June 29, 2004

Friendster and PHP

Congrats to Joyce and the front-end team Friendster for pulling off the JSP to PHP migration. Having the front end less tightly coupled with everything else ought to make life a lot easier for some folks there.

Now, any bets as to when the "beta" label will come off their logo?

Posted by jzawodn at 08:39 PM

New Yahoo! RSS Feeds for Kids

As Jeff notes, there are some new Y! RSS feeds online that target the younger RSS readers out there:

Jeff is the engineering manager for Y! News and is an active Geocacher.

As always, stay tuned for more feeds and stuff...

Posted by jzawodn at 03:41 PM

June 25, 2004

SpamAssassin Promoted by Apache Software Foundation (ASF)

As reported by internetnews.com SpamAssassin is now a top level project at the Apache Software Foundation.

Oh, and I got quoted in the article:

"SpamAssassin has become the Sendmail of the anti-spam world," said Jeremy Zawodny, an early supporter of the project and community member. "It's easy for administrators to setup, very flexible, and it simply identifies more spam than just about anything else out there," he told internetnews.com. "SpamAssassin is clearly a leader in the anti-spam fight."

SpamAssassin continues to rock.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:32 PM

Yahoo Related Search... News Again?

This is odd. Search Engine Lowdown is reporting on a posting at ResourceShelf that briefly describes Yahoo Search's "refinements" or "suggestions."

The odd thing is that this isn't new at all. I know because I worked on the original version about a year ago (and then Google copied it). At the time we called it "related search" and probably still do.

That project was a lot of fun, too. :-)

See Also:

Posted by jzawodn at 05:04 PM

June 24, 2004

Ask Jeeves Upgrades Internet Hard Disk

Well, that was fast. According to ResearchBuzz, Ask Jeeves will be increasing their free and paid web mail offerings to compete with GMail, Y! Mail, and so on.

This new Internet Hard Disk is getting bigger by the day.

Rock on!

Posted by jzawodn at 10:30 PM

Instant Messenger Protocol Stupidity Continues

I'm a generally tolerant person, but there are some things that really, really piss me off. And on this particular issue, I know I'm not alone. Not by a long shot.

The Yahoo Messenger team's habit of screwing with the protocol every once in a while is one of those things. As CNet Asia reports in Users fume over Yahoo-Trillian scuffle, they made a change last night the did quite an excellent job of pissing off anyone using a third party IM client, not just Trillian.

The media likes to frame it as a big guy vs. little guy story, but that's really not what it's about at all. From my point of view, it's about having your head buried in the sand so far that reality doesn't really enter the picture.

I haven't kept track of how many times the protocol has changed in the last few years. But what I have noticed is that the elapsed time between a protocol change and when the third party clients (Gaim, Trillian, etc) adapt is quite short. It's like fighting the Borg. They just keep adapting. The messenger group randomizes their shield harmonics, but it doesn't help for long.

But hey, it supposedly stops IM spam before it happens. (I haven't had a single IM spam in about 3 years and my Yahoo ID has been public all along. Maybe I'm the only one?)

The more I think about how many of my friends get pissed off and end up cursing Yahoo's name, the more it bugs me. Often times they take it out on me, so I can't help but to notice.

In some ways it feels a bit too much like DRM to me. In fact, I wonder how many of the points from Cory's DRM talk would apply. Hmm, let's try it.

Screwing with the messenger protocol...

  1. doesn't work. (Witness the rapid adaption of 3rd party clients.)
  2. is bad for soceity. (Because it cuts friends off from each other.)
  3. is bad for business. (Because it ends up giving users a good reason to hate Yahoo.)
  4. is bad for artists. (Okay, this one does not apply.)
  5. is a bad business move for Yahoo. (Because IM networks need to figure out how to interoperate not keep each other out. Isn't communication the whole point?! Or is it segregation?)

The simple fact is, and this goes for ALL the major IM networks, that some of the third party clients are simply better than those they offer (especially on non-Windows platforms). These clients speak to multiple networks and make users lives eaiser (imagine that!). They sport tabbed conversations and some users like that. They're scriptable and easy to extend. That means plugins and other cool toys.

But what do I know? I've only been using this technology with my friends every day for the last five years or so.

The only solution I can see for this involves Google. They came in and shook up the Web Mail "industry" (thereby enabling the Internet Hard Disk). They could launch a Google Messenger which is built upon an open standard and API. Knowing them, it'd be Jabber.

I think you can probably figure the rest out from there...

And, yes, I realize that I'm far from being the first person to suggest this.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:20 PM

Web E-Mail: The New Hard Disk

Okay, let me get this straight...

