March 15, 2003

IronPort and SenderBase

Anyone have opinions on the mail and anti-spam work that IronPort is doing with SenderBase and such?

I hadn't heard of them before, but someone recently pointed them out.

The info on their site is a little weak on details:

IronPort SenderBase is an information service that allows email administrators to rapidly and effectively identify high volume senders of email. SenderBase uses an extensive network of over 5000 ISPs, universities and corporations to give IT administrators a global view into the volume of email sent from every domain and network.

Now we all know that "high volume senders" aren't necessarily spammers. For instance, their top four right now are:


But I do see and on the list. They're more of what I think of as spammers.

Anyway, I'm looking for more info. Anyone using their service? Bought their product?

Posted by jzawodn at 08:47 PM

Tech Hiring Rebound in the Valley

Over in Radwin's blog, he talks of a possible tech recovery with Yahoo hiring more engineers. (It does feel good to be at a company that's hiring once again.) His next entry, Resume Overload reflects the reality of tech job seekers today--there are a lot of 'em out there looking for work.

His experience aside, I've also noticed things warming up a bit. How? Recruiters. It's been a while, but recruiters have been calling (and e-mailing) again.

I've noticed a real difference between the recruiters of today and the recruiters of a couple years ago. Those who are still in business are the smart ones. They're not just reading from a list of skills and checking items off on a list. They seem to better understand their client's needs, better understand the technology, and they don't seem rushed.

Anyone else noticing this?

Posted by jzawodn at 07:50 PM

March 14, 2003

MySQL News, Fortune Magazine, and RSS Feeds

There's a link the MySQL home page to the Fortune Magazine story about MySQL (Can an Open-Source Database Threaten Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM?). I'm quoted twice in the article. My favorite:

MySQL is to Oracle as Linux is to Windows. It will slowly but steadily creep up the food chain, just like Linux has.

I'm glad they used that one.

Kudos to Fortune, too. I've talked with a fair number of reports about MySQL over the last few years. Usually they're rather clueless about databases, Open Source, and MySQL. Not so in this case.

Speaking of the MySQL site, I contacted to ask why there's no RSS feed for their headlines. It turns out there are several. They're just not well-advertised yet.

Cool! The MySQL folks continue to rock.

Hopefully they'll become more visible soon? (Hi, Jim!)

Update: For some reason NetNewsWire doesn't like the feed(s). I've yet to try and figure out why. Hmm. I'm sure it'll get fixed quickly once we know what's wrong.

Update #2: As noted in the comments, Jim fixed the feeds. Thanks to help from an on-line validator. Also, as Harrison notes, the story is also on CNN's site.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:25 AM

March 12, 2003

Glimpse the Future?

I can't see as far into the future as I'd like. So I'd like ask the readers of my blog for some help. In reading recent news and just paying attention to tech in general, I've noticed a lot of interesting technology announcements and trends. I'm sure they're news to no one, but I just happened to think of them together for the first time, today. And it's clear that they're painting a clearer and clearer picture of the future. Or at least they're trying to.

  • McDonald's will be offering WiFi when you drop in for your 99 cent heart attack. Starbucks was first. One can only assume that others will follow suit. Who next? Bookstores? Gas stations? The waiting room of the doctor's office?
  • Intel and AMD have recently announced new CPUs. The big news? Low power--meaning longer batter life in laptops and smaller mobile devices. (I'm glad they've realized that speed isn't everything.)
  • Fuel cells are available for some laptops. Again, longer battery life.
  • Intel is pushing 802.11x in a big way, following Apple's lead.
  • Mobile phones are getting more sophisticated. Color. Cameras. Better data rates.
  • Sales of 802.11x equipment are still brisk.
  • Slowly but surely, Bluetooth is catching on too. (Thanks largely to Apple, again.)

I'm able to surmise that we'll soon (whenever that is) have devices that have Internet access more often than not. Our mobile devices will be on for much longer periods of time. This is all very good news.

But here's where it starts to get fuzzy.

What will we do with our newfound connectedness and battery life?

I don't know. Maybe we'll blog more. Maybe we'll be on IM systems even more than we already are. If only these new systems also had basic GPS capabilities, we'd have not only presence but location too. Imagine having a preference in your favorite messenger client that you could enable: Share my location with my friends. I think that'd be neat.

Does anyone make a little USB GPS dongle? Or maybe a bluetooth phone will be able to get my approximate location and share it with my computer?

