January 04, 2003

Beautiful lawyer needs help...

Ray sent me a link to this craigslist posting.

The situation is simple. 

I am an intellectual property lawyer, 27, 5'8", slim, blue eyes, 
of an Irish/Italian origins. 

This morning I realized that my boyfriend 
of two years is having an affair. 

I want to dump him ASAP. 

The problem is we have a company event in NYC 
next week and I don't to show up just by myself. 

I need someone extremely smart and extremely 
charming to replace the bastard. 

We leave on Jan 8, return on Jan 12. 
We stay at the W. 
separate beds. 
All expenses covered. 


Update: It's a good thing I copied the text. The posting is already gone.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:26 PM

January 03, 2003


A funny thing happened today. During my first lesson this morning, my instructor demonstrated a spiral dive and recovery. Now there are a few important details I need to cover before you can appreciate what happened and why it was funny (to me, at least).

It was chilly out. I noticed the temperature was roughly 40 degrees when I arrived at the airport. So I'm guessing it was maybe 45 by the time we took off. Of course, in normal conditions, we loose about 3.5 degrees for every 1,000 feet we climb. So it's safe to say that it was chilly at 3,500 feet too. And since it was chilly, my nose was a bit, well... runny. Not a lot. Just a bit.

A spiral dive, unlike a spin, results in the glider's nose pointing farther and farther down all the while we're picking up speed quickly and the stick is all the way back. To recover, you need to roll the glider's wings back into a level position and then pull out of the resulting dive. During that pull-out, you can easily pull 3 to 4 Gs of force.

Now those of you who have put 2 and 2 together can already guess what happened...

When my instructor demonstrated the spiral dive and recovery, I was a bit unprepared for the G forces in the recovery. And, as you'll recall, my nose was a little runny.

Let's just say that as we pulled out of the drive, I felt something spring from my nose as if it was trying to get away in a hurry. It took a second for me to realize what happened, but when I did it amused the hell out of me for a minute or so.

Mental Note: Don't perform high-G maneuvers with a runny nose.

Sorry. I just had to share. Couldn't think of much else to blog today. There will be some new Java stuff next week, though. So stay tuned and I promise not to talk about buggers or anything. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 11:41 PM

January 01, 2003

What Should I Do With My Life?

I found the article "What Should I Do With My Life?" in a recent issue of Fast Company rather compelling. The beginning of a new year seems like a good time to mention it. Others may be thinking the same things I have been.

I'm going to quote from it heavily because I think it says a lot of things that need to be said. But I'm not going to go into all the things that have been bothering me lately. That'll be later...

I'm convinced that business success in the future starts with the question, What should I do with my life? Yes, that's right. The most obvious and universal question on our plates as human beings is the most urgent and pragmatic approach to sustainable success in our organizations. People don't succeed by migrating to a "hot" industry ( one word: dotcom ) or by adopting a particular career-guiding mantra ( remember "horizontal careers"? ). They thrive by focusing on the question of who they really are -- and connecting that to work that they truly love ( and, in so doing, unleashing a productive and creative power that they never imagined ). Companies don't grow because they represent a particular sector or adopt the latest management approach. They win because they engage the hearts and minds of individuals who are dedicated to answering that life question.

All I can say about that is that it just seems right. Who would really argue with it? Not me.

The article goes on to mention something that I've noticed far too much of: people who clearly aren't living (and working) up to their potential for various reasons...

There are far too many smart, educated, talented people operating at quarter speed, unsure of their place in the world, contributing far too little to the productive engine of modern civilization. There are far too many people who look like they have their act together but have yet to make an impact. You know who you are. It comes down to a simple gut check: You either love what you do or you don't. Period.

But worse yet, I worry that I'm one of them. The notion of "operating at quarter speed" seem to describe me pretty well a lot of the time. That goes hand-in-hand with the next observation.

Those who are lit by that passion are the object of envy among their peers and the subject of intense curiosity. They are the source of good ideas. They make the extra effort. They demonstrate the commitment. They are the ones who, day by day, will rescue this drifting ship. And they will be rewarded. With money, sure, and responsibility, undoubtedly. But with something even better too: the kind of satisfaction that comes with knowing your place in the world. We are sitting on a huge potential boom in productivity -- if we could just get the square pegs out of the round holes.

