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Wednesday, April 10, 2002

PHP Developers Download UltraEdit 32 Now!  Right Now!

If you are a PHP developer and have ever been hit by the problems with headers failing because of extra spaces or blank lines after the closing ?> tag then take a look at UltraEdit.  Not only does it do native PHP color coding, it saves and opens from ftp.  The Trim Trailing Spaces on Save option (bottom right) saves lots of time with the header failing errors.  Recommended.



comment [] 6:20:33 PM    

When Job Cuts Get Personal -- and You Only Know Them Online

I recently met online a "Ray Hunter" as part of a new PHP mailing list faq initiative and it was really interesting.  I started building a new FAQ tool.  Ray pops up and says -- "What about our international users?  Can we make this in Spanish too?"  He was so clearly right (and perceptive) that I said -- "Sure... We can add that feature..."  Well, you know how this ends -- after an ISP re-build of PHP that introduced an attack of quotitis (PHP users -- watch out for Magic Quotes) and a bunch of coding, we have a truly multilingual FAQ engine that supports:

  • Dynamically changing the UI on the fly
  • Allows translating of FAQ entries

It was pretty cool and without Ray's perception and push, I wouldn't have done it.  Here's the awful thing: Ray just got laid off when Enterasys shut down his entire location.  Enterasys is going through awful management woes right now, the CEO has left, the President has left, etc.  I don't find those all that awful but my heart goes out to the people in the trenches.

Anyway, here's the deal:

  • Very talented software guy
  • Currently in Salt Lake City
  • Willing to relocate
  • Looking for a position involving Networking, Programming or Routing
  • Also has experience in Systems Administration and Security

I only know Ray online but he seems really good and his technical work (which I have seen) is top rate.  Anyone need a Ray?  Here's his resume.


comment [] 3:00:10 PM    


Thoughts on the Google "Personal Search Engine" Option

Its so interesting how ideas come around again in high tech.  The current notion that what might save Google is a local version to integrate Internet searching with desktop searching has been around.  Its been around so much that I'd call it promiscous.  First, lets talk about the vendors that have tried this:

  • Verity
  • Fulcrum
  • Dataware (to some extent)
  • Seymore Rubenstein's flopped company (can't remember the name).  Historical note -- he started Wordstar and then the spreadsheet company bought out by Borland
  • Several newer, Internet metasearch companies, have tried this

So the first thing to note is that this isn't a new idea -- at all.  Everyone who has tried it has had some teeny tiny, minimal level of success -- if you can even call it that.  I'd call them total flops.  I don't think most of these products are even available anymore -- certainly Verity abandoned the desktop, Fulcrum was acquired, etc. 

So, the obvious question is why?  Here are some reasons why this is just a lousy business as well as some technical issues that nail everyone badly:

  • File Format Support.  Indexing the net really means HTML, PDF, maybe .DOC.  For the desktop you need:
    • Outlook PST (and that's just a damn nightmare)
    • Excel
    • PPT
    • DOC
    • Project (icky)
    • RTF
    • Outlook Express
    • Other vendors than Microsoft
    • MP3 id tags
  • All these file formats are difficult at best.  Most are undocumented or incorrect (i.e. Microsoft Word's format documentation is wrong).
  • Microsoft includes free indexing that everyone just has to turn on w/ every copy of Windows 2K pro and higher.  True no one does turn it on and it blows little green chunks when you use it, but getting a large corporate sale is going to run into this argument from IT ("why don't we just ...").
  • Its a low priced product at best.
  • Running an indexer in the background is annoying and time consuming (even though machines are dramatically faster, remember that the data volumes are much more).
  • Index files are large -- they're a %age of the overall content volume.  Lets say you have a 20 gig drive of which 2 gigs are programs and 8 gigs are documents.  Your index file could be as large as 4 gigs if a 50% ratio is assumed (it could also be tiny since some formats are bloated).

Another issue to consider is that Google may not actually have the technical chops to do this on the desktop -- remember their unique ranking isn't designed for this.  There aren't the hyperlinks to analyze.  Additionally, their multi-cpu approach doesn't exist on the desktop.

Finally, always remember, we are currently getting along without this right now.  We all may "need it" but we get by without it.  This is one of the things that make it a low priced product.

If Google really wanted to do this and asked me for a recommendation then I'd say perhaps take a look at an Outlook indexer only.  Constrain the problem, solve a small bit first and see if people will really pay for it. 

NOTE: Everyone should also keep in mind that Microsoft is currently publishing some of the best papers in search right now.  Check out

comment [] 7:39:13 AM    

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