december, 19, 2004 archives

michael kinsley, editorial page editor of the los angeles times (or some title similar to that i’m too lazy to look up), writes in his column that blogs are better, because he liked the feedback he got in response to something he had published on a couple of popular blogs.

he attributes some of this to space, but it seems the la times has failed to recognize that they have a website. of course, it is an amazingly lame web site, that offers nothing in the way of social interaction, actively discourages you to read articles by collecting pointless demographic information so it can send you email you don’t want, and hasn’t embraced rss or atom. i read the content of three major newspaper web sites now. the washington post , the new york times, and the la times. to read the la times, i had to write code to scrape some of its pages to create rss feeds.

oh, and the three references to websites in kinsley’s column might have been more useful if they were actually links. 2004, and the los angeles times still hasn’t figured out a way to make a link from one of the articles on their website.

subscriber counts for los angeles times feeds

i thought i’d do a quick count of how many people are subscribed to each of the scraped the los angeles times news feeds i provide. this is based on unique ip addresses and the bloglines report of subscribers.

enemies of carlotta is a mailing list manager in the style of ezmlm, but written in python by lars wirzenius. one problem with it is that it is written as a pretty monolithic application, as opposed to ezmlm’s series of commands that are run for a few different addresses. but there’s some interesting design decisions made. it doesn’t implement digests yet.

one of my biggest annoyances with ezmlm these days is that the digest generation is not character-encoding aware. so for a list like the mysql japanese list, the digests, particularly the plain-text one, look like garbage. this is more frustrating because i spent a fair amount of time making sure the web-based archive got the encoding issues right.

the mysql lists are set up so that both mime-encoded and plain-text digests are generated, using a dummy list and some judicious symlinks. when we took over the maxdb lists from sap, the existing lists only had a plain-text format, and the subscribers clamored for that when we only had the mime-encoded versions available.

candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker

the los angeles downtown news this week reveals a “candy speakeasy” in downtown los angeles. sounds like a great place. ben myerson candy co. (one of the longest continually operating companies in los angeles) sells bags of factory irregulars out of their office. sounds yummy, and like something i’ll have to check out some day.

new job

after the first of the year, i’ll be starting my new job. but as seems to be the trend these days, it’s not a new job with a new company, just a new job with the same company.

i’m getting out of doing web development, at least for my day job. that’s why mysql ab is hiring a webmaster (which isn’t exactly the job i have now, but it basically the person who will take on the biggest chunk of what i was doing).

what i’m going to be doing is joining the development team, with my initial focus being maintenance programming for the server. i’m going back to my roots, and getting my hands dirty with “real” programming again. and i don’t think there’s any better way to learn the ins-and-outs of a system than chasing down bugs. just fixing the bug in how CREATE TABLE ... SELECT statements were logged for replication gave me a good reason to get up-to-speed on several aspects of how things work under the hood.

this article by rands about the type of employee who has gotten locked into a role goes part of the way in explaining why i’m moving on from my current position. even if trying to become irreplaceable by being the only one who knows how to do something is not your goal, it is easy for that to happen by default if you’re in the same position for too long. so i hope that shaking things up will be good for the company as a whole, and not just for own own mental health.

one thing i’ll likely do early in the new year is get a new machine for doing development. i’m thinking of a athlon64 shuttle system, which i can get pretty loaded within my annual work computer budget. i may also upgrade my desktop (which is a personal machine) so that i can use the monitor with the development box when necessary (although it would run headless most of the time, and i doubt i’ll spring for a kvm or anything fancy like that). instead of actually getting a new desktop machine, one possibility is just selling the 17" imac and getting an apple cinema display and using that with my laptop (and the development machine).

(the fact that said development machine would likely be powerful enough to run world of warcraft well is entirely coincidental.)

charity, december 2004

toys for tots this is a break from the local/national/international cycle, and coming rather late in the month, but my charitable donation for this month is going to the marine toys for tots foundation.

also, i paid out $50 to reading is fundamental for days i failed to add to my daily journal/sketchbook. yes, i missed five of the thirteen days i was doing this last month. i'm doing about the same this month, but getting better as the month goes on. a lot of the entries recently have simply been me freeze-framing something on television, usually a cartoon character, and copying it. none of it is very good, but that was never the point. i’ve drawn more in the last few weeks than i had since grade school.

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