Entries for June, 2008

For some reason, my Mac would not SSH into my Tabulas server. I managed to logged in to cPanel to try to reboot SSH, but it threw some generic error about the restart failing. Seeing as to how I disabled Telnet and FTP, you would imagine my concern about being locked out via SSH. As it turns out, the cPanel error was because I was running SSH on a separate port (not 22) ... and the SSH errors were due to the fact that the DNS lookups were failing.

Apparently EV1Servers (now The Planet) had some problems with an explosion in a datacenter. Normally, this would have me logging into my customer control panel, but the customer control panel was also in the data center which was down. Oops.

This reminds me of a story I read on TechCrunch today, where Michael Arrington floats the rumor that all of Twitter runs on 3 database servers. Holy smokes.

Amazing how fragile the whole Internet ecosystem is.

Posted by roy on June 1, 2008 at 02:41 AM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

picture courtesy of tony lee, who scanned the picture before it was lost forever.

i've changed my default usericon on tabulas to reflect this awesomeness.

. . .

Song of the weekend: James Taylor's "Shed a Little Light"

Posted by roy on June 1, 2008 at 03:30 AM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

Life is a bell curve. Most of us have to accept that we will live mediocre lives at mediocre jobs with mediocre skillsets. As much as we try to escape the gravity of normalcy, most of us won't. Looking back at my hopes when I was younger versus who I am now, I really thought I could be the guy at the complete end of the curve. How many guys like me didn't make it as far as we'd have liked? 

Statistics brings out the cynical me.

My biggest hope is to be at the right end of that normal distribution - to be somebody unique who accomplished something not many other people did. My biggest fear, as I've written in the past, is losing control over my mind (going crazy). I space out far too often - and I wonder what the physiological reason for that is (I believe that everything that my body does has a purpose). Lately, I've been wondering whether my hope and my fear are colliding in my world.

I've made a lot of sacrifices, and I wonder how much longer my personality can bear the brunt of my self-imposed exile from normalcy. A lot of my "weird" behavior is attributed to my belief that by acting outside the normal bounds, I might be able to escape mediocrity. I used to be able to distinguish the weird and the normal behaviors, but lately I've been having trouble seeing the line. How much longer can I go on with avoiding friends and relationships? (Lately I've been very much feeling the pangs of loneliness as I reminsce about my college years.)

Sacrificing for your career is nothing new (nor unique); there are tons of people who have discovered it was wrong. There has to be something wrong with me if I'm choosing a path of self-destruction which nobody claims brings happiness, knowing full well the consequences.

The worst is when you think you're the hot shit, but you're really not. That's what I have to keep reminding myself every day - I'm not as unique as I'd like to be, which only drives me harder down a path I know is futile, and every time, it kills a little something inside.

Posted by roy on June 2, 2008 at 03:21 AM in Personal | 5 Comments

this viral video (meta joke, just like the movie!) makes me want to see tropic thunder:

The trailer of the (potentially) most politically incorrect movie of 2008:


Posted by roy on June 2, 2008 at 11:51 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

Had a nice lull day (not to be confused with a lol day)... after the shipping of MindTouch Deki 8.05.1 and the finalization of our deliverables for Mozilla's Developer Center project, I found myself with no high priority work items on my hands. I have a few work items upcoming, but they're currently blocked by other developers, so I just fooled around by polishing up the new skin I wrote about last year, Deuce:

This is a live screenshot from my VM, not a mockup. So in terms of functionality, it's getting there.

I really like this design - for me, it's the pinnacle of how well I'm ever going to be able to design a MindTouch Deki skin with my limited skills. 

Posted by roy on June 4, 2008 at 11:44 PM in MindTouch | 2 Comments

Lately I've been trying to distill the role of a software manager - by understanding the roles and goals, I can create a yardstick to measure my growth as a manager.

