Entries for July, 2010

MSFT killed the Kin. Good riddance. I feel bad for the product teams behind them - you know that there was just tons of market research which showed there was a market for this wonderful phone.

I have an unhealthy paranoia about data - data can be manipulated and read in any way you want. A few years back, I remember talking to a grad student who focused on statistics - his responsibilties were to take the data from other graduate students and do a deep analysis of the data.

I had always been curious about the "flexibility" of data and pressed him about easy it was to manipulate conclusions. His comment? "Yeah, I can pretty much twist the data to support what you want within reason."

That's not to say there isn't a place for data - the world is moving more towards an analytically-driven one... but just be careful about that person who comes waving absolute truths in the form of data.

Posted by roy on June 30, 2010 at 09:52 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

A few weekends back, I had that design itch to try something new. Sometimes I have product or coding itches that I just need to scratch. I figured a good outlet for my design itch would be swarmf (which is taking on the temporary working title "lani.cc" until I make up my mind on its name).

Here's what I put together as a homepage concept: (the verbiage/messaging needs a little tweaking)

A few weeks earlier, I had thrown together concepts for what a completed lani.cc page might look like:

The idea behind Swarmf takes concepts pulled from Tumblr, Delicious, and wikis.

The concept of the site is that a single editor (who can receive contributions from authors) clips content from across the web around a topic (this site strongly de-emphasizes "original" content except when it comes to annotations). If you think of newspapers as centering around "interests around a day" and blogs as "interests around a person", this site combines both of those but focuses around a single topic. 

Unlike blogs, you don't show everything in a chronological view (although there will be support for that view). Instead, the site is more visual in its output - editors must lay out the content in a grid format. Aesthetics and layout are just as important as content and annotation for this site. It's like the newspapers of old!

Now, the twist is that the site is quite open in its topics. The original concept for the site dates back to Hurricane Katrina, where fast-moving information on the internet made it *the* source to find information about Katrina... but the best place to find aggregated information were individual blogs. And even then, curating that content took forever.

With more microformats (Tweets, YouTube vids, and the world pretty much consolidating around a couple blogging platforms), it becomes far easier to build tools which can quickly cull the content (InstaPaper does a great job of this).

Each topic, as it evolves, becomes snapshotted (this idea I stole from wikis). So over time, you can watch how the topic trends over time - how interesting would it be to see the BP Oil spill topic a week after? Two weeks after? Knowing what you do now, you'd get a little kick out of it.

And each topic can be forked. If you're not happy with the Kagan clippings, fork it (which copies the current set of clipped items on a page) and start working on your own. The site'll keep track of all derivations of a forked page, so you can discover them easier.

It's an interesting idea - really starts blurring the lines even further between bookmarking sites and blogging sites.

Of course, if I ever get the time to work on it, we'll never know.

Posted by roy on June 30, 2010 at 11:02 PM in Ramblings, Web Development | 3 Comments

big sur, california


tired to the bone, but can't seem to sleep. i keep tossing and turning. i'm back into the work-crazy mode, where i sweat the small details. am i forgetting something? what am i overlooking? what can be triaged until the next release? it's tough to try to be an individual contributor *and* a manager at the same time - but circumstances require me to be a micromanaging individual contributor. it's a short term view.

mt will make a killer product announcement soon. can't wait until we unleash this baby on the world. i also can't wait until i can take another international trip - somewhere like tibet. i have a location in mind, but i don't want to jinx it quite yet. the finances are taking a beating - need to let a few large purchases settle (like the car!)

odd thing is, when i look back at this past year, i've done an insane amount of traveling. but it's all been within the states. it's been more than a year since i left the country - criminal!

. . .

i'm always so fascinated by the diversity of personalities of the people in this world. taking pictures of people is so much fun, even though i stink at it.

Posted by roy on July 9, 2010 at 02:39 AM in MindTouch | 3 Comments

Feeling the old soul music today:

I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I've been running ever since
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

It's been too hard living but I'm afraid to die
'Cause I don't know what's up there beyond the sky
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep telling me, "Don't hang around"
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say, "Brother, help me please"
But he winds up knockin' me
Back down on my knees

Oh there been times that I thought I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Posted by roy on July 12, 2010 at 02:15 AM in Music | Add a comment

"We are like sculptors, constantly carving out of others the image we long for, need, love or desire, often against reality, against their benefit, and always, in the end, a disappointment, because it does not fit them." - Anais Nin

Posted by roy on July 16, 2010 at 09:48 PM in Personal | Add a comment

i want to do more, and i want to do better.

Posted by roy on July 16, 2010 at 10:40 PM in Personal | Add a comment

Going to Portland for OSCON, then ending the weekend in Vegas. It's quite possible when I get back none of my stuff will be in my place anymore, as I am renting it to strangers on Craigslist who are here for Comic Con. I hope that works out well (I moved all my valuables to Max's place today) - I'm relying on my new neighbors to make sure people aren't leaving my place, hauling pianos and couches and TVs... ;)

Posted by roy on July 19, 2010 at 10:15 PM in Travel | 2 Comments

This was the longest stretch I had been away from home in a long time. Tuesday to Friday was Portland, then Friday to Sunday was San Diego. No surprise - i came back sick. It started in Portland, and Vegas just made it worse (no matter how much I tried to tone it down).

