DOS on Revision 3

Jim Louderback posted this very interesting account of a DOS attack on the Revision 3 servers over the Memorial day weekend.

It does appear that the attack was not intentional but it still illustrates the damage that can be done, however unintentional.

Twittering on

I have the worse luck with Twitter. I signed up early last year to see what it was all about and nothing worked for me. Pages timed out, etc… and I cancelled my account.

So I joined again a few months ago, and they are having more issues. Most of those have been fixed, more or less, but not the feature I use most which is the IM portion of it, that is still down.

It like… a bummer…

À la carte cable

This is interesting, civil rights groups are against à la carte cable because it feels that the cable providers would drop niche minority channels from the bundles they sell.

I am not sure this argument is totally valid. If people want a niche minority channel on their television surely they could just order it from their provider. And wouldn’t their cable bill be lower because they would not have to get all the channels provided in the current bundles whether they want them or not.

I dropped my cable subscription a few years ago for a few very simple reasons: the basic bundle got me 70 odd channels of which I would watch three on a semi-regular basis; most the channels I really wanted to watch were in addition to the basic bundle, so the cost of watching HBO, for example, was not $10 but $55; and at some point I just stopped watching TV altogether.

Personally I want à la carte, because I want to be able to pick and choose which channels I want to watch. I would not pay $45/month for a bundle of 70 channels, but I would pay $45/month for 5-10 channels of my own choosing.

Privacy policy link

The NY Times recently published an article about Google taking a stand on not putting a direct link to its privacy policy on its home page, the arguments are summarized as follows in the article:

One of the core principles of the group has been that its members should provide “clear and conspicuous notice” of how they collect and uses data. This has been interpreted to mean that a link to a site’s privacy policy should be on its home page.

Google, however, told the group that it would not comply with that rule.

Larry Page, the company’s co-founder, didn’t want a privacy link “on that beautiful clean home page,” said one executive at a Google competitor who is involved in reviewing Google’s N.A.I. application. (The executive didn’t want his name used because the applications are meant to be considered privately.)

“His argument is when you come to Google and you are looking for information, it is that big fat box” for search and little else, the executive said.

Indeed, Steve Langdon, a Google spokesman, reiterated this view to me in an e-mail after I asked about the matter:

We believe it is important for consumers to be able to easily find privacy policies and other privacy information. By simply typing ‘Google privacy policy’ into the Google search engine, consumers can easily find not only our privacy policy, but additional information about privacy.

When I asked why not simply put the link to the privacy policy on Google’s home page, Mr. Langdon said in another e-mail:

We do believe that having very limited text on our home page is important and that is something we have shared with the N.A.I.

So I took a look at the Google home page (I rarely go there preferring to use the search box in browser, hardwired to Google I might add. Yo! Steve J. remind me how I can change that? I can’t!! Well that sux).

Anyway on the Google home page there are three links at the bottom of the page as follows:

Advertising Programs – Business Solutions – About Google

How hard would it be to do this:

Advertising Programs – Business Solutions – About Google – Privacy Policy

I am not sure that this would add clutter, after all there are three ‘clutter’ links on the home page already (to the right of the search box, I bet you have not used them in a blue moon):

Advanced Search
Language Tools

I think it would be good (googley?) for Google to take the moral high road here and take this opportunity to pre-empt yet more controversy over its privacy policies by making it really easy to get to them.

UPDATED May 30, 2008 – It turns out that there is a legal requirement in the state of California for commercial web sites that collects personal information to “conspicuously post its privacy policy on its Web site.”

Neck Crab

This little guy is a neck crab, part of the decorator crab family. These guy cover themselves with debris, algae and smaller creatures to camouflage themselves.

They are usually about 1-2 inches and this particular one was close to 2 inches which made it relatively easy to photograph. It is usually fairly hard to find them because they are small and well hidden but they can be spotted when they are clambering on soft corals. They are hard to get good pictures of because the soft coral is usually swaying in the current and the crabs themselves are pretty small, I had to take more than a few pictures to get this one (which was taken on a night dive).

Ubiquitous becomes invisible

I came across this great quote in the latest column by Bob Cringely:

Al Mandel, who helped market the original LaserWriter at Apple and later had several high-level positions at AOL, used to say that the step after ubiquity was invisibility, and that’s where we are headed today with IT, which has become so pervasive that everyone uses it to the point where NOT using it is no longer even an option.

I learned about Ubiquitous Computing in the early 90’s when I read about the work done by Mark Weiser, and to him ubiquity meant invisibility.

Generally this concept has been applied to hardware, the way chips have gotten into everything these days, like cars, toasters and razors, not to mention RFID chips (which, in some twisted way, add methods to objects since you can now interrogate item and get information from them.)

But I would suggest that it is happening to all our data too as we move to cloud computing. Data, documents, spreadsheet, music, video, etc.. are all migrating from our personal computers to some remote storage in the cloud where we can access them from whatever device we choose provided that it is connected to the network. Of course there are lots of issues to deal with here such as bandwidth, security, DRM, etc… but the signs are pretty clear, but already good bandwidth is making remote storage not so remote anymore.

“Victorian internet”

I found this great quote in an article on literacy in the Economist:

Literacy may be under attack from electronic media, but that’s actually nothing new. In fact, the assault on the written word began not with the Macintosh computer in 1984, but with Samuel Morse’s demonstration of the telegraph in 1844—an innovation a colleague on The Economist insists, quite correctly, on calling the “Victorian internet”.

The article itself is very interesting.

Complexity, there and back again

I found this interesting quote about complexity on the Bits weblog at the NY Times. The article looks into how the attempt by Microsoft to offer shopping rebates for using its search engine is unlikely to work:

Ultimately, he said, most customers didn’t find it worth the complexity and time needed to earn a few percent off their shopping.

“People don’t want to deal with something that says ‘Buy from this place and you will get money back from that place,’” he said. “Search is about how fast can I get someplace: Google’s ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button is a great experience.”

What is interesting here is the reintroduction of complexity in the online shopping experience, something which has succeeded it eschews complexity. You only need to look at Amazon to see just how much they complexity they have taken out of shopping online, a homogenous storefront, a simple (too simple?) payment method (one-click).

We as consumers want simplicity in our lived, not complexity. Another great example from Microsoft is the points system they use to sell music for the Zune. Why points? Why this extra step? Why a weird number of points for a song? Last time I looked dollars were a perfectly acceptable currency, and one dollar for a song work just fine.

Google conference on scalability

I will be attending the Google conference on scalability on June 14th 2008 in Seattle. If you are reading this blog and are attending, feel free to introduce yourself.

UPDATE – May 23, 2008 – I am rethinking this one, I may not go, the cost/benefit ratio may not work out.

How to scale

I came across this in Nati Shalom’s post titled “Twitter as a scalability study“:

The fact that we’re seeing the same scalability issues in PHP, Java and obviously Ruby, tells us that the scalability problem is not about the language. It’s about the architecture.

Amen. I get really tired of reading posts and article which claim that this or that language does or does not scale for some obscure reason (it does not have the latest constructs, features, options, optimizations, etc…) It not about the language, it is about the architecture.

You only have to look around at the larger sites on the internet to see that there are a wide variety of languages and environments being used, and that if used properly can scale very well.


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