May 31, 2005

Yahoo! Employee Blog Guidelines: The official version and my own advice

After a lot of work internally, the Yahoo! Employee Blog Guidelines have been published. Yahoo! employees can find them on Backyard (our corporate Intranet) and the rest of you can get the PDF file by clicking that link.

Toward the end of writing these, the Powers That Be asked a few of us existing Y! Bloggers if we would like to toss in our own advice that they could link to. Here is what I wrote.

So you wanna blog about Yahoo...


But before you get started, let me offer a few bits of advice. I've been writing publicly about Yahoo on my weblog for a few years now and its been a lot of fun. There are A LOT of people out there who want to read about what goes on here and what we're up to: friends, family, fans, lawyers, enemies, journalists, shareholders, the SEC, and crazy people looking for anyway they can to get in touch with Yahoo.

Basically, just about anyone can and will read what you publish. So keep that in mind. If you're worried about what your Mom, manager, ex-coworker, or Terry Semel would think, listen to that instinct. And realize that once a cat is out of the bag, you can never get the damned thing back in. The blog world is incredibly efficient at spreading rumors, secrets, rants, hyperbole, and your mistakes.

You'll make mistakes. We all do. Just try to be smart about it.

But above all else, have fun with it. You'll meet a lot of interesting people and find that you never think about this company the same way again.


I wouldn't still be doing this if I didn't enjoy it. The fact that our executive team is giving is their official recognition and endorsement says a lot about the future of Yahoo.

Go forth and write. Be yourself. Speak your mind.

I did not write these guidelines, but a few of us (Russell, Jeff, JR, and me) acted as a sounding board for those who did.

Now I fully expect someone to point out a dozen or so times that I've completely disregarded the spirit of the guidelines. Knock yourself out. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 10:35 PM

May 26, 2005

Ernie tells the funniest stories...

I've been reading Ernie's little. yellow. different since before I had met him or even knew he worked at Yahoo. He cracks me up.

But having met him sometime last year (I think), I've noticed that his stories are even funnier--because I can actually imagine this stuff happening. Take, for example, dance dance humiliation:

After deciding to pass on Beyonce's "Crazy in Love," I start to do a rendition of "Take On Me" while doing syncopated dance steps on the DDR Pad. There is no way on Gods Green Earth that a white person would be able to last 45 seconds on anything tougher than Beginner mode.

Heh. It gets better when the camera man shows up. Anyway, go get today's dose of Ernie.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:07 PM

Incentives along the Long Tail

Chris Anderson has just published a great piece on his Long Tail blog called The dangers of "Headism". Go read it if you're into all that.

If you're not into all that, I still think this picture is worth a thousand words:

It explains a lot of what I've had to explain and re-explain to people in recent months.

Heck, go to his post anyway just to look at the other pictures. They're simple but explain things nicely.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:45 PM

Unsubscribing from Partial Text Feeds

From the "strange minds think alike" series...

Two days ago I unsubscribed from Chris Pirillo's blog because I was tired of reading a 6 word teaser to a story that didn't tell me if I'd really be interested.

Today, Scoble says:

I'm unsubscribing from Chris Pirillo's and any other feed that isn't full text. I'm tired of reading feeds that treat me badly. I have more than 1,300 full text feeds. There's one or two exceptions. The New York Times. CNET. Slashdot. But, sorry, Chris, I'll visit your site once in a while or whenever one of the bloggers that I read tells me you've written something interesting (which is quite often).

Well, then... Me too. Except for the 1,300 part.

Update: It turns out that the auto-discovery links in my entry pages pointed to the old crappy feed while the links on my main blog page pointed to the spiffy full-text one. I've fixed that. Now they all point to my full-text feed. Sorry 'bout that!

Posted by jzawodn at 12:17 PM

Bazeley on PhotoMail

Over on SiliconBeat, Mike Bazeley writes about Yahoo! PhotoMail:

We do have a big gripe, though. The service requires users to download a small application to upload the photos, and Yahoo is relying on the ActiveX functionality of Internet Explorer for its upload software. That means the feature is limited to Windows IE users. Many of us stopped using IE in favor of Firefox long ago, and I doubt many will turn back to IE just to email photos to friends and family. Andy Spillane, VP of Yahoo Mail, says the company is exploring using XUL to build a Firefox version of the software.

I'll be over in the corner, gently smacking my head against a wall...

In related news, Spread Firefox shows the latest download number just below 60,000,000.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:33 AM

Where are we meeting?

Hmm. This day has not begun well.

I tried taking a new route to work today. It turns out to be far slower than anticipated. So I arrived at about 9:27am for my 9:30am meeting. The meeting that was marked "Location: TBD" in the invitation.

