Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Seder 2007

We held our annual Seder meal last night. A bit smaller this year at 16 people (I think we had 30 last year!). This will be our last Seder at the current house. I put some pictures up on flickr here. Note that you can only see them if you're on my flickr contacts as a friend or family.

My flight back last week ended up being rather rough, I don't know if there was something wrong with the air mix or what was going on but I felt like crap the entire flight and didn't really sleep well. I think I also picked up a chest cold either on the flight or because of the coughing I was doing on the flight.

e.p.c. posted this at 03:44 GMT on 4-Apr-2007 from Brooklyn, NY.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Moving right along

I looked back into the archives of this site to see if I wrote up the story of purchasing our current house on Hicks Street. Barring some references in February 2002 it doesn't appear that I wrote up anything here.

The brief story: Lisa and I were both working for IBM. I was a flying consultant: I'd fly and sit in a room while my time was billed out at some insane hourly rate. I wasn't particularly thrilled with this job but it was nice to be working again. When I wasn't stuck in a windowless room in Columbus, OH, I was working from home.

Lisa, whose office at 55 Broad Street was temporarily closed due to a higher-than-normal presence of gypsum and petroleum products was also working frequently from home. At the time "home" was a 1 bedroom walkup on Cranberry Street. It was fine for one of us to work from home. A tad crowded for both of us to work from home (and imagine the fun of being on conference calls, even with two lines!).

So in August 2001 we started to look for a new place. I had fallen in love with Brooklyn Heights and never, ever wanted to leave. Our hunt took a brief vacation in September 2001 but picked up again in October.

By October I was commuting to Washington, DC once or twice a week (I did actual work on this gig, unlike the next one). One weekend we ran into the broker we'd been working with at an open house for a place we thought we'd like. Instead she told us to leave and check out another listing by someone else in her office. We were dogsitting Buster (a/k/a Boo), Oliver's adorable Roti, so I returned back to Cranberry to drop off Boo while Lisa went again to the prospective house.Boo

While I was getting into the apartment, Lisa called and said You must come see this place. Now! (or words to that effect).

From the outside I wasn't impressed, it just looked like every other brownstone, however once I got inside I said Wow! and just kept saying Wow! as I walked through the place. I know I'm not alone in this reaction as I've heard it from several people. It's two and a half floors, with lots of light (amazing since it's seemingly surrounded by taller buildings).

  • Lots of space.
  • Space for two complete offices
  • Outdoor deck
  • Two and a half floors.

To cut the purchasing story short, since it's mostly irrelevant now: we made an offer and the purchase process went forward as I continued commuting to Columbus, OH. I was really unhappy to be spending four days in Columbus, getting paid only "straight" time, and furthermore getting only 50% billable credit since someone on the account team decided to screw the consultants in order to get the project. As a result, in the midst of purchasing a new home, I quit working for IBM and moved to a company called netomat (no, they don't get any link love). This resulted in no end of fun with the mortgage process (who said it wouldn't be a problem until at the closing they mentioned: you need to provide a paycheck or we don't close, and of course I hadn't been paid yet).

We moved in, finally, in March 2002 and threw our yearly Seder dinner seemingly the same week but I think we actually had a week in between moving and hosting a zillion people. We rewired the phones from the demarc in, put in cat-5e all over the place and generally made it a great place to work from home.

Frisket joined us in April and has grown up here, scampering around, teething a bit on the moulding, showing her mood by shifting from floor to floor during the day.

We've had a nice five years here, hosted many Seders, several parties, some overnight guests.

Of course things change: we moved because we were both working from home, but I was working in an office in midtown Manhattan for netomat before we even moved in. Lisa went through two separate cycles of working full-time at home. I quit working at netomat and have generally shuffled through a number of poorly thought out projects since then, never really returning to fulltime work. We now have two dogs.

Through it all we've tried to make this our home and generally succeeded except for one minor thing: the stairs. As those of you who've been here know, you need to go up a flight and a half of stairs to get to our "first" floor. From there it's another flight to the dining and kitchen area, and another flight to the den and deck (and Lisa's office).

