March 31, 2004

The Longest Time

Oh, oh, oh
For the longest time
Oh, oh, oh
For the longest time
If you said goodbye to me tonight
There would still be music left to write
What else could I do
I'm so inspired by you
That hasn't happened for the longest time

Once I thought my innocence was gone
Now I know that happiness goes on
That's where you found me
When you put your arms around me
I haven't been there for the longest time

Oh, oh, oh
For the longest time
Oh, oh, oh
For the longest
I'm that voice you're hearing in the hall
And the greatest miracle of all
Is how I need you
And how you needed me too
That hasn't happened for the longest time

Maybe this won't last very long
But you feel so right
And I could be wrong
Maybe I've been hoping too hard
But I've gone this far
And it's more than I hoped for

Who knows how much further we'll go on
Maybe I'll be sorry when you're gone
I'll take my chances
I forgot how nice romance is
I haven't been there for the longest time

I had second thoughts at the start
I said to myself
Hold on to your heart
Now I know the woman that you are
You're wonderful so far
And it's more than I hoped for

I don't care what consequence it brings
I have been a fool for lesser things
I want you so bad
I think you ought to know that
I intend to hold you for the longest time

Posted by jzawodn at 10:59 PM

I'm sick of doing things the hard way

That's it. I've decided.

I'm switching.

In the very near future (after taxes are computed, reported, and paid) I'm putting one of my Thinkpads (the T21 running Linux) and my oldish G4 Apple Powerbook (15" 550MHz) up for sale. Using the funds from those sales and a bit of other cash, I'll be buying a new 15" Powerbook.

This has been a long time coming. In the nearly 2 years since I wrote that reivew, I've upgraded it a bit. It now has 768MB RAM and an AirPort card. I'd use it from time to time, but couldn't ever convince myself to just give up my old ways. But I recently tried to be completely honest with myself about my computing needs (that's not always easy!). I realized that I only do a few things on my Linux notebook (my primary machine until recently) 99% of the time:

That's really it.

Of course, there's a list of things that are a pain in the ass on Linux that I've just been living with for no really good reason (other than the fact that I'm very, very comfortable on Linux):

  • watching quicktime movies
  • expecting power management to work
  • having easy wireless networking
  • finding an RSS aggregator that doesn't suck (less of an issue now that I use bloglines)

Now, looking at things from the point of view of an occasional Mac OS X (Jaguar) user (no, I haven't upgraded to Panther yet--sure me), it's pretty clear that I can fix everything on the second list without changing much on the first list.

Sure, I may switch to using Safari as my browser and may give Apple's another chance once I move to Panther. Or maybe I'll use Mozilla Thunderbird instead. But I've used mutt/exim/emacs/isync on this old Powerbook before without any trouble.


Why didn't I do this sooner? Beats me. I'm slow and stupid sometimes.

Probably a combination of inertia, being lazy, not wanting to change, and so on. But in the last week or so, I've been more honest with myself and really tried to give OS X a fair shake. Unlike most Mac users, I don't think the OS X interface is "beautiful" or "clean" but it certainly does the job well enough for my needs. Yeah, I'm giving up a lot of control but ditching FVWM2 on Linux, but that's okay. I really don't have time to tweak that crap anymore.

I've owned four Thinkpads and ran Linux on all but one of them (the fourth is my Windows box, used mainly for GPS and flight/navigation software nowadays). I've been at this a long, long time. But, you know what? Stuff just works on this Mac. And since all the cool kids are doing it, I have few if any fears that my favorite Open Source tools are already debugged and working there smoothly.

There really are no good reasons left for not switching. I haven't thought of anything I can do on the Linux Thinkpad that I can't do on a Powerbook running Mac OS X. Well, there are some things, but none of them matter to me. That was the important realization here.

Am I giving up on the idea of Linux on the desklaptop? Not really. I still have a Linux desktop at work that I use to talk to a bunch of FreeBSD systems. All I really need/want there is a bunch of xterms, emacs, and my IM clients. So it fits the bill nicely. But let's face it, when it comes to being user friendly and handling modern media, Linux (meaning "the desktop stuff" often packaged to run on it) has some growing up to do.

Use the right tool for the job, I guess.

I'm sure that I've known all of this on some level for a year or so now. And I know that there a bunch of you reading this and thinking... "Duh. Welcome to the party. It's about time you showed up!"

I guess I was just in denial.

So, anyone wanna buy a couple of notebooks? :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 12:39 AM

March 30, 2004

It's like an Outlook virus for geeks

I know I've mentioned the movie Office Space more than a few times on my weblog. But what I hadn't realized until today is that the movie is a lot like an Outlook virus.

I was minding my own business today after a longer than expected meeting/presentation at work when Kasia said she was gonna watch Office Space. Of course, that led to a lot back and forth quoting of some of the best lines in the movie. Of course, that led to me wanting to watch it for the billionth time. (What can I say? It's a classic.)

So I head home and she's half way thru the movie. By the time I get home after stopping at Whole Foods (which kicks much ass, BTW), she's quoting stuff from the end of the movie and has an IM status of "it feels good to be a gangsta."

Wasting no time, I grabbed my dinner (soup, in case you're curious) and started the show. About 20 minutes later, she said that Derek is watching it now too. (Apparently he saw her IM status and that was enough to get him watching the movie too.) So I toss a few of my favorite quotes his way and he responds with a classic:

Illeagal?!?! Samir, this is AMERICA!

Then he asks me if I'm also watching the movie. After learning that I am, he made the profound observation that Office Space is like an Outlook virus for geeks.

He just might be right.

Now that the movie is over, I'm posting this in the hopes of spreading the meme virus. :-)

And, before, you waste your time looking: No. The iTunes Music Store does not carry the soundtrack.

