November 30, 2003

Bad MySQL Advice from

I happened across this article on about setting up MySQL. While the author does a reasonable job handling the security aspects of MySQL, he makes two mistakes that I think need to be corrected.


  1. Suggests that people use MySQL 3.23. While that's a stable and mature version, I suspect that most folks are best served by using 4.0.xx instead. There are many improvements in the 4.0.xx series and many bugs fixed as well.
  2. He doesn't tell readers about building it with LinuxThreads support and the advantages of doing so.

I'm really surprised at home many FreeBSD/MySQL folks still don't use LinuxThreads. Someday we should be getting official MySQL binaries with LT support from too. I need to bug Lenz about that again...

Posted by jzawodn at 10:44 PM

What Weblog World Hierarchy?

Dave says:

I told Kevin, on the drive down to San Jose, that I feel we're at a turning point in the weblog world, either we're going to be like every other hierarchy that's ever been, with secret deals, lots of impediments to progress, eventual stagnation; or we're going to overcome that.

But since there's nowhere to leave a comment, I'll ask here. Dave, what is this hierarchy you speak of?

Posted by jzawodn at 09:27 PM

Made it to Bangalore


I'll explain the full story later. Let's just say that Lufthansa and 747 are two flavors that don't seem to mix well.

We just spent some time with Kalyan getting acquainted with Bangalore. Spent a couple hours driving and walking around parts of the city. Oh, and we ran into Miguel in the Hotel lobby before heading out.

I've taken some pictures that I haven't had a chance to post--I took a 1.5 hour nap instead. Rasmus has begun posting his (which is where the one at the right came from).

Oh, the hotel has WiFi. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 03:53 AM

Travel with Murphy

Usually I have pretty good luck with air travel. But not this time. It seems that Murphy has decided to tag along from the very beginning of the trip this time.

Missing Laptop

First, the friendly TSA morons folks nearly lost my laptop while going through the security checkpoint at SFO. Don't as me how, but even before my laptop went thru the x-ray machine, someone had decided that the tray it sat in was empty and put it back on the stack.

Of course, I was going thru the metal detector and didn't see what happened. Instead, I got to the other end and saw my jacket and computer bag come out. That was strange because I had purposely put my computer between those two items to minimize the chance of me missing it.

Needless to say, it took about 5-10 minutes and the combined brain power of 3 TSA employees to figure out what had happened. For a brief minute or two, I was convinced that someone either pulled it out for extra inspection or had walked off with it entirely--even though I couldn't fathom how that was possible given the physical layout.

Engine won't Start

We got to the gate about an hour early and found a spot located near a power outlet.

NOTE TO AIRPORT DESIGNERS: Put way more power outlets in terminal waiting areas. In the brand new international terminal at SFO, there's still only two outlets every 40 feet or so. What sort of genius came up with that ratio?

We boarded the plane and before long were watching the German/English "safety video" as we pulled away from the gate. (I'm flying Lufthansa.) Then we stopped. And heard some engine noises. Then the pilot comes on to inform us that engine #2 wouldn't start so we'd have to go back to the gate.

Two hours later a valve adjustment/repair/replacement was complete and we were ready to taxi and take off--two hours late. The astute reader has now realized that there was only one and a half hours between our scheduled arrival in Frankfurt and our departure for Bangalore.

More later...

Posted by jzawodn at 12:41 AM

November 28, 2003

Buy Nothing Day

Today is Buy Nothing Day. You can help celebrate by staying at home and not shopping. Me? I'll be on a plane to Bangalore, India so there's little chance of me buying anything today.

Instead of that new DVD, how about a subscription to Adbusters for that non-lemming friend of yours?

Cool. Dan Gillmor mentioned it too. But he cheated. He's in Hong Kong now, so Friday came sooner for him than me. No worries. I'll be in India soon enough. From there I'll have a good 8 hour lead on most folks in the US too. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 06:36 AM

November 27, 2003

Travel Itenerary

I suspect this will mess me up a bit...

 Leave                      Arrive                     Time
 -----                      ------                     ----
 San Fran  @  2:30pm 11/28  Frankfurt @ 10:10am 11/29  10hr 10min
 Frankfurt @ 11:30am 11/29  Bangalore @ 12:05pm 11/30  08hr 50min

 Bangalore @  2:40am 12/05  Frankfurt @  8:15am 12/05  10hr 05min
 Frankfurt @ 10:10am 12/05  San Fran  @ 12:30pm 12/05  11hr 20min

Heh. I especially like the notion of leaving Bangalore at 2:40am on Friday. Talk about an early hotel check out. Maybe I should check out the night before and just hang out at the office. But, hey, at least I'll get home the same day.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:21 PM

Linux Bangalore/2003 Talk Schedule Posted

The final schedule for Linux Bangalore/2003 is now online. As noted earlier, I'm delivering two talks on Wednesday, December 3rd: MySQL Optimization and Scaling Tips at 10:00am and MySQL New Features at 12:00pm.

If you're there, drop by and introduce yourself! It's not every day I get to meet weblog readers from half way around the world. Well, it happened in Japan a few weeks ago, but still... :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 03:00 PM

November 25, 2003

Brian Eno's Music for Airports

cover It's rare that I recommend music, but I've recently decided that Brian Eno's Music For Airports is some of the best background music for writing.