Vegas made me really aware of how I have two completely different personalities when it comes to my personal life. I have moments of complete confidence and extrovertedness - I was definitely "on" Friday night. Come Sunday, the old version of me crept in - the insecure version. I'm still at odds with myself on how to handle it - as I get older, I've discovered that nobody wants to see (or hear) the latter. People have their own problems - they don't really want to hear mine.

Is there really a yin/yang balance in a personality, or does one side completely overwhelm the other?

Posted by roy on July 25, 2010 at 08:45 PM in Personal | 3 Comments

Spammy sites are the kiss of death for any social network. One of the my top goals for this site is to maintain it as spam-free as possible.

I got back from vacation and found the site was overrun with spam sites. I have been, for the past few weeks, spending about 10 minutes every night deleting spam sites (I have tools). This manual process worked well, as it yielded no false positives.

While I was gone, there was a crescendo of spam activity, and Tabulas was overrun with spam accounts. I had to turn on some automated tools.

Fortunately, I had anticipated this day a long time ago. Tabulas actually decomposes your entries for metadata (links, images, anything non-text) and stores them. It became a rather trivial task to write a method that would "score" how spammy your site was based on its age, the links posted, and the length of your content.

I turned on the automated tool, and it detected 1000 spam sites. Wowza. Deleted!

I felt pretty good about this tool, so I have it running in the background. Today, it's found about 250 sites which are spammy. I checked my manual tool and found very few spam sites, so the tool is working quite nicely.

The next step will be dealing with all these spam sites that are created content without links. I'm not sure what they're trying to accomplish by posting junk content without links - maybe they plan on linking in later when their link juice is up?

Who knows.

Other changes I made:

  • All comments (from registered users) are now being run through Akismet
  • Site creation from India, China, and Pakistan are banned (they can log-in and post content just fine)
Posted by roy on July 27, 2010 at 09:30 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Well sometimes the sun shines on
Other people's houses and not mine.
Some days the clouds paint the sky all gray
And it takes away my summertime.
Somehow the sun keeps shining upon you,
While I struggle to get mine.
If there's a light in everybody,
Send out your ray of sunshine.

I want to walk the same roads as everybody else,
Through the trees and past the gates.
Getting high on heavenly breezes,
Making new friends along the way.
I won't ask much of nobody,
I'm just here to sing along.
And make my mistakes looks gracious,
And learn some lessons from my wrongs.

Well sometimes the sun shines on
Other people's houses and not mine.
Some days the clouds paint the sky all gray
And it takes away my summertime.
Somehow the sun keeps shining upon you,
While I struggle to get mine.
A little light never hurt nobody,
Send out your ray of sunshine.

Oh, if this little light of mine
Combined with yours today,
How many watts could we luminate?
How many villages could we save?
And my umbrella's tired of the weather,
Wearing me down.
Well, look at me now.

You should look as good as your outlook,
Would you mind if I took some time,
to soak up your light, your beautiful light?
You've got a paradise inside.
I get hungry for love and thirsty for life,
And much too full on the pain,
When I look to the sky to help me
And sometimes it looks like rain.

As the sun shines on other people's houses
And not mine,
And the sky paints those clouds in a way
That it takes away the summertime,
Somehow the sun keeps shining upon you,
while I kindly stand by.
If theres a light in everybody,
Send out your ray of sunshine

You're undeniably warm, you're cerulean,
You're perfect in desire.
Won't you hang around
so the sun, it can shine on me,
And the clouds they can roll away,
And the sky can become a possibility?
If there's a light in everybody,
Send out your ray of sunshine.

Posted by roy on July 28, 2010 at 01:18 AM in Music | Add a comment

In the story of our lives, how do you shake the feeling that you've missed a few chapters - that the blank pages you've skipped over were supposed to have been written with somebody else?

It's eating me up right now. There were supposed to be stories and photographs... memories faded, not memories unborn.

Posted by roy on July 28, 2010 at 11:06 PM in Personal | 1 Comments

Posted by roy on July 29, 2010 at 06:36 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

via ilovecharts:

Not really true, but it's still really funny.

. . .

Went to the doctor yesterday - because I've never had a "home doctor" in the area, I called down the list until I found one with availability (PPOs are great). In any case, this led me to a small clinic - the doctor I chose were actually serving the underserved Hispanic community - the doctor I had didn't speak English too well, which was a lot of fun.

But everyone there was a hospitable soul, and I overall I actually liked it better than going up to the hospital. A doctor is a doctor, right?

But that got me thinking on how difficult it was to find a good general practioner in the area - I can throw a stone and hit 5 different dentists within a block, but I can't seem to do with with my health insurarance.

. . .

And it's final: While I've never been able to back up the fact I'm 5'10" the official measurement yesterday: 5'10" and a half- which means I can claim to be 5'11". Schwing.

Posted by roy on July 31, 2010 at 11:59 AM in Ramblings | 7 Comments
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