Fake Facebook Invitations?

In the past few days, I've been getting Facebook invitations from people whose names I don't recognize, names that seem generated like Jessica Gentleheart or Elenor Goldriver. When I look them up, they usually lack pictures of themselves or have little or no friends. I think Facebook will have to start modelling user activity patterns to curb abusive behavior intelligently.
If you know me, I would appreciate a few words in invitations to help me recognize you, hopefully information that is not publically known like shared experiences or events. One major benefit of building social networks this way is that it makes phishing difficult. After all, anyone can masquerade as anyone on Facebook. All one needs is a name and photo to get started and, even if the real person shows up, it'll take time and effort to clean up the mess with little risk to the pretender.

Eclipse as a City

I think Eclipse has finally reached a major crossroad with Eclipse 3.3 (Europa). Until now, Eclipse was a lot of fun as a tool as well as a community but its complexity has now reached the threshold that distinguishes New York from New Jersey.
If Eclipse is a boomtown which countless developers and companies continue to pour into, it now looks like LA, tiny downtown surrounded by endless expanse of suburban neighborhoods indistinguishable from each other other than by their names. Although one of the key pioneers behind Eclipse is Eric Gamma, one of the four authors of the infamous Design Patterns book, I feel that not enough attention is being paid to the original concepts that inspired the book, concepts captured in books by Christopher Alexander:

  1. The Timeless Way of Building
  2. A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction
  3. The Oregon Experiment

I've only read the first two (highly recommended, perfect for camping trips) but the basic idea is that a town is like a symphony in which houses, streets, rooms, doorways, and people's lives play parts. Design patterns make up the language of understanding, a tool essential for unravelling, rendering, and communicating complexity.
I suppose one could look at many Europa packages as ethnic neighborhoods but to me they look more like those bewildering avalanche of high-rise apartments in South Korea. It's a place to live but not a place of life.

Eclipse 3.3 Final Released

As expected, Eclipse 3.3 shipped. Packaging is more confusing than previous releases though. There are four packages for Java developers to choose from and one for C++ developers.

I think differences are only in selection of features and plugins IDE starts off with and not in some fundamental ways due to some unknown conflicts. It would be nice if Eclipse team stated this explicitly and provided more detailed info on differences. As for me, I am going to go with the one for RCP/Plug-in Developers although Classic is apparently the same as old SDK packaging.

Japan’s Apology and Self-Denial

US House Foreign Affairs Committee approved H Res 121 which is a non-binding yet face-losing resolution that calls for Japan to apologize for coercing women in occupied Korea and China into sexual slavery during World War II. My personal thanks goes out to the resolution sponsor, Representative Michael Honda, and supporters of the resolution around the world.

Japan has apologized before but it was neither formal nor sincere enough. And what's the point of apologizing when Japan's leaders keep denying and rewriting the truth and history? A full page on Wall Street Journal two weeks ago, paid for by 42 Japanese politicians, is a good example.

Frankly, I am not sure if they are fooling themselves or just trying to fool rest of the world. I fear it is the former and self denial will only worsen as time passes.

Virtual Goods and In-game Economy

It's kinda amusing to read notes from Virtual Goods conference transcripts (via Scoble). When I was researching (ahem) World of Warcraft, I spent a lot of time at the Auction House trading to get a first-hand understanding of forces at work. I started trading common goods then uncommon goods, eventually trading rare and epic goods exclusively and cornering markets, dealing with server population age shift, taking advantage of migration surges, and riding the supply and demand cycle. I got so good at it and made so much gold that I started giving gold away to guild (We Know) mates, buying their mounts, paying for materials to help them build skills my guild needed and finally for MC outtings supplies. After I quit, my son was shocked that I erased all that gold off WoW's spinning disk plates. Unearned gold spoils the experience.
To do well at AH, one has to understand the in-game economy and player psychology intimately. But, apparently, participants of the Virtual Goods conference haven't invested much time into understanding the forces at work inside the virtual worlds, instead opting to project their understanding of Web 2.0 economy into close yet vastly different in-game environment.
WoW golds are not roses or virtual furnitures. They are more real because the needs are more real. Virtual goods they are talking about are words and desires expressed visually. In-game goods are more about tools, needs, respects, fashion, and…time. I have a lot more to say but, for now, I will say this:

It's like marriage, you have to live it to know it.

BTW, I think WoW has peaked and tiring fast. It'll take years to die though with so many people onboard.

North Korean Threat

So North Korea is preparing to shutdown their nuclear reactors. What I am wondering is how many nukes can Kim Jong-Il make with nuclear material they already processed? 20? 40? Even with just 10, they would have enough to destroy key cities in East Asia: Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and maybe Singapore. With today's world economy tightly interweaved, no one can afford to ignore North Korea's demands now. I frankly don't see why we wasted time and lives in Iraq for imaginary WMD while North Korea built the real thing. Nuts.
It doesn't matter that US and China has tens of thousands of nukes or that South Korea and Japan can match North Korea's nukes in no time. We have something to lose while they don't and that's enough to force us to dance whenever they howl like hungry wolves.

Valleywacking Federated Media

Apparently, integrity and trust are not bed fellows. If people had any trust in the integrity of Om Malik, Michael Arrington, John Battelle, and others, they would have just laughed off when Valleywag questioned it. Is integrity without trust worth anything?
As a consultant, I get paid to answer questions and state my opinions on anything my clients want yet no one questions my integrity because lip service sinks ships. Isn't it the same for journalists and analysts? It seems weird that people would so readily question the integrity of folks whose livelyhood depends on integrity. John's conversation campaign seems to be nothing more than getting paid to pay attention. Was there any attempt to influence, edit or filter opinions? I don't think so.
I think people need to give more slack and trust instead of condemning their favorite bloggers at the first sniff of rotting fish. There is more going on here than yesterday's sushi and I just don't think respected folks like them can sell out as easily and cheaply as some folks are suggesting. If people are so hungry for distrust, they should question Valleywag's premise which seems to be about profitting from others' misery and embarrassing moments as well as pulling pornography out of shadows.

If you value your own integrity, expect the same from others.


I am looking at SoftLayer for dedicated servers. They received good reviews, better than The Planet which I am using now, and their API support is a step in the right direction. I'll probably start off with an Opteron Express series but their Enterprise Racks services is interesting.

Has anyone tried them yet? What are the differences between Virtual Private Rack and Virtual Dedicated Rack? Also, are there any signs of service quality deterioration from popularity?

Ruby and Rails on CentOS 4

If you install Ruby on CentOS 4 via yum, you'll get version 1.8.1 which latest versions of Rails and other gems have problems running on. Building latest version of Ruby yourself is a bit more involving than the usual download/configure/make/install dance so my recommendation is to use the version (1.8.5) in the Testing rpm repository.

To enable the Testing rpm repository, switch to /etc/yum.repos.d directory then:

wget http://dev.centos.org/centos/4/CentOS-Testing.repo

Change "enabled=0" to "enabled=1" in the .repo file then install ruby:

yum install ruby ruby-irb

At this point, you should have no trouble installing rubygems and rails. 

Over Juiced

My Google juice is overflowing. I posted about Connie Talbot before my camping trip and when I checked the comments yesterday, I noticed comments from teenage girls. Scratching my head, I checked google and, doh, the post showed up as #2 result for "Connie Talbot", beating both YouTube and Wikipedia. My post still shows up on the first page when I search for simply "Connie".
While I love Barbie Dolls and Hello Kitty as much as any 45 year old man can, I think it's safe to say that search engine space is still wide open technology-wise.