Clearly there will be more applications. New ones. Stuff we're not doing today. What is it?

I'd like to know what people are thinking. What will our mobile, connected, applications of the not-too-distant future be? Is anyone building them now?

Posted by jzawodn at 11:41 PM

Twilight Zone at Work

I just had one of those Twilight Zone meetings earlier today. I walked into the meeting with some vague expectations about the content and outcome. But when I left the meeting an hour and a half later, I realized that the outcome was almost the opposite of what I expected. And I wasn't the only one who felt this way (to a degree).

Heh. The best part is that the outcome was much better than I expected.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:03 PM

WTF is Apple Smoking?

The software update manager appeared last night to tell me it wanted to install Java 1.4.1. Great. but then I noticed the little note at the bottom of the window.

Status: Not installed, restart will be required.

(Emphasis mine.)

What the fuck?!

I have to reboot my machine afater upgrading Java? What is this, Windows?! It's JAVA for god's sake!

I'm really sick of having to reboot every time Apple throws some new software my way. It sure makes Linux shine. I have a Linux box with an update of over 420 days. I use it daily. I upgrade stuff all the time (thanks to apt-get). But the only time I'd have any need to reboot is if I have to physically move the mahine or upgrade the kernel.

Now let's think about my TiBook. I can move it all I want without a reboot because it has a built-in battery. So.... what? Is the kernel written in Java now?

Can someone please explain the necessity of the reboot? I honestly don't understand.

See also: Crash Different. Mabye I should make a video too.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:19 AM

March 11, 2003

Moritz Leaves Yahoo Board

According to this Reuters story (on Y! Finance):

Yahoo Inc. (NasdaqNM:YHOO - News) on Tuesday said that the venture capital investor who was the first outside director to serve on its board had stepped down and would be replaced by a video game industry veteran. Yahoo said Michael Moritz, a partner in Sequoia Capital, was leaving the board to focus on "other business and investment opportunities." According to Sequoia Capital's Web site, Moritz serves as a director of 11 other companies.

One of those 11 other companies is Google. There is a bit of speculation that he's left Yahoo because of Google. Either there's a conflict of interest or things are ramping up there and he needs to spend more time with Google (IPO?).

I don't buy it. I think it's like this. Mike Moritz has been affiliated with Yahoo for a long time. He, David, and Jerry go back--all the way to some of Yahoo's initial funding.

Directors don't stay around forever. Eventually they move on. It's that simple, in my mind.

Heck, founders eventually move on, too. Considering how log we've been around, it's probably impressive (to an outsider) that David and Jerry are still at Yahoo and involved in the day-to-day business. As a Yahoo employee, though, it makes complete sense. To a lot of us, those two still represent Yahoo. It's hard to imagine either of them elsewhere.

Personal trivia: About a year or two ago, I actually had Mike Moritz contact me to ask some questions about a company that Sequoia was evaluating as a possible investment. It was a little odd--talking to someone that legendary and powerful. Bonus points if you can guess the company.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:30 PM

It really is quite simple.

In his What part of blog don't you get? post, JR explains something that folks seem to forget:

My blog, my rules.

Exactly. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 07:40 PM

Google at ETech

This is interesting. I'm not sure what to make of it, but apparently Google is a platinum sponsor at the 2003 Emerging Technology Conference.

Hm., ADC, and Macromedia are also on the list. A few of the sponsors have speakers on the list of featured speakers. It looks like Google's Craig Silverstein is giving a keynote.

I haven't decided if I want to try and go this year. The conference will be during a very busy time for me.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:38 PM

Freedom Fries

A friend at work sent me a link to this Y! News story about changing "french fries" to "freedom fries" at the cafeteria that feeds our nation's pigs representatives.

Oh, please.

Don't these idiots have anything better to waste their time and my money on? Like the thousands of homeless people? Or the old people who can't afford medicine. Or the kids who aren't learning a damned thing in school. Or... anything else?!?!

Who elected these retards? They sure as hell don't represent my views.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:45 AM

March 10, 2003

MySQL Full-Text Search Rocks My World

People ask me about MySQL's full-text search from time to time, but I've never actually used it. I understand how it works, so I can generally provide ball-park ideas about performance and suitability for a particular purpose. But until today, I had no first hand experience.

That all changed today. My initial reaction: Wow!

In MySQL 4.0.10 (I haven't bothered to build 4.0.11 yet) it makes my life way easier.