I've owned this particular CD for at least 4 years but have only recently begun to listen to it with any regularity. A couple weeks ago, I popped it into the CD player while hacking on a book chapter and left it on repeat. Since then I haven't even thought of taking it out of the rotation. Like much of his other ambient work, its very subtle and just fades into the background as your concentration and attention focus back on the task at hand.

If you're a fan of Brian Eno or Ambient Music in general, I highly recommend it.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:48 PM

November 24, 2003

Business 2.0 on Foo Camp

The Good News

According to Jeremy Wright, I'm mentioned in this Business 2.0 article on Foo Camp.

The Bad News

I'm not about to pay Business 2.0 $5 to read a single page of a single article. A subscription form keep popping up when I try to read page 2. I'd gladly pay 'em $0.50 or so. Micro-payments anyone?


It's PayPal not rocket surgery, guys. You'd think that part of the "2.0" in "Business 2.0" would involve understanding how business ought to work on-line, wouldn't you?

Anyway, if somehow a copy of the article magically ends up in my INBOX I can actually read it.

Update: The author has provided a PDF version from his site (local copy). Thanks John!

Posted by jzawodn at 12:28 PM

November 23, 2003

Cross-wind Landing in the Pegasus

I headed down to Hollister for a bit of Pegasus flying today. On my first flight (1pm or so), I towed to about 4,700 feet and flew into the east hills. It was a little bumpy but I didn't really find much of anything until I got down closer to the terrain: between 3,700 and 4,000 feet. I couldn't really work it well, but I tried.

On the way back, I looked for the low thermals that few thermals that we hit on tow. I didn't find much, so I lowered the gear and headed for the pattern entry point. When I got there I found some real bumps. I decided to give it a shot and managed to stay up an extra ten minutes, going between 1,600 and 1,800 feet. It was hard, but I managed a bit of lift.

I entered the pattern mid-field for 24 and noticed a bit of a right cross-wind across the runway. As I came over the runway I had a bit of difficulty lining up on it. The cross-wind was stronger than I thought. In fact, I fought it most of the way down and the typical wind gradient was almost non-existent. But I made it down safely. It was weird having a north wind to deal with in the afternoon.

For my second flight, I took off on 31 and the wind had shifted again. I had a right cross-wind on take off, which would have been a tail-wind on 24. I towed high to play over the hills and get a feel for what the wind was doing as it blew over 'em. I didn't find much of anything interesting and came back to land on 31.

I was done flying for the day and found myself chatting with a few folks. Just when I was going to leave, Lance, Darren and I got to talking. Lance was about to go for another acro lesson with Drew, so Drew pulled the three of us into the classroom to give us a quick lesson on rolls. Interesting stuff. I need to get some lessons in loops and rolls sometime soon. Very soon.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:10 PM

Comments RSS Feed Added

The other day, while setting up my linkblog and its RSS feed, I decided to also setup an RSS feed for my blog comments. The idea is simple, really. Weblogs are great because of RSS. I don't have to poll (visit each site repeatedly, looking for updates) anymore. My aggregator does that for me. However, when I get interested in a discussion on one, I'm back to square one again: polling.

By providing a feed of the 10 most recent comments on my entries, I'm making it a bit less tedious for you to keep up with any interesting discussion that might occur here. Yeah, I know it's not likely, but on the off chance it happens, you now have an easy mechansim for staying involved.

Subscribe here

Thanks to revjim's example for making this trivial to do.

If I get really ambitious, may I'll set up per-post feeds someday.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:13 PM

Real-Time PHP-Nuke Hacking

A couple weeks ago, I posted asking for web discussion board recommendations. In the comments Rasmus Lerdorf pointed out that most system suck because their security is a joke.

Of course, he's right. I've been on Bugtraq long enough to realize that the popular PHP-based boards and community systems seem to get compromised in some way or another (SQL injection, cross-site scripting, etc.) on a very regular basis. That's part of the reason I asked in the first place. I was hoping someone who knows more about the scene would enlighten me. And, despite that fact that I omitted security from my original list of requirements, it worked nicely.

Then, yesterday, I was looking at the MythTV project, which is an impressive Linux PVR solution (think "Open Tivo"). Literally as I was browsing the site someone compromised it. See the screenshot at the right? I took that just in case it was fixed before I had a chance to right this. Indeed, a couple hours later the site was back to normal.

Witnessing this real-time "hacking" is a sobering example of how far things have to come. If you've been brainwashed by Eric Raymond's "all bugs are shallow" logic, ask yourself why we keep seeing this sort of thing happen with popular Open Source Software such as PHP-Nuke.

Come to think of it, I think I've written about this before. Looking back over it, I still agree with myself.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:21 AM

November 22, 2003

Microsoft Lies, Scoble Style

I did something I haven't done in a while. I read a few items on Robert Scoble's weblog. I used to read his stuff more often, but since he's become Microsoft's voice in the blog world, I've found it a bit hard to stomach most of the time. It's not Robert that bothers me, he's a great guy. It's the effect that Microsoft appears to have had on him. I think he's forgotten what it's like on the outside already.