And it's the stairs that made us decide now is a good time to move on. We each have minor issues with our legs which are not getting better and are unlikely to get better, but could easily get worse if, for example, one of us were to fall down the stairs. I'm not saying I did fall down the stairs, but when you have two dogs, stairs, leashes, and are frankly overweight and out of shape, well, stairs become an issue when you unintentionally impact them.

So about four weeks ago we resolved to look for a place that was on one floor, ideally in Brooklyn, but open to (gulp) moving to Manhattan. While we were at it we wanted a doorman, and a pony if possible. Ok, a doorman sufficed.

We found one place, in Manhattan, fell in love again, made an offer. I can't go into the details here, but we felt like the seller was screwing around with us and kept our eyes open.

Lisa found another place which I then rediscovered (having apparently rejected it out of hand earlier) at 1 Main Street in DUMBO. This is a factory/warehouse building which was converted into condos in the mid-1990s. It was one of the first conversions in DUMBO and (allegedly) served as the anchor for the renaissance of the neighborhood. It is about ½ mile from our current place, but it's in Brooklyn! which is all that really matters. Somehow returning to Manhattan seemed to be conceding defeat.

We're in contract, a zillion things could go wrong of course (including an attack of flying ninja cane-toads), but we hope to move in some time in June, putting our current place on the market at the end of this month.

The new place has a view of lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the eventually-they-will-build-it Brooklyn Bridge park.

Once things are further along I will post photos to my flickr page.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:02 GMT on 6-Apr-2007 from Brooklyn, NY.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Easter 1997

I was thinking last weekend back to Easter 1997. It was an early Easter that year, on March 30th. I had spent the previous week in Raleigh, NC attending the "spring" Get Connected Technical Interchange (GetCoTI), an IBM internal conference. Due to the perennial budget crises within IBM, it turned out to be the GetCoTI for 1997 when its fall counterpart was cancelled.

Easter 1997 is the last Easter I remember as being a "good" family holiday.

Easter was, oddly, the big family holiday on my father's side of the family. We'd all get together at my grandparent's farm in Denham, IN and spend the day together. Over the years the activities changed, when we were younger my brother and I flew kites, then we progressed on to rockets. My father would hide "Easter eggs" (plastic eggs filled with jelly beans or other candy) and write semi-poetical rhymes as clues to find them. The biggest problem was not deciphering the rhymes, but deciphering my father's handwriting.

I wasn't planning on showing up, I had been in Raleigh all week, and my professional life at the time was rather chaotic. Reviewing my notebook from that period, it seems that I was in San Jose for a week earlier in March and spent a week in Austin in mid-April. At the last minute though, the night before, I called the travel people and changed my reservation to connect in Chicago, flying from RDU to ORD on the first flight in the morning and departing for LGA on the last flight that night. That gave me nearly twelve hours to spend in Chicago, enough time for the drive out and back to Denham. The downside was that my bags spent the day taking in the sights of the O'Hare baggage system.

I don't remember much about that day actually, I just remember enjoying it, being a bright spot in what was otherwise an incredibly stressful period at work. I got to see my grandfather, quite possibly for the last time though I don't remember now. He passed away a few months later (coincidentally I was again in Chicago for Internet World '97, but I didn't get to see him before he died). He had recovered from cancer, or so we all thought, and was up and around and quite spry. About a month later the doctors called and, this is my interpretation, said "oops" and told him they'd missed a spot, and, well, it was no longer a spot but a collection of spots. That sort of took the wind out of him.

But I enjoyed that day, I doubt there was kite flying or rocketry (or even target shooting, a former pastime of my grandfather).

1997 was a weird year for me.

In 1996 our office was highly encouraged to leave Armonk. When we did move out, the Armonk real estate folks demonstrated their love for our group by turning over our phone extensions to a new group the next immediate business day. I still wonder how whomever inherited 251-7516 felt on hearing he had inherited my phone number (on a good day I managed to fill the Phonemail "box" in the hour it took to drive from Poughkeepsie to Armonk).

We moved to 55 Broad Street, in lower Manhattan. I was so exhausted the week of the move that I fell asleep backstage during Lou Gerstner's "Network Computing" speech at the 1996 Fall Internet World at Javit's.

