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Updated: 2/1/2003; 5:47:18 AM.

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 Sunday, January 05, 2003

PHP: Less Popular than ADA ?????

Slashdot is citing a good article that looks at popularity of programming languages in terms of the number of jobs advertising for them.  The number 1 is Java with 2,739 jobs on Monster. PHP, which isn't even on the list, has 189 jobs when I do the query myself.  That puts PHP at about 1/2 the popularity of Ada.  Oh dear god. [_Go_]

On Dice there are just 30 PHP jobs which puts PHP behind Ada, Fortran, Scheme, Python and Smalltalk.

And on HotJobs it is impossible to tell how many jobs they have since they are indexing the file extensions of URLs with PHP as searchable text.  DOH !  (Try looking at the Entry Level Construction - Training jobs and you'll see that the only citation of PHP is in the url to apply). 

<SHAMELESSPLUG>The FuzzyGroup offers search engine consulting services to avoid this kind of foolishness.  We have over 15 years of combined experience in implementing search engine technology and avoiding silliness like this.</ENDPLUG>

So does this mean to increase my marketability I need to toss my PHP books out the door and hunker down with books on Fortran or Ada?  Yikes.  I think I'd rather dig ditches.

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Airport Security

So what happens if you push back on this stupidity and rudeness that security folk give you:

But, if you give me your itinerary every time you fly, I'll be at the airport with you and we can make sure it's very pleasant for you."

I have no idea what this means, does it mean that they have a special area where all the friskers are topless showgirls, "We have nothing to hide, do you?" I have no idea. [_Go_]

From Penn of Penn & Teller fame.  Outstanding !

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How to Publish Recipes Online

I've become fairly addicted to finding recipes with Google and from lots and lots of time looking for recipes I have two tips on how to publish them.  (And, yes, this qualifies as my bizarro / random post of the day).  Yes I know no one will listen but doing this makes me feel like I've done my part.  :-)

  1. Publish only 1 recipe per web page.  Why?  Well let's say that you are searching for a recipe that uses blueberries and cream cheese.  If you have multiple recipes per page then a Google search will turn up web pages where all the recipes inclde those ingredients but not necessarily a single recipe.  (I saw a web page where one recipe had blueberries in it and another recipe had clotted cream but I didn't find the scone recipe I was looking for).
  2. Put the term "Recipe" somewhere on the web page with the recipe.  This means that people can more easily find it by appending "recipe" to their search.  It also means that people won't find food for sale with those ingredients.

Here's a site that seems to do a pretty good job.  [_Go_]

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Jobs or the Lack Thereof

From Russell there is a very scary graph.  Definitely look at this if you are even thinking of something like "I want to work in IT".  [_Go_]

It really seems to me like high tech is becoming what it once was -- a much smaller, nichier place for tech folk to reside.  The vast glut of folks who piled in during the boom are leaving and that's not bad at all.  You'll see high tech get back to being the type of thing it once was where a certain class of worker couldn't even dream of working in any other field (I've worked in high tech my whole professional career) -- even in the bad times.

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Beating Spam: Improving on Lessig

Lawrence Lessig is proposing bounties for tracking down spammers.  That's just not going to work, IMHO.  Here's the post:

But, alas, missing from the list is one Iíve pushed: A law requiring simple labeling, and a bounty for anyone who tracks down spammers violating the law.

Then I got an email from a kind soul warning me about my workóĒdo you know how powerful your enemies are?Ē this person asked. No, I thought, I donít, but letís see. If Iíve got such powerful enemies, then Iíve got a good way to do some good.

Here goes: So (a) if a law like the one I propose is passed on a national level, and (b) it does not substantially reduce the level of spam, then (c) I will resign my job. I get to decide whether (a) is true; Declan can decide whether (b) is true. If (a) and (b) are both true, then Iíll do (c) at the end of the following academic year.  [_Go_]


But at least with the spam problem, there is a much simpler solution that, so far, Congress has failed to see. Imagine a law that had two partsóa labeling part and a bounty part. Part A says that any unsolicited commercial e-mail must include in its subject line the tag [ADV:]. Part B says that the first person to track down a spammer violating the labeling requirement will, upon providing proof to the Federal Trade Commission, be entitled to $10,000 to be paid by the spammer. [_Go_]

The real solution isn't attacking the spammers (as much as we want to put sacks over their heads and hit them with big hammers, it won't solve the problem).  Why not go after the folks that hire the spammers? 

