May 24, 2003

PageRank is Dead

I'd like to talk a moment to mourn the passing of PageRank, the secret sauce that made Google the spicy search engine we once knew and loved.

Some might argue that blogs killed PageRank. But the fact is, the online world goes through pretty impressive changes every few years. And, believe it or not, PageRank is old. In Internet time, PageRank may have been well into middle age.

Its death hasn't been announced yet, but the time is near. The signs have been around for quite a while.

You see, PageRank was a brilliant yet simple idea at the time: use the structure of the web itself to determine what is and is not popular. But that's behind us. Google is no longer concerned solely with what's popular. Like most companies, they also care a lot about what sells or what advertisers want. Many speculate that Google is responding to various pressures to keep blogs from tainting their results. Perhaps.

With all the recent discussion of Google removing (or not removing) blogs from their index, people have been barking up the wrong tree. Google doesn't have to remove them. The simply need to identify them in a reliable way. Then they can be penalized (given a lower PageRank). And, believe it or not, that's not terribly difficult to do if you have a good web map and a few blogs to use as starting points.

It has already happened. And the results are less than ideal. A Google search for "jeremy" now [sometimes] yields something far different than what it used to. Notice that Google now believes that my home page is more important than my blog. That is, for lack of a better term, retarded.

(It seems that Google has only partially deployed this. If you play around long enough, you can get the old answer from one of their search clusters. That's how I got both of those screenshots. So far it seems to be a 50/50 chance, at least from the West Coast.)

The fact that I'm no longer the first result isn't the issue. I never expected that to last.

Let's be honest. My home page sucks. Nobody links to it anymore. Sure, there are a lot of old links, but let's look at what Google can tell us. There are roughly 600 links to my home page while there are over 1,800 links to my blog. There are three times as many links to my blog, and I'd argue they're more significant. They're newer. They're often more than mere pointers because there's commentary about me or what I write.

Anyway, draw your own conclusions.

Google has a really hard problem to solve. It's not unlike the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. PageRank stopped working really well when people began to understand how PageRank worked. The act of Google trying to "understand" the web caused the web itself to change. Blogs are only a recent example of that. Oddly, unlike many of the previous problems with Google (see also: search engine optimization companies; link spammers; google bombing), blogs were not designed to outsmart Google. They just happen to use the web and hyperlinks the way we should have been using them all along. Now they're being penalized for that, it seems.

It'll be interesting to see how Inktomi and Microsoft handle this "problem" too.

Oh, I should note that this could all be a bug and I'm just using it as an excuse to ramble. But you all knew that, right? My readers are smart. All three of them. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 09:20 PM

May 22, 2003

Canon PowerShot S400

I'm this close to getting a Canon PowerShot S400 to replace my aging Kodak DC-290. I want a small 4MP camera that uses Compact Flash.

I wanted an S40, but it's not being made anymore. Then I considered the S45 and even the S50, but I've decided that I really want a small form factor more than I want options to play with.

There's a lot to like about the S400. Can anyone think of a better alternative for the money? Or a good reason not to buy the S400?

I've done a fair amount of research but figured a blog sanity check couldn't hurt...

Update: Thanks for all the advice. I pick up my new camera this evening! (The story of why on-line shopping really sucks sometime will follow in a few days.)

Posted by jzawodn at 03:04 PM

Search Jobs Heating Up

Guess what... MSN is hiring search engineers. And I just heard an advertisement (I mean "sponsorship" message) on KQED for Google's hiring.

Of course, Yahoo is also hiring.

That reminds me. A friend of mine is starting her new job at Google next week. And another is trying to get hired for their New York office.

Mini-bubble or the Next Big Thing? You decide.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:25 AM

May 21, 2003

Speaking about MySQL at OSCON in Portland

After a bit of phone tag with Nat, I got two 45 minute Friday spots to speak at OSCON about MySQL. I just need to figure out what to talk about. I'm leaning towards two new talks.

  1. MySQL Scaling Pains
  2. Query Benchmarking for MySQL

Both are new talks that I haven't done before. What do ya think? Interesting? Boring? Other ideas? I have a day or so to get them my title, abstract, etc.

I just didn't feel like recycling one of my older talks. Besides, I'll be needing to do those both for my new job anyway. :-)

(Oh, I should probably say more about that too, at some point.)

Anyway, go register soon.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:00 PM

Back in the saddle... and stuff.

I had a good 45 minute bike ride before work today. I felt like I could have gone another 45 but figured I should get to work. Perhaps I need to start getting up even earlier?

Damn. It feels good to be riding again.

Oh, and I put the GPS mount on my bike yesterday. I just need to download the data from last weekend's flights before I play with it again. Hmm. I haven't written up the flights in my flying blog yet. Damn. Behind again.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:51 PM

May 20, 2003

Net::Blogger fix-up

Morbus Iff, the illustrious creator of AmphetaDesk (my first aggregator and soon to be my aggregator of choice for the 3rd time--but that's another topic) just pointed out a bug that afflicted the Perl script I used to post to my blog from Emacs.

After a little back and forth, I learned that when I posted using, my category pages weren't updated to reflect the new post. It wasn't until a comment or TrackBack came along that it'd happen. So we were left wondering how to trigger the proper re-generation of stuff when posting.

