mPulse

Friday, March 31, 2006

GrabPERF: New York PubSub #1 Online

I want to welcome a new measurement agent to the GrabPERF family: New York PubSub #1. This location came online yesterday, and has been delivering data consistently since about 21:00 EST (02:00 GMT) last night.

The world is a very small place. Turns out that my primary technical contact on the PubSub is someone who used to work at my current employer. Always good to stay in contact with folks.

Many thanks to Bob Wyman for making this happen.


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Thursday, March 30, 2006

And people seem surprised when I say I won’t move back to the Valley

Silicon valley has some very mystical appeal in our geek culture.

But it comes with a very severe cost, as Niall Kennedy points out in this post.

How bad is the Bay Area/Silicon Valley? Well, with a lousy school system and decrepit infrastructure added into the mix of a generally higher cost of living, I would require a 75% - 100% increase in base salary to even CONSIDER the Bay Area again.

It's the INTERNET people! You can work ANYWHERE!


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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

It’s spring because…

...I put shorts on for the first time today.

I should stop wearing shorts again in late October.


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Flying into…well, anywhere in the US really…

Rick Segal has a great post this morning about the unique nature of the Canada-US border. [here]

Rick hits it on the head: US Customs and Immigration Agents are some of the most unpleasant people I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with.

When Samantha goes home with the boys next month, what does she fear the most?

Re-entering the US on a valid visa.

Why should people who have valid visas fear coming back into the US?

Oh yeah, the US hates immigrants. Or at least that's how the rest of the world interprets their attitude, policies, and actions toward those who are not privileged enough to hold US citizenship.

UPDATE: Looks like Matt Mullenweg enjoyed the pleasure of what happens going INTO Canada without a passport! [here]

UPDATE: GOOD LORD! Is it weird immigration story day or what? David Weinberger recounts his encounter with a US Immigration Agent in Montreal last night. Gives me some inkling of hope.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Shiny new passport & your web performance needs

I have a shiny new Canadian passport that I want to fill with stamps.

Anyone in London need a Web performance analysis from an expert in the field? A detailed examination of your site and a comparison with other national, regional and internationl competitors, complete with a rockin' statistical breakdown of key metrics?

Daddy needs some airline miles...

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World of Warcraft: My soldiers! We must defeat this evil…when we can login again!

Netcraft reported that World of Warcraft was having a wee bit o' performance hell. [here]

Guess a few wizards are going through withdrawal right now.

World of Warcraft -- Mar 26 2006


Looks like Joi Ito, a serious World of Warcraft fiend, might have to mount up his troops for an all out assault on this one!

PS: Looks like it just staggered to life! Watch the onhoing saga here!


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Ok…we are 17 again

While moving files to Samantha's new machine, I came across a treasure trove of MP3s I had assumed lost years ago.

So, Samantha is preparing trays for the Nursery School Spaghetti Dinner and I am doing to some work as Depeche Mode Blasphemous blasts at ELEVEN (yes, ELEPHEN!).

Growing old doesn't mean growing up.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Dell: So close…but you just missed

Dell:

You just missed on a chance to over-deliver to me.

I got my brand-new Dimension E310 on Monday -- ok, it's Samantha's computer and it has been sitting in a box all week because I have been in San Francisco.

I get home, fire it up, throw in the wireless card and works like a charm.

Except for one VERY annoying thing: the ATI TV tuner card doesn't work. And this is the whole reason I chose an XP Media Edition machine. Media Edition doesn't even detect the card; it simply doesn't exist.

And no, I will not call support, because the machine should not have left the factory without being tested. And Dell knows that its support is not world-class. I will just yank the TV tuner out -- and write a blog post about it.

Dell, you ALMOST had me sold that you could get it right.

This is the last Dell I buy.

UPDATE (Mar 26 2006): Ok, I sent an e-mail to Dell support, and THEY CAME THROUGH! They are going to send out a technician to replace the TV Tuner card. This should be interesting...

UPDATE (Mar 28 2006): Dell Tech came out and replaced the TV tuner card. No luck. Dell's helpful response to the tech: re-install the operating system.

No. I don't think so.

DELL: Replace the machine...NOW!


