May 10, 2003

Bike Ride

The weather today was too good to pass up. I finally got back into the swing of things. It was a short ride but quite nice. I took my GPS along to track the route but had reception problems. I need to rig up some sort of bike mounting for the GPS 'cause it doesn't do so well in my pocket.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:37 PM

May 09, 2003

Song Swapping Increases Sales

This speaks for itself:

A Nielsen/NetRatings survey of 36,000 Internet users found that Web surfers who download music from song-swapping sites are more likely to buy music online and in stores, than non-swappers. The research indicates that in the past three months, online music enthusiasts (defined as people who'd downloaded music in the past 30 days) were 111% more likely to buy rap music than the average Internet user. They were also 106% more likely to have purchased dance and club music and 77% more likely to have bought alternative rock than their average online counterparts. R&B, soul music and rock rounded out the top five genres favored by music fans. Greg Bloom, a senior analyst at Nielsen/NetRatings, says that understanding the preferences of online music enthusiasts may help recording executives in their attempts to promote their own, legitimate services: "The de facto standard may be a few years away, but understanding the genres of music that sell well online and offline will be crucial to generating revenue along the way."


Posted by jzawodn at 02:36 PM

To Scott McNealy

Are you acting stupid on purpose? Maybe to lure your competitors (you know, the ones kicking your ass in the growing Linux market) into a false sense of security?

No, wait. That can't be it. Because the words you speak do a good job of matching what Sun's actually doing about Linux: not much.

In this article, I'm particularly amused by a few quotes.

"We think the big winner with Linux will be on the desktop," said Scott McNealy during a Q&A session at Forrester Research's technology and finance conference here.

Heh, okay. Do you care to explain how that's going to happen and how Sun will be taking advantage of it?

"The real challenge for Sun," he conceded, is that it was "late to x86," referring to Sun's decision last year to support Intel's x86 processor architecture with its non-SPARC processor platforms.

Yeah, right. That's your problem. Missing the x86 boat. Whatever.

Why don't you just tell people what they already know instead of shifting the focus away from your company's obvious problems? You underestimated Linux and Linux on x86. You bought a company with expertise in that area but it doesn't appear to have been given a chance to flourish as part of Sun. Sure, the LX50 is great, but it's an isolated product that was far, far too late to market.

Sun customers are all looking at Linux as a replacement for Solaris. What are you doing to help that process? Telling them "yes, you can run Linux software on Solaris!" Somehow, I don't think that's what they had in mind. It's shame that they're going to non-Sun companies for the help, isn't it?

And when are you going to wrap your brain around how important Linux is to one of Sun's more important technologies? You know, the Java programming language?

Posted by jzawodn at 01:01 PM

May 08, 2003

Considering LinkedIn vs. Friendster

Now that I've glanced at LinkedIn (thanks to Russell's post) the question I'm thinking about it this: Which will be more successful, Friendster or LinkedIn? And why?

LinkedIn is focused on professionals and work. Friendster is focused on personal relationships--friends, dating, etc. I think they're both obvious uses of all this network technology we're sitting on. It's going to be very interesting to see how they evolve.

Is one of those concepts somehow a more "natural" fit for the web? I don't know, but now I'm thinking about it more.

Do these qualify as Social Software? I think so. But not quite the kind that Clay wrote about--not yet at least.

(Disclaimer: I've met the man behind Friendster and have helped out in some very small ways.)

Update: Okay, I've played with LinkedIn a bit more. Very cool. It's a cross between a job search site and Friendster and ... something else that I haven't quite put my finger on.

Is is just me, or is there suddenly (okay not so suddenly, but still) a lot of cool stuff going on out there? I thought so.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:50 PM

Feedster Images

As announced by Scott today, try out Feedster Images.

It's cool.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:53 PM

Yahoo Stuff.. or "How to arouse Microsoft"

Wow, I take one day off to go flying (and catch up on some writing and not think about work), so of course some interesting headlines appear while I'm not paying any attention. Let's see...

Perhaps I should take time off more often.

I also found out that the big move at work has been postponed because we may be using a fifth building soon. Hmm.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:39 PM

My Tivo is on crack

For some reason, it has begun recording 30 minute shows in 40 minute blocks. This is very strange. I guess I'll see if it's still doing this tomorrow.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:15 PM

May 07, 2003

Mailing List Behavior

Sometimes I worry that I'm becoming one of those grizzly old Unix geeks that gets sick of all the young kids who are invading what used to be great technical mailing lists. Some people just don't get it. There are fairly basic rules that, when followed, go a long way toward making mailing lists useful communities for everyone involved.

