All the hoopla over Google Blogsearch

There’s been a lot of noise over in Livejournal by the user base complaining about Google’s new Blogsearch indexing tool. Most users are reacting by changing their entire journal over to ‘friends only’, and casting aspersions upon ‘the evil google search engine’.
This post is primarily aimed at that audience.
Folks, Livejournal is a blogging tool. It’s purpose is to post your entries onto the public net for you. What it can and cannot do is made pretty clear. People seem to have an assumption that once you post something on the net, somehow you have total control over it, and can control what happens to it, and who can access it. This is a notion people should get over.
Livejournal automatically creates RSS feeds for all your journals. Those RSS feeds are publically available, and have been forever. There is no ‘protocol’ on the net that restricts who can read an RSS feed, therefore ‘robots.txt’ and the like will not affect it. Google’s blogsearch system reads RSS feeds and indexes them, just as any other RSS news aggregator on the planet can do.
Google is doing nothing wrong, and not breaking any rules, and Livejournal is doing nothing wrong, though they should have the option of providing RSS feeds or not. My point here is casting aspersions upon Google is inappropriate. Having a realistic view of what a blog host, and what blogging software does is more appropriate.
Livejournal DOES give a small bone to the community though. You can cut down the amount of public information fed into the RSS feeds. See this helpdesk ticket for more information.
My point here is twofold.

  1. Yelling at Google for doing what they do, index public information, is a foolish endeavour. They are not doing anything wrong, they are indexing information that has been made public.
  2. Putting your faith, thoughts, and information on someone elses server means you are automatically signing on to their practices and policies. You’ve already partially lost control of your information, don’t be surprised when something happens you didn’t expect.

This post was posted on my own blog installation, on my own servers, in software I control. I fully recognize that by hitting [Save], I lose the possibility of controlling who and what has access to this content, and where it goes. I accept that even in my own environment. Don’t expect more in someone elses system.
Such is the nature of the Net.

Rod Trip

There’s something surrel bout being stuck in New Jersey with lptop tht hs broken ‘a’ key. (tht ws done, by the wy, by cut nd pste with the mouse.). Time to browse eBy nd try nd find replcement I think. (IBM Thinkpd T40).

When Hottubs Fly

Thanks to the generosity of our friends Tim and Ellen, we now have a hottub in our back yard. Titan Movers hauled it over this morning, using a mighty cool big truck. It was a little alarming to see a hottub suspended over our house, but it was only swaying there for a few minutes. Only slight fingernail chewing occurred.
This weekend I had much Manly Man Tool Fun as I built the platform for the tub (levelling it with gravel, concrete, and the like – you can see it under the tub here), using ‘rest points’ as documented in the manual. It’s not a flat pad, but the 2×8’s are under all the points they say should be supported. This, coupled with some inside shelf carpentry, definately filled out my tool-geek needs for the day.
NB: the Ryobi 18v drill and associated OnePlus battery system rocks the house. I drove 36 3″ screws through slightly damp pressure treated 2x8s, and the unit never even flagged. It went on to mount some shelving and hooks later in the afternoon, and is still going strong.
Now to get the wiring hooked up.

The beautiful side of free software.

Or, another title… “If you BitTorrent, please try Azureus”
I’ve recently been tinkering with BitTorrent to pick up some old TV show episodes, handy for when I’m on the road travelling. My first forays into the world weren’t so promising, as the clients and tools were pretty primitive.
Then I came upon Azureus.
This is as full featured, complete, and beautiful an application as I’ve seen anywhere. It’s written in Java, obviously with the SWT toolkit, and is simply striking in its detail and complexity. It even includes a live animated display showing the ‘swarm’ of machines you’re connecting with to do uploads and downloads.
I’ve been using it off and on for the last day or so, and I’m staggeringly impressed with how well it works, and how complete and detailed it is.
If you’re interested in BitTorrent, check out this system.

iPod nano, 2 weeks later

Well, it’s been about two weeks since I got an iPod nano for my birthday, courtesy of my sister. A couple observations, and I’ll let this whole thing fade off into history…

  • It’s SMALL!
    No, really, it’s small. It’s easy to lose. I have a nice Ogio laptop backpack with an ‘mp3 player pouch’ on the top of it. It fits nicely into that, which gives me a good place to ‘always keep it’.

  • It goes FOREVER
    I have not had an opportunity to even come close to killing the battery in it. I’m not a power-listener by any stretch, but noting “Hm, it’s been 3-4 days. Maybe I should plug it in again” is a nice feeling.

  • The headphones are ‘eh’
    The stock white headphones are nothing to write home about. I have a set of Shure E2C earbuds that are mighty sexy, but take longer to just ‘pop in’. And because they’re sound insulating, its hard to just put them in and leave them in. Durned checkout drones are hard to understand when they say “For here or to go?”.

  • It works fine with Linux
    Thanks to the wonder of GTKpod, syncing from the laptop is a breeze.

  • Yes, the screen scratches easily
    Do not put these things in your pocket with your keys. The screen will scratch up terribly, as reported in The Register. Fortunately the carry spot in my bag has a felt lining, but when I’m carrying in my pocket, I choose a spot that has nothing else in it.

  • 2 gig is not enough
    I’m a disk space hog. 2 gig is not quite enough for me. I think the 4 gig version would be okay, but I could see myself doing the same thing there. “Not enough!” I see the attraction to a 40gig ipod.

Final thoughts? A mighty cool piece of equipment. Thanks sis!

Things you don’t hear anymore

While finally getting into some more serious coding, I had this thought. THings you don’t hear very often anymore, but were pretty common back in the day.
“A snack? Sure, let me just start this compile running, it’ll hopefully finish by the time we get back.”
Compiles I’m running now usually take less than 6 seconds, sometimes a larger build and deploy and initialize may run for 10-15 seconds.
Ah the good old… days?