Pity. Amazon has it as well as the movie itself, of course.

Update: Not 3 minutes after posting this, one of my coworkers noticed my IM status of "federal 'pound me in the ass' prison" and started throwing Office Space lines at me. It really is a freakin' geek virus!

Posted by jzawodn at 10:11 PM

March 29, 2004

Trash Talk Getting Life and Purpose

Well, the web's a funny place, isn't it?

Just the other day, I posted my random idea about a trash talk virus for Mac OS X. You know, virus is probably the wrong word. It's more of an ad-hoc network entertainment application. But that's not the point.

Anyway, within a matter of a day or so it got some interesting traction. First off, Ross suggested that it be used to help track down the folks who screw up wireless networks at conferences. That'd be both practical and amusing.

I like it.

Rather than simply exist as an amusing idea, Allen Hutchinson began coding! To see this idea starting to become code isn't something I expected--at least not this quickly. I have to say, it's cool that he decided to use Camel Bones. Building Mac OS X applications with Perl--that's something I need to play with.

Just another day on the web, huh?

Posted by jzawodn at 10:00 PM

March 28, 2004

Totally 80s Weekend

I'm a child of the 80s and I take great pride in it. I've always scored above average on the various "80s purity test" sites. As a result, I have a particular fondness for the popular music of the 80s--especially the one-hit wonders that seemed to make up a fair amount of the Billboard charts.

One of the few local radio stations that I can tolerate (there are exactly four) has been playing only 80s music this weekend, calling it their "totally 80s weekend" and I'm loving every minute of it. Even the not so good stuff they play. Let's face it, not all 80s music is good.

I've long wondered why there isn't an all 80s station out here. I know they exist in a few markets, but I haven't figured out why we don't have one in or near the San Francisco Bay Area.

At least for this weekend, all praise Mix 106.5 FM!

Oh, here's a bit of trivia. I once owned the domains and (or maybe it was .net?). I never got around to doing anything with them so I let them expire. Now, of course, I'm kicking myself. I still don't have time, but I could probably at least get the ball rolling...

Posted by jzawodn at 07:06 PM

March 27, 2004

Mac OS X Virus Idea: Mac Trash Talk

I've had this idea for a while and have only told one person so far. That means it's probably time to solicit feedback (or groans) from a larger audience on it. The intent is not to build a virus, but merely to think about what an amusing virus on the Mac might do--one that takes special advantage of the Mac OS X platform.

It started out, like many ideas do, as the result of some idle brain time. For no particular reason, I wondered what a good Mac OS X virus might be. Somehow I decided that it'd be funny if the virus didn't to anything destructive, but merely tried to mess with the user. I stumbled upon the idea of using the Mac's built-in speech capabilities to, once in a while (every 4-6 hours, maybe), say something to (or at?) the user. It'd be a bit of mild trash talk.

  • your writing sucks
  • you type like a girl
  • your hands stink
  • I hope you don't touch your wife/girlfriend like that

And so on. It'd be something that's annoying without being quite as offensive as, say, some of the blog buttons might be.

That's all well and good--a virus that uses your computer's speech capabilities to harass you once in a while.

But then I realized that's really not good enough. This, after all, is the Macintosh and it's 2004. And Macs are pretty smart. What if this virus was also Rendezvous enabled too? The idea is simple, really. When it sees another infected machine on the network (preferably the wireless network), the two of them would trash talk each other rather than the user. If a third one comes along, it could join the fun.

Now that would be funny!

Imagine the scene at your typical geek conference (run by O'Reilly or whoever). A few people walk into a room, waiting for a session to start. Their computers begin to audibly harass each other. More people come in and the occasional harassment grows into an all out Jerry Springer style verbal assault!

Anyway, I don't know much about Mac OS X programming (yet?), so don't expect me to build this idea. But wouldn't it be funny if someone did and it worked?

Update: It seems that Ross has a good use for such a virus. Excellent!

Posted by jzawodn at 11:54 AM

March 24, 2004

Travelocity really doesn't want my money...

Otherwise known as "64 steps in my futile attempt to use my company's service to buy airline tickets for my parents to visit California in June..."

Each of the following represents my interaction with one web page.

  1. visit (aka, re-branded travelocity)
  2. enter dates, airports, passenger count
  3. choose outbound flight/price/dates (this takes a while, but let's assume it's one step)
  4. choose return flight/price
  5. decline hotel offer
  6. review summary, agree to restrictions, and click "buy now"
  7. choose electronic ticketing
  8. enter parents names and contact info
  9. look at seat map and select outbound, leg #1 seats
  10. look at seat map and select outbound, leg #2 seats
  11. look at seat map and select return, leg #1 seats
  12. look at seat map and select return, leg #2 seats
  13. enter credit card details, including CC number into HTML "password" field, which prevents proofreading
  14. find out that "credit card number is invalid"
  15. attempt to return to previous page using "Return To Previous Page" button only to find that service maintains poor state and all data is lost
  16. fuck! start over
  17. visit web site
  18. enter dates, airports, passenger count
  19. choose outbound flight/price
  20. choose return flight/price
  21. decline hotel offer
  22. review summary, agree to restrictions, and click "buy now"
  23. choose electronic ticketing
  24. enter parents names and contact info
  25. look at seat map and select outbound, leg #1 seats
  26. look at seat map and select outbound, leg #2 seats
  27. look at seat map and select return, leg #1 seats
  28. look at seat map and select return, leg #2 seats
  29. enter credit card details, including CC number into HTML "password" field, which prevents proofreading
  30. find out that "credit card number is invalid"
  31. attempt to return to previous page using "Return To Previous Page" button only to find that service maintains poor state and all data is lost
  32. fuck! start over
  33. visit
  34. enter dates, airports, passenger count
  35. choose outbound flight/price
  36. choose return flight/price
  37. decline hotel offer
  38. review summary, agree to restrictions, and click "buy now"
  39. choose electronic ticketing
  40. enter parents names and contact info
  41. look at seat map and select outbound, leg #1 seats
  42. look at seat map and select outbound, leg #2 seats
  43. look at seat map and select return, leg #1 seats
  44. look at seat map and select return, leg #2 seats
  45. enter credit card details, including CC number into HTML "password" field, which prevents proofreading
  46. find out that "credit card number is invalid"
  47. attempt to return to previous page using "Return To Previous Page" button only to find that service maintains poor state and all data is lost
  48. fuck! start over
  49. visit web site
  50. enter dates, airports, passenger count
  51. choose outbound flight/price
  52. choose return flight/price
  53. decline hotel offer
  54. review summary, agree to restrictions, and click "buy now"
  55. choose electronic ticketing
  56. enter parents names and contact info
  57. look at seat map and select outbound, leg #1 seats
  58. look at seat map and select outbound, leg #2 seats
  59. look at seat map and select return, leg #1 seats
  60. look at seat map and select return, leg #2 seats
  61. enter credit card details for different credit card, including CC number into HTML "password" field, which prevents proofreading
  62. find out that "credit card number is invalid"
  63. attempt to return to previous page using "Return To Previous Page" button only to find that service maintains poor state and all data is lost
  64. write pissed off weblog post about horrible on-line travel sites and tell people in charge of yahoo travel