It's really been a while since I felt compelled to make the extra effort. I'm sure sure if that's the result of changes in the last year or so. Maybe it's just frustration resulting from the organizational supidity and crap I've had to deal with recently.

Throughout the 1990s, my basic philosophy was this: Work=Boring, but Work+Speed+Risk=Cool. Speed and risk transformed the experience into something so stimulating, so exciting, so intense, that we began to believe that those qualities defined "good work." Now, betrayed by the reality of economic uncertainty and global instability, we're casting about for what really matters when it comes to work.

I can totally see where the Work+Speed+Risk=Cool equation comes from. I've been thinking it during much of my [short] working career so far.

On the issue of figuring out what job, role, or career is really the right one...

Your calling isn't something you inherently "know," some kind of destiny. Far from it. Almost all of the people I interviewed found their calling after great diffculty. They had made mistakes before getting it right. For instance, the catfish farmer used to be an investment banker, the truck driver had been an entertainment lawyer, a chef had been an academic, and the police officer was a Harvard MBA. Everyone discovered latent talents that weren't in their skill sets at age 25.


Most of us don't get epiphanies. We only get a whisper -- a faint urge. That's it. That's the call. It's up to you to do the work of discovery, to connect it to an answer. Of course, there's never a single right answer. At some point, it feels right enough that you choose, and the energy formerly spent casting about is now devoted to making your choice fruitful.

That bothers me. A lot. I've always felt a little smarter than the pack when it came to selecting a career. Why? Back in college, I never changed my major. In fact, I've been reasonably sure of what I wanted to do for a long, long time. I just never considered anything else. I liked what I was doing.

Recently, however, some things have caused that to change. Some of my older passions and ideas have resurfaced and they're making me question what I'm doing now. (More on that some other time...)

So, why do we end up in the wrong situations?

The funny thing is that most people have good instincts about where they belong but make poor choices and waste productive years on the wrong work. Why we do this cuts to the heart of the question, What should I do with my life? These wrong turns hinge on a small number of basic assumptions that have ruled our working lives, career choices, and ambitions for the better part of two decades.

The first one, of course, is money:

It turns out that having the financial independence to walk away rarely triggers people to do just that. The reality is, making money is such hard work that it changes you. It takes twice as long as anyone plans for. It requires more sacrifices than anyone expects. You become so emotionally invested in that world -- and psychologically adapted to it -- that you don't really want to ditch it.

Yeah, I really want to get a house again. But it's hard. It's going to require a lot of time and sacrifice. Everytime I've considered doing something else (meaning: change jobs), I worry about the house dream. How will I ever afford a house if I take a lower paying job? Crap like that.

And on the value systems involved, something I hadn't considered...

One of the most common mistakes is not recognizing how these value systems will shape you. People think that they can insulate themselves, that they're different. They're not. The relevant question in looking at a job is not What will I do? but Who will I become? What belief system will you adopt, and what will take on heightened importance in your life? Because once you're rooted in a particular system -- whether it's medicine, New York City, Microsoft, or a startup -- it's often agonizingly difficult to unravel yourself from its values, practices, and rewards. Your money is good anywhere, but respect and status are only a local currency. They get heavily discounted when taken elsewhere. If you're successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and opportunity can lock you in forever.

Very good point: respect and status are only a local currency. I had never thought about it in those terms, but I always knew it. ("If I change jobs, how do I convince my new employer that I'm really good at [this] or [that]? This is all taken for granted now because people know me.")

Anyway, I enjoyed the article and feel like it's talking to me. Maybe it'll say something to you too.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:52 AM

December 31, 2002


Phil Windley just mentioned his warflying experience again. That got me thinking. I wonder what I'd find flying a glider over the southern parts of Silicon Valley.

Maybe I'll give it a shot this summer after I get my license. I have all the necessary equipment. I'd just need to convince one of my geek friends to ride in the back seat with the right toys. And I have one in mind.

