june, 13, 2003 archives

recently read

between my trip to hungary a month ago, and convalescing from surgery, i've actually managed to plow through some books.

slaughterhouse five by kurt vonnegut
although it looks like i didn't write up a mini-review of it, i had seen the film version of this not long before reading the book. it's a great story about a less-than-glorious experience in world war ii, with an interesting time-jumping style. this is one of those classic books i had somehow avoided reading in high school or earlier.
the maltese falcon, the thin man, red harvest by dashiell hammett
this is three novels in one. red harvest was probably the best story of the bunch (the others involve too much stuff-just-happening), but the thin man easily had the most interesting characters. i picked up the book for red harvest and its influence on yojimbo (and its derivatives), but the connection is not as strong as i had expected. red harvest's story has a much larger scope than the movies.
bluebeard by kurt vonnegut
more vonnegut, and the book actually shares a lot in common with slaughterhouse five—a protagonist who served in world war ii and a time-jumping narrative (although there's no actually time-travel involved). the book is the fictional autobiography of an abstract expressionist painter and collector. great stuff.
innumeracy by john allen paulos
it's a little disheartening to see that so little has changed in the fifteen years since this book was released, even as the number of examples that such a book could cite of numerical illiteracy seems to explode. it makes you wonder why the basics of probability aren't covered more thoroughly in elementary and secondary education.

the scourge of naver.com

naver.com is a korean portal with a totally broken mail system—it bounces messages to the address in the From: header, and the bounce messages are entirely in korean. the end result is that when a subscriber to a mailing list from naver.com starts having mail troubles, people posting to the mailing list start getting undecipherable bounce messages from users they've never heard of.

oh, and postmaster@naver.com and abuse@naver.com both bounce. jerks.

i wonder how broad the postmaster.rfc-ignorant.org and abuse.rfc-ignorant.org blacklists are.

collaborative blog filtering

so i've coded up some simple collaborative filtering for blo.gs. there's two approaches: the first version is based on the number of people listing a blog as a favorite that have a favorite in common with you. the second version is based on the number of people listing a blog as a favorite for each favorite they have in common with you. it doesn't appear to make a huge difference in the blogs that get recommended (at least for what it recommends to me), but it does impact the order of recommendations.

one thing to add would be a way of marking a blogs as an un-favorite so it would stop recommending it. (and take that into account for future recommendations.)

anyway, it's just some ugly sql behind the scenes, not a real collaborative filtering engine.

yeah, i went and coded up a new silly feature for blo.gs instead of doing something useful like fixing the problems introduced by the sheer volume of blogs now that the blogger.com firehose is hooked up.

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