Here's the problem I'm trying to solve, stated generally enough so that it's meaningful and doesn't give away any trade secrets.

I have a Perl script manipulating lots of short multi-word strings. Each string has an associated numeric value. There's anywhere from a few hundred thousand to 5 million of them. For each of those strings, I need to locate all the other strings that contain the first string and then do something interesting with the associated value.

For example, given the string "car rental" I need to find:

  • national car rental
  • avis car rental
  • dollar car rental
  • car rental companies

And so on.

I do not want to match "rental car" or "car rent" or "car rentals" or similar variations. Order matters. Word boundaries matter.

The simple solution is to iterate over the list of strings. For each string, scan all the other strings to look for matches. The problem is that this does not scale well at all. It's an O(n**2) solution. With a few million strings, it takes forever.

What I needed was a way to index the strings. In the "car rental" case, if I could somehow find a list of all the strings that contain the word "rental" and then examine those, it'd be way faster. It be even faster if I could find the the intersection of the set of strings that contain "car" and those that contain "rental." Then I could just check for ordering to make sure I don't find "rental car." But I didn't want to build that myself. And memory is at a premium here, so I can't attack it sloppily..

MySQL to the Rescue!

After a bit of thinking, I realized that MySQL's fulltext indexing could probably do the job a lot faster than I could. So I constructed a simple table that can hold these mysterious strings and values.

  CREATE TABLE `stuff`
    secret_num    INTEGER UNSIGNED NOT NULL,
    secret_string VARCHAR(250)     NOT NULL

Then I load all the data into the table, either directly in Perl or all at once using mysqlimport. Once it's there, I add a fulltext index to the secret_string column.

ALTER TABLE `stuff` ADD FULLTEXT (secret_string)

Then I can find the data I want much, much faster.

mysql> select * from stuff
     > where match (secret_string) against ('+"car rental"'
     > in boolean mode) order by freq asc;
|   48 | discount car rental   |
|   56 | car rental companies  |
|   81 | advantage car rental  |
|  106 | payless car rental    |
|  204 | avis car rental       |
|  206 | hertz car rental      |
|  231 | dollar car rental     |
|  267 | alamo car rental      |
|  329 | thrifty car rental    |
|  495 | budget car rental     |
|  523 | enterprise car rental |
|  960 | national car rental   |
| 1750 | car rental            |
13 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Not bad.

Of course, it's not perfect. There are three issues.

  1. MySQL has a slightly different notion of what a "word" is than my code. But I can account for that my doing a sanity check on the records that come back.
  2. MySQL doesn't index small words (length 3 or less) by default. I haven't addressed that yet. I can either rebuild MySQL to also index smaller words, or handle it in a different way. I'll worry about it on Wednesday.
  3. The original record ("car rental") appears in the results. So I have to filter it out. No big deal.

All in all, this is a lot easier and faster that having to come up with my own solution.

Oh. I should point out that this data was destined to be stored in MySQL anyway, so it's not like I have an unusual dependency on MySQL just to solve this problem.

Go forth and make good use of MySQL's full-text search engine.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:31 PM

Bush offers $300 for War

No, not really. But you can read about it over at the Onion.

I love the Onion. Too bad I don't visit more often. Anyone have an RSS feed for their headlines?

Posted by jzawodn at 12:39 PM

This is telling

I just got a Google press release in e-mail, as the result of being on the google press mailing list.

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. & MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - March 10, 2003 - Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG), and Google, developer of the largest performance-based search advertising program, today announced an agreement through which Google will provide several Disney web properties with Google's search technology and highly relevant sponsored links.

(Emphasis mine.)

So, they're not calling themselves the biggest, best, fastest, or coolest search engine anymore? Nope. Now they're the developer of the largest performance-based search advertising program.

How times change.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:04 AM

March 09, 2003

MT Upgraded

Well, the upgrade seems to have worked. Let's see if I can post this without anything blowing up.

If so, all the folks bitching about the lack of a search box on my blog will soon have one thing less to complain about. :-)

Update: It seems that TrackBack is somehow broken now. Grr. Must figure out what broke.

Update #2: Yes, there's now a search box on the right side of my main index. I need to hack on the template a bit to make it look right, but at least it works.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:35 PM

Upgrading MT

Alright, I've waited long enough. After reading the changelog, I've decided to make the jump from MT 2.21 to 2.63.

I hope this goes smoothly.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:23 PM