Why I’m dropping the IEEE email address I’ve had since 1993

The IEEE just can’t get it right anymore. For a couple of years I’ve openly derided their their laughable policy on open access publishing that requires you to prove your grant requires a Creative Commons license. Add to that the fact that at least since 1997, you can’t be an IEEE member in the US without funding the part of IEEE that works actively to destroy all technology H-1B visas, and most importantly their handover of email services to Google Mail in June 2013, and I’m at my breaking point.

I’m officially dropping my joant@ieee.org email alias that has served me since the service was introduced in the early 1990s.

I really liked having a stable email address. When it was first set up, email to it ended up at a VME-based Sun 4/260. But the convenience of 20 years of the same address is nowhere near as important to me as not supporting the policies of the IEEE any longer.

I am paying my membership dues one last year – through 2014 – to give everyone ample time to get used to the new address, [wohali at-mark this website’s address]. Any personal email to the IEEE alias will be responded to with a Reply-To at my new address. After Dec 31, 2014, joant@ieee.org will no longer work.

thing-a-day 4: civic action

OK, I had to take a detour from my “all things music” thing-a-day for a special request. A house down the street from me had a building permit posted that I didn’t read clearly until 2 days ago. Seems they wanted to split the 30′ wide lot into 2 15′ wide lots, destroy the original 2-story 120-year old building with a gorgeous historic facade, and put up a 3-story semi-detached monstrosity. In fact, the historic facade (which is in surprisingly good shape!) is identical to a few others on the street! My response: “Ah, no.”

I spoke with the neighbours immediately to the north, who were also concerned, and a neighbor across the way from me who’s a good friend and fellow Victorian home owner/restorer. We jointly put together a letter of opposition and presented it in front of committee today.

We won.

The proposal was rejected on the grounds that it was not in keeping with the nature of the other homes in the area, and that the narrow proposed frontage was further unacceptable. The committee went so far as to impune the reputation of the current owner, who clearly hasn’t been keeping up with preventative maintenance. The implication was that, if he can’t maintain the current property, there’s no guarantee he won’t cut corners on the replacement structure as well.

Of course, the applicant is appealing the decision, so this isn’t over — but it’s exciting to get involved and to realize that just 30 minutes spent on a letter of objection, and 5 minutes speaking over at City Hall, is a great way to stay involved wtih your community.

If you want to read the letter I put together and had my neighbours sign, comment using your email address and I’ll send you a link.

dirk benedict is bitter (and right)

Read Lt. Starbuck…Lost in Castration by Dirk Benedict, the original Lt. Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, and Face from the A-Team.

There was a time, I know I was there, when men were men, women were women and sometimes a cigar was just a good smoke. But 40 years of feminism have taken their toll. The war against masculinity has been won. Everything has turned into its opposite, so that what was once flirting and smoking is now sexual harassment and criminal. And everyone is more lonely and miserable as a result.

I agree with my friend Hooch: “But my first reaction, aside from that he does raise some valid concerns and issues, is that he forgot to add at the end ‘And get off my lawn!'”

microblogging sillyness

Today a friend linked me to this article in the NY Times about networks, the US presidential inauguration, and twitter. Here’s the key quote, emphasis his/mine:

Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, said the company was hoping to sidestep network hiccups. He is not expecting the same traffic spikes as during the election, when the site was flooded with as many as 10 messages a second, but says the service “will nevertheless be doubling our through-put capacity before Tuesday.”

Because of all the hype Twitter gets, I couldn’t believe the figure was so low, so I checked elsewhere. “Twitter had by one measure over 3 million accounts and, by another, well over 5 million visitors in September 2008.” Simple math says there’s about 2.5 million seconds in a month, so 5 million impressions translates to one request every half a second. Presuming each query pulls a few pictures as well as text, 10 messages a second sounds about right based on published data. Let’s further assume each message is the size of an average Twitter page; mine came in at 34,100 bytes just now, or 341,000 bytes a second.

Bandwidth wise, that’s 2.728 Mbit/s, or roughly the bandwidth of 2 T1s. My home DSL line can push 700 kbit/s. With 5-6 of them bonded together, and the appropriate back end servers, I could run Twitter out of my basement.