Anyway, I couldn't help but to notice something he said that can't really go unchallenged. Err, I mean "uncorrected." He's clearly wrong. :-)

In this post he says:

On the plane last night I met a social worker who owned Microsoft stock. Lady is retired. 75 years old. What happens if I say something that gets us hit with a billion dollar fine? It comes out of her pocket. The $50 billion dollars in our investment accounts doesn't belong to Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer or me. It belongs to her. Think about that.


According to my sources, Bill Gates himself owns roughly 1.1 billion shares of Microsoft. And according to Microsoft's Investor Relations site:

As of October 31, 2003, there were 10,812,468,881 shares of Microsoft common stock outstanding.

Let's see, that's approximately 10% of the company that Mr. Bill owns.

Saying that the "$50 billion dollars in our investment accounts doesn't belong to Bill Gates" is wrong on several levels. Bill Gates actually "owns" $5 billion of that cash, doesn't he? Scoble is trying to imply that Bill is not an investor. Not only is he an investor in Microsoft, he is the single biggest individual investor in Microsoft.


On the plus side, he partially redeems himself by being honest about Microsoft and security.

One reason I don't like promising fixes, though, is cause we don't have much, if any, credibility left when discussing security. So, any promises would ring hollow.

No shit?

+1 for stating the obvious. A lot of folks higher up in Microsoft that probably wouldn't be so honest (you know, stating the obvious and all) in public.

Perhaps Bill also generates a reality distortion field, but one of a very different nature than Steve Jobs.

Don't even get me started on his notion of XP service pack #2 helping with Windows security in a big way. What about all the Win98 and Win2K users out there?

Longhorn might be delayed until they figure out how to fix the security problems it already has? Great. That means they've designed yet another OS with a poor security model. As if good security as a requirement is somehow so new that it came up after Longhorn was designed. How long have Microsoft's OSes been used by businesses in network environments again?

Posted by jzawodn at 06:11 PM

My Linkblog is Available

A few days ago I noted that I need a link blog. Since laziness is often the mother of invention, I've created one. From the outside it's little more than an RSS feed and a sidebar labeled "recent linkblog links" on my main blog homepage.

Subscribe here

Behind the scenes, it's a separate MovableType powered weblog that I've stripped down to just two simple templates. This allows me to post to it using my handy command-line tools. Someday I should write up how I put it together.

This should reduce the clutter on my main weblog, allowing me to focus there on writing about things I really care about without being distracted by propagating miscellaneous links.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:12 PM

November 21, 2003

Late DG-1000 Flights

I had the chance to fly with Charlie in BASA's new DG-1000 (we bought it form Charlie). I wrote about it earlier here.

The glider was setup in the 20 meter configuration. Our flight flight was to 3,000 feet. I got a good feel for the takeoff (with a decent cross-wind), tow (very easy on tow), and then speed control, rudder coordination, slow flight, a stall, and turns. After a bit, I came in and landed on 31. Charlie had me perform a high approach to prove that the spoilers on the DG-1000 are quite effective. I was surprised. I can't imagine ever needed to slip that glider on final.

We launched off 31 and took a higher tow to practice spins. It'd been a while since I'd done spin training but it was easy to get back into. After the spins were done, we played around a bit and then it was time to land. This time I made a cross-wind landing on 24. I landed a bit long because I wasn't worried about getting down on the ground quickly. I spend my time over the runway trying to get a good feel for how the cross-wind was really affecting our flight path. Since I don't have lots of cross-wind experience, I figured that'd be worthwhile.

After our second flight it was getting dark, so we put the glider to bed. All in all, it was a good way to spend a late hour on a Friday afternoon. I took a few more pictures of the glider, but none of them turned out as well as these.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:38 PM

November 19, 2003

PostgreSQL 7.4 Release Thoughts

I know it's been mentioned all over the place already, but after reading about the PostgreSQL 7.4 release, including the more detailed changes that Bruce published, I'm very impressed.

On my TODO list for next year (that's 2004, in case you're not sure) it to play with PostgreSQL a lot more than I have in the past.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:04 PM

Is Google The Next DNS?

I was reading about the new root name server going up in Russia on Daily Daemon News and noticed something I hadn't paid attention to before:

ISC operates one of the 13 root DNS servers as a public service to the Internet. ISC has operated for IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) since 1993. F answers more than 272 million DNS queries per day, making it one of the busiest DNS servers in the world. F is a virtual server made up of multiple systems and runs ISC BIND 9 as its DNS server.

Interesting. How long will it be until the number of web searches outnumber the number of DNS lookups handled by the root DNS servers?

According to Google handles 250 million queries per day (as of Feb 2003). We know that's only increasing. But I don't know how quickly. Anyone got a good reference for that number?

More importantly, when (or if?) the number of web searches surpasses the number of DNS queries handled by the root servers, what will that say about the need for a good domain name? Maybe movie previews will all end with the phrase "Google keyword: ..." instead of AOL keywords.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:40 AM

November 18, 2003

CVS Commit + Weblog = Changeblog

In response to my recent post about CVS Commit Notifications via E-mail, Jason Gessner writes to say that he's done something even cooler. He's rigged up a way to get CVS Commit info posted to a weblog using Net::Blogger (which I've played with before (here, here, and here) too and use to post 95% of my entries from Emacs now).

