I was watching Charlie Rose interview Paul Farmer tonight and I thought, “gee I was going to become an M.D. when I was an undergraduate in college, and it would have been so nice to have that M.D. and then be able to go do other things if I wanted to.” But then I did a double-take and realized that I was truly fortunate to realize while an undergraduate that what I really wanted to do is become part of the “core” of those working on Computer Science in its early days.
Compared to today, 1963 really was the early days. It was pre-Internet. It was pre-Ted Nelson. It was pre-Doug Engelbart. And so forth. And getting a PhD in computer science back then was really an adventure in the unknown. Most of what we regard as Computer Science was unmapped in those days.
So some unaskedfor advice to my readers. When you find yourself saying ”I think I should do X but I really like Y” please pay attention to what your intuition is telling you. Don’t waste your time doing what someone else thinks you should be doing. Above all, be realistic, but give great weight to what your intuition is telling you, because it’s very likely right about it.
That old Steve Jobs advice again (see also)
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
The SOPA and PIPA bills being considered in the US Congress allow blocking of domain names by someone who simply makes a complaint. Technically they apply only to non-US-hosted web sites that are pirating digital content, but once the “machinery” is in place, they could be used to block any domain whatsoever, and without due (legal) process. And also, technically, the only person who can complain and get a domain blocked is a digital (music, text, art) rights owner, but in practice this will be almost impossible to enforce.
There is no due process and no way someone who is wrongfully blocked can get themselves quickly unblocked.
And were this legislation to pass in the US, it would signal strong support for other countries similarly blocking internationally-hosted content based on their own national laws. (Many do it already, but let’s not set an example.)
Join me in opposing these bills. Notify your US Senators and Representatives.
This site will be participating in the Strike on January 18th, 2012.
Looking back at some of the talk in the halls of the US Congress for about the last year, particularly about clarifying (or solidifying) Executive branch (they’re saying the President) authority to shut down some Internet capabilities in the case of an emergency1, such as a cyber-attack, makes me think that humans are fond of just shutting their eyes when faced with danger. (continue reading…)
I work with a dozen or so clients at any given time, and in the last three (or thereabouts) weeks I’ve noticed that some sites on small servers with limited capacity are being “eaten alive” by spidery searchbots. And not just the usual suspects—Google, Yahoo, MSN—but by specialized searchbots that exhibit a kind of behavior I haven’t seen very much before. It used to be that web site owners prayed for the searchbots to come by, and searchbots by and large were sparing in their examination of pages, not hitting a site very hard at all, but building an overall image of the pages on the site over a long time. 1
But times are changing rapidly! Even a site with very little human traffic may be suddenly and catastrophically overwhelmed by searchbot traffic. (continue reading…)