free geoip February 2005 - Jayson's Blog -
A conduit to the voices inside my head.

February 2005 - Jayson's Blog

  • More Site News -- Decisions Decisions

    After some deliberation, I've decided to move my server out of my house and into a co-hosting location; I simply can't afford the bandwidth anymore as my site continues to grow (I never would have thought I'd get anywhere near the amount of traffic I'm getting at this point...the activity light on my router blinks pretty much all day, plus I'm sick of the administration overhead of trying to run 3 boxes, I need to get back down to 2).  Any recommendations on good .Net hosting companies?  Before I do that, I'll probably go ahead and launch, meaning I'll just start redirecting all traffic over to (right now it's vice versa).  I still have lots of tweaking to do the .Text db though to make sure everything is in order (correct URL's, etc).  I have also decided not to use CommunityServer 1.0 as the foundation for my new site; there is simply still too much not right with that package (but it looks incredibly promising).  Perhaps 1.1, and most definitely 2.0 as it's been stated it will have a stable API by that point.  So, really not a whole lot will change besides the URL itself for a bit.

    But, before I do any of the above, I'm finally breaking down and getting a laptop of my own.  I've usually had one issued to me via the various consultant gigs I've had and have come to realize they really are invaluable (well, I always knew that...but didn't realize how much laptop you can get now for not a lot of money, cost wise it's actually more effective to replace my desktop with a laptop instead of buying a new desktop machine is actually a server box that I've used as a workstation, so now it'll be my server).  I can get this machine completely tricked out (2.0ghz, 1 gig RAM, 60 gig 7200 HDD, 128mb graphics) for under 2 grand; I think that'd make a killer desktop replacement.  Of course, this is the machine I really want (just released by the specs, that thing is a beast and still only weighs 8 pounds), but I just don't think I can justify the extra cost.  That is a sexy piece of hardware though...yum.  Unfortunately, even if I could afford it, it wouldn't ship for a month (according to the Dell website); there's no way I could wait a month.

    Again, any recco's for a hosting company is greatly appreciated.  Cheers.

  • So, Have You Heard the One...

    …about the video game that can order a pizza for you?  Ok, it doesn’t actually do it for you, but with merely 6 keystrokes (/pizza) while playing Everquest II, you can have a piping hot pizza delivered to your door without missing a beat of gameplay.  Don’t believe me?  Check this out

    Man I’m glad technology like this didn’t exist while I was in college.  Why doesn’t Halo 2 have this feature (nudge nudge to the folks over at Bungie…)?  Better yet, how about delivering some fresh sushi (/sushi) to my door during gameplay…I don’t think I’d ever have to leave the house then.   I never thought I’d see the day…

  • Community Server Migration Script -- Announcing CSverter 1.0

    Anyone who’s been following this blog lately is aware Robert McLaws and myself have been diligently working on a .Text to Community Server migration utility (thanks again for all your hard work Rob, the wizard looks awesome!).  I’m pleased to announce the release of version 1.0 of this tool, you can download it via this link!  Note: This release supercedes my previous releases (the console application), and I have overwritten the zip archive with 1.0 (had to use the previous name, DotTextCS for the archive for links from previous posts, but the new name of the utility itself is CSverter).  If for some reason you still need the previous version (for example, if you're a glutton for punishment), let me know and I'll send it to you.

    This wizard should alleviate many of the headaches some of you guys have been running into, and the process is completely automated now.  Have a look at the readme included in the archive, and I highly recommend you read Robert’s release notes before diving into the wizard.  I will reiterate here just for the sake of clarity:

    • Right now, the source and destination databases need to be on the same server. If enough people need to move between separate servers, I can add it later.
    • You need to run the wizard on a machine where the CS web application is installed. This is because the temporary web service we use to create users and blogs needs to run in the HttpContext of the application.
    • You will need to set up CS and change the web.config file to point to the destination database you will use to complete the migration. Again, this is because the web service will use those settings to create blogs, users, and blog groups.
    • Depending on the number of users, blogs, posts, referrers, etc, this process can take SEVERAL HOURS. DTS is rather fast, but it still took over seven hours to migrate
    • You may need to use the CS admin UI to change the blog theme after the migration. I'm looking into why this isn't working, but it's not a showstopper, so I'm releasing it anyway

    From the feedback we’ve received so far, supporting seperate server machines is the hot topic (due to many people hosting with an ISP and not having access to the actual machine)…I’ll speak with Robert and we’ll address this soon.  It’s also worth mentioning that when specifying the ‘Blog URL Address’, you need to use a fully qualified web address (i.e., otherwise it will hang.  I will be publishing the code for the engine itself (not the wizard, that’s Robert’s call as it’s his code ) within the next couple of days.

