Microsoft Telephonic Interview

“Thank you again for agreeing to participate in the upcoming in-depth telephone interview. I want to emphasize the importance of your opinions to our client, Microsoft.

“You are one of only a few participants invited to take part in this research and your participation is extremely important.

“You have been specially screened and qualified. If for any reason you cannot participate in the scheduled telephone interview, please call us right away to allow us time to find a qualified replacement.”

OpenID and NCANE.COM

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m looking at implementing OpenID on NCANE.COM to replace the existing session and authentication module. I am battling a bit though with the OpenID PHP classes I found, mainly due to silly directory structures.

NCANE.COM update

I implemented changes on NCANE.COM this week. Firstly, I converted the column that stores your IP address from TEXT to INTEGER, dropping the size of the database by 12%.

Then I changed the way MySQL connections are working, because I managed to rack up a 40MB error log in the last month because of maximum connections implemented by my new Service Provider. That’s still a work in progress, but I’ve got the error messages down to about 30 a day (from between 500 and 1000 a day).

Which brings me to the final point. When I built NCANE.COM in February 2006, there was no Twitter. Now there is, and the site’s popularity has increased, partly thanks to that. The top ten URLs alone have redirected people over 10 million times, while the entire database of 27 500 URLs has redirected 44 million (yes, the top ten URLs comprise 23% of all redirects).

I implemented during the course of 2007, with modifications in 2008, a session and authentication manager, to allow a “premier” user to log in, create custom URLs, and skip the standard advertising page that pops up on URLs that are visited more than 25 times.

Bit.ly does the same thing for free. While I’m not going to guess how they manage their URLs, or whether they take as much interest in the protection of users as I do, I know I cannot compete in that space. I don’t have APIs (my first problem), I don’t have proper tracking (all I show is the number of times your link has been visited), and I don’t have time.

The site isn’t going away, but that’s where I’m at with it. I want to redesign the look and feel (Delano is helping with that – he’s the guy who designed the lettering for the site now), and add an API (the database has been ready for years for when I get around to that).

But most importantly, I want to replace the session and authentication module with OpenID. That means I’ll have to monitor the links being created a little closer, but I think it’ll be worthwhile. Three of my favourite sites, namely ServerFault.com, StackOverflow.com and SuperUser.com all use OpenID to great effect. I think it will resolve the maximum connections problem I’m having with MySQL too, in that I don’t have to track sessions in the database – I can just do it with cookies on your local machine.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Progress Complete

I’ve finished updating the blog to reflect the WordPress URLs, as opposed to the older SimplePHPBlog URLs, for related links to other posts. It took a lot less time than I was expecting!

Now I just need to do the same on NCANE.COM.

Why WordPress rules more than you think it does

I was asked by a new customer to move their WordPress blog to a hosted solution from WordPress.com. After exporting the blog to their XML format, I thought I would have to manually download all 499 images and link them.

WordPress, fortunately, is a little cleverer than that. A simple “Would you like to import attachments?” question during the import of the XML file sorted that out.

Oh, and by the way, if you haven’t already, make sure you’re running the latest version (2.8.4) of WordPress. There’s a nasty exploit going around.

District 9

I’m now throwing my two cents in.

M said it is recommended viewing for all South Africans, and I whole-heartedly agree. This movie can be analysed to death regarding its subtext, but I’ll just say this: it’s well-made. The special effects were hardly noticeable (and considering there was a ruddy great space ship hovering over Johannesburg in several key scenes, that’s quite a statement).

Thank you to Peter Jackson for financing this project, and to all the participants in the making of the film. It was refreshing to hear the accent on the big screen NOT coming out of Leon Schuster’s mouth.

I also smell Academy Awards for this one. It is currently rated on IMDB by over-zealous fans at #44 in the top 250 of all time. When the fuss dies down, it may drop in the rankings, but I am very impressed. Well done.

GO WATCH THIS FILM!

P.S. Regarding the violence and swearing in the film, I hardly noticed. It suited the mood of the story, and I know I can swear a lot too. Granted, I’m not ripping limbs off people, but give me twenty minutes with a taxi driver and a machete, I’d have to think about it.

What I’ve learned from my Windows 7 upgrade

Vista sucks. I believe that strongly. We’ve just recently got our Enterprise copy of Windows 7 so I started my upgrade yesterday. After the first reboot during installation, I was told I had a missing operating system. Damn, I forgot to decrypt the TrueCrypt system partition!

Did that (back in Vista), restarted installation, and now I’m almost done. Yay!

Windows 7 is what Vista should have been.