// Internet Duct Tape

Cyber-bullying – Not just for teenagers

Posted in Digital Culture, Links, Technology by engtech on March 27, 2007

I’ve been thinking about featuring 31 bloggers over 31 days for my one year anniversary and Kathy Sierra of Creating Passionate Users would be tops on that list. Which makes this even more saddening and sickening. I don’t know any of the people involved/accused so I won’t comment on the specifics of the situation. It constantly amazes me how “Just Add Internet” and people get up to the kind of actions and harassment they’d never do in real life.

Well, hopefully they’d never do in real life.

Scobles’ response was good, especially since he gets his fair share of internet death threats as well.

Quoting myself from a previous post:

When I was involved in the BBS/IRC scene as a teenager I was surrounded by flame wars; one-upmanship was part of the attraction. I thought it was because of the immaturity of the participants, but now I think it is a natural offshoot of digital communication. We lose all the visual and auditory cues that are a normal part of human dialog and instead focus on words that can be easy to misinterpret (especially if looking for a reason to fight).

Throw anonymity into the mix and it becomes a recipe for disaster. Becoming popular on Slashdot or Digg is equal parts excitement at the exposure and annoyance at the new commenters. To be fair this isn’t restricted to these two communities; for a large number of people getting into arguments on the Internet is a major source of entertainment.

But some people take that too far. Flamewars and oneupmanship is drastically different than harassment. I hope legal action is pursued and the WordPress.com staff do what they can to identify the source.

Most Popular Posts for February 2007

Posted in Links, Popular Posts, Technology by engtech on March 01, 2007

I used to write these statistics posts once a month when I first started blogging. I’ve stopped for the most part, but decided to write this one because February 2007 was the highest traffic month I’ve had so far on //engtech.

National Engineering Week

Posted in Links, Programming and Software Development, Technology by engtech on February 20, 2007

Every blogger knows that when you put your email address on your About Me page you get a certain amount of “press release” spam from people who want you to check out their project or site and write about it. This often creates something like the over justification effect where if I had discovered it myself I might have written about it, but because someone is asking me I will put it off and put it off.

I seem to have gone full circle recently to the point where I have often been getting press releases of stuff I find interesting and germane to the subjects I usually blog about.

Case in point: February 18th to 24th is Engineer’s Week (don’t worry, *nobody* got me anything for it). MathMovesU is featuring an engineer each day of the week and is offering daily math contests with prizes.

Daily Prizes

  • Walkie Talkies
  • Remote Control Rocket
  • $75 Gift Certificate to Toys R Us
  • Remote Control Car

Grand Prizes

  • 30GB iPOD
  • Lego Mindstorms Robot

The contest is open to residents of the US between the age of 10 to 14. You do not have to get the correct answer to enter the contest, and because of US legislature you can enter just by sending your name to a mail address.

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Have Yourself a Very Geeky Valentine’s Day

Posted in Geeking Out, Links, Technology by engtech on February 14, 2007

You Complete Me - Nerd Valentine Day Geek LoveThe social bookmarking sites Digg and Reddit are getting swamped with Valentine’s Day links (which are being promptly buried). I waded through them and grabbed these links to the best Valentine’s Day related sites from a geek’s point of view.

It’s almost too late to do anything — so here are 14 last minute suggestions.





Related Posts

My favorite posts

Posted in Links, Monthly Digest, Technology by engtech on January 24, 2007

Violent Acres mentioned my site because I bought an advertising spot, so I figured I’d throw out a list of some of my favorite posts on //engtech for the new visitors.

My Favorite Posts


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Ottawa employees fired because of Facebook

Posted in Facebook, Links, Online Privacy and Reputation Management, Technology by engtech on January 18, 2007

So an Ottawa grocery chain (Farm Boy) has fired employees because of postings they made on Facebook under their real identity (via: Michael Geist). Facebook is a MySpace clone focused on University/College students. Devon Bourgeois and James Wood are now jobless because of messages they posted on a message board on Facebook (although it was not publicly available). The gist I got from the story is that the company fired them for admission of theft based on posts on the Facebook message board.

Programming Advice for Newbs

Posted in Links, Programming and Software Development, Technology by engtech on January 17, 2007

Chuck Jazdzewski has excellent Fatherly Advice for New Programmers (source). I’ve had an essay like this on my mind for a while, but he did a much better job of hitting the salient points. It has one of my favorite quotes about working in a high tech industry: “shipping a product feels good, like when someone stops hitting you.”

