Typos, screw ups

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I just had to fix several images for the Essential Blogging book. There was a typo in several of the screenshots – I used “weblob” rather than “weblog”.

It would be funny, but after a while, I get tired of mistakes. I get tired of using the wrong word, but one that’s phonetically similar. I get tired of misspellings. I get tired of not being able to type “wierd” without error even after months of trying to train myself to spell it correctly.

I get tired of the embarrassement.

I typed a comment in a weblog once that had to do with President Bush and the so-called “choking incident” that happened a few months back. Except I used “chocking”. My typo generated a lot of joking. Not the nice, gentle jokes and teasing that I usually get with my regular weblog visitors (all of you). Nasty, demeaning stuff. Needless to say, I never went back to that weblog.

To add to the problem, my keyboard is going bad on my laptop and my SHIFT, CTRL, ALT and several other keys aren’t working properly.

Typos and keyboard problems. And stress because of the move – stress makes things worse. I’ve actually written some emails that were completely illegible though they passed all spellchecks. Why weren’t they legible? Because when I’m overworked, when I’m stressed, I use weird (did I spell it correctly that time?) words in place of the intended ones. Perfectly good words used absolutely incorrectly.

Reading’s a problem at times, too. The Unix Power Tools book is based in SGML rather than Word. I didn’t know it was going to be SGML-based or I would not have taken it on. I can read XML, HTML, and so on, but not when there’s extensive use of what I call disruptive markup (contained within the text rather than surrounding it) and named entities. These things disrupt my reading, make it difficult for me to “see” the words. Long web pages do this also – anything longer than the width we tend to use for our weblogs.

Don’t get me wrong. I can read books, magazines, content in Microsoft Word, standard text editors, PDF files much faster than normal (last time I was tested, I checked out at over 2000 words a minute). But new environments make me extremely uncomfortable until I “train” myself with them.

So I use “vi” or Notepad instead of sophisticated development environments because I’m comfortable with these simpler tools.

I don’t play games because they frustrate me. I can’t play chess. Computerized tests scare me to death. Math has always been a challenge. However, these things don’t bother me that much. Well, not too much.

But I love to write. It probably means more to me than anything else in the world. I live for my writing.

And it’s hell being a writer when you have Dyslexia.


Rifting away

The buzz is all about the NY Times article, A Rift between the Bloggers.

Dave seems to be happy about it because the article called webloggers journalists. He would like to see complete transcripts of the interviews, though. (Sorry, Dave. If you’re a journalist then you understand that journalists don’t release unquoted interview material.)

Glen Reynolds thinks the piece was fair, and Doc says we (webloggers) are out of control.

File 13’s Amish Tech Support (sorry, that is the name of the weblog) thinks the article was a plug for the upcoming book “We Blog: Publishing online with Weblogs”. As a writer for a rival book, I wasn’t overly thrilled myself that only the one book was mentioned. After all, we also had Big Dogs among our authors. (Not me, I’m only a Pup.)

PhotoDude goes on to say that the article author, David Gallagher, is a weblogger himself, a photoblogger. Those two weblogs were a pleasant discovery – always looking for new photoblogs.

Rifts among bloggers. Sure. There’s rifts all the time. I don’t get care for certain bloggers and have criticized what they write. Certain bloggers don’t care for me, and criticize what I write. Life goes on.

To me this article is nothing more than Big Dogs talking about other Big Dogs, and, frankly, the whole thing is getting boring.


Categorization and identity

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I tried an experiment yesterday: I organized my blogroll into different categories of webloggers, such as Really Scary Smart People, Huggables, Life Twisters, and so on.

The intention was to have a bit of fun, and also to hopefully encourage weblog readers into visiting these weblogs. One of the problems with blogrolls is that they’re so uniform and so common we tend to ignore them. By categorizing my blogroll friends, I had hoped to make them all stand out a bit.

What I forgot with this little brain storm of mine is that categorizing a person is probably one of the most depersonalizing things you can do to another human being. My putting an individual in a category said to that person, this is how I view you. I told them, “Forget the richness of your voice, the strength of your personality, the warmth of your humor, and my regard, and yes even love for you. You are (pick one: a/b/c/…).”

I took each of my friends and flattened them into a cookie-cutter category, and then walked away dusting hands off, pleased at my own cleverness. There are times when the Bird screws the pooch, and this was surely one of those times.

AKMA’s been talking about identity lately. In particular, he wrote the following:

One of the complicating elements in our discussion of identity comes from our tendency to take the partial information we have about someone’s identity as sufficient to envision his or her full identity.


Yesterday, I took one characteristic of each person and used this to form a basis for insertion into one category or another. By doing so I said to my weblog readers, “this weblogger is a Woman who Kicks Butt”. I set the stage for that reader so that when they go to Shannon’s weblog, they expect to see primarily a Woman who Kicks Butt. However, they may be shocked to see that the Woman who Kicks Butt is also a sensitive, accomplished and talented singer and songwriter, loyal friend, and highly complex and rich personality.

AKMA isn’t “just” a Huggable, Really Scary Smart person – he’s the one person who has broken through my deep distrust of Christians by showing that a Christian can have a sense of humor, can be tolerant, can love others regardless of their religious affiliation, and can have a deep moral integrity and loyalty that transcends any particular religious belief.