I feel like Bart Simpson when Lisa electrifies the cookie jar.

I still do not have the tickets. But I've decided that the hour I spent on this (each page takes 5-20 seconds to respond, not counting my typing) so far (oh, and I had to spend a lot more time that I should have to find the "best fare" that I really wanted) is an hour I'll never get back.

Did I mis-type my CC number three times in a row? Who the hell knows? I can't read it back on screen. I did it via cut-n-paste the third time, using a different CC, but that didn't seem to help.

Travelocity really doesn't want my money, do they? From now on, I'm probably going to just call a human. This service feels like it was designed by a group of sadistic psychology drop-outs.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:47 PM

March 23, 2004

YahooFeedSeeker Reports Usage Data to Publishers

Earlier I mentioned that I wished YahooFeedSeeker was more like Bloglines bot in that it should report subscriber counts back to publishers.

It already does that!

Here's a bit from my access log, slightly reformatted: - - [23/Mar/2004:08:13:30 -0800] "GET /blog/rss2.xml
HTTP/1.0" 304 - "-" "YahooFeedSeeker/1.0 (compatible; Mozilla 4.0;
MSIE 5.5;; users 236; views


It had been a while since I looked and I didn't remember seeing a mention of this at work--which isn't to say nobody mentioned it.

Thanks to Rick for pointing this out in my comments.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:14 AM

Linksys WAP11: Worst Access Point Ever

A few weeks before I moved, my wireless access point started acting up. It has only become worse since then. Several times a day, it just sorta drops off the air and I get messages like this in syslog:

eth1: New link status: AP Out of Range (0004)

At which point I want to kill something. Inevitably, I can walk upstairs, power cycle it, and things come back to normal. Except that I usually drop all my connections because it too me too long to notice.

I'm tempted to put the damned piece of crap on an X10 power unit so I can remotely cycle it. Instead, I'll just have to replace it with the WAP that I use when travelling. Of course, it's also a Linksys WAP11 but doesn't seem to have exhibited this problem--yet.


Little is more annoying than technology that randomly fails throughout the day. It's like running Windows 3.1 all over again. You've just gotta love that.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:55 AM

March 22, 2004

Switching to Bloglines

Subscribe with Bloglines For a long time now I've been a loyal AmphetaDesk user. I've written and even contributed a few hacks to the code and have integrated it into my blogging framework. But recently it's been bugging me. It doesn't yet grok Atom and I haven't had the time too add it. There are a few bugs that I simply haven't had time to track down--they're just on the wrong side of the annoying threshold to merit any real attention. And the single-threaded nature of it is problematic at times too.

I've been thinking about switching to something else. Since I still use Linux as my primary OS on my trusty ThinkPad (I'm contemplating switch to a PowerBook, but that's another drama), I looked at the options.

They all sucked hard in various ways. I won't go into how each of them sucked, because that's not my point. Eventually I convinced myself to consider a web-based service. That, in and of itself, is not a big deal. After all, AmphetaDesk is web based. The difference, however, is one of control. I controlled my own AD install.

After I got over that mental hump, I took another look at Bloglines and am quite impressed with the progress since I lasted toyed with it. Mark Fletcher and crew are doing an amazing job. Mark's no idiot. He knows a lot about building very large web-based systems and it shows.

As a publisher, I love the fact that Bloglines tells me how many subscribers it represents each time it pulls one of my feeds. That's such a nice touch. I still hope we can get something similar implemented for the My Yahoo! RSS module. Yahoo now does this too.

My tentative plan, barring someone depositing a brand new 15" PowerBook on my doorstep, is to switch to Bloglines over the weekend and use it as my primary aggregator for the next few weeks. I'm curious to see if it really is as usable as it feels in day to day usage.

I'll try to post notes of anything significant I discover along the way.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:21 PM

Stupid MySQL Benchmarking Lesson #153

I've been doing a lot of prep work for some MySQL benchmarks on an important system that's slated to have a fairly high transaction volume and a lot of records.

However, I loaded the test data and played a round a bit (raw disk I/O benchmarks) before writing the real SQL code that's going to run. Along the way I realized I needed to make a few minor schema changes.


Running an ALTER TABLE command on a table of 60 million rows (60+GB of data) isn't exactly a trivial operation, even if you are doing it on a 12 disk RAID 0+1 array. Twice so far.