UPDATE 2007/01/23: Coding Horror has a decent follow-up. As does Mike-o-matic.

Here is the summary if you’re skimming. It’s worth reading in it’s entirety.


Reasons to Take Security Upgrades Seriously — Hacked WordPress Sites

Posted in Links, Technology, WordPress by engtech on January 16, 2007

WordPress 2.0.7 was released yesterday. Click here for details of the fixed vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, that was not soon enough for several web masters who run SEO sites. A hacker going by the name of FuckingPirate has taken down three popular SEO sites so far and published a hit list with more.


Blog Marketing Explained

Posted in Links, Marketing and Promotion, Technology by engtech on January 11, 2007

My buddy Tony has the helm of Problogger.net this week and he’s written a truly excellent post on blog marketing. Blog marketing is as much (if not more) work than blogging itself. His advice is 100% accurate based on my experience and I’ve yet to see such a concise list of “Everything you need to know about making your blog popular”.

Here’s the summary for those of you who like to try before you bu… er, read.


Boxing Day is coming

Posted in Gadgets, Links, Technology by engtech on December 25, 2006

RedFlagDeals has a nice round up of all of the boxing day deals in Canada. The already have all of the boxing day flyers online. And they offer a nice reminder that some of the online store sales have started tonight (Future Shop, Best Buy, NCIX).

Online shopping is the way to go as you avoid all of the hassle (the biggest problem is trying to log on to the web site).

There are a lot of DVD, comic book trade paperback and video game sales to be had, all from the convience of your computer desk.

You might be able to use the flyers for price matching at competing stores.


Cory Doctorow on Building an Audience

Posted in Building a Community, Digital Culture, Links, Technology by engtech on December 05, 2006

Cory Doctorow is a prolific author and runs the most popular blog on the planet: BoingBoing. He’s also been challenging the publishing industry traditions with his writing. I still haven’t read any of his books, but I should. Forbes as an interview with him where he talks about giving the milk away for free, but still getting people to buy the cow. (via Gaping Void)

I’m a believer that Digital Rights Management (copyright protection) is horribly flawed. By trying control every aspect of the consumer experience, content publishers are shooting themselves in the foot. Watching a copied DVD is a better experience because you can remove the “forced to watch” trailers at the beginning. Theatre goers are confronted with a “copying is stealing” message even though they’re the only customers who are guaranteed to have paid for the experience.


The Work Manifesto

Posted in Links, Technology, Workhacks and High Tech Life by engtech on December 03, 2006

This was so good that I felt I had to share it verbatim. It is by Pamela Slim from Escape from Cubicle Nation (via Gaping Void). It nicely sums up a very important rule that people so often miss out on in life: be passionate (not obsessed) about your job and it will enrich the rest of your life. I find that whenever I’m bored at a job I end up focusing my energy into some other passion which effectively means I’ll end up having two jobs.

The Work Manifesto

1. Work is your real life. It is the way you translate your feelings, your thoughts, your hopes and your desires into something valuable, tangible and useful every day. You can choose to make work into a dreaded, necessary evil that you can’t wait to finish so that you can get busy with your “real life.” Why not just do work you love?


How Google does web-based code reviews with Mondrian

Posted in Links, Programming and Software Development, Technology by engtech on December 01, 2006

Niall has a good post describing an internal Google tool for web-based code reviews built by the same guy who brought us Python. Anything beats sitting in a conference room looking at printed out code.

Tangent: I’ve been thinking that it would be very useful to have a web-based copy editing tool for websites (particularly blogs). Readers could mark-up and correct posts and the authors could view the results and incorporate them back into the article. It would be useless to monetize, but could would be a very cool open source plugin.

Guido van Rossum unveiled his first Google project, Mondrian, tonight during a Python tech talk at the Google campus in Mountain View. Mondrian is a web-based code review system built on top of a Perforce and BigTable backend with a Python-powered front-end. Mondrian is a pretty impressive system and is currently in use across Google.

>> Google Mondrian: Web-based code review and storage

Joel has an unrelated post up about the source control process used at Microsoft. Surprise, surprise: It’s also Perforce.

Bill Gates for President

Posted in Humor, Links, Technology by engtech on November 30, 2006

I don’t often foray into the realm of politics (I’ll leave that to Beats Entropy), but this is one I can’t turn down. Scott Adams makes some compelling points that Bill Gates would make for a fine president of the USA. Someone has even created a website: http://www.billgatesforpresident.net/

Scott makes a *very* compelling argument:

I was amazed at the reaction when I first mentioned the idea. Most of the comments were one of these.

