Sunday, July 31, 2005

Tired and On Vacation

Ok, I am on vacation, so if you expect minute-by-minute reports of the universe, you will have to look elsewhere.

I will continue to post on topics of note and interest...provided I don't get sucked out to sea on Cape Cod tomorrow.

Feedster: Reboot Again?

Feedster is exhibiting some truly unique behaviour.

Last time I heard that there was an issue with drive redundancy in their SAN. But twice in 2 weeks?

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Friday, July 29, 2005

What makes a good marriage…

I married my husband with the awesome heart and the big TV and the area rug, I also happened to marry into the largest font collection on earth. Make sure you marry someone who comes with fonts.

Thanks for this QoTD, dooce.



Better Living Through Coding

Ok, I got through the neuro-chemical wall by doing some coding. It's weird, but intense mental activity seems to give me enough of a boost for the meds to start working again.

I created two new graphs for GrabPERF. The performance of the Multi-Test Hourly chart is hideous, mainly because my 6 year-old writes better code than I do. What was the only solution I could come up with? A loop within a loop, with each inner loop running a SQL query that returns exactly 1 row of data, if there is data.


I got sucked into reading dooce for the first time. Got a question: does Heather every smile?

Back to your regularly scheduled Web performance rant later. Off to try and optimize some inner-looping madness.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Want a graph of Search Performance?

Click HERE!

Oh, and be patient. Unlike Google, my creaky server with it's failing drives takes a while to generate the data.

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Ok, maybe the drama queen act doesn’t suit me…

You have to wonder about the resiliemcy of the human mind sometime; apparently as quickly as one dives into a deep funk, you get to bounce off the floor....

I'm Baaaaaaacccckkk!

If only to handle the flood from Dave Sifry's post on Technorati's performance improvement. [here]

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Not “Adieu,” But “Au Revoir”

Effective immediately, The Newest Industry is on hiatus.

Most readers are not aware that for most of my life, I have fought a constant battle with depression. Thankfully, my symptoms can be effectively moderated and controlled through medication...most of the time.

Right now, for a variety of reasons I am not comfortable getting into, I am losing the battle with my illness. The canvas is blank, and so is my mind.

For those who say there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, I just found out that mine happens to be on front of a high-speed train coming toward me. And when I reach these depths, no amount of happy, motivational, power-of-positive-thinking drivel can bring me back quickly or easily.

My life has to change. I don't know how yet, but when I come back, it will be because something has changed.

Thank you for dropping by; see you on the other side.

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More Apples I will never own…

To add to my increasing summer of discontent, I had to replace the other two tires on the purple bus today.

And Apple releases two new iBooks. [here]

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BlogPulse: Recovery is a relative thing

BlogPulse has improved, but it is still a very relative improvement.

Still no word from anyone on the BlogPulse team about the challenges they are facing.

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Open Source Beer

Take that Stallman!

Open Source Beer! [here]

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BlogPulse: Meltdown of the Week

Blogpulse appears to be suffering from a case of the terminal meltdown.

Does anyone at BlogPulse want to share with the community what the challenges they are facing are? No judgements are made here; the objective to share our Web performance tuning knowledge.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

New York City

Was in Manhattan yesterday.

No company has enough money to pay me to come to work in Manhattan on a daily basis.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Technorati: Better, but still broken

Ok, congrats to Dave Sifry and teh Technorati team. So far today, things look good.

But they are still using broken HTTP to deliver the pages.

HTTP/1.0 200 OK
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 14:24:16 GMT
Server: Apache
Cache-Control: no-store, no-cache, must-revalidate, post-check=0, pre-check=0
X-Powered-By: PHP/4.3.11
Set-Cookie: BLAH! BLAH! BLAH!
Set-Cookie: BLAH! BLAH! BLAH!
Pragma: no-cache
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Connection: close

Throwing hardware at a problem solves the short-term issues; solving the long-term issues means optimizing the delivery of content.

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Feedster’s Fix: A simple reboot?