I dock the laptop (twice--the first time it decided not to see my USB mouse, as it often does). Check mail. Nothing from the person organizing the meeting. I look him up on our Intranet. No cell phone or pager info.


Look up another person who was invited. Call cell phone. Leave voicemail message.

Look up another. No cell, but has pager. Send pager message.


Wait more.

It's now 10:00am. So I'm assuming it wasn't important that I be at the 9:30am - 10:00am meeting after all.


Amusing side note: In running the spelling check on this entry (yes, I do that sometimes), the software suggested that I replace "voicemail" with "vaginal."

Uhm, no.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:01 AM

May 24, 2005

Auto-Responders, Y!Q, and F'ing Yahoos

Yes, I am listening, Nathan. But I saw your posting just before heading to SDForum this morning.

I also hate autoresponders. Want proof? See the post I wrote about Feedback Forms in the Age of Weblogs over a year ago.

I think that Yahoo needs to get beyond using stupid comment forms that generate e-mail into a pseudo-CRM system as their primary vehicle for user feedback. There's been a lot of buzz at, around, and about Yahoo and RSS and weblogs. Yahoo needs to realize that this technology is used to open up communication and that this really ought include communication with and among Yahoo's users.

The good news is that for every service we launch on, including Y!Q, we've offered a public message board. Now I won't try to claim that it's great greatest message board UI the world has ever seen, but it sure beats the insulting black hole auto-responders.

Oh, and we do read blogs too. Care to guess how many Yahoos sent me a link to your post while I was out today?

Anyway, it looks like there's something funky with your Y!Q implementation. I'll get the details to you via e-mail tomorrow after I confirm a few things with one of the backend engineers. They game me a quick diagnosis this afternoon but I want to make sure I've got the details right.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:18 PM

Friendster Rumors: Sassa Out, Layoffs, more VC Money

Long time readers know I'm no fan of Friendster. But I've heard from multiple sources that the following are (or soon will be) true:

  • CEO Scott Sassa is out
  • Layoffs
  • More VC funding (even though they were cashflow positive)

Discuss. Or not.

(Friendster hackers: If you're looking for another job, ping me. I know folks hiring, both at Yahoo! and elsewhere.)

Update: More on this at The Tech Beat. Thanks for the credit, guys. And now Jeff is woried about the movie. Heh. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 03:10 PM

We're right and you're wrong. Tim Bray said so.

I was going to try blogging Tim Bray's keynote at the SDForum Web Services Conference, but it's easier to summarize with the title of this post. Amid all the discussion of WS-* standards, Tim takes the other point of view, saying that Amazon, eBay, Google, Yahoo, and others are doing it the right way. "The stuff that works on the Internet today will work on the Intranet tomorrow" is his argument.

I couldn't agree more.

In related news, I got to see Steve Gilmor's Tablet PC. So I decided to shoot a picture of it--you know, just for Scoble's benefit.

Steve Gilmor and his Tablet PC

More later...

Posted by jzawodn at 02:55 PM

May 23, 2005

Fiber Means Cheap Broadband

Damien over on SiliconValleyWatcher writes about Verizon's pricing on their fiber connections.

5 Mbps down /2 Mbps up = $39
15 Mbps down /2 Mbps up = $49
30 Mbps down /5 Mbps up = $199

Need I say more?

Other than "SIGN ME UP!" that is... :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 03:37 PM

Speaking at SDForum's "Web Services: The Next Generation" Tomorrow

As Adam notes, he and I are on a Web Servies Standards panel tomorrow at the SDForum Web Services Conference in Santa Clara.

I'll be speaking on a panel with, among others, Jeremy Zawodny. The topic is Why Standards Matter, which isnt the quite the correct one, in my opinion. I think everyone knows why they should care about standards. The real issue in the Web services world is Which Standards Matter.


This looks to be a good conference. Drop by if you get a chance.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:14 PM

May 22, 2005

Brother PT-65 Label Maker

For a while now, I've been looking to get an inexpensive label maker. My goal was to label the many bits of equipment that go along with my glider. By having my name and aircraft or contest number on my stuff, there's less chance that it'll walk off or get lost.

After a few days of hunting around on-line and reading reviews, I decided on the Brother PT-65. I'm quite happy with this unit. It's small, quiet, has an easy to use keyboard, and prints very nice looking labels. Plus, I can order a variety of colored label tapes so that my labels will stand out anywhere I might stick them.

Best of all, I can select from a variety of font sizes, making it easy to squeeze a bit more information on a label than might otherwise be possible. If you're looking for a cheap label maker, check it out. has it now for $26.99.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:16 AM

May 21, 2005

GMail vs. Thunderbird: GMail wins!