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Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Hierarchy of Assumed Privilege

I have been sitting at Gate 86 at SFO watching a little drama that gets played out thousands of times a day around the world. I call it the Hierarchy of Assumed Privilege.

The direct flight from SFO to Boston (the one I am not on) was full; nay, bursting.

Yet there were executive-types who were ANGRY at the counter staff when they couldn't get their upgrades. The ones that they assume they are entitled to.

This is a completely asinine view of the world. Yes you support one airline and fly it a lot, and spend a lot of money with them. But unless you originally BOUGHT the (business|first)-class ticket in the first place, and those seats are gone, why are you venting your unnecessary frustration onto the one person who might be able to help you.

I have to laugh at people who use the anger card to try and get what they want. It shows that they don't have anything left in their arsenal, and they don't know that graciously accepting that they won't get the upgrade may see them get treated in a more positive way, getting some upgrade of whatever kind is available.

Humans have to understand that we are all the same. We are all norn, and we all die. And thinking that what you do entitles you to be better than the rest means that you have failed as a human.

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At SFO…

At Gate 80, Terminal 3, SFO. Likely I will be in and around this area for a while, as my flight leaves at 23:20 PST (It's currently 17:20 PST).

Drop by if you're in the area...Heh!


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BC Ferries: Queen of the North Sinks

The BC Ferries vessel Queen of the North ran aground and sank last night. [here]


This is one of the ferries that sails the rounte from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert through the Inside Passage. Only two passengers are unaccounted for, and they may have headed home on their own.

This is the first sinking in the history of BC Ferries, and when you consider the number of people they transport and the number of runs that they have made, this is an amazing safety record.

And, as everyone expected, the crew of the vessel responded magnificently and got all passengers off. Thankfully, it is the "slow" season, and only about 100 people were onboard; in the summer, that number would have been up to 700.


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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Statcounter: I can’t get to my stats — is this a problem?

I got a comment from someone yesterday saying that they couldn't get to their Statcounter Web site stats. I thought it was an issue on the user end and he reported that he finally got in with another browser.

Well, I just tried with all three of my browsers and I can't get to the Statcounter stats that I pay for. This is somewhat distressing to me.

And it appears to be some form of DNS issue.

I have submitted an email to the Statcounter team and I hope to hear from them soon.

Not a good start to my Wednesday.


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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Weird encounters continue...

Standing in the security line at LAX.

Me: Nice Timbuk2 bag.

Guy: How do you know about Timbuk2 bags?

Me: A lot of people I know have them. they are pretty cool. [Editor: Sorry David! When you have a crappy bag like mine, they are cool!]

Guy: Thanks! Good to hear. I own the company.

"Guy" turns out to be Marc Dwight, owner of Timbuk2.

Weird day....

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LA

Ya know...

...I still think I deserve combat pay when I come to LA.


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People you see in the Bay Area

Ok...I think I had a 101 moment this morning. Dave Bresci, if you're out there, were you driving southbound on 101 on March 21 at about 7:15AM PST?

And then! I saw a former supervisor of mine at my previous company in the security line at SJC. He knew who I was but tried to ignore me. He's not someone I would want to see, and frankly, I thought he was dead.

Weird days.


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Monday, March 20, 2006

Taquerias in San Mateo

For those of you who live or have lived in San Mateo, CA, the choice of taqueria is often a heated and divided debate. The conflict arises between proponents of Pancho Villa and La Cumbre.

I fall in the Pancho Villa camp and had my first steak and shrimp burrito in nearly 2 years. It was as good, if not better, than what I remember. It is likely that I will eat there every night on this trip.

Call me boring; but I am led by my stomach. And the steak and shrimp burrito is calling my name.


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Nice weather…when does monsoon season end?

I land at SFO.

I think we landed on the runway; hard to tell the difference between the ocean and the runway.

The sky over the city looks menacing from Burlingame.

Time to hunker down and do some work.


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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Near Marlborough, MA and have an extra Dell Inspiron 8500/8600 battery?

I have to fly cross-country tomorrow, and the battery life on my (work-provided) Dell Inspiron 8500 is shortly longer than it takes for me to down a shot of tequila.