My GMail account is good for 1GB. I could probably use some of my next invites to get myself a few more accounts, let's say 4. It seems reasonable. That's 5GB of e-mail storage.

My Yahoo Mail Plus account has 2GB of storage (employee perk). I could add a few more "normal" Y! Mail accounts at 100MB each. 10 would get me another gig, bringing my Yahoo total to 3GB and my grand total to 8GB.

The upcoming Hotmail upgrades will bring 250MB per account. I could sign up for, oh... 8 of those and get another 2GB. That'd be 10GB total.

All for "free."

I still remember filling up my first 1GB hard disk and being pretty pissed that it would have cost about $1,200 to get another. Yeah, it was a 5 1/4" inch full height Segate SCSI disk. A real brick and a half. I traded a whole laptop for it.

Nowadays, I just need to turn my files into e-mail attachments and store them on my various free e-mail accounts.

Or I could wait a couple months and use the freely available software that manages all this for me. Heck, maybe someone will write a Linux kernel module that presents it as a virtual filesystem.

If this "Internet Operating System" and Web 2.0 stuff is really happening, I think I've just found the filesystem we'll all be using--in one form or another.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:49 AM

Investments in RSS Companies

Ross notes that Newsgator got funded recently.

There I noticed a trackback from rtwodtwo's posting:

I never thought RSS programs would get VC’s cash. What do they think their exit will be? What revenue will this software have? Selling it to the warez loving public? Looking at its download.com count (<2000 downloads) the VC decision to invest looks very very strange.

Well, I'm not sure what download.com has to do with this. RSS software isn't at the point yet where people go to download.com looking for it. But the larger issue clearly is that we're seeing signs that this RSS stuff is getting interest from early investors. Why?

I have a few ideas on that. One is that there's still a lot of money sitting on the sidelines just waiting to find a small company or product that has a chance of doing something profitable. I really don't think these guys are crazy enough to think that they're investing in the next Netscape or Yahoo. But they do sense that there's something going on here.

This RSS stuff isn't just about blogging and cat pictures [anymore]. As I predicted, it's going mainstream. Whenever you see something that has a good community behind it and that is quickly being adopted by the largest on-line players as well as more traditional media companies, there's something there: potential.

Investors don't always know if that potential will fizzle or continue to grow into a large market. But they're all about making bets. And RSS looks like one of the better bets this year.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:11 AM

June 23, 2004

Chapter 7 (Replication) of High Perforamnce MySQL is On-Line

Order High Performance MySQL from Amazon.com You can find a complete copy of the Replication chapter from High Performance MySQL (my book) over on dev.mysql.com.

Read it.

Learn something.

Then buy a copy.

Learn even more.

Marvel at your new MySQL knowledge.

Then send me a good resume so I can get you a job here at Yahoo.

Or not. :-)

About a month ago, they also posted the full text of chatper 6 (Performance Tuning). If that doesn't convince you to buy a copy, then I'm out of luck. We're not giving them anymore chapters to put up.

(Hmm. This may be the first time I've pimped my book at my employer in the same blog entry. Weird.)

Posted by jzawodn at 02:01 PM

MC Hawking CD Available!

As Josh notes, the long awaited MC Hawking CD is now available. And there's even a hilarious Flash "commercial" for the disc.

I haven't bought a physical CD in quite some time. But the iTunes Music Store isn't likely to carry it, so I'm ordering my copy right now.

Sadly, their on-line store doesn't accept PayPal, so I have to enter my fu*%ing payment info yet again. More on-line payment insanity I guess. :-(

Posted by jzawodn at 01:35 PM

June 22, 2004

People at Work Who Get It

Nothing gets me more jazzed up about work than meeting with someone who really gets it--either right off the bat or during the course of our meeting. Nothing.

I had one of those meetings today. You know the kind. The meeting request comes in and you scratch your head for a minute. Then it dawns on you: this is either going to be a lot of work trying to make someone understand what all this stuff is about, or... it'll be a piece of cake.

Knowing that Murphy often attends such meetings, you do what any reasonable person would: expect the worst. But then, just as things are starting to roll, you realize "damn, this person really gets it. Wow!"

The sad fact is that in almost any company with more than a couple hundred employees, Those Who Get It are few and far between. But I've come to realize that this really is okay. Those Who Get It are often very passionate, smart, driven, and ultimately powerful people. They are difficult to stop. A single one of them can fight the inertia of a whole bunch of the normal folks.

Good things are on the horizon.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:55 PM

June 21, 2004

AOL Follows Yahoo's Lead, Dumps Business Messenger

Right on the heels of Yahoo dropping corporate IM, InfoWorld is reporting that AOL has decided to do the same thing.


