Older blog entries for sjanes71 (starting at number 82)

Distributed DNS Policies     First come-first serve would indeed cause a land rush by all the squatters-- I think that probably the best policy is to develop a system where the Internet itself decides who is the best manager for a given domain space, e.g. everyone agrees that IBM's collection of servers over there should manage the ibm.com namespace. Networks instead of using a fixed set of root servers (if we keep the existing mechanisms of DNS), servers would apply a trust metric or subscribe to a publisher of DNS delegation. However, this can break the "universality" of the namespace because no longer can one assume that your e-mail will go to the same place because your DNS trusts/subscriptions may be different than someone elses. Could the Internet withstand that kind of chaos in the interest of lancing the boil of ICANN off of itself? Internet heal thyself? Maybe the best thing to do is for one of the distributed DNS providers to trial out such a democratic/trust/rating/subscription style system.

Hacking     I never get too much done over the weekend, having a life distrupts hacking. :)

HTTP: The Definitive Guide     O'Reilly raises the bar of quality again for their own books. I've only read two chapters so far and they've filled in some gaps of knowledge. The biggest eye opener was learning that there are also kinds of parameters to the left-side of the ?, e.g. http://blah-blah/pagename;param1=value1;param2=value2?cgiparam1=value1&cgiparam1=value2 I've never seen it used before because I think it has mostly been used for FTP parameters (send it in binary/ascii, etc.). FTP et TELNET delendae sunt. Passwords sent in the clear just isn't good. I don't care about wrapping them in SSL, it's the equivalent of a wrapping the tourniquet on the detached leg and not the stub attached to the body in my mind. However, basic authentication in HTTP isn't much better.
Grid Computing     I know that personally I'm probably a big electricity waster considering that I've got more computers than most ordinary people. Two of them have been basically on-demand file servers with SAMBA. I have one machine now that I cart back and forth from work that I do all of my primary development and a laptop that hosts Windows 2000 because our world is a very cruel one. I'm wondering how grid computing would be useful within a family-- closer to home, rather than to some pharmaceutical company folding proteins or nationally supported Al-Qaeda distributed cracking system.

The Robotic News Desk Editor     Google News points out as a minor "Top Story":

Jackson Wears Fake Nose , Hates Being Black , According To Article Launch Yahoo - and 89 related »
Hopefully this doesn't become a trend-- I use google news daily because generally this crap only appears in the Entertainment section, not the "Top News" section.

User Friendly open     I didn't get a chance to do diddlysquat on this, might get some time tonight.

auspex's open     I wouldn't think of it as a pitiful "file manager"--this is a good idea and better if you made a "user friendly" version that did not require getopt style arguments for "ordinary people" who are adverse to getopt-style command lines:

view x [with tool]
edit x [with tool]
compress x [with tool]
encrypt x [with tool]
decrypt x [with tool]
translate x to language

We already typically use MIME types to decide what program to "view" something with, why not also create mappings for edit, compress, and translate? I have heard of many users of computers who might have used some program every day for the last 3 years on their computer and didn't know what it was called. ("Do you use Word to edit your manuscripts?" "What's Word?" {{Clippy bangs on the CRT and mouths "I'm Word! Look at me! Help meeeee!!"}}) Too often icons on desktops represent file-types as application tools (e.g. there's a Winamp icon for a sound file, but no distinct WAV, MP3, or OGG icon) instead of file types. This idea has given me a small kick in the pants and I actually started prototyping in Bash-- but will switch back to Python because of better array support. More verbs than just those will be available and the issue of "x" where "x" is some filespec (hard to remember/type by users) will be looked at.

4 Mar 2003 (updated 4 Mar 2003 at 13:23 UTC) »
RMS (Richard Stalman or Microsoft Rights Management Services?)     Interesting how Microsoft is picking some TLA's that are commonly associated with people. Somewhere someone in Redmond, WA is having a a good snicker. I wonder what Microsoft ESR or Microsoft JWZ might become.

