Joe Maller.com

Hurt feet

I’ve been reluctant to post this because there’s a weird sort of stigma among barefoot and near-barefoot runners that injuries should be a thing of the past. For the most part, that’s been completely true for me, but something is going on with my feet and I felt it was important to write about.

The pain is focused on the Extensor Digitorum Longus and Extensor Hallucis Longus on top of my feet, mostly behind the smaller toes, but with some sensitivity over the joint between the first metatarsal and first cuneiform bones. These muscles and tendons are responsible for lifting the toes–which is why I’ve become suspicious of the Bikilas, but more on that in a bit. There is no discoloration or swelling. Pain is most noticeable during the toe-off phase of walking, running mostly feels fine. It is very difficult to raise up on the toes of one foot at a time.

As seems to be tradition with running injuries, I’ve been spending a lot of time theorizing about what could be the cause.

In November, following my post about bad running form, I ran about 65 miles completely barefoot (and LOVED it). I spent a good amount of that time on Barefoot Ken Bob’s advice about lifting the entire foot, especially my toes. But December has been too cold for bare feet with only a few days above freezing, so I’ve been running in the Bikilas which are warmer than my open-top VFF Sprints.

I ran three races in December. The first two were MUCH faster than I normally run. By the third race, my feet were still sore from the previous week and I just wanted to finish without limping. Despite my growing suspicions, all three races were run in Bikilas.

What’s wrong with the Vibram FiveFingers Bikila

One of my first reactions to the VFF Bikilas was that the toes felt stiff. In this video, I demonstrate the differences in toe-flexibility between VFF Sprints and VFF Bikilas.

Toe dorsiflexion is severely limited with the VFF Bikilas. I suspect that trying to lift my toes against the stiffness of the Bikilas either pulled or strained my extensor muscles or caused some tendonitis where they attach.

I’d also considered the possibility of simple overuse or the switch to heavier winter shoes, but I’ve become convinced that the toe-stiffness of the VFF Bikilas is the culprit here. I’m taking some time off to heal, but I’m not planning on running in the Bikilas again for a while. When I do, I’ll be paying very close attention to how my feel are feeling.


iTunes slowdowns with Google DNS

Last night we tried to rent an iTunes movie on our newish Apple TV. Instead of starting right away, the Apple TV said it would be 2+ hours before we could start watching. I’ve got a healthy 15-20Mb/s connection and a clean wire to the Apple TV, so this shouldn’t be happening.

A little bit of research turned up a surprising fix: Don’t use Google DNS.

The iTunes Store has thousands of entrances. Everyone using Google DNS is trying to get in through the same door.

Some anecdotal evidence:

This totally makes sense. iTunes’ video content is delivered by Akamai who has distributed massive datastores around the world so those large files originate from nearby servers and spend less time getting switched around the network. Akamai somehow uses our DNS routing to determine our location. If Google DNS or OpenDNS routes everyone to Akamai the same way, then those Akamai nodes and the pipes leading to them get overwhelmed.

Since most people don’t know what a DNS server is, this problem primarily affects the “tech-vanguard” and those fortunate/unfortunate enough to be inside our circles of helpfulness.

I switched to my ISP’s DNS servers and now HD rentals on Apple TV are ready to watch in 10-20 seconds.

Go figure…

(I’d forgotton, but I wrote about a similar iTunes-DNS problem in March 2009: iTunes Store DNS Connection Problems)


Dailymile widgets for WordPress

Running Training LogThis year I started using Dailymile to keep track of my running. I like their sharing widgets, but I wasn’t happy with how they slowed down page load times. So I wrote this little WordPress plugin to make them even better.

The Dailymile Widgets plugin uses native WordPress caching to significantly speed up how the widgets display. It also fixes a number of display bugs and adds a few missing features to my favorites.

Additional features and bug fixes:

  • Option to display full text in the Last Workout widget
  • URLs are auto-linked in the Last Workout widget
  • Accurate dates in the Last Workout widget
  • Dozens of CSS fixes and improved compatibility with popular WordPress themes

Running around changing logins

If you’ve ever created an account at any Gawker Media site, it’s highly likely your password has been exposed. These sites include Gawker, Deadspin, Kotaku, Jezebel, Fleshbot, io9, Jalopnik, Gizmodo, Valleywag and Lifehacker. Most likely this also includes defunct sites Defamer and Sploid as well as formerly owned by Gawker sites Consumerist, Gridskipper, Oddjack, Screenhead and Wonkette (links intentionally omitted). These accounts go back nearly 10 years.

There’s more at Mediaite, BusinessInsider and HuffPo.

Inside the Gawker source/database torrent is a decrypted list of nearly 200,000 account details including plaintext passwords. Mine was in there, and the login was apparently used to post a spam event to my dormant Facebook account. Facebook deserves praise for proactively disabling my account.

I had better plans for my morning.

After reviewing the torrent files, my theory is that passwords before a certain point in time were hashed without salt. These are stored as encrypted strings in the database, but are easily revealed using a basic rainbow table. A lack of salting would also have made it easy to reveal the several thousand accounts using ‘password’ and ‘qwery’ as passwords.


How to spell Hanukkah 2010

While totals are lower due to Hanukkah’s very early start this year (December 1st), Google’s numbers seem especially screwy this year. I just don’t believe that results for Hanukkah fell by 10 million hits year-over-year.

Here’s my original Sixteen Ways to Spell Hanukkah post from 2005.


Really Netflix?

Suite Life on Deck + Backyardigans = drama about a serial killer?


Dirty Webcam

Caught me.



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