23 June 2008

The End is Nigh - but wait, I haven't checked in my code yet!

I set my alarm, get up at 7:30 or so, walk my son to school (he has a future, you know), and hop on the bus. On the bus to work I practice lisp, because it's the language of the future, you know. At the office, I write more software, helping replace legacy systems with future-oriented web technologies. Helping the bank acquire more future wealth. Gathering the crumbs for my own future wealth. I think about my future projects, what kind of a startup should I build, what kind of wealth I will accumulate, and what will I do with it. Where will I live, who will I know, what will I be doing in and with the world? And my children? What kind of a world are we building for them?

And then I remember: there is no future.

When the rain passes, moving up the coast, we cross the creek on the pontoon, pulling ourselves across the slow flow on a simple, effective contraption of empty oil drums and steel grating, and walk to the beach. Sand after rain seems like hope or the promise of forgiveness—, a reminder that after we've gone, when the last human passes, the world will continue, and will begin to erase the signs of our time on Earth. Like the maze of footprints on the beach and the excavations and constructions of small children with plastic spades and buckets, the traces of our activities will be erased by weather and time and non-human lives.

When and how this will happen, I don't know. I do suspect it will happen not catastrophically and globally but gradually and patchily. Human existence, already grim in much of the world, will become grimmer, then desperate, and the expansion of regions where humans cannot live will accelerate. There, in those deserted and ruined places, the record of human life will begin to fade.

(from pohanginapete, with thanks to Dave Pollard for the link)

22 June 2008

Drive massive amounts of traffic to your blog

Oh, I'm talking about traffic again. Didn't mean to, honest ...

A while back, Dhaval blogged about Google Analytics. I had installed this snippet of javascript on this blog at the beginning of this year and it's better than television. OMG I got two hits yesterday I have *so* made it!!!1! It's the first thing I check in the evening when I get home. Ok, the second thing, after reddit. And the arc forum.

Anyway, I digress. As Dhaval mentions, it's full of charts and analyses and breakdowns. But a powerful little feature that deserves a bit of attention is the "keywords" report. It tells me, for all hits that came from searches, what terms were used in those searches. So even though "conan dalton" is the single dominant search expression, there are many more search expressions containing "onmouseout", "oracledatasource", "hibernate". Because I happened to write short articles describing my experience with problems in those topics.

But I don't think they're my most interesting articles! I'm a human being, I have thoughts, feelings, emotions, I care about things like crossing the road, and what my children can teach me about business. onmouseout isn't really that important, in the grand scheme of things!

Anger and denial over. So, analytics teaches me what drives people to my blog. It looks like I should stop writing about me, and write some more about the behaviour of onmouseout when using Spring to configure Rails with Markaby and ActiveHibernateRecord buzzword buzzword Oracle DSL .NET iPhone buzzword ...

But can I go further? Yes! It turns out that Google have another great little tool, Google Trends. (Yes, I'm expecting a nice cheque from them one of these days). Hot Trends tell me what people are interested in today. Armed with this knowledge, all I need to do is blog about today's top ten search expressions and voilĂ , Blogger will collapse under the strain. So, here goes:

  1. thomas finchum - never heard of this dude. He's a diver. Some pictures.
  2. david boudia - another diver. What's going on? Is it the olympics or something? Why did nobody tell me?
  3. gwen araujo - transgender woman beaten and murdered. I remembered Boy's don't cry. It made me cry.
  4. radio days - a Woody Allen film. From 1987.
  5. henry klum - Heidi Klum's son. He went to the park.
  6. emphysema - a lung disease. Caught by Amy Winehouse. She's a singer. Ouch.
  7. michelle brown - her identity was stolen
  8. crisco.com/grilling - Seriously? Google, have you checked your trends algorithm?
  9. ironman coeur d alene - a Ford-organised triathlon. This year, with less waste, apparently. Great.
  10. ocean breeze - well, who doesn't want more of that? But ... Top 10?

I'll let you know what happens to my stats. In the meantime, I've learnt some stuff today that otherwise ... otherwise ... I might never have learnt. Thanks, Google!

13 June 2008

No, no, and no!

Living in France, I didn't vote in yesterday's referendum on the Lisbon treaty, but I'm pretty sure I would have voted against. Unlike some in office, I might have even made the effort to read a summary of what we were asked to vote for. There was a time when I believed in greater European integration for economic self-defense against the established and upcoming economic giants of the world - 300 million people have a lot to say, but if you took the entire population of Ireland and plopped them in India, I'm not sure anyone would notice.

More recently however I've become skeptical of centralised power and big bureaucracies. A big government is just as likely to screw its own people as defend against foreign interests.

It's kind of sickening to see other European politicians slamming the Irish people for their decision, regardless of how poorly the decision might have been made. Those politicians know where Lisbon would be if their own peoples had a say in the matter. "21% of Irish people decide the fate of 300 million Europeans" - WTF? Is it preferable that a few dozen politicians make this decision? Do you, like, *trust* your leaders??

Back in the Dark Ages, legend has it, Ireland "saved civilisation" by taking the scholarly works of the Holy Roman Empire with them as they fled to the safety and isolation of this little island far from the wanton destruction of heathen invaders from the North. It's kind of funny to think this country, with its silly insular, provincial political factions, might now be the last outpost of democracy in Europe.

On a completely unrelated note, and I hope you'll forgive me for being irrelevant, reddit kindly pointed out this video (52 mins) of an academic demolition of standard WTC collapse theories. It says much the same as 911 Mysteries, but without all the drama and excitement. Just a simple analysis of publicly available knowledge - photos, videos, and witness accounts.