He demonstrated it at (PDF) and has an example on-line.

Cool stuff.

That reminds me, in a roundabout way, of the RSS feeds of CVS Commits that I setup at work. It's more popular than I expected it'd be. There are people other than me who use it...

Posted by jzawodn at 09:44 PM

November 17, 2003

MaxDB (from MySQL & SAP) is Available

And it comes with stuff like:

  • Support from SAP and MySQL
  • Views
  • Cursors
  • Stored Procedures
  • Triggers
  • Snapshots

And assorted other goodies...

Go here for more details.

See Also: My previous entry on MaxDB.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:46 PM

Keep me away from heavy machinery today...

I've managed to screw up an amazing amount of trivial shit today. I don't know what's up, but you won't see me anywhere near a backhoe or crane.

I left my visa pictures at home. So I drove all the way back to get 'em.

Then I walked over to the travel office to drop off my visa stuff. 95% of the way there, I remembered that I left the signed letter that goes with my visa application on my desk. So I walked back to get it.

Then I dropped off all my stuff at the travel office and Lori the travel lady asks "Where's the other picture?" Apparently they need both pictures even though the documentation only mentions a single picture. So I walked back to get that too.

It's amazing I remembered to breathe today. And that I didn't manage to leave my ass at home.


It'll be, uhm, interesting to see how this day plays out.

On the bright side, I had a good weekend.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:54 PM

November 16, 2003

One Year of Soaring

Looking over my log book tonight, I noticed that my first flights with an instructor at Hollister were one year ago today: One flight to 6,000 feet ASK-21 63JJ and one flight to 6,000 feet in 2-32 7531, both with Gus Ponder. It was part of the pack of Discovery Flights that I went on before attending Russell's one day ground school.

This made me stop and think a bit about what I've done in the last year. I've met a ton of great people at the gliderport and have flown with a number of great instructors (Jim, Russell, Drew, Gus, Brett, Jonathon). I've helped push a lot of gliders out to the runway and have probably been pushed out as many times.

Like many of the students from last year, I started in the 2-32s with Jim, soloed in 64E, started into the ASK-21, took a check ride and got my license early this year. Then I did my back seat checkout and gave rides to a few friends. Not long after, I joined BASA, started flying the Grob, worked on one of the first Panoche checkouts, and moved into the 1-34. I even had the chance to spend a few days at Truckee flying in the other Grob and then with Steve Ford in the Duo--and I even snuck in a test flight in the DG-1000.

What a year! Nearly 200 flights. (I guess that's what comes with flying nearly every week for a year.)

But, hey... I'm not addicted or anything. :-)

Anyway, I just wanted to take a second and say thanks to everyone who's helped me along the way. Having a welcoming glider operation only an hour away made much of this possible. It's been a lot of fun and I've learned a ton about flying and flying safely. Looking around at the more experienced folks, I also see that there's a lot more great flying and learning ahead.

Today I got a chance to fly the Pegasus for the first time. That's not a bad, if unplanned, way to celebrate a year of learning and flying.

Thanks, everyone.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:11 PM

Pegasus Checkout

Yesterday was a rain-out. Several of us attended Russell's judgement seminar, but the weather just didn't clear up. So I headed back this morning with Joyce and Lance. The sky was very blue and there were some nice puffy clouds over the hills. It looked to be a good soaring day.

When we arrived, Drew told me that Brett would handle my Pegasus checkout. That was fine with me, since I know that Brett has actually flown a Pegasus recently. :-)

Darren, Lance, and I worked on getting 2BA and 9JH ready. I was to fly 2BA (pictured on the right) and Lance was going to take 9JH. After I got things situated, Brett came over and we talked about the glider, looked over the cockpit, and got met settled inside. After adjusting things a bit, I got a parachute on and settled in for real. While I was getting comfortable, Lance launched along with a bunch of other guys. Several of the private glider owners came out to fly: Brian (DG3), Peter (2T), Hugo (8L), and even Dr. Jack.

Sadly, none of them had found much lift.

I launched shortly after Lance landed. For my first flight, I towed behind the Pawnee on runway 24. The first 10 seconds of the tow were a bit tense, but I just tried not to do anything dramatic. I was in the air in no time. I kept finding myself a bit low on tow, so I adjusted the trim a bit after we got above 1,000 feet and it made all the difference. We towed to 5,200 feet and then I hopped off tow to get acquainted with the glider.

I spent time getting used to the speed control, trim, and noise levels. Then I remembered to retract the gear, tried some slow flight, turns, and generally just played around since there wasn't any lift to be found.

I had set a rule for myself that I'd lower the gear at 2,000 feet whether or not I was in lift. Not long after, I entered the pattern for runway 31 and landed. I landed a bit shorter than I wanted (I seem to always do that on 31) and had a very minor bounce. I managed to roll the glider all the way to the normal stopping area but couldn't quite get it off the runway. The rudder just isn't as effective at low speeds on the Pegasus.

I launched again off 31 a few minutes later for my second flight. This time I towed to 4,700 for more of the same. I remembered to retract the gear a bit sooner and had fun with figuring out how fast I could get the glider to roll. I planned to land 31 again, but a plane on the ground asked if I could switch to 24 to let some planes take off on 31. I could see at least three of them backed up and 24 was open, so I switched.