If you have a spare battery for this laptop that I can beg, borrow, or buy, drop me an e-mail or give me a jingle: 508.410.3865


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Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Trees are Tapped

If you are a long time reader, you know that we have three very large Sugar Maples in the front yard of our house. This allows us to do our very own back to the farm routine every spring: tapping the trees and making Maple Syrup.

It sounds like a romantic exercise, and is often portrayed that way. Well, let's shatter a few myths this morning, shall we?

First, in order to extract the sap from the trees, you have to know exactly where to drill the hole. Yes, drill into a beautiful old tree; once you get past the general tree-hugger, "trees are our friends" mindset, you realize that this is no worse than you getting a blood sample taken. In fact, all of the tap holes from last year have healed over, or couldn't even be found.

The objective when choosing a location to tap is to find the trees arteries. I have learned the secret technique: find a spot where there in a large exposed root, and see if it traces up to a large branch. Jackpot. The best kind combine this with a line in the wood that looks exactly like Schwarzenegger's neck veins after a couple of hours of heavy lifting.

Once the tap is hammered in and the bucket|recycled milk jug is hung from the tree, all you have to do is collect the goodness every 4-8 hours.

Now comes the paint and plaster peeling component of the job.

Maple sap contains 1 gallon of syrup for every 40 gallons of sap. This means that Samantha has been boiling the trees' gifts to us non-stop for the last 3 days. The house is just now starting to smell like maple, as we keep supplementing our base with more and more sap.

Saving money on the humidifier, let me tell you.

The trick to doing this in a suburban neighbourhood is getting past the disbelief and concern for property values that the neighbours show. They seem to think that this harvest of nature's bounty is unnatural and should be zoned out of existence or regulated in some way. The best way to overcome resistance is to bribe them with some of the end-product. Every neighbour we bribed in this way has smiled and started drooling when they spot the buckets on our trees.

It is a great experience, and a reminder that there is a very interesting world beyond this plastic box I pound on every day.


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Thursday, March 16, 2006

This is my boss

Scott Berkun describes my manager perfectly. [here]

Sometimes I sit back and realize that the people who need to be everywhere, in every meeting, need to work 12 hours a day don't get it.

They may be successful, but what about their rise to the top has made them models for the rest of us?

Frankly, managers that need to work the way that Scott describes strike me as models of inefficiency and ineffectiveness.


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Acquicor: Apparently it is 1999 again

Three Apple vets form a company with no product and no strategy.

They go public and make $30M. [here]

How do I get a piece of this action?


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GrabPERF: Success Rate Celebration!

This morning, the Top/Bottom 20 Dashboard showed this glorious sight when I arrived at work.

All Green Availability - Mar 16 2006


All 100% available.

As well, none of the active measurements are showing below 99.5% availability for the last two hours.

Not sure how long this will last, but sometimes you have to celebrate the little things.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bay Area Next Week

Looks like I will be in the Bay Area next week (Mar 20-23). I am giving a full day training on Thursday, and meeting with customers between San Francisco and San Jose before then.

It will be good to get back to the old stomping grounds for a few days.

Most likely I will be arriving Monday, flying out late Thursday night.



UPDATE: My itinerary is

-- Arrive: Monday Mar 20 2006
-- Day trip to LA: Tuesday Mar 21
-- Client meetings: Wednesday Afternoon Mar 22 2006
-- All-day Client Training: Thursday Mar 23 2006
-- Depart: Red-eye Evening Thursday Mar 23 2006


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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

TypePad Performance — Not the usual rant

For a very long time (or so it seemed), the favourite target for abuse in the blog world was TypePad.

Well, I am here to state that in the last 30 days, the TypePad team has really tightened there ship.

TypePad Performance (30 Days) - Mar 14 2006


Knowing that performance is only one aspect of the equation, I checked the availability for the three TypePad blogs being monitored by GrabPERF. The aggregated success rate for the TypePad measurements fell below 95% in three of the 1,409 hours between 01/15/2006 00:00:00 GMT and 03/14/2006 23:59:59 GMT.

This is a remarkable achievement, and kudos to the TypePad team.


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Pat Robertson: Insane, Dangerous, and Christian

Pat Robertson is at it again.

BBC NEWS | Americas | Top US evangelist targets Islam

Outspoken US Christian evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson has accused Muslims of planning world domination, and said some were "satanic".