I reported that Feedster's performance had suddenly improved yesterday. [here]

In the aggregated graph, the classic "runaway CPU/memory leak...OOPS!...REBOOT!" performance pattern appears.

Is anyone at Feedster willing to go on the record about this, just for the education of the group?

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Google Moon

You know you want to. DO IT! Click the button!

I really like the maximum zoom level! Very detailed!

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Feedster’s Fixed!

Previous reports of Feedster's demise are now disproved.

Go team!

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Concrete Truck Makes a Mess

A neighbour is having some renovations done. Today, they poured concrete. And this is what they left behind.

Love it when a plan comes together...

The Presidency: What? The Press is allowed to record my statements?

Oh, lookee here. GW Shrub appears to be backtracking. Now Karl has to be convicted before he gets fired.

Mr. President, if he's convicted, you are most likely going to be down in Crawford, TX having an extended vacation. And the Acting President will most likely be Mr. Hastert. [Presidential Order of Succession]

Hey, I hear San Diego is looking for a new mayor! [here]

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Air-conditioned comfort

We caved and bought some window air-conditioners for our house.

It wasn't this bad last summer.


It’s a small world at Gitmo, It’s a small world at Gitmo…

Disney World Collecting Fingerprints

Really don't need to say anything more about this, do we?

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How hard is air-conditioning?

Ok, my grasp of building management is pretty slim. But the question I have is: How hard is it to keep the air-conditioning on mid-sized, three-floor, commercial office building functioning?

Since we moved into the new digs, the a/c has worked properly in our space about 6 hours. Now, for you folks who don;t live in the Northeast US, you may not appreciate why this is important. Let's just say that Amazon tribes complain about the humidity in this part of the world.

Air-conditioning is crucial up here. I am currently sitting at my desk with my shoes and socks removed. And I have this feeling that I will be removing myself from the office shortly.

Ugh...this sucks.

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Feedster: Success Crisis!

Yet another success crisis, this time from Feedster.

This is just amazing. Capacity Planning, Web performance, SEO, and traffic analysis go out the window when stuff like this happens.

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Technorati: Success Crisis Continues

After a weekend lull, Technorati has returned to normal.

This has been done to death. Hope Sifry et al. get it under control soon.

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Graveyard of Greed

CNN has a retrospective of Web 1.0 failures. [here]

These all bring back painful memories.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Lunch with David Parmet

Met up with David Parmet for lunch in Lexington Centre today.

I even got to touch the infamous Waterfield Cargo Bag. Verdict on the bag: Sexy.

Great stories about Hugh Macleod and Thom Mahon, as well as the madness that is called marketing.

And lunch was...well, it was Bertucci's.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Search Performance — LIVE!

The main page of the GrabPERF tool has a simple table that shows the live performance of a variety of search services, from standard search to Retail Search.

Stop by and take a look!

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Technorati: Performance Fixes?

Dave Sifry from Technorati very publicly announce a mea culpa, and said that he and his team rolled out some performance enhancements that should resolve the problems.[here]

Dave, they're still there. Go to GrabPERF and select any of the Technorati measurements from the drop-down list. There is no significant performance change.

Hope these guys get it back on the rails soon, and overcome their success crisis.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Peering through the glass at

This was interesting this morning.

Wonder what's up...

UPDATE: Outage lasted from 00:30 to 10:30 Eastern Time, July 14, 2005.


Karl: Aren’t you glad you have the fanatics on your side?

John Gibson has decided that treason is ok! [here]

Why? Because Valerie Plame ... should have been outed by somebody. And if nobody else had the cojones to do it, I'm glad Rove did — if he did do it, and he still says he didn't.

Hey John, I am no right-wing whacko (as a Canadian, you probably consider me an enemy alien), but which medal do you want to give him? The Fox "News" Meritorious Leaker Star?

Everyone has been predicting that when the right-wing finally swung into action, they would try to divert attention from the real issue: who in the White House leaked the name of, or information that clearly pointed to, the identity of a covert CIA operative?

Via Daily Bubble

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Karl: Did W ask if you stole from the cookie jar?

Hey Karl, can you spin this?

