Critical Section

Archive: May 1, 2004

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nph and mod_gzip

Saturday,  05/01/04  08:14 PM

If you write nph CGIs, be sure to exclude them from mod_gzip.  That's the message of this post; feel free to skip the rest if this is geek to you.

This is only of esoteric interest to 99.99% of you, but posting it here this is the best way for me to find it again.  Also this wasn't anywhere on the web - that Google knew of, anyway - so now maybe someone else who's looking will be able to find it, too.

Today I wrote an nph CGI, and it wasn't working.  After a lot of poking around and trying things, I finally realized why it didn't work: I have mod_gzip enabled!  Of course.  The answer was to disable mod_gzip for nph CGIs, with the following apache directive:

mod_gzip_item_exclude file nph.*\.cgi$

In order to perform its compression mod_gzip has to buffer all the output from a CGI, thereby negating the "pass everything through in realtime" behavior of an nph CGI.

For those who are wondering, nph means "non-parsed headers".  Any CGI program whose name begins with "nph-" is assumed to use "non-parsed headers", which means apache will simply pass through the output of the CGI directly to the browser.  In such cases the CGI must generate all the HTTP headers, even the "HTTP/1.0 200 OK" response.  This is most useful for CGIs which generate ongoing output from some long-running process, such as progress messages or a debugging log.

And for those who are wondering, mod_gzip is an apache module which enables LZW compression for output pages to browsers which support it.  This enables a reduction of bandwidth of over 50%, and I highly recommend it (see my site optimization article from a year ago for more information).


Saturday,  05/01/04  11:17 PM

Catching up with the web...

Geoffrey Colvin whacks the nail through the wood on this one: Bush vs. Kerry: Who's Stupider on Jobs?  "George Bush and John Kerry are apparently competing to see who can be stupider on the hot-button issue of factory jobs...  The simple truth, which no presidential candidate can utter, is that America doesn't have too few manufacturing jobs.  It has too many."  Just wait until we get competing proposals for manufacturing subsidies.  It's a race to the bottom, and we lose.

Stephen Den Beste has the truth.  If you don't believe me, ask him :)  Great stuff.

He linked Dick Morris in the New York Post: How to buy a French veto.  More truth.

European Union enlargementThe European Union added 10 more countries.  "The EU began with six member states: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.  Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom joined in 1973, Greece in 1981, Spain and Portugal in 1986, and Austria, Finland and Sweden in 1995.  The newest members are Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia."  The EU website has a lot of background.  Eight of the ten new member countries were formerly communist.  Perhaps someday the muslim countries presently so hostile to the U.S. will undergo a similar transformation.  We can hope...  (Adam Curry points out the EU website embarassingly reports "364 days left until Enlargement".  Maybe that's the next enlargement :)

NASA robonautThis is good news: NASA: Robotic repair of Hubble 'promising'.  "NASA is now taking a closer look at two or three robotic options for extending Hubble's service life and possibly even outfitting the telescope with one or more new instruments.  NASA engineers will pick the most promising robotic option by June, he said, and then spend the rest of the summer examining it in greater detail."  Excellent.

girl with powerbookThis is really cool; Cult of Mac links this story in The Morning News which pairs art from the New York Metropolitan museum with corresponding music.  The story has links to the art and the music (as iTunes music store previews, no less).

Ottmar Liebert comments on singles vs. albums.  "I believe that a song has to be able to stand on its own, but is part of a whole cycle. Think of a song as a single poem in a book of poems."  I think it would be very interesting to match Ottmar's music with visual art.

Peter Stumpf with Stradivarius celloHave you seen this cello?  Joz on notes this rare Stradivarius cello was stolen from L.A. Philharmonic principal cellist Peter Stumpf.  It is worth $3.5M, but how could a thief ever hope to sell it?

the Parasol restaurantFriends of the Parasol have an online petition to save the Parasol restaurant, a kitsch 1960s throwback located in Seal Beach, California.  I've eaten there; it's pretty cool.  Save it!  [ via Mark Frauenfelder ]

By now you've been inundated with news about Google's IPO filing, so there's not much I can add.  John Battelle posted a nice analysis of the filing and the attendant "owner's manual" from Sergey Brin and Larry Page.  Mitch Kapor wrote some insightful observations, too.  You already know what I think - a great company, not a great stock.

Wired wonders Will RSS Readers Clog the Web?  Will they?  No.  Nice to see RSS syndication getting such mainstream publicity, however.  If people are worrying about it becoming too popular, it must be catching on :)

I really missed Matt Webb of Interconnected while he was recovering from a server disaster, and I'm glad he's back.  Check out this post about packing.  Who else would write this?  Delightful.  A source of unique memetic variation, to be sure :)

Finally - and I am not making this up - Barbara Walters is hosting a reality show where the winner gets a baby.  And psychic Uri Geller is suing based on a patent he owns.  He must have seen this coming, I sure didn't.  Wow.


the Meme Machine

Saturday,  05/01/04  11:42 PM

the Meme Machine by Susan BlackmoreI'm going to have more to say about this later, but for now let me recommend The Meme Machine by Susan Blackmore.  This is an important book.  Any book recommended by Richard Dawkins is going to be good, but in addition to being interesting and entertaining, this book paves new ground in a very productive direction.  Armed with this new hammer, all sorts of things start looking like nails.  I've recently found myself explaining the behavior of people, business strategy, even my own emotions in terms of memetics.

One might even suggest - and I hereby do so - that blogging is essentially driven by memes' desire for reproduction.  After the evolution of the human brain, the Internet has been the best thing ever to happen for memes...

Very apropos, razib discusses a gene for controlling brain size.  Part of Blackmore's argument is that evolution of our big brains was driven by memetic selection, essentially driving genetic selection (in much the same way that peacock's have evolved huge ungainly tails).

Some overt memetic sexual selection: the NYTimes reports on Different Sizes for Different Regions.  Why evolve attractive physical characteristics when you can simply modify yourself?  People are reshaping themselves, poking holes and branding themselves, even changing their gender, all for what?  Genetic fulfillment?  No.  Memetic fulfillment.

This is the best answer, by the way, to the question of why homosexuality doesn't simply die out, since most gay people don't have children.  It isn't selected for genetically, it is selected memetically.  And from that standpoint, it is a very competitive replicator.

These days, memes rule.

And the fallout is just beginning.  FuturePundit wonders Aging Or Sex Ratio Bigger Demographic Problem For China?  In the near future, China will become much older, and much more male.  These are both memetic effects which will have far-reaching societal consequences.  Remember, China has five times the population of the U.S. 

The post excerpts a book by Valerie Hudson: "In 2020 it may seem to China that it would be worth it to have a very bloody battle in which a lot of their young men could die in some glorious cause."  Entirely plausible, and therefore quite scary.

There are equally profound demographic changes taking place in India, which by 2020 will be more populous than China.

If this seems like weird disconnected stuff, please stay tuned.  I plan to discuss memetics in more detail...


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Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
The Nest
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained