March 07, 2003

A Change of Perspective

When I ran across Josh's a technology perspective entry, it really resonated with me. Allow me to quote him and then ramble for a bit.

It struck me today that the focus of my interests have changed drastically since leaving California. When you're submerged in the land of technology, it becomes etched on your mind. You live and breathe high-tech, and everything around you from the people to the local news and even the billboards are talking about the newest enterprise product from Oracle or the latest chip technology. It all has a very immediate impact -- you cringe when the Nasdaq has a bad day, and you cheer when a competitor announces declining revenues or market share. My brain was centered around technology because it was immersed in it.

It struck me because I've been thinking about that a lot lately. Not necessarily in those terms, but we're both on the same wavelength. (Maybe it's because we worked together in two jobs (Yahoo and Marathon Oil) and went to the same university.)

You might recall my longish What Should I Do With My Life? post back on Jan 1st. Over the holiday I was thinking a bit about how I've changed since coming to the valley of silicon.

Though I've stayed here, Josh and I have something in common again. In the last year or so, I've really distanced myself from the day-to-day rise and fall of tech stock prices, press releases, and the machinery that powers so much of what goes on here. (The drop in the economy has made that easier to do, but it still takes work.) And I don't work the sort of crazy hours I used to a year or so back. Many folks at Yahoo have adopted more sane working schedules and I'm glad to be one of them. Life's too short to spend it all at work.

I've also found myself growing less and less interested in the Open Source "movement" and all the pointless wastes of energy is spawns. That's all well in good while you're in college and can stay up past 3am every night, arguing on IRC or hacking on your favorite project of the week. But it's just not for me. I don't argue with religious fanatics and I'm not going to get all wrapped up in that world. (Well maybe now and then... but only on special occasions.)

In this time, I've also become a bit less bitter about living here. I used to really complain about the two things I hated more than anything: the cost of living housing and the traffic. For whatever reason, those don't bother me so much anymore.

More recently, I've been trying to figure out what caused these changes. They're clearly good and good for me. But I'd like to have an idea of where they came from. Maybe I can do something to ensure that whatever is guiding me will continue to do so.

I attribute it to three things.

Growing Up

There have been a lot of changes at work in the last year or so. A lot of folks have moved on, started families, or otherwise made important changes in their lives. To some degree or another, that's been rubbing off on me. Things have slowed down a bit. Sure, they're still crazy, but it's not like it was a few years ago. It just feels like a lot of folks (me included) have grown up a bit.

That's probably not the best way to explain it, but hopefully it's sufficient to get the point across.

Meeting New People

Ever since Jon Udell pointed me at the blog world last year and suggested I get with with the program, I've been meeting new people. I've met only a handful of you in person, but I feel like I know many more people than I did a year ago. Some leave comments regularly. Some have blogs that I read daily. Some mailed me privately and struck up conversations.

It's really amazing to think about the contacts, associations, and ideas I've been able to develop as the result of participating in the blog world. In doing so, I've exposed myself to people, ideas, and technology that I might have never come across otherwise. And I really feel like it has changed me. Like e-mail or the web itself, I really don't think this is some sort of passing fad.

Reviving an old Hobby

After a nearly 12-year break, I finally got back into flying. I've spent quite a bit of time studying, practicing, learning, and exploring. It's been a blast. When I'm up in the air, I never think about work. Ever. It's a great break. A change of scenery. There's no keyboard. No noise. It's outside. And my mental health is all the better for it.

I remember being on the phone a few months ago with one of my oldest friends. She and I have known each other long enough that she remembers when I first starting flying back in high school. In fact, I remember her coming to the airport to watch one time. When I told her that I had picked it up again and was committed to getting my license (and much more) this time, she was so happy for me. I didn't need to say any more than that. She just knew that it was good for me and I really needed to do it.

She was right. As usual.

Back to Josh

So, in response to Josh, the best I can come up with is this: Yeah. Me too.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:33 PM

Roogle is Cool

I'm impressed. Scott seems to be hacking away on Roogle his Google-inspired RSS Search Engine.

Cool stuff, Scott. And I'm not just saying that because I was in the first run. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 08:47 PM

I passed

Yeay! It's over. I passed the test with flying colors. (I don't know why colors fly or what that means, but figured that a one-sentence entry is a bit too short.)

Posted by jzawodn at 06:06 PM

March 06, 2003


It seems that Dan likes his Tivo.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:28 PM

TMDA Filtering via procmail?

Has anyone managed to write a procmail recipe that can effectively identify TMDA auto-replies? You know, the kind that say "To release your message for delivery, please send an empty message..."

Having never used TMDA, I don't know what's commonly customized and what I can expect to see there. I note that the header has X-Delivery-Agent: TMDA/0.62. Perhaps that's sufficient.

* ^X-Delivery-Agent: TMDA

Do folks commonly (or ever) modify their TMDA setup to get around the fact that they're more annoying than listening to Clear Channel Radio?

On a related note, I don't reply to TMDA. Ever. I don't care if you're my Mom. That is NOT the solution to spam. Sorry.

I don't want to see them or even know that they arrived. I'll simply shitcan them to /dev/null and go on with life.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:49 PM

March 05, 2003

Posting from Perl is Way Cool

I just had to try one more post to make sure my new posting script works intended. I've updated it quite a bit to, in Perl spirit, Do What I Want. And it does. And I'm quite happy.

Next step: emacs integration. Then e-mail. Then I take over the world.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:15 PM

The Code

Okay, Net::Blogger officially rocks.

I posted the previous entry using a little script that took me maybe 7 minutes to write (including the time to install Net::Blogger). If you're curious, have a look at to see how I did it.

