Yossi Kreinin praises Tcl and so should you!

Yossi Kreinin writes a very fair and positive blog entry about why he can’t believe he’s praising Tcl. In response, I left this comment on his blog:

I’m so glad you’ve put aside language bigotry and evaluated Tcl fairly–when you do, it’s easy to see how convenient it can be for some tasks.

Of course I’m biased, but I also think Tcl is a fantastic language for developing web applications-thus, my affinity for AOLserver.

When you reduce web development to the simple process of “consume bits from a data source, transform strings, output bits to a network socket” … Tcl’s simplicity really makes rapid development a breeze, coupled with AOLserver’s library of Tcl procs to ease some common tasks.

I hope more folks give Tcl a fair shake, given it’s one of the oldest and arguably the most mature scripting language out there.

Even if you have no interest in Tcl, do read Yossi’s blog entry about it. He really takes a close look at what makes for a good embedded scripting language and that’s useful for anyone who is building an application today that needs such a thing.

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Do I really care who’s going to be President in 2008?

For the most part, I really don’t care who’s President in America. None have really moved the needle with respect to issues I particularly care about, as far as I can tell.

However, I was curious to see if any of the potential candidates really lined up with what I care about, so I decided to take the quiz that’s been going around. Here are my results:

63% Ron Paul
60% Mike Gravel
59% Bill Richardson
54% Dennis Kucinich
53% Mitt Romney
49% Chris Dodd
49% Fred Thompson
48% Tom Tancredo
48% Rudy Giuliani
46% Hillary Clinton
45% Barack Obama
44% John Edwards
44% Joe Biden
42% Mike Huckabee
42% John McCain

2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz

I was hoping to find a 80% or better match, but even a 63% match with Ron Paul is interesting. After reading up on his political position, I definitely think I like him … but, so what? Even if he gets elected, how much can he possibly change?

To give you an idea of where I stand politically, here’s the results of another quiz:

Your Result: Libertarian (63%)

This quiz has defined you as a Libertarian. Keep in mind, this ideology can be applied to the right or left in the social sense. You believe in a minimal role of the government in solving problems and believe that the “Free market” can handle almost all economic situations.

Conservative: 42%
Liberal: 33%
Social Democrat: 24%
Fascist/Radical Right: 2%
Communist/Radical Left: 0%

What is your political ideology?

I definitely think money exerts a lot of force–say, much more than a single person, like the President–and when choosing a candidate for President to support, we need to focus on two things:

  • How they make money
  • How they spend money

When considering these two, reflect on their ethics of how they make and spend money. Determine the level of ingenuity they display when faced with these two tasks. Understand how they balance the two activities to remain fiscally healthy.

Maybe I’ll have to do some more digging on this Ron Paul guy. I might even get out and vote in November, who knows.

Do you have any interesting facts about him? Please share links to stuff with me in the comments.

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Character counting plugin for Pidgin

Someone asked if there was a plugin for displaying the character count of the current message in a Pidgin chat window’s input widget, which would be useful when using Twitter via IM, to know if you’re going over the 140 character limit. I looked things over and came up with this simple plugin after about two hours of hacking … it places the current character count on the right-hand side of the GtkIMHtmlToolbar:

Screenshot of Pidgin 2.2.2 with the convcharcount plugin

I’m inclding the new plugin’s source as a diff/patch to the Pidgin source, and a pre-built DLL binary for Win32:

For those of you on Win32, just unzip the .zip file into your C:\Program Files\Pidgin\plugins directory. Then, go into your Buddy List window and select “Tools -> Plugins,” then click the checkbox next to “Conv. input chars count“.  That’s it!

Let me know what you think of the plugin. Thanks!

UPDATE: I’ve finally gotten around to spinning a Debian 4.0 etch .deb for i386. If you’re on Debian, give it a try.

UPDATE: I’ve also spun a Fedora 8 RPM for i386.

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Amazon Omakase Links ad unit thinks I want sex toys

If you read my blog in a feed reader, you probably never see my blog’s display ads. But, a large majority of my blog’s traffic comes from search engine referrals (thanks, Google/Yahoo!/Microsoft, etc.), who generally do see the ads.

One of the ad types I use is Amazon’s Omakase Links (Omakase FAQ) in my 300×250 ad unit that’s inline in the blog entry. See the highlighted area in the screenshot below:

Amazon Omakase Links screenshot
(click on image for full-size)

According to Amazon, the Omakase Links ad unit “uniquely [combines] information on each site visitor’s taste, the site’s content, and historical trends to dynamically generate relevant ads that Amazon serves to your site.” In theory, this is great … serve more relevant product ads to a viewer in the hopes that you’ll see a higher click-through rate and more conversions, everyone wins, right?

