Rainbow Cloud

Circumhorizon arc fragment, halo and contrail

I noticed the halo around the sun as soon as I walked out the door for lunch on Thursday. The rainbow cloud? That appeared as I walked past a building. I saw it as soon as the southern sky came into view again.

The colors got more intense over the next few minutes, and I kept taking photos until my phone locked up. I stood there watching the colors intensify, then fade, while I pulled out the battery and waited for the phone to reboot.

A man who’d been sitting nearby, buried in his phone, looked up wondering what I was taking pictures of. He’d never seen anything like it before, and wondered what it was, and fortunately I was able to answer.

At the right angle, ice crystals in a cirrus cloud refract sunlight to produce a feathery rainbow effect. The circumhorizon arc runs parallel to the horizon, and while it can be long, it’s usually only seen in fragments like this. I’ve only seen a few of these myself, and it’s been years since I’ve seen one this intense. I took this photo through my polarized sunglasses, but the colors were bright even without them.

When my phone froze, he offered to send me one of his pictures just in case mine hadn’t actually saved. Fortunately they had, and I actually posted to Flickr several hours before his message made it through the cell network.

Within a few minutes, the cloud had drifted out of alignment, and the colors had faded completely.

An hour later, on the way back from lunch, I noticed a longer patch in a smoother cloud layer, but it was faint enough that I could only barely see it with my sunglasses on. Without them, it faded completely into the glare.

If I’d had my better camera with the zoom lens, I would have gotten some better shots of just the bright cloud. Then again, I wouldn’t have been carrying it with me to lunch, and the effect was gone in the time it would have taken to run back in and get it. So it’s probably just as well I stayed and watched instead.

Funny thing: I posted a cropped view on on Instagram featuring just the arc fragment and contrail. When I went back to look at the #rainbowcloud tag last night, I found no less than SIX other photos of what was clearly the same cloud at various points in its five-minute lifetime!

Can’t Log into Feedly or Pinterest on Firefox 40? Check Ghostery!

I use Feedly to keep up with a lot of sites ranging from tech to entertainment. After upgrading to Firefox 40, I wasn’t able to log in using my Google account. The authentication pop-up would only bring up a plain HTML page saying, “Moved Temporarily The document has moved here.” Update: The same problem occurs with Pinterest and Facebook login, though in that case the authentication pop-up is blank. Update: Pocket also shows the “Moved Temporarily” message, but recovers. Update: I’m having trouble logging into Disqus too. Lots (but not all) of third-party logins seem to be broken now.

TL;DR: Use this workaround!

  1. Go into Add-Ons and disable Ghostery.
  2. Log into Feedly / Pinterest / whatever.
  3. Go back into Add-Ons and re-enable Ghostery.

A discussion on Google+ suggested disabling add-ons. I tried it, and was able to log in — great! But I wanted to know which extension was the problem.

After experimenting a bit, I found that disabling Ghostery allowed me to log into Feedly with Google.

Just to make certain, I logged out of Feedly, re-enabled Ghostery, and tried logging back in. Sure enough, I was back to the “Moved Temporarily…” error again. I’ve had Ghostery on this browser for a long time with no problems, and the about page shows that the extension was last updated toward the end of July, so I assume the problem is that something in Firefox 40 changed the way the browser, Ghostery and OAuth interact. I wouldn’t be surprised if it runs into issues with other privacy add-ons like AdBlock or Privacy Badger.

Fortunately, Ghostery can be turned on and off without restarting your browser. And turning it back on after you’re logged in doesn’t seem to interfere with Feedly.

I may go back and try to figure out the specific setting that’s causing the issue, but for now, I’m able to run both Feedly and Ghostery, so I’m not in too much of a hurry.

Update: Ghostery will be releasing a fix to resolve the bug, which turns out to affect quite a few sites. (via Feedly on Google+.) Update: Ghostery 5.4.6.1 is supposed to fix the problem, but it still breaks login on some sites, including Feedly.

Painting the Grass Green

Landscape Renovation: Painting the Grass Green

To save water in this multi-year drought, California cities, homes, and businesses have stopped watering medians, replaced landscaping with more drought-tolerant plants, cut back on watering lawns just enough that the grass won’t completely die, and switched to reclaimed water for irrigation (often with signs letting you know it’s recycled — partly so that you don’t try to drink it, and partly so that you don’t call the water police on them).

But some places just can’t accept “Brown is the new Green.”

Manhattan Village Mall, it seems, doesn’t want to appear downscale with brittle yellow-brown grass, so they’ve set up their landscape for renovation, giving that lawn a fresh paint job.

Literally.

I looked up close: it’s powdered green paint.

Green Grass Paint

It’s way too green compared to anything else I’ve seen this summer short of Astroturf, and that includes the office building near work that still over-waters their lawn to the point that it’s sometimes muddy when I walk out there at lunchtime.

It’s also just blue enough to look wrong, though it didn’t quite come through in the photos. There are plenty of plants with slightly blue leaves and stems. But not grass – at least not that’s popular around here.

Oh, wait! I should’ve looked to see if they had some roses!

Make Feedly Notice an Updated WordPress Post by Changing the GUID

Sometimes it’s better to update an existing post than to write a new one. Maybe there’s an ongoing conversation in the comments thread, or news is breaking over the course of a day. Sometimes I’ll post a poll, then reuse the same post for the results, to keep discussion together. The problem is that not everyone will get the notice that the article has changed.

After posting a question on Feedly’s Google+ page, I confirmed that Feedly (and no doubt other readers) uses the post GUID to decide whether to fetch content. If it’s seen the GUID before, it assumes it’s already seen the content, and stops looking at it.

If you’ve never delved into RSS markup, you’ve probably never noticed this field, but the GUID is a “generally unique identifier” used to tell feed readers whether they’ve seen an article before. A new GUID means a new post. Most of the time, you don’t want that to happen, because you don’t want it adding the same post over and over again every time you fix a typo or change a headline.

Under limited circumstances, though, it might make sense to tell reader software that the updated post is a new one.

A StackExchange post pointed me to a filter hook that can be used to change the GUID. WordPress uses the ID-style permalink by default, because it should be unique, but it’s important to remember that the field is only an ID, and isn’t used as a link — so you can modify it without worrying about it staying a valid URL.

The response suggested to just append the modification date, but I didn’t want to do that. I frequently update old posts to fix typos, update links, remove dead links, etc. So instead, I added a custom field that I can fill out when I make a big enough change that I want the post to show up as new again.

// Modify the GUID in the RSS feed after major revisions (but not after every
// little change) so that clients like Feedly will pull the updated content.
function ktv_feed_guid_revisions($content) {
	$revised = get_post_meta( get_the_ID(), 'updated', true );
	if ($revised != "") {
		$content .= "?updated=$revised";
	}
	return $content;
}
add_filter('get_the_guid', 'ktv_feed_guid_revisions', 7);

I’ve got it in a functionality plugin for now. When I make a change that I really want to update everywhere, I add a custom field called “updated” and give it a value – usually a number, so that I can add to it if I have something that I update more than once while it’s still new enough to show up in feeds.

I wrote this months ago, but never got around to publishing it. Yesterday’s 10 ways to optimize your feed for feedly reminded me it was still sitting in my drafts, so I dusted it off.