We spent the first five months at 55 Broad in a weird, bifurcated setup split between office suites on opposite corners of the 13th floor. Carol and Alex and their teams were in one suite, my www.ibm.com and w3.ibm.com teams held court in the back. I had a nifty little cubbyhole of an office which afforded me the ability to close the door and sleep.

I took advantage of that several times as I was attempting to commute from Poughkeepsie (well, New Hamburg) to Lower Manhattan daily. When I was driving to Armonk from Poughkeepsie I regularly stayed at IBM's luxurious management development center, or at the Greenwich Harbour Inn. It was somehow quasi-covered by my working arrangement.

But when the office moved to Manhattan I lost that "perq", and quickly moved up a plan to move to New York.

I ended up moving to Battery Park City (and as a result have far too many pictures of the south side of the World Trade Center ).

So, we had moved, had these temporary offices, and were trying to keep up the management of IBM's web presence. IBM real estate had sort of disregarded some of our requirements (well, most) for temporary space. As a result we had to use network connectivity from a reseller in the building. I vaguely recall sending Jean around to find out who could give us connectivity the day we moved in, since Advantis (IBM/Sears' networking business, which evolved to IBM Global Network before being discarded, er, sold to AT&T in 2000) …ahem, since Advantis quoted us a 90 window for connectivity.

We basically fell off the IBM map for awhile, which I wish I'd enjoyed more. Our tie-line numbers rang up at 33 Maiden Lane, not in our actual offices, so we had to check voicemail regularly. For whatever reason many IBM systems couldn't call our tie-lines, and no one wanted to actually call "long distance" so our call volume dropped dramatically.

Since we were using an unapproved ISP for our network connectivity, we could not access the IBM internal network except over dialup (this made life "fun" for the Intranet team).

But we worked this way through much of the winter of 1997 with few issues. Well, few that I can recall. In addition to running www.ibm.com, w3.ibm.com, and serving as the daily target for 300,000+ disaffected IBM employees who absolutely knew what we should be doing on the Internet; in addition we were planning a little event known as "Kasparov vs. Deep Blue: The Rematch" [Note: IBM maintains a pseudo-archive of the site at http://www.research.ibm.com/deepblue/home/html/b.shtml. I think the Internet Archive version is more true to what we actually served].

Banner from www.chess.ibm.com

This soiree, this fete, this web event, well, looking back I'm surprised we did as well as we did, and I know there are many people who thought we didn't do well at all. I'm not talking about Deep Blue, which had a pretty good week and a half for a supercomputer; I'm talking about our editorial team which managed to pull together a wicked web site, and our technology team which tried to use every known web server in creation to keep the web site from falling over.

It is hard to explain this today, when my personal site has better technology and processing power than www.ibm.com did for its first two years, for under $500 a year.

§

We have to go back a bit, to June 1995. Lost amongst the headlines of the Lotus Development Corporation takeover was IBM Software Group's announcement of a range of Internet enabled software including a "web server". I, webmaster for www.ibm.com, first learned of this "web server" software about a week before the announcement and GA when someone called to complain that www.ibm.com wouldn't work on the IBM Internet Connection Server. Turns out IBM had produced a web server based off the old CERN server which, basically, did not work with CGI scripts. Which is how most of the applications ran on www.ibm.com at the time (pre-PHP, pre-Java, pre-Apache; this was NCSA 1.3 with a few special additions by yours truly).

Once ICS was announced we were expected to switch www.ibm.com over to it, well, immediately. The only problem was: it didn't work. The only realistic way to extend it was to write services, comparable to Apache modules. These services had to be perfect since they could bring the server down if they failed, they had to be reentrant because this was a threaded server. And in order for it all to run well, it pre-req'd IBM AIX 4.1.

At the time, IBM's hosting arm, which we were required to use, only supported AIX 3.2.something.

We committed to migrate to ICS (a/k/a Lotus Go Webserver, Domino Go Webserver, and eventually No-Go Webserver) when our hosting "partner" supported it, and when it could support the traffic (100k+ hits per day!) and applications we were running.

Let's return now to March 1997. We're working out of the temporary offices at 55 Broad Street, New York. And we're still running NCSA 1.3 (I think by this time I'd changed the server identifier to "IBM Planetwide", which I'd also used for the web crawler and a couple of other places on ibm.com). By this point the "Go" webserver had been on the market for 20 months, and ibm.com still didn't use it. Our relationship with the Software Group was a little tense (we had already been burned by turning over the search engine to a number of parties within IBM Software).