I don't really remember why I decided to do this, but roughly a month and a half ago I began automatically forwarding copies of all my email to my GMail account. I wanted to see what it'd be like to use GMail on a daily basis--not using it exclusively but as a supplement to Thunderbird on my desktop.

What I've discovered is that GMail is rather amazing. Like Flickr, it's on a very short list of Internet applications that are at least as good as their desktop counterparts. In the case of GMail, it's faster and easier to use than any desktop mail application I've tried.

Let me say that again, to reinforce my point. GMail is really damn fast. Fater than desktop email. And the interface feels no more complicated than it needs to.

Like many habit changing attempts, it took a few weeks of forcing myself to use the service before I really started to see the light. This explains why I missed the point last August. Most of the buzz and chatter was about the size (1GB at the time), and that turns out not to be the big deal.

Does this mean I'm switching to GMail and away from Thunderbird? No. At least not yet. But it means that GMail is now on equal footing with Thunderbird. When I need to find an old message or check mail quickly, there's a 50/50 chance I'll try GMail.

I hinted at changes to my email behavior when I wrote about Winning the Inbox Battle in Thunderbird. It just so happens that my new style email habits work exceptionally well in GMail too.

The more I use GMail, the more I find myself re-thinking about the question: Where will you store your data?. I'm becoming more and more comfortable with it living on servers--mine and Google's in this case.

It'll be really interesting to see if that 50/50 ratio changes over the next few years, especially as wireless Internet access becomes all the more common. At this point, I'm not willing to bet either way. How about you?

Posted by jzawodn at 07:41 PM

May 19, 2005

Imitation and the Slippery Slope of Portaldom: My Google

"Google is not a portal!" they cry.

"Google is different..." we're told.

But a funny thing happened today. Not only are they inching ever more down the slippery slope to portaldom, they've decided that we at Yahoo have really been on the right track all along!

How do I know this? None other than Marissa herself said so in describing their new customizable home page.

There's a radical idea! A customized home page with a search box at the top. Innovative! Whoever thought of the product is a world-class genius! What next, an IM client? Web hosting? A Calendar?

I'm in awe!

Anyway, she said:

The new offering is a result of an internal Google initiative called Fusion, which aimed to fuse together Google functionality and content on the Web into a single way to access the content, Mayer said.

Fusion? Fuse? Damn, that sounds really familiar.

Where have I hear... Oh, right!

We've been talking about FUSE (Find, Use, Share, Expand) for months now. In fact, John Battelle wrote about it at some length back in April.

Weiner calls his vision FUSE (for Find, Use, Share, and Expand) and it's an apt metaphor - using search to fuse a myriad of services and applications, all of which center on knowledge and its application.

While I appreciate Google's ringing endorsement of the power of FUSE (or Fusion, as they prefer to call it), I'm really not sure we needed it. Ever since we added RSS capabilities to My Yahoo, our users have voted with their clicks.

Welcome to the content game, Google.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and some of us are quite flattered.

One suggestion for Marissa, if I may. Since it seems that you haven't settled on a name for this "new" product, I'd like to suggest My Google. We've found that the whole "my" thing works pretty well over here.

I know she's thinking about it, 'cause she couldn't stop talking about My Yahoo with CNet:

She added that the product has more to do with reader demands than as a competitive shot at Yahoo. "We've seen that there were users who wanted more on their home page...and this is a way to give them more access to their information. I feel this is different my MyYahoo. The fact that some people may say it looks like it's aimed at MyYahoo was not the reason."

I bet she's got a bridge to sell me too...

Related Coverage

Posted by jzawodn at 05:39 PM

May 18, 2005

Misleading Headline #4525: VOIM is not VOIP

In Yahoo's 'Voice Over IM' Targets Skype Ryan Naraine starts his article by saying:

The Yahoo Messenger makeover puts the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Web portal up against startups Skype Technologies S.A. and Teleo Inc., two companies that have found success by offering IM and voice connection services from a downloadable application.

Which seems to reaffirm the headline. But then comes the deal breaker for nearly every Skype user I know.

While Skype and Teleo provide users with the ability to make and receive calls from and to traditional telephone lines, Yahoo Inc's will be limited to PC-to-PC calling to contacts on the messenger buddy list.

(Emphasis mine.)

Let me make the point in a different way. This is Voice Over IM (VOIM), a subset of what the real Voice Over IP (VOIP) market is and a subset of what Skype offers.

Nearly every Skype user I've talked to about the service uses it specifically because it allows them to call regular phone numbers cheaply. The fact that they have to run Yet Another IM App is not a selling point.

I get why people say Yahoo was targeting Napster with our music subscription service, but this one puzzles me. If I'm limited to calling only other Yahoo Messenger users, it's hardly a "Skype Killer."

But then again, I'm not one of the "soccer moms in the Midwest."