I'm considering setting up a standard reply to messages posted by people who obviously need help. I probably won't, but if I did it would contain a few simple suggestions.

  1. Learn how to report bugs
  2. Learn how to ask smart questions
  3. Don't change the Reply-To address when replying. If the person who responded to you wants the traffic to stay on the list, there's probably a good reason for it. When people do this to me (reply directly to me, rather than the list) I simply ignore them. Usually they'll re-post their question to the list. When they do, I answer it.

It's really not that hard. These people just don't realize how much work they're expecting a group of strangers to do for them. In some cases it's downright rude.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:06 PM

The Borg on Enterprise?

Now I'm no Star Trek nut, but what the heck is with this? Borg drones on Enterprise? Doesn't this seriously mess up the story line of The Next Generation? I thought that Starfleet had no contact with the Borg before their encounter.


I mean, I'm the biggest fan of the Borg, but that's just too strange. Maybe this is how they're gonna spruce up the show.

Update: I jumped the gun. I posted that having only seen the first 10 minutes. That was one of the best episodes yet. I take back what I said. The didn't screw up the time line the way I expected.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:20 PM

To the moron at

You've been black-holed from my server. You've been fetching the same non-changing web pages over and over for no good reason. Did you think I wouldn't notice?

Posted by jzawodn at 11:03 AM

Going after telemarketers

By reading this story and the associated resources, you can get a reasonably good idea of what it takes to get cash out of your favorite scum telemarketers.

If you don't have the time or energy for that, consider just having fun with them next time they call.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:16 AM

May 06, 2003

Microsoft "knows" the Internet

Somehow I ended up on Microsoft's web site. I clicked around and found some on-line quizzes.

Find out how smart you really are by taking the Faster Smarter Online Challenge. You may enter the sweepstakes once per quiz. The more quizzes you play, the better your chances to win a digital camera or other cool prizes!

Oh boy! I wanna win!

I clicked on quiz #3 (Internet) because I think I know something about the Internet--maybe even as much as Bill himself.

It required a plug-in. The window that popped up had the title Faster Smarter Internet. Click the image at the right to see for yourself.

Riiiiight. Yeah, those guys up in Redmond really do get the Internet, don't they?

I guess I failed the quiz. You win, Bill. I'm not worthy.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:17 PM

Ready, Aim, ...

This might be fun as long as you don't cross the streams.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:25 PM


There's some stuff that I've been meaning to check out. But I haven't had a chance yet:

Well, at least I can close all those browser windows know. I'll let the blog remember.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:12 PM

Nice Pics

I don't remember how I came across them, but I wish I took pictures this nice.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:04 PM

Debugging, step #1

Always verify that the bug exists before you go looking for the cause.

I just finished tracking down a bug that boiled down to one of two things, depending how you interpret the situation: (1) wrong expectations, or (2) not understanding the algorithm.

Instead of verifying the bug, I set off looking for the cause. After quite a while I felt no closer to finding it, so I decided to attack it in reverse. In doing so, I convinced myself that the output was correct. Then I was able to explain it to the person who reported the bug to me and all was well.

In this particular case, the code was relatively young. I wrote it a month or two back to generate the "related search" feature on Yahoo Search. For example, when you search for "jeremy" you'll see several related searches at the top of the result page.

The algorithm is really quite powerful and produces some fascinating insights. I implemented and tuned it, I did not invent it.

Anyhoo, part of the problem was that the code normally works with millions and millions of lines of input (and may take days to finish). But the test case that "proved" the bug contained maybe 20 lines on input. In working with millions of lines of input, there's a lot of noise that we throw out. You see, the haystack in which the needle is buried also contains a fair amount of dung. But the dung threshold for millions of lines of input is vastly different from what you'd use for 20 lines of input.

The net result was that the 20-line run produced less data than expected, even though the code was doing just was it was designed to do.

Had I spent 5 minutes up front doing a sanity check, I'd have noticed the "bug" quite a while ago.

