Archive for the 'Internet' Category


Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

MSRBot is apparently a new bot from Microsoft Research. However, the “version” of MSRbot that I was seeing last night came from, which isn’t an obvious Microsoft IP address.

In addition the user agent field only stated:


Perhaps if I was Microsoft, I’d publish the IP address the real bot is supposed to crawl from.

Update: 10/5/06: MSRBOT does belong to Microsoft Research - they placed a URL for more information in the updated MSRBOT user agent string

[tags]Web, robot, crawler, bad bot, Microsoft[/tags]

Dead 2.0

Monday, August 28th, 2006

I have to admit it, there’s someone way more cynical than I am about the whole Web 2.0 thing. Awesome.

[tags]Dead 2.0, Web 2.0, awesome[/tags]


Monday, August 28th, 2006

FeedPass is a service with a novel idea, to act as a RSS publisher’s subscription page. The information provided on FeedPass is dead simple and easy to understand.

As a publisher, all you need to do is to submit your feed URL to FeedPass and a customized RSS subscription page is created for you. Just link to your RSS subscription page and you’re done. See the cleverhack RSS subscription page.

This FeedPass subscription page features your RSS feed in human readable format, links to various RSS readers and aggregators allowing one click subscriptions via RSS, RSS via email subscriptions, instructions on how to subscribe manually to a RSS feed, a basic explanation of tagging, a basic explanation of RSS, etc.

So, in conclusion, a big thumbs up for the idea behind FeedPass.

However, I also need to give a thumbs down for the current execution of FeedPass…a good number of the one click RSS subscriptions are not operable or give errors. For instance, FeedPass is throwing a “Not Found
The requested URL /jscript/autoselect.asp was not found on this server.” when trying to use the drop down menu options in the one click subscriptions section. FeedPass creators need to go through their RSS subscription links and clean them up.

Update: I’ve been notified via a comment to this post that the broken FeedPass links I mentioned have been fixed. Excellent.

[tags]FeedPass, Web 2.0, RSS, RSS Feeds, RSS reader, RSS aggregator, RSS subscription, Tagging [/tags]

mystery feedreader

Sunday, August 27th, 2006

I have no idea who this is. He needed help with some software so he could read or post my feed apparently.

[tags]mystery feedreader[/tags]

Technorati troubles- part 3,531

Sunday, August 27th, 2006

Well, almost. Talking about Web 2.0 properties that aren’t working right, it seems that the technorati crawler stopped coming by this blog a few days ago. Right now the blog information page reads Updated: 5 days ago.

What that means, really, is I can’t participate in any of the tag conversations.

And people wonder why I’m wary about third party utilities…

[tags]technorati, technorati crawler, technorati not indexing this blog[/tags]

abusive crawler

Sunday, August 27th, 2006

This is a stupid spam harvester hitting my site right now. For those of you Web masters who read this blog, you can go ahead and be a bit proactive by blocking block from your site right now. This abusive crawler, originating from West coast cogentco colo has been hitting my site at a rate of one new request every four seconds for the past couple of minutes.

Not only is it a bad crawler for it’s abusive crawling activities, but the user agent is spoofing Internet Explorer. Not suprisingly, Spamhaus has more here and here

Http Code: 200 Date: Aug 27 11:33:07 Http Version: HTTP/1.1 Size in Bytes: 14175
Referer: -
Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.0.3705; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)

[tags]spam, spamming, crawlers, not cool [/tags]


Sunday, August 27th, 2006

Webwag is yet another Web start page. In a twist that is bringing attention to Webwag, the project has been headed by an ex-Googler.

The beta site (which needs the follwing login U:wagyour P:webexperience) looks ok. At least the page elements appear ok, if not underwhelming a bit. I’ve tested the site on Camino/OS X, Firefox/OS X and Safari/OS X - and surprisingly, Firefox/OS X had the worst user experience.

The working parts of Webwag included:
1)The page elements are designed and render ok in the browsers I tested.
2)You can add a new page to your Webwag and name that new page easily.
3)You can edit and resize a pre-existing page module.

The not so great parts about Webwag are the following:
1)New page rendering takes too slow.
2)Content within the pages modules also loads slow for certain types of modules.
3)I have no idea on how to add a new module for content.
4)I never got the View Mode to switch view modes in the browsers I tried. The View Mode toggle doesn’t appear in Firefox/OS X.
4)No user instructions/help.
5)No working informational links, i.e. About.
6)No links to a contact page or a blog.

According to the comments in this blog posting, Webwag is apparently going out of beta tomorrow. Heh. Unfortunately, it needs to stay there for a while longer.

[tags]webwag, Web 2.0, web start page, googler[/tags]

the meaning of software beta

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

Because I’ve started reading and reviewing Web 2.0 sites, I’m starting to receive requests from marketing type people to review some of them. Which is great. I get such a kick out of the process.

