February 11, 2007

Refining the Process

So I was going to define jargon first, so my IT posts would be intelligible to non-professionals. That is not practical, it turns out, because there is a huge base of jargon I have to define before each article makes sense. For the last piece I wrote like this, I went over a month with it sitting unpublished because I didn't want to write the 8 jargon entries first. So here's the new deal: if you don't understand, and want to, ask. I'll answer.

Posted by jeff at 6:10 PM | TrackBack

January 20, 2007

That was Different

At 4:21 am yesterday, something happened. Something electrical. Something that fried the power supply on my server (which is odd because it's on a good-quality UPS and other things on the UPS were fine) and also fried my wireless extender. I got a power supply this afternoon, brought the server up, and (blessed be the creators of the UNIX operating system and their Linux acolytes) all is once again well.

Posted by jeff at 5:46 PM | TrackBack

December 27, 2006

A Difference in Focus

I've been thinking a lot about what I get out of blogging, and about what I want to do in other parts of my life, and the combination of the two has resulted in a pretty big cutback in output here. Well, I've made some decisions.

There are a lot of political commenters in the blogosphere. A whole, whole lot. And I don't think that my voice adds enough to make a difference, since there are many people saying most of what I would say about politics and foreign affairs, better than I am capable of saying it. No doubt, I will nonetheless continue to blog about politics quite a bit, because it's an interest of mine and because sometimes I get so annoyed I just can't help but write about it. But the problem is, to do this consistently requires me to be more current with the news on an ongoing basis, and consequently more annoyed anyway, than I really care to be. I think that political blogging has made me, in some ways, a more negative person than I care to be.

On the other hand, there is not a great deal of good writing about my actual profession: enterprise IT development and integration. Yet my profession is economically critical to the US, and is becoming critical in nearly every facet of our lives. There are things I have to say, with the benefit of some 15 years of experience in IT, mostly at an enterprise level; from the point of view of having been a network and systems integrator, a database developer, a systems administrator, a people manager, a project manager, an operations architect, a development architect, a consultant on directory services and identity management, and an enterprise architect; and as someone who thinks about everything in terms of theoretical frameworks. And in my area of expertise, the things I have to say are too often unsaid.

One reason that I have been reluctant to write about my work is that I don't want to offend my clients. The lessons I have learned about good and bad IT practice, for example, have all come from employers or clients, and sometimes it is pretty easy to cross-reference a few available facts and determine which client I might be talking about. If one of my clients has terrible practices in some area, and sees me taking that practice apart, they might well be offended, and I want to ensure repeat business wherever possible. On the other hand, it's also true that much of what I have to say about enterprise IT is of generic applicability, and that many examples (both good and bad) that are specific to one company in my experience are of broader applicability outside of my direct experience.

So expect to see more blogging about IT in the future, and less blogging about politics. (In fact, I expect that most of my political commentary in the future will be in comments on others' blogs.)

Posted by jeff at 10:31 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 2, 2006

Things I Know

Francis Porretto neatly captured much of the reason for my decreased blogging lately: "Fulfillment is an individual matter; my fulfillment, as a writer and thinker, has been hampered by focusing on politics six days a week with a little restful mysticism on the seventh."

Actually, for me, there is another component as well. I have been convinced for years that, should we not fight the jihadis aggressively and everywhere now, then we will eventually end up in a war on the scale of WWII, probably including a genocide or two along the way, and probably the loss of an American city or two. I have tried to convince others of this, too. But I've realized, or remembered really, that there are certain inevitable historical forces that will come about.

I know that there will almost certainly be a world war soon, and that 9/11 won't be dated as the start of it. I know that millions, maybe a billion, would die in this war. I know that it would end with either the fall of the West or the destruction of the Arabs to all practical intents. I know that the barbarians have a good shot at destroying the Europe of my youth, where there is likely to be a civil war in my lifetime between the Muslims and the non-Muslims, and that they have a shot at global domination.

I know, too, that there is little I can do to avert or even mitigate this, and I am content. I am content because I believe that at the end of it all, America will still stand, and will still be the most free place on the plant. I hope we will be freer than now, and deeply hope that my sons will not have to die to bring this about.