Don't get me wrong. PC-to-PC "calling" is useful. It's been in Yahoo Messenger since the late 90s. But it's also no Skype.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:35 PM

RSS Feeds for Yahoo! Web, News, Image, and Video Searches

I'm a little surprised that people still ask me "when will you guys have RSS feeds available for your search results?"

The reason I'm surprised is that we've had those for months now. If you're a Firefox user, just try a search on any of the following and you should see the little orange icon light up.

And since the orange box lights up, that means we've got the auto-discovery tags embedded in those search result pages. And that means your aggregator should have no trouble subscribing to searches.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:19 AM

May 16, 2005

Using Greasemonkey to Nuke AdSense Ads

I keep mentioning Greasemonkey but haven't yet had a chance to write up why I think it's important. Luckily I keep running across others who are doing a pretty good job. Ryan's Greasemonkey Stole Your Job (and Your Business Model) is one such example. It's where I learned that a trivial Greasemonkey script exists for blocking AdSense Ads (actually it just hides them).

Scary stuff, huh? :-)

He speculates that companies like Google and Yahoo would use their toolbars to re-insert content that Gresemonkey scripts remove. I hope both companies are smart enough not to fight that particular battle.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:40 PM

May 15, 2005

P-51 Mustang at Hollister

I finally got the filters for my Canon Digital Rebel and decided to bring it down to the airport today. Before and after flying I shot over 150 pictures, but the P-51 shot below is my favorite of the set.

P-51 Mustang at Hollister

There's quite a variety of planes you can see there on any day of the week: biplanes, war birds, business jets, gliders, and even ultralights.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:03 PM

May 13, 2005

Arriving at 9:30am, no matter what...

This week, I've needed to be at work by 9:30am three times. That's unusual for me, as I normally work from home for an hour or two and then come in sometime closer to 10:30am. Only on Wednesdays do I need to get here "early."

Traffic is the main reason for this. If I leave before 9:00am (when the carpool lane opens up) I end up spending far longer sitting in traffic, mildly pissed off at the city or state's inability to plan ahead.

What I discovered this week is that I can leave my house 8:40am, 8:55am, or even 9:05am and I'll still find myself arriving at work withing 2-3 minutes of 9:30am.

This was surprising at first, but it really does match what I've noticed in the 16 months I've been living in San Jose. Traffic really does seem to peak around 8:30am before it gets progressively better. By 10:15am or so (the time I left this morning) there's virtually no wait at the two highway entrance ramps I need to use (Almaden Expressway to Highway 87 North, and 87 North to 101 North).

I guess this means that the ideal strategy is to wait as long as possible before leaving on those 9:30am days. Leaving earlier has little benefit--unless there's a big accident, of course. But they usually mention that on the radio anyway. And I can just check Yahoo! Traffic before leaving.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:17 AM

May 12, 2005

Have you ever wanted a Yahoo! Search tab on Google?

You know, for those times you accidentally go to Google. Well, if you're one of those sick people like me, now you can:

You just need a little Greasemonkey script.

I'll be writing more about Greasemonkey. Soon, I hope. Greasemonkey is a really big deal.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:05 PM

May 11, 2005

20 Blog Bits for Today: Google, Yahoo, Starbucks, Greasemonkey, Syrup, and so on...

At the risk of posting far too many things today, there's a bunch of stuff that I wanted to write about but couldn't justify posting all of them individually. They fall somewhere between the blog and linkblog.

Anyway, here goes...

