November 2004 Archives

Annoyance Extraordinary

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... to be in a rush with your day and losing a contact but not being sure if you lost it in your eye or on the floor.

Logan's Run There's a remake of Logan's Run (1976) in the works. From the plot outline at IMDB it'd appear that in 2005 you are too old when you are 21 rather than 30 as it was in 1976. I'm not sure what it means, but it doesn't seem like a good thing. Let the kids be kids already. The twenty-somethings too, please.

(the NY Times story When a Video Game Stops being Fun about the employment thing at E.A. games made me look it up - via Jim Winstead)

grub "stage2 loading..."

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If you use really old hardware with an old bios with early generation x86 serial console redirection, it might be sufficiently broken to not allow grub to take over the serial console with linux starts booting. The result? grub hangs with the "stage2 loading" message ...

Solution: Disable the bios console redirection; it probably sucks anyway. The only case I can think of where you would want it would be if you net boot with PXE and need to configure that.

ApacheCon wrap


ApacheCon was a lot more fun than I had expected. Lots of people to meet and see again, it was great. Having half the talks be about java-something limits the selection a bit for me, but there were quite a few httpd or general "web stuff" talks that were fun. My talk was in one of the big rooms and it was pretty packed, thanks for coming everyone! :-) The questions I got at the end of the talk and in the hallway were all relevant and clueful, so that was a good sign. I had a lot of material and the talk is mostly about concepts so I was worried that it went by a bit too fast.

We went to Michael Radwin's HTTP Caching talk afterwards and it had some very good advice, go read the slides! There wasn't much I didn't know already, but being reminded that any cookies in the domain often will ruin caching was good.

Driving home only took about 4 hours, yay for weekday traffic through the desert.

If you are at ApacheCon, then come see my talk on Wednesday at 1.30pm in Parthenon 4; it'll be fun. It's quite language agnostic, so it'll be worthwhile wether you do PHP, Perl, Ruby or something entirely different. Here's the blurp from the program:

YOU can play with the Big Boys and do thousands of dynamic requests per second. Some extra thought into the overall architecture beats the pants off any amount of micro-optimizations. You'll learn exactly how to do it.

Why horizontal scaling rocks. Why vertical scaling sucks. Which caching strategies work best when and why. Benchmarking techniques -- How to measure accurately. How to avoid scaling vertically on the backend. Scaling your database systems without shelling out for that gazillion dollar Sun box. Segment your data the right way when your database can't keep up. The when, where and what about session data. Manage your resources to get the most out of your hardware. Make a job queue to gracefully deal with big traffic peaks.

Ask Bjørn Hansen once architected and built the core of a major internet advertising system plastering ads on hundreds of thousands of screens every minute. The session will also touch experiences from Citysearch and the insane peak loads at

(that matches surprisingly well with what I am actually going to talk about, whee).

Perrin is doing his Building Scalable Websites with Perl which is a bit of the same, but Perl specific (for better or worse). If you do Perl, go see that one too -- it's good. :-)

new SpamAssassin logo I took a bunch of notes, but the speaker, Theo van Dinter, has slides with notes online, so that's really much more useful than my notes. :-)

Now I need to nag Robert about getting our mail systems to use SA 3.0.

gmail being useful after all


For a while I was trying to read my mail through gmail, but using a web interface to read mail just didn't agree with me.

However, their service is useful after all! The new POP service comes with authenticated SMTP as well, so without having to enable POP you can use (enable SSL and use your regular gmail username and password) to send mail. I've been using it for a few days for some of my mail and it seems to work alright. (I had one mail that either disappeared or got delayed, but everything else has been passing through their system in a few seconds).

update: eh, Evan pointed out to me that it's not that cool at all. Either I didn't pay attention when I tested it first, or they changed it in the last few days. See the comments.

Firefox 1.0 is out

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It's beautiful and rich on features and support for all the fancy new CSS, Javascript and DHTML toys. If only it was a bit more Mac like I'd change my default browser from Safari. Until then it's great to have around for those rare times when Safari doesn't work.

If you don't use a Mac, why are you still reading here? Go download it already!

Green Netflix Envelopes?


What's with the green Netflix envelopes? Hacking Netflix thinks it's because of the Shrek 2 promotion, but it's not just Shrek Green, it's Bright Neon Green.