I used to fear these things; now I simply accept them. And knowing these things, I've realized that it's much more important for me to focus on my family and my interests than on politics and current events. And that's why I haven't been blogging much.

Posted by jeff at 2:33 PM | TrackBack

November 2, 2006

Don't Get This One at All

OK, so I'm being bombarded, for days now, by spam comments I only used to get occasionally. (OK, I have always been getting lots of spam comments; I'm referring only to this particular type of spam comment.) Normally, it makes sense when you get spam comments: they are either pointers to web sites or they are direct offers or they are spam markers, which the spammers then search for to see where they've been effective, so they can concentrate on those hosts.

These I cannot figure out. None of the text is actual words, nor is the name. They are apparently random sequences of characters. I tried searching them in Google, and got zero results on any of the words in either the name or the body text. So it can't be a spam marker, because I refuse to believe that there is anything, no matter how dumb, that will be universally blocked. These come from hundreds of different zombies. (I've taken to just adding them to my firewall so that the entire IP is blocked from my network, so I only get one or two from any given address before that address is blocked.)

The web site left with the comment is non-existent. They are all at mail.com email addresses, none of which seem to be real.

I just do not get what this particular vandal is going for, but I am getting tempted to go from defensive to offensive warfare, breaking into each zombie and killing it dead dead dead. If enough people did that, it would shut down the botnets eventually. Of course, there is the small matter of it being illegal... so it must just remain temptation. But if anyone knows sites that shut down bots, and take recommendations, I have more than a thousand blocked addresses so far.

Posted by jeff at 9:47 PM | TrackBack

October 29, 2006

No More Trackbacks

I turned off trackbacks to the blog (actually, all blogs on this computer). Unfortunately, the attempted trackback spams were overwhelming the system. Even though the spam trackbacks were immediately getting junked, never mind published, the system resources necessary to support the process were too high (an artifact of the way SixApart coded MovableType). In fact, there have been times when trackback spams were coming in at such a rate that the other system functions have been negatively impacted. So, until SixApart fixes their system, no more trackbacks.

Posted by jeff at 9:17 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 29, 2006

Every Once in a While, I can Call 'Em

I've been moving over and editing posts from my old blog, which died for lack of a backup, leaving only the HTML behind. In the process, reading some of my old posts, I've realized that a few predictions I had made have been startlingly accurate. For example, this one, on how Israel could isolate the Palestinians, has been pretty much exactly right. I guess that makes up for the more-frequent situation: very wrong predictions.

Posted by jeff at 5:48 PM | TrackBack

July 31, 2006

Slow Posting

Due to an unexpected requirement to go out of the country, posting is likely to be quite light for the rest of the week.

Approval of comments will also be slow.

Posted by jeff at 6:32 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 25, 2006

Down and Almost Out

Repeated power failures last night have resulted in repeated connectivity failures today. There won't be a tech available until tomorrow (7/26) afternoon. In the meantime, consider yourself luck if you were able to get this far.

UPDATE: So it has been that someone is DNS flooding my cable modem, which handles this by essentially shutting down. Now I've had to find alternate name server hosting, and it will probably be 7/27 or 7/28 before everything is up and working correctly. Bah!

Posted by jeff at 1:38 PM | TrackBack

July 2, 2006

Wait, I Need to Say Something Here

I really, really need to respond to Fran's comments on identity and identity theft, but I am leaving in just a short hour or so for a vacation. Consider this a marker so I don't forget after it scrolls off Fran's front page.

Posted by jeff at 11:21 AM | TrackBack

May 30, 2006

Back up and Running

Sorry for the unannounced server outage; there was a problem with a loose nut in front of the keyboard. It's rebuilt now, apparently. A couple of the last blog comments may have been lost, but that should be about it.

Posted by jeff at 8:14 PM | TrackBack

May 12, 2006

Not Dead Yet, so far as I can Tell

Sorry for the very, very light posting: life has been far too interesting lately. I'm off to camp with with my two older boys this weekend, so the outlook for posting in the immediate future continues to be grim.