Hm, I wonder how much of a difference (if at all) it'd make if we flew a metal glider vs. fiberglass.

The other real obstacle would be altitude. In a glider, you don't want to be 1,000 feet over the local population. You want to be several thousand feet above and know that there's either good lift or an airport well within glide distance. So you'd have to hope for the most powerful access points, I guess.

Now if I could convince a towplane pilot to try it, that'd be a different story. I could run the toys while he flew. Or maybe I just need to convince my friend John to get his power license already. I'm pretty sure he's almost there.

Wow, if we caught a thermal over a strong access point, we could blog it from the air! And if we had a sub-notebook with a built-in webcam....

Hmm... What's that saying about idle minds and the devil?

Oh, I almost titled this Warsoaring, but Wargliding has a better ring to it, don't ya think. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 07:48 PM

Apache logging directly to MySQL

Someone just asked how I log my web traffic into MySQL. The timing couldn't be better, because the article I wrote for Linux Magazine is now on-line so I don't need to explain it again: Getting a Handle on Traffic

For the impatient, go get mod_log_sql and have fun.:-)

Update: Cool. It seems that RootPrompt picked it up too.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:43 PM

Open Source for my Mom

I wish I could convert the Linux box that sits in my old bedroom in Ohio into a "workstation" for my parents. Right now they share my Dad's Gateway notebook from work. It runs Windows 98. It came with Windows 2000 but my Dad installed Windows 98 over it. And he hates Windows.

So when I read this story of jwz's Mom always misplacing her documents, I thought of my Mom. She doesn't know how computers work and doesn't care. Like most of the computer using world, she does e-mail (Eudora) and occasionally uses a browser or an Office application. That's it.

I'm sure that jwz's mother has more computer smarts than mine. And the funny thing is that most mothers aren't terribly adept at using computers. Why? Not because computers need to be difficult, but nobody designs software for them. Why is the way we save documents different than the way we locate them later? It makes little sense.

This got me thinking about that old Linux box again. Why can't I at least get my Dad off Windows and make him happy? He'd be lost. Most of the Open Source software is no better than, say Windows, and worse yet it's never been subjected to a usability study.

Usability studies are rare in the Open Source world. But they needn't be. Instead of simply cloning the difficult interfaces that commercial organizations have been producing, Open Source developers have a chance to create something that's actually easy to use and powerful.

If you're involved with an Open Source project that produces a GUI app that's supposed to be used by "normal people," try putting some normal people in front of it. Get your Mom to try it out. Don't explain how it works (that's cheating). Just ask her to perform basic tasks with it--just like normal people in the real world do.

It's that easy. Don't stop until you parents and their friends can use it effortlessly. You'll have a killer application on your hands. Don't believe me? Try reading any of Jakob Nielsen's books or articles. He's proved time and again the the vast majority of user interface problems are uncovered with just a few brief tests. You don't need to pay thousands of dollars to usability consultants to get almost all the way there.

Some people think that usability is very costly and complex and that user tests should be reserved for the rare web design project with a huge budget and a lavish time schedule. Not true. Elaborate usability tests are a waste of resources. The best results come from testing no more than 5 users and running as many small tests as you can afford.

I wish I knew why so few people in the Open Source world seem to care.

Of course, the most common response to suggestions like this is that by making it easy for Mom to use, you're somehow dumbing down the software. People need to get smarter in order to use these complex machines. I really don't understand where anyone got the idea that easy to use things are for dumb people. My Mom isn't dumb. She just doesn't care about the difference between the "desktop" and the "explorer." Why should she. All she wants to do is send me e-mail to let me know that Dad has finally started to clean the basement.

My biggest fear is that the Open Source Ego Problem will suck up more time and effort than trying to build good, stable, fast, usable software that's better than what we have today--not simply a free clone (for whatever version of "free" you happen to like most).

Posted by jzawodn at 02:21 PM

How many unique user agents?