At least we were first.

By a day.

What's that saying about imitation? :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 10:30 AM

The Perl Community: Broken Again

Why is it that every few years someone in the Perl community has to stand up and explain that things are, once again, screwed up an in need of repair?

This time around it's Nat Torkington suggesting an enema. A few years back it was Jon Orwant throwing mugs at the wall and ultimately arguing for the creation of Perl 6.

Do the Python and PHP communities have this sort of stuff going on? Or is it something that's uniquely Perl? I don't really get involved in the Perl world the way I used to, so this is genuinely puzzling to me.

See Also:

Posted by jzawodn at 08:02 AM

Yahoo Cans Enterprise Messenger

And it's about time.

What, you think that just because I work there I can't point out when we were on the wrong track? Ha!

Had I been writing a weblog back in 2000, during the disaster formerly known as "Yahoo Finance Vision" (the expensive and ultimately failed on-line streaming Finance news broadcast experiment) you wouldn't have been able to shut me up about what a massive waste of money I thought it was.

The thing really was a freaking money pit.

However, I'd like to think that we've learned a lesson or two from that and the many other services that Terry Semel helped axe when it was time to make cuts and he was still "the new guy" on the executive team.

The lesson?

If you're offering a service that customers don't want and it's costing you money, you're probably on the wrong track. Give it up.

Now it may just be that your service really sucks, but if that's the case you'd see demand for an improved version rather than a lack of substantial interest.

I think that Finance Vision stuck around as long as it did because some folks thought it was just "ahead of its time" so we simply needed to wait for the rest of the world to catch up with us--or something like that.

The good news is that in this case, Corporate Messenger was conceived, deployed, and killed in a much shorter timeframe. At least I assume it was. For all I know it was conceived back in 1998 and it took a long time before the Powers That Be decided to build it.

In other words, this announcement is good news. It doesn't mean "Yahoo screwed up again." It means that we're still willing to make a gamble here and there but we're also smart enough to realize when they're simply not paying off and not likely to be worth it in the long run. Maybe that's the Semel influence?

I just hope that the folks who worked on it are now on other projects inside the company.

See Also:

Posted by jzawodn at 07:41 AM

June 20, 2004

Site Flavored Disappointment

I'm really disappointed in Google. This new Site Flavored Search that some folks are talking about is really kind of disappointing.


Simple. In order to add it on my site, I have to fill out a survey to help Google understand what sort of content my site contains. Well, that's not quite true. I'm just selecting from a list of categories that will be included as a hidden form field in the HTML used to submit the search request to Google.

Why do I have to do any of that?!?!

Google's AdSense program is already reasonably good about looking at a page and deciding what sort of ads to display there. What I exepected when I first read about this was an automated customized search. All you'd do is tell Google "this is my site... please customize search results." Then Google would do that. After all, they've already crawled your site if they're doing their job. (Intranets and firewalled stuff are a special case, of course.)

To me, this says their technology is less advanced that some (including me) expected. I figured that they bought Kaltix to build such a service, but I guess they're there yet.

As John Battelle says:

It seems a pretty blunt instrument for now (not instantly updated, categories are pretty general) but that will change with time.

Until that and automation happen, it's really not interesting...

I realize that automation won't be perfect, but it seems to me that Google should be doing the work here and then letting webmasters tweak things if Google guesses poorly. Instead, web publishers are doing all the guesswork.

That's backwards.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:22 PM

I have 10 more Gmail Invites...

Leave a commment with your first and last name plus e-mail address if you'd like one. The first 10 will get 'em.

See Also:

Update: They're all gone. I'll let ya know when/if I get more.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:40 AM

June 19, 2004

Weber Baby Q Grill

One of the things I've wanted ever since I moved into the new place is a decent gas grill--something that's not cheap and breakable but also not so large that it doesn't make sense for a single guy and his cats.

A few weeks ago, while visiting the local Orchard Supply Hardware (something I've been doing frequently), I browsed their selection of grills and found the perfect solution: The Weber Baby Q Gas Grill.

This little grill is great. It took all of 5 minutes to unpack and assemble. I can use standard propane cylinders on it (much like I would for a small torch) and the lighting mechanism has worked flawlessly so far. Temperature control is straightforward. The only thing I might add is a decent grill thermometer, but so far I'm getting along quite well without.

I acquired and used the grill for the first time while my parents were visiting. (It was a housewarming gift from them.) Since then I've used it four times (chicken, beef/steak, and kebabs (twice)) and definitely see it getting a lot more use this summer. I can't wait to attempt salmon and possibly swordfish.