Posted by jeff at 4:22 PM | TrackBack

April 5, 2006

Back Up, Sort of

The blog came back up yesterday, but the domain records didn't get updated until last night. If you're seeing this, it means the domain records have correctly propagated, and all is well.

Posted by jeff at 10:19 AM | TrackBack

March 31, 2006

PSA

I'm going to have to take the server offline from late on 3/31 until late on 4/4. The blog isn't going away, just moving.

Posted by jeff at 8:51 AM | TrackBack

March 3, 2006

Too Much Real Life...

Not enough time for blogging. Free ice cream prospects this month are low.

Posted by jeff at 10:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 31, 2005

Back in Town

Just got back in town from spending much of the week with my parents (much of the rest of the week being concerned with getting my car fixed). Having done so, I'm off to the living room to celebrate New Years' Eve with my wife and children. I'll be busy the next couple of days, then the total drought of posting will end, and the light posting will resume. (Real life and non-blog non-real life are claiming some time for the immediate future.)

Happy New Years' to all, and I hope next year will be better for you than this, but not as good as the year after next.

Posted by jeff at 7:56 PM | TrackBack

October 31, 2005

Welcome, Nemo

We are being joined by Nemo, formerly (still?) of Ut Humiliter Opinor. I look forward to seeing Nemo's writing here, and hope you all enjoy it as well.

Posted by jeff at 3:22 PM | TrackBack

October 10, 2005

Stylin'

By request, and with the help of A List Apart, this blog now supports two styles. If you look on the upper right, just below the flags, you will see a list that allows you to change from the normal light on dark style to a dark on light style, which some will hopefully find easier to read.

This is really rough at the moment, since it's the first alternate style I've implemented, so there hasn't been any time to work out the kinks. If you find pages that don't accept the style choices correctly, or any places where the colors are not right, please let me know and I'll get it fixed.

The steps to do this are:

  1. Download and install styleswitcher.js.
  2. Create a new index template in MT's admin interface, with an output file of styles-site-reversed.css, and copied from the current index template.
  3. In each template, change the default link from:

    <link rel="stylesheet" href="<$MTBlogURL$>styles-site.css" type="text/css" />

    to

    <link rel="stylesheet" href="<$MTBlogURL$>styles-site.css" type="text/css" title="Light on Dark" />

    This changes the stylesheet type from "persistent" to "preferred".
  4. Add an alternate stylesheet, by putting this line right after the one above:

    <link rel="alternate stylesheet" href="<$MTBlogURL$>styles-site-reversed.css" type="text/css" title="Dark on Light" />

    There can be more than one of these, but right now for this blog there's just one.
  5. Add in the switch code:

    <a href="#" onclick="setActiveStyleSheet('Light on Dark'); return false;">Use Light on Dark</a>
    <a href="#" onclick="setActiveStyleSheet('Dark on Light'); return false;">Use Dark on Light</a>
Posted by jeff at 4:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 9, 2005

Following One's Muse

I generally don't write about my blogroll. This is because I don't, unlike some bloggers, obsess over it; I just put in it what I read. But this is a special occasion. Planet Moron has been creeping up my blogroll for a while now, and it just moved into the daily reads on the basis of a quote so precious I had to share:

When engaging in the artistic endeavor of creative writing I allow my mind to wander and so feel compelled to follow my muse wherever it may lead.

And by "muse" I mean "gin-induced psychosis."

Ironically, his post was about blogrolling.

Posted by jeff at 9:53 PM | TrackBack

August 22, 2005

Chicago

I spent the weekend driving from Dallas to Detroit, so no heavy posts for the moment. I made really good time on Saturday, so I got to spend Sunday on Chicago's lakeshore - and it was fantastic. By complete coincidence, this was the weekend that they have the big air show each year. I walked out of the parking garage to see a MiG-17 flying over. Excellent. I got to sail out on the tall ship Windy (and got to help raise the sails), and got to eat at some of my favorite restaurants.

Most importantly, I also got to meet the wonderful Dave Schuler and his lovely and charming wife, Janice. (Sorry for the short notice, guys.) All in all, a pretty perfect day, despite the sunburn.

