Welcome, Peter

Another Sloanie has come to Redmond. I got an email yesterday from Peter Doulas, who was in my MBA class at Sloan, letting me know he’s joined Microsoft to work on server marketing. Welcome!

Gary Locke moving on

I’m not the closest follower of state politics out here in Washington. (After all, neither is the local media—a far cry from Boston’s baying news hounds.) But I was a little surprised that Gary Locke declared that he will not seek a third term as Governor of Washington yesterday. It leaves me wondering about his next act. Senator? His profile is a little too low to throw his hat into
the presidential ring for 2004.

I will note that coming from eight years of governing a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation might make it a little difficult to do battle against Republican opponents on the national stage.

Support for Bush’s forestry plan from an unlikely source

It looks like I was wrong
to allege
that the Bush policy on logging national forests to
save trees was cynical and a sell out of government resources to
support industry. This article in the New York Times reports on an

accidental experiment
that showed that thinned forest patches
that had been subjected to prescribed burns—controlled forest
fires—stopped a rampaging non-prescribed burn dead in its tracks. Note that Charlie called this one in the comments to my original post.

LiveJournal puts Weblogs.Com over the top

Dave points out that LiveJournal blogs have started pinging Weblogs.com. This means that Weblogs.com gets a new high water mark almost for free. My data has been updated, and the chart is below:

linear plot of weblogs.com high water growth, 22 jul

I was definitely right to hesitate about predicting exponential growth of the blogosphere back in May. Look at what has happened to the shape of the curve since then. I think what happened was that the end of the war made a lot of people update less frequently, and may have driven some warbloggers off the map entirely. But I also noticed that the traffic on Weblogs.com systematically flirted with the high water mark throughout May and June.

I think the time has come to start investigating the data more systematically. Time to look at starting that cron job…

Got TrackBack?

My blog just became the beneficiary of the new TrackBack features added to Manila by UserLand. Theoretically at least I have the ability to send outbound pings and receive inbound pings. I say “theoretically” because I’ve tried sending an outbound ping and haven’t seen any results, and haven’t seen any inbound pings yet either. But it should work.

Things that I’ve found while working on enabling this feature:

  1. For those who don’t know anything about TrackBack, there’s a good non-technical explanation here.
  2. The TrackBack list, like the Comments list, is not available on the static view of my site at www.www.jarretthousenorth.com, but it is available at the dynamic view at discuss.www.jarretthousenorth.com.
  3. The TrackBack ping URL is not the same as the permalink for a post. Don’t know why I thought it would be, but… You can find the URL to ping by clicking the TrackBack link under a news item.
  4. NetNewsWire doesn’t provide a field for TrackBack URLs for Manila blogs yet.

SQL Blogs

My bread and butter for workday software, not counting the omni-present Office suite, is probably SQL Server. In my job, I’m frequently dealing with Very Large Data Sets, and with my years of training in the client server salt mines, SQL is still the best way for me to deal with that data and interrogate it in a meaningful way. I learned SQL on Sybase and Watcom (now called Sybase SQL Anywhere), and have hacked on various open source packages, but started using Microsoft’s implementation around v. 6.0 or 6.5 for a port of our software that never happened. Now in the last year I’ve had to come up to speed on SQL Server 2000, just in time to start making the transition to Yukon.

I am really pleased to see some hard core SQL bloggers start up at the appropriately named SQLBlogs site. None of the bloggers appear to be actual Microsofties; they’re all dedicated professionals who spend a ton of time day in and day out with the SQL engine, and are covering some cool topics, including handling errors with connection pooling and some tricky stuff about the various datetime data types in SQL Server. Looks to be a good place for me to push my skills.

Welcome and welcome back

A few quick updates:

  • Congrats and welcome back to John Robb on getting his site re-hosted. Two lessons to draw from this: (1) Having your site on a platform that automatically creates a local back up, like Radio, is pretty damn cool. (2) As John says, “NEVER (under any circumstances) publish a weblog to a domain that you don’t control.”
  • Echoing Greg, congrats also to Joe Gross for getting a proper blog started with his fellow Austin American-Statesman writers. I blogrolled the blog last week but didn’t actually give the obligatory shout-out.