I'm used to making cheaper mistakes, at least in terms of time spent waiting for the fix to finish.

Next time around, it'll look more like this:

  1. create schema
  2. write data generator
  3. write benchmarking plan
  4. write benchmarking code
  5. load data
  6. run tests

For some dumb reason, I did #5 just after #2. Then when it came to #3 and #4 I realized "whoops... something is not quite right."

I'll blame too much multi-tasking.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:15 PM

Politically Incorrect Blog Buttons

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a sick pair of very immature technically inclined freaks got a hold of the button maker commonly used to produce blog buttons? Instead of advertising their favorite syndication technology, they'd probably produce a bunch of twisted, nasty, mostly politically incorrect blog buttons, wouldn't they?

Yeah. And they'd probably be kind of funny too.

Well, wonder no longer. It has finally happened.

If you're easily offended or not fond of seeing technology twisted into such things, I'd stop reading now... Otherwise you just might find something to laugh at.

See? I told you so. :-)

Hint: if you read them across, they're kinda like some sick blog button magnet poetry. Or a weird advertisement generated from mad libs. Judge for yourself.

On the other hand, it has a nice George Carlin quality to it...

Posted by jzawodn at 06:59 PM

Blaming the User is Rude

If you try, using an "unsupported" browser or operating system, to visit the Yahoo! Companion web site (maybe you want to learn about the new WebRank technology), you're greeted with a rude message:

Now, there's two things wrong with this:

  1. The blame is on the user. "Your current browser doesn't support..." should be turned around: "Yahoo! Companion doesn't currently support your browser." Why? Because it's the truth. It's not my browser's fault at all, it's Yahoo's.
  2. There's no way to bypass this to find the information you're after. All I want to do is read what the site has to say about WebRank, but I can't do that. The assumption (obviously incorrect) is that I'm solely interested in downloading something that I clearly cannot run anyway. Until I upgrade my browser, I'm seemingly not allowed.

As Jennifer (Ally Sheedy) said to David (Matthew Broderick) in War Games: How rude!

Posted by jzawodn at 11:33 AM

Validating My "Google Needs Orkut" Claim

John Battelle, at PC Forum this week, reports that:

A pretty lengthy discussion of the role of social networking in their businesses, including Orkut. Eric [Schmidt, Google CEO] acknowledges that Orkut was strategic to Google's ability to know more about its users so as to provide better service to them, and when it comes out of beta, it'll be integrated in some way into Google.

(emphasis mine)

Now my Why Google needs Orkut piece doesn't seem quite so conspiratorial anymore, does it?

Posted by jzawodn at 11:05 AM

March 21, 2004

Linkblog Upgrade

Tired of not being like all the really cool kids, I've upgraded the rss feed for my linkblog so that it now includes a little one-line comment for entries that I add. All it took was a bit more Perl hackery (my command-line posting tools), looking at a tiny bit of the MT source code (XML-RPC server bits), and MT template hacking.

Now you get a tiny little dose of my sense of humor (or lack thereof) with each an every entry? Aren't you lucky?!

(I'll probably be watching the subscriber count drop over the coming days...)

Oh, and if you don't subscribe to it but only glance it it once in a while on the right side of my main blog page fear not! For I have added the same witty little comments as "title" attributes on the <a ...> tags, so they'll show up as you mouse over.


Now back to your regularly scheduled goofing off.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:12 PM

Yahoo! Slurp

I think we should rename the cafeteria at work. It's currently called "Url's" which is amusing and all, but every time I notice my site getting crawled by Yahoo! Slurp, I can't help but to think that should be the cafeteria name.

Or maybe not.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:24 PM

Personal Spam Volume: over 1GB/year

I just checked to see how much spam I've been catching with SpamAssassin lately. It'd been a while since I last did this (October 26th according to the message headers).

Well, the mbox file was 649MB in size and contained 56,652 messages.

Christ on toast! That's an annual personal spam volume of over 1GB/year. It's a good thing the government passed that law, otherwise I'd... wait. That law didn't do a damned bit of good, did it?

gzip -9 took it down to 236MB, proving once again that spam doesn't compress very well.


Update: As Craig suggested in the comments, I tried rzip. It got the file down to 70MB. Nice!

Posted by jzawodn at 12:37 PM

The SpamAssassin Custom Rule Emporium

Kasia's SpamAssassin rules post reminded me of something that's not well publicized (unless you happen to be on the SpamAssassin mailing list(s)). The SpamAssassin Custom Rule Emporium is the place to go for additional rules you can drop in to your SA config.

  • is an additional rule set that is update very frequently between major SA releases. It contains lots of rules for recently discovered spam.
  • is a group of rules focused on numbers that occur frequently in spam messages (phone numbers, IP addresses, etc).

I've found both rule sets to be quite helpful in blocking some of the spam that SA doesn't catch by default. Keep in mind, however, that these rules are not tested by the SA developers through the normal QA process. So, as always, use at your own risk.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:49 AM

Commercial Real Estate in the Bay Area

I'm on a mailing list to which the following was recently sent:

Plug & Play office space. We are a communications software startup, having some space available at our Los Altos office. Nice furniture, upstairs, with lots of windows. Month to month only, $700/mo will get you about 400 s.f., full service (utils, insurance, office furniture, best-effort dsl, and janitor). Just bring your phones and you are ready to conquer the market.

They're aiming this as startup companies that want to simply move in and get to work. But looking at it, I couldn't help but to notice that it is cheaper than residential space. That's right. If you're not happy with the selection of places to stay, just move on in here with your little company and bring a sleeping bag!