Recently, I received a request to review a site and after checking out the site on two different computers, asking others to take a look at the site and soliciting their reactions, I have nothing nice to say about the site. It was that bad. After thinking about it, I’m not going to name the site. However, it did make me start to think about the concept of software beta testing and Web 2.0 in particular.

A software beta is generally described as a feature complete and a time during the software development cycle where bugs and minor feature tweaks are addressed. Many products, including software releases and Web services go through this step including the much maligned Windows Vista and the still in beta Gmail.

My problem with software beta releases is when a programmer or a company releases the beta, and the beta has major issues with common software configurations. As an example, the site I looked at did not handle well (pages rendered slow and horribly, there was debug code which flashed on each page, accessing data took too long, page elements were misaligned, etc.) on the latest stable Firefox on Windows XP. We’re talking about a site which is only going to attract a technically savvy contingent in the first place. In this day and age, that’s just inexcusable.

To add fuel to the fire here, it was for a Web site that a)is actively soliciting people to use it and b)has at least 5 or 6 competitors (including the huge portals like Google and Yahoo) in the space that already has nicely finished products.

Now, can I ask about the logic behind a Web 2.0 services site going to beta that isn’t all that usable with competitors already in the space? Because in this scenario, all that is going to happen once you get that coveted visitor to play around with your site for a bit, is for him to get frustrated because something isn’t working well, and then leave. Just because you call it a beta, that word isn’t necessarily going to save your ass from the guy who clicks off of your site and says “forget it”. All you’re doing is reinforcing Darwin’s law in the software world - and your product won’t survive.

And I shall submit here for consideration for you Web 2.0 folks out there, if you are going to release software or a Web service, it better not just be “super cool” with “value added features” but it had better work for folks using common configurations. Especially if you are running up against already established competitors. Think about it this way, there have been glitches for Gmail but have you ever lost data in Gmail during the beta phase?

Repeat after me, the word beta does not allow you to release half finished crap to the world.

[tags]software, beta, Web 2.0[/tags]

Eponym Blog Directory

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Eponym Blog Directory happens to be, well, a directory of blogs. There’s quite a few blog directories out there on the Web, but this is the first with such a striking user interface. I am impressed. I like the execution and the common sense Web design.

Also a note of interest, the flyout left navigation menu on the site actually holds steady and waits for a click before any action is taken. The buttons and text on the left flyout menu are large and easy to click on. It was weird to deal with at first, but I like it.

See MSNBC for an example of a hard to control left flyout navigation menu. See what I mean?

[tags]Blogs, Blog directory, Eponym, Web design[/tags]


Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Diffbot is software that allows you to not only monitor a RSS feed but also to monitor a Web page for changes. A pretty nifty idea, I must admit.

For my non-programmer readers, “In computing, diff is a file comparison utility for Unix systems that outputs the differences between two files.” -Wikipedia

What caught my eye about diffbot, however, was that in my logs it always fetches my front page first and then hits my feed, which is different behavior than a traditional RSS reader.

Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.8; Diffbot Gecko/20051111 Firefox/1.5

[tags]diffbot, RSS, Web [/tags]

What is this, Google Answers?

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Blogging, for me, has brought me vast rewards, Internet celebrity status (heh), fortune (see the Google Ads) and occassionally, random questions from people I don’t know. Witness the email I received the other day…

Recently someone told me to “stop Googling them.” I had been innocently searching Google for info about them, so I got a little paranoid. I don’t know if you’d be able to answer this, but I was wondering if there IS any way someone can find that you’ve been Googling them, or if he was just being sarcastic and assuming that I’d done so. I’m pretty technically savvy, for a normal person, and I’d never heard of such a thing, so I thought I’d ask you.

And my response:

The only way that someone could find out if you were “googling” them was if you found their Web site using Google using their name. When that occurs, most of the time the Web site owner will see that someone was “referred” from Google.

i.e. you searched for “joe smith is a hottie”

then Google will pass along information to the Web site owner that looks similar to this:


But, if the person doesn’t have a Web site, then I would bet that person was just assuming you had done so.

[tags]Google, referrers, Googling is a verb, Am I going to get a cease and desist for Googling? [/tags]

a javascript history sniffing script with a past and implications

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

I happened to catch this blog post by Jeremiah Grossman that detailed a way a Web site owner could “steal” your browser history and check where you have been via Javascript and a list of Web sites. See his blog’s page source for his script. This concept is different than a mere Web referrer as a referrer only names the site you’ve been referred from, and this point of concept checks browser history.

After reading the post, I thought that I had heard of this concept before, and voilĂ , some of the later comments on the postings noted that there have been proof of concepts on this theme for a number of years. So I was correct.

And I’m thinking now, how could this (or other javascript history sniffing scripts) be any worse than the scripts that track advertising cookies?

However, I thought it amusing that Jeremiah wrote:

I wonder how long until the marketers start using this for additional visitor profiling.

Oh yes, it’s the *marketers* we have to be afraid of. Personally I was thinking of bad guys who want to figure out where one does their online banking.

[tags]javascript, point of concept, tracking, cookies, advertising, black hat [/tags]