Archive for August, 2007

Innovative Thoughts

Monday, August 27th, 2007

I’ve been thinking a lot about innovation lately — what it means, why its important, and how can I be more innovative professionally and personally. And, I wrote a statement that I really think describes this.

Innovation is just a problem away.

I would say that at the base of all innovation is a problem that needed to be solved. Asking questions like “Why not?” or “Why can’t I…” allows us to work in a totally new direction and create solutions that are not only innovative, but useful.

Let me know what you think.

Web Interface to the fortune program

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

I got bored last night, so I created a wrapper around the fortune program on my Gentoo box… then made it better with jQuery AJAX goodness. And then I combined it with my rndsay wrapper to make the fortunes be echoed by cows. πŸ™‚ Of course, getting it to work on my host here has been annoying, but I finally got it working! Enjoy!

Random Fortune Generator

Source Code

Another antivirus complaint

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

I was recently talking to a co-worker who was complaining that their machine ran a virus scan every Wednesday at noon, and made the machine totally unusable. Of course, the virus scanner was our corporate version of Symantec and the scan cannot be disabled. Which in my mind, brings up an interesting question:

If the antivirus “Auto-Protect” feature actually works, why the heck do you need to run a virus scan??!

Seriously. And, a lot of helpdesk documentation on the web recommends that users run virus scans weekly/daily. But at the same time, if you have the autoprotect working, then theoretically isn’t it going to stop anything from getting onto your machine, and thus making the virus scan useless?

It used to be that running a virus scan wouldn’t kill the machine, but with todays bloated and slow antivirus products, it just seems silly to run the scan. But maybe thats just me.

Another MySQL Cluster Lesson

Friday, August 17th, 2007

I learned a great truth about MySQL Cluster today, and I think MySQL in general actually:

Apparently, memory really does matter!

Heh.  Imagine that. I mean, I knew it was true, but didn’t full realize it until I tried setting up a 8-node MySQL cluster on Pentium 4’s with 256MB of RAM. The performance was absolutely horrible. Seriously. So I switched some things around and the performance was way better with 2 P4’s with 512MB of RAM. We have a lab on campus with 2gb memory and Core Duos… with gigabit. That would be nice… πŸ™‚

Obsessive Web Stats Demo on the Virtual Roadside!

Friday, August 17th, 2007

A demo of OWS is now on the virtual roadside! If you’re interested in seeing OWS in action, then you can visit it at http://obsessive.virtualroadside.com/, it details the traffic to the OWS sourceforge site. The only limitation is that it only tracks the main page… so you can’t really do any in-depth analysis. But it shows you the key concepts behind OWS in any case.

MySQL Cluster Tips

Friday, August 17th, 2007

Well, I setup a 9-computer MySQL cluster to do some experimentation with OWS. Its pretty neat, I have DDNS setup with DHCP, and a neat thing setup with rsync where every single machine syncs its configuration to the ‘primary’ machine each hour. Its pretty cool, I’ll have to write some more posts about it.

Anyways, if you ever use MySQL cluster, theres one important tip that they don’t really mention in the manual:

MAKE SURE ALL OF YOUR STORAGE NODES ARE UP, OTHERWISE THE CLUSTER WONT START. 

See, I had this issue with one of the network cards on the machines, so I decided just to try and get the thing to work without messing with the machine. Which, has worked pretty well until I got around to screwing with the MySQL cluster.  And, you would think this is perfectly obvious — but its not. So thats my tip.

Of course, after talking to the guys on efnet #mysql, turns out that MySQL cluster probably won’t benefit OWS anyways. But, we shall see, right? πŸ™‚

OWS v0.8.0.1 released

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

There was a huge issue with the ows_aggregate plugin in version v0.8..
sorting just did not work at all. v0.8.0.1 has been released to resolve
this issue. Thanks to Jon for pointing this out.

OWS Download Link 

Major Release of Obsessive Website Statistics

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

Note: This announcement can also be found in the obsessive-compulsive mailing list and the OWS news archives at sourceforge.

The first open source Web 2.0 website log analyzer, Obsessive Website Statistics (OWS) uses PHP and jQuery to provide a powerful and intuitive interface to manipulate website log data stored in a MySQL database via easy to create plugins.

This is a major release of OWS. All users are strongly encouraged to upgrade. v0.7.x is completely not compatible with v0.8, as the database structure has totally changed for performance and flexibility reasons. You will need to totally delete your old databases and upload logfiles from scratch. This is not expected to happen again in the future.

OWS v0.8 now stores its data in a multidimensional OLAP-style data schema that has shown huge performance gains for data retrieval in our initial testing, and also promises to scale better than the previous releases of OWS. Additionally, OWS plugins have been enhanced to take advantage of the new data schema, and the manual analysis option is now much more intuitive to use for individuals not familiar with SQL.

Download link for OWS
Sourceforge Project Page

Three Internet Privacy Misconceptions

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

I was having a conversation with my dad last night, he had a lot of stupid misconceptions about privacy and the Internet. Even simple things like IP addresses and firewalls… people don’t quite understand them. So, i thought it would be a great subject to discuss. Of course, this is NOT a comprehensive list, just some basic thoughts.

Misconception #1:
Everything you do on the internet is anonymous

NO NO NO! This is such a lie… any time you go to a website and use their resources, the operator has the opportunity to record information (while may not be necessarily personally identifying) about you. The problem is, visiting a website is kind of like visiting a department store: if you walk in, they have a right to record you to safeguard their assets. Same thing with a website: when you contact a server, you are visiting their “department store”, and they can (and will) record information about your visit. If someone gets enough information about you, they can potentially identify you — the AOL search fiasco is a great example of this.

Misconception #2: Firewalls safeguard your privacy

Not completely true. See, using the internet is sorta like calling people on a telephone and talking back and forth. Generally speaking, a firewall does not usually interfere with you calling people. It is designed to stop people from calling YOU. While a firewall is definitely a good thing to have and can stop some types of viruses/spyware, I find a lot of times people give them too much credit/abilities — just like antivirus. Personally, I advocate that people should use a hardware firewall such as a router or other such device, they tend to be more reliable at protecting you than software firewalls (and consume less resources) in my opinion… but thats a whole different story…

Misconception #3: You have an implicit right to privacy on the Internet

The thing is, you don’t. The internet is a public network, and when you do something on the Internet, then you are doing things in public where anyone can ‘see’ you. This is because when you connect to a site, you’re really using a number of different computers to connect to that computer, and they can all potentially record information about your connection. Expecting privacy on the internet is like getting naked in the middle of a field and expecting that nobody can watch: you can only get privacy if there are walls or some other barriers. Keeping with that analogy, THERE ARE NO WALLS ON THE INTERNET (by default, at least). The biggest problem is that since people can’t see the walls, they assume that they exist, and they don’t.

With all of this said, there are definitely ways to safeguard your privacy on the internet, its just a matter of how paranoid you are. Programs like Tor or certain Firefox features can make your Internet experience more anonymous and secure — but the Internet is not secure or anonymous by default.

Pseudo-XKCD

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

Me and my roommate Jon are huge fans of the webcomic XKCD, so a few nights ago we randomly created a really crappy pseudo-XKCD style comic of our own. See for yourself.

Pseudo-XKCD