Archive Page 2

Gmail SPAM Recipes

I bet this is intentional – but I still think it’s hilarious.  While checking my Gmail spam folder today for false positives, I noticed the web clips at the top showcase a number of delicious spam recipes, such as this French Fry Spam Casserole.  Yum.


Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud EC2

Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) continue to impress.  Just annouced is the limited beta test of their newest service – Elastic Compute Cloud, allowing extremely cheap, on-demand, (somewhat) scalable computing.  Cost is $0.10 per instance-hour plus $0.20 per gig external transfer, as well as a charge to store your virtual machines’ images on Amazon S3 ($0.15 per gig).

Each instance provides a “1.7Ghz Xeon CPU, 1.75GB of RAM, 160GB of local disk, and 250Mb/s of network bandwidth.”

I’ve been a user of their S3 (simple storage service) and am extremely impressed by the speed, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of their web services.   It will be interesting to see new products and technologies making use of this commodity grid storage and computing now available to everyone.

Global Popularity of Internet Sites & Services

One thing that constantly surprises me is country-to-country variance in popularity for major internet sites and services.

Sure, there are the global (or near-global) heavyweights like PayPal, eBay, and Amazon, but there are also a number of surprises in services you would expect to be just as pervasive.

Take, for example, online instant messaging. In the United States, my personal experience seems to indicate that AOL instant messenger (AIM) is the most popular messaging client, whereas my experience in Canada seems to show MSN messenger is dominant (an April ComScore report indicates usage in “North America” is about tied between AIM and MSN – my cursory search was unable to bring up any breakdown of market share by country). Google trends (for what it’s worth) seems to validate this presumption:


One of the most talked-about regional differences is that of MySpace and Bebo in the US vs the UK. HitWise reports UK market share of Bebo has surpassed MySpace at 12.9%, and in recent months this seems to have set the blogosphere afire, especially with Bebo’s rejection of £300 million from BT.

Another, less-talked about site that really hasn’t hit its stride outside North America is Craigslist. The London site has been live since 2003 but seems to only be populated with American expats and aggresive spammers. Have a look at the for sale listings – nearly every other one is for something outside the UK! Perhaps CL just couldn’t compete with existing players like Loot and the largely-Antipodean GumTree. Something just didn’t spark.  Compare to the Toronto CL, launched at the same time as London, which is booming.

(Sidenote Funny – I was with a group of British & American friends at the door of a London club late last year and mentioned I was on Craig’s List…Craig being one of the DJs. The Americans in this group thought this was hilarious, whereas the locals had absolutely no idea what we were laughing at.)

I suppose when you look at it you can sum it all up to this – these are all services that spread entirely through word-of-mouth, and word-of-mouth has very-real geographical borders. You have to wonder…if the experiment Malcom Gladwell discusses of Harvard social psychologist Stanley Milgram determining “six degrees of separation” were tried at the global scale, how much different this would be. Six degrees might be sixteen…or sixty…

AOL Searches for Nazi Gold

One of my favorite stories to come out last week revolved around AOL’s search for (neo-)Nazi gold in a quiet Boston suburb – Medfield, MA.

AOL plans to dig around Hawke’s parents’ house in Medfield, contending that Hawke buried gold and platinum bars there. AOL is trying to collect a $12.8 million judgment the company won against Hawke last year when a federal judge found that Hawke’s online pill and trinket business violated state and federal laws against spam.

Boston Globe, August 17th

I graduated Medfield High School in 1998 (I do not know the spammer, though, he graduated from neighboring Westwood) and my parents live a few streets over from the loot. Time to get the shovel…

Google Maps Mobile

So, I was playing around with Google Maps Mobile on Ken’s broadband phone Friday evening and was really impressed. This could save me from some real pickles!
One major gripe I have with Google Maps is the way it decides to hide street names based upon zoom level. This turns out to be a real PITA when you are stumbling the streets in a new area, depending upon a printout you made on your rush out the door.

Last year, for example, I was meeting some friends in Kingston on Thames – a lovely borough outside London, but one I’d never been to. On my way leaving work I printed this map to allow me to get from the train station to the pub where I was meeting them.

Well, needless to say, I got completely, utterly, lost. I couldn’t find a single street name on this map and ended up abandoning any hope of Google showing the way and instead asked some friendly locals.

Now, compare to the same map from and you’ll see a huge difference. The map actually manages to squeeze every single streetname onto the map, as well as useful landscape features, buildings, etc. Had I used this map I should have quite easily been able to find my way from the rail station in the upper right hand quadrant to the pub (marked with an arrow about 500 meters away) in a snap. But, no, I was stuck with an absolutely useless printout on a wild goose chase in the streets of Kingston on Thames.

So, yes, Google Maps might be slick with its AJAX-enabled and satellite imagery overlay goodness…but it doesn’t help when reduced to dead trees.

Which leads us to…Google Maps Mobile. This thing looks like it might be the answer! I played around with Ken’s for a while, and although the interface takes a bit of getting used to, for the most part it works just like the regular version.

Eagerly then I decided to input the O’neills pub in Kingston to see if this would have saved the day. You can imagine my disappointment, then, when I saw this:


An Update!

(this space intentionally not left blank)

Stay tuned.

Timezone Peculiarities

I just had a minor freakout trying to figure out how a number of servers I maintain running London time suddenly started reporting time Eastern +6 hrs (instead of +5 as it usually is). Had the daily sync with the NTP server gone wrong? Were my clocks wrong? Am I going crazy?

Then, of course, I bothered to look at the timezone code, noticed it had switched from GMT to BST, and realized clocks in England today switch to BST (British Summer Time).

I always wondered why daylight savings times have to switch on completely different dates/times all over the world. For example, this year BST starts at March 26 01:00 GMT, whereas most of America will switch to Daylight time on April 2 at 02:00 LST (local standard time).

The answer appears to be that convention is dictated by governments, and before the Uniform Time Act of 1966 in the US, this even went down to the state level. Indiana, a state split into two different timezones, used to have some counties in both timezones practicing DST and others not (this is finally being resolved this year when the entire state starts following DST).

It’s a real mess trying to keep track of all this. Can’t we just get some international body to decide all this stuff?