Pretty soon he had it figured out and mailed me a code snipit. I've updated the code if you're curious. Other than the masked out password it's exactly what I use to post.

Summary: Morbus rocks!

Posted by jzawodn at 09:56 PM

What's in my name?

A funny thing happened at work today. One of my co-workers said something like "I just noticed you have a Russian last name."

"Actually, it's Polish" I replied.

"In Russian," he began, "it has two meanings."

Me: "Really?"

Him: "Yes. The first one is like, uhm, 'over the water' or 'across the river.' But that one's not it."

Me: "Heh."

Him: "The second one is like 'stirring things up.'"

Me: "Hahahaha! That's me.

(At least it seems to be at work. I've been stirring various pots recently.)

Posted by jzawodn at 09:36 PM


Today was another great day. I had a good ride in the morning before work and I felt great all day. I noticed that it was one of those clear days--not clear like it is in the winter, but as good as it gets for this time of year.

(Okay, I admit. This is partly a test post but I didn't want to just write "test post" this time.)

Posted by jzawodn at 08:48 PM

Google indexing other search engines?

This is the best Google bug I've seen in a while.

In the process of verifying that I was still listed as the #1 result for a "penis puppets" search (don't ask), I noticed something funny near the bottom of the page. If you click the screen shot at the right, you'll notice what I did.

Google indexed the results of the same search from AOL's search and gave it a relatively high PageRank.


I wonder how long that will last.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:11 PM

E-mailing myself

Am I the only one who does this? I get an idea (sometimes via browsing or a suggestion from someone on IM) and don't want to lose it. But I also don't want to be interrupted by taking my hands off the keyboard. So I just send myself a quick e-mail.

I've heard of people leaving themselves voice mail when they're on the road and have a cell phone.

I dunno. Every once in a while when I do this, I hear my Mom's voice saying "You e-mail yourself! Just grab a Post-It Note and write it down."

Of course that never really stops me. And there are Post-It Notes on my desk, but I seem to only use them for phone numbers and writing down the name of someone when they call. I really hate to forget someone's name half way into a conversation.

Okay, enough of my quirks. Get back to work. Or play. Or whatever.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:38 PM

May 19, 2003

Korean Translation?

Can anyone tell me what the first paragraph of this page says? It links to my popular 10 Habits entry but I don't have a clue why...

Posted by jzawodn at 09:58 PM

The Bombers are Coming

This weekend is the annual Watsonville Fly-In and Air Show. I'll be heading down on Sunday to see the sites and man the booth/display for the Hollister Gliding Club (HGC) and the Bay Area Soaring Associates (BASA). There will be a glider fly-by (the Duo Discus) on Saturday and Sunday. The Duo will be on display the rest of the time.

I'll take some pictures of the sites.

Anyone reading this planning to go?

Oh, the reason I thought to bring this up is that some of the WWII war birds seem to be arriving already. They've been flying around Moffett Field today. My theory is that they're flying to Moffett where they'll stay until the show. Then they'll fly down to Watsonville to make their appearances.

For what it's worth, I once landed a glider at Watsonville. That was a fun day--I got to fly a loop then too. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 08:56 PM

Bike Weather Returns

Ah. The weather today was perfect for a bike ride. I got home at 6:30pm and was on the bike by 6:45pm. It wasn't a long ride, but it was refreshing. If this weather continues (and it looks like it will), I'll try getting back into the swing of going for a ride before heading to work each day.

The GPS mount for my bike arrived, so I'll finally know how far I'm doing and how quickly I'm getting there. Don't worry, this is just phase #1 of the Geek Bike project. More on that later.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:37 PM

The fear war against Linux

Bruce Perens has an article on titled The fear war against Linux that does a good job of examining possible motivations for SCO's recent attacks against Linux and what Microsoft's involvement may be.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:31 PM

There's blood in the water...

According to this article, Microsoft is planning to license Unix code from SCO:

Microsoft will license the rights to Unix technology from SCO Group, a move that could impact the battle between Windows and Linux in the market for computer operating systems.

Does this make anyone else wonder what the SCO folks are smoking? (As if we didn't already...)

Update: It seems that /. has the story too. So if you want to read what all the morons think, head on over!

Posted by jzawodn at 07:29 AM

May 18, 2003

Welcome to the mini-bubble

I don't have extensive evidence for this claim, but it sure feels like we're in a mini-bubble. (I'd call it a recovery, but I'm not sure it is one.)

At least here, in Silicon Valley, it sure seems like things are starting to turn around--in some industries. There are several tech companies doing quite well: eBay, Yahoo, Google. Some are recruiting all over the air waves: NVIDIA, for example. There are a lot of startups forming, getting funding, and looking for workers:, Friendster, LinkedIn, IronPort, and others.

Maybe I'm just more sensitive to this than others, but it's getting difficult to ignore the signs. Things are turning around for some people and some companies. It's been a while since I've seen good financials, hiring, and startups all at the same time.

Have I missed others? Surely. Feel free to let me know what they are. I haven't been able to find anyone who's put much of a list together yet.

Are there a lot of other companies that are still trying to dig themselves out of an economic hole? Sure. That's why I'm calling this a mini-bubble.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:35 AM