An Appeal

I saw an unopened letter today, addressed to my roommate. You could tell by its lack of sender that it was unsolicited. But instead of luring you to open it by false claims of importance or time sensitivity, it appealed to your sense of compassion. “Please, do not discard,” it read. I felt a certain sense of weariness in the words, a surrender. The cheap envelope offered little privacy to its contents, which I could see proclaimed “0.0%” in a large, black font. That, too, seemed defeatist. “Please, just take it. It’s free. If only you would, out of kindness, not discard this letter.”

Architecture By

I finally have the opportunity to work on a J2EE project. There are, approximately, a bajillion different technologies that make up core J2EE plus open source APIs, frameworks, engines, etc. Since I probably won’t be here forever (because “here” won’t be here forever), I thought I’d ask WWMD: What Would (have me) Do? Here is a listing of J2EE technologies and the number of tech job listings, nationwide, that ask for them.
Continue reading Architecture By

Dude, I Think She Likes You…

I received yet another “new feature” notification for a web site I’m registered with. Difference is, this is the first one I’ve ever been impressed with. American Singles has a new feature called Click! that acts as a mutual friend. It’s dead simple, and so brilliant you’ll wonder why I didn’t think of it first. As you view the personals, you can mark them as Yes, Maybe, or No. If you mark a profile as Yes, and its the author does the same for your profile, you “click”, and the site let’s you know you’re interested in each other. If you marked her Maybe, and she marks you as Yes, you’re sent a subtle hint: “Are you sure she’s not a Yes?” No’s are treated like you never viewed and/or marked the ad, so no hurt feelings.

This is so much easier than real life, where I assume a girl’s not interested unless she actually smiles at me. Consider that a warning.

Career-based Voting

So is publishing articles about how having a clearance can give you a big leg up in your tech job search. Searching their own ads, though, I’m not seeing it. At least not for software engineers in Southern California, and I’ve no plans to move or switch jobs. My most recent search yielded just 31 jobs for developers with any of these skills: Java, Perl, JSP, Servlets, J2EE, or ColdFusion. I tried other software technologies, too. Almost nothing. I know, if I search a 50 mile radius of DC, I’ll find a hundreds. But most who live here don’t want to move, well, anywhere.

On several other news sites (bear with me, this is related), I’ve just read about Kerry’s defense plans: expand the troops by 40,000, without increasing the budget. How will he do that? He says he’ll scrap missile defense. Now, I’m not saying this is a bad idea, we could probably use more troops than missile defenders right now. However, all the manpower of this $9 billion project will quickly be on the market, and they, too, will have (pretty darn high) clearances. And I’m guessing they’ve got a ton of software developers, as anyone who’s played Missile Command knows this requires some tricky programming.

These developers will be facing an already crowded market, which is still recovering from the Internet bust, and is now facing the offshoring boom. Their only hope (and ours) is that they live in the DC area, and don’t want to leave.

Or Bush gets re-elected. I’m just saying…

All For Nothing?

I’ve just been informed about a new site called It is a Russian site (link for English in the upper left corner) that offers digital music at a steal. What’s a steal, you ask? Well, iTunes charges $.99/song, and charges $.79/song + $10/month. So how does 1-2 cents/MB sound? Yes, they charge by bandwidth, and their Online Encoding (OE) system allows you to choose the format and bitrate. Of course, higher bitrate = more data = more money. Some songs cost $.02/MB, so for a high quality, long song, you maybe pay a quarter, but on average it’s a nickel. And some albums are even free.

You’re thinking, “This can’t be legal! It’s too good to be true!” Well, guess what, buster? I think you’re right. Well, it’s definitely true, but I am highly skeptical that this is a legitmate service. They claim they’re legitmate in Russia, which is very possibly true, but they also warn you that it might not be legal in your country. Since they don’t have time to check everyone’s laws, you’re on your own.

One of their payment plans seems particularly suspect. If there’s a CD they don’t have, but you do, you can rip it and upload it for twice their standard bandwidth costs. Something about that just shouts “accomplice”.

Most of the internet lore on them is testimonials, and I haven’t seen any stories of people getting burned. A few believe it’s run by hackers, and even though that claim is largely unsubstantiated, you’re probably best off using PayPal to avoid giving away your credit card number.

I’m curious as to how the RIAA will strike at this. Even if it’s illegal, they’re only finding/sueing those who share music for free. Can they subpoena Visa or PayPal? Get Russian authorities to hand over AllOfMP3’s records? Hard to say. Well, hard for me, at least. Every other review of this site is absolutely sure this is legal, no doubt in their minds, and this includes Tech TV. Granted, it has been around since 2001. Maybe they’re right.

Disclaimer: I have not used this service.

Monetizing the Blogosphere

Jason Calacanis and Brian Alvey from Weblogs, Inc. hosted a panel about how to make money blogging. Someone took the trouble to type up a transcript, and if you have any interest in blogging or journalism – especially as a career – you’ll find it a very interesting read. Calacanis, who did most of the talking, sounds a bit like Quentin Tarantino. If you keep that in mind, you’ll find the transcript even more amusing.

An important point: Calacanis estimates that a good-to-great blog requires 5-25 posts a day, taking 4-8 hours. Not trivial. It also targets one subject and/or has a significant following, so for the time being (and the foreseeable future) won’t allow me to quit my day job.

Web resources from the discussion:

bOINGbOING – former cyberpunk magazine turned kick ass weblog
engadget – a gadget weblog under the Weblogs, Inc. umbrella
the social software weblog – another Weblogs, Inc. site
gawker – a weblog that?s famous for some reason (one of those NYC invented celebrity things?)
Feed Burner – a site for managing/manipulating RSS feeds. I seem to recall a negative connotation to it, like it can be unethically used to publish someone’s content without giving them proper credit.


Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist, gave a speech about his site and why he thinks it works as a virtual community. I have very little experience with his site, which he describes as a collection of classified ads, but forums have allowed an interesting community to form around them. Since the ads are organized by city, the site has become a user supported collection of city guides.

I found his talk personal, humorous, and engaging. You can access his Powerpoint slides here. Craig’s an affable fellow who’s dedicated to his work, and as of late, various social/political causes.

The most famous covert organization in the world.