I wonder if there's a shower and a little kitchen area... Not that I'm looking or anything.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:59 AM

March 20, 2004

Slashdot feature request

I'd like a feature that will disable comments from ever showing up when I view Slashdot. You see, I occasionally click a link in my aggregator to read a story on /. and then end up reading the comments.

I'm not sure why, but I do. It's like looking at a really nasty picture. I know I shouldn't but it still happens.

The only saving grace is that I read at the highest possible filtering level, but still.

Now that I think about it, there's an even better solution: /. should provide a full-text RSS feed. Then I'd never accidentally get sucked in.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:51 PM

Mortgage Protection Plans

In the roughly two weeks since I moved in, I've received no less than six "offers" from various companies who wish to ensure that the substantial investment I've made in the California real estate (my house) doesn't vanish.

To that end, they propose that I given them a bit of money so that they can help in case something goes wrong.


Well, my dear financial trolls, I have news for you. There's a very good reason I put more than 25% down on the place at closing time. I didn't want to have to deal with paying a couple hundred bucks every month in mortgage insurance, otherwise known as "throwing money down the drain."

I can do far more good with that extra cash by putting it toward the loan or investing it in something relatively safe.

I had forgotten how much physical mail you get as the result of moving into a newly purchase home. It really is quite insane.

[This is part of a series of posts on the home buying process I'm going I went thru. To see the full set, visit the house category archives.]

Posted by jzawodn at 08:25 PM

March 19, 2004

Do I fit the Blog Survey results?

Well, it's being cited everywhere, so I figured I should look at the Blog Survey Results and see how I fit in. (Besides, I'm waiting for a disk to almost fill.)

  • 76% of bloggers do not limit access (i.e. readership) to their entries in any way
    I only routinely limit one person and he knows full well who he is
  • 36% of respondents have gotten in trouble because of things they have written on their blogs
    Yup. Been there, done that.
  • 34% of respondents know other bloggers who have gotten in trouble with family and friends
    Nope. I can think of some that have gotten in trouble with their employer, but not friends or family.
  • 12% of respondents know other bloggers who have gotten in legal or professional problems because of things they wrote on their blogs
    Only 12%? Wow. I know of at least 2 if I don't count myself.
  • when blogging about people they know personally: 66% of respondents almost never asked permission to do so; whereas, only 9% said they never blogged about people they knew personally.
    Yup. I ask permission only for quotes from private (email or IM) conversations.
  • 83% of respondents characterized their entries as personal ramblings whereas 20% said they mostly publish lists of useful/interesting links (respondents could check multiple options for this answer).
    I do both.
  • the frequency with which a blogger writes highly personal things is positively and significantly correlated to how often they get in trouble because of their postings
    Interesting. I write about "personal" things often but have never gotten in trouble for them. It's always other stuff that gets me.
  • there is no correlation between how often a blogger writes about highly personal things and how concerned they are about the persistence of their entries
    I care about persistence.
  • checking one's access log files isn't correlated to how well a blogger feels they know their audience
  • despite believing that they are liable for what they publish online (58% of respondents believed they were highly liable), in general, bloggers do not believe people could sue them for what they have written on their blogs
    Hmm. I've never really thought about it.

I guess the general lesson here is that I need to get better at pissing off people, especially friends and family.

How do you fare?

Posted by jzawodn at 01:54 PM

Personal Geography Bias and Employment

I got a call from a recruiter today. It's been a little while since that happened, but some tech companies are hiring again.

Anyway, she was calling to confirm that I got her e-mail the other day. (I hadn't.) Upon further investigation, we discovered she had spelled my e-mail address incorrectly. So she began to tell me about this position (not that I'm looking for a job). One of the first things she told me was the location: New Jersey.

I stopped her right there and tried to politely inform her that it didn't matter what the job was because the location wasn't appealing at all. No offense if you happen to live in New Jersey, but I don't want to live or work there. It's one of many places I'd rather not work, in fact.

Anyway, she seemed surprised by this. That, of course, surprised me. Do people not normally tell recruiters not to waste their time if they know they're not interested?

If you happen to be in the NJ area and are interested in being a Development Manager at a second tier search company, let me know. I'll gladly put you in touch.

Of course, if you happen to live in California (or would like to) and would prefer to work for a first tier company, let me know too. I'll gladly put you in touch with someone else.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:50 PM

March 18, 2004

Feedster Removes Spammer Ads

All praise Feedster!

It's a company of great people who listen to the community. Scott has posted You Spoke ... We Listened as a response to my Feedster and Pushing Viagra in the World of PageRank post and the ensuing discussion.

And, just for the record, there seemed to be some confusion about exactly why I complained. I think that Ben summarized it quite nicely in the comments:

I'm not sure where the confusion has occurred with the majority of the comments above but Jeremy has clearly stated he doesn't have a problem with paid ads, only with the fact they are clearly from spam-inclined companies.


Feedster is aimed at BLOGGERS (more or less - i'm sure a good majority of users have blogs), comment spam is the BANE of bloggers and Feedster is PROMOTING known spammers!

Exactly. I'm not anti-commercialization. I'm anti-spammers. Especially blog spammers.

Thanks, Scott and the Feedster crew. As I said, I have a lot of respect for you and still love Feedster.

This has inspired another blog post that's coming in a few days. It has nothing to do with Feedster, rather it's about a much larger issue that I suspect most folks haven't quite realized yet...

Posted by jzawodn at 06:04 PM

Google's Version of "Beta"

The other day, I was reading Ray's review of what he seems to think is Yahoo's "RSS Reader." While his review is plainly wrong in several ways, that's not what I remember about it. Well, I may discuss that at a later time.

At the end of it, he says:

Yeah, I know the service is clearly marked as Beta, but I've become used to Google's definition of Beta...

Well, good news! Google's recent beta isn't much better.

Let's have a look...