I have got to move to Chicago.

Posted by jeff at 10:59 AM | TrackBack

July 30, 2005

Blogrolling

Gerard Van der Leun expands on the concept of blog communities I talked about earlier, and Dave Schuler adds his analysis as well. Both hit upon blogrolls. In a further display of the amazing synchronicity that this topic has been generating, it so happens that one of my current TODOs (too long ignored) is to port MT Blogroll to work with Postgres as its backend database (different schema from MySQL, which is where MT Blogroll is targeted).

I think that blogrolls are an under-exploited feature of the blogosphere. As Dave notes, most people set up their blogrolls with their blogs, and seldom alter them thereafter; and when they are altered, it is mostly additions. I treat mine a little differently: I maintain it actively, both adding and deleting, and move blogs around in the list frequently as well. This is because my blogroll is who I actively read. But there's a problem: it's too big, and so the bottom 2/3 or so of the blogroll is seldom read. That's a shame because there is some excellent material down there.

But for most people, the blogroll seems almost to be a statement of community by its mere existence, which means that it becomes stale quite quickly. (How many blogs still link to BBB, which has been dormant for over 2 years now?) And there's really no need for this, except that there's not a good, universal blogrolling tool. Blogrolling.com is useful, as is MT Blogroll. These tools will become more useful as they add new features, and particularly as they are incorporated into blogging tools.

What this all presages is the concept of communities of blogs, koinonia, becoming more easily detected and more commonly understood. I will contribute what little I can by creating a definitional framework. In the definitions below, the "central blog" is the one that forms the starting point for discovery or definition of the community.

Neighborhood: A central blog's neighborhood consists of all of other blogs to which the central blog links in its blogroll, and which also link back to the central blog in their blogroll.
Koinon: A koinon is the intersection of a set of neighborhoods, containing at least three blogs.

For example, taking myself as the central blog, ZenPundit, The Glittering Eye and American Digest are all part of my neighborhood, because I blogroll all of them and they all blogroll me. In addition, The Glittering Eye and ZenPundit blogroll each other, which means that the three of us form a koinon.

Do those definitions work, or are they too broad, too narrow, or not useful?

I should note, by the way, that these definitions are in part meant to be specific enough that koinons and neighborhoods could be discovered automatically, either with crawlers or with reference to Technorati and the Ecosphere.

UPDATE: Actually, I've thought of a better definition, more expansive of what a koinon is. The definition of koinon above should be for a "family" or "cluster" of blogs. A koinon, then, could be the intersection of a set of neighborhoods, where at least three members of each neighborhood are common. By this definition, then, the koinon would represent a larger order community, with a more diverse spectrum of members, which is what I believe was first intended by the term. For an example, see here.

Posted by jeff at 1:57 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 29, 2005

Gatekeepers and Keeping Score

American Digest has a thought-provoking essay on how blogs are becoming more like traditional media: we're evolving gatekeepers that strongly influence what's covered in the blogs. Well worth a read, and too much good stuff to excerpt. I think that Gerard Van der Leun's thesis is right, for a large part of the blogosphere: it's necessary to have someplace to go to find out the gist of what's going on, and sites like Instapundit (it's that near the top of my blogroll for a reason) and Kos are great places to find that. It should be noted, though, that this is primarily true in the politically-obsessed part of the blogosphere, which is already, and will become more so, a shrinking part of the total blogosphere.

But I think that even the political blogosphere has more to it than that. Perhaps Van der Leun is speaking only within the context of media and political blogging - both of which he is a part of - and to that extent I have no alteration to make. But even within that world, it's not that simple. There are three factors that the blogs have that are critical: depth, breadth and reconsideration.

Depth comes from there being so many blogs. While there are a top tier of maybe 1000 right-wing and perhaps 200 left-wing blogs (drawing roughly equal traffic between the groups) and a few dozen centrist blogs that draw high traffic, there are a lot more blogs sitting below the surface. These blogs tend to form koinons, which discuss certain topics and matters amongst themselves. When these reach a critical point, or become part of a larger context, the big blogs take note and incorporate those elements through the magic of hyperlinks. And this draws more people into those lower-traffic koinons, as they are discovered by new readers.

