Thursday, May 14, 2009 has trouble showing ads!

I got on for the first time to watch this show about the super rich (cool show, I recommend you to watch it). Out of the four slots they have for ads they showed the first two. For the remaining, they showed me the error messages see above! It is wrong in so many ways.
- Having trouble showing the part that makes them money!
- Annoying the user with a 30 seconds blank screen + error message.
- The best/hilarious part is the error message itself. It tells the user how to ensure that advertise men's play properly! I understand that they'd really really want to show as many hands as possible and, but how can they put that up on the screen. What kind of a product manager comes up with that? : )

From an Internet search I see that they have been having this problem for about two months.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Apple Time Machine for the PC - CrashPlan

Summary: an awesome piece of software waiting to be discovered.

For a long time my backup solution for my computer at home has been to usual CD, DVD (for large set of files) and yahoo mail/gmail for documents. But as my personal media grows (photos, music) it is getting harder to keep the backups updated. Just when I began to feel frustrated Steve Jobs, ever the magician, presented 'Time Machine'. My jaw dropped, I began to salivate but my excitement was short lived. Time Machine works only in on Macs. It has everything I need:
  • minimal intervention backup system
  • versioning
  • support for local external hard drive (online backup not required)

    I have since been looking for similar software for Windows. I found some candidates and even tried some of them. Seems like online backup is hot with venture capitalists, there are quite a few start-ups in this space.
    Mozy: has mixed reviews on the Internet. It doesn't have support for a local external hard drive or for version control. I believe deleted files are kept only for a short period on their servers. I ended up not trying it.

    Jungle disc: this is an online backup solution based on Amazon's S3 service. I don't think they have a free option at all, so I didn't write the software either.

    Windows backup software sucks big time. I tried ‘synctoy’ on XP and the built-in software for Vista (can't remember the name). They are both bad in many ways, seemed to be half hearted efforts.

    Recently someone at work had good things to say about CrashPlan. I was very happy when I got to the site and found out more about it. It has everything that I was looking for, and more:
  • external hard drive backup support
  • version control
  • never deletes files from backups
  • runs automatically

    Bonus features:
  • all files are encrypted
  • backup to friend
  • support for online backup
  • the basic software is FREE (there's a monthly fee only if you use online backups)

    I have been using it for about a month, although I have not yet had to restore any file so I can't provide any feedback on that part but given how well it is running and how pleasant the experience has been I expect that file restoration will work fine (it may be a good idea for me to try before I put so much faith on it).

    I can't believe that this company and the software are not more popular. It is like Time Machine but without the attitude and arrogance of Apple. I have recommended some of my friends but I am afraid backing up files is not so important for them, which is surprising given that I expect most of them have had some loss of data at some point.
  • Thursday, February 26, 2009

    send e-mail to the outside world from your ubuntu desktop

    There are couple of reasons why I want my Ubuntu machine at home to send e-mails to the outside world: any notices from Cron jobs, and e-mails from websites that I am developing. There are a couple of reasons why the mail service does not work out of the box on a Ubuntu desktop, broadband ISPs normally block the default mail port for outgoing mail, the mail service programs are not normally installed by default.

    I have finally managed to make this work on my machine. I got help from the following tutorials on the Internet:

    this is the one that I followed, most of it worked but I had to make a couple of fixes afterwards:

    this is another similar tutorial which is a little bit better formatted that I found later:

    I wasn't able to send e-mail out after completing all the above steps, I got a few errors. the first two were easy to fix. The mail program was not able to find the transport.db and the tls_per_site.db file. That was probably because I'd missed a couple of steps from the tutorial. I then got the following error:

    Feb 26 06:05:36 ubuntu810desktop postfix/smtp[7100]: Untrusted TLS connection established to[]:587: TLSv1 with cipher RC4-MD5 (128/128 bits)
    Feb 26 06:05:36 ubuntu810desktop postfix/smtp[7100]: A767D49EE5: to=,[]:587, delay=7724, delays=7723/0.03/0.31/0, dsn=4.7.5, status=deferred (Server certificate not trusted)

    I fixed it by updating the /etc/postfix/cacert.pem file based on this ubuntu tutorial

    I was then able to successfully send e-mail from that machine. Hope you find this useful.

    Saturday, January 31, 2009

    Google and advertising:

    it is well known that Google became popular through viral means and that they did not use a lot of advertising on conventional media to grow their audience. It is ironic that the company that is making about $6 billion a year, whose whole business model is based on advertising does not believe in advertising itself. They want people to pay Google but they don't want to pay other people for advertising.

    Monday, February 4, 2008

    Microsoft will drive Yahoo into the ground

    Two companies that don't know what to do, how to win in this online market. Over the last 3-4 years both have consistently made mistakes, treated their customers poorly. They have repeatedly followed the leader – removing traffic ads from search results page after Google did, increased mail storage allowance for users of Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail after gmail was launched, and many other such major changes.

    Both companies are sitting on huge opportunities but the leadership doesn't know what to do with them. They have repeatedly failed to take advantage of these opportunities.

    What do you get when two poor performers join forces?

    People in the industry talk about “credible threat”, were the two not credible threats at some point over the last two or three years? They missed those chances, they will probably miss them again.

    My prediction:

    The right thing for Yahoo to do with the to stay independent, slim down, exercise, work hard, get bigger, better, faster, compete. But both companies (leadership) are a bit clueless right now, I trust them to mess this. They will merge. Microsoft will drive Yahoo into the ground just like they did Hotmail.

    Sunday, January 20, 2008

    Programming collective intelligence – Toby Segaran

    The best book in the market for people who want to get into data mining without going to school again. Perfect for me!

    Very well written, no language wars, no technique wars. But I don't get the web 2.0 connection - probably using a buzzword because the editor as to? The order of the sections is well done; it goes like a story. Usually one means to have a good grasp and a high level view to put the chapters and sections in good order.

    I do wish to code in the book had more comments, even though the snippets are small it is easy to lose track of what variable does what. There is no mention in the book about it but the cold is posted online on the author's blog. Download code (zip format).

    I took two weeks to read through whatever I found interesting (about eight to nine chapters). I am now implementing the algorithms and playing with them, learning about them, getting familiar with them.

    I will provide updates as I make progress.