Sendmail     Saw another news note about another buffer overrun hole recently published about Sendmail. I decided years ago to stop using Sendmail because of things like this, so I've been using either QMAIL, EXIM, or POSTFIX, depending on whatever was easiest to install. I do typically nuke Sendmail if I find it on a machine if I become responsible for that machine.

Leonardo's Laptop     This book should perhaps become required reqding for GNOME and KDE developers. I'm very worried about the insistence of "cloning" Microsoft user interfaces to increase acceptance of Linux. Evolution may well be a very faithful clone of Outlook, but is Outlook the best user interface for a personal information manager? One thing the book points out in "The Quest for Universal Usability" is that:

A fundamental interface improvement would be support for evolutionary learning and a level-structured approch to design (Baecker et al. 2000). Why can't you begin with an interface that contains only basic features (say 5 percent of the full system) and become expert at this level within a few minutes? Game designers have created clever introductions that gracefully present new features as users acquire skill at the first level of complexity. [...] A good level-structured design in the interface must be acompanied by levels in the tutorials, online help, and the error messages. (pg 47)

I would add that getting the computer to puzzle out your intent AND be smart about it is one of the key issues of making computers easier to use. Microsoft's Clippy was widely hated because it interrupted the user with guesses at the user's intent-- "I see you're about to write a suicide note, would you like to see a list of the most successful ways to off yourself?" What's worse, is all the work involved in making this interruption animated (eating that little bit of processor time that could be better used by everyone's instance of the Distributed Net OGR cruncher!) Open Office make this intent-help less intrusive with the little transient light-bulb icon at the lower-right corner.

Advogato Needs Book Lists     If we have ranking for diary entries, I think it would be a simple matter of programming to also rate lists of books in various categories using the same system. More interestingly, it should perhaps give you the same kind of evolutionary learning scale or level structured and could even take the existing "categories" of Observer, Apprentice, et al. for pigeon-holing books. Observer-level books get you things like "In the beginning was the command line" by Neal Stephenson, Apprentice "Learning Perl", Journeyer "Programming Perl, Mastering Algorithms in Perl, Perl Cookbook" and Master "Perl in a Nutshell". Maybe its too much work but the idea is appealing to kind of see "What's on everyone else's bookshelf?" vs. "What's on everyone else's desk?"

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis and Programmers     Tim Sweeny's "radical claim" that
our thought processes as programmers are deeply influenced by the language we programmed in.
is not a new claim as it was theorized early last century that (natural) language affects how we think and related languages affect how we think similarly. I don't think that anyone could dispute that a programming language could not be considered a "human" language, considering the amount of Perl poetry that exists. :)

Gentoo and KDE     Got bitten by the KDE 3.1 bug in Gentoo where everything just collapsed and fucked up after I logged out. Solution is to edit /etc/env.d/49kdelibs-3.1 and add KDEDIRS=/usr/kde/3.1 to that list of variables. You'll probably have to reboot. Without this, look for basically zilch in your KDE menus and no ability to even launch an xterm from inside KDE. TWM makes me shudder.

Orange Juilius Equivalent     Never had one from the mall, but this is pretty good.

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 heaping cup ice
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8th cup powdered milk

Chuck in a blender, blend until frothy and smooth. Makes two drinks. The "Top Secret" recipe says to use 2 egg whites, but with a 2/60,000 chance of salmonella, I'll think that I'll stick to powdered milk.

Nullsoft Superpimp Installation System     v2.0b1 is verrrrry nice. My favorite "windows installer" software for sure.

Regular Expressions     Didn't get much time to play more with these jewels. The first one I'm experimenting with is ([A-Z][a-z]+) ([A-Z][a-z]+), a simple one intended to find "Firstname Lastname". It doesn't handle the multiline Firstname
Lastname case yet, but it certainly does a fairly good job on my e-mail. I can already think of a whole bunch of other cases where it will not match more complicated names like First Middle Last. With some simple scoring, I can filter out most of the spurious matches which is all I really want-- it doesn't have to be perfect. I wonder if there is a catalog of useful regular expressions-- I think I remember one in the Mastering Algorithms in Perl book.

