Url References on WordPress

Found an awkward site interaction on this version of WordPress (v.4.0 “Benny”).  A summary of the findings is logged on the QA-Reporter site at:


The terminology of creating a URL link reference is confusing.  It took some time and experimentation to understand the distinction of: URL and TITLE.  Neither value on the link definition form actually represents the text that is displayed within the link itself.

Some ideas for developers:

A third value, DISPLAY TEXT (a term which was not used originally) is recommended to  prevent any potential confusion from users. Display text would:

  1. Allow the user to define what text will show within the link they have defined.
  2. Specify the default value as the link url itself OR the text that was highlighted when the “insert/edit link” toolbar button is selected.


category: mobile-persistence

The Utility Belt: Portable Mobile Batteries

So, I’m thinking of the kinds of things that I would want to snap onto my “Batman” urban utility belt, and I will conceded that extra battery power would be among those top priorities.

One of the early entries in this category was the “Minty Boost“, an idea first created by an electronics enthusiast and then later adopted by larger content creators and retailers such as the O’Reilly MAKE community:

Makershed - minty boost
Minty Boost, mobile iPhone charger and external power device.

I slipped out of the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) loyalty and decided to see what was out there in the commercial sector.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the “Randomorder Portable Power Bank”  for sale at Costco here on Maui,

This super-lightweight, rechargable Li-ION power bank sports an approximate 8 hour extension of life to your mobile phone device and sports a standard interface for micro-usb architectures that plug into it (Such as an AC adaptor for power and charging,.)

Here it is:

Random order Power Bank
Introducing the Randomorder Portable Power Bank Device Accessory

The battery itself has a nice feature that allows it to double as a portable walking charger.  A convention used by the designers to integrate three LED lights to inform users of the remaining power remains in their own external batter device.

The convention is: THREE lights full, TWO is medium and ONE is almost empty.  A FOURTH light is a larger, brighter LED light intended to function as a “flashlight” lamp in case of emergency needs.  There is a round button near the front of the cylindrical battery, this is used to turn the flashlight feature on and off.

Randomorder Portable Powerbank flashlight feature
The Portable Powerbank can also function as an LED flashlight.

The battery takes about 3 to 4 hours to obtain a full charge.  If you use a standard AC wall plug instead of using the universal USB port on a PC computer, results may vary favorably with direct electrical sources.  The two charging cables made each unit in the package complete and conveniently ready to use without more things to buy.

Battery Capacity: 2800 mAh     Input: USB 5.0V/800 mAh
Battery Charge Time: 3-4 hours Output: DC 5V/1A
Battery Cell: Lithium Ion      USB Charging Cable: 3ft

I also own a Raspberry Pi mini computer and Linux server, which also runs with no problems using battery sources like this one, the MintyBoost.

Lastly, the mass of these batteries is very, very minimal.  I estimate 4 to 6 ounces for each pack.  Whether you choose the do-it-yourself route to build a “minty boost” of your own, you can also buy a inexpensively priced ready-made battery unit to accomplish the same task.

Check it our for yourself!  Be sure to report back whatever your find in a comment or a direct message!




Featured image credit: Capturing the performance by William Starkey


Flashmob (2004): Instant Supercomputer

From the organizing staff at USF:  FlashMob Computing started as a challenge. Could we convince enough people to bring their conventional computers to a single location in order to build a temporary supercomputer, one that could compete with the fastest and most expensive computers in the world? Since its inception in February of this year, the idea of FlashMob Computing transformed from a challenge to a new paradigm for enabling any group of people to pool together computing power for the purpose of working on scientific problems of interest to them. [1]

It’s been a decade since this event happened.  Teams of volunteers from all over the Silicon Valley Area got together for a challenge to build a “instant supercomputer” from scratch.  Etienne Handman, (the CTO from E-Loan, Inc.) brought our engineering team together to meet the challenge of building a instant supercomputer with our community. If only perhaps to rally support to surpass a similar achievement made by his alma mater McGill University in Montreal… :)

Back then, desktop workstations were in “ATX-style” cases and roughly weighed 15-20 pounds each.  Using a rental van, we packed nearly 150 of our own PC machines from the office.  Cramming all those desktop boxes into the back of the van felt like a massive puzzle game to fit each unit between one another!

Build your own supercomputer event
Image sourced from the USF student blog at: https://blogs.usfca.edu/csi/tag/usfca/

Some employees made it an outing and picnic day in the City.  There were teenagers and children who came along to see the event activities.  Between loading, unloading, and reloading all our computers it was a long but rewarding day.

Unlike traditional supercomputers, which are expensive and not accessible to the general public, a FlashMob supercomputer is temporary, made up of ordinary computers, and is built to work on a specific problem. We set out to prove, through an elaborate experiment, that instant supercomputing is viable. [1]

The Stats:

To make certain that they have enough speed, the students are asking that volunteers bring only computers with at least a 1.3-gigahertz Pentium or AMD processor and 256 megabytes of memory, requirements that most recent home machines will meet. Laptops are preferred because they use less power than desktop computers.[2]

700 computers wired to a network switch donated by Foundry Networks.

Benchmarking Tools:
Linpack (a mathematical application used to  determine supercomputing speed).


Through a series of tests, we were able to run the benchmark on 256 of the computers and achieved a peak rate of 180 Gflops (billions of calculations per second), although this computation stopped three quarters of the way through due to a node failure.  Our best, complete run used 150 computers and resulted in 77 Gflops. Both of these results show that it is possible to achieve substantial computational speed from a temporary supercomputer.

Depending on the size of the problem, Mr. Dongarra said, it could take 1,000 laptops about 4.4 hours to solve. By contrast, a single desktop machine would take about 4,000 hours, while the fastest computer could solve it in 4.8 minutes.[2]

From the Original Press Release

“This is a radical new idea in supercomputing, as well as an important scientific and social experiment,” said John Witchel, co-creator of FlashMob supercomputing.

“The goal of the FlashMob I project is to demonstrate the viability of widespread supercomputing.  We hope to give ordinary citizens the power to explore and address problems that are most important to them –” [3]


  • [1]:  http://www.flashmobcomputing.org/
  • [2]: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/23/technology/23SUPE.html
  • [3]:  http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/university-of-san-francisco-to-create-first-ever-flashmob-supercomputer-72319312.html


Limitations to Email Address Choices

I tried to set up an email alias today.  Out of curiosity, I wanted to know if it is also possible to include accents, and special language specific characters.

How is text content is handled in various computing systems internationally?  Taking Spanish as an example, there is a Latin alphabet, but there are some characters which have additional markers for pronunciation.  I looked up some sample data (words/vocabulary/etc.) from a Spanish speaking locale:

Bogota, Columbia
Bogota, Columbia search result, BING.com

For my sample system, I checked out Microsoft’s Account “alias” creation tools. (Through their Outlook.com free email service)

Spanish Accents
Spanish Accent Text Tools

Although the prompts did not say accent characters were not allowed, trying it got me an error message stating that a very restrictive set of characters were allowed.  Is that really a restriction of worldwide email systems?

Microsoft Outlook Add User
Setting up an alias for an existing Microsoft online account.

The form input allowed it, but the validation does not let it through.  The error complains that special characters are not allowed.  Is this a constraint of Internet traffic alone, or is it just the character-set settings set when the server is first set up?  What happens to email addresses with accented characters passes through a router somewhere in the world that does not support its character set?  Does it just get rewritten?  Is it stuck on hold? Does this mail get bounced on receipt?

Looking at a popular domain name registrar, there are already more than 200 domain name extensions that are planned for release beyond the typical .com, .net, .org, .info names:

Internet domain name extensions in foreign languages
New internet domain name extensions


If the TLD (Top Level Domain) name extension is readable by worldwide mail servers or web servers then the “address name” on the other side probably should accept values from other character sets.

So, most likely the data storage (i.e., database) on the back end of these email servers probably do not have a provision for multi-byte or extended character sets such as kanji character expressions or even accented latin characters.

So for now, it looks like “cafe” and “café” are probably treated the same as far as email servers are concerned.  The latter being converted to the former whenever they are used.




Wanderings & Lessons From the Internet