Random reason to have a blog #23

It’s much, much easier to look cool on your blog than it is in real life.

By which I mean: look at my past listening page (lots of images, but don’t worry, I’ll wait until you come back). Now, if I had actually been hip to each of those albums when they came out, I’d be so hip that I’d have difficulty seeing over my own pelvis. In reality, most of those albums have been, for years, either “I’ve been meaning to get around to listening to that, but…” or “Sounds fun, but I can’t possibly right now…”

What’s changed all that is legal downloaded music. I can pay $0.99 a song at the Apple store and pick up all the songs I’ve ever wanted to listen to from college, high school and before, including the Sugarcubes, some Mazzy Star, Sinéad O’Connor, some Bauhaus, 10,000 Maniacs, American Music Club, etc. Or find all the stuff that I’ve discovered over the last few months listening to KEXP, including the Pernice Brothers, My Morning Jacket, Yo La Tengo, the New Pornographers, Loose Fur, Cat Power, the Reindeer Section…

And then there are all the guilty pleasures that can’t be gotten out of my head. Evidence point # only for tonight: the Ready for the World/Jets double album, Back to Back, inexplicably available from the Apple Music Store. Including “Oh Sheila,” “Crush on You,” “You Got It All (Over Him),” and of course “Digital Display.” You remember “Digital Display,” right? “Excuse me if I start to play… with your digital display…”

But I can choose not to put Ready for the World and the Jets on my blog. Except, of course, that I just did. So much for being hip.

RSS gets a new sponsor

Dave drops a bombshell in the syndication controversy: UserLand has transferred the RSS spec copyright to the Berkman Center; has put it under a Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike license; and set up an advisory board to promote RSS and maintain the spec according to the roadmap.

Politically this is mostly savvy. I’m curious to see where the “advisory board” bit goes. But congrats to Brent for his role on the board. It’s always really good to have a pragmatic developer who has to consume the spec on board.

Scoble on spyware

Scoble writes about getting spyware, and laments, “Yeah, I know I can run Ad Aware to remove it, but, what happens if a ‘normal’ customer gets spyware at home. Think they know how to remove it? No way.”

Actually, Scoble, at least some of them do. The stats on Download.com say that AdAware has been downloaded over 18 million times. Sounds to me like the market is working pretty efficiently here. But yes, it would be good if we got off our butts and put popup blocking in IE. (This is one of those times that I have to remind everyone that this opinion is mine alone, and that there is no warranty expressed or implied by my comment.)

Falling off a bicycle without a helmet

Esta pointed to this WaPo article identifying a potential genetic cause of post-traumatic depression; if you lack the gene, the studies’ authors say, “traumatic experiences are like falling off a bicycle, but genes determine whether the person is wearing a helmet.”

I can’t say that I find that analogy especially compelling, though I will note that during depressed times I find my brain function slowed, almost as if I’ve been trepanned. No, that’s not quite right; more like someone has put a felt barrier between my thoughts and myself.

Here we go again

On Ed Felten’s blog, a new bill introduced in the House of Representatives that once again overreaches itself in a serious way trying to protect the content middlemen: the Author, Consumer, and Computer Owner Protection and Security (ACCOPS) Act of 2003. The bill states that to knowingly offer “enabling software,” defined as software that, “when installed on the users’ computer, enables third parties to store data on that computer, or use that computer to search other computers’ content over the Internet,” and not to warn of the privacy implications and offer the user a chance to opt out, may result in a fine or jail time.

I perhaps overreach in ascribing an RIAA or MPAA agenda to this bill. It could easily be interpreted as a consumer protection act against “spyware” and viruses (not that we really need consumer protection against virus software; existing laws have proved pretty capable of handling them). However, Felten correctly points out that the language is so broad that a download of Microsoft Windows could be covered under the bill, while the original Napster client, “lacking upload and network search facilities,” would not be covered.

It would save us all a lot of time if the folks writing these bills would get the help of someone other than whoever’s pockets they happen to be in before introducing them. Then maybe we could together work out a consensus definition of “bad technology” that’s a little more precise.