So far, I've gotten this list of what makes a good sofware manager:

  • moderates technical fights and picks a side (compromises in software debates lend to a solution which neither party will claim ownership of - pick a side so one person has a vested interest in seeing through the decision)
  • buffers the barrage of business plans from the C-levels to allow engineers to focus on their task at hand
  • facilitates communication between engineers as well as outside the engineering team
  • handles the dirty grunt work nobody wants to do (the little tasks that would distract engineers)
  • delegates the important projects to the proper engineers without micromanagement
  • gives freedom to engineers to pursue the action they think is right ...
  • ...but is unafraid to drop in and say "no" if the engineer is going down the wrong path
  • trains the skillset of engineers to match and exceed the manager's technical skillset
  • manages the engineering schedule to make sure engineers remained challenged but not overwhelmed
  • listens to the gripes of engineers
  • drives the initiatives to fix broken processes
  • grows each engineer, personally and professionally, to one day replace said manager
  • is a mentor

The hardest part of managing, for me, is giving up that direct, visceral control over cutting code that yielded that feeling of "I created that." But lately, I've been taking great pleasure in making sure the trains run on time, and mentoring each person to reach the full extent of their skillset ... even if it takes them outside their comfort zone. There is no better feeling than hearing "You are a good teacher." The first time I got that kick was teaching in Korea, and it was quite a high. I'd like to think I'm impacting the lives of others in some significant way ...

Any of you other people involved in software got some more ideas? 

Posted by roy on June 9, 2008 at 11:52 PM in Personal, Web Development, MindTouch | 2 Comments

Movies like Wicker Park would be oh-so-more effective if the "crazy psycho" girl wasn't the drop dead gorgeous Rose Byrne:

I mean, really. They keep trying to do this in movies... for example, in "She's All That." The premise of that movie? That Rachael Leigh Cook was a "geek" who wasn't pretty enough to be a prom queen.

Yeah ... that's not happening.

Posted by roy on June 10, 2008 at 11:41 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

(this live version is pretty awesome - if you're impatient, start the vid around 1:00)

stereophonics - maybe tomorrow

I've been down and I'm wondering why
these little black clouds keep walking around
with me ... with me

it wastes time and I'd rather be high
think I'll walk me outside and buy a rainbow smile
but be free ... they're all free

so maybe tomorrow ... I'll find my way home

I look around at a beautiful life
been the upper side of down
been the inside of out
but we breathe ... we breathe

I wanna breeze and an open mind
I wanna swim in the ocean
wanna take my time for me ... all me

so maybe tomorrow ... I'll find my way home

Posted by roy on June 11, 2008 at 11:27 PM in Music | 2 Comments

seriously, icanhascheezburger.com is the best site ever created on the internet. period.

Posted by roy on June 13, 2008 at 12:22 AM in Foolishness | 3 Comments

i don't care what people say ... i like smirnoff ice.

Currently listening to: ashlee simpson - L.O.V.E
Posted by roy on June 13, 2008 at 10:17 PM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

This could be the worst possible thing that could happen to the growth of the Internet: Charging by the Byte to Curb Internet Traffic

This whole notion is predicated on the notion that the 5% which account for the 50% of traffic of the network (which sounds perfectly normal under the power law distributions) are abnormal users. But they're not. How long until the lower 50% start catching onto the value of high-bandwidth applications?

Posted by roy on June 15, 2008 at 02:49 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

Watching the movie studios ruin the Alien/Predator franchise(s) really saddens me. There's so much upside potential in the Alien and Predator franchises (I loved the "band of survivors" mentality from Aliens ... unfortunately it's failed to carry over to any of the bastardized sequels) ... what a waste.

And what happened to the whole "humans in space" genre? Why aren't there more epic films set in the future in space? (I guess what I'm really waiting for is Avatar...)

Posted by roy on June 16, 2008 at 01:10 AM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

ESPN: "North Carolina sophomores Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington and junior Danny Green withdrew from the NBA draft Monday."



Posted by roy on June 16, 2008 at 08:42 PM in Sports | 1 Comments

hello, my name is steve. i come from a rough area. i used to be addicted to crack but now i am off and trying to stay clean, that is why i am selling magazine subscriptions

Posted by roy on June 17, 2008 at 08:16 PM in Foolishness | 1 Comments

One thing I still love about /. are the comments: they can still make me laugh.

I'm sure you're tired of hearing this, but I downloaded Firefox 3 on my home machine, and it feels great! Feels snappier ... we'll see if it's still prone to crashing (Gmail and Scottrade's website would both crash Firefox pretty repeatedly).

. . .

Since switching to TypePad's AntiSpam free service 9 days ago, it's managed to catch over 6,000 spammy comments! Yay! Akismet was always good at catching spammy comments, so I can't definitely say one is better than the other, but they're both definitely solid products. Of course, when TypePad's is free, but Akismet's costs $50/month, I have a slight bias ;)

Posted by roy on June 17, 2008 at 11:59 PM in Web Development | Add a comment

sometimes i wished i just built saas software... it'd be so much easier.

Posted by roy on June 18, 2008 at 02:35 PM in Web Development | Add a comment

"Because let me tell you something: When you are dealing with a Tiger Woods endorsement, money should be the last thing on your mind. What you should be thinking is how, with my face on every container, we are going to move more Pine-Sol than you ever thought possible." (via The Onion)


Posted by roy on June 19, 2008 at 11:44 PM in Foolishness | Add a comment

Crisp posted this, and I can't resist sharing it as well:

Oh dear goodness. Watch the drummer - he starts going INSANE.... awesome. 2:15 is awesome.

Koreans, y'all... Koreans.

This video reminds me of the classic Animal (of the Muppets) and Rita Moreno:

Posted by roy on June 20, 2008 at 12:16 AM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

Does this new logo strike anybody as a tad arrogant? Obviously he's trying to evoke a presidential image, but it just seems to me like a cheap ploy to insinuate a presidential victory. You've still got five months, Obama. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here, even if you opened with a 15 point lead...

Posted by roy on June 20, 2008 at 09:34 PM in Ramblings | 3 Comments




Friggin hot:

Posted by roy on June 22, 2008 at 12:01 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

Can you believe that it's been two weeks since I posted something of any import? (By my standards, at least. I doubt any of you can distinguish between the crappy drivel and the mediocre drivel on this tabby).

Well, it's 3am and I can't sleep, so here's an original rambling post!

. . .

I have been Twittering a bit lately, which has cut into some of the creative juices which would normally manifest themselves here (I'm using the phrase "creative" quite liberally here, bear with me). I'm a fan of impermanence, but Twitter takes it too far to the extreme. The problem with Twitter is its value rapidly diminishes about 30 seconds after you post. You could write the world's best tweet, and after 10 or so tweets, nobody can find it again (unless they fav-ed it). A great blog post, though, lasts for a long, long time.

Twitter, in essence, is a dumbed-down blog engine - it was created to be simple by design (limiting to 140 characters per post, or whatever the number is). None of the ideas behind Twitter were very novel - all the early generations of weblog engines pursued those ideas ... with the tendency to overengineer. I mean, even I wrote about posting via email (== SMS) back in 2003 for Tabulas. Seeing your friends' tweets (posts)? Done in LJ and in Tabulas through the "friends" page. Opening up an API? Done a long time ago with MetaWeblog. I won't write a whole treatise on this, but the reason I suspect Twitter became such a huge success is that its limitations and simplicity let people not worry about actually composing worthwhile posts. Secondary to that was the easy ability to respond to posts with the "@user" feature - it's easy to get those addicting fixes of self-importance that is not as easy to get while weblogging. Number 1 reason people stop blogging? No comments. The very reason I love writing in this Tabulas ("Nobody will dare to read this embarassing crap"), other people use as an excuse to stop writing. I'll never understand it.

. . .

Something that triggered my "something is fundamentally changing with the web" spider-sense (Amazon's S3, Akismet/TypePad Anti-Spam, Yahoo's Term Extraction API are all members of this family) is the Universal Edit Button.