    If you end up deleting a blog via the blog admin pages in CS (perhaps you want to recreate the blog with the wizard, or re-run one of the DTS packages), some of the associated data for the blog in the underlying tables will not be removed, namely in cs_Links and cs_LinkCategories…what this means is that if you attempt to re-run the DTS package, it will fail on those steps due to primary key violations.  I just discovered this issue with CS today and have addressed it with the folks over at Telligent.  Of course, this doesn’t affect new installs.  If you run into a situation where you need to drop and then recreate a specific blog, contact me and I’ll send you a query that cleans everything up.  Feel free to drop feedback either here, or over on Robert’s blog.  Last but not least, enjoy it and happy migrating!

  • Microsoft to Open Up SQL Server Code?

    Via CNet (full article here):

    Will the software industry's wave of open-source databases spill onto Microsoft's turf?

    Perhaps. The software giant is considering making the source code for its SQL Server database available to customers, according to Tom Rizzo, director of product management in Microsoft's SQL Server unit.

    In an interview with CNET, Rizzo said that the company is thinking about including the forthcoming SQL Server 2005 in Microsoft's shared-source program for disclosing product source code to customers.

    Of course, MS’s definition of “open source” isn’t synonomous with “free as in beer”, meaning it’s a peek, but don’t tinker policy.  SQL Server has had a pretty good security track record compared with some of their other products *well, sans the slammer worm, I worked in MS PSS at that time…those were some busy days), so I’m guessing that no serious surprises would be found.  The MySql/PostGreSql guys will see this as MS feeling the heat from their products; I say pffft to that…neither of those have an entry on TPC, and until they do they simply can’t be taken seriously as being enterprise ready.  PostGre has just been recently ported to the Win32 platform (as of v 8), so it’s widespread adoption has been hindered until now; and as for MySql, it’s just now becoming feature complete (stored procs, views, etc).  No, MS simply is responding to market pressure in terms of proving that it’s a secure product, and the development community will benefit as a whole.  Good move MS.

  • Hunter S. Thompson -- RIP

    Hunter S. Thompson apparently decided he had enough of his “gonzo journalism” lifestyle and decided to take his own life early this morning…what a tragic loss to the journalism community.  I guess the irony is that he commited suicide; we all figured that he would have OD’d long before that…and we’ll all miss him.  His unique writing style was refreshing; someone we could all wish to live vicariously through…ok, someone I lived vicariously through.  RIP.

    Fear and Loating in Las Vegas ranks in my top 10 movies of all time…great flick, and he will be immortalized in it.

  • Telligent Systems -- Community Server 1.0 Released

    Telligent Systems has finally RTM’d community server (version 1.0).  Kudos to the folks over at telligent, good job guys!

    The migration engine I wrote for .Text to CS works for this release, download my bits here (to be considered alpha quality, it works on my machine ); version 1.0 to be released very soon due to the diligent work of Robert McLaws for making the engine a bit more user friendly (i.e. wrapping a GUI around it and making it actually usable…).  Stay tuned.

  • XBox Live Gamertag -- XStatic9

    I finally got around to buying a wireless router for my XBox (which I might add I purchased over 3 years ago at the full 299.95 price…it is now 149.95)…this one if you’re curious.  The gamertag I wanted (XStatic) was taken, so I had to settle for XStatic9, and I was a bit peeved that the XBox live subscription service didn’t allow for punctuation in the gamertag handle.  It just looks so plain without all the markup I usually do, plus I’m sure I would have eventually found a combination of colons/dashes/whatever to have had XStatic.  Oh well.