  1. Yahoo plucks design guru (CNet). We've got a new VP of UED (User Experience and Design) who comes from Amazon, Apple, and Xerox PARC. Is is just me, or are we hiring a lot of big name talent recently?
  2. Fred Wilson calls Google The Starbucks of the Internet in a long and interesting post. He makes a lot of good points and draws out some good discussion in the comments. My take is that Google has a very broad interpretation of what it means to "improve access to all the world's information." Very broad. There's nothing wrong with that, except that it continues to surprise people and that continues to surprise me.
  3. Geek News Central asks the question Yahoo? Since When Do We Talk About Yahoo? It's good to see that people have managed to stop obsessing on The Starbucks of the Internet long enough to realize that we've got a ton of good stuff going on this year. I was starting to wonder if the blog world would ever catch on to what Wall Street figured out a few quarters ago. BTW, we're not just a search engine.
  4. Nelson's blog has inspired a greasemonkey script.
  5. Speaking of Nelson, he posted about the Yahoo! 360 login problem that I've been seeing too. Knowing that it's not just me anymore, I filed it in Bugzilla and shot him an email. He's updated his post to reflect that. Excellent! Thanks to Nelson for confirming what I thought was specific to something I was doing.
  6. Speaking of Greasemonkey, Mark Pilgrim's Dive Into Greasemonkey is rocking my world--just what I've been looking for. I want to see if I can use GM to add a feature to a product we'll be launching before the engineers do it in an official sort of way. If it works, I'll certainly write about what was involved. It should be a fun little exercise.
  7. And speaking of things that impress the hell out of me, have you seen the Yahoo! News Tag Soup site? That guy's done some cool auto-tagging stuff using our news feeds and Yahoo! Search APIs. Wow.
  8. Brad (of LiveJournal fame) has released his script. If you've ever heard him rant about how disks lie and disk vendors suck, you know why this matters.
  9. You can run a whole PBX on a $80 wireless router. Damn, I really want to do this, even though I don't have time and it has no practical value to me. I happen to have a spare WRT54G in the closet.
  10. It looks like the Linksys NSLU2 is the solution to my Dad's fileserver needs. Plus, you can slap Linux on itid and get RAID-1.
  11. There's a plug-in blog for Yahoo! Music Engine (aka, yTunes). Kick ass! I forgot about this. If it smells like MovableType, there's a good reason.
  12. Ben introduced by saying "The implications of this next sentence are, if taken with enough of a forward gaze, enough to make you shit" and that, of course, got my immediate attention. Luckily the BBC is really onto something. Read about it.
  13. Is is just me or is pretty slow these days?
  14. Joel writes about Making Wrong Code Look Wrong and rants a bit about variable prefixes. I dig that.
  15. Mental Models For Search Are Getting Firmer according to Jakob Nielsen. Therein lie important lessons for anyone designing site search features.
  16. Jason spread some Ajax on his blog and some syrup on his floor. Both amuse me in very different ways.
  17. Glancing at Drag & Drop Sortable Lists with JavaScript and CSS reminds me that I have much to learn in the ways of CSS and JavaScript.
  18. Hire Different reminds us that it's important to get some diversity once in a while.
  19. Why good video search will change media forever brings up some very good points about video search and the ubiquity of digital video cameras. " When a disgruntled fast-food customer can in a few hours produce and widely distribute a professional-quality video that shows a fast-food worker using unsanitary methods, PR professionals will have to monitor a still larger world for threats to reputation."
  20. Les Orchard, in The right place for data in your feed asks the question "is a feed the right place for your data" and then goes on to explain why he thinks the answer is "no, but it doesn't hurt if it's there, too"
Posted by jzawodn at 07:48 PM

BS Accelerator?

In reading the CNet story Google puts brakes on Accelerator, I found my bullshit detector going off repeatedly.

Google cited capacity as the reason for putting the brake on downloads of Accelerator, which is designed to speed the delivery of Web pages. A message on the site said the company has reached its "maximum capacity of users and (we) are actively working to increase the number of users we can support."

The weird thing is that I never heard or ready anyone complaining that the service was slow. Or unreliable.

Aside from Blogger slowness, I had always thought they knew how to build really big, scalable systems.


A Google representative denied on Wednesday that the removal of the tool was connected to the security fears. "It is a limited beta," he said, "and we reached the capacity of users."

Was it announced as a limited beta? I don't remember seeing that anywhere. And I can find no reference to it.

I have a hard time believing that a company with that much infrastructure is having capacity problems with a service that's likely being used by a relatively small number of people, considering how many were scared away by the admitted information leaks and security problems.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:36 PM

Yahoo! Needs Engineers for Monitoring Infrastructure

Wanna work for Yahoo in Sunnyvale, California? Know someone who might?

Our Infrastructure Development Team is looking to beef up a bit. They are building a distributed monitoring framework and need someone with the right skills to help make it happen.

In other words, you get to help build the eyes and ears that watch our thousands of servers around the world.

Here's the official stuff.

We are looking for a senior software engineer to be part of the Infrastructure Development Team. You will be developing a distributed framework for monitoring the performance and availability of critical infrastructure services throughout Yahoo!. You will work closely with other engineering groups to define their monitoring strategy and help implement the necessary system. The monitoring data collected by this framework would then be fed into the company's SLA monitoring system for generation of availability reports that show up on various performance dashboards.


  • 5+ years proven experience working within Unix environments as a software developer in C/C++ and Perl required
  • 2+ years proven experience developing web applications, SQL or Perl based aggregation scripts within complex development frameworks required
  • Strong architectural design skills with a focus on scalability and efficiency
  • Ability to communicate effectively with technical peers and non-technical coworkers alike.

Required Expertise:

  • Unix development
  • Perl, C/C++, MySQL, CVS
  • TCP/IP client/server networking development
  • Apache, Internet Technologies (CGI, HTTP)

Peferred Experience:

  • Unix system level experience, prefer FreeBSD or Linux
  • Monitoring tools including Nagios and RRDTool
  • Large scale internet applications
  • PHP, XML, HTML, CSS, Javascript
  • Familiar with distributed technologies

If you're interested, send me your resume for job #RX1000008452.

