December 06, 2003

Yahoo Solves Spam. Experts wonder.

First off, I'm no expert on the anti-spam world. But I do happen to track what's going on in that world and know some of the folks who are important there.

You might have read about Yahoo's "Domain Keys" announcement. Many folks have weighed in publicly as have many others in private e-mail lists. By all accounts, the larger community of anti-spam folks were generally surprised by Yahoo's announcement. And that's a problem in my mind.

I'm not sure if it's arrogance, stupidity, or a need to somehow impress the world with Yahoo's ability to "innovate" (it's really not a new idea), but it strikes me as rather misguided.


Spam is not going to be solved by a single company. There's a large community of hackers and business folks working on it. They cooperate, share information, discuss trends, and brainstorm new ideas. This happens all the time in that world.

Yahoo said its "Domain Keys" software, which it hopes to launch in 2004, will be made available freely to the developers of the Web's major open-source e-mail software and systems.

For a company that uses ass-loads of Open Source software, you'd think they'd open up the development on something that's this important. And I don't mean this "we'll release when it's ready" method they're apparently using. I mean "here's our CVS tree and design documents. We welcome your feedback, patches, and ideas for improving the system." That kind of "open." Just like SpamAssassin, for example.

What would have been helpful is for the folks at Yahoo Mail to explain why they've not adopted or tried to get more involved in some of the other upcoming initiatives, such as SPF. Heck, it'd be nice if I could go to to find out about everything Yahoo's doing in this area. (Note: part of that site appears to be a dynamic ad-like module, so your chances of getting a good answer seem to be random. Or you could just keep hitting the reload button.)

Amusingly, on Yahoo's own antispam site, I see the two most recent headlines are:

Do you notice what I notice? First, there's no mention of "Domain Keys" there. The latest headline is from October 21st. Second, they trumpet the fact that AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo! have decided to "Join Forces" but this isn't reflected in any of the "Domain Keys" information we've seen.

What's going on here?

If Yahoo, MSN, and AOL had jointly announced this, we'd have a whole different beast on our hands. But since it seems a lot more like another lone cowboy going after the bandits (again), it doesn't have the same level of credibility.

Anyway, the reaction in the anti-spam community (at least the parts of it that I see) hasn't been very rosy. I've seen a lot of "well... good luck" comments, suggesting that there's little chance of it getting much traction. The more positive ones have been along the lines of "sure, it'll help... but not much."

See Also:

Oh, and in case it's not abundantly clear, I don't speak for my employer on my weblog. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs some serious medication.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:21 PM

Toledo Bloggers and Toledo Talk

I'm not sure why I was surprised to discover this, but a blogging network has grown up around my home town. If you're interested in what's going on around Toledo, Ohio have a look at ToledoBloggers and ToledoTalk.

I haven't been reading them enough to quite discern the relationships among them, but there seems to be quite a bit of local issue coverage on ToledoTalk. Maybe someone from Toledo can enlighten me a bit?

Posted by jzawodn at 04:48 PM

December 05, 2003

Licence fees and GDP per capita

Rishab writes:

I've prepared a table comparing the $560 cost of a single windows + office licence to GDP/capita for 176 countries and some geographical aggregates. In India, GDP/capita is $462 so the licence cost of windows is 14.5 months of average income, translated into US terms that's $42725. Not surprisingly, the higher this effective cost, the higher the BSA-estimated piracy rate.

Read all about it.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:15 PM

India Trip Pictures Posted

Ok, I'm not nearly as fast as Rasmus when it comes to getting pictures on-line, but mine are up now. No captions yet--I need to fix a few things in my picture processing software. In fact, they're pretty raw all around. I haven't removed the truly bad ones yet either.

Find 'em right here.

In case you haven't guessed, I'm back from India. The trip back was much more pleasant than the trip there. It looks like I'm way behind on my RSS feed reading too. Lots of stuff to comment on--and some employer bashing queued up too.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:48 PM

Someone Famous

Me? Apparently so. At least in some small circles of the world. I no longer recall how (I really need a personal proxy that keeps track of this shit--anyone got one?), but I recently ran across something surprising.

Want to know what a good education from a simple local college can lead you to? Ever hear of Jeremy Zawodny? He was born in Toledo, went to BGSU and graduated with a degree in computer science. He worked through various jobs and is now a part of Yahoo's platform engineering group working as a MySQL architect. He is responsible for planning and deployment of MySQL throughout the Yahoo enterprise. I found out about him through his recent article "PageRank is Dead" He has also been the executive editor of Linux Magazine and is very very well respected in the computing community with many laurels to his name. He is truly the technologist that Toledo is looking to attract. I hope I grow up to be like him!

Well I'll be damned. I haven't quite figured out if I even know the author of that weblog (and it's exceedingly difficult to research such things at 2:14am in the Bangalore airport), but I guess I've managed to impress him.