The idea is simple enough: You install a browser plug-in (one day you won't have to), and on any page that is editable, an icon appears in the same spot in your browser:

From a technical perspective, it required all of 3 lines of code inside MindTouch Deki, so I added it pretty quickly. The idea stuck around, though.

What if every CMS added this capability? (Expect it for Tabulas, shortly). And what if, instead of sending it to Tabulas, it automatically populated a wiki page with your contents? I'd imagine the user experience to be something like this:

  1. I write a post in Tabulas, and click a checkbox that says "Publish to my personal wiki"
  2. Post gets published on my Tabulas, and a page gets created on my wiki as well
  3. Anytime somebody visits my page, they see a little "edit" icon (see above) which lets them "edit" my post ...
  4. ... which takes them to my personal wiki, which has my post already published. You sign-in to the wiki and edit my post ...
  5. ... which might (or might not) automatically update my Tabulas entry over the MetaWeblog API (of course, the author would have the power to approve changes or not)

This ties together much close blogging and wiki editing, which amplify the benefits of each platform. Nobody can dispute that wiki pages can create the most rich and diverse content that no other CMS can match. The huge benefits of blogging is that topics and content get pushed to you. Whether you want to or not, I'm going to push to you (through friends/RSS/email notifications, whatever) what I want to say. Now imagine if I started the outline of a blog post (for example, a "release notes" for a MindTouch Deki product release) and people filled in the content with links in our user documentation... money.

I like this idea, because each step already exists ... the hardest part is tying together the user experience and the data transfers. I'm pretty sure, given a week, I could hack up a prototype, which would be pretty awesome. Maybe I can tear myself away from my lazy machinations and get something done.

. . .

Going back briefly to the Universal Edit Button ... this type of UI unification in the chrome of the browser ("chrome" as opposed to "content") is something that's very exciting. There's no reason you couldn't do the same with logging in across applications, too (PLEASE GOD, LET'S TRY TO FIGURE OUT SINGLE SIGN-ON SOMETIME THIS DECADE).

. . .

Holy crap, "Always on my Mind" by Pet Shop Boys just came on my iTunes. It's a pretty awesome song. And yes, I still love Smirnoff Ice.

. . .

So what have I been up to lately? Nothing at all. I fell off the gambling wagon for about three weeks - I played a lot of $10 SNGs on PokerStars and made a nice return ... but I cashed it all out, so as to not be distracted from the more important things in my life. Been watching a lot of movies and TV shows lately (I watched all seven seasons of West Wing over the past few weeks)... absolutely in love with Rose Byrne, in case you hadn't noticed:

. . .

Work is going well. As always, I find myself doing too many things at once... but I'm just trying to do my part in getting MindTouch in the right place to be successful. I've been a bit distressed at the increasing role business decisions have been affecting Deki lately, so I'll have to do my best to make sure I voice my concerns when necessary.

These last few weeks have the first times I've realized that I can't do everything at once. Sure, in the past, I've felt overwhelmed ... but I always felt that given enough hours, I could do it all. Not so much anymore. I've been playing so many roles lately: I do a fair amount of development as a software engineer, I obsess over the UI as a user experience engineer, I mentor others as a dev lead, I oversee the Deki releases as a product manager, I run the dev meetings as dir.eng, and I manage most of our non-Deki engineering projects as dir.eng. Unlike what I originally believed, each promotion hasn't freed me from the burdens of my previous positions, but rather just added another responsibility. I know I've been letting some of the PM responsiblities slide (like overseeing the Russians and driving the product's direction). C'est la vie. But you know what's great about this? It's always a challenge. I sometimes wish I had a mentor who could guide me from point A to point B faster ... but overall, I've been learning a buttload. I just have to remember to write about what I've learned more often here.

. . .

