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Updated: 26/10/02; 10:59:00 AM

The Desktop Fishbowl
tail -f /dev/mind > blog

Wednesday, 16 October 2002

Hello. If you can read this, you've reached a weblog that is no longer being updated. I've moved.

For people visiting this page over the web, all the new stuff is being posted over here, on The Fishbowl

For people reading my RSS newsfeed, you now have not one, not two, but five different RSS feeds to choose from. They're listed in the right-hand sidebar of The Fishbowl, but I'll list them here, too.

This is my personally preferred feed, an RSS1.0 feed of all the posts I make, but only with excerpts instead of including the whole post in the RSS file. You have to visit the site to read whole posts, but it's a good headline-ish feed.

I also have some RSS 0.91 feeds. Since The Fishbowl joins together both my Livejournal and my geeky weblog, I have provided “nerd feeds” that only contain the sorts of things I used to post to this Radio blog. Alternatively you can subscribe to the full feed and get the benefit of my insights into things not computer-related.

RSS 0.91 feeds
Excerpts Full Posts
All posts index.xml allfull.xml
Geek posts only nerdexc.xml nerdfull.xml

8:24:45 AM    

Monday, 7 October 2002

This radio weblog is now defunct. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone to meet its maker. There will be no more posts to this weblogs, except the ones I make now and then to bug anyone who is still subscribed to my RSS feed.

Short version: New homepage, New RSS feed: Things that are broken will be fixed anon.

Long version.

I installed Moveable Type on a local hosting provider, and pointed my own domain at it. I wrestled for a long while with the Radio to MT exporter, which was sufficiently locale-unaware to create the wrong kind of date formats. Much Perl hacking ensued to munge the file into something workable, but eventually I transferred all 254 of my weblog posts dating back to January 2002 from Radio Userland to MT.

I also wrote my own quick-and-dirty exporter to dump all my LiveJournal posts to an MT-compatible file. In much shorter order (if you want something done properly, do it yourself), I had transferred all 582 of my livejournal posts dating back to August 2000 to MT.

As a result, the new blog has a slightly more varied range of content than this one. I will endeavour to create category-specific RSS feeds once I'm used to the new software enough to get away from the custom template.

So please, if I'm on your blogroll or in your RSS aggregator, please update as noted above. Mike, I would be most obliged if you changed my link in the Java blogs page.

10:25:41 PM    

Are there any instructions anywhere for exporting your blog from Radio, and importing it into Moveable Type?
3:43:40 PM    

Saturday, 5 October 2002

I just ran the MacOS X Software Update, and one of the items in it was the fix for the Internet Explorer certificate-chains bug. Great, I'll install that, I use IE every so often, when a site is too broken to work in anything else. After the installation was complete, I went back to NetNewsWire Lite, double-clicked on an article, and what do you know, instead of another tab opening in Chimera, Internet Explorer opens. The update had changed my default browser preference.


To anyone working in a software company. My computer is my own. You do not make assumptions as to how I want to use my computer, nor do you make assumptions as to how much I want to use your product, just because I happen to be installing it.

The worse culprits in this kind of thing are probably Real. Real seem to have an entire marketing strategy focused on annoying the fuck out of their users until said users refuse to ever install a Real product again. I know that's the state I'm at, and so are quite a few of my friends. When there's a site that says “requires Real Player”, my reaction is “Oh well, I can't hear that”.

11:55:16 AM    

Friday, 4 October 2002

My most common mistake in Java is typing StringBugger. The F and G are right next to each other.

[Joe's Jelly]

I find I rarely make mistakes like that while coding Java—I use autocomplete for anything longer than three characters anyway. On the other hand, when pair-programming on a Java 1.1 project, and I was dictating code for my pair to type, I used to say things like “enumeration dot nextElephant”to see whether I could get him to type it by mistake.

10:39:49 AM    

Thursday, 3 October 2002

My two most common typos when writing HTML by hand are trying to close <acronym> tags with </a>, and more embarrassingly, mistyping <cite> as <cute>.
5:17:22 PM    

Quoth Mike

In the office all our machines are named after Muppets (Gonzo, Scooter, Beaker, Bunsen, Cookie, Grover etc), our servers are all named after Greek gods (Zeus, Bacchus - son of Zeus etc).

At my university, the servers were all named after composers (Mozart, Liszt, Handel etc).

What wacky naming schemes do you have?

Let's see. My personal machines are named after states of religious enlightenment, because I started running them back at Uni halfway through an Eastern Philosophy course. The desktops are satori, nirvana and gnosis, while the laptop is epiphany. That last one is a very obscure religious joke that nobody has ever managed to get without an explanation.

At the ISP I used to work for, all the servers were named after casino- or card-games (hearts, craps, lotto, keno, baccarat, poker...) Late in my employment there, we started running out of names, so one of the Cisco RAS boxen got stuck with the name ‘genting-wheel’.

One morning at that job I got a phonecall from my brother, who is a journalist for the West Australian newspaper. Apparently, the ISP across the road (to whom we supplied all their bandwidth by running an ethernet cable under the street, and who were constantly getting us on the MAPS RBL by hosting spammers) had been hosting an illegal online casino. Because our nameservers were called “keno” and blackjack, we had to spend a lot of time explaining that no, we weren't involved.