In related news, they have been hideously slow receiving and shipping movies in their Santa Ana distribution center lately. Movies are taking 2-3 days to be received there and ~2 days to get here where it used to be 1-2 days for them to receive it and 1 day for us to get it.

iTunes remote control


back to our regular geek'o'rama: Paul Mison noticed that iTunes 4.7 is advertising a _dacp._tcp service. It looks like they are preparing to support a remote control type thing. Ed Despard is guessing it's a "digital audio control protocol.". (This is from the daap-dev mailinglist, which doesn't have a proper archive -- daap-dev-subscribe at to subscribe)

In related completely inconsequential news I've had great success using the rating feature in iTunes and with the iPod mini. With auto-syncing it transfers the ratings, last played and play counts between the powermac and the ipod. I've then made a bunch of smart lists like "25 random 4 or 5 star rated songs that I haven't listened to for a month" to rotate some of the 4GB space I have on the mini. It's awesome. I only wish I could still add stuff to the iPod from the powerbook, but I can't as that'll disable the autosync to the powermac. It's because they don't allow copying from the iPod to keep the record companies happy. So stupid. (Or maybe not stupid; I appreciate the fact that my AAPL stock has done quite well the last year or so).

From the things that feels like they matter department: Joshua Marshall recommends this column The Red Zone in the new york times.

Argh argh arhg.

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I was so looking forward to the time after this election. Being able to truly be interested and care for little unimportant things happening in the tech world and the blogosphere again. Apologies to my readers who come here looking for that.

BOPNews had a what a second Bush term will mean posting with a list of reasons to be depressed about the result. They also have a moving forward posting. DailyKos calls for Howard Dean as the new DNC chair. And they have a few quotes from newspapers around the world.

Kerry's concession speech. When I have a bit of time I want to also read what Barack Obama said at the democratic convention (full transcript, video).

Now in some masochistic way we can just hope that Bush and Rove goes completely overboard and spoils it for the Republicans in 4 years.

asshole.jpg image from CNNDerek noticed that someone at CNN uploaded this picture with the filename of "asshole.jpg"... Being bitter and snide is on the path to acceptance and moving on, right?

Leonard collected a bunch of quotes (Leonard, what's with the lack of proper permalinks?)

Dave Pentecost was part of Michael Moore's "video the vote" group in Ohio. We offered to host their videos over at ivft, so I got this mail earlier in the evening. So depressing. I got some new CDs from amazon today and truly enjoyed listening to them while driving rather than to the news. Anyway, thanks Dave!

From: Dave Pentecost
Subject: Ohio Video the Vote postmortem
Date: November 3, 2004 9:24:04 PM PST

I owe all you kind folks an update.

Slowness in getting tapes back from the field prevented my getting any video posted on Election day. It was also just chaotic enough that the video crews didn't know the importance of what they had witnessed and recorded. The general impression was that we were seeing more confusion and incompetence at the polls than actual manipulation or intimidation. But just around the time the polls were about to close, there was a report of Republican challengers and police at one site. A video team and our lead producer headed over to see.

The first report said that there were five challengers at a polling station where they were only allowed two. Our team had to stay outside and record statements from voters and the Democratic challenger, who told a peculiar story. Remember, these were all black neighborhoods.
Sometime around noon, eight white people showed up, claiming to be GOP operatives but refusing to show any ID. They said they were there to see the Republican challenger, but no one knew who they were referring to. Several of them came into the polling station and set up shop looking at people's documents and making notes in clipboards. When a couple of them came outside and someone asked them what they were doing, they said they were just delivering sandwiches, and that they had to go. But the same dark blue PT Cruiser had been seen driving around several different polling stations.

The Onion reports:

In the weeks leading up to the election, both of America's political parties alleged fraud in voter registration. Additionally, experts debated the reliability of electronic voting machines, which experienced problems in trial runs and leave no paper trail. Election officials also bemoaned many states' use of outdated punchcard machines.

Considering such disputes, Salman said he was "touched and gladdened" that voter turnout for the U.S. election nearly approached voter-turnout rates for Afghanistan's first popular elections in October, when 69 percent of citizens cast ballots.

"True, voter turnout in many parts of the world tops 90 percent," Salman said. "But it's understandable that the rate is lower in countries such as Afghanistan, where the government has raised fears of possible terrorist attacks at the polls. Our people showed great courage."

we are home again, so listening to KCRW and reloading washington monthly and the other links from my last post.

Leonard and I just talked about that it looks like we can put the internets vets site to use for another 4 years after all. f#$%#. We are also working on an "indyakamai" (as someone put it) service.

Hard Working George


Did you see the clip Sim Sadler made of Hard Working George?

Hopefully he can go back on vacation after tonight.

Wired wrote Download Movies Before You Vote about the Internet Veterans project -- so if the servers weren't busy before, now they sure are.

Links to use tonight: BBC (thanks Graham), Electoral Vote, TPM, Washington Monthly ... Any others I should bookmark?

update: Mystery Pollster, What to watch for on election night, CNNs result page is pretty good, Daily Kos, C-SPAN's map is pretty, NewDonkey,

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