Standard disclaimer: if you get hired and put my name in the right box, I get a referral bonus. And you get a cool job. Fair trade? I think so.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:22 PM

yTunes Launched!

Okay, it's actually called Yahoo! Music Engine (or YME for short), but a lot of us at the office prefer to call it yTunes. :-)

I've been using Yahoo! Launch (which is now Yahoo! Music) for a while now, mainly at my desk at work but also at home sometimes. It really makes me wonder why I still have 550 CDs sitting around at home.

And now, I can pay $5/month for basically unlimited music and buy tracks for $0.79. It's high time I dumped all those discs on a a used CD store.

See Also

I wonder if last week's rumors about Music Search threw everyone off the scent? :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 09:57 AM

May 10, 2005

Speaking at SDForum in Palo Alto Tonight

Just a quick heads-up... I'm speaking at SDForum's Emerging Technology SIG tonight. Full details are on the SDForum site, but here's the relevant bit of what I'd have said here:

Earlier this year Yahoo! Search launched YSDN (, the Yahoo! Search Developer Network. YSDN is a set of public apis to Yahoo! services that third party developers can use in applications and web sites. Jeremy will talk about the origins of YSDN, the APIs currently provided, community tools on the YSDN site, and also demo some third party applications.

I'd love to meet anyone reading this who also happens to be there tonight.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:00 AM

May 09, 2005

Home Network Storage Appliance Recommendations Needed

I just found out that my Dad's linux server (known as "Ward"), which was mainly acting as a file server for his Windoze boxes, recently lost the will to live. We're toying with the idea of either replacing its guts with some old stuff I have, or maybe getting one of those new-fangled home network storage appliances.

Ideally, I think we'd like an appliance that can take two standard IDE or SATA disks, put them in a RAID-1 mirror, and share that with Windows, Linux, and Macintosh computers on the home network. It should be administered via a web interface but also have telnet or SSH based access. As a bonus, it'd be great if the device provided a snapshot, backup, or versioning system of some kind.

Anyway, I'm only beginning the research into what's available, but if you have a recommendation, we'd appreciate it.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:44 PM

MySQL Super Smack now maintained by Tony Bourke

The MySQL stress testing tool known as Super Smack used to live on my web site after I adopted it. However, I've now turned it over to Tony Bourke. The new URL for Super Smack is

Thanks to Tony for stepping up to handle Super Smack. Shortly after I really got into working on the book, I had little time left to deal with Super Smack. He's been putting it to good use and should keep development moving along nicely.

I'll get a redirect up on the old super-smack page shortly.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:48 AM

May 08, 2005

I Like My Canon CanoScan LiDE 500F Scanner

Back in March I asked for scanner recommendations. My needs weren't terribly demanding and I got some good advice. The decision ultimately came down to the Canon CanoScan LiDE 500F and some of the more expensive HP models.

I decided that it'd be best to buy the Canon and return it if I didn't like it. had it in stock and it didn't cost and arm and a leg--under $150.

After having used it on documents, full-page magazine pages, and some old photos, I've decided that it's a keeper.

The Good

  • size: this thing is quite small
  • sound: the canon is very quiet when scanning
  • light weight: the glass isn't terribly thick and it uses LEDs rather than a bit fluorescent tube
  • speed: it scans documents faster than I expected

The Bad

  • the software: the canon "toolbox" is a little klunky and limited, but it's sufficient for scanning into PDF files or something I can toss into Photoshop or The Gimp

In summary, I'm quite happy with this scanner. For the little money I spent, it's more than I expected. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a USB scanner to handle occasional documents and photos.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:43 PM

Yahoo! Party at WWW2005 Conference

If you're going to the WWW2005 Conference in Japan and would like an invite to the Yahoo! party, ping Tim.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:29 PM

May 06, 2005

How much does anchor text matter?

One of my all time favorite web searches is for the words "click here." Whenever someone asks how much anchor text matters, I tell them to search for those two little words.

The results always contain things like the download site for Adobe Acrobat, Flash, Quicktime, and so on. I hope nobody ever tries to launch a serious on-line business named "Click Here." They'd never make it onto the first page!

More recently I've discovered that the query is even more entertaining on the big news search engines:

Can you tell it's Friday? :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 12:33 PM

May 05, 2005

Making sure the 737 fuel tank doesn't explode...

With the help of aircraft makers, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) often requires aircraft owners to make changes to their planes. This typically happens after a design flaw or faulty part has been discovered. To communicate the required changes the FAA publishes an Airworthiness Directive or an "AD" for short.