Come see me play!

This coming Friday, September 23rd, my band Deluded Blues will be playing at the Cottage Street Pub in Franklin, MA. This is the first time the ‘new’ band has appeared on stage in its current form, and we’re only doing a ‘mini-set’ in the middle of a longer set by the ‘old’ band.
We go on at 9pm, and should be playing for about 45 minutes. Much support from attending audience folks would be a huge win, as this is also the first time I’ve -ever- performed on stage 🙂
I’ll be heading down to Franklin earlier to pick up our gear and muscle it over to the gig (leaving home around 6:15-6:30ish). If folks want to ride along or caravan, ya’ll are welcome, but you may be drafted into roadie mode!
We had a great pre-gig practice tonight, going through the entire set beginning to end, and I think we sound pretty good, if I do say so myself. If you like bar-blues type music, leaning heavily on early 70’s blues (Allman Brothers, Free, CCR, etc), then you’ll know what to expect in our show.
Hope to see folks there!

Space Worms!

Spaceworms is a nice simple flash game, but fair warning! It will really suck you in.
The idea is you’re trying to out-maneuver the spaceworms. Use the arrow keys to move your ‘dot’. The worms are faster and more maneuverable than you, but have slightly slower reaction time. Use the edges of the screen to your advantage.
Avoid getting caught for 10 seconds, you go up a level, and get another Worm chasing you.
I got up to 7 worms chasing me, and almost wore out my arrow keys.
Thanks to Screenhead for the link.

Coming as no surprise to anyone…

OkCupid hosts another good ‘where are you on the political / social spectrum’ quiz here. I took it, and came out, unsurprisingly:

  • You are a SOCIAL LIBERAL (76% permissive)
  • You are an Economic Liberal (21% permissive)
  • You are best described as a: Socialist

Shocking. The entire results (With splufty display graphs showing how I show up on the grid), is available here.

Most marketable tech skills?

So while working with some other geeks this afternoon, the subject of Ruby on Rails came up. I’ve heard good things about it, but I voiced my skepticism about shelving my current workcycle (in Java) and learning Yet Another Language. I mean, how many folks can be looking for Ruby programmers nowadays?

Well. Gee. How many are looking? Good question!

So off to Dice, one of the better job / tech search boards out there, and I did a little keyword searching. The summary of what I found isn’t all that surprising, but still interesting…

Sampling 75,117 entries…

Keyword… Number of matches…
Java: 12210
C: 8235
C++: 6828
Basic: 6369
Perl: 3718
C#: 3516
Cobol: 1177
PHP: 639
Python: 383
awk: 138
REXX: 72
Ruby: 40
Pascal: 27
Lisp: 24

Interesting. How about platforms?

Keyword… Number of matches…
Windows: 10753
Unix: 11474
Linux: 4859
Mac: 461
VMS: 275

So apparently being a Java programmer on Windows is the way to go 🙂

Hard to talk down this reading.

I normally don’t comment on current events outside of politics, but this one struck me as worth bringing up…

According to AP via Yahoo News:

CHICAGO – A commuter train was going almost 60 mph above the speed limit just before it derailed, killing two people and injuring dozens, the acting chairman of the
National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday.
Mark Rosenker said the Metra train was traveling at 69 mph and should not have been going faster than 10 mph when it switched tracks at a crossover just before jumping the tracks Saturday.

Nothing wrong with the tracks or the train, it was just going ‘too fast’. Yeah, I’d say so. Sheesh.

Happiness is… and another reason why I love *nix.

… a successful off-site backup.
Now, to flesh out that commentary – most of our services are colocated at various Undisclosed Locations around the US (usually one door down from Dick Cheney). This means it’s sort of difficult to trot over to the machine, pop in a backup tape, make a copy, and toss the tape in the storage vault. Sure, colo facilities provide this capability, but it tends to be painful to work with, not to mention costing extra money.
With broadband now as widely available as sand, it’s possible to take on the concept really put forward 10+ years ago. “Why not back things up over the net?” When I was first approached with the idea (oh, 1995-ish), network connectivity was just edging out of dialup, and if you were SUPER lucky, you could have a T1 line, but it would most likely run you $800 a month. That sort of connectivity at home? Not likely.
Nowadays folks have DSL and Cable modems that have huge amounts of bandwidth. We’re no different here at Chez Geek, happily slurping at the nozzle from Comcast.
Last night I finished noodling a 4-5 line backup script that synchronizes various Important Directories [tm, reg us pat off] on our server (things like, oh, say, /home), and a spare 160gig USB drive I picked up at Microcenter for $80.
What does this have to do with Linux, I hear you cry? Because all of this was done with free software, and it did it fast and efficiently. Using the rsync utility, it takes one command to synchronize one set of dirs on one machine with another. It even compresses and optimizes the transfers, only copying those files that need to be updated.
So we have free software, cheap bandwidth, cheap disk space, and cheap hardware. It’s Geek Nirvana.
For the detail-oriented folks in the crowd, here’s the end result:

sent 3756414 bytes received 7763330071 bytes 530665.56 bytes/sec
total size is 13301911159 speedup is 1.71

That’s some nice throughput.

What I do…

In the midst of hyper-geekery today, Barb msgs me and asks what I’m working on.
So I answer…

publishing WSDL-driven servlets into an Axis environment to expose J2EE stateless session beans’ methods via webservices – then i don’t have to have the client apps deal with JNDI and RMI calls directly to the jboss server, they can just use SOAP calls, browsing via wsdl.

And just realized how much that looks like total gobbledygook. No wonder I sometimes feel like I’m in my own little world.