Let's say you want to use Google's new local search to find Badminton related places in zipcode 94089 (Sunnyvale, where Yahoo happens to be--not far from the Googleplex). The results are preserved in the first screen shot on the right. The full-size version is, of course, easier to read.

Let's see. Result #1 is good. Badminton Alley sound like just what I might expect to find. Result #2 is "Sociedad Cervantes Espanola." Hmm.

But wait. It gets better!

Result #3 is Kit Kat Club, a strip club. A nudie bar. That sort of thing. Al Bundy would be proud, I'm sure. And result #4 is for a railroad club. Result #5 is for an American Legion Post.

And so on down the list.

Well, Ray, it may be time to revise your idea of what "Google Beta" is. I know I'm not impressed.

Oh, wait. I forgot. It's Google so it must be good. Silly me. That's what I get for missing my last brainwashing.

Yahoo Yellow Pages, on the other hand, produces highly relevant results when I tell it I want Badminton near zip 94089. Here's proof (second image on the right).

I guess it's all about using the right tool for the job, isn't it? :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 05:38 PM

RSS Feeds from Yahoo Entertainment News

The good folks at Yahoo! News just pointed me at the newly launched RSS Feeds for various Entertainment topics:

Celebrity & Gossip
Dear Abby
Entertainment Industry

You can also find them on with all the other feeds.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:30 AM

March 17, 2004

Mark Pilgrim's TPS Reports

In Random Mark says:

the commute is hellish, and the bureaucracy is staggering, but sometimes there's free cake.

Which, of course, made me think of Office Space. Which, of course, reminded me of TPS Reports. And then I remembered someone at work saying that TPS Reports were, in fact, real. Supposedly they came out of IBM culture.

Logically, then, since Mark now works at IBM, I had to wonder if Mark fills out TPS Reports.

Makes you wonder, doesn't it? (Wonder about me, I'm betting...)

Posted by jzawodn at 08:23 PM

Feedster and Pushing Viagra in the World of PageRank

Why spam blogs for PageRank when you can just go to big blog related sites and pay for placement?

That's what's happened over on Feedster. In a posting titled The Realities of Monetizing Your Traffic, Scott says:

Astute users of Feedster will notice an additional set of links in Feedster's page footer. And they are a set of links that perhaps don't honestly make sense given what Feedster does for a living. Anyone who knows me personally would probably be quite surprised at them. So why are they there?

He goes on to explain that Feedster is getting more expensive and these folks were willing to pay for links.

Does anyone else feel like this was the [sl]easy way out? He doesn't say anything about how hard they tried to find sponsorship on Feedster from less sleazy operations.

Don't get me wrong. I admire Scott a hell of a lot. But this really bothers me. I just checked my MT-Blacklist config, and found the first of those links ( which is linked as as "Sildenafil Citrate" in the page footer) in my blacklist already.

I can only guess what would happen if Google or Yahoo starting pimping Viagra ads on their front pages.

This leads me to wonder the following...

In this increasingly PageRank driven advertising economy, should I be worried that linking there is also promoting the same folks who are behind some of that fucking pile of spam that SpamAssassin and MT-Blacklist must sort thru for me?

What do you think?

(Of course, now I'm wondering if Google AdSense will detect that this page is about Viagra and put similar ads on it too. That could be the ultimate irony, no?)

Update: Feedster has responded.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:24 PM

March 16, 2004

Catching up... and stuff.

Oh, I've not posted anything since the Geek Dinner (David's notes) notice on Friday (and that hardly counts)? Okay, hmm.

Well, I'm catching up on lots of stuff not the least of which involved some fits with FreeBSD and Compaq HP RAID stuff.

But that's pretty boring. So maybe I should just point you at the pictures Kasia took on Friday? Yeah, let's go with that. How can you not want to see glider pictures?

(I can't believe I'm posting this. I must be suffering from blog posting withdrawl. Or something.)

Posted by jzawodn at 10:00 PM

March 12, 2004

Geek Dinner at 8:30pm

Reservations were tougher to get than expected. We'll hang out near Dish Dash around 7:30pm (the originally advertised time) for people to show. Then we'll either walk somewhere else or hang out.

Sorry for the late notice...

Posted by jzawodn at 05:24 PM

March 11, 2004

Geek Dinner, Friday (Tomorrow) 7:30pm at Dish Dash in Sunnyvale

Okay, I need a reservation head count for tomorrow's geek dinner. I've heard from a few folks already, so don't bother telling me again. I'm mainly interested in people who haven't said they're coming yet. I'd rather not see anyone arrive and struggle to find a seat. So if you'd like to drop in to see Kasia and some local geeks/bloggers, now's the time to speak up.

Based on reader suggestions, we'll be eating Indian mediterranean food at Dish Dash in Sunnyvale.

My plan is to call in a reservation tomorrow morning or afternoon (not sure when they open). I'm shooting for 7:30pm which should allow folks coming from farther in the South Bay time to arrive.

Either post a comment here or mail me.

Oh, if you want to apply for the job and haven't sent me a resume, why not hand deliver it Friday night? :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 05:30 PM

March 10, 2004

MySQL Operations Job Opening at Yahoo!

Do you have a working knowledge of MySQL in a production environment? Can you configure and debug replication in your sleep? Do you know the differences between MyISAM and InnoDB tables? Do you want to work a thriving, stable Internet company?

If you're answered "yes" to those questions, check out this job description and send me your resume if you're interested.

Think of the job as an operations job specializing in MySQL support.


Yahoo! Mail Operations Engineer

The Yahoo Mail Operations team is looking for a highly dedicated, motivated, and experienced software operations and tools development engineer. The Mail operations team is responsible for overall performance, availability, reliability and scalability of several large-scale systems involving thousands of servers and hundred of terabytes of data.