    The WAP was a breeze to setup, however the subscription registration process itself is a PITA, mainly due to the lack of keyboard.  I had a free 2 month subscription that came with Halo 2, but I was still required to give them my credit card number, no doubt so that when I forget to cancel in 2 months (even though I won’t), they can automatically start billing me.  Bleh.  So far I’m quite impressed though, only had a few laggy connections…for the most part gameplay (on Halo 2 at least) was smooth and trouble-free.  I played for about 6 hours yesterday and managed to get my ranking up to a 5 (meh), but I aim to remedy that over the weekend.  The free-for-all (Slayer) gets a little old after a while, but it’s a good place to start to learn some basic strategy; my favorite free-for-all game is OddBall (fun fun fun!).  The last hour of gameplay, I dabbled in the team scenarios (mainly capture the flag), and that seems to be where the serious action is (as is the case with most first person shooters), though me being a n00b pissed some of the seasoned players off…b/c I have no idea where I’m going/how the maps are laid out/strategy/etc, but that comes with the territory I guess.  Deal with it.

    My biggest complaint is that you can’t choose a specific host to stay with and keep fragging the same people, though I’m guessing as I meet other players we’ll start adding each other to our friend’s list and can then set up our own games.  But if you can’t keep with the same group of people throughout a session, how do you know who’s good/sucks/etc?  I haven’t been what I’d consider a hardcore gamer in a couple of years (was very much into Quake3, Unreal Tournie, and CS 1.0), but with the PC games (if you play the same servers long enough) you can really get a feel for other people’s gaming style and strategy…thusly clans are born.  Man, I miss those days.

    So now that I’m all gamertagged up and stuff, feel free to add me…hopefully I’ll see you around the Halo 2 game lobbies.  Cheers, and happy fragging.

    Sidenote: I’m creating a new post category, Gameage (which I should have done long ago)…it won’t be a very active category initially.  So, this will be the only game related post in the General or Tech categories, just wanted to give those readers a heads up.

  • Google's GMail Close to Going Live

    I received an email from Google stating something to the effect of “You asked us to send you information as to when you can sign up for a GMail account…click this link and you can”, yada yada yada.  I was fortunate enough to get an invite several months ago, but I haven’t really used the service as much as I thought I would, but it’s still a great service.  So, for what it’s worth it would appear it’s going live relatively soon.

    Sidenote:  I have 50 (!!!) GMail invites, so if you’re one of the 3 people left who doesn’t have an account, ping me with your email address…after I sell it to the highest bidder, I will send you an invitation .

  • Google Dropping Bloggers? My Take...

    I should preface this with “I’m not attempting to spread FUD” as I’m not entirely convinced that it’s true…actually, I’m not convinced at all.  But there are some reports in the blogosphere (here, here, here, and here…among others) all saying the same thing; their Google page ranking has dropped either significantly, or doesn’t exist altogether.  In the case of the first link, I believe he’s running into the same issues I did earlier…he has a Google search box, but no Google logo.  Google (apparently) doesn’t like that too much, and it’s a total PITA to get reindexed.  It has taken me almost a month to get back to number one, but it does eventually happen once you’re back on their good side.  But that still doesn’t explain the other folks, of whom none seem to have anything on their site to violate Google’s terms. 

    The reason I’m not buying it is because what vested interest would Google have in dropping bloggers (why would they specifically target bloggers, wouldn’t they target some other crowd…i.e. porn?)?  I can safely say that over half the questions I type into sir Google ends up leading me to some random blog that gives me an answer (though perhaps not always the right one); point being is that blogs are increasingly becoming a great source of information (as if we didn’t already know this), and Google’s system revolves around one underlying concept…the number of people linking to your site.  They do their reindexing around the middle of the month, so it’s not surprising to see all the reports coming in around now…but perhaps that’s just the way the dice fell this go round.  When I was banished from Googledom a month ago, I eventually figured it out…I was violating their terms of service in some way (as mentioned before, I didn’t have the Google logo on my “search this site” section), so a good start would be to head over and read them (or just Google “google terms of service”) just to double check that you didn’t do something to make Sergey mad and order the immediate droppage of your site (if you blog with one of the popular blog sites, ping whoever's in charge to make sure the site itself doesn't violate their terms).  Or, you can also simply ask them…it took me a few emails, but I did finally hear back from them…I violated their TOS, their spiders figured it out, and I was dropped.  I already knew it, but it was nice to get some confirmation nonetheless.

    What is my point?  It’s always easier to point fingers at the mighty behemoth than to ask questions and try and figure out wtf is really going on.  I would be absolutely shocked if it turns out that Google is targeting bloggers (and I really hope to not be proven wrong on that one…more on that in my sidenote below).  As is evident by some of the posts, the other search engines aren’t doing it…and Google has to stay competitive so from a logical standpoint it simply doesn’t make any sense.