If the bounty was against the companies that hired spammers then they simply aren't going to hire them, now are they?  The problem with attacking the spammers is that they are very, very mobile, hard to trace and often offshore.  But the marketers that use them to sell their goods aren't.  They have to have a fixed location, etc.  It's much easier to find the company that wants to take your credit card than it is the company who sent a one time mailing on behalf of them.  This also solves the "international problem" where a huge quantity of spam is sent from outside your national boundaries.  I'd wager that most of the sites trying to sell you something are in your own country so you wouldn't have to try and collect a bounty from some stupid ass spammer in Korea but instead some dumb ass marketer in Texas (for example).

Now here's a problem -- what about companies with affiliate relationships that they don't closely police?  Or even a company who sent out a spam to punish a competitor of theirs?

Thoughts?  I know just from the vast quantity of spam we analyzed to write the Inbox Buddy filters, it would be hard as sin to go after the spammers.  That's who we want to instinctively punish but we need to move higher up the food chain.  Spammers are a symptom of a much larger problem: clueless marketers.

Bias: I sell a commercial anti spam product, Inbox Buddy.  Even so I just want to see this stopped.

7:19:04 AM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   


Both Jeremy and JWZ are realizing the issues of giving their Mom a Linux box (i.e. Momix):

I'm sure that jwz's mother has more computer smarts than mine. And the funny thing is that most mothers aren't terribly adept at using computers. Why? Not because computers need to be difficult, but nobody designs software for them. Why is the way we save documents different than the way we locate them later? It makes little sense.

This got me thinking about that old Linux box again. Why can't I at least get my Dad off Windows and make him happy? He'd be lost. Most of the Open Source software is no better than, say Windows, and worse yet it's never been subjected to a usability study.  [_Go_]

This is something I thought a lot about over the Christmas holiday since I saw my Mom then.  And I was forced to use her Windows 98 box (Yup; Not a typo) to check some weather information.  There's no question in my mind that if Open Source developers adopted the type of dirt simple usability recommendations that Jeremy suggests we'd all be in better shape.  Much better shape.  There is nothing more humbling for a developer than to be forced to watch a real person, THAT THEY KNOW, sit before the computer and just fumble in confusion.  It really makes you understand the differences between yourself and "the rest of us".

I'd also suggest some type of better approach for installing applications.  As much as I hate to say that Lindows got it right, they actually did pretty well with their Click 'n Run warehouse.  It really does work.

And please don't tell me that the solution is to give my Mom (or their Mom's OSX).  That's one solution.  The reason it doesn't work for me is that I'll end up doing the support and unless I have an OSX box in front of me to answer questions with I'll just screw it up.  The best way to do support is to walk the user through the tasks on your system doing exactly what they do.  This way you can give them the exact steps.  And, for novice users like my Mom, that's key.

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Cool Unix Blog

I don't know how I missed RootPrompt but I did.  Great name and good stuff.  Found via Jeremy.  Thanks!

6:57:34 AM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   

Ideas versus Follow Through

Here's a very interesting point that we forget about all too often:

And that's what's got me so bothered about people musing in their weblogs about projects they'd like to do. Stop talking about it an just build it. Don't make it too complicated. Don't spend so much time planning on events that will never happen. Programmers, good programmers, are known for over-engineering to save time later down the road. The problem is that you can over-engineer yourself out of wanting to do the site. [_Go_]

That's just so damn true.  Idea are important.  But execution is even more important.  Way more important.  Anyone can say "Wouldn't it be cool if " but so few of us can actually go ahead and do it.  I can't tell you how many sites that I have thought about, sketched out, heck even written more than 50% of and then never followed through.  Maybe that should be by new year's resolution.  Found via Keith

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BlogBack: More On User Agents

Jeremy has some good comments on my UserAgent problem.  [_Go_]  As does Keith (actually an amusing bit of commentary).  [_Go_]

Oh and you should also see Jeremy's notes on logging directly to MySQL.  [_Go_]

6:49:14 AM      Google It!   comment []    IM Me About This   


Thanks to Scoble I see that Dan Shafer is furious with Verisign.  Let me throw in a pitch for my registrar of choice: 000Domains. They're fast, cheap ($13.50 per domain), reliable and money goes to Tucows.  I've been using them for more than 6 months now and they've just been great!  [_Go_]

As long as we are dissing registrars, two thumbs down for  They just make things complicated.

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