My second landing was better--no bounce. Nice and smooth. However, I again didn't hit the rudder early enough and couldn't quite get off the runway.

I took a break while others landed and decided to go up for a third, shorter flight. As I was pushing the glider back onto the taxiway, Lance called on the radio to report that he was in lift. I launched just after he landed (again) and went looking for lift under the nearby clouds. While I didn't find much lift, I did manage to find some zero sink areas. Before long, it was time to land. Again, I landed on runway 24 and this time was able to control my path better (earlier). I rolled off the runway and stopped just where I wanted to.

Mission accomplished.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:06 PM

November 14, 2003

Karl and The Register on Blogging and Bloggers

As usual, Karl is dishing out more than word soup. He hits on the reality of blogging in a post that's partly a response to Dave Winer and Kasia (as cited in The Register) and that contains such gems as:

Bloggers are people who like to hear themselves talk (I'm included), filled with an inaccurate sense of importance (probably included here too), contributing to little more than white noise in a sea of screaming brains, wired together with fiber and glue. (My grammar teacher would beat me senseless for that run on sentence, but as a self-important blogger its my prerogative)
That's blogging.
In and of itself, that's fine with me. Scream, punch, kick, do whatever you want while you're alive. But let's not pretend we're curing cancer by contributing more static to the noise pool.
It's not that individuals, or a group of outraged individuals can't make a difference, either. It just seems to me that most of the blogging community chooses to channel their collective brainpower and voice into unimportant crap.

And, later on...

I'm FAR MORE impressed every time some poor rural girls lemonade stand gets shut down by an over-zealous town mayor; the web then writing en masse and making the city/town back down. I've seen at least three of these stories this year. Humans helping humans.

Of course, we've all seen stuff like that in blogs, but Karl's point is that it tends to be the exception rather than the rule.

Your Blog versus Verizon's lobbyists. Good fucking luck.


It's good to see that Andrew Orlowski of The Register has his head on semi-straight. I love the first paragraph of that story:

Working in his secret laboratory at Harvard University, a Fellow of the prestigious institution has come up with a formula that rocks electoral maths to its core.

Don't get me wrong, blogging is important. But it's not that important and not in the ways that some would like you to believe.

That reminds me. Now would be a good time to recommend that everyone pick up and read a copy of Asking The Right Questions, which happens to be written by two of BGSU's smartest professors. It's a seriously good book that's used in their critical thinking classes. It's been a few years since I read it, so I probably should dust off my copy too. I think a lot of the "debate" (including much of the political discussion) I see in the blogsphere could benefit from it.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:23 PM

November 13, 2003

Controlling My PowerPoint Excitement

The universe works in funny ways. You see, earlier today an e-mail message when out to a large number of people at work. It said something like this:

If you create power point presentations then get ready to be very excited . . . we have a new Corporate template for you to use on all of your presentations!

I am not making this up.

There was no smiley. It was a serious message.

Not only could I not find anything in that message to "be very excited" about, it made me sort of sad. I had the sudden urge to fill out a TPS report or something.

But it turns out that I'm not alone. You see, over at FastCompany, we learn that PowerPoint is:

  • among mankind's worst inventions, ever
  • the largest single source of useless crap within companies

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:45 PM

November 12, 2003

Going to NYC. Dinner, anyone?

Next Wednesday I'm flying to New York to spend Thursday at the Yahoo! Hot Jobs office in Manhattan. I fly back home on Friday morning unless I can't get everything done on Thursday. Then I'll push back a few hours, I guess. Amusingly, the hotel room costs more than the flight does. Yeay! for cheap air fares on the SJC to JFK route.

Anyway... Are there any New Yorkers reading my blog who want to meet up for dinner on Thursday night? I'll be working in the vicinity of West 31st and 9th Ave if that makes much of a difference.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking. If I had a fan club I wouldn't need too ask, would I?

Such is life.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:32 PM

I need a link blog...

But since I'm too busy to make one, here's a list of stuff I've found recently that you might also find interesting, amusing, or simply not at all worthwhile:

That's five more browser tabs I can close now.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:26 PM

November 11, 2003

Wanted: Web Discussion Board Software That Doesn't Suck (and groks RSS)

I'm looking for high quality web discussion board software. A lot of what I've seen so far sucks in one way or another. Here's my wish list:

  • Open Source
  • Written in Perl or PHP (not an absolute requirement, but it'd be nice)
  • Look and feel controlled via CSS, not a horrid mess of tables and font tags
  • Avatar support
  • A built-in simple registration system
  • Good RSS support. This is a deal breaker if it's not there. I'm sick and tired of discussion software that doesn't output RSS. I have no time to visit every forum I care about on a daily basis. Computers should make my life easier, dammit! I want a feed per-thread, a feed of new posts, and a feed per-board. Bonus points for full posts in RSS rather than just summaries.
  • Uses MySQL as the back-end database
  • Avatars
  • Does anyone have this one? Integration with PayPal. I'd like the ability to have forums that are not free. Given PayPal's cool API, this shouldn't be hard to do but I don't know if anyone has done it yet. Processing payments by hand is so lame.
  • E-mail integration. A user should be able to say "notify me via e-mail if someone responds to my post."

