Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Monday, 2017.10.23
You live and learn or you don't live long.

		Robert Heinlein, "Time Enough For Love"

2007.02.01

It’s My Blog And I’ll Cry When I Want To

Althouse is having problems with the new Blogger. The “new and improved”, post-upgrade software seems to be as palatable as New Coke. She describes the issues from the blogger’s perspective and I can attest her site is taking a while to load. Haven’t tried to post any comments yet. I noticed similar problems with Gateway Pundit’s site a month or so ago when he was upgrading to the new Blogger. Gateway Pundit’s site always took longer to load, but for several weeks it took a really long time. Seems to be back to normal slow speed now so perhaps the Althouse issues, at least for the visitors, will resolve over time.

I had looked at Blogger several years ago and didn’t much care for the interface and functional layout from a blogger’s perspective. The steps for posting comments still strikes me as rather tedious. I have some doubts about how Blogger tracks web traffic, too. Over the past several months I’ve been working to sort out the JZ:TOL traffic patterns and the trends have been rather interesting. SPAM has been the biggest issue. As I identify IP addresses associated with SPAM, I ban them and they drop out of my traffic statistics. Bots are another big issue. In most cases, I want the bots because I want my blog to show up in search engines and such. But I don’t include bot traffic in my stats. Does Blogger count SPAM hits, even ones that are successfully filtered? Does Blogger count bot scans as if they were visitors? Same questions could be asked of the various third party site meter services.

Eventually, I settled on WordPress and have used it ever since. But there was a deeper criteria for me when looking for a content management system. I had to have complete control over the system. I wanted unfettered access to the web logs, the database, the code and the system. This means it had to be hosted on a machine I owned. This greatly expanded the options for software, backup and recovery strategies, and upgrades.

Granted, the capability to manage such a system is extra work and not something that is desirable for the vast majority of bloggers. It’s a question of trade-offs and accumulated experience. System administration tasks are for me what handling a saw is for a woodworker – not much effort because of the many years practice in handling the tools. Upgrades to JZ:TOL always occur on a non-public mirror site so I can see the effect and assess the impact of any upgrades or code changes. The upside is near transparent upgrades to the public blog. And in the unlikely event of a water landing after an upgrade to the public blog, I have a rollback strategy in place that can restore the previous site in a matter of minutes. Apparently, Blogger doesn’t have such capabilities. Having such a system in place also makes the blog more secure as patches and upgrades can be tested and pushed within hours of the announced patch or upgrade.

Like I said, it’s a question of trade-offs and accumulated experience. When I have a legal problem, even a relatively small one, I hire an attorney. With Althouse, probably not the case.

[Edit History]

2007.02.02

Didn’t mean to imply JZ:TOL is hosted on WordPress. Rather, I use the WordPress software application on my own javazen.com server. Ambiguity fixed.

2006.12.18

A Case Study In Professional Sloppy Thinking

Reporter Jennifer Mooney Piedra of the Miami Herald either lacks the skills for critical thinking, is pushing a personal agenda, or both. Ms. Piedra’s “reporting” provides us with a classic example of category error thinking.

60 Second Course In Logic: A category error in thinking is what is at the root of solving the wrong problem, fixing what isn’t broken. A common example is the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The Japanese sailed their navy across the Pacific Ocean and attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor with aircraft launched from ships. Had FDR made a category error in responding to this attack, he might have outlawed all aircraft or ships since such things were used in the attack. But he didn’t make this mistake in thinking. He correctly determined that the Japanese government had used aircraft and ships to attack and so FDR declared war on Japan.

Back to Ms. Piedra’s “reporting”…

Kim Raffo was the picture-perfect mother and housewife.

She helped her two kids with science fair projects, decorated cupcakes for bake sales and volunteered for the PTA.

During the holidays, she opened her four-bedroom home in eastern Pembroke Pines to family and friends. She ”went all out” for the gatherings, serving elaborate homemade meals that would have made Martha Stewart proud, her family said.

For her daughter’s fifth birthday, she transformed her back yard into a petting zoo.

”She was Super Mom,” said her mother, Joan Daniels, of Miramar. “People looked at her in awe.”

But soon after she turned 30, the world of the well-liked, stay-at-home mom began to dissolve. Perhaps it was the continuous round of school trips, the endless birthday parties, the numerous visits to the park.

Tragically, Ms. Raffo had been murdered. From the rest of the article we learn more of the behaviors which shifted Ms. Raffo away from being a good mother: Partying, experimenting with drugs and she took off with a new boyfriend – “a convicted felon with a lengthy criminal history that includes multiple arrests for felony cocaine possession, disorderly conduct and charges of soliciting a prostitute.”

As her relationship with Bilecki became more serious, so too did her addiction to club drugs, such as cocaine, Ecstasy and Xanax, her husband said.

There were nights when Raffo came home drunk or high. Other nights, she didn’t come home at all.

Hellloooooo? Do you suppose the deadbeat boyfriend was a factor? Ms. Piedra chooses to finger motherhood and parenting as the culprits, probably because such things don’t fight back – they’re the easy mark. She is implying that motherhood and parenting need to be fixed in spite of the fact that millions of parents are doing a good job each day. She has worked to massage this one tragic example to what purpose? We can only hope this is just a case of bad writing.