By March 1997 we thought we were set to shift off NCSA 1.3 to "Go". We had cleaned up the CGI scripts, we had written a couple of services, we had migrated to AIX 4.x, we'd done a lot of work. We ran a number of test runs with what we thought was a representative load and all seemed ok.

We made the switch on a Saturday, around the middle of March, to IBM's premier web server, I'm fairly certain by then it was "Lotus Go Webserver".

About four chaotic, error-and-outage filled hours later we switched back. It just could not handle CGI scripts. At all. What we learned then, and would painfully get in-depth education on a few weeks later, is that multithreaded applications absolutely detest forking. A fork() call to a multithreaded application (at least in 1997) was like an insult to its mother, a slander on its brute force potential power. Didn't want to do it, wasn't going to do it, only if you waited patiently for each thread to suspend would it eventually consider just maybe, maybe forking to run a CGI.

Now, this was a painful educational experience, moreso because we had committed to using Lotus Go Webserver as the webserver for the web event of the year: Kasparov vs. Deep Blue: The Rematch. However, we had carefully architected www.chess.ibm.com to have as few CGI scripts as possible. We had outsourced the chat portion of the site to Howard Rheingold's Electric Minds. The remaining CGI scripts we'd redirect off to an Apache or NCSA server. All would be well.

Edward, what a silly optimist you were back then.

About three weeks later we were chugging along. I'd returned from my little Easter sojourn to Indiana. Our new offices were progressing, we'd be able to move in the week before Deep Blue started. ibm.com was running on a few nodes of our Columbus SP complex, the rest were being used by our friend and colleague Paul Reed to run the Master's web site.

Last weekend, when I started thinking about this piece, there were a number of events that occurred to open the memory floodgates. It was Easter. I was watching "Deep Impact", which isn't a very cheery movie, but has a dialogue between Tea Leoni's character and the character's father about "one perfect day". And I was watching Tiger play (and eventually lose) the 2007 Masters Tournament.

Back in 1997, Paul was unhappy about Tiger's presence at the Masters. See, in 1996 the Masters web site had been pretty low key. A burst of traffic, but not insane. Not like that year's ACM Chess Challenge (the first Deep Blue site), or the Olympic Games, or a tennis match. No, golf was more civilized, people were not as interested.

Until Tiger Woods played and won the 1997 Masters Championship.

Unfortunately, while Paul was getting hammered by Tiger's fans hitting the web site, I was apparently in a meeting in Austin, TX (the ICC meeting) and have no interesting notes to add (my notebook is eerily silent about the '97 Masters). I think that he managed to use every webserver we had compiled on the ibm.com complex and don't remember if he ever found one that worked well.

Still, I was confident that we had planned out www.chess.ibm.com well, that Lotus Go webserver would work well, and our operations room would be serene.

Silly, silly not-quite-30 year old man.

The next few weeks were filled with testing, final details, a move from the 13th to 27th floors to our new offices. epc's cube at 55 Broad. I really thought we would do fine, perhaps a few rough moments, but I did not expect a disaster.

The 1996 match had been a disaster. At that time IBM had no intention of doing "event" web sites like this, other than the sports web sites. So the 1996 ACM Chess Challenge web site, aka www.chess.ibm.park.org, was outsourced to a Boston based web hosting company, who stuck it on a shared hosting server. No one is going to watch a chess game online, right? The online offering was our display for the 1996 Internet World Expo (has there been one since?)

Right, well 1996 was a disaster.

I am not going to go into detail about what happened for the rematch, suffice it to say www.chess.ibm.com melted down promptly at 3:00 p.m. on the first day of the match. At 2:59 it was running fine. At 3:00 the entire world rushed in and well, what can I say, I fried an RS/6000 43P which was tailing logs off all 24 servers.

Over the course of the next eight days we too tried using various configurations, Apache, NCSA, to no avail. Once the match started we were hosed. We had various distractions like the attempt to port the site to the idle "womplex" hosting complex. We learned far more than we wanted to know about the complexities of multihomed systems running AFS, AIX 4.x, and multithreaded webservers. AFS was not threadsafe, nor was the domain name resolver library. DNS should not have been an issue but for some odd routine which, even though lookups were turned off, was doing lookups anyway. On each hit.