If you're looking for a decent sized but still portable grill that's rugged and inexpensive, look no more. This is it.

See Also:

Posted by jzawodn at 10:33 AM

June 18, 2004

Free JavaOne Pass Needed

Kasia is looking to attend JavaOne later this month in San Francisco, but the company won't foot the bill for admission. I guess working in Java all day long (and sometimes all night too) for several years isn't sufficient to justify a bit of off-site training.

Does anyone have a contact that might be able to score a ticket? I bet she'd even promise to blog about the conference.

Hmm. Tim works at Sun now. Maybe he knows...

Oh, and before anyone offers, a media/press pass won't help. They're typically limited access. I could get one of those if needed. It's relatively easy to do so.

Any ideas?

Posted by jzawodn at 12:25 PM

Yahoo! Travel is Hiring (not just engineers)

If you're interested in working on a very popular Internet travel site, head over to travel.yahoo.com/jobs. There you'll find descriptions of a bunch of open positions, including:

  • Product Management
  • Content Production
  • Engineering (a bunch of jobs here)
  • Sales
  • Business Development
  • Marketing

I know some of the Travel folks and they're a good bunch. Send me your resume if you're interested and I'll get it to the hiring manager.

Read the details on that page, but I suspect that most of them on on-site in Sunnyvale, CA and require a college degree. Relocation expenses can probably be covered, but that's just a guess based on other recent hiring.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:52 AM

Find Local Movie Showtimes with Yahoo Search

Excellent! When I heard about this feature several weeks ago, I knew right away that it'd be really useful.

If you want to find movie showtimes in San Jose, just head over to yahoo.com or search.yahoo.com and plug in showtimes san jose. The first results you should see are links for movie theaters as well as times for popular movies.

If I still lived in Ohio, I'd have used showtimes toledo. Sadly, showtimes findlay and showtimes bowling green don't work. They do return relevant content, but it's not the shortcut links. I'll bug the Search and/or Movies folks about that.

I suspect it's just a matter of time before the other search sites copy this.

Post a note here if you find other cities that don't seem to work but ought to. I'm curious to see what the coverage is like outside of the few I played with this morning.

Oh, in case you missed it, there's also a "gas prices" shortcut you can use to find cheap gas. Example: gas prices san jose. Right now it'll direct you to GasBuddy or GasPriceWatch. Hopefully someday we'll use zip code or address data for registered users and show 'em prices right in their local neighborhood...

Update: Cool. As noted in the comments below, you can use a zip code if the city name doesn't work.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:51 AM

June 17, 2004

Is The IE Team Really Brain Dead?

I'm back from vacation and catching up, but I couldn't let this slip by. Scoble, commenting on the interview with Mozilla's Scott Collins (who gave a talk at TALUG way back when I still lived in Ohio), mentions that he uses FireFox and that the IE team doesn't like it:

And, I know quite a few of the people on the IE team. They are not happy at all that I'm using Firefox. Whenever I have lunch or a meeting with someone on the IE team they ask me "how can we get you back?"

I have to say, when I first read that I nearly fell off my chair laughing. I was thinking "how stupid ARE these IE guys?!?!?!" But we all know that Microsoft is full of smart people who care about what they're doing. So something really doesn't compute here.

Last time I checked, IE wasn't even close to feature parity with Mozilla's browsers. No popup blocking, no tabbed browsing, etc.

Does the IE team really not know what their product is missing?

Or maybe Joel is right when he says:

The Internet Explorer team seems to have disappeared; they have been completely missing in action for several years. There's no way Microsoft is going to allow DHTML to get any better than it already is: it's just too dangerous to their core business, the rich client.

I don't know. I'm not saying that Scoble is lying, but it's hard for me to figure this one out...

Can anyone at Microsoft clarify what's really going on?

Update: Kevin Burton chimes in and shows us how to combine IE and Mozilla to boot.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:50 PM

June 08, 2004

Parents in Town

I picked 'em up from SJC early this afternoon. Tomorrow we head to Napa for a ride on the Wine Train and then up to Redding for a few days near Mt. Shasta.

I'll have the computer with me and will post some pictures this weekend.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:32 PM

On Yahoo's Google Ads

My thoughts, not those of my employer...

The folks at Search Engine Lowdown say:

Not a smart move on Yahoo's part, they are advertising on Google. Why isn't it smart. Let's see, could it be because they are giving their biggest competitor a thumbs-up just before Google intends to raise umpteen-billion dollars?

Oh, please...

"Not a smart move" huh? Let's think about that a bit.

First, the way Google's ad program works, if people don't click the ads frequently enough, Google stops running them. Put another way, they automatically remove low performing ads. Yahoo's ads are still there. What does that tell you?