I guess that's one thing I can cross off my TODO list now: Impress someone back home. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 03:24 PM

December 03, 2003

I survived the Chilli Chicken

One of the running jokes before my visit to India was the spicy food. Kalyan was trying to convince me that there was a chilli chicken dish that would "burn my ass." (The origin of that is really Neal from Yahoo! Japan, who had an ass-burning experience after eating way too much of the stuff.)

Aren't you glad I shared that little story?

Anyway, as Kalyan notes several of us went to RR's last night for dinner. The food was quite good. It was the first meal so far here that contained rice instead of bread. We had a variety of spicy chicken bits and some fish--all good.

In other words, the food here is most excellent. And the folks in Yahoo's Bangalore office know how to treat visitors from the U.S. Thanks, guys!

In about 14 hours (at 2:30am local time), we'll hopefully board a plane for the first leg of our return trip to the U.S. It's hard to believe the week is almost over already. But, hey, I got to sign shirts yesterday! And I even got the chance to interview a job candidate this morning.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:08 PM

I need to install mod_gzip...

On a low bandwidth, high latency network connection (like the one at the conference here in Bangalore), it's readily apparently that my blog would load way faster it the content was compressed.

Mental note: Install mod_gzip on web server soon. Very soon.

To those of you who read my web site from half way around the world on a regular basis: why didn't anyone point this out sooner? Seriously. It's a simple thing I can do to make your life a tiny bit better.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:51 AM

Linux Bangalore/2003 Wrap Up

I was gonna write a summary of day 1 and day 2 separately but didn't have time. Damned jet lag and cold and stuff. Anyway, I'll start out by pointing you at a few day #1 write-ups: Atul Chitnis and Yahoo's very own Kalyan Varma.

Day #1

When we arrived at the conference on day 1 (Tuesday), I was surprised by how many folks showed up. There was a massive line. Thousands of people. According to what I've read, more people showed up for day 1 this year than the entire conference last year.

In no time, Kalyan began introducing me to members of the Bangalore Linux community--and many from beyond. I spent a lot of the time being a "booth babe" for the Yahoo booth, but I managed to attend a few talks anyway. I saw Nat and Miguel talk about Linux on the desktop. I was especially interested in the real-life deployments they covered in various countries. I also got a preview of KDE 3.2 in another talk.

I met a lot of interesting people at the booth. At least a dozen folks came up to introduce themselves and mentioned that they read by blog. Cool! Thanks for dropping by to say hi.

I also met a guy who was visiting from Dubai. He asked if "famous" people like Rasmus made a lot more money at Yahoo. Heh. That sparked an interesting discussion in which I learned that Linux sysadmins in Dubai apparently make 2 to 3 times as much as their Windows counterparts. So, if you're looking for a good paying job as a Linux admin, head over to Dubai! :-)

At lunch time, we headed over to Windsor Pub for lunch with Madhu. After a bit of beer and some light chow, we headed back for the second half of the day. After some talks a more booth time, we headed out for drinks. Amusingly, we ended up back at the same place, but as Kalyan notes, we had a ton more people there--including Nat and Miguel. Chaos and fun ensued.

Day #2

Today I presented two brand new MySQL talks for an audience of roughly 250 people. First off was MySQL Optimization and Scaling Tips and the second was MySQL New Features. Slides will be on later, as the WiFi network at the conference is way to anal. (We get outbound port 80 but *nothing* else. No SSH or https. Grr.)

The talks went well for first-time presentations. I had a lot of good questions and small group discussions after the talks. After a bit of lunch I decided to crash in the booth, see if the network was alive, and maybe post an entry.

I had hoped to post my newest pictures, I can't rsync or SCP 'em to the server yet. I guess it's too bad I never thought to leave an SSH server running on port 80 somewhere.


Bangalore has a ton of passionate Open Source folks here. I'm blown away by the crowds of people and the number of them stopping by the Yahoo both (picture later) to say hi. Oh, the folks from Linux For You magazine dropped by to interview me. So I'll go do that and post this later.

I'm enjoying my time in India. The food positively rocks.

Oh, it appears we've been /.'ed too. Heh.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:19 AM

December 01, 2003

The Tea Here Rocks

One of the cool things I've discovered is the Tea served at the Yahoo Bangalore office. After getting situated in some unused cubes this morning, Rasmus and I were just catching up on some e-mail and stuff when a guy came by and offered us tea. That's right. There's a guy who comes around to all the cubes and offers tea.

Cool, huh?

Unfortunately, the tea has milk mixed in with it and I'm lactose intolerant. But after a couple seconds of negotiation, I found that I could get "back tea" which means they'll omit the milk and drop some sugar in its place.

I must say, this tea is most excellent. I'm on my third cup of the day. That probably explains why I was bouncing in my chair earlier. That guy just appears once in a while to offer it, and I have a really hard time saying no. I need to figure out how to get this tea back in the US.