At the last possible minute before the match started, we were thrown a curveball: IBM had agreed to partner with Garry Kasparov in Club Kasparov, including hosting his web site. That apparently meant we had to host the clubkasparov.com web site. So we did a rush-port of a web site we knew nothing about to our hosting complex, while in the last stages of preparing for the onslaught.

On the plus side, we had our first international mirror (www.uk.chess.ibm.com). We probably pioneered the idea of a stripped down home page, when we set www.ibm.com to use a very stripped down page, offering people to go either to the chess web site, or ibm.com proper.

We won the Cool Site of the Year for Live-Online Event award for 1997. I think we may have had some help from other IBM employees, but not much (I recall getting "escalated" over even mentioning the contest on the old WWWIBM FORUM).

Most of all, this was the last "event" web site we agreed to do. Well, almost.

But it was ludicrous for us to think we could pull off our day jobs running IBM's web presence, and pull together and run www.chess.ibm.com, and do both with grace and aplomb.

In the aftermath of Deep Blue's "victory", Kasparov made various accusations and insinuations against IBM and its employees. That wasn't well received, and just as quickly as we were told to host the Club Kasparov web site, we were told to shut it down and remove it from the IBM servers.

I was so fried afterwards that on May 12th I declared I was going on vacation and that I'd return some time in June. I spent the first three days sitting in my apartment, unpacking the boxes which had remained packed since I'd moved in in February. On the fourth day I realized that I would never actually go anywhere on vacation unless I physically left the apartment and promptly bought a ticket to Florida (where I'd spend the next week in quiet isolation. There was a protocol to follow to reach me involving calling my parents, reciting the passphrase, and only to be done if it was absolutely necessary. I think Carol, who is reading this now, managed to hold out for almost a week before someone came up with a "The Chairman demands…" request). This would turn out to be the last vacation of any real consequence for more than a year (somehow I ended up in Florida in the summer for my "break" in 1998 as well).

The disaster we encountered with using IBM software for Deep Blue II had some beneficial outcomes, the Lotus Go product underwent extensive remodeling and performed flawlessly for the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games web site. Later in 1998 we finally moved www.ibm.com to the server, now called Domino Go Web Server. And I think two weeks later IBM killed the product, announcing its support for Apache, and putting me in the bizarre position of being criticized on an IBM conference call for being "against" open software (having run ibm.com on "open software" for most of the time from 1994 through 1997).

1997 was a weird year, full of some professional highs, many professional lows. My grandfather died in July 1997. I continued to be on the receiving end of escalation after escalation (I no longer had the ability to hot-transfer people to the Chairman's office when they threatened to escalate me to Lou). My father had a silent heart attack (well, we weren't so sure afterwards that it was so silent) in the fall followed by a massive heart attack in December. He underwent a quadruple bypass and survived, in a way, but the bypass had the sick side effect of aggravating circulation issues from diabetes, leading to a two year cycle of hospitalizations, amputations, and recovery. He would die in May 2000.

When I talk to people about working at www.ibm.com, I look back on 1997 and 1998 as my "glory years". It's easier to do that now, ten years later, but we did get on a roll. We had a great office at 55 Broad, for much of that period we had great management support. The "edplex" as the ibm.com complex got nicknamed served well, even as it was clearly aging rapidly. For 66Mhz systems it didn't perform too badly most of the time. An SP2 Rack for ibm.com

But I also remember 1997 as the last good Easter with my extended family. I don't remember Easter 1998 or 1999. And Easter 2000 occurred two weeks before my father died. I did get to see him, en route amongst Sydney, New York, Lausanne and San Francisco. He didn't look well, but he hadn't looked well for the past year.

And now, now I don't really celebrate Easter. It never was much of a religious holy day for me (going to the 4 hour Easter Vigil mass the night before, so you can get an early start on the Tri-state to Denham, that 4 hour mass tends to diminish the religious fervor). And since my grandfather died we've (well, I, who admittedly is 800+ miles from the center of gravity for my extended family) we've stopped using Easter as a family get together. And I find, mostly, that I'm not missing it and seem to be ok with that.