    Sidenote/caveats:  Google is what I refer to as a “black box” company…it’s next to impossible to really know what is going on over there.  Sure, they have a blog, but IMO it’s one of the more worthless corporate blogs out there (man I hope saying that doesn’t get me dropped again)…it amounts to little more than a PR conduit which basically reiterates their announcements page.  There are no opinions on it, no place for comments, nada (not to mention their “Search this Site” section violates their own TOS…no Google logo )…just a stream of “we’re doing this/that/whatever” drivvle; this is in stark contrast to the blogs over at Microsoft/Sun/etc, where information flows freely and the bloggers attempt to reach out to their customers.  There is virtually no way for us (the customers) to get in touch with these guys…it took me 8 emails before I finally heard back from someone.  Sure, they may say that their “customers” are the ones who pay for advertising, but that’s incorrect.  We are their customers…the web itself; that’s what drives people to the sites that their “paying” customers, well…pay for.  You drive us away from Google, and then the paying folks don’t see a reason to pay anymore.  Their B2B depends wholey on their B2C, as is the case with lots of companies.  As one of my favorite comedians said (referring to the Ottoman Empire), “it’s collapsing like a flan in a cupboard”…ok, maybe not entirely correct, but staying this guarded (especially for a now publicly owned company) about what’s going on inside the company is simply not good.  Look at another behemoth, Microsoft.  Yes, it’s entirely too easy to hate them (and sometimes for very similar reasons…they choose to break something, and we’re left to deal with it…but they have lock-in and can force our hands, I’m not condoning it, just trying to make a parallel), but the channels to communicate with them are wide open, and best of all they do listen…and if they do break something, there is usually some sort of explanation (again, not always what we want to hear…but as I mentioned above some sort of confirmation is nice).  They have learned this the hard way, and their customers demanded it.  I think we’re entitled to know what’s going on over at Google…not just new products/services, but about changes in their fundamental business…the business of search.  If they were to target bloggers (and this is equivalent to Microsoft making a breaking change in a product), the public should know why, and we should be provided with a workaround.  One of the things that really peeved me when I was dropped is that it came without warning, and then there was simply nothing I could do except email them and hope for the best…IMO this isn’t a good way to go about business.  Yes, I realize it would be impractical for them to contact every site that violated their terms or whatever…but a clear line of communication is a must (no, an email address doesn’t cut it anymore), especially for a company which is virtually a monopoly in a given market, and you don’t have to give away the recipe to the secret sauce in the process. 

     I honestly don’t know where I’m going with all of this (just sat down to type a short blurb…call it inspiration/insanity/whatever), but IMO Google is beginning to act like a monopoly (it’s ok to be one, just don’t act like it!), meaning that they can make breaking changes (if indeed they are targeting bloggers…see above for my opinion on that though) and leave us, their real customers, left to pick up the pieces knowing that we really don’t have much of a choice but to simply grin and bear it.  Cheers.

  • Site and Server Upgrades Coming for jayBlog

    My server is on the fritz again, and I’m sick of repairing it…so I’m putting it out to pasture (or out of its misery, whichever way you want to look at it).  As such, I’ve had to move my site (IIS/SQL Server) back over to my main machine…again.  It’s a dance I’m getting somewhat used to, and quite sick of doing.  What I didn’t realize is that this would peg IIS on my machine to its limit, and I’ve seen lots of HTTP 403.9 errors (access forbidden, too many users connected…WinXP throttles IIS 5.1 to a dismal number of connections, even with the MetaBase editing tool enabling 250 connections (though I think it pegs out at 40 regardless)).  As such I’m installing a Win2k3 VPC as I type this, and will move everything over to that install ASAP.  I was going to buy a new laptop, but it looks like I need to buy a new server now, so I should have one within the next couple of weeks.  What I’m truly amazed at is how much server you can get for under a grand (dual 2.8ghz Xeon from Dell…incredible), so that’s good news as I really don’t want to fork out much dough for hardware.  So, bear with me through the transition.  Updates as they present themselves.

    Sidenote: This will also delay the launch of until my new server arrives.  Not thrilled about that, but hopefully my patience will be rewarded.

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