It also isn’t very much, if you compare it with other semi-synchronous messaging technologies like IRC, Jabber and IM servers, who have been capable of pushing more data per second since well over 15 years ago. I’m sure mainframes were doing similar amounts of data I/O 30 years ago.

The snarky nerd in me wants to smear Ruby on Rails, the technology platform on which Twitter relies, but others did that 2 years ago already (and yes, that link defends the technology, and makes the ridiculous assumption that you can’t build in scalability.) I’m convinced it’s the incorrect application of a specific technology to solve a problem for which it is ill-suited. Perhaps the Twitter infrastructure never planned to expand so greatly, but I find it laughable that we’re in 2009 and that “important” services like Twitter can’t survive a “flood” of 10 messages a second. My friend agrees: “no i’m sure facebook is laughing at the 10 messages/a second ‘flood’ too.”

I’m also quite surprised that such a “popular” site, one that gets so much hype and marketing, really doesn’t get that much use. For comparison, here’s the figures for the Top 10 sites. Being generous and assuming those 5 million hits for Twitter are all unique visitors, that means the largest sites see more than 25 times the traffic it does. Facebook sees at least 10 times the number of unique visitors, and certainly will push more content, what with all the pictures and rich media it has vs. twitter’s limited use of graphics (small avatars only). Of course, none of this even gets into what AWS/S3 and content accelerators push from a pure bandwidth standpoint.

Increasingly, I’m convinced microblogging sites are hiveminds for particular flavours of individual. Disingenuously: StumbleUpon/Digg are “OMG LOOK AT THIS LINK!” Twitter feels like “marketing marketing SEO yadda yadda bend to my will.” Plurk is “cheerleader YAY happy happy dancing banana.” BrightKite is “mommy! mommy! look at me now!” And yes, IRC is probably the Wild Wild West. Others I know have made similar comparisons between LiveJournal, mySpace, Facebook and Friendster. I’m not sure what predestines a technology for a specific sort of person, but the link is there. This might make a good research paper. ;)

political commentary of the week

warning: rated TV-MA for strong language and metaphor, and therefore probably not work safe.

I Got What America Needs Right Here

The Onion

I Got What America Needs Right Here

Sometimes I’m a little stupid, maybe, a little slow in the head, so I’m wondering if you can help me get something straight….

bananas are going extinct

I can’t believe I didn’t know this…bananas are going extinct. They have before (Gros Michel is no more), and will again (Cavendish is 100% seedless and hugely susceptible to a specific fungus now hell-bent on world domination).

We may be eating Goldfingers soon instead.

I guess it’s a good thing I love plantains!

owning your online experience

ok, it’s probably painfully obvious at this point that I’m a bit of a net free-speecher – or at least, anti-corporate-net-ownership. [ed: I used to have the word ‘libertarian’ here, but this confused people due to its political overtones. I’m discussing an issue, people, not a political ideology. I’m no more Libertarian than I am Republican or Democrat.]

I hate online profiling, detest advertisements (to the point of not owning a TV!) and generally resist having my activity monitored.

Here’s a quick video if you’re not familiar with this concept, told in allegory:

Do something about it. Visit http://freespeech.org/ourweb/ to find out more. I don’t believe this is about republican vs. democrat, or liberal vs. democrat…again, it’s about owning your own online life and content.

canada: say no to a canadian dmca!

Anger. That’s the only thing I can feel when I see that Canadian elected officials are looking to introduce more ridiculous, ill-thought, completely-against-legitimate-use copyright legislation. And of course, because I’m so incensed with most of the news outlets that I don’t hear about this stuff except through trusted sources, I had to go digging in places I don’t normally look to find out about:





Quoting Cory:

Tell your friends. Tell your family. If you care about the net, this could be the most important thing you do this year. Take action and save the country.

Quoting Michael:

The next 60 days are absolutely crucial. If Canadians speak out in large numbers, the government may rethink its current strategy of fast-tracking the Canadian DMCA.

Do everything you can. This isn’t just about trading CDs and movies anymore, folks. It’s about controlling your own words, your own music, your own actions. Write your MP today. And if you’re not a Canadian, yeah yeah, I know you told us this day was coming, but we avoided it for at least 10 years. Now’s our chance to learn from the mistakes of the US DMCA and enact some intelligent legislation.