It seems that Scott is surprised by the number of unique user agents his server sees. So I decided to check mine:

mysql> select count(distinct(agent)) from access_jeremy_zawodny_com;
| count(distinct(agent)) |
|                  15366 |
1 row in set (30.01 sec)

Impressive. Roughly three times as many. I wonder which are most popular? Maybe the top 20?

mysql> select agent, count(*) as cnt from access_jeremy_zawodny_com
    -> group by agent order by cnt desc limit 20;
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.0.3705)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.0)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.01; Windows NT 5.0)
Googlebot/2.1 (+http://www.googlebot.com/bot.html)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0; .NET CLR 1.0.3705)
Radio UserLand/8.0.8 (WinNT)
Mozilla/5.0 (Slurp/cat; slurp@inktomi.com;
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0; Q312461)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; Q312461)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98; DigExt)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows 98)
NetNewsWire Lite/1.0.2 (Mac OS X)
Mozilla/3.0 (compatible)
Mozilla/3.01 (compatible;)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows 98; Win 9x 4.90)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.0; T312461)

Image if I ran that on the logs at Yahoo. Hmm. Maybe I should, just for a day. (No, not all the logs. Just a few servers.)

BTW, I love logging apache traffic directly into MySQL. It means I can do all sorts of cool stuff.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:49 AM

E-Mail Newsletters and RSS

If you ask me (you didn't), both Scott and John are letting them off the hook too easily. I want my e-mail newsletters to be available as RSS feeds. I already have too many daily and weekly newsletters cluttering my inbox. And since I don't use a GUI mail client, I have to paste the URLs to things I want to visit.

I've slowly been migrating to RSS feeds when they're available. Geek sites like Slashdot, Freshmeat, and use Perl have them. But many others do not yet.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:33 AM

Linux Bootable Business Card (BBC) Testing

The fine folks at lnx-bbc.org need your help in tested version 2.0 of the Linux Bootable Business Card.

The LNX-BBC is a mini Linux-distribution, small enough to fit on a CD-ROM that has been cut, pressed, or molded to the size and shape of a business card. LNX-BBCs can be used to rescue ailing machines, perform intrusion post-mortems, act as a temporary workstation, install Debian, and perform many other tasks that we haven't yet imagined.

If you've never used one, give it a try. The BBC is incredibly useful to have around--a real life-saver at times.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:35 AM

Aaron on Wireless "Security"

Aaron Schwartz explains why I run an open access point in my apartment. All my systems are secure, so if someone wants to leach a bit of cable bandwidth off me, I'm fine with that.

Sadly, people keep talking about how wireless networks are "insecure" and "open to attack" and how we should secure them, to keep people out. In fact, we should do just the opposite: we should secure them to let people in.


Posted by jzawodn at 09:31 AM

Test Post from NNW Pro Beta

This is a test post from the NetNewsWire Pro Beta. Let's see if it works right.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:26 AM

December 30, 2002

My Photo Gallery Software

I've been taking digital pictures for roughly five years now. Over that time I've taken a few thousand. They're poorly organized but at least they're on-line.

Every once in a while, someone asks me what software I used to create my on-line photo gallery, and I laugh to myself. Why? Because it's two little Perl scripts that have evolved a bit over the last few years. But they're still really, really basic and just barely do what I need.

I'm posting them here in the hopes that someone else finds them useful. As unlikely as that is, at least I can point others to this page when then ask me what I use. :-)

WARNING: This is hackerware. If you're not comfortable figuring out how the code works and adjusting to meet your needs, please move along. These are not the droids you're looking for. There are bugs, stupid limitations and assumptions built-in. And it's not my best coding work.

But if Dan can make it work, it can't be that bad, right?

pic-conv2.pl is run while you're in a directory full of JPEG files (*.jpg). For each image, it calls the convert program from ImageMagick to produce small and medium sized images. So you'll end up with a foo-sm.jpg and foo-md.jpg.

pmi2.pl is the real workhorse. Run it after you've run pic-conv2.pl and after you've put a title.txt and description.txt file in the directory. It builds out the pages with header, footer, and navigation.

Use these at your own risk. Or not at all.

One of these days I'm gonna completely revamp how all this stuff works. Or I'll just use someone else's code. Who knows.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:40 PM

A little taste of Home

A rather large box arrived for me at work today. It was from my parents in Ohio. They apparently decided to send me all of the food I would have normally eaten (but really shouldn't) if I had gone back to Ohio for the holiday.


