Critical Section

Archive: January 20, 2008

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the referer mess

Sunday,  01/20/08  10:33 AM

I started blogging a little over five years ago (!), and at that time referer logs were a really cool thing.  (BTW, yes, "referer" is misspelled; it always is, going back to the early days of the 'net when a bad speller defined the HTTP header syntax.)  It was fun to see who was linking to you, and to find interesting new sites in that way.

Quick digression if you don't know what this is about:  Whenever you click a link on a web page, the website which serves the new page gets passed the old "referring" page's address.  By looking at server activity logs, a website owner can find all the websites which link to his.  In my case, I can find other blogs and sites which have linked to my blog, which is fun.

So now, in 2008, referer logs are basically a cesspool of misinformation.  If you are ever able to find anything useful of interesting in there, good luck.  First you have all the spiders; programs which access pages on your site for indexing purposes, their referers are often faked or meaningless.  Next you have access via RSS feeds, feed readers typically don't even pass a referer.  And then you have referer spam, which you might remember from my referer spam wars, where various websites send you fake referrals in the home that you'll click through to them.  (This is a weird and despicable practice, first, the volume from such traffic has to be uselessly low, because only webmasters see the spam, and second, no webmaster is going to care about a slimy site which is advertised in this way.  But I digress.)  And finally you have just plain old garbage; various bots which don't access anything useful and which pass junk as a referer.

This is a classic tragedy of the commons, we see this all over the 'net.  In the bad old days it worked great, but people have subverted the mechanism for other purposes to the point where it barely works at all.  The legitimate stuff is till in there but the signal to noise is decreasing to the point of uselessness.  Kind of like email :(


Tivo > Moxi

Sunday,  01/20/08  10:45 AM

Tivo GUIMoxi GUILongtime readers know I am a huge fan of Tivo, and have been since time zero about eight years ago when I bought my first Series/1.  (BTW I still have it - suitably enhanced with a larger hard drive and ethernet adapter, and augmented with a webserver so I can program it from anywhere - and it still works great!) 

However for the last two years I've had a Moxi as my "primary" DVR driving my plasma HD in my family room.  If you click through that link, you'll see when I got it I opined: "I was afraid I would hate the Moxi GUI and pine for my Tivo. Well, I have to say, it doesn't suck. I'm not sure whether I'd say it is as nice as the Tivo - I guess maybe I would not say it is as nice as the Tivo - but it is eminently usable."  On further review, actually, it does suck.

For two years I've been putting up with the Moxi GUI, it has been just good enough not to replace it, but bad enough that think about replacing it often.  On New Year's day I had an unpleasant experience programming it for that day's football, and resolved to get a Tivo HD.  Today I had the same unpleasant experience programming it for today's football.  So I re-resolve to get a Tivo HD.

Should be good for a blog post or two - so stay tuned!

(I know, another mishigosh.  What can I say :)


Sunday,  01/20/08  11:02 PM

Well, it was cold here today - brrr... - but not as cold in Green Bay or Foxboro, where neither of the teams I was rooting for won.  So be it.  At least Shirley's chili was delicious :)  Meanwhile I also spent the day wrapped around the axle on a coding project, dug a big hole, filled it, and have now declared failure.  Sigh.

This gives me an excuse to link Paul Graham's excellent article: Holding a Program in One's Head.  "A good programmer working intensively on his own code can hold it in his mind the way a mathematician holds a problem he's working on."  Exactly.  He goes on to list the eight things you can do to help keep a program in your head, including my favorite: start small.  I violated this today, and paid the price.

world's tallest building in DubaiIn the course of reactivating hotlink redirection (!), I found the picture at right of the world's tallest building being erected in Dubai.  You really have to click through to enlarge; this is an amazing structure!  It dwarfs the surrounding buildings, which are also huge and brand new.  Looks like something from a science fiction movie.

hotlink alert!{ Yes, I have reactivated hotlink redirection; hotlinks to images on this site now display this little badge.  I am happy to share images, but I am not happy to host them! }

At least I'm not as mean as this guy; he figured out how to sign off MySpace users when they hotlinked to images on his site.  Of course those kids have no idea what they're doing; they don't understand hotlinking, or why they shouldn't do it, and they surely won't understand why they keep getting signed off every time they reload their page...

AppleTVAbout a year ago I bought an AppleTV; at the time I was pretty excited about being able to watch movies I had already downloaded (from "somewhere"), and less excited about being able to buy movies from the iTunes store.  In the intervening year I have used it some - mostly as a music server for parties - but that original vision of being able to watch downloaded movies wasn't realized.  However now that I've found Visual Hub, I'm happily using it as I originally intended.  The other night Shirley and I watched A Good Year (which is a good movie, by the way, featuring Russell Crowe, a beautiful vineyard in Provence, and the wonderful Marion Cotillard).  I'm happily transcoding all my movies from MPEG4 (Divx/Xvid/whatever) to Quicktime (H.264).  More downloading / watching will ensue, I am sure...

Related; the Macalope writes about that $20 upgrade.  I have an iPod Touch, so this applies to me...  "You can't argue that Apple shouldn't charge for the update.  It's too late.  You do have some recourse, however.  If you think $20 is too much, don't buy the upgrade."  Exactly!  [ via Daring Fireball ]

And some good news: Slipstream scores Giro invite.  Excellent.  Let's hope they get invited to the Tour and the Vuelta also; that would give us a U.S. Pro team to root for this summer!  Go Argyle...


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this date in:
About Me

Greatest Hits
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