To be successful, you must have at least 4 to 5 years of experience with the following skills: UNIX (shell scripting, gmake, awk, sed and/or other unix system administration tools), perl, site monitoring such as NetSaint/Nagios, site operations/networking (VIPs, ssh, cron), c++ (some exposure), production database installation and/or configuration (MySQL or Oracle). Prior experiences with operations in 24x7 production environment are highly desired. You also need to have good communication skills, schedule flexibility in working with offshore engineers. BSCS or equivalent is required.


This job is on-site in Sunnyvale, California.

And, in for the sake of full disclosure, if you get hired, I do get a reward. But more importantly, you get a good job!

Posted by jzawodn at 11:42 AM

March 09, 2004

Orkut takes a step toward being meaningful...

The image to the right is what happens now when you attempt to add a new friend on Orkut.

If you're too lazy to look at the larger version, the scoop is that they ask you to state how "closely" you know your new friend:

  • haven't met
  • acquaintance
  • friend (default)
  • good friend
  • best friend

I'd argue that "haven't met" is completely different than the other four, but we'll see how they use it. And I'm not sure if and how I'd go about classifying the other 142 people already in my friend list. I guess they'll all default to "friend"?

Now if they start to incorporate a few more variables (or relationship attributes), they'll have the beginnings of a FriendRank scheme.

So far this is a baby step, but they're headed in the right direction. I wonder if others will follow--or even try to lead. I wonder if Orkut will let me have more than one "best" friend?

Posted by jzawodn at 06:11 PM

March 07, 2004

Geek Dinner Friday, Need Venue and Head Count

Kasia, everyone's favorite Unix Girl, is going to be in the Bay Area for a few days. So this seems like a fitting occasion for another Geek Dinner. Friday (the 12th) seems like the best day to try getting folks together, but we need to pick a place to do it.

As when Tim Bray visited, I'm going to organize this little outing. But this time I need some recommendations. I'm looking for a place that:

  • Is in the South Bay
  • Can deal with a reasonably sized group with a flexibly reservation (you never really know how many folks are gonna show up)
  • Serves a decent variety of vegetarian meals (we don't need an exclusively vegetarian place, of course)

Ideas? Leave a comment or send me a note.

Of course, if you already know you'd like to come, please do the same. An approximate head count would be helpful.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:44 PM

In Tustin for the Night

Ray and I headed down to Southern California today. We left my new place around 8:30am and arrived in Huntington Beach so that I could collect some equipment, drop off a check, and do the necessary paperwork to become the new owner of N304GT.

We're staying with Steve in Tustin, who's an amazing host. He prepared a most excellent grill feast for us this evening: beer, shrimp, peppers, steak, and more! I'm sooooo stuffed.

Tomorrow morning we'll head to Hemet to disassemble the glider, put the pieces in the trailer, and tow it back to Hollister.

Pictures and a more complete report later. BTW, it was in the high 80s down here today!

Posted by jzawodn at 07:31 PM

March 05, 2004

Moving Sucks

Now I remember why I waited 4+ years to move again. So much unpacking to do. So very much.

But hey, at least the 3Mbit DSL is working and the wireless works well too!

Sunday I head down to SoCal for about a day and a half. More on that when I return from the trip.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:47 PM

March 03, 2004's new RSS Feeds, thanks so much for all the new RSS feeds! If I get bored, maybe I'll make "Add to My Yahoo!" buttons for each one. Heh. :-)

You guys rock. You always have and, by all appearances, will continue to do so. If I ever tire of Yahooing, I'll be begging at your door.

P.S. Just don't ad on-click support via RSS. I already have to many books I haven't read yet.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:24 PM

Open Source, Terrorists, and Eric Raymond

Open Source has a lot in common with Terrorists.

  • Both "groups" are decentralized, made of many sub-groups, and pretty much do what they want to do, believe what they want to believe, and are quite fluid in nature.
  • Nobody knows how many people are part of the Open Source community. Nobody knows how many terrorists there are.
  • Both groups are spread all over the world.
  • Nobody speaks for the whole Open Source community, just as nobody speaks for all terrorists.

But that doesn't seem to stop Eric Raymond from opening his ever-growing mouth and claiming to speak for all of us. Yes, every single last one. Notice his use of "we" where he should be using "I" in his writing?

When beating the SCO dead horse to death:

We regret that you have become the latest victim in the campaign of barratry, fraud, and stock-kiting that SCO has been waging. We want you to know that you are not alone, and that you have in fact just made a great many friends.

It's clear that he's referring to "The Linux community, and the wider open-source software movement of which it is a part" when he says "we" there.

And when bitching about CUPS:

...they may write crappy insecure overpriced shoddy software, but on this one issue their half-assed semi-competent best is an order of magnitude better than we usually manage.

I'm no terrorist, but I do consider myself part of the Open Source "movement" (or whatever you want to call it) as a user, advocate, and developer. Does that mean I have to agree with everything Eric says about Open Source?

I sure as hell hope not.

When I hear the translations of terrorists "leaders" ranting, it's pretty clear that they're trying to speak for their own little group of supporters and not the larger group of crazies.

Eric, please continue to fight for what you believe in. But don't drag my name (or those of my friends) through the mud in the process. I'm more than capable of doing that on my own.

Speak for yourself and let others do the same.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:28 PM

My MySQL Talks at OSCON 2004

Having seen that several others (Radwin: HTTP Caching and Cache-busting, Kruckenberg: Using MySQL for Binary Storage, Brad: LiveJournal's backend and memcached; past, present, and future) have blogged about their OSCON 2004 presentations being accepted, I thought I'd do the same.

This year I proposed two talks. The abstracts are pretty limited so far, but here's what I've got:

MySQL Performance Workshop

This is a 3 hour tutorial style talk aimed at all MySQL users.