You can find the recent ADs listed on the FAA's web site. If you're a pilot, they make for interesting reading sometimes. I'm considering writing a scraper that'll make RSS feeds for 'em.

Anyway, this Boeing 737 AD caught my eye.

The FAA is adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for Boeing Model 737-300, -400, and -500 series airplanes modified in accordance with STC ST00127BO. This AD requires installation of bonding straps to the safe side harnesses of the digital transient suppression device of the fuel quantity indicating system. This AD is prompted by the results of fuel system reviews conducted by the STC holder. We are issuing this AD to prevent unsafe levels of current or energy from entering the fuel tank, due to hot short faults or threat conditions associated with the safe side harness assembly, which could result in a fire or explosion of the fuel tank.

More details in this PDF document.

It's good to know that 737 fuel tanks will be that much less likely to catch fire, isn't it? :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 12:32 PM

May 04, 2005

About those NDAs and Embargos...

I read Molly Wood's Inside tech journalism: the NDA game with great interest for two reasons. (Go read it, then come back here...)

  1. I've wondered when the tech journalists were going to get fed up enough to start complaining about the problem.
  2. I'm involved in discussions about who to NDA in advance of a product launch, worries about leaks, and related stuff. We had one (discussion, not leak) just yesterday, in fact.

While her article is mainly aimed at hardware/gadget companies, much of it also applies to the hosted application and media/content businesses. You probably don't know what the next product Yahoo is going to launch is, do you? To steal a line from Top Gun, I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you.

What about Google? They're not exactly standing on the street corners, waving signs that signal their next product. (But you can assume they'll whip out that 20% time thing.) MSN? Same thing.

It's clear that the way PR, Marketing, NDAs, and Embargos work is changing. I routinely get solicitations from PR firms asking me to look at a pre-announcement or listen to a pre-briefing. Some do this because I'm on their media list via my Linux Magazine affiliation. But an increasing number of this specifically mention my blog.

As Molly says:

We media types need to quit kowtowing to manufacturers who are trying in vain to hold on to the last shred of control they think they have. Those manufacturers need to wake up and smell the RSS feeds--the information's already out there. Quit acting like you're doling out spoonfuls of sugar to the deserving few. Your audience is getting its sugar elsewhere.

I've noticed that in industries where the competition isn't quite as insane as ours, the players are far more concerned about getting coverage than worrying about who they told first. Sometimes you can almost read their desperation between the lines.

What some journalists have figured out is that we almost always post something on the Yahoo! Search blog when we launch a new Search related service. When do we post? Usually at the same time the embargos on traditional journalists are lifted. If there's a press release, it usually hits the wire the next morning. None of this s secret--it's a pattern that we've followed many times.

What I'm hoping for is the day that we can be bit less uptight about who knows when, who gets the early call, pre-briefings, and all that stuff. Sure, for a really big launch we should do that. But I think for the incremental enhancements, launches, and so on it's overkill. We should just publish something when the feature or service is live, and let the world figure it out. They will.

But I suspect it'll take quite a while for that to happen, and it'll piss off a lot of PR folks and journalists along the way.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:51 PM

May 03, 2005

Yahoo Needs Developer Network Evangelist and Community People

Jeffrey McManus, who recently left eBay for Yahoo, is looking to hire few good Yahoo!s to help with our growing developer network.

He says:

I've got two openings on my team at Yahoo, one is for a manager of marketing and community for the Y! Developer Network, and the other is for a Technical Evangelist/Developer Support specialist.

For the marketing/community position, a strong technology marketing background (preferably targeting a developer audience) and hands-on experience supporting an online community is crucial.

For the evangelist/support role, we're more flexible with respect to what you've done in the past (a coder looking for a new set of challenges would work, a sales engineering type might work, I'd even consider a technical documentation specialist if you're on the more technical side). What's most important is that elusive combination of technical experience, great communication skills, and a passion for helping developers.

Yahoo is a nice place to work and we're going to be building out our third-party developer initiatives significantly in the coming year, so if you've ever wanted to get in on the ground floor of something big, now's your chance.

Emphasis mine. If you'd to help shape the future of Yahoo's Developer Network, now is the time to get on board. Get in touch with Jeffrey, or send me your resume.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:15 PM

Yahoo Seeking Contextual Search Scientist/Engineers

From time to time I post jobs here. We have a couple openings in our contextual search group. This is the job description:

As member of Yahoo's Contextual Search team the candidate will be involved with advanced research and development on problems in contextual disambiguation, topic extraction and context vector space modeling. The ideal candidate will have an advance degree (Ph. D. / MS) in computer science or a closely related discipline. We are looking for a mix of skills in web information retrieval, especially as applied to text/document applications related to topic extraction and document vector space modeling. Duties will include the following: Document/text analysis for the purpose of creating document term vectors, topic extraction for search result biasing and personalization.

