Thursday, November 30, 2006

Stock investment spam pays about 5% profit in just a few days.

Joel Spolsky pointed this link out. I have had the idea of researching
the impact in price around the time of stock market spam on my list of
things to do for about a year or so. I didn't get around to it but
someone else had the same idea.

The results are:

Before brokerage fees, the average investor who buys a stock on the day it
is most heavily touted and sells it 2 days after the touting ends will
lose approximately 5.5%.

For the top half of most thoroughly touted stocks, a spammer who buys, a
spammer who buys at the ask price on the day before unleashing touts and
sells at the bid price on the day his or her touting is the heaviest will,
on average, earn 5.79%.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Getting Everyone Back in the Game
"More important, I have already seen the Wii appeal to people who would never pick up an Xbox or PlayStation controller. At Thanksgiving at my aunt’s house in New Jersey, there was my 59-year-old stepfather, who hadn’t touched a video game since Pong, locked in a tight golf match with my 21-year-old cousin. There was my aunt clamoring for her turn. And most shocking, there was my mother, 61, whom I had been trying to get into video games for two decades, playing tennis so vigorously she bruised her finger."

Poll says USA is the most unfriendly country to visitors.

The survey showed that the United States was ranked "the worst" in terms
of visas and immigration procedures by twice the percentage of travelers
as the next destination regarded as unfriendly -- the Middle East and the
Asian subcontinent.

Between 2000 and 2006, the number of overseas visitors, excluding those
from Mexico and Canada, has declined by 17 percent

Joel on user interfaces. (Yet again?)

Joel wrote:

I'm sure there's a whole team of UI designers, programmers, and testers
who worked very hard on the OFF button in Windows Vista, but seriously, is
this the best you could come up with?

Every time you want to leave your computer, you have to choose between
nine, count them, nine options: two icons and seven menu items.


This highlights a style of software design shared by Microsoft and the
open source movement, in both cases driven by a desire for consensus and
for "Making Everybody Happy," but it's based on the misconceived notion
that lots of choices make people happy, which we really need to rethink.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sun Open Sources Java

I suppose that all of you have already heard this. I've hadn't. In any case, I think it's wonderful news.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

How high school kids can make money.

In high school I made money by mowing lawns and scooping ice cream at
Baskin-Robbins. This was the only kind of work available at the time. Now
high school kids could write software or design web sites. But only some
of them will; the rest will still be scooping ice cream.

- Paul Graham ,

Joel Spolsky on productivity consultants.

It's an interesting description of a reasonably common scam. Joel wrote:

A management consultant at Bain wrote me a nice email, that included the
following sentence:

"Our team is conducting a benchmarking effort to gather an outside-in view
on development performance metrics and best practice approaches to issues
of process and organization from companies involved in a variety of
software development (and systems integration)."

I didn't understand a thing he wrote. The email contained a lot of words
(benchmarking, outside in, performance metrics, best practice, process and
organization) each of which set off a loud buzzing alarm-like sound in my
head. The noise from the buzzing was so loud and so distracting that I
found myself completely unable to parse the email.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Car dashboard image for low tire pressure.

I would normally pick an ISO standard over ANSI simply because it is probably more widely accepted. I came across a paper on the image to be used in a car to signal that tire presure is low.

I have seen the ISO image and it took me a moment to guess what it meant. Even then I looked it up. The interesting thing is that the image is a cross-section of a tire without a rim. I am going to guess that most drivers do not know what that looks like.

The paper is interesting not only because it gives insight into what symbols drivers understand but because it deals with designing an interface to communicate with humans.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Calgary Traffic Alterts on your cell phone

The idea is you enter your travel time and streets you will be
traveling on. The system then sends you alerts about traffic problems
in related areas.


Read input and manipulate files on Linux systems with PHP scripts - Program - Linux - Builder AU

If you are already familiar with PHP code for Web sites, then you'll find it works great for command-line scripting on Linux systems. [...] using PHP on the command-line works fantastic and fast. [...] Perhaps one of the biggest functions of any scripting language in a script is to manipulate files and obtain user input. PHP handles this with as much grace as any other scripting language.