If you are the CEO and your underling might have committed a serious crime... would you ask them? Either Rove told Bush the truth and Bush doesn't care, Rove lied to the President and the President can forgive him, or the President doesn't care and hasn't asked. None of those reveal good qualities in our Commander in Chief. This is going to burn him one way or another in the end.

Love it!

Via Daily Bubble

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Technorati, We hardly knew you…

Ensight and Blog Herald both discuss the floundering and thrashing of Technorati.

My take is that they are having a success failure.

© 2005 GrabPERF

This is how long it takes their servers to deliver on a simple search for "new york". I have discussed at various points throughout the last week that there are some steps that Technorati could take to try and resolve their Web performance issues.

Technorati Search Content is still, for the most part, relevant for my needs. But I use Google most of the time, and just changed my Pinger to hit Ping-O-Matic to get into more search engines. Also a lot of good talk about IceRocket's Blog Search tool.

If the Technorati team moves toward selling their services to businesses and corporations (a blog monitoring service), they are definitely putting the cart before the horse. Abandoning your core business to try and appeal to a "broader market" very rarely works.

And why are we having this discussion at all?

Because, dammit, we actually thought Technorati was different.

UPDATE: Stephen Baker at BusinessWeek found this post. [here]

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Testing New RPC Target

Just a test! Ignore! Ignore!

Karl: Remember John Mitchell?

Surely you remember John Mitchell! Well, he was Attorney-General.

And he went to jail.

© Gary Trudeau -- 1973/1974

Michael Feldman reminds us all about this sorry state of affairs.[here]

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Chuck Cadman

Chuck Cadman, a man and a politician I highly respected, passed away Saturday. [here]

Chuck was a man who was moved into action by a single, life-changing event: the murder of his son in a random attack by a group of boys in 1992. Propelled onto the national stage, Chuck drove his agenda, and his passion, at everyone and anyone who would listen.

He beat the odds when his party tried to throw him out due to political expediency, winning his last election to the Canadian Parliament standing as an independent. In a previous life, I noted that due to the distribution of seats in the last parliament, Chuck held the deciding vote that could sink or save the Liberal Government.

He used that power on May 19, in the last act of his career, flying to Ottawa, full of chemotherapy poison, to cast his vote with the government, and allow the budget to pass.

I will miss you Chuck.

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Karl: I have this pic on my wall.

This picture holds many fond memories for me.

Did you forget that American Politics is a bloodsport?

Don't enemies of the state get sent to Gitmo?

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Stare at the cross…

Just stare at the cross.

Now, if you don't get seasick, what happens?

Isn't the brain weird?

Via: OMdC::log


Monday, July 11, 2005

Karl: Can you spell hypocrite? Didn’t think so.


Dan Gillmor, a journalist (not one of your paid flacks), has come up with an alternative history which places you and your Republican allies in the light you like to paint the enemies of the state...errr, people who hold independent opinions on topics such as the War in Iraq, the Patriot Act, and balanced budgets. [here]

Ya know, Dan gets one thing wrong; I am not sure that the private sector is willing to deal with someone who is willing to leak some of this nation's top secrets to satisfy the wishes of Dick Cheney...errrr, his political masters.

Hope today is a better day for you.

PS: CIA operatives tend to carry a grudge. Try to stay out of dark alleys for a little while.

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Karl: The Boys at Leavenworth are going to like you!


I hear you've done a lot of good work for the Bush Cabal over the last eight years. I mean, you turned John McCain's name to mud, you got the weasel...errr, President re-elected, you've controlled the media more effectively than Ron Ziegler.

However, when the White House decided to turn on Joseph Wilson, you volunteered to take point. Sure, you didn't name Valerie Plame by name, but saying that the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson was a CIA analyst kind of made any reporter's job a little easier.

Now, from what I have read, this is a Federal Offence. Not the kind that Martha Stewart went to Club Fed for, but one that gets your butt sent to a nice Maximum Security Prison for say...oh, 10 years.

Now, after 4.5 years of shrill, emotional baiting, negative economic growth, two wars that are descending below the surface of quagmire, and a nation reeling into the 21st Century as the only Western Theocracy, it might be time to re-evaluate how History (with a capital 'H') will remember you and the rest of the Cabal.

Frankly, Karl, I revel in the prospect that you did this. And I hope that you roll over and say that Cheney asked you to do it.

And you know what?

You just got John McCain elected president in 2008.

Bet the irony is just killing you right now.

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More on Technorati Performance Woes

Ok, one of the tests that the GrabPERF System is running is doing a simple search on the Technorati site.


Now, as I mentioned before, Technorati has some interesting things going on in their www servers. For the Web geeks out there, here is what their headers look like.

HTTP/1.0 200 OK
Date: Mon, 11 Jul 2005 16:15:47 GMT
Server: Apache
Cache-Control: no-store, no-cache, must-revalidate, post-check=0, pre-check=0
X-Powered-By: PHP/4.3.11
Set-Cookie: TECHNORATI_MEMBER=deleted; \
expires=Sun, 11 Jul 2004 16:15:46 GMT; path=/
Set-Cookie: TECHNORATI_MEMBER=[blah-blah]; \
expires=Wed, 12 Oct 2005 16:15:47 GMT; path=/; \
Pragma: no-cache
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Connection: close

The Cache-Control header I can understand. The Pragma: no-cache is basically useless, as the Pragma header is only considered as a valid client-side header.

But the use of HTTP/1.0 and the explicit Connection: close really bother me. Removing the ability for clients to maintain persistent connections is a Network and Server resource issue, and should be avoided at all costs.

And where's the compression? There is no need to send raw content to clients that understand and can process compressing text content. Using either hardware or mod_gzip or mod_deflate, the size of transferred content can be very easily reduced.

Sorry for the rant, but I seem to be on a Web performance kick lately. And the team at Technorati is one that I would expect to have gotten the need for this Web performance thing.

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HTTP Compression and Web 2.0

HTTP Compression is a well-acknowledged way to improve Web performance and decrease bandwidth usage by compressing text content before transmitting it to the client. This has become an increasingly interesting topic for Web 2.0 sites starting to experience their first growth pains.

Weblogs INCNO
Scripting NewsNO

The sample above is far from representative. However, I would have thought that companies leading the Web 2.0 revolution would be learning the Web performance lessons of the previous generation.

All data was gathered using the GrabPERF Monitoring System

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Friday, July 8, 2005

GrabPERF: The Return

Not many of you were likely reading this blog when I turned down the GrabPERF Web Performance Monitoring System a few months back (here). Well, today, I decided that I needed something to hold my interest and keep me busy, so I re-initialized the system.

It's live here. Heck, I even fixed a couple of long-standing annoyances with the aggregation tables in the database.

I am trying to keep the targets limited to interesting, and likely performance-challenged, Web 2.0 companies. If you would like to see a (your?) site added to the system, drop me a comment.


UPDATE: Found a bug in the PHP 5.1.0b2 release I was using that caused the dates extracted from the database to be mangled when they were passed to PHPlot. I returned to the release version PHP (5.04) and all charting is now working normally.

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Our friend Cindy came to see us…

...and all she brought us was a basement full of water.

I love hurricane season on the East Cost.

Dear Technorati…

You have noted that you are experiencing some performance issues related to high load (here). So I investigated and found that all the servers at the hostname are responding with HTTP/1.0 headers and are explicitly closing the connections to the clients.


This will not relieve the performance problems. In fact, doing this may make the situation worse. The only way that this will not cause an issue is if you have tuned the kernel on these servers to go through an EXTREMELY fast TCP teardown process on the server side.

If you haven't done this, go run a netstat -vanp on your www servers. See all the fin_wait, fin_wait2, closing and time_wait states? These are sockets that can't be used again until the kernel releases them.

Now, Turning on keep-alives or persistent connections on the www servers will:

  1. Reduce the total number of connections per client

  2. Reduce the number of sockets "hung" in the teardown process

  3. Improve performance by reducing the network overhead required by the client and the server

The only caveat is to reduce the keep-alive timeout to something like 4-5 seconds so that these connections don't wait for traffic forever.

Improving performance through disabling persistent connections is a myth. HTTP/1.1 was adopted for a reason. Use it wisely and your will reap the rewards.

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Siebel to miss Revenue Target.

Like this needs to be explained any further.

As has been said elsewhere, the high-priced turnaround team seems to be getting the job done... long as the job was to send Siebel into a shotgun marriage to keep it alive.

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Today’s Homer Moment: DOH!

David Wenberger posted this. I have often wondered the same thing.

The comments give you the answer...DOH!

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Thursday, July 7, 2005

Name This Place

Geeks in the audience should get this in a flash! Especially Dave Winer!

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My Reaction: London Bombings

I am not sure what the overall American reaction to today's bombing in London is. I hope it's not the usual American response: didn't happen here, so it's not important.

I hope that I am wrong.

I am extremely upset. I am feel a connection to all of humanity, and to see the wanton destruction of human life for reasons of hate makes me ill.

Do I want to be a part of this species?

Technorati Performance Degradation — July 7

Niall Kennedy posted that the performance degradation at Technorati this morning was not due to traffic resulting from the London Attacks, but due to maintenance on their systems. [here]

Just unfortunate timing. It happens.

Four-Buck Fred

My favourite vintner, and maker of the famous Two-Buck Chuck, has released a new wine. Our Two-Buck Chuck 2001 Cabernet has aged very nicely, and after 4 years is a pleasant wine to drink.

Two-buck Chuck maker offers $4 Napa version

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London Explosions: Web performance impact

Most of the time, I leave the morbid Web performance post-mortems to my former employer. However, I had to note that the flash traffic resulting from the explosions in London has effectively crushed the Web sites of the BBC (main site, not the news site), Sky News, and ITN.

This information is purely anecdotal; I am having incredible difficulty getting to any of these sites from here in the US.

On a side note, Technorati is either responding very slowly, or not at all. Not sure if this related to the events in London, or some other event.

This is shocking. Listening to Tony Blair, you could hear the anger in his voice.

UPDATE: Flickr Pool

UPDATE: Steve Rubel tells us that he is experiencing similar performance degradadtion. He also points to Jeff Jarvis linking to bloggers on the bombing.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Traffic Shaping with tc

I have discovered a little secret of Linux today: tc. The Linux Advanced Routing & Traffic Control project (here) allows you to shape traffic in any way that you want. In most cases, it is used in a situation where a multi-homed Linux box is used as firewall/router.

I have activated it on my Web server, limiting uplink/downlink speeds to 256kbps. I am using this in combination with the rate-limiting feature in iptables to control the morons. Limiting bandwidth to 256kbps leaves me with enough overhead to get in and control the machine, even when the morons think that they are flooding me with traffic.

I really suggest that you look into this, especially if you are in a bandwidth-limited environment.

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This one hurts. What does Best Buy have to do now? How do they become extraordinary again?

iTunes: It’s Really Broken

The continuing sad tale of Apple's attempt to integrate podcasts into iTunes continues -- Geek News Central has more.

I think that my desire for a Powerbook is decreasing the more I hear about Apple's general stupidity regarding Web 2.0. It will take a long time for Apple to get their credibility back.

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Today’s iptables FUN!

Ok, after this morning's DDoS, I started rummaging around for ways to limit the amount of hurt that my server would handle. And I found the limit function in iptables.

/sbin/iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -d \
--dport 80 -m limit --limit 6/m --limit-burst 10 -i eth0 -j ACCEPT
/sbin/iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp -s \
--sport 80 -m limit --limit 6/m --limit-burst 10 -o eth0 -j ACCEPT

This should help get some of the requests under control.

Also, I discovered this interesting application called tc. Going to see how I can integrate this with some iptables rules.


DDoS this morning

This morning, my server was the victim of a sustained DDoS lasting approximately 45 minutes. The entire flow of traffic came from the usual group of trackback and comment spam morons.

