Photography #175

A few of these are from the drive from VA to Alabama. They’re all taken from the car so it’s basically reverse sports photography. They’re also taken with the 85mm fixed lens which means no zooming to compensate for slow reflexes at 70mph.1 It does make the trip go much faster when you’re playing this game.

old barns from the road series

old barns from the road series

old barns from the road series

mountain stream and fallen tree


misty mountains



trail in the pine woods

1 That’s either bragging or excuse making for less than perfect images.

PHP Middleware for Keeping Your JS API Secrets Secret

Screenshot of a design context website where the weather data is being pulled via API.

Origin Story

We were looking to pull in live weather data for a eco-related design contest that VCU Qatar is hosting. I found a free API for weather but wanted a way to use it via javascript and not expose any secrets. That led to the script below.

Many APIs have query strings that require app IDs or other authentication elements you’d rather not have exposed to the public. Even if you can restrict access to your own sites, you might still want a bit more privacy.

In this scenario PHP acts as middleware and only returns the public data while hiding all the secrets.

Line #1 tells us which API endpoint and parameters we’re using.
Line #2 gets the data from our API with our fully authenticated URL.
Line #3 tells the browser that the page we’re making is JSON and it should treat it accordingly.
Line #4 lets other sites access the data. You can learn more about some CORS options over here.
Line #5 spits the data back out.

$weather_data_url = '';
$json = file_get_contents($weather_data_url);
header('Content-Type: application/json');
header("Access-Control-Allow-Origin: *");//you could be more restrictive but I was being lazy
echo $json;

Weekly Web Harvest for 2020-01-05

Photography #174

swamp skimboarding
We went to explore the headwaters of the Chickahominy River which is not far from our house. The skimboard attempts were semi-successful.

birch trees
I remain fascinated with these trees. Tried drinking their sap one time. It was not maple syrup.

The reverse of sports photography is trying to take pictures while driving down the road at 70 mph (112 kph). These shots are on the return trip from Alabama. Darkness called an end to the attempts at some point. I’ll make another post with the shots coming from VA to Alabama.

I love this building. Someday I will stop and go take proper photographs. It looks like it’s close enough to Ruby Falls to justify doing that before the building gets torn down. I have photographs of it going back a number of years so who knows how much longer I can delay.Time slips away and leaves you with nothing mister but boring pictures of strip malls.

white cow, misty field
I repeat that doing this with an 85mm lens from the car is an interesting challenge. You do see so many more things if you look.

Dystopian roadside.

That color water always reminds me of Alabama.

The Birmingham Zoo was mediocre. I was chastised for being less wary of a cassowary than they desired.

wild slide is closed due to slick conditions
Wildness remains strictly controlled.

albino timber rattlesnake
One piece of pine straw . . .

I’m not driving.

pet photography may be my super power
Stealing the dogs’ attention.

Tired, low on food, low on water, or unprepared for a very strenuous hike, please turn back.
You have been warned.

Waterfalls and mountain streams.

big jump
He did land the jump and even made it back from the island.

Weekly Web Harvest for 2019-12-29

Weekly Web Harvest for 2019-12-22

Weekly Web Harvest for 2019-12-08

  • “Link In Bio” is a slow knife
    For a closed system, those kinds of open connections are deeply dangerous. If anyone on Instagram can just link to any old store on the web, how can Instagram — meaning Facebook, Instagram’s increasingly-overbearing owner — tightly control commerce on its platform? If Instagram users could post links willy-nilly, they might even be able to connect directly to their users, getting their email addresses or finding other ways to communicate with them. Links represent a threat to closed systems.

    –just like RSS

  • headlessCMS | Top Content Management Systems for JAMstack sites
  • Small Technology Foundation – About
  • Ethical EdTech
  • Harvesting the Blood of America’s Poor: The Latest Stage of Capitalism
    The number of collection centers in the United States has more than doubled since 2005 and blood now makes up well over 2 percent of total U.S. exports by value. To put that in perspective, Americans’ blood is now worth more than all exported corn or soy products that cover vast areas of the country’s heartland. The U.S. supplies fully 70 percent of the world’s plasma, mainly because most other countries have banned the practice on ethical and medical grounds. Exports increased by over 13 percent, to $28.6 billion, between 2016 and 2017, and the plasma market is projected to “grow radiantly,” according to one industry report. The majority goes to wealthy European countries; Germany, for example, buys 15 percent of all U.S. blood exports. China and Japan are also key customers.

Weekly Web Harvest for 2019-11-24

  • Why you might be counting in the wrong language – BBC Future
    For example, in French, 92 is quatre-vingt douze or “four twenties and twelve”. And in Danish, the word for 92 is tooghalvfems, where halvfems, meaning 90,is an abbreviation of the Old Norse word halvfemsindstyve, or “four and a half times twenty”.

    — thinking the USA isn’t likely to change based on the whole decimal system thing . . .