This session will cover the various factors that affect MySQL server and application performance. The session will begin with a high-level overview of performance limiting factors before digging into each of the topics in more detail. Included in the discussion are: hardware, OS choices, MySQL's storage engines, and application design decisions. From there, we'll look at the tools and techniques required to diagnose performance bottlenecks. We'll spend the remainder of the time discussing techniques for growing applications beyond a single MySQL server, including replication, clustering, partitioning.

MySQL High Availability Options

This is a 90 minute talk aimed at experienced MySQL users.

One can achieve varying degrees of high-availability for MySQL using a variety of techniques as well as free and commercial software. This session will provide an overview of the options, discuss the pros and cons of each and make general recommendations

I used some of the input from the MySQL Talk Ideas Needed post to formulate those. Thanks to everyone who responded in public and private.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:55 PM

Vacation Time Planning

There's a fair amount of stuff that was supposed to eat away at the vacation time I've saved up over the last year or so. But I hadn't actually bothered to put it on a calendar until today. I was a surprised. All those little and big things really add up quickly.

The bottom line is that I have to cut some stuff out. And it sucks. The "problem" is partially because I'm expecting two sets of visitors this Summer: parents in June and my sister and brother-in-law in August. That's roughly a week each. And it's partially because I was hoping to participate in the annual BASA Wave Camp (late April in Minden, Nevada) as well as the annual AirSailing Cross Country Camp (late May and early June). Of course, there are some one-off things here and there too (like moving on Friday).

The real kicker is that I don't yet qualify to go to Cross Country Camp. But I was planning to gain the necessary experience during Wave Camp. But forced to choose between the two, I think that Cross Country Camp would be far more useful.


On a related note, I have to wonder if there are companies that let you "trade" part of your salary for extra vacation days? I know I'd be willing to give back 3% (or whatever the right value is) for an extra week off. It sounds like a good idea, but I've never heard of it being done anywhere. Yeah, there'd have to be limits, like maybe "no more than 2 weeks per year" but still. Given the choice, I bet many people would go for it.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:42 PM

March 02, 2004

USB Keychain Drive with Biometrics

This is pretty interesting. A co-worker just pointed out the ClipDrive Bio series of USB "drives." It claims to be:

ClipDrive Bio is the most secure and advanced USB 2.0 & USB 1.1 data storage device on the market. Using leading edge biometric fingerprint technology, the scanner authenticates a user's identity & then gives the user access to the hidden secure partition on the ClipDrive Bio. All data saved on the Secure Partition portion of the ClipDrive Bio is automatically encrypted and hidden.

Anyone using these things? It seems like a good place to store passwords if it really works. (That's how it came up in the discussion in the first place.)

Does it really require Windows? I can't tell for sure.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:11 PM

Bachelor Cooking Skills

A good sized box of TastyBite food arrived today (it's heavier than I expected), inspired by Michael Radwin's ode to TastyBite Indian Food a few weeks ago.

I ordered at least one of just about everything they sell that does not contain any dairy product in it (since lactose and I don't agree). It didn't occur to me when I ordered it, but the timing couldn't be better. I'm moving into the new place on Friday, so this will simplify meal planning (not that I ever really plan) quite a bit.

I'll probably post reports in a week or so if the stuff is particularly good or bad.

Anyone else have favorite bachelor foods that don't suck?

Posted by jzawodn at 02:03 PM

March 01, 2004

Defending Paid Inclusion

In Yahoo Harms Trust in Search Engine, Dan Gillmor references a article that I cannot read (because I don't want their lame "free" registration) and claims that allowing companies to pay to make sure they're included in Yahoo! Search "makes it impossible for users to know whether companies are paying to be included in the results."

Dan, it's called "paid inclusion" and it's been around for quite a while. But you don't live and breathe search like John Battelle does, so I'll cut you some slack here.

Anyway, as a user, do I really care if the company paid or not?

If it was "paid rank" I might, but it's not.

Let's go back in a time a bit. Back to a time when the Yahoo! Directory was the way to find stuff on-line. It became so popular that everyone submitted their sites. The result, of course, was that there were too many submissions to handle in a timely fashion. It seems that around then someone got the idea that you could offer a priority queue for folks willing to pony up some extra cash.

Did that make users trust the Yahoo! directory any less? Beats me. But I suspect it had a very small impact.

Think about it this way. When you fly on an airline, you have the opportunity to pay more (Business Class, First Class) to eliminate some of the waiting and hassle. But you know what? When the plane gets to the other airport, and you're in the terminal, nobody knows if you arrived in First Class or not. I best most people don't care either.

Welcome to capitalism.

[Remember, these are my personal views and not those of my employer.]

Posted by jzawodn at 11:47 PM

Copy Editors Are Amazing

I spent a fair chunk of time this weekend going over the latest draft of the book. The figures are now in it, the layout is mostly done, and the copy editor has made a lot of changes to it. Those changes are often quite subtle but have a very obvious effect: they make the text readable.

It's not that what we turned in wasn't readable, but compared to what we got back from the copy editor, it's like night and day. I was reading chapter 3 last night when I realized "Hey, this stuff seems pretty well written... Did *we* do that?" It really flows now.

Today I received a copy of the copy editor's notes so that I could see every change that she recommended. There are tons of them. On every page. I expected it. But still, as I've looked over a few of the pages, I can't help but to think "Damn, she's good!"

Thank you, Leanne Soylemez.

In a few more days, we'll have our final feedback in to O'Reilly. When they send it to be printed, I'll post a picture of the "we finally got the book done" gift I'm buying myself. I had originally planned to get a new laptop, but that's just not gonna happen...

Posted by jzawodn at 12:59 PM