More importantly, I need to figure out who to convince back at HQ in Sunnyvale that we need a guy to come by and offer drinks every once in a while. How cool would that be? :-)

In related news, the cafeteria is nice. The food is good (and free). There's a balcony (that doubles as a designated smoking area) with a view of some of the surrounding trees and buildings (pics up later). We have a decent pool table but are completely lacking a foosball table. Rumor is that Filo promised one but it hasn't shown up yet. Perhaps some mild bugging is in order when we return...

Posted by jzawodn at 03:06 AM

fvwm iconification behavior

I'm not sure if anyone will know this, but it's finally time to try and figure out what's going on. Besides, it's been a while since I abused by blog for free tech support. :-)

For ages, I've had a heavily customized ~/.fvwm2rc file that makes my "desktop" workspace suit me quite well. It sure beat the bloat that is GNOME/KDE and such.

I have this bit in my file:

  # Button 2 + Alt/Meta in Window iconifies it.
  Mouse 2        W        M       Iconify

which means I can "alt + middle click" in a widow to iconify (or "minimize" it. For a long time, when I did this, the icon would end up on the desktop directly under my mouse. I got quite good at placing icons exactly where I thought I'd want them.

Then, maybe 1.5 years ago, apt-get installed a new version of fvwm2 and it changed the behavior in a slight but annoying way. When I iconify a window, fvwm2 puts the icon near the upper-left of the screen and I then have to manually drag it to the location I'd like it to stay.

Of course, I looked thru the relevant change log at the time but didn't find much that seemed relevant. And it's been a while since I tried to find out what might have done it.

Anyway, I know there are at least a few die-hard fvwm2 users around here. Maybe? Anyone know if there's a workaround or solution for this?

Posted by jzawodn at 03:04 AM

November 30, 2003

Bad MySQL Advice from

I happened across this article on about setting up MySQL. While the author does a reasonable job handling the security aspects of MySQL, he makes two mistakes that I think need to be corrected.


  1. Suggests that people use MySQL 3.23. While that's a stable and mature version, I suspect that most folks are best served by using 4.0.xx instead. There are many improvements in the 4.0.xx series and many bugs fixed as well.
  2. He doesn't tell readers about building it with LinuxThreads support and the advantages of doing so.

I'm really surprised at home many FreeBSD/MySQL folks still don't use LinuxThreads. Someday we should be getting official MySQL binaries with LT support from too. I need to bug Lenz about that again...

Posted by jzawodn at 10:44 PM

What Weblog World Hierarchy?

Dave says:

I told Kevin, on the drive down to San Jose, that I feel we're at a turning point in the weblog world, either we're going to be like every other hierarchy that's ever been, with secret deals, lots of impediments to progress, eventual stagnation; or we're going to overcome that.

But since there's nowhere to leave a comment, I'll ask here. Dave, what is this hierarchy you speak of?

Posted by jzawodn at 09:27 PM

Made it to Bangalore


I'll explain the full story later. Let's just say that Lufthansa and 747 are two flavors that don't seem to mix well.

We just spent some time with Kalyan getting acquainted with Bangalore. Spent a couple hours driving and walking around parts of the city. Oh, and we ran into Miguel in the Hotel lobby before heading out.

I've taken some pictures that I haven't had a chance to post--I took a 1.5 hour nap instead. Rasmus has begun posting his (which is where the one at the right came from).

Oh, the hotel has WiFi. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 03:53 AM

Travel with Murphy

Usually I have pretty good luck with air travel. But not this time. It seems that Murphy has decided to tag along from the very beginning of the trip this time.

Missing Laptop

First, the friendly TSA morons folks nearly lost my laptop while going through the security checkpoint at SFO. Don't as me how, but even before my laptop went thru the x-ray machine, someone had decided that the tray it sat in was empty and put it back on the stack.

Of course, I was going thru the metal detector and didn't see what happened. Instead, I got to the other end and saw my jacket and computer bag come out. That was strange because I had purposely put my computer between those two items to minimize the chance of me missing it.

Needless to say, it took about 5-10 minutes and the combined brain power of 3 TSA employees to figure out what had happened. For a brief minute or two, I was convinced that someone either pulled it out for extra inspection or had walked off with it entirely--even though I couldn't fathom how that was possible given the physical layout.

Engine won't Start

We got to the gate about an hour early and found a spot located near a power outlet.

NOTE TO AIRPORT DESIGNERS: Put way more power outlets in terminal waiting areas. In the brand new international terminal at SFO, there's still only two outlets every 40 feet or so. What sort of genius came up with that ratio?

We boarded the plane and before long were watching the German/English "safety video" as we pulled away from the gate. (I'm flying Lufthansa.) Then we stopped. And heard some engine noises. Then the pilot comes on to inform us that engine #2 wouldn't start so we'd have to go back to the gate.

Two hours later a valve adjustment/repair/replacement was complete and we were ready to taxi and take off--two hours late. The astute reader has now realized that there was only one and a half hours between our scheduled arrival in Frankfurt and our departure for Bangalore.

More later...

Posted by jzawodn at 12:41 AM