It tells me the ads must be working well enough for Google to keep 'em alive. I'd call that "smart" and suspect that folks in the ad business would agree.

Second, it's public knowledge that Yahoo has a small chunk of pre-IPO stock. The more money Google makes in the IPO, the more money Yahoo could potentially cash out, right?

That last point really doesn't matter. I don't think that any reasonable people actually believe that the presence of these ads on Google will really have any imapct whatsoever on the IPO.

Let's get real here. The IPO is going to be a circus regardless of how Yahoo decides to spend a few advertising dollars.

How about some real news guys? This transparent Yahoo bashing seems rather juvenile.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:50 AM

June 07, 2004

I need a new sub-title

Ever since I started it, my blog has had a sub-title (or whatever you'd call it) of "Linux, Perl, MySQL, Open Source, and whatever other random stuff catches my interest..."

But I really don't say as much about Linux as I used to. Sure, I talk about MySQL and Open Source from time to time. The "other random stuff" seems to be most of what I do (aside from semi-regular Google bashing).

This makes me think I need something new and slightly more accurate to put there.

Any suggestions?

Feel free to be as rude or crude as necessary in order to ensure honesty. Or maybe just something funny like "washing my ass on the digital soapbox of the internet."

Okay, maybe not quite that.

Please, save me from myself. I'm no good at this.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:02 PM

Blogging is not about site traffic

I saw this quick post over (via Micro Persuasion) and it just rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe in the "Blog Business World" reality it's true, but for most bloggers getting high traffic numbers really isn't why we're doing this.


Anyone want to guess how long it takes before weblogs suffer the same fate as the web as a whole? If you were around back in the early days, you probably remember cringing as the web started to go mainstream. It makes you wonder what's going to happen to the notion of a weblog over the next year or two, doesn't it?

Update: Steve wasn't thrilled with what I said and I've changed "post" to "link" above to more accurately convey that I'm not picking on Steve or Micro Persuasion.

Update #2: Jeremy Wright responds. He's clearly extrapolating a bit from what I said. I never claimed that the web was "killed" by business or commercialization. But it's hard to argue with the fact that it was changed in some very substantial ways. And a lot of us weren't thrilled with all of that change. That's all I'm saying.

Update #3: Okay, I'm linking straight to the article now.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:23 AM

June 06, 2004

I unplug for one little week and...

A bunch of stuff happens.

  • Ronald Regan dies
  • Sun says they're goona open the source to Solaris (it's about time)
  • Sun also says they're gonna open the source to Java (ditto)
  • Sun unleashes their employee weblogs (woah!)

Does this much happen every week and I just don't notice because I'm not seeing it in summary mode?

I have to say, the first and last really caught me by surprise. The other two were inevitable. Well, the first one was too but it's just one of those things that there's never a "right time" for.

The last one, however, is interesting. It's expected in some ways and surprising in others but not necessarily inevitable. Why? It's a risk. Possibly a big one.

Ever since Tim went to work at Sun, I knew they were going to be doing something more with RSS and weblogs. He made no secret of that. I suspect this is not all of it.

It occurs to me that Sun is getting back to its roots a bit with this risk taking. Well, that is if you think about Unix as being in Sun's roots. Stay with me here...

Unix, even today, is a beast which is simultaneously very powerful and very dangerous. There's an old saying about Unix not being user friendly and that it provides the user with more than enough rope to hang him or herself.

Employee weblogs coming out of public company like Sun are similar. If things work out, a ton of great stuff will certainly come from this. If, on the other hand, employees are not careful or don't quite realize what they're doing, all hell can break loose.

I've been thinking about this sort of thing quite a bit over the last year. I've not written much about it (for mostly obvious reasons), but I've had a few of those moments--when someone appears at my cube and asks me to join them in a conference room for a discussion about something I've written on my weblog. In one of those cases I ended up removing a post shortly after the meeting.

At one point, I even went back to my desk and declared: "I give up. This is more trouble that it's worth. From now on, I'm never blogging about work related stuff again." And that lasted all of 4 days, I think.

The good news is that things were always civil and reasonable and I've now have a better idea of what is and is not reasonable--at least today. That means I don't screw up as often and "they" don't have to come talk with me.

Anyway, I congratulate Sun on taking the risk. I've long wondered how a gamble like this might pay off. During the time last year I was beating a different weblog drum at work, I tried to imagine a world where stuff like this happened.

Now it has arrived.

Time to trade in my old drum for a new one?

Perhaps. We'll see what happens.

One thing is for sure: we live in interesting times.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:22 PM