There's probably other stuff I'd like to have too, but those are probably the major points.

If you know of anything that qualifies (or comes close), I'd love to hear about it. Bonus points if you can point me at an on-line community that's already using it.

I'll update this post if I've realized I've forgotten something significant or said something dumb.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:26 PM

November 10, 2003

Dan's Big Brother is named Google

Interesting. Dan reports that Google is watching more closely than he expected.

I made an offhand comment on IRC with the URL for the real image (I hardlink it on the server, rather than playing Apache redirect games) and three minutes later... Pow! There was googlebot, looking at it. Turns out that one of the folks on the channel'd looked at it, and they run Opera with the google stuff on it so presumably that's how google got the URL. I will admit to being very impressed with the speed that the crawler struck out with (and it was the crawler, at least according to the log data and the PTR record for the IP address) but still...

Of course, it could have been the experimental IRC sniffer bot they've been playing with.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:16 PM

Soaring the Beach at Torrey Pines

I recently came across one of the most amazing soaring locations: Torrey Pines. On the southern California cost, pilots fly up and down the beach thanks to the strong winds that often blow on shore. For a sample of what goes on, check out their on-line videos.

More information is available in the Southern California Soaring group's May 2003 newsletter.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:06 PM

November 09, 2003

Knoppix Saved My Dad's Data

Even before today, I couldn't say enough good things about Knoppix, the coolest run-from-CD Linux Distribution ever. But it gets better.

When I got home from flying this evening, there were two messages on my answering machine. Both were my Dad telling me that his work laptop was fubar. He wanted to find a way to backup the data to his Linux box (one that I setup for him as a home server last year--that he doesn't know much about). And this had to happen tonight because the laptop is going in for service tomorrow and they'll likely just blast the drive.

Oh, and he's three time zones ahead of me.

It sounded bleak.

I called him. In the first two or three minutes of the conversation, he explained that he'd used a Knoppix CD that came with a book he bought to mount the partition with all his data on it. He just needed to know how to get the data from the laptop to the the server.

I was a little shocked. I never figured he'd have gotten this far on his own. He's apparently been reading up on Linux recently. That's cool.

It took a bit of time, but I was able to explain how to tar up the contents of the disk and the copy the data over to his server. All told, it took maybe an hour. Most of that was waiting on tar and the network.

Thank You Knoppix!

This could have been a major pain in the ass without Knoppix handy.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:44 PM

Duo Discus Checkout

I awoke this morning to the sights of lighting and the sound of thunder. Apparently the alarm clock wasn't necessary. I showered and got ready to head down to Hollister. The plan was to do some flying in the Duo with Drew, starting around 9am. (The Duo time is to help transition into the Pegasus.)

The weather was pretty bad and I was worried that I wouldn't fly at all. But I headed to Hollister anyway and called for the weather on my way. The briefer had very encouraging things to say. Sure enough, the closer I got to Hollister, the better it got. I started to see blue around the clouds.

I arrived a bit early and went about getting the Duo ready to fly. I talked with Drew about my past Duo experience (just one day at Truckee) and we were off. We flew three "high" flights (roughly 2,800 feet given the low could bases) to work on takeoff, tow, slack line, general speed control, and landings. Then we took a break to eat while a bunch of other gliders launched.

Next we did five rope breaks. A couple at roughly 700 feet, then a couple at 300 feet, and finally one at 10 feet. The last one was a bit of hard landing, but it worked. As we were pushing the glider back toward the launch area, Drew asked if I wanted to take it up on my own. Of course I did. :-)

After a brief break, I launched and towed to cloud base (roughly 2800 again), spotted a could that should have had lift under it. But I lost a bit too much altitude getting there. I manged to stay around 2,400 for maybe 10 minutes and headed back to the airport. I landed on runway 31 just fine. I pulled the glider off for a bit and chatted with the folks who came over to see that I survived.

The sky had cleared up toward the west, so I launched again and headed that way. I got off tow at 5,200 feet and was at least 1,000 feet above the highest cloud bases. This gave me a bit of time to look at the clouds and think about what I wanted to do.

I found a nice looking set of clouds that I wanted to try in the direction of Fremont Peak, so I headed there. About half way there, I realized they were twice as far away as I had thought. I decided to take a 90 degree turn and try a cloud street closer to the airport.

It worked. I found decent lift and crossed over the airport. Cloud bases were just below 4,000 feet. As I got over near the foothills on the east side of the valley, I noticed a line of dark cloud bases heading off toward the southwest. I headed over and found abundant lift along a 6-8 mile stretch of clouds. The bases were lower, ranging from 3,500 down to 3,200, but the lift was good. I routinely saw 2 knots up. Several times, I ran the street with 4 to 6 knots up. The lift was so abundant that I make many passes at 80 knots while still gaining altitude.

When I got too low, I'd turn out of the lift, play around for a bit to get lower, and repeat the process. After a bit of time, I was joined by Lance and Darren in 9KS. They saw what I was doing and couldn't resist playing too!

We chased each other up and down the cloud street for a while until we parted ways to go off and play elsewhere. But we seemed to return to the same point a few more times. Eventually Mother Nature began calling my name, so I headed back toward the airport. The really good lift was getting too far from the airport anyway.