  • 3 bags of my Dad's holday mix (Chex, pretzels, nuts, etc, with lots of garlic seasoning)
  • A pint of Buckeyes (mmm. peanutbutter and chocolate)
  • Two loaves of my Mom's pumpkin bread--still moist

I'm not sure what's more evil, me dscribing it to a bunch of people who can't eat it, or them sending it in the first place.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:53 PM

No More Parking Spot

Well, the next time I drive to work it'll be 2003, so that means I'll no longer have the nice parking spot that I won in last year's charity auction. Doh!

I bid again this year but gave up when the price when over $500. It's for a good cause and all, but that was more than I wanted to part with. I guess I got a better price than I thought last year--only $305! Something tells me that I'll never be so lukcy again.

(In case you're wondering, I do have California plates on my car now. It's just that I took that picture back in the Spring before I was properly "motivated" to register my vehicle. Long story.)

Posted by jzawodn at 06:12 PM

Yahoo! Weblogs

There's been some discussion recently about weblogs at Yahoo. It's not the first time, but it came up again. My co-worker Michael Radwin (who hasn't enabled TrackBack so that I can link this entry to his) posted his views recently.

I can't say if Yahoo has any plans to do it or not, since I don't speak for my employer, but I have to agree. Weblogs on Yahoo could be a very "sticky" service and Yahoo is fond of sticky services.

Even so, a blog service would be a win for Yahoo! in the long run. Feeling some compulsion to keep your blog up-to-date is sorta like email -- it's very "sticky". That means increased customer loyalty, which is always a good thing in the business world (even if it costs you some money).

Unlike the traditional Yahoo approach (build something that's a lot like our other services and technology), however, I have a very specific plan in mind should anyone decide it's something we want to do. It would get things on-line quickly with good tools and work like bloggers expect. And I have interesting ideas about how to integrate weblogging with some of our other large properties. Whether anyone will ask me or listen my ideas is a whole different question. :-)

(Yes, I've already offered.)

See also: AOL to Offer Weblogs?

Posted by jzawodn at 01:02 PM

Murphy's Law of Amazon.com Shipping

Anytime I order a package from Amazon that I don't need in a hurry, it is shipped from Reno, Nevada and arrives within 2 days. Sometimes it's here the next day if I order early enough.

Anytime I order something I'd like soon (like my iPod), it'll ship from Illinois and take a week or more to get here.

This leads to my biggest beef in the world of on-line shopping: Insufficient shipping details at purchase time.

When I'm making the choice between UPS Ground and FedEx overnight, I'm shooting in the dark unless I know where it's shipping from. It if comes from Reno, I don't care. Give me the cheap rate. But if it's coming from across the country, I might want to spend the extra bucks.

Too many times, I've paid extra to have a package shipped across the Nevada/California border because I was worried that it'd be coming from Kentucky, Illinois, or worse.

Note to Amazon: Once a customer has decided to make a purchase, let them know where the product is today. I'm sure you inventory management system already knows this. You, of all on-line merchants, should see the value in this.

And don't even get me started on the utter lack of integrated shipping information available on Yahoo Shopping. Yes, I'm a Yahoo employee and I buy most stuff at Amazon. Only if I cannot find it there do I use Y! Shopping. Sadly, my complaints fall on deaf ears. So I vote with my wallet--and not my Y! Wallet.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:20 AM

December 29, 2002


I happened across Jim O'Halloran's weblog today and briefly confused it with my own. I guess he liked the CSS that I cooked up for MovableType a while back.

So far, I know of two others who started using it and made local modifications: Dan Isaacs (though his body font now sucks) and Michael Radwin. Anyone else? :-)

Update: Dan fixed his CSS. It's now beautiful on the TiBook.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:00 PM

Re-learning that same old lesson...

I went to the grocery store today. On an empty stomach.

Now I have more food that I ought to.

I really thought it'd be different this time. I knew what I was doing but still managed to buy too much.


Posted by jzawodn at 07:26 PM