Coincidentally, our "foe" from 1997 is now a political activist in Russia: Garry Kasparov was arrested this past weekend at a protest in Moscow. I wish him no harm and hope he succeeds in his campaign against the rise of totalitarianism in Russia.

In writing this I'm amazed that these sites from 1996 and 1997 are still mostly accessible. It's too bad that IBM can't spare a few cycles to host the sites themselves in the way they were presented then. The Internet Archive is nice, but slow, and seems to have problems fetching and storing images (I cannot tell if they didn't get the images, or if its an artifact of the JavaScript used to re-base the HTML off the archive site).

Related Links

e.p.c. posted this at 11:00 GMT on 16-Apr-2007 from Brooklyn, NY. , Comments [2]

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tax Day 2007 Miscellany

  • Alex is returning to New York.
  • Yesterday's post Easter 1997 had a whopping 121 page views. On investigation though, 70+ pvs were from a single bad robot (fetching the page over and over, not even doing a modified-GET). Many of the rest were from GoogleBot, MSNBot, and Yahoo Scoop. Didn't realize I had such a following amongst the bots of the world.
  • I am slowing trickling out yet another redesign here, samples are here and here. The redesign makes use of the Yahoo! UI Library for the basic skeleton.
  • While I was at the etech conference, I wrote up some ideas I've had about automating authentication for robots and user agents, turns out some of this (not my article, just the general concept) was discussed at last week's SES and the idea of automating authentication for web crawlers was apparently soundly rejected. Oh well.
  • The movers are coming tomorrow to take about 1/3rd of the apartment to storage so we can put it on display. This means I need to start planning the Spring road trip so that the sight of two fluffy golden retrievers doesn't terrorize potential buyers.
  • I thought The care and feeding of social media’s three classes: Creators, Curators, Consumers was an interesting article. I don't have anything of value to add to it at the moment.
  • I am slowly recovering from the bronchitis/sinusitis I've had since returning from San Diego. Of course, I blame San Diego for it and not the bizarro weather we've had in NYC.

The slaughter at Virginia Tech shocked and saddened me, but I wasn't surprised. Somehow as US culture has become more conservative, these incidents have become more regular. I grew up in what was allegedly the most liberal, chaotic, free-wheeling decade, the aftermath of the 1960s, and I can't recall a single incident of a student walking onto a school campus and killing students or teachers. I'm sure there probably were incidents (I'm not sure that the incident that served as inspiration for I don't like Mondays counts as such a shooting).

I'm not a sociologist, it's just an observation: the more we've clamped down and tried to enforce a certain cultural norm amongst kids, the more they rebel, and the more violent the acts. The answer isn't more strictures, more laws, more control. I don't know what the answer is, but what we've been doing for the past ten, twenty years is only making the culture sicker, not healthier.

I was going to add a link here to Tori Amos' cover of I don't like Mondays at the iTunes store, but the process to sign up to be an affiliate is a nightmare (Linkshare does not account for the case where the business name is different from the legal tax name in their signup process. Their loss, not mine). And it was probably tacky to add such a link here anyway.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:32 GMT on 17-Apr-2007 from Brooklyn, NY.

Yassky Expected to Vote for Pedicab Bill

The New York City Council is expected to vote to override Mayor Bloomberg's veto of the Pedicab Bill. While the bill would establish a needed regulatory framework around pedicabs in New York, it would also restrict the number of pedicabs to 325 (there are an estimated 500 in use today), put a variety of burdensome regulations and requirements in place which would make pedicabs uneconomical as a business in NYC.

According to the PediCouncil or PettyCouncil map mashup put together by OnNYTurf, Brooklyn Heights councilman Yassky is expected to vote to override the veto.

I support establishing some regulatory framework around Pedicabs, but not this bill as it exists as it seems to be mostly written to support the incumbent Taxi industry. If you feel the same, please write or call your councilmember and ask that she not vote to override the veto.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:14 GMT on 17-Apr-2007 from Brooklyn, NY.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bring back the O'Briens

CNN recently replaced Miles O'Brien and Soledad O'Brien as anchors of American Morning with two new anchors John Roberts and Kiran Chetry. Chetry and Roberts have sub'd for either O'Brien for the past couple of months.