I couldn't believe this post and I really can't believe how angry it made me! Here's the comment I submitted but I don't think they'll post it:

It's almost like you don't even know what the words "fast", "easy", "works", "fantastic", and "grace" actually mean!!!

This post is ridiculous! PHP is none of those things. It's slow, broken, inconsistent and clunky!

PHP is one of the my top three languages in terms of lines of code written for employers. I have work experience with at least half a dozen. I have studied language design and implementation. I've reviewed PHP's source along side other dynamic languages. There is no language, (which i have experience with) which i have a lower opinion of!

I know this is a flame but I just don't care. PHP's lack of consistency and awkward implementation have wasted my time on occasions too numerous to count. If i can stop just one programmer or project manager from thinking that PHP will bring them one single advantage over most alternatives, then this flame was worth it!!!

I'll chalk all this up as evidence towards my recent realization: The attraction to PHP that some feel and the difficulty breaking away from it is not entirely unlike those of in a relationship with an abusive partner!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tool for recovering stolen vehicles.

A while ago I thought about a system with a GPS unit and a cell phone that
can email me when my car is moved without me being in it. Or maybe it
does it every 5 or 10 minutes and normally those messages just get deleted
after say a week or so.

Someone sells a similar system but not in Alberta. Just Ontario, B.C. and

Update: I forgot to mention that the site requires version 8 of the flash browser plug-in. There is a beta version of flash for linux that you can download.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Living beyond your means.

When I was in high-school a friend said he and I should split an appartment. I said there was no way we could afford that. I had a part-time job and knew that without working full-time and overtime it was not going to happen.

He didn't believe me that we couldn't afford it. I said "do you know what groceries alone cost for a month?" He said "about $40". I told him that was far short of what we would need. I went grocery shopping. I had an idea of what food cost. His mother did the grocery shopping for his family and he didn't go to the store with her. A few years went by. He now has a very good idea what groceries and bills cost.

The following story is about how credit-card debt gets built up and how people learn to deal with it. It's not a long read and it is kind of interesting.

This sounds kind of familiar.

This sounds like something someone we know would try.

Off we set on our merry way, and within only an hour we had managed to
concoct the dozen or so lines of assembler to create /etc. The stripped
binary was only 76 bytes long, so we converted it to hex (slightly more
readable than the output of uuencode), and typed it in using my editor. If
any of you ever have the same problem, here's the hex for future

Someone is talking about how they dealt with a "rm -rf /".

Mike is installing an eclipse plugin that Lakin helped him find...


Mike: ok, it's installing

Lakin: This mouse is just fucking finicky.

Mike: thanks it works!

Lakin: yay

Mike: howz yer mouse?

Lakin: Expect eclipse to binge on your memory like Kirstie Alley on Grape Sodas

Lakin: mouse still doesn't want to connect.

Mike: Kirstie alley?!

Lakin: It works fine on my desktop, but is being annoying with my laptop. I'm ignoring it as a punishment.

Lakin: Kirstie Alley's gut-busting binges

Mike: like we do with Kirstie Alley?

Lakin: I'm not certain I understand your last sentence.

Mike: ignoring it as a punishment

Lakin: aah. yes.


Monday, November 06, 2006

The Interweb

These posts got me thinking about what the web was, is, and is becoming...

Web Design is 95% Typography

The 10 commandments of Web Design

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Joel Spolsky on website SQL injection.

11.3% of web applications have SQL injection vulnerabilities.

Joel wrote:

I tried to sign up for an online site. ... The signup page wanted a secret
question and secret answer. ... For the secret answer, I put "Aunt Vera
doesn't have a cat." And I got this:

1064: You have an error in your SQL syntax; check the manual that
corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near
't have a cat', 'male')' at line 1

This is an extremely common problem: Michael Sutton did a little research
project and found that 11.3% of web applications have SQL injection