A coworker said he was disappointed in me cause I had the capabilities of being a weblebrity but I wasn't one. All silliness associated with that phrase aside, I think he was saying I wasn't reaching up to my full potential. I don't know if he was being serious, but maybe that's the root of my self-loathing. I choose not to reach cause I'm scared I'll fail. Or maybe I'm simply too exhausted from dealing with everything at MT to deal with my own stuff in my spare time. Who knows. All I know is I have awesome ideas, and I'm letting them all wither on the vine. I'll have to do something about that.

. . .

Still no dating for me :( The last girl I liked was in 2006. Holy crap, that's a long time! Before 2006, I crushed like crazy. Of course, as in all things, that last situation in 2006 turned me into an emotional mess, so maybe it's good I've stopped trying to find a relationship for myself. I'm not even sure how I'd deal with "not being alone." I oftentimes joke about my distaste for women due to past experiences ... I hope that hasn't dripped into my subconscious. The problem clearly is me (to the extent that I will avoid people altogether on the offchance I meet a girl I like!), and I don't really care to fix it.

. . .

Fact: This entry took an hour to write. Sweet. I will leave you with this wonderful (uplifting) track by Nina Simone:


Posted by roy on June 23, 2008 at 03:59 AM in Personal, Ramblings, Poker, Tabulas | 2 Comments

I really, really like the iTunes/Coldplay commercial:

. . .

I posted a few days ago about the arrogance of Obama's presidential seal. Well, guess what?

After days of media mockery, Barack Obama has decided to stop using a presidential-looking seal that his campaign designed and affixed to his podium on Friday. (Source)

. . .


Democratic senators failed to stop the Bush administration from winning legal immunity for telecom companies that helped the government eavesdrop on Americans.

Obama voted with 30 fellow Democrats to allow the telecom companies to face lawsuits, which civil liberties groups consider a crucial chance to unearth information on the administration's programme of wiretapping without a court warrant.

. . .

If you think inflation in America's bad, check out the Zimbabwean dollar: "On 21 May 2008, SW Radio Africa reported that, according to an independent financial assessment inflation in May 2008 jumped to 1,063,572.6%."

In January 2003, 1 USD was worth 55 ZWD. 1 USD (as of June 23rd, 2008) is worth 8,260,031,632 ZWN. Holy smokes!

Posted by roy on June 23, 2008 at 05:43 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

I added a few new things to Tabulas:

  • Popular posts - sorted by comments ... I was gonna use views, but that turned out to be a wash (spammers sure are good at targeting single posts!). You can see how sad my most popular posts are over 7 years of writing in this Tabulas. 
  • Some new semantic richness - any "next/prev" navigation also shows up as <link rel="{next/prev}" href="{url}" />: this is pretty useful for screen readers - and with Link Widget Firefox plugin, makes navigating entries snappier
  • If you install the Universal Edit Button Firefox plugin, you'll also see an "edit" icon whenever you're viewing an entry in your browser toolbar. This makes editing your entries easier (although I accomplished that a while back by also pushing the "Edit" toolbars on those entry views) - more info about how that button works on their wiki. I recently added it into MindTouch Deki as a feature ... it's pretty nice.

Thought of the day: If I keep making updates to Tabulas, and nobody uses the services, does it really matter?

Posted by roy on June 25, 2008 at 01:20 AM in Tabulas | 2 Comments

Posted by roy on June 27, 2008 at 12:21 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

So either I either completely played it cool or I ended up falling flat on my face. I can't quite tell.

I had just walked back from picking up some food at the mall (chicken teriyaki, yum!), and I got into the elevator with these two smokin' hot chicks (I'm not sure there are any other kinds down here in Diego). Here is the convo:

Them: "So what's for dinner?"
Me: "Some chicken teriyaki from the mall."
Them: "Yum! So ... got enough for three in there?"
Me: (Looks at small bag) "Hmm.. not this time."
Them: "Oh, so there's a next time."
Me: "Well, I sure hope so."

At that point, the elevator opened to my floor, so I bade them a good evening and made my exit.

(What a perfect time to use my new usericon!)

Posted by roy on June 27, 2008 at 07:38 PM in Ramblings, San Diego | 10 Comments
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