On his live television programme, The 700 Club, he said radical Islamists were inspired by "demonic power".

God is banging his head against the wall while Beelzebub is reserving the 11th Circle of Hell just for Pat.

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StatCounter Performance Issue

This afternoon, StatCounter showed a marked increase in performance.

StatCounter -- Mar 14 2006


Normally I wouldn't highlight an issue that only lasted an hour, but this appears to have been a very unusual issue that saw the page size decrease to nearly nothing, and performance shoot up to around 45 seconds. This combination usually indicates a back-end application timeout which then presents users with an error message.

StatCounter is in the GrabPERF Site Statistics Index.


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New computer for Samantha

Finally broke down and bought Samantha a new computer this morning.

Lowest common deniminator machine from Dell. But her current machine is showing its age and it's time to make it a computer for the boys. I even have a new hard drive for it -- the drive that used to hold the GrabPERF database.

Now maybe I can get a MacBookPro sometime in the next generation.

Yeah right.

I do lead a rich fantasy life...why do you ask?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Good News and Bad News on a Monday Morning

I arrived this morning and fired up the GrabPERF main page to check out the Top/Bottom Twenty.

This is what greeted me.

Good News & Bad News - Mar 13 2006

CLICK ME!


In the Good News category, every measurement in the Top Twenty had 100% availability.

In the Bad News category, some big names were showing up in the Bottom Twenty with performance and success rate numbers that made me do a double take.

I'm trying to figure out if it's something I said or something I ate.


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Sunday, March 12, 2006

A weekend in Maine

I got to hold a 3-day old lamb, and watch as Samantha gave this little creature it's first bath.

How cool is that?

I may spend my day shlepping bits and electrons, but there is something very special about watching your friend's 11 year-old daughter lead a little ball of wool on its first free walk in the field across the road.


Sometimes getting away from it all is worth it.


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Friday, March 10, 2006

In Maine for the Weekend

If you are looking for me, drop me a line. I will be on and off all weekend as we are visiting with friends.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Doc Searls, move over! Monster Mouth is on his way!

Some of you may know of this frightening shot of Doc Searls mouth.



Well, move over Doc! I just learned at the dentist this morning that my bridge has to come out, as the foundation teeth that hold it in place (it's a permanent plate) are...well, failing is the polite way to say it.

I have had the bridge for 20 years, so this is is no surprise to me, and one of the reasons that I have avoided seeing a dentist for so long.

I also learned that it could cost up to $25,000 to have the cadillac of replacements.

Or $10,000 if I want a job that will have to be fixed in another 10 years.

Or $1,000 if I don't mind feeling like my grandparents, putting my teeth in a glass by the bed every night.

Well, you guessed it: damn the self-image! I am going for the removable partial plate.

And how did I get into this mess in the first place? It's simple: I ran a complex, real-time experiement that clearly demonstrated the force required to remove teeth. The components included:
  • One bicycle
  • One truck
  • One asphalt roadway
In order to complete the experiment, the bicycle had to precisely clip the bumper of the truck. This was difficult to perform, as the bicycle was moving at high speed and the truck (which would not be able to see the bicycle until the last minute) had to swerve very precisely in front of the bicycle...and rider.

The MythBusters would have been proud.

So, unlike many Canadian men (and women), I lost my teeth in a cycling accident, not as a result of an on-ice altercation or an attempt to be Gump Worsley.

So, if you meet me in the future, ask me to pop out my teeth.

I might just do it.


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Gawker Media Site — Performance Degradation: Mar 8-9 2006

Over the last two days, the Gawker Media sites measured by GrabPERF have shown significant degradation during peak hours.

Gawker Media Performance - Mar 09 2006

Live data can be viewed here.


Most folks who read the affected blogs in feed readers will likely not notice the problem. However, no reason for the degradation has been released.

UPDATE: Gawker posted on the performance issue this afternoon [here]. Apparently there was a fermentation-related incident near one of the servers and specialist teams are working to resolve the issue -- I hear they brought in these guys.

[NB: Beating a server does not make it go faster, Nick.]

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A long time ago, in a hotel room far away… A Star Wars Christmas SPECIAL!?!?!?!?

It was December 1978.

My family had travelled to the big city of Calgary for our annual Christmas shopping expedition.