Breadth comes from the fact that many blogs require many authors. Each of those authors has a particular life story, particular training and particular skills. I am, for example, an expert on identity management, information security, directory services, UNIX systems, and enterprise-level systems integration; and as an IT consultant for several years, I've worked with a wide variety of companies and people in a wide variety of places. I have some hobbies and areas of interest that intersect with other blogs (in fact, I originally became interested in blogs because of Transterrestrial Musings (mostly about space) and became determined to blog by reading Steven Den Beste (mostly political analysis, and sadly dormant). I am a husband, and father of four boys. I was born in Okinawa and spent much of the early part of my life in SE Asia and Europe. All of this taken together gives me a particular voice.

There are experts on so many areas, and people who live in so many places, who write blogs, that any issue has an instant set of experts to comment on it. These, too, find their way into the top-traffic blogs as the relevant issues arise. These people all have their own voices, such as the Christian pastor who used to be in the military, or the gay, Republican author of computer books or my wife (who mainly writes about homeschooling and family issues, with a more active comment section than mine).

The third feature of blogs that is critical is reconsideration. This just means that issues can be - and are - revisited over time. Issues don't entirely die in the blogosphere until and unless there is consensus, which as far as I can tell will never happen. What this means in real terms is that reputations are sticky, and in part they are based on people's willingness to change their minds when they figure out they were wrong. People look at the partisan blogs, but generally only if they really agree or really disagree with them. I'd rather read Winds of Change or Balloon Juice, which which I sometimes agree and sometimes do not, than read the partisan blogs. Part of the reason is that the partisan blogs are stuck on their positions as premises, and rarely change them, except when it's politically expedient. The reason that reconsideration is critical, though, is that except for the partisan blogs, issues will eventually gravitate to one or two opinion sets (eg: CBS used obviously fake documents in Rathergate because they were out to get the President and couldn't be bothered to be responsible journalists; or CBS used obviously fake documents in Rathergate because they were duped by a source they trusted). In other words, as new evidence comes in and those who are not emotionally invested in a position change their minds, over time there is a coalescence around a generally-accepted set of facts.

I do think a lot of people are overly obsessed by traffic: what matters to me, though, is not traffic but comments and discussion. I care about comments. I care about trackbacks. (And thanks to Technorati and the Ecosystem - when they work - it's possible to find other people talking about the same topics, but who don't have trackbacks from their sites.) Right now, I'm engaged in a wonderful discussion about polytheism on a post I did on the pantheism and Wiccan cosmology. That matters to me. Others are, of course, welcome to obsess over how many visits per day they get (I checked, and I get about 1500 visits a day on average, which is just utterly wonderful).

UPDATE: Francis Porretto has observations on the same essay.

Oh, and I fixed the spelling of Gerard Van der Leun. Mea maxima culpa.

Posted by jeff at 11:43 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 10, 2005

PSA

CPT 4ever went off to training today, preparatory to his deployment. Good luck and good wishes are always appropriate, though it may be some time before the CPT can check back in.

Posted by jeff at 7:06 PM | TrackBack

OK, That's It!

So I found Pat Sajak's opinion columns on his web page - I don't even remember who pointed me in that direction. But after reading a few of them, I'm hooked, and Pat Sajak goes into the sidebar. Here is a taste, in conclusion to a modest proposal for having the UN headquarters rotate locations every few years:

The fairest system would be to go alphabetically. That means Afghanistan would have the first chance to be the new host. There would be some embarrassment, I suppose, given the U.N.’s opposition to the United States’ ousting of the Taliban, resulting in free elections in that country. And I’m not sure the Kabul Restaurant Association is quite ready for the expensive and varied tastes of the delegates, though they’ll have a few years to prepare.

The next two hosts, Albania and Algeria, provide their own unique sets of challenges. My guess is that, given the current leadership in those countries, at least the delegates would be more likely to pay their parking fines.

