Thursday, September 22, 2005

Slashdot Comment Moderation

CmdrTaco has been trying to leverage crowd wisdom for years with his comment moderation system. I think a key problem is that he dosen't use a big enough sample size. It only takes a few people to moderate a comment up to the highest level. The rules of crowd wisdom state that the larger your sample size, the more likely you are to arrive at the "correct" answer. Granted, with something like a story comment, there is no "correct" answer, only interesting and relevant responses. CmdrTaco's goal was not to tease out the interesting comments though, it was to filter out the irrelevant and wasteful spam.

In essence, CmdrTaco had no choice. Spam was starting to choke slashdot comments and making them less than useful. The moderation system saved the comment system, but didn't, as many people assume that it should have done, make the comments more interesting.

I believe that if the prevailing attitude among slashdot developers is to "weed out the spam", we'll see a slow decline of slashdot's popularity until it's made irrelevant by RSS feed aggregators.

IMHO, the attitude *SHOULD* be to exploit slashdot's major differentiator over simple aggregators, which is the community it has created. In other words, they should invert the "weed out the spam" attitude into a "make the comments more interesting" attitude. It's a subtle difference and, on the face of it, it would appear that one begets the other. I contend that weeding out spam does not make comments more interesting and conversely, making comments more interesting won't weed out the spam. Thus we come to the root of the problem, two crosswise goals.

CmdrTaco has to worry about the system from a performance standpoint. Weeding out the spam means less bandwidth and storage costs. That's immediate ROI, and a good thing on many levels. The community, however, needs more than 1,2,3,4 or 5 to determine what comments to read and which to ignore, to make them interesting. I can conjecture at a few ideas that would make it better, but I do not know the ultimate solution, and I doubt anyone else does either. I believe the problem requires more than just CmdrTaco playing whack-a-mole with ideas, meta-ideas and meta-meta-ideas etc. It requires serious PhD dissertation level study.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The iPod Bandwagon

I jumped on the iPod bandwagon last weekend. I got myself a 60Gig iPod color. I must say, this is definitely the cadillac of portable players. I've now got my entire CD collection (about 30 CDs; a mere fraction of what I once had) ripped to the player. It's neat listening to all of my music in shuffle mode. I didn't realize that I had such a nice collection of music. When you're listening to it one CD at a time, its easy to get tired of the music and just let it sit on a shelf.

This iPod also stores pictures and addressbook contacts. I can also sync up my calendar to it. Even more impressive, it has a few relatively amusing games on it, ostensibly to pass the time while waiting at the doctor's office. The next accessory I want to get is the FM radio attachment so I can listen to my iPod in the car just by tuning to an unused radio channel.

At one time I used to buy a lot of music, but I've been turned off lately at how much time the RIAA spends litigating against single moms and elderly pensioners. Instead of taking the time to realize that there's an opportunity here, the RIAA insists on clinging to the old ways and litigating with their customers. Not a terribly wise way of running a business IMHO.

What's more interesting to me, than commercial music, is the various independent music you can find out there. I like the fact that I can pay my money directly to them, rather than through a bunch of lawyers. I also like listening to the various podcasts out there. I don't really have a favorite yet, but I tend to enjoy the NPR Science Friday podcasts. I also just finished listening to the first book in podcast form, called Earth Core. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to anyone.

I'm off to the Tom Petty concert tonight at the Columbia River Gorge Ampitheater. I'll try to get some pictures. The views are some of the best I've ever experienced in Washington and I hear that Tom Petty puts on a great show. Should be a fun evening.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Cats are expensive!

Damn cats are expensive. I picked up a stray cat a few months ago and have only recently gotten nearly everything straightened out with him. He had ear mites, fleas, worms, deformed leg, upper respiratory infection and some goofy form of respiratory herpes that only cats can get. On top of that he took forever to learn how to use a litter box, has the nastiest crap I have ever smelled, and has a bad habit of getting "almond roca" stuck to his hind legs, which he then tracks all over my apartment. At this point, and he still needs to be neutered in a month, the bill for this cat is up near $700.

After all of that though, I love this little guy to death. He runs in and greets me as I get out of the shower every morning, and is *EXTREMELY* playful. He's also got this goofy way of sleeping on his back with his mouth open, that almost makes him look dead.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Document Storage

I'm getting tired of storing old bills and important documents in a filing cabinet. Filing cabinets invariably fill up too quickly and you can't find anything no matter how good your filing system is. Additionally, it's a real pain in the posterior to make a "backup" of a filing cabinet.

I'm going to try scanning and storing my stuff into a document imaging system. I'll use an OCR engine and custom indicies to get searchable data. I'll store the originals in a box in no particular order, although there should be a certain degree of date based stratification. If I ever need an original (which should be extremely rare) I can just dig through the approximate date area of the box(es) of originals. Otherwise, simply printing a copy of what I've scanned should suffice.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Finally a day of peace and quiet. The last few weeks getting ready for Linux Fest Northwest have been a real killer. I'm also recovering from a small flu *AND* an unbelievable night of partying after LFNW. Gotta get back to email, only 560 messages to go...

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Dodge Ball

I played in the second Federal Way dodgeball tournament last night. We basically got our asses kicked. My head really wasn't in the game for some reason, probably distracted with all of my projects. It's a double elimination tournament and each round is best 2 out of 3. We lost 4 in a row. I was really frustrated until the last game. I finally had my head on straight and lasted for a really long time. I was the last to go and felt like I'd finally played my own game when it was over.

I stayed until the tournament was over refereeing the other contests. As we got closer to the finals it got really close and a lot of heated arguments broke out. I now have a real appreciation for how referees feel in professional sports. You have to make a call and sometimes it's not a popular one. What's even worse is that dodgeball doesn't have a single ball to follow. While you're watching a play on one side, another play could happen on the other, necessitating a ruling. It's definitely helpful to have more than one official.

The winners of the first tournament also won last night's tournament. It was really close and a lot of fun to watch. The top three teams are advancing to the city tournament in Seattle sometime in April. All of the YMCA's in the area are putting on tournaments and advancing their three best teams. It should be a blast to watch.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Ethernet Bonding

Working on bonding my wireless ethernet interface to my cat5 ethernet interface on my laptop tonight. This way my laptop will dynamically choose whichever interface is up. If both are up, it should choose the faster interface. Not sure this is going to work though since it appears that the Orinoco driver doesn't support mii monitoring. I'm going to have a look-see into the code, since, in the past, I have noted that our 2.4Ghz cordless phone caused the wireless ethernet interface to disconnect and register in syslog, whenever the base station polls the cordless phones.

Spent most of the day today building a failover cluster with RHEL 3.0. Dual P3 1.4Ghz 1U servers with a snappy little external disk enclosure. Got most of the work done except for the UPS configuration. The majority of the work is going to be testing various failover scenarios.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Seattle Times

Bill and I were photographed today by Seattle Times photographer Steve Ringman. QLL is going to be featured on the front cover of the business section in the Monday Seattle Times.