There were five of us crammed into a hotel room: Mom, Dad, my two younger brothers and me.

In an attempt to bribe us and keep us quiet, they let us watch this travesty against a modern mythology.

Some would say this is the event that scarred me and made me the man I am today.

I still need therapy to cope with the night terrors the memory of this event brings to me.

The Star Wars Christmas Special was so bad, that George Lucas sttempted to suppress it for more than 20 years.

I was reminded of the existence of the show last Christmas when NPR listed the show in some anthology of doomed Christmas specials -- I remember less about that interview than I do of the special itself.

I am in awe that someone has released this again.

I know I will scream in horror when I watch it.

Via: Good Morning Silicon Valley


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Wednesday, March 8, 2006

GrabPERF Site Statistics | Web Analytics Index - Mar 08 2006

The Site Statistics | Web Analytics Index measurements have been running now for about 2.5 days, and I wanted to make some general comments on what I am seeing.

The methodolgy for testing is straightforward. I chose sites | services that allowed you to create a free (if limited) account to track your Web visitors, and allowed you to make these statistics available to for anyone to look at. Using this this, a measurement was established against the landing page that visitors would see if they chose to look at these publicly available statistics.

I am using this blog as the placeholder for the tracking "bugs"  used in this index (see the right-hand column).

Site Stat Services Index - Mar 08 2006

From the graph above, it is clear that ShinyStat is the performance leader in this space. They have the smallest overall page size as well as the fastest and most reliable performance.

It is important to note that services such as WebTrends, Omniture, WebSideStory and Coremetrics are not included, as they are beyond the reach of most bloggers, and do not provide a public side to their data. Also, Google Analytics is not included, as they do not provide public access to the collected data.

The collected data is available in GrabPERF as both the Site Statistics Index, and as individual measurements.


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PubSub and other thoughts

I heard (via TechCrunch and Om Malik and PubSub) that there is some ... transition at PubSub.

Now, I have a soft spot in my heart for PubSub, because Bob Wyman was the first person to really notice and appreciate the things I was doing at GrabPERF. I wonder what the future holds for this team.

Frankly, I would agree with Michael Arrington's comment that PubSub is a likely acquisition target. They do offer a very interesting service, but as a standalone offering, the opportunities are becoming increasingly narrow. As part of a larger Social Web/Web 2.0 firm with a broad range of products, PubSub's technology could become the glue that holds the various parts together.

Update: Salim Ismail, the now retired CEO, posts his own comments here.


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Tuesday, March 7, 2006

On what it means to be old

Old is such a relative thing.

Where I grew up, in the British Columbia Interior, an old building is one that dates from between 1860 and 1900.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, you might see some buildings from the 1840s, maybe some Spanish ones that are older.

In Massachussetts/New England, there are some buildings that date from the 1620-1640.

In the UK, the new church in a village may have been constructed in 1610, to replace the one built in 1078.

In Cairo or Jerusalem, people don't blink when you say that you live in a house built in 948 AD.

Old is so relative...and so fleeting.


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New! Site Statistics Index

I have now launched the GrabPERF Site Statistics Index. The current members are:
  • StatCounter
  • SiteMeter
  • ShinyStats
  • OneStat
If you know of or represent a firm that I have missed, please drop me an email or a comment.


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Ping-O-Matic: Ok, so sometimes throwing hardware at a problem is the answer

Matt threw a bunch of hardware at Ping-O-Matic this morning.

Ping-O-Matic - Mar 07 2006

I think this is an improvement.

UPDATE:
Anecdotally, I know that Ping-O-Matic is faster, because Performancing is done so much faster now.


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Monday, March 6, 2006

Do you know “The Prisoner”?

Patrick McGoohan created the amazing character of "Number Six" a year before I was born. But sitting here in my beautiful home in Massachusetts, I understand the feelings that the character must have experienced.

The premise, for those who don't know the show, is that Number Six is a top agent for an unnamed spy agency who resigns for reasons that are never clear. He is then suddenly kidnapped and placed in this remarkably serene village by the sea, where all his needs are fulfilled. However, this comes at a price: he is no longer free.

I live that every day.

I have had people say that this view is extreme.

But it is also true.

I am free to go about my business in any way I chose, but the US government or my current employer can revoke my status at any time.