Now, the good news: b2evolution came through the event with flying colours. The antispam feature built into the product prevented ANY attempts by these morons at inserting comments and trackbacks from being successful.

I have added one more layer filtering to handle these morons. Since they use such a limited number of keywords in their REFERER fields, I just wrote a mod_rewrite rule to send them off to my infamous TCP Port 9080.

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} .*(pharmacy|poker|casino|blackjack|cialis|viagra| \
porn|nude|girls|drugs|sex|animal|holdem| \
stud|hydrocodone|vicodin|slut|anal|xanax|video| \
RewriteRule ^.*$ [R,L,NS]

This should deal with 90% of the morons. If I missed any keywords, drop me a comment.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2005

MCI and Telephone Slamming

I recently switched all of my phone services back to Verizon. Today, I got a phone call from my former provider, MCI.

I have never experienced telephone slamming before, but "Tiffany Johnson" from MCI exposed me to the seedy side of the telephone market. I know why MCI is slamming departing customers: they need to get their customer count up before the acquisition by Verizon is completed.

I have frozen my telephone provider. And MCI goes on my blacklist.

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Getting what it deserves

After 229 years, the United States is fixated on:

  1. Paris Hilton

  2. Britney Spears

  3. George Bush

  4. The Supreme Court

  5. The Ten Commandments

Is this where the United States does a Pat O'Brien, and admits it drank and snorted too much the night before?

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New Firefox Evangelist

"Firefox?" The Rabbi stops and thinks for a minute, rubbing his beard. "Ah yes! The one that blocks all the schmutz."

Read more here. Via David Parmet.


Monday, July 4, 2005

XML-RPC Vulnerability and b2evolution

I think that I am protected from the PHP XML-RPC vulnerability discovered by Secunia. However, the team at b2evolution have made only a cursory attempt to explain what is happening.

I have updated the xmlrpc.php file on my serv to the latest CVS version and also updated the PHP XML-RPC library in PEAR.

Looking forward to a clearer posting on why b2evolution is NOT vulnerable to this type of attack.

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STEEL CAGE MATCH! Dunkin v. Tim!

I guess that Tim (Dead Hockey Player) Horton's Doughnuts is making an incursion into the US market. This out to be interesting. Last time something like this happened, Washington was burned.

Actually, I know that other Canadian retailers (most notably Canadian Tire) have tried to move south, only to be beaten back at the border. My suggestion to THD is to emphasize the higher quality food, and downplay the founder's tragic demise.

More on Tim Horton.

Via Mutually Inclusive PR

July 4th

Happy Proclamation of the Bourgeois Revolutionary Manifesto Day

Go blow something up! :-)

Saturday, July 2, 2005

Random Stan Rogers

My friends all call you home
And if you take away another
I'll be that much more alone

-- California, Northwest Passage

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iTunes and Partially Cached Podcasts

As I discussed in this post, iTunes 4.9 was starting to cause some serious bandwidth issues for podcasters.

Geek News Central reports that iTunes appears to be be pulling some podcasts from a centralized cache server. [here]

This post also states that Apple has not told anyone that this is the case, let alone informing podcasters about the infrastructure they have put in place to distribute this cached content.

Once again, Apple has wandered into the Web 2.0 arena with pre-Internet marketing ideas. I guess eventually they will learn.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the source of the GNC story was the Dailysonic, which has an extensive technical write-up on what they found. [here]

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Homesick for Canada

It's been nearly two years since I was home in Victoria.

It's been nearly 4 years since I saw Banff, Yoho, and Glacier National Parks.

I am very homesick today. The US feels less and less like home.

And looking at the MEC catalogue didn't help.

We need to get home. Soon. Permanently.

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Friday, July 1, 2005

Canadian History Degree Pays Off

I got 19/20 on the CBC Canada Day Quiz!

Have fun!

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day from here at the Consulate in Marlborough, MA!

Hope you aren't on a BC Ferry!

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Staying with Comcast

Tried to set up Verizon DSL last night. Didn't work; rotating IP addresses; a variety of line related issues. Cancelled the service this morning.

Sorry for any interruptions you may have encountered last night.