Penalty for Unnecessary Roughness

Recently, I stomped on the Firefox team and Tim Bray.  Yesterday, I stomped on Jonathan Schwartz and Technorati.  I would like to give myself a yellow flag for unnecessary roughness as they do in football and take it easy for a while.  While I write posts as I see it and feel like it, I think I have been doing too much stomping lately and my feet needs some rest.

What’s is wrong with Technorati?

Before, I thought Technorati was going places and liked the service enough to attend a Technorati developer open house, but I am not sure any more.

They now have over a hundred servers instead of a handful and tracks four million blogs instead of less than a million, but the quality of service seems to have gotten worse over time.  Am I just imagining that Technorati seems slower and results seem less complete and more noisesome than before?  I have no problem with outages, but I am disturbed by the apparent lack of improvement in the performance and quality of their service after all time time and resources they invested.

If they are having problems and need some help from the outside, maybe they should open up and ask for help.  If the last Technorati developer open house meeting was any indication, I am sure they will have no problem finding volunteers who would be glad to donate some time to save an important part of the blogosphere infrastructure.


Just a day after this post, Technorati announced Technorati Hackathon event to gather the Technorati fan/clan.  Way to go, Dave.  Also, the service seems faster and more reliable all of a sudden.  If I was a conspiracy addict, I might have wondered if they were waiting for a fool to post a complaint before turning on some optimizations.  Results are still noisy though with many duplicate items and blogroll links.  They need to work on that.

Anyway, I am happy enough for now although I am perfectly willing to be the whiny cheerleader.

Per-Floormat Patent

Jonathan Schwartz filed patent applications for per-employee software pricing.  Awesome.  Maybe I should file a similar patents for per-chair, per-desk, and per-floormat software pricing methods and offer them at a much lower license fee.  It doesn't have to be items an employee has usually only one item of.  While I am at it, I can file patent on software pricing schemes based on thousands of other business sizing metrics and millions of derivatives.

Tiger on the loose

I was expecting it to be released a few months later, but JDK 5.0 (aka JDK 1.5 and Tiger) was released today.  Go get it, jBoys and jGirls.  While you are at it, you might want to lean over the edge a bit with Eclipse 3.1M2 since Eclipse 3.0.x has some Tiger-related issues as-is.

Speaking of Tiger, I am a tiger too chinese zodiac wise.  Many times over in fact since chinese zodiac applies to months and hours as well.  When all the signs, including those of my parents, are combined, I have several tigers, one dragon, and a bull.  Of the three animals, tiger is my favorite.  My wife thinks I am the Tigger though: roaring occasionally, but bouncing around happily most of the time.

Boing!  Boing!  oh ho ho HO!

Ongoing Hypocrisy?

I just had a IM chat with Didier again.  Didier is now just a few days from moving back to Bordeaux, France but he was angry about Tim Bray's recent post:

Tim wrote recently in Helping Them Lie:

Google is getting some well-deserved flak for emasculating the Chinese version of Google News by suppressing headlines that point at things the government of China doesn’t want its citizens to read.

By suppressing the headlines that point at forbidden material, Google is actively aiding and abetting the Chinese government’s marketing program.

Back in June, Joi Ito wrote, in response to Dan Gillmor's post about Iran's net censorship, about a conversation he had with a Sun employee he met:

I once sat next to a guy from Sun Federal, a Sun Microsystems subsidiary, who was on his way back from selling a filtering system to a government.

Going further back on

Amnesty named several U.S.-based companies as alleged suppliers of technology used in the Chinese government's crackdown on Internet speech. These included Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Nortel Networks and filtering software supplier Websense.

Oops.  I know Tim is an upstanding guy and I don't think he was aware of the role his own company played with China's Great CyberWall, but I can understand how his post might appear to some people like a display of hypocrisy.

For companies like Sun, profits are profits but business practice that undermines the moral ground of its employees, particularly an outspoken one like Tim, can hurt them badly.


As for me, I have not participated in anyway with the building of their firewalls or news filtering infrastructure.  However, I am perfectly willing to sell them anything they want as long as it's legal and there are profits to be made.

While I fully sympathize with those suffering from the Chinese government's newage campaign of tyranny, it's ultimately a battle for the Chinese citizens.  If they are putting up with it, I am not going to waste time shaking my fingers indignantly.  I think it will happen eventually but not any time soon.

On the other hand, fingershaking is a great exercise for those with full stomach.

SourceLabs and DeviceWise

I think the idea behind SourceLabs is an excellent one which will eventually allow them to reap a lionshare of the profits generated by open source movement.

DeviceWise is a similarly innovative idea that I thought about some time ago.  Instead of each hardware companies writing their own software, DeviceWise writes software for peripheral  hardware companies.

By specializing in producing quality software, there is a good chance a company like DeviceWise can play a dominant role in the peripheral hardware market like the way Microsoft plays in the software market.  Why?  Because hardware companies write shitty software.  Over time, such a company can cultivate a brand that customers will want on hardware boxes.  The downside is that the company could end up being just another contract programming shop.

I would have started up DeviceWise if I didn't hate writing firmware and device drivers.  It's a mindbogglingly boring yet troublesome job.  When I did it ages ago, I wasted half of my time dealing with faulty hardware or arguing with hardware engineers.  Ever tried to debug software running on hastily soldiered together circuits?  Urgh.

Skydiving with Search Hats On

I have accumulated quite a pile of search related ideas over the years, most of which are not new algorithms but just new approaches to searching.  Since I am going to be exposed to some NDA protected activities at Microsoft next week and there might be some overlap between their mindset and mine, I thought I should spill some out now just in case.  As to why I am helping Microsoft out and not Google: Microsoft asked, Google didn't.

First of these are Search Hats.  A 'search hat' is just a metaphor for the 'why' behind searches.  When we search for information online, we are searching for a reason.  Grouping those reasons by roles, perspectives, or interests, most people should end up with a handful of large clusters.

If each cluster is a hat a person wears when doing a search, a group of people with similar roles, perspectives, or interests should have similar sets of hats.  Search hats affect the presentation of search results such that items related to the roles, perspectives, or interests appear more prominently.

For example, if I search for 'Eclipse' while wearing the 'Software Developer' hat, I should get Eclipse IDE related links before links related to the astrophysical phenenomon.  If even I was interested in the later, results I get back should be different depending on whether I am wearing a Physicist's hat or a Photographer's hat.

Information on which links are relevant to which hats can be culled by keeping track of which hats searchers are wearing when they do the searches.  Same information can be used to recommend hats a searcher might be interested in wearing.  Hats can also be shared amonger searchers explicitly.

Like Dr. Seuss's magic hats, there are hats within hats so seachers can browse for the right hat that suits them by diving into hats or grabbing one of the hats returned as part of each search result.  Over time, a user's hat collection will be refined and adjusted to meet the user's search needs.

The nice things about Search Hats for search service providers is that a) search results will be more accurate and contain less noise, b) hat collections are great for targeted ads, and c) users will find it difficult to abadon their hat collection.

Oops.  I am out of time so I'll have to cover the 'Skydiving' idea later.  Now where did I put my hat?

Excitable Entrepreneur

If you are an entrepreneur, checkout Joe Krause's blog, Bnoopy, where he writes about the experiences and lessons he learned while starting up Excite.  I enjoyed every one of his posts so far and Joe is just getting started.  BTW, welcome to the blogosphere Joe.