Realtime with Bill Maher     So far, I think it's a better show than his previous show, Politically Incorrect, which was run off the air immediately after 9/11 when he voiced an "unpopular opinion." Perhaps because it's on HBO and not network television is what makes the difference.

Where there is Traffic, There is Innovation     Noticed on the BBC London site they have something called "jamcams" and "sequences"... jamcams are oviously the American equivalent of traffic cameras, but the sequences was something new to me. The sequence is a useful ordering of existing jamcams along a commonly traveled path. I think most traffic sites I've seen in the US only give you a map to pointyclicky.

Life     Up and down. Chaotic. Big ups. So-so downs. I guess I'm averaging up on the "ok" side.

Quadra      I've taken to emerge -C quadra when I need to get some work done and then emerge quadra when I feel the urge... the time it takes to compile gives me some more time to do real work. I think I've got a serious problem. :) The serious skills that these players show makes me think I'm playing the game wrong-- they must be modeling the state of the game in their head and just watching and dropping the blocks at the top.

Regular Expressions     Now have a short python fragment that figures out and scores "proper names" of a particular format found in a string. it's helping me get used to Python (which is pleasing to program in, you write something that seems plausible and then you are pleasantly suprised that it works.) The more interesting part of the project is going to involve the management of lots of different regular expressions as they are used.

Quadra     Surely, this is the Solitaire of Linux-- and it's cross platform, and you can play against other people over the network. I'd better put it away for now or I'll never get anything done. The huge high scores I've seen make me wonder if those players are really that good or if someone put a robot on the game. Watching the replay (one of the nice things about Quadra) is helpful for learning new strategy however, bot or not.

Television     What's that?

Nethack     Run away! Run away!

I'll just go back to my books and sleep for a bit-- I'm none too happy about having an hour and a half of my life wasted in traffic yesterday-- however, I did get through reading about 80 pages of Bitter Java while waiting in traffic, but it's not very much fun reading and driving at the same time.

26 Feb 2003 (updated 26 Feb 2003 at 15:20 UTC) »
Joe Celko's Trees in SQL; amars, obi, jbucata     I've personally implemented a flavor of the nested set representation and it is indeed very fast on queries for subsets and parents (the supervisors problem discussed in the other article)-- but starts to get very very slow on inserts, and especially with PostgreSQL, transaction loads start to get very large with all of the shifting of the number line as you insert into the tree. Now the pointer to the other article that includes the materialized path representation is something else to consider. I'm going to look at that regarding some of my own hierarchical libraries (which I haven't been using very often recently because of other work-demands.)

Regular Expressions     Together with XSLT, is going to create something very special for me and hopefully for everyone else as well-- something somewhat related to Alvin Toffler's Third Wave. I need to win the lottery so I can do this more "interesting" work without losing my house. Let's say for the moment, that we are not making our computers do enough of the work in the information economy and they absolutely don't have to get it 100% right all the time with semantic understanding as long as you can weight what the computer does with some kind of confidence rating. A lot of what heuristic anti-spam software does is creating technology that could be better used elsewhere. What's the best heuristic anti-spam software out there if it is not SpamAssassin? I don't think that SpamAssassin is the best antispam tool available because of how it trys to kill the spam-- I think Tagged Message Delivery Agent has the best solution-- but I do think that there is some very interesting alternative applications for the same technology.

Meetup: ww.meetup.com     What a cool site. Out of curiosity I followed a link that mentioned the "Slashdot Meetup." I haven't searched for any other meetups other than Python and Advogato and there were some meetups for Python. Advogato seems like a community that could have use for meetups. The best thing about meetups is perhaps, the thought that we don't have to have a Linux World, or PyCon, or CodeCon to bring great people together.

SyncML     Downloaded all the PDFs. I'm a glutton for reading-punishment. I've got a stack of books checked out from the library and dozens of PDF's saved for future reference.

Libraries     Don't neglect your library-- just because you can clickypointy Amazon doesn't mean that you couldn't just get it for free from the library. One of the books that I checked out that's on my "list" to read is Bitter Java and I'm already halfway through Technomanifestos.

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