Lesson learned. Verify bug first, then look for bug cause.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:19 PM

Over 20,000 queries per second

I was running some MySQL benchmarks the other day to test performance with a small (mostly static) database and a big query cache. Imagine my surprise when I was able to get over 20,000 queries per second.


Here's the best part--the hardware is over two years old.

Yup. The MySQL box was a Dual P3-933 with 1GB RAM and some 10k RPM SCSI disks in a RAID-5 setup. (Not that the disks mattered at all.) It was running MySQL 4.0.12 on RedHat 9.0 with the 2.4.20-6smp kernel.

Now, where can I find a dual 2.4GHz machine on which to repeat the test... :-)

Update: It looks like I'll be able to run the test on a dual 2.8GHz FreeBSD 4.8 box in the next couple of days. Excellent.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:33 AM

May 05, 2003

Changing Jobs

In roughly three weeks I'll be changing jobs. I'd explain the story behind the change (well, some of it), what the new job entails, and what the alternatives were but I have about ten other things I ought to do first. So I'll just let you wonder for a while--if you're the wondering type, that is. If not, good--you have a life.

If you read my blog on a regular basis I pity you you may have noticed a disgruntled tone in recent months about work. Some of that was just general work bitching that everyone does now and then. Some of it was not. The good news is that I'll have completely new things to complain about in a few weeks (hopefully not as many) and different people to complain to. It's sure to be an adventure.

Oh. I almost forgot. This is sort of an experiment to see how many people at work manage to find out as the result of my blog rather than more traditional means. I sometimes think that my coworkers pay more attention to stuff I write in public (like my blog) than stuff I write on our internal mailing lists. Don't ask me to speculate about why that is.

Gee, and I thought I'd have nothing to post today. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 10:58 PM

May 04, 2003

Why must I reboot to upgrade QuickTime?

Yes, I've bitched about this before, but it's still happening and it's still stupidly annoying.


Apple, are you listening?

Nope. Didn't think so.

My "Software Update" just suggested I install QuickTime 6.2 because "This update is recommended for users of iTunes 4." Huh? QuickTime (video software) used with iTunes. That's not terribly intuitive. But if they want to bundle AAC audio support with QuickTime rather than iTunes, so be it. But don't tell me I must reboot in the process. That's just plain stupid. This is Unix under the hood, right? Is this an AAC kernel module, or what?

Now I understand why people have a love/hate relationships with their Macs. Apple drives them nuts often enough to make it happen.

I love iTunes and the new Apple Music store. Yes, I complained about it but I've actually used it a bit more and am very fond about it. I plan to do a small write-up on it soon. But right now I'm pissed at Apple. Last night I was in love with Apple and how fucking brilliant the music store is.

One more note, Apple. Please make URLs that are easy to guess. I first tried only to find that I didn't exist. I had to use instead. It's not hard to make both work. Really. Having things work on the first guess is part of what makes Apple stuff cool. Please extend that to your web site.

I know you can do it. How? Try and notice that it takes you to No fuss. It just works.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:07 PM

Breadmaker Recommendations

A few weeks ago when I was in New York and stayed at Derek's place, he did a very, very bad thing. He demonstrated is Oster breadmaker by making some bread. And I loved it. (I think that Kasia had some too, but I ate a lot of it.) I've always liked fresh bread, and I probably ate 1/2 the loaf myself.

So now I want a breadmaker. I've heard a lot of good things about Oster breadmakers (that's the brand Derek had too), so I did the obvious thing: check Amazon. There are two models they carry right now (5834 and 5838). The reviews are both are generally positive.

I don't want to necessarily limit my hunt to Oster and especially not to just two models. I'm sure some of the folks reading my blog have breadmakers they really like. I know that Josh does.

So, what do you recommend? What features are most important in a breadmaker?

While we're on the topic, what are your favorite brands and varieties of bread mixes? Do you have a favorite recipe or ingredient that you toss in the mix?

Posted by jzawodn at 08:32 PM

POP/IMAP Before SMTP Using Exim and Courier

Many months ago I went looking for a solution that'd work with Exim and Courier to provide POP before SMTP mail relaying for an ISP with 15,000 accounts. After a lot of searching, I stumbled upon exact and am glad to report that it works most excellently. There were a few bugs to iron out on Solaris, but the author was very responsive and helpful.

This was difficult enough to find that I figured I should blog it. Doing so may increase someone else's change of finding it in the future.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:27 PM