It would be sad to see the U.N. moving out of the United States in 2008. But take heart. Depending on how many countries want to host the organization in the meantime, it could be back in just a few hundred years. Alphabetically, that would place us right after the United Arab Emirates.


Posted by jeff at 6:49 PM | TrackBack

June 26, 2005

Welcome

As you can see, we have a new blogger here at Caerdroia. CPT is an Army National Guard Captain of long standing, who will be posting here throughout his upcoming deployment (and hopefully after, hint hint).

Welcome to the blog, CPT.

Posted by jeff at 9:57 AM | TrackBack

June 25, 2005

New Blogger

Hello,
If anybody was to ask me to describe myself I would say I was a good yankee Captain, from a long line of good yankee Captains. You will have to forgive me, Im new here and am looking for a good method to vent what Im sure will be one of the most frustrating and worthwhile events of my life. I have done a deployment or two and am not going to go again without good comment. You will get the chance to live it with me as it happens. I don't want to give anything away other than it should be a good read and I value any commentary. Tell me what you think, I need the feedback and you just might be contributing to your national security in a really new way. It would certainly give the armchair general a whole new meaning.

The Good Yankee CPT

Posted by CPT 4ever at 9:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 23, 2005

MIT Blog Survey

I took the MIT blog survey. It was actually interesting (most surveys, to me, aren't). Anyway, I wasn't going to post about it, except I liked a couple of their icons:
Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Posted by jeff at 12:10 AM | TrackBack

June 22, 2005

Not My Week, Mechanically

So, first the air conditioner goes out, now that we're really into the heat wave. This was Monday night, and it won't get fixed until this afternoon. Sleep has been intermittent.

Then, this morning, the beater I bought to get across town to work decided that it would only shift into gear when the car was not running. Not sure yet why that is.

Bleah.

Posted by jeff at 8:46 AM | TrackBack

May 18, 2005

TypeKey

I fixed the configuration, so that if you have a TypeKey account, you can sign in and your comments will show up without waiting for my approval.

Posted by jeff at 8:39 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 15, 2005

Bastards

Less than a day since I got the blog back up and running, and already I have comment spam. Good for them. Here's an address to ban:

212.31.97.164

I think from now on I will simply post every time I ban an address. Feel free to add it to your ban list.

Posted by jeff at 10:16 PM | TrackBack

May 14, 2005

Old Blog, New Blog

There was a bit of trouble with my server during my hiatus. OK, what happened is this: my 3-year old son is potty training, and he was playing on Mommy's computer. He got a bit caught up in the game, and forgot to go to the potty. He was, at the time, naked. The arc was perfect, and the stream of urine travelled down the keyboard cable, in through the USB port, and fried the motherboard. Thankfully, I had a backup from the night before, so after a couple of weeks of work (I was in San Diego, and could only work on weekends, when there were, oh, 7 million other things to do to), I got the computer back up.

Except that the blogs are on a Postgres database, and I had backed up the wrong database. In short, you can find older entries here, but comments, trackbacks, and searches won't work. I probably won't do the work to reimport these entries, so if you need an older entry, and you can't find what you're looking for, let me know and I'll find it for you.

Oh, and let me know if you're having visual problems with any of this. It looks a lot like the old blog, but the template is new, so some things may not be working quite right on all browsers yet.

Posted by jeff at 11:37 PM | TrackBack

Styles Test

OK, let's see strong, bold, emphasis, italics, underline, and a:

blockquote

This is a second paragraph.

  • unordered list item
  1. ordered list item
table header
table data

This is the extended entry, complete with a

blockquote

Posted by jeff at 10:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Pardon Our Dust

Caerdroia will be active again soon. Since I've both lost the old database and have upgraded MT, it will take a couple of days for everything to be back to normal.

Posted by jeff at 9:35 AM | TrackBack

August 21, 2003

SpamSpamSpamSpam

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

OK, so this is interesting. Well, it's interesting to me, anyway. It seems that this blog has started getting spam in the comments. I've gotten a "make money fast" spam posted and an "increase the visibility of your website in search engines" spam, both in the last couple of days. Both "comments" were deleted, and their IPs banned, but I wonder how common this is?

Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack