Archived entries for References

Analyze HTTP Headers and Smart Keyword Search with Firefox

There are several good ways to check out a file’s HTTP headers. Tonight I was using, which is just a simple web form that you enter your URL into.

I know there are more snazzy ways, including Firefox’s great extension LiveHTTPHeaders, but sometimes an always-available web page is a fine solution. And, while I totally love the ability to extend and modify Firefox with the ever-growing supply of extensions, I’ve been trying to keep my browser as lean as possible by only installing ones I really need. For services that require a query to be submitted — a map request, dictionary lookup, feed subscription or web search — I’ve been opting lately to set up Keyword Search in Firefox (as I described several months ago).

(In addition to having less extensions, I find it’s just significantly faster to trigger these actions form the keyboard.)

With a few keyword shortcut’s set up, my hands are liberated from the mouse to the efficiency and speed of the keyboard. My browser begins to resemble a command line interface. In addition to my newest, headers, I use these others constantly:

subscribed to a feed — fastest possible way to subscribe to an rss feed with bloglines (please don’t ruin bloglines Ask!)
ys northern california hiking trails
returns Yahoo Search results page — 100s of times a day.
wiki Thomas Frank
returns Wikipedia encyclopedia entry — lots of info types are best answered by an encyclopedia
map [[701 N First Ave, 94089]
returns a Yahoo Maps — always need for a map
dic efficiency
returns definition
the excitement
returns entry
by natek
returns my company’s intranet (backyard) results — for looking up coworkers
amaz Talib Kweli
returns Amazon search results — to grab a book cover or album track listing
imdb War of the Worlds
returns an Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB) search
how to change your car's oil
returns detailed instructions from
returns blogosphere info on who’s talking about right now?

Did you notice the ones for Bloglines (sub)? It’s great. I am generally motivated to subscribe to some feed while in the midst of being excited or engaged by the content. This time of highest engagement is the time when you least want to interrupt the session to go subscribe — this shortcut allows me to nearly-instantly subscribe in the heat on the moment.

(In case you’re curious, I was looking at headers tonight to verify that the file expiration dates were distant, so that the files would be cached by the client until then.)

How Big Is Your Footprint?

“Ever wondered how much “nature” your lifestyle requires? You’re about to find out.”


What’s your footprint?

“Search and SEE the Yellow Pages with a9″

I’ve been meaning to comment on this, but haven’t quite got around to it. As a service to my dear readers, I’ll just rip Gary’s content, so please show him some love and go read it over there (then come back!).

If you haven’t checked out the “just released” new yellow pages from’s a9 you really should. It’s very cool. In a nutshell, a9 have already taken more than 20 million street-level photos (what a9 calls block views) of each and every establishment in yellow page directories for 10 U.S. metro area and associated these images with each entry. You can even virtually walk entire blocks. It will be a real attention getter for a9 and perhaps, even useful! It’s a must see for everyone but it’s far from complete at this point. You can also browse/search the yellow page directory via this url.

Again, check out Gary’s wonderful ResourceShelf.

(I’ll add that this isn’t a new idea — several European sites already offer this functionality, and a company I can’t recall used to have 360 Quicktime’s of every intersection in New York, way back in ‘99 or 2000 (please leave a comment if you remember the name of that site.)

We the People: Women and Men in the United States

I totally love that soooo much data floats around freely these days, thanks to the Web. Even when it doesn’t related to me personally, I like thinking that it’s perfect and crucial for somebody’s interests. Today’s example is a special report on Women from the US Census Bureau (via).

Some Factoids

  • Men outnumber women through age 34; Women outnumber men after age 34, increasing with age.
  • In 1970, 36 percent of women 20 to 24 and 12 percent of women 25 to 29 had not married. By 2000, the proportions rose to 69 percent and 38 percent, respectively.
  • Married-couple households dropped from 69 percent of all households in 1970 to 53 percent in 2000.
  • A greater percentage of women graduate high school. I greater percentage of men graduate college.
  • A greater percentage of men than women are in the workforce.
  • 47% of the workforce was female in 2000, up from 37% in 1970.
  • The % of women in the workforce did not increase for Construction, Extraction, and Maintenance industries.
  • Women continue to earn less than men. [Surprisingly to me,] Black, Hispanic and Other women earn 85% of mens pay, while White women earn only 70%.
  • Poverty: 13.5% of the female population; 11.2% of the male population.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Creating Personalized Feeds with Delicious

I have found this a useful way to use, the excellent social bookmarking site that is based on tagging.

Let’s review quickly. I post all my bookmarks to delicious. They are all viewable by the public. Mine are here: One great thing about delicious is that every page on the site – every node – has an RSS feed. If all my bookmarks are viewable on the web at /username, then the feed of that content is /rss/username.

Looks like this:

The second thing that’s great about delicious is that I can quickly and easily annotate my bookmarks with tags. For example, I have bookmarked Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian. In addition to storing the URL, I have tagged it with the following words: industrial, drawings, smithsonian, museum, design, art, history.

Each tag becomes a node.  When you are viewing my total collection of bookmarks, my username "natekoechley" is the node. It is likewise possible to view all my bookmarks for a particular tag, such as

If you want to widen your view, you can view all "art" bookmarks for everybody on the network:

There is no limit to the number of tags you can have, either in general or with a single URL.

As you can see, each node – tag – get’s it’s own RSS feed. This is the functionality that creates my personalized feeds.

Reduce Email with Personalized Feeds

If you’re like me, there are a couple people in your life that you want to send links too. For me that’s my girlfriend Aimee and my family. Email isn’t perfect for this — even with family, too many urls can quickly feel like spam. A blog isn’t perfect either; links for family and close friends are often boring, in jokes, or off-topic to a wider blog audience. My solution is to use tags and RSS in, in conjunction with an RSS aggregator — My Yahoo! works perfect for this.

Step one is to flag content that they’ll like. Tagging makes this super easy, I just create person-specific tags with the format, "attn:aimee". (Use any convention you want; the colon isn’t important either, a hyphen, prior or other mark will work fine.)

With sites tagged, the special tags will begin generating RSS feeds. Any aggregator will work of course, but for family I had success recommending My Yahoo!. Now, when every my family checks their My Yahoo! page, they’ll see any new links that I flagged for their attention…. To me, this is ">100% Awesome.

While I don’t think that RSS will replace email any time soon, this is a great way to remove some unnecessary noise from the inbox while still maintaining intimate and personal relationships.

Disclaimer: I saw the "attn:xxxx" syntax on another site, it is not my original idea. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to re-locate the source. Please send me and help me locate any prior work on this approach, so that I may give proper credit. Thanks!

Update: Here is an earlier mention of this technique, though this still isn’t the place I saw the idea first. Thanks for pointing this out in the comments Brian. [2005.01.19 12:01:00]

Firefox Tip: Quick Complete URLs

Here is how I enter a new URL into the Firefox Address Bar. It is the fastest way to jump somewhere new (without linking), and it keeps my hands on the keyboard (not the mouse).

Step One (“Quick Complete” starts on Step Three, but this is a bonus tip, and will speeds things up too.):

Press “Alt-D” on the keyboard (hold down both keys at the same time). This will more the cursor to go to the Address Bar, and also select any URL that is already there. With all the text highlighted, the next thing you type will erase what’s already there, saving you the step of manually erasing the current URL before typing a new one.

Step Two:

Type the base of the URL. In other words, if you want to go to, you’d only type “yahoo” at this point.

Step Three: Quick Complete

With just the base entered into the Address Bar, you now press “Control-Enter” to wrap the base with the full .com stuff. By pressing “Control-Enter”, the base “yahoo” instantly becomes “ (You may use the 10-Key number pad’s “Enter” key in addition to the primary “Enter/Return” key.)

If you want a .org address, press “Control-Shift-Enter” instead. This will turn “craigslist” into “”.

With those three tiny steps, you’ll be flying around in no time. Alt-D, “cnn”, “Control-Enter” take no time at all.

Note: On Mac’s, replace “Control” with the “Apple” key I think.

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