Well, I was surprised this evening when I was posting a new blog entry. I generally double-check them after posting and normally don’t look at my own ads, but when the Omakase ad unit loaded I did a double-take. What are normally innocuous ads to product links that are pretty geeky, I was surprised when I saw the ad unit populated with sex toys:

Amazon Omakase Links with sex toys screenshot
(click on image for full-size)

Okay, so I have blogged about Amazon.com selling anal douche years ago, and about how they expanded their offering into a full “Sex & Sensuality products” section, but is this why sex toys are showing up in my Omakase Links ad unit?

Don’t get me wrong: I really don’t mind. If these are the products Amazon.com thinks will sell the best in this ad unit and I get some referral commission off those sales and someone out there gets happy in bed, everyone wins, right?!

So, if you visit my blog instead of reading it through a feed reader and you don’t block the ads, when an Amazon.com Omakase ad unit appears, what kind of products does it show you? Tell me in the comments below–it could be interesting to see the range of suggestions.

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Dilbert: It only seems that way because everything you say is wrong

It’s days like today that I feel like Scott Adams has been watching my relationship with my wife from behind the fourth wall:

Dilbert 2007-10-09: It only seems that way because everything you say is wrong.
(click for full size)

Girl: You treat every conversation like it’s a contest where you have to be the one who is right!

Dilbert: It only seems that way because everything you say is wrong.

Girl: See? There it is!

Dilbert: I’m pretty sure that was you again.

Thank you, Scott. I sent this to my wife and we both had a laugh–perhaps a nervous one–today.

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Web traffic doesn’t necessarily equal ad revenues

My little blog doesn’t get too much traffic–on average, around 150-200 unique visitors a day. I have some 140 subscribers to my RSS feed, but almost 80% of my traffic comes through search engines. I haven’t implemented item view tracking in my RSS feed yet, so I have no idea what percentage of my subscribers actually read my feed.

Two days ago, I wrote a political rant and submitted it to StumbleUpon to draw some traffic to it, hopefully to get some responses. I knew that SU was good for a bunch of drive-by viewers, but I’m surprised by how many: almost 1,400 more than usual. Check out the graph:

SiteMeter traffic for Dossy's Blog from 9/18 to 9/25

That’s a serious spike. There’s still bits and bobs of traffic dribbling in, even today. However, I noticed a few things:

  • Only 5 out of the 7 comments I actually did get were from people I didn’t already know, which I’m guessing arrived via SU. This is a remarkably low percentage of overall visitors.
  • Someone else eventually submitted a link to my entry to Digg, which brought a lot less traffic than I would have expected.
  • Although my few CPM ads might have gotten a small bump, my CPC ads CTR was zero. The extra traffic did not convert into extra revenue, at all.
  • According to FeedBurner, I may have picked up 9 new subscribers. That’s only 0.5% of the new visitors.

Now, I’m not surprised by this–it actually confirms suspicions I’ve held for a while now. But, as I’m thinking of reworking my blog layout and design, it’s always good to get real data as a baseline before I start making changes.

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I can has a meme

The Internets, they are:

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Planet AOLserver, aggregating AOLserver-related feeds

In the grand scheme of “why does Dossy go off and do things without asking people first” … I’ve set up Planet AOLserver:


The current subscriptions list is populated with the feeds of blogs I’ve been able to find over the years of people who have blogged about or use AOLserver in one way or another. I’m betting the list is incomplete: if you’d like your feed added to the subscriptions list, please email the URL to me. Similarly, if your feed appears on the list and you’d like it removed, just ask me to remove it.

I’m using a simple regexp filter to pick out (hopefully) only the relevant entries:

filter = (?i)(AOLserver|Tcl|OpenACS|MySQL|PostgreS(QL)?)

Think something should be added to the filter? Is there an entry in your feed that you think should be included in the Planet but isn’t? Again, let me know and I’ll try to fix it.

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August 27th NJ Hackfest

Five of us came out for this week’s Hackfest:

NJ Hackfest Meetup 2007-08-27

Left to right: Glenn M., Mike G., Steve G., Robbie the Geek

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Jonathan Schwartz blogs that Sun is changing their trading symbol from SUNW to JAVA. This leaves me with only one thought …


(In case you didn’t know, that’s Duke, Java’s mascot.)

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