What a way to end the day. A 1.5+ hour flight in the Duo on a day that looked like crap. And most of the flight was spent racing under clouds at 80 knots.

Next week: The Pegasus checkout.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:15 PM

November 08, 2003

Down with Blog Spammers

Adam Kalsey says it:

Now spammers have turned their attention to weblogs and comment forms. In order to increase search engine rankings you are posting advertisements to our Web pages. What you failed to understand is that bloggers are smarter, better connected, and more technologically savvy than the average email user. We control the medium that you are now attempting to exploit. You've picked a fight with us and it's a fight you cannot win.

And you know what? He's right--at least for the most part. It seems to be that the majority of new bloggers are not so technically savvy, but that probably doesn't matter. Most are probably using hosting services like TypePad. Search engines are pretty smart about discounting links that all come from within a single domain.

That means blog comment spammers have to go after those that have their own domains. When they do, the odds of them hitting someone who's a lot smarter about fighting spam increase quite a bit I think.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:45 PM

blog fan clubs?

I'm with Jeremy Wright on this one. What's with the Joel fan club in Toronto? (There are currently 29 members.) Are there clubs like this for other major metro areas?

Can someone enlighten me a bit here? What am I missing? The guy runs a software company in New York, once worked for the Evil Empire, and blogs now and then. What's the deal?

It's not like he's JWZ (blog) or anything...

Posted by jzawodn at 08:05 PM

CVS Commit Notifications via E-mail

One of the cool things about CVS that I've found incredibly useful at work is getting commit (check-in) notifications via e-mail. I've long wished I knew how to set that up for some of my personal repositories. Specifically, I had my book repository in mind. Since there are two of us collaborating, it'll be easier to know when the other has done something.

It turns out that it's really not rocket surgery at all. In the CVSROOT directory is a file called loginfo. By adding a line like this to it:

^book /usr/bin/Mail -s [book cvs]: %s

We're able to get the e-mail upon commit. More information is here in the CVS manual.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:27 PM

Google Innovation?

JR tries to remind us of history in light of Google's recent "innovation":

You see, Hotbot was the first to introduce a tool like this. In fact HotBot had released such a tool quite a while ago, and at least they admitted that the bulk of it came from Dave Bau's tool.

It's too bad the press covering this stuff has such a short memory.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:19 PM

November 07, 2003

I hate banks, credit card companies, and the financial industry...

I just had this revelation the other day when I was forced to call ShittyBank, err, I mean CitiBank. You see, they splashed up a cryptic error message when I tried to login to their web site and view my credit card balance. It claimed there was an error and that I should call.

I couldn't imagine what the error was. It had worked fine just a couple days before. So I called. Remarkably, I got a human within 10 seconds. But that's about the only good thing I can say about the experience.

In Derek style, here's an abridged version of our discussion. We pick up the discussion after she got my CC number and confirmed that the various charges from Asia were, in fact, mine. That got me wondering...

Me: I'll be travelling again in a few weeks (to India). Would it help if I told you in advance this time.

CSR: Yes, it would! Could I have your departure and return dates?

Me: Sure. I'll be leaving from SFO on date, flying to Frankfurt, and then staying in Bangalore until I return on date.

CSR: Great. Will you be travelling anywhere else during that time?

Me: Nope.

CSR: Okay, I've put the information in your file. Thanks! This doesn't mean that the problem won't happen again.

Me: What?!?

CSR: This won't prevent your card from being flagged as stolen or having fraudulent charges.

Me: Wait a minute... Why did I just give you even more personal information about me than you had before?

CSR: In case our fraud department manually reviews your account.

Me: Let me guess. They don't manually review every incident, do they?

CSR: Of course not. ShittyBank is a very big company.

Me: So we're having this discussion on the off chance that someone decides to look at my file after you've decided there's a problem.

CSR: Right.

Me: What are the odds of that happening?

CSR: I don't know.

Me: Just so I'm clear. I've verified my identity to you. I am me and have my credit card in hand. You'd probably increase my credit limit right now if I asked. But you won't take my word for the fact that charges made in India are very very likely to be mine?

CSR: That's correct, Mr. Zawodny.

Me: *click*

What I failed to ask is why their fraud detection waited nearly a week to do damned thing about any of this. As I said, I had no trouble a few days ago.

What prompted me to finally relay the details of this? I happened across Nelson's complaint's about American Express and realized how all these companies universally suck.

(Nelson is one of the many cool folks I met at Foo Camp. He hails form the land of colored balls.)

Posted by jzawodn at 10:58 PM

Turnback Alititude

I just ran across an interesting discussion of the proper turnback altitude. (Actually, it's been a fragmented discussion over the last week or so in rec.aviation.soaring.) First read this paper from 1991 by David F. Rogers. Then, if you're up to it, there's a much more detailed paper that describes the math and physics reasoning behind it.

The most surprising thing to me in the first article was that power pilots don't need to practice or demonstrate much in the way of low-altitude takeoff engine failures. As a glider pilot who's planning to work on a power license, it seems rather foreign. One of the biggest accidents we train for is a low altitude rope break.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:11 PM

Oh so tempting...

It seems that a guy in Ohio is selling his Discus 2b. That's so damned tempting. If I could find someone who wants to go 50/50 on it, I'd go for it.

Anyone wanna split a glider? :-)

Maybe I should go look at it if it's still up for sale when I visit Ohio in December.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:02 PM

God Uses MySQL

There was a lot of reaction to my recent post about MySQL at Sabre, most of which I don't have the time or interest to respond to. Too many people just Don't Get It and Never Will.

But I was inspired to visit the church sign generator and make the image you see with this post. I think it's amusing. :-)

Anyway, life would be so much easier if people stopped trying to think of MySQL in terms of Oracle or PostgreSQL or MSSQL or DB2 or... other database servers. It's none of them. It does many things they do not and doesn't do things they do. It satisfies different needs.

And, finally, those who want to argue that "a real database server should do ________ or ________" don't get very far with me. I don't care what you think a product should do in some abstract general terms. I care about how MySQL fits the needs of people I work with. Often it does. Sometimes it doesn't. And I have little problem figuring out the difference.

But, hey, if you feel like bitching MySQL, I won't try to stop you... But the recovering catholic in me knows that you'll probably go to hell for it.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:12 PM

November 06, 2003

Visiting Bangalore, India. Any Tips?

In roughly 3 weeks, I'll be traveling to Bangalore, India to speak about MySQL at Linux Bangalore/2003 and to spend some time at Yahoo's Software Development Center (SDC) doing some training and hanging out with the crew there. Getting there involves some long-ass flights (stopping in Frankfurt), but it should be very worthwhile.

Now, I've never been to India before, so I'd appreciate any travel and cultural tips that might be helpful to a visiting American.

Also, if you happen to live in Bangalore and would like to meet up sometime, shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment here. Let's see what we can work out. You never know...

Posted by jzawodn at 07:59 AM

Damn. Did it again.

Felt tired at 10pm last night. Laid down for a bit. Woke up at 5:30am today.

So much for the stuff I planned to do last night. On the plus side, I'll be to work way early, so I can come home earlier than normal. Yeay!

Posted by jzawodn at 05:52 AM

November 05, 2003

Some Pointless Changes Around The Office

Thanks to Lou for pointing out this Onion story. The only thing that'd make it more amusing is if the ads on that page were for Office Space DVDs.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:42 PM

November 04, 2003

They use MySQL? Yes. I told you so...

A few months ago, I found myself in a drawn out stupid argument about MySQL with a self-proclaimed database expert. Along the way, I mentioned that Sabre was using MySQL in a pretty serious way. Not only did he tell me how completely wrong I was (because he knew people there and must be right), he refused to entertain the possibility of a company with such mission-critical systems using little old MySQL.

Well, Mr. Database Jackass, I've got news for you. You're wrong.

Here's the press release: Sabre Holdings Air Shopping Products Leverage MySQL Database

I know that you'll probably never read this, but on the off chance that you do, consider cracking your mind open just a little bit next time around. I told you that I absolutely knew that Sabre was working with MySQL, but you were too damned stubborn to listen. That's too bad. It makes you look less like an "expert" and more like a closed-minded idiot.

And while we're on the topic, here are two other recently MySQL announcements:

...just so you don't think this is some sort of freak event.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:59 AM

November 03, 2003

Self Assessment

Yup, it's that time of year again.

Ever since I've graduated from college and worked full-time, the end of the year has meant that I need to set aside some time to fill out forms as part of a formal review process. The idea being that I assess myself, my manager assesses me, and my peers provide feedback. This all gets stirred together by my manager and then results in a rating of some sort and possibly an annual raise.

I usually have no trouble providing peer feedback. As long as I've worked with someone more than a trivial amount, I can usually think of something positive and negative to say about 'em. But when it comes to do the self-assessment, I'm always a bit stumped.

I really have no concept of what the expectations are--for me. I never really have and maybe I never will. I mean, it's me. Myself. I've with me 24 hours a day. How do I rate me?

Does everyone find this process exceptionally difficult? Or is it just me?

(Oh, I can't help but to comment on how odd it is that Yahoo! and my previous employer seem to use nearly the same assessment system. It's a bit spooky, really.)

Posted by jzawodn at 10:40 PM

How To Fix Your Yahoo! Messenger Unix Client

As the result of a recent server-side change, anyone using the Unix Yahoo! Messenger client may connecting to the wrong (read: legacy, unsupported) group of servers. This may result in random disconnects.

To solve this, you have two options:

  1. The easy way. Exit messenger and remove your ~/.ymessenger/preferences file. Restart messenger.

  2. The harder way. Exit messenger. Edit your ~/.ymessenger/preferences, replacing with on the ConnectionServerline and restart your messenger client.

In short, you preferences file should say this:

ConnectionServer ""

Why there's no built-in facility for doing this and no automatic warning when you connect to the wrong server group is a bit of a mystery to me.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:56 PM

November 02, 2003


Have you even woken up at, say, 8am on a Sunday and then eaten breakfast? Yeah, me too.

Did you then start to feel a bit tired around 10am? Yeah, me too?

Did you then lay back down "for a few minutes" only to wake up at a bit past 2pm? Yeah, me too!

Posted by jzawodn at 02:19 PM

November 01, 2003

Recently Found Stuff

Since I don't use bookmarks anymore, I've gotta put this stuff somewhere.

That's it for now.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:56 PM