumably, high school graduates. What are they teaching now days?

Minor bug fix to all Sphider flavors

All the current releases of Sphider had a minor bug when doing an image search by url. The corrected code is available on the downloads page. The main Sphider 2.0 is designated by an “a” suffix. All of the PDO versions have a “c” suffix.


The ONLY file changed is search.php. And in search.php, there is only one line altered. A passed parameter “type” was having uppercase characters stripped. A column in the database image table “images” is “imgUrl”. The uppercase “U” was stripped and the query failed when it couldn’t find the column “imgrl”!

If you don’t use the “Image Search” your version will work fine. If you DO use the “Image Search”, the ONLY file you need to replace is search.php. There is no need to do a reinstall.

The embarrassing part of it all is that this problem WAS caught and corrected during testing prior to the 2.0 release. HOWEVER, that corrected piece of code wasn’t placed into the zip files, which shipped with the uncorrected version of search.php. 😳

New Sphider downloads available for PDO versions

A minor problem was found affecting the PDO versions (PDO, SQLite PDO, and PostgreSQL PDO) of Sphider.

During indexing, if the “Use site map” switch was set, but the site map was not found or not usable, the code to update the database to turn the switch off was failing to execute.

The code has been corrected to enable the database to update. The updated downloads are reflected as a “b” version.

The non-PDO version was unaffected. This was strictly a PDO issue.

Thanks go out to Webbo for the catch.

Minor corrections to PDO Sphider versions

It has come to our attention there are typos in the code for all PDO versions. For the normal PDO (MySQL/MariaDB), spider.php and spiderfuncs.php have been slightly modified. Spider.php had a single typo. Sphiderfuncs.php was missing 5 lines of code. While the version number is unchanged, the new download is designated as 2.0.0a.

For the PostgreSQL and SQLite versions, only sphider.php contained a single typo each. No other files are affected. As with the regular PDO, the version is unchanged by the download designations are shown as 2.0.0a.

Our apologies for the inconvenience. During testing of all these versions. these anomalies were uncaught and thus it seems that, for the most part, crawling functionality was not adversely impacted, although it COULD be under certain circumstances.

Our deepest thanks go out to Ed Parrish for having caught these issues.

How to ensure that we will never speak on the phone

I get an awful lot of phone calls. The majority are from people I don’t know. If I know or have a reasonable idea of who is calling, I will answer. Otherwise, it goes to voice mail.

If you truly have no desire to actually speak with me, call on a restricted number. This will firmly ensure that I will NEVER pick up. If you are truly determined to not to speak to me, follow up by not leaving a voicemail.

If you MUST reveal your (supposed) number, be sure it is one I don’t recognize and follow that up by not leaving a message in the (likely) event I don’t answer. I know the current trend is to spoof local numbers, so having three or four different (unrecognized) supposedly local numbers call in quick succession and never leaving a message is solid affirmation that I am on the right track in assuming you are a scammer. Just be aware that any given number suspected of being a scam or other nuisance call only works once. Then it gets blocked. While my block list is now several blocks long, I really don’t care. It has unlimited capacity and I get a warm, fuzzy feeling whenever my phone vibrates for 1/10 of a second, then goes silent.

Please keep those calls coming in. It really brings a smile to my face.

WordPress Critical Notice

I had my WordPress Dashboard popup and warn me I wasn’t using the latest version of Firefox!

OMG!!! That is absolutely correct! I am NOT running the latest version of Firefox. But I’m not running an outdated version, either.

In fact, I don’t even have Firefox installed! LOL! And my Waterfox (!!) reports it is up to date.

I guess it really doesn’t matter as my browser of choice is Chromium on Ubuntu…


Sphider 2.0.0 nearing release

Sphider 2.0.0 is under going final testing and will be released probably by mid-October.

Virtually every file has gone at least some alteration. The features of Sphider 2.0.0 are:
– Better page charset handling to ensure that the database receives only UTF-8 input. UTF-8 encodeing of web pages already in UTF-8 format is avoided to eliminate garbled entries.
– Phrase searches have been improved.
– This version is PHP 7.1 ready.
– Integrated indexing of images, with the option to NOT index images. An image search page is also provided.
– RSS content may also be indexed and searched.
– Jquery has been updated to a more recent version.
– While not fully PSR-2 compliant when it comes to PHP coding standards, the code is a LOT closer than it ever has been. This involved the renaming of many functions, the elimination of a few functions which were found to be obsolete (and thus, unused). Coding style had to be changed virtually every module. This is why so much code has been altered, affecting nearly every Sphider PHP code segment.
– The search page is integrated for legacy, RSS, and image searches. Knowing that RSS and images are something not every user will be interested in, an updated (as in 2.0.x compliant) version of the 1.6.x search page is provided. The revised 1.6.x search form, it will work fine with 2.0.x. It will need to be renamed to replace the provided search.php.

Also, finding that porting PDO to databases other than MySQL was messier than anticipated (too many DB specific requirements for each), Sphider 2.0.0 will actually have 4 flavors. The “kits” for PostgreSQL and SQLite were too cumbersome and confusing.
1) The legacy Sphider, using the MySQL database (or MariaDB) and using MySQLi and MySQLnd.
2) PDO Sphider, also using the MySQL database (or MariaDB), but using a PDO implementation (for installations lacking MySQLnd support).
3) PostgreSQL version using a PostgresSQL database and accessed via PDO,
4) SQLite version, using a SQLite database accessed via PDO.

All flavors are testing well and it seems no more coding changes will be needed, after working out some “peculiarities” for each. Now each version must have a final full set of operations performed to ensure everything works. This includes new installation via PHP script, installation using SQL queries, upgrade installation, adding sites, indexing sites, deleting sites, adding, editing, and deleting categories. Also the same is done for RSS indexing. The search functions need to be tested for various situations. We have found a few websites which have, uh…., what you might call “unusual” methods resulting in unusual problems. (Ever seen an image “alt” tag with text running in excess of 1000 characters? We have!)