So how about that Mr. Bilecki? What is he in all this? A victim of that universally cruel and heartless machinery we call “parenting”, perhaps? What a sloppy, pedantic piece of reporting. Why is Ms. Piedra attempting to add to the story rather than report the story. Here’s a suggestion, Ms. Piedra, put the novel back in the desk drawer when it’s time to do your job.

(H/T: Florida Cracker)

2006.08.18

In-Flight Internet Abandoned

I’m not surprised by this:

Boeing is scrapping its in-flight high speed broadband service because of lack of interest from leading airlines.

The discontinuation of its Connexion service will cost the plane maker $320m (£169m) in one-off charges.

There are probably any number of reasons, vaguely encapsulated by Boeing’s reason of “Regrettably, the market for this service has not materialized as had been expected.” Specifically, I’d venture the following:

  • It’s yet another thing the airline has to support, which adds to their cost.

  • Focusing on a computer screen for the duration of a flight is tiring on the eyes, even for the few times I have attempted to do this. There are enough headache causing things about air travel. No need to add another.

  • Airplanes are just not good places to focus on work. Anything from turbulence to interruptions by flight attendants passing peanuts and beverages to row mates getting up to go to the bathroom make it near impossible to keep a decent train of thought going if you want to write an article or work on software code.
  • Security rules have made the prospect of pulling out a laptop during a flight increasingly inconvenient. I can foresee a day where laptops in the cabin will be forbidden.

  • For a lot of people, there just isn’t enough space to open a laptop. If you are my size (6′ 5″) it is flat out impossible. The few times I’ve been able to open a laptop and do some work for an hour or more it has been because the seat next to me was open allowing me to use that seat’s drop down tray.

These, and I’m sure other things I’m not thinking of at the moment, push “Internet Access” down on the list of desired amenities during an airline flight. Criminy, these days I’m just delighted, as I’m sure are others, to keep the clothes on my body without security confiscating them.

2006.07.25

RFID In Medicine

This is a good idea and an excellent use of technology:

Technology that helps airlines keep track of baggage and sounds an alarm when a shoplifter tries to leave the store may be able to stop surgeons from losing a sponge inside a patient, a study said on Monday.

Doctors at Stanford University School of Medicine who tested sponges embedded with radio frequency identification tags said the system accurately alerted surgeons when they deliberately left a sponge inside a temporarily closed surgical site and waved a detector wand over it.

And they could go further. Its been widely reported that close to 100,000 Americans die each year as a result of medical errors. And its been suggested this number is too low. I believe there are many ways computer technology can be leveraged to make the practice of medicine much safer. Mind you, not as a replacement to current practices, but as an enhancement.

I had voiced a related suggestion more than a year ago whereby medication containers (bubble packages, bottles, syringes, etc.) would contain a RFID coded with the drug and dose. The patient’s chart and wrist band would contain data about what they are allergic to, which medications had been prescribed and the dose prescribed. Coordinated with a central knowledge base about all known drug interactions an additional level of checking (assuming the medical staff continues to check medications as is done today) can be done by computers to ensure the patient is getting what was prescribed, the dose and interval is correct and contraindications/side effects are taken into account.

A thread on the use of RFID for surgical sponges can be found at Schneier on Security.

2004.10.20

Farewell to Quicken

I’ve been a Quicken user for a long, long time. The oldest version for which I could find disks was MS-DOS version 5.0. Although I have an earlier manual, the accompanying disk has long since been buried in a long forgotten box.

Prior to Quicken, I used a program called Pacioli 2000 (this was 1990, before marketing types hijacked versioning.) Named after the monk who invented double entry bookkeeping, Pacioli 2000 was also an excellent program. It was straightforward to use, the documentation was excellent (it contained one of the more concise MS-DOS tutorials I’ve every found and came with a cheesy video on accounting) and reporting was robust. But Pacioli 2000 was geared more for business and accounting principles confused the heck out of me.

Back then, Quicken was also straightforward and easy to use. Like your grandfathers roll top desk, everything had a place, organization was easy and reporting was concise. Everything in the package was yours. Customization was limited to screen colors and the like.

It’s different today. Everything isn’t yours and you don’t have access to all the cubby holes. Some of the drawers are locked and you don’t own the key. Tickers for mortgage loans scroll across the status bar and you cannot turn them off. Features you might find useful are displayed, billboard style, but only available via subscription. Grandfather’s roll top desk has become cluttered and stuffed with junk mail. Finding what’s yours consumes half the time spent floundering around in the program. (more…)

2001.07.20

From The Objects-Are-Closer-Than-They-Appear Department

You might be aware that our Sun will be a red giant in about 15 billion years, and its size will increase dramatically beyond the Mercury orbit and we will enter the “crispy critters” phase of our evolution. But do you know that the Andromeda Galaxy will collide with our Milky Way in about 3 billion years? Then another time after 1 billion years to merge themselves. What a mess! I thought there would be some laws against this happening or at the lease some sort of EPA ruling but no such luck. There are some pretty nice simulations in MPEG, and a lot of pictures with some explanation on the web sites listed below.

So the message for today: Party like it’s 2,999,999,999! WooHoo!

http://www.npaci.edu/online/v4.9/galaxies2.html
http://www.cita.utoronto.ca/~dubinski/tflops/


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