For years I used to wake up to CNNfn, with the TV set to go on at 6:59 a.m. The routine has evolved, first to watching NY1 for an hour, and with the shutdown of CNNfn, watching American Morning for an hour.

The appeal of CNNfn and eventually American Morning was that it was mostly hard news. Not soft fluffy Katie Couric news, real interviews, real discussion. No shoutouts to the dozen reality TV shows on the network, no flacking for advertisers (that I can recall).

Just news

CNN has been falling in my estimation for awhile, but this week is just jarring. This morning's American Morning felt amateur, you would think they'd never produced a live onsite show before (in Blacksburg, VA). It was painful to watch Roberts and Chetry.

I flipped it back on this afternoon and, aside from repeatedly rerunning interviews held earlier in the day, the production values have fallen off-track (I don't know which anchor was on just now but she had a terrible time getting through a basic update sentence, maybe they fired the teleprompters when they booted the O'Briens?).

I agree with Todd, bring back the O'Briens. Until CNN does, I'm switching over to Bloomberg.

Aside to the ibm.com webmasters who may or may not still read this While looking for Turbo's blog, I tried:

  1. http://www.ibm.com/ebusiness/blog which 302'd to
  2. http://www.ibm.com/e-business/blog which 302'd to
  3. http://www.ibm.com/e-business/ondemand/blog which 302'd to
  4. http://www-306.ibm.com/e-business/ondemand/blog which 404'd

I know, I know, that's not the way to find things on ibm.com. But here's the thing: I tried trimming back "blog", then "ondemand" and mistakenly ended up with http://www-306.ibm.com/e-business// (note the double slash there). That returned a page thumbnail of screenshot of http://www-306.ibm.com/e-business//which apparently hasn't been updated since 2004. Trimming the extra "/" off yields another redirect to http://www.ibm.com/innovation/us (god, who came up with this setup …oh, wait, er, nevermind). Sounds like son (or grandson) of the redirect manager isn't normalizing URLs to convert doubled "//" to single "/". I am likely the only person in the galaxy who would notice this, on the other hand the content should probably 410 if it's not going to 302 to the latest and greatest marketing scheme.

e.p.c. posted this at 20:07 GMT on 18-Apr-2007 from Brooklyn, NY. , Comments [3]

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Travel Advisory: epc -> Cambridge, MA

As part of the home sale process, I am required to move myself and the dogs out of the house for the open houses, so I am heading to Cambridge, MA for a three, possibly four, day sojourn; 3–6 May 2007 (I may extend it a day if space frees up at the hotel, currently the 6th is oversold). I will be staying at the Hotel Marlowe. This will be Frisket's tenth stay (I'm guessing) and Sailor's first.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:03 GMT on 19-Apr-2007 from Brooklyn,NY.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Eight Days to the Match


Eight Days to the Match, originally uploaded by epc.

The www.chess.ibm.com technology team poses in front of the video wall at 55 Broad Street, New York, NY in late April 1997.
L-R: Alice Chau, Adam Chng, Jean Mountford, Ed Costello (me), Sandesh Bhat, Kapil Gupta, Albert James (behind Kapil), Bob Imbro.

flickr posted this at 02:22 GMT on 22-Apr-2007 from New York,NY.

Monday, April 30, 2007

In which our narrator is exhausted and yet must continue into the presse

We spent all day Saturday doing a final cleanup of the house prior to the open house on Sunday. We finally checked into the hotel around 11:30 p.m. Lisa promptly crashed while I walked the dogs to the local dog run (an oddity, it's in the middle of a median on North End Avenue in Battery Park City, but it's amply sized and great for playing fetch. Well, with our dogs it's more like throwing the ball and watching either Sailor or Frisket 'trieve it elsewhere).

Pretty much slept all day Sunday with a brief break to return to Brooklyn to take out the trash. Am returning again briefly this morning to do some minor cleanup.

I'm hoping to spend this afternoon getting some actual work done.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:13 GMT on 30-Apr-2007 from Battery Park City, New York, NY.

Slightly acerbic and eccentric dog walker who masquerades as a web developer and occasional CTO.

Spent five years running the technology side of the circus known as www.ibm.com.

More about me here.

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