Chris isn’t just a Life Twister or Unique or Huggable – though all three are part of him. He’s an extremely caring person who believes strongly that we, as a people, can be better than how we see ourselves. When I think of him, I think of this person who wants to grab the world in a big bear hug, and then slap the world upside the head for all the idiotic things we do.

Sharon transcends Butt Kicker and Smart person and Artist, because she’s a mother and student and a very good friend who is going to be the world’s best librarian someday. Why? Because she has a deep love for books that goes beyond their material worth – to her words are gold, expressed thoughts diamonds.

I placed Jonathon into that old Australian Delegation classification, which removed any vestige of his personality, reducing him to nothing more than a citizen of a country. I disregarded the fact that when Jonathon writes about The Pillow Book or Tales of Genji, I want to curl up on the floor putting my head on my hands and just listen to the beauty of the words as they flow over and around me.

Dorothea is more than a Really Scary Smart Person or Woman who Kicks Butt. She wrote in the comments attached to the category posting:

There’s an interesting blog lurking in the experience, though, one AKMA might want to take a stab at. However much we try, we have limited control over how we are perceived by others. Our identities, if you will, are as dependent on the interpretation of others as is our writing on our readers.


Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that BB’s genial attempt to lend us personality led to difficulties. How many of us are entirely comfortable with the idea that our identities are not under our sole control?

Dorothea is an astute observer of humanity, with an incredible knack for cutting to the heart of the matter. She is, by far, richer than any one entry in any one category.

I am a neophyte in this new brave new world where we connect to others through the threaded void, but I am learning. I am learning.


A thousand words

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

California coastal path and the sea


P2P Discovery

What kind of core do Kazaa and its supernodes have? Is it iron? Gold? Or is it more of an aluminum core because the cloud that supports the Kazaa P2P network is still malleable — the Supernodes that provide the cloud services are fluid and can change as well as go offline with little or no impact to the system.

I imagine, without going into the architecture of the system, that more than one Supernode is assigned to any particular subnet, others to act as backups, most likely pinging the primary Supernode to see if it’s still in operation. Out of operation, the backup Supernode(s) takes over and a signal is sent to the P2P nodes to get services from this IP address rather than that one. The original Supernode machine may even detect a shutdown and send a signal to the secondaries to take over.

Or perhaps the Supernode IPs are chained and the software on each P2P node checks at this IP first and if no response occurs, automatically goes to the second within the Supernode list and continues on until an active Supernode is found. This would take very little time, and would, for the most part, be transparent to the users.

Again without access to any of the code, and even any architecture documentation (which means there’s some guesswork here) the algorithm behind the Supernode selection list looks for nodes that have the bandwidth, persistent connectivity, and CPU to act as Supernodes with little impact to the computer’s original use. The member nodes of each KaZaA sub-net — call it a circle — would perform searches against the circle’s Supernode, which is, in turn, connected to a group of Supernodes from other circles so that if the information sought in the first circle can’t be found, it will most likely be found in the next Supernode and so on. This is highly scalable.

So far so good — little or no iron in the core, because no one entity, including KaZaA or the owner’s behind KaZaA, can control the existence and termination of the Supernodes. Even though KaZaA is yet another file sharing service rather than a services brokering system, the mechanics would seem to meet our definition of a P2P network. Right?


What happens when a new node wants to enter the KaZaA network? What happens if KaZaA — the corporate body — is forced offline, as it was January 31st because of legal issues? How long will the KaZaA P2P network survive?

In my estimation, a P2P network with no entry point will cease to be a viable entity within 1-2 weeks unless the P2P node owners make a determined effort to keep the network running by designating something to be an entry point. Something with a known IP address. Connectivity to the P2P circle is the primary responsibility of a P2P cloud. KaZaA’s connectivity is based on a hard-coded IP. However, small it is, this is still a kernel of iron.

We need a way for our machines to find not just one but many P2P circles of interest using approaches that have worked effectively for other software services in the past:

We need a way to have these P2P circles learn about each other whenever they accidentally bump up against each other — just as webloggers find each other when their weblogging circles bump up against each other because a member of two circles points out a weblog of interest from one circle to the other.

We need these circle to perform an indelible handshake and exchange of signatures that become part of the makeup of each circle touched so that one entire P2P circle can disappear, but still be recreated because it’s “genetic” makeup is stored in one, two, many other circles. All it would take to restart the original circle is two nodes expressing an interest.

We need a way to propagate the participation information or software or both to support the circles that can persist regardless of whether the original source of said software or information is still operating, just as software viruses have been propagated for years. Ask yourselves this — has the fact that the originator of a virus gone offline impacted on the spread of the said virus? We’ve been harmed by the technology for years, time to use the concepts for good.

We need a way to discover new services using intelligent searches that are communicated to our applications using a standard syntax and meta-language, through the means of a standard communication protocol, collected with intelligent agents, as Google and other search engines have been using for years. What needs to change is to have the agents find the first participating circle on the internet and ask for directions to points of interest from there.

A standard communication protocol, meta-language, syntax. Viral methods of software and information propagation. Circles of interest with their own DNA that can be communicated with other circles when they bump in the night, so to speak. Internet traversing agents that only have to be made slightly smarter — given the ability to ask for directions.

Web of discovery. Doesn’t the thought of all this excite you?