Performance monitoring

I came across collectd, a performance monitoring tool (by way of the High Scalability blog. It looks pretty interesting and it looks like it collects quite a range of information.

In the past I have used atop a lot to track down performance issues.

Atop covers a lot of stats, but collectd adds temperature and network latency information to what atop collects.

Atop does have a neat feature which allows you to log the stats to a file and replay it at a later date to track down down issues which crop up at 3:00am.


By way of Bijan Sabet’s blog, the Boston Globe has an article about non-compete clauses in the state of Massachusetts and the detrimental effect they have on the economy there.

End of the line for Netscape Navigator

AOL has decided to end development on Netscape Navigator.

Netscape Navigator was the second browser I used (I used Mosaic before that). For a while it had a commanding lead on the market but once Internet Explorer was released, it just lost ground steadily.

Netscape Navigator became pretty much irrelevant more than a few years ago, and should have been killed off then.

That being said, we should not forget its contribution to the web in general.

Updated blogroll

I just updated my blogroll and my podcasts, new stuff added, old stuff dropped.

Safari and WordPress frustrations

I have become quite frustrated with WordPress and Safari 3.0 of late. Specifically with the editing of posts.

When editing a post (which has already been posted), doing edits in the ‘Visual’ window and saving them will wreck the post, switching from ‘Visual’ to ‘Code’ in the editing window completely wrecks the layout of the posts. Even cleaning up the layout of the post in the ‘Code’ window does nothing. The post is just one long sentence.

Very, very frustrating…

iTunes movie rentals

It is looking more and more likely that there will be movie rentals on iTunes. Frankly it has to be done, the real money makers for movies is not sales but rentals. I have yet to buy a movie on iTunes (though I have bought a number of TV shows), and rent all my movies on Netflix.

If Apple does offer movies on iTunes, I would certainly start renting them there.

There are two caveats to bear in mind though:

First, I tend to watch movies in the long tail and eschew most of what hollywood puts out. Netflix does a very good job of covering this long tail.

Second, and Om Malik touches on that in his post about this, the quality of the video is pretty poor and needs to improve for the experience to be good. Of course I understand that there is a tension between quality and file size, but this is where H.264 should shine (or so Steve Jobs told us).

Updated – Paul Thurrott also talks about this.

How users read search results

Very interesting research from Microsoft on how users read search results (by way of Greg Linden):

Microsoft Researchers Nick Craswell, Onno Zoeter, Michael Taylor and Bill Ramsey wrote “An Experimental Comparison of Click Position-Bias Models” (PDF) for WSDM 2008. The work looks at models for how “the probability of click is influenced by … [the] position in the results page”.

The basic problem here is that just putting a search result high on the page tends to get it more clicks even if that search result is less relevant than ones below it. If you are trying to learn which results are relevant by looking at which ones get the most clicks, you need to model and then attempt to remove the position bias.

The authors conclude that a “cascade model” which assumes “that the user views search results from top to bottom, deciding whether to click each result before moving to the next” most closely fits searcher click behavior when they look at the top of the search results. However, their “baseline model” — which assumes “users look at all results and consider each on its merits, then decide which results to click” (that is, position does not matter) — seemed most accurate for items lower in the search results.

The authors say this suggests there may be “two modes of results viewing”, one where searchers click the first thing that looks relevant in the top results, but, if they fail to find anything good, they then shift to scanning all the results before clicking anything.