1. I would vote for Bill Gates.
2. Bill Gates did (some evil business thing)

The fascinating thing is that even the comments about his evil-doings are FAVORABLE to the concept of Bill Gates for president. The man took one look at capitalism and beat it like a 14-year old boy with unrestricted Internet access. Bill Gates is a winner. Wouldn’t you prefer having him on your side for a change, beating the crap out of North Korea instead of Netscape?


New tech meme: How to become a Venture Capitalist

Posted in Links, Technology, Workhacks and High Tech Life by engtech on November 30, 2006

guyGuy Kawasaki brings it home and writes about what he knows with a piece about becoming a venture capitalist and an online survey to see if you have the chops. Could this be a new quiz meme for startup tech bloggers?

It won’t really take off because it doesn’t tell me which Star Wars VC I most closely resemble.

Regardless, here’s my advice to all the Biffs, Sebastians, Brooks, and Tiffanys who want to be kingmakers: “Venture capital is something to do at the end of your career, not the beginning. It should be your last job, not your first one.”

vcat test results

College graduates wanting to become VCs furthers the Bubble 2.0 meme that Silicon Valley has entered another tech bubble (read my first post on it: “The Internet has no clothes“). Because most tech startups aren’t aiming for IPO, some people are saying that Google is the canary in the mineshaft this time around.

>> The Venture Capitalist Test
>> VCAT Test (direct link, nothing to do with SONET virtual concatenations)

Free Windows Vista to US Residents

Posted in Links, Microsoft Windows XP and Vista, Technology by engtech on November 30, 2006

free windows vistaI’m as surprised as anyone that this is legitimate. You can get a free copy of Windows Vista Business or Microsoft Office Professional 2007 by viewing some web seminars. Unfortunately, this is only open to US residents or I would be all over this like a fat kid on Kate (Winslet) [1].

Despite my usual anti-Microsoft bend, I know I’m going to be running Windows on at least one machine in my house (if only because of limited Xbox 360 support). Having another copy around to deal with the inevitable Windows Genuine Advantage problems is a good idea.

This could be a cheap Christmas gift for the geek in your life.

>> The Power of Together (via Rob and Engadget)

[1] Scientific studies show that fat kids aren’t as in to cake as popular colloquialism might otherwise suggest.

FM Holiday Gadget Guide

Posted in Gadgets, Links, Technology by engtech on November 29, 2006

Federated Media has gotten gadget reviews from several bloggers together under one roof.

A collaboration between nine tech-savvy bloggers, the Federated Media Holiday Gadget Guide aims to get readers up to speed on the must-have devices, electronic toys, and other can’t-miss gifts of the 2006 holiday season. The Guide will also assist readers in weighing their choices among competing devices — e.g. PS3 vs. Wii and iPod vs. Zune.

Surprisingly enough, you can’t find a comparison of PS3 vs Wii on there, despite what their “about me” page says.

Need easy logos or writing a ransom note?

Posted in Links, Technology by engtech on November 19, 2006

Erik Kastner put together a very need little web script where you can enter words and it will display the word using photos from Flickr. Kind of cool, but what took the cake for me was the ability to click on each letter you don’t like until you get it looking just the way you want.


He has quite a few other cool flickr toys as well.

spikethevote.com (the anti-digg) goes for sale on ebay

Posted in Digg, Links, Technology by engtech on November 19, 2006

Social bookmarking sites can generate a lot of traffic for websites. Several services have been created for cheating the system, one of which is spikethevote.com (intended for cheating digg, del.icio.us and netscape). It never seemed to have gotten off the ground though. One week after it was supposed to start it’s “missions” the owner has put it up for sale on Ebay with a starting price of $1000.

Is that too much? I think so. The site has never really been proven and it only has 470 backlinks on Google, page rank of 0, and 60 links from blogs.

But the if you could successful cheat social networking sites regularly, you could easily make that money back and more.

UPDATE: Sold to Jim Messenger for $1,275.

Read more for screenshots of the Ebay sale.


You Are What You Say – Google TechTalks on Privacy

Posted in Links, Online Privacy and Reputation Management, Technology by engtech on November 12, 2006

This is related to my series on web anonymity and how privacy does not exist online (part 1, part 2, part 3).

It’s a video by Dan Frankowski with wonderful examples of how information can be tied together to find out who you are even when information was supposed to be private.

Very well done, worth taking the time to watch if this interests you. Only starts getting really geeky and technical after around the 13 minute mark. Before that are some great examples of why this is an issue, and why this is important.