Then I am free to return to Canada poor, but free.

It is crazy to think that borders mean so much. Working on the internet has made boundaries meaningless to me. I have contacts all over the US, and around the world. But I am trapped by borders.

Now, I know that this may not always be the case. One of the senior executives at the company I work for is also Canadian, but with a Green Card. He has complete freedom to go where he wants, and do what he wants, and work for whomever he wants.

I miss that freedom.

The life of a "guest worker" is starting to wear on both Samantha and me. We are concerned that our eldest may be discriminated against in later life simply because he is Canadian. We are also worried about what may happen to our youngest because he is a US citizen.

They are simply our children. How can we raise them in such an atmosphere of uncertainty?

Samanatha is going to Victoria to visit her parents in April. When she comes back, I know that the distance between where we are (Massachusetts), and where we want to be (Washington, Oregon, British Columbia) will need to be bridged.

I know that we must return to the West Coast.

But here I am, trapped in the netherworld that the "guest workers" inhabit.

I cannot recommend this experience to anyone. A job in the US seems like a good idea, but consider the costs.

You will be trapped by a job, be trapped in a job, and be chained to one job.

That is the compromise you have to accept.

I can no longer accept it.

I am NOT a number...


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On shameless self-promotion and other facts of life

I had an interesting exchange with David Parmet earlier today that involved self-promotion and promotion of causes that mean something to us personally.

Well, isn't that the geek way? Lay low, do the "cool" things, and let the marketing folks make the buzz? I am no good at going out there and saying "LOOK AT ME!"; not my style.

I have touched one…and it was good.

I got to touch a MacBookPro today.

I have since cleaned up the drool.

Wow.

Too bad I will never own one.


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Web Performance Domains for Sale

I just had a look at the list of domains that I own and realize that
I want/need to clean house. There are 3 domains that I want to keep,
and 9 that I am looking to get rid of.


Domains that I want to unload include:


  • mod-deflate.net
  • mod-deflate.org
  • performancecore.org
  • performancecorps.org
  • performancefreaks.org
  • performanceguru.org
  • performanceindex.org
  • searchindex.org
  • webcaching.org
  • webcompression.org
  • webperformance.org

Currently asking $2,000 each for webperformance.org, webcaching.org, searchindex.org, performanceindex.org, and webcompression.org, and anything I can get for the others.



edgeio-key: 00878878ccc0ba01e6db77a82889f12e12fcb084

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Hit Counter/Visitor Tracking Performance

You'll notice that I have added the SiteMeter and StatCounter logos to the sidebar. Yes, I am a stats freak, but I also wanted to monitor how quickly each of these two services can deliver a page of basic stats to someone who clicks on the links.

So far, you can see the performance difference here.

I know that there are other services out there, and if you can think of one you use that i have forgotten, drop an e-mail or a comment. I want to create a site analytics benchmark, and also do some analysis of the differences in values captured by each of the services.

UPDATE [17:31 GMT]: I added OneStat to the list. New graph is here.

UPDATE [18:01 GMT]: I added ShinyStat to the list. New graph is here.

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Sunday, March 5, 2006

Dear WGBH

Dear WGBH:

It is Spring Pledge time again. You have replaced all of the shows I love to watch with drivel about growing old gracefully and saving money I don't have, interspersed with do-wop and motown revival concerts.

Once again, I will not be donating to your station, in protest.

I want more of what I like, not less. When you run an Hercule Poiroit marathon followed by two complete This Old House project series, I might consider giving. Run a day of NOVA, and you will get my credit card for life. Run The Civil War, Jazz and Baseball back-to-back, and I will sell you a kidney.

But no. You run crap that drives me away from your programming.

Why? Do you actually ask the people who watch your station what would encourage them to give money?

Please, take me off your list.

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Thursday, March 2, 2006

New name; New mind

Today, I re-named this blog. The Newest Industry had reached the end of a very long and satisfying road. It was time to "re-brand".

But the content will remain remarkable unchanged!

Sort of like the real world.


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I CAN drive 55

And what if some people did?

A study in obedience.


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Brad Feld’s Desk

In a post this morning, Brad Feld posted a picture of his desk.



Hmmm...wonder if I can get a second mortgage for ONE LCD screen?


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