There is so much cool stuff I can do with this.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:54 PM

Posting to MT from Perl

If this works, Net::Blogger rocks! :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 08:33 PM



Posted by jzawodn at 08:22 PM

It never ceases to amaze me...

People type the damnest things into the search box on the Yahoo! home page. Every day. There's just a lot of weird shit in the logs. Tons of it.

I have to wonder how much of it can be attributed to (1) the cat walked across the keyboard, or (2) my script to scrape Yahoo messed up, or similarly odd things.

One thing I learned today. A lot of folks used consecutive single quotes ('') as if they're the same as a double-quote ("). I don't get it. But I have to fix it. And lots of other little oddities.

And a lot of people can't spell very well (me included). But at least some search engines can handle spelling correction in a reasonable way.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:17 PM

March 04, 2003

Forged Spam Prevention

About a month ago, I brought up the issue of forged spam and responsibility, noting some ideas about how it might be prevented. Derek mentioned that it had come up before and his idea had been shot down at the time.

Well, good news. Now Derek describes how the idea is now evolving into an RFC. I'd love to see that (or something like it) implemented by the big players. It won't fix the spam problem, but it will help.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:31 PM

Crash Different

Okay, this has to be the most amusing switch parody I've ever seen. I laughed my ass off.

Thanks to Derek for the link. I'm sure it's elsewhere and I just missed it.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:49 PM

Search Engine Imitation

As seen on C|Net:

Fast Search & Transfer's has dropped the use of banner advertisements in a Web site redesign that recalls the look and feel of rival search provider Google. The redesign, unveiled Tuesday, comes amid an overall decline in the use of banner ads online, as advertisers move on to larger, more eye-catching formats as well as to the kind of simple, text-only marketing popularized by paid search listing pioneer Overture Services

Indeed. AllTheWeb is now very Google-like on their home page. Makes you wonder what the next home page will look like, doesn't it?

All in due time...

Update: People are reading too much into what I've said.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:20 PM

Kasia is evil!

Something tell's me I'll get slapped for the title of this entry. :-)

A box of cookies just arrived at work. They're from Kasia for fetching, setting up, and racking her box. It does't yet serve but probably will soon.

Anyway, the evil part is that the cookies are very, very good. So I'm likely to eat too many cookies. Some are even butterscotch chip, my all-time favorite.

Must... resist... cookies.

(pause while I move the box farther away)

The weather is getting to be quite nice again. As soon as it stays light a bit later at night (maybe another 45 minutes or so), I'll start biking to and from work again. Then I won't care so much about eating too many cookies.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:07 PM

blog template updates

I made a bunch of blog template changes earlier to finally adjust some things that have long bothered me about MoveableType. The links to individual posts from the main index are now cleaner. I always point to the entry using a clean URL, no #123 stuff on the end. And for comments I point to the entry page too (using the #comments anchor), rather than using the CGI script. This makes it faster. I still need to fix the TrackBack links. Once I've added the TrackBack detail to the entry pages, I'll stop linking to the mt-tb.cgi script.

I've added a new feature, the "top 10 posts" to the right side of the main archive as well as on the individual entry pages. I've always wanted to know which of my posts get the most traffic, so I spent the 4 minutes necessary to write that code too. (I was waiting for some stuff to finish at work.)

Yes, I do plan to upgrade from 2.21 to 2.6x sometime soon. Really. I do.

Anyway, enough blogging about blogging for now. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 01:48 PM

No more CRTs for me

The other day I realized that the only CRT left in my apartment is my television. All my computers now have LCD displays--either laptop or desktop. I remember a few years back, longing for the day when I'd have high-res LCD displays for all my computers. That day has come and it seems rather anti-climactic.

Now I just need to do something about the lack of LCDs at work.

Yeah, right. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 10:33 AM

March 03, 2003

The Switch Blog

Cool! Apparently there's a Switch Blog where you can read about those who have switched.

Score another one for technorati.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:33 PM

Studying Again

I haven't really had to study since my college days. And even then I didn't study much. But I have a final exam of sorts coming up this Friday: the FAA Private Pilot written test.

Most of my "spare" time for the next several days will be consumed be taking on-line practice tests, reading about weather and navigation, and going over a bunch of rules and regulations.

What fun.

The last time I took this test (back in college), I got a 96%. I don't expect to beat that score, but I hope to come close. Passing is 70% but I'd feel like an idiot if I got less than an 80% on it.

I'll be sure to post the results in my flying blog late on Friday.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:25 PM


After about three weeks of fighting with an optimization problem at work (including an interesting detour into Perl guts), we have finally prevailed. The processing didn't run out of memory and die after the first few iterations.

The solution was to re-think the algorithm yet again. Our first few attempts helped but didn't get us far enough. The most recent change, however, has kept us far enough under the memory limit to ensure that it should run to completion. I'll know for sure in the morning.

It'll be interesting to see what happens when the Perl code is converted to Java. Will it be faster or slower? Use more or less memory? How many more or fewer lines of code will it require?

Time will tell.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:43 PM

March 02, 2003

Thinking away from the keyboard

Sometimes you just have to get back to basics.

I've been having a tough time with the book recently. The writing has been really slow and painful. Tonight, I just didn't feel like sitting in front of the keybord for another long, frustrating session of slow writing.

So I got out a big notepad and my chapter 4 outline. I then planted my ass in the Lazy Boy recliner and began to write with my mechanical pencil. The next thing I know, it's an hour later. My stomach is hungry (dinner time) and I've got many pages of stuff--half of the remaining writing for this chapter is sitting in front of me, waiting to be keyed in.

This rocks!

After I eat, I'll try to pencil the rest of it out for another hour or so and then move on to the comparatively easy task of typing what I already have on paper.

I only wish I had thought of this sooner--like 2 months ago.

Thinking back, this makes sense. I got some of my best programming done in college this way.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:59 PM