When I moved across in the ISP to do web conslutting, I got to name the servers, and I chose to name them after characters from Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy This was done purely for the amusement value of having a host named “Slartibartfast”.

At my current employer, all our boxen are named after heavenly bodies—generally stars, planets or constellations. However, I maintain that calling my next box “Sarah-Michelle Gellar” would fit perfectly into the naming-scheme.

5:06:23 PM    

Blondes ‘to die out in 200 years’. Get one while you still can!
2:52:56 PM    

Wednesday, 2 October 2002

Jamie Zawinski talks about the joys of computing:

And -- let me emphasize -- I do not enjoy this! Oh sure, you say, why do you keep doing it? I don't know. I think I still enjoy writing software, usually. But what I end up spending almost all of my time doing is sysadmin crap. I hate it. I have always hated it. Always. If you made a Venn diagram, there would be two non-overlapping circles, one of which was labeled, "Times when I am truly happy" and the other of which was labeled, "Times when I am logged in as root, holding a cable, or have the case open."

5:45:58 PM    

Dave Winer thinks that because he's not ranked where he wants to be, “Google's algorithm is quirky, or the implementation is buggy, or both.” I've also noticed that I'm no longer the first non-Apple search result for Janie Porche, and I've even fallen to third-place on naked desktop people (although amusingly enough, the top two are Ugo Cei linking to me).

Google must be in a tough situation. When they started out, PageRank was a really neat idea, and worked very well. What it wouldn't have counted on was the huge increase in small, insular communities who do nothing but link to each other every day. Look at the Java-blogs community, for example. Half the entries I read are links to other blogs I'm subscribed to. (Which is a good thing, each post accretes a little more information, a pearl solidifying around an irritant in the blogosphere)

While there are a lot of weblogs, we're still a tiny percentage of the population of the web, and even ‘popular’ weblogs still only have a few thousand visitors a day. Thus, Google are probably doing quite a lot of work behind the scenes to reduce the inordinate influence blogs have on their page rankings.

And more power to them.

10:56:19 AM    

A year ago, Mark Pilgrim was fired because his boss wanted him to stop writing in his weblog. His reply was, in part:

Writers will write because they can[base ']t not write. Repeat that over and over to yourself until you get it. Do you know someone like that? Someone who does what they do, not for money or glory or love or God or country, but simply because it[base ']s who they are and you can[base ']t imagine them being any other way?

8:31:12 AM    

Tuesday, 1 October 2002

From Bryan Dollery on the Extreme Programming mailing list:

If business leaders were interested in money then they'd use JBoss overWebSphere or WebLogic. The three products are, for most uses, identical -but JBoss is free while Web* can cost around $50,000 per processor. If money is that important, why do these products sell?

I make a living as a Websphere consultant, so I'm going to put my devil's advocate hat on. Please note that I really do like JBoss, I just don't get paid to use it. I don't want to start a ‘My Appserver is better than yours!’ battle, I just want to demonstrate that there are reasons that Websphere and its ilk exist in the marketplace, even though its free (or at least orders of magnitude cheaper) competitors are generally more up-to-date with the standards, easier to use and faster.

I can't speak for Weblogic, having never used it in anger, but as far as Websphere goes:

  • Trust is an asset (1). In the J2EE Container Shootout, JBoss's Marc Fleury said that of his competitors he'd either choose Orion because it's superior technically, or Websphere “because IBM will be around for ever and ever - it is always a safe choice.” As good as Open Source support generaly is, a support contract is a far more tangible asset.
  • Trust is an asset (2). JBoss is around the same place Linux was five years ago. It's the same Catch-22. To be trusted, it has to be seen running critical applications, but to be deployed in critical applications, it needs to be trusted. Linux managed that through two prongs, firstly by being deployed in thousands of Internet providers who didn't want to pay for commercial Unices any more, and secondly by system administrators sneaking Linux boxes in while nobody was looking, so a year later they could say “Yeah, we run Linux, it's been delivering your mail the last twelve months without a hitch.”
  • Scaleability. Clustering is a very new feature in JBoss, and it's hideously under-documented. I'm told it's very good, but all I can get from the JBoss site is “We have clustering, but to find out anything about it you have to buy our book”, which doesn't fill me with confidence.
  • Documentation. Giving away the product and then hoarding the documentation is just plain stupid, not to mention being very anti-GNU. Remember, software is only free if your time has no value, and the time of most IT contractors is very valuable indeed. Hiding information on how to use your product adds a high hidden cost to its use. Contrast the JBoss clustering book with the Workload Management Redbook for Websphere 3.5, free for download, and 600 pages long.
  • Bundling. This is the biggest reason. Most people who buy Websphere don't buy it in a vacuum. They're buying a package deal of hardware, software and consultancy. The cost of the individual Websphere licenses generally become part of a big lump-sum that covers the entire project from conception to post-deployment support. That big sum gets negotiated, and divided up internally, but to the customer it's only really the big number that matters. And bluntly, if it weren't for the software margins, the programmers would be far more expensive.

9:00:00 AM    

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blogchalk: Charles/Male/26-30. Lives in Australia/Sydney/Newtown and speaks English.

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