This work will involve solving applications/problems using known techniques and/or inventing new techniques as necessary. For new algorithms/techniques developed it will also involve filing associated patent applications and when appropriate writing reports and/or papers. Implementing algorithms in proof-of-concept prototypes. Implementing production-level versions of various algorithms (in C++ and Java)

Specific Qualifications

  • At least 5 years of software development experience
  • Strong foundation in system design, software architecture, web technologies
  • Strong background in information retrieval, Internet search and/or linguistics
  • Strong algorithm background, awareness of time and space complexity
  • Extensive UNIX system and network programming experience.
  • Exceptional C++, Scripting (Perl, Python) and Java skills.
  • Experience with Apache, HTTP and web services.

If you're interested, please send me your resume.

And, yes, I do get a referral bonus if you get hired (assuming you put my name in that box on the new hire form, of course). But I'd probably be posting this even if that wasn't the case--we're always looking for smart people...

Posted by jzawodn at 09:09 AM

Ken Norton Starts a Blog

Ken Norton recently started a blog, just a few weeks before leaving Yahoo! for JotSpot. This is definitely worth keeping an eye on. Ken's one of those quiet and very smart people that's a great asset to any tech company. He probably understands the technology and company's business more than many of the folks who specialize in one or the other. Most recently, he was our main man on tagging in Search.

While I was sad that Ken left Yahoo (many of us were), I'm glad to see him going to such a great company. I think there's an excellent future for JotSpot. I look forward to seeing where they go from here.

It's good to see you writing, Ken.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:14 AM

May 02, 2005

The most unusual question I've been asked at work recently...

This just happened 5 minutes ago.

coworker: Jeremy, are you available at 4:30 today to help with a chase scene in the parking lot?

me: Car or running?

coworker: Running.

me: Sure.

Who says we're not a media company?

Posted by jzawodn at 12:58 PM

Activity Logging and Sharing with MotionBased and GPS

A few days after posting my flight trace last week, I got email from Clark Weber at MotionBased. He wanted to know if I'd ever tried their service. All I needed to do was extract the GPS trace in a format they grok, and it would produce a nice display of my flight path.

We discussed it a bit and I ended up just sending him the IGC file from my flight. He was able to convert it into something useful using G7ToWin (a good tool for getting data into and out of Garmin GPS units).

The result is this page.

While their service clearly wasn't built for handling traces from glider pilots, I suspect that by putting a bit more work into it they'd come up with something that'd nicely complement the OLC traces, like the one I posted last week.

If, on the other hand, you routinely bike, hike, or jog with a GPS, give MotionBased a try.

I suspect I'll be playing with MotionBased more in the future. There's a lot of the service I haven't had a chance to explore.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:24 PM

Firefox Market Share on O'Reilly Sites

Over on O'Reilly Radar, Tim writes about the browser stats they're seeing across the O'Reilly Network and summarizes by saying:

In short, during the past year, Firefox has basically wiped out the Netscape browser, and has taken 20 points of share from IE. Safari browser has grown fractionally, but given the rise in Apple's market share, these numbers would suggest that a good percentage of Apple users are switching to Firefox as well. Meanwhile, Janco reports that Firefox share in the broader market has surged past 10%.

The interesting thing to me is how vastly the numbers differ between tech oriented sites like those O'Reilly hosts, and the more mainstream sites we run at Yahoo.

Firefox is definitely on the rise in the Yahoo logs, but it's not even close to crossing the 50% mark yet. And from what I hear via friends at other large sites (AOL, Microsoft, etc) they're in the same boat we are.

It'll be fun to watch this trend continue. How long does it take for "the rest of the world" to catch up? Will it ever? (I suspect not.) Will we reach a point of equilibrium, maybe? Who knows.

Either way, Firefox recently hit 50,000,000 downloads--quite an impressive accomplishment!

Posted by jzawodn at 11:36 AM

Yahoo! Local Traffic Widget for Mac OS X Tiger Dashboard

If you're one of the folks who've upgraded to Mac OS X Tiger already, check out the Yahoo! Local Traffic Widget for Dashboard.

Amusingly, the first of the traffic advisories shown that screenshot is real--I hit it every day on the way to work.

Perhaps I'll make the leap to Tiger this evening...

Posted by jzawodn at 11:09 AM

Larry's GMail Indexer, a GDS Plugin

This is the great thing about having a plugin architecture:

Regularly index your entire Gmail account contents into Google Desktop Search. This is done using Gmail’s POP access feature. See the following URL for information on how to enable POP access on your Gmail account:

Now I should probably write something about my recent experiments with GMail too...

Posted by jzawodn at 11:01 AM