Stopping the Splogs

Spam-blogs (or Splogs) are becoming as annoying as spam email.

Sploggers set up sites with zero content, and just a bunch of ads. Then they spam the comments threads on popular web sites, and link back to their splog. This tricks Google into thinking that the splog is site with relevant information. This boosts the Google page rank of the splog, which means more ad revenue for sploggers.

Well... nuts to that!

People have come up with lots of techniques to block sploggers. Requiring registration, making people type in the letters they see on the screen, or typing in answers to simple math problems. All good.

This weekend, I came across a very interesting technique for stopping splogs. It goes beyond the basic tricks and eliminates the value of splog comments entirely. If everybody followed this technique, splogs would never work in the first place.

A great quote about developers

I just came across this quote by Larry Wall, the creator of Perl:

The three chief virtues of a programmer are: Laziness, Impatience and Hubris.


Frankly, I'm not a huge Perl fan, I prefer Python for scripting or quick applications, and Java for most everything else.

One of the benefits of Laziness is that developers want to create reusable code. One of the problems is that your code is generally not planned out thoroughly so people besides you can easily re-use it.

This is evident in the orthogonality of the Python language and its libraries when compared to Perl. Python is elegant, simple, and clear. Perl is a mish-mash of wierd syntax where there are a hundred ways to do everything... and its very difficult to reuse somebody else's Perl.

O'Reilly has trademarked Web 2.0!

OK, now this is just plain silly...

Its not enough that O'Reilly has assaulted us with the buzzword Web 2.0, but now they have trademarked it and are now suing people for using it.

Seriously... these guys are starting to behave exactly like the people they claim to hate. Im curious what the backlash will be to this.

Probably people will be forced to not use the phrase Web 2.0. Which is just fine by me, because that phrase is sooooooo buzzwordy it hurts my head.

UPDATE: This appears to be some sort of political thing at O'Reilly. The Web 2.0 was trademarked by their conferences group. They don't want people using it in the names of conferences, but other usage seem OK.

Service Oriented Architecture gains some steam...

Billy Cripe sent me an interesting article on CIO magazine about Service Oriented Architecture. Its a good Q&A about SOA: its costs, its benefits, when its important, and when it isn't.

The money quote:

In the long run, there's no hope for business process integration, or business process management, if I don't look at services from an architecture perspective.

I couldn't have said it better myself... and I've been trying!

Another good quote was from Kevin Hall, the CIO of ProFlowers, about how SOAs allow you to write applications at an almost freakishly fast pace:

"Two developers can now do the work of six," he says. "That means the architects and project managers are running to keep up with the output of the engineers. We are probably doing 50 percent more work than we did three years ago."

I'd argue it gets even better when you add mashups to the mix...

Moleskines vs. PDAs

Last year I treated myself to a PDA: a Dell Axim PocketPC. Why not a Blackberry? That's a whole 'nother story. Basically, I'm anti-cellphone... but I needed something for taking notes, and I wanted a new toy to hack.

The Axim had all the bells and whistles... a 300 MHZ chip (yowsa), bluetooth, WiFi, expansion card, the works. I installed a Python compiler, a C# compiler, an MP3 player, RSS reader, and waited for my productivity to soar.

Then it crashed. I was sad.

Restoring from a backup was easy, but the dang thing would crash and lose my data if I left it unplugged for as little as a day! Talk about high maintenance...

Collaboration, or Coblaberation?

I just finished reading an interesting story on cubicle culture and teams. They gave some interesting explanations on why teams just don't work.

Naturally, we are all familiar with the committee process... a bunch of people sit in a room, hoping to get something done, but just wind up bickering. Politics rears its ugly head, people attempt to sound smart to impress peers and supervisors, good ideas from the grumpy guy are shot down, bad ideas from the lackey are promoted... and in the end it was pointless because the boss made the decision an hour ago.

Apparently a successful meeting is all about rules. You need a facilitator. You need people to contribute ideas without fear of retribution or ridicule. There must be follow-up on all good ideas, otherwise people feel the entire process is a waste. You need to guide the team to be a wise crowd, and not a dumb committee.

I guess the ideal collaboration software system will have to totally break the mold. These days people are all fussing about video conferencing, web conferencing, and making you feel like you're in a meeting.

Bad move.

Instead, we should be analyzing people to learn what makes a good meeting work, and coding those rules into software. Strongly encourage people to follow these rules... even in a face-to-face meeting.

Of course, that's a lot harder to write than a team wiki or a project blog... but it has a ton more value.

Service Oriented versus Object Oriented Programming

I just listened to a very excellent podcast from Dr Dobbs Journal about Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) and Object Oriented Programming (OOP). The SOA philosophy is gathering a great deal of steam, especially in places where OOP proved itself to be inadequate. A reader asked the question, does SOA mean an end to OOP?

The very idea makes a lot of UML and Business Objects fanatics VERY nervous...

I believe the podcast touched on all the important issues, and validated what we have been saying at Stellent for almost eight years: OOP is a fine way to create applications that perform specific tasks. However, it is a terrible architecture for creating robust network applications. Every OOP-based architecture for distributed applications (using CORBA, DCOM, or EJB) has failed to deliver on its promises... and made network programming vastly more difficult than it needed to be.

The Trouble With RSS

I've had a love/hate relationship with RSS Feeds (and their cousin Atom) for some time...

These feeds are great for blogs, and occasionally other web sites. They are also useful for pushing simple content from one web server to another. However the current technology suffers from several serious limitations that will delay its widespread adoption.

[ much more after the jump ]

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