Riley Now Writing For The New Dominion?

A quick story: Back in the 1990s when I was writing Amiga software, we sent our products to magazines for reviews. Most of the time, we basically told the reviewer what to write, because the reviewers were usually too lazy or too rushed to really look at the software. You may be surprised to learn that we usually got good reviews. 🙂 (This practice is not unusual in the software industry, by the way — remember that when you’re reading a rave review of some product or another.)

I mention that story because an article at The New Dominion today reminded me of those old magazine reviewers. There was so much quoting of Jim Riley in Chris Green’s article Prank – or dirty trick? that I’m surprised Riley didn’t get a writing credit.

[Quoting Jim Riley of Virginia Virtucon] “A number of people saw this [Joe Stanley’s redirect of olddominionblogalliance.com to NAMBLA], and they were clicking on the link, and were shocked at what they saw,” Riley said. “One friend of mine works at the Pentagon – and he clicked on that while he was working at the Pentagon. He has top-secret security clearance. Places like that, they check what websites you visit. Fortunately, as soon as it came up, he clicked off of it, so there wasn’t any conflict to him.

There was no mention that Riley belongs to the same ODBA that Alton Foley does, who happens to work for the candidate that benefits from attacking Joe Stanley and his client Roscoe Reynolds, which seems like a pretty significant piece of information to leave out if you’re really looking “for perspective on this.”

Also, for people who may not be technically saavy, if Riley’s friend at the Pentagon clicked onto the NAMBLA site, no matter how fast he “clicked off it,” there’s still a record of his going there, so obviously there must not have been any ill effects from clicking on it even at the super-sensitive Pentagon, which renders the argument of “accidentally clicking on the NAMBLA site could be catastrophic” moot.

Also, even more significantly, if I remember right, Joe Stanley the Cybersquatter had nothing to do with people accidentally clicking on NAMBLA — the accidental link was an error on the part of Daily Whackjob, who put the link up without telling anyone what it really went to (which is a very common and somewhat annoying practice by bloggers, actually), which they have since apologized for. Otherwise a person would have had to accidentally open a browser and accidentally type “olddominionblogalliance.com” into the address bar to accidentally visit NAMBLA. (It’s not on Google either.) (And by the way, it doesn’t go to NAMBLA anymore, in case you’re curious.)

Shouldn’t the journalists be doing the writing instead of the story subjects?

The Larry Craig Irony

Life is filled with irony. It is rather ironic that mere days after the untimely death of Richard Jewell, a man whose reputation was destroyed by the collective incompetence of the media after the Atlanta Olympics bombing in 1996 — a man whose untimely death was recently reported widely by the media almost as if they were trying to seek atonement for their previous misdeed — we now see Sen. Larry Craig’s reputation and career being destroyed by the exact same media.

At this point it really doesn’t matter whether he’s guilty or innocent, gay or straight. He’s been tried and convicted by cable news. He’s just a sound bite now — just “that guy from the men’s room stall.” He might as well go ahead and join the George Allen Macaca Survivor’s club. Maybe they can hang out with the Duke lacrosse team.

(I may sound a bit bitter because, personally, I thought the leaked audio tape did more to incriminate the arresting officer than Sen. Craig.)

Harvester Timeouts

The harvester has been “sticking” lately; ie. it would get stuck indefinitely on a particular feed, resulting in long periods without any aggregator updates, which has been annoying me because I can’t unstick it until I get home. Anyway I believe I’ve fixed this with some very aggressive timeout values. (Apparently the default timeout setting was somewhere around infinity.)

An Alternate Viewpoint On Miss S.C.

Okay here’s an intellectual challenge for you. Everyone in the blogosphere, television, and radio jumped — no, leaped — no, sprinted full speed and dived headlong — onto the bandwagon of calling that South Carolina teen pageant contestant all kinds of stupid for her awkward answer to what should have been a straightforward question.

I submit to you (yes, YOU) that, in a society that encourages people to B.S. their way to the top and rewards people for who they know rather than what they know, she should have been applauded for delivering a verbose answer filled with buzzwords that meant absolutely nothing, all in a high-pressure situation, when she clearly did not have a real answer. How many times have you seen a manager or salesman doing the same thing, and get paid top dollar for doing it? I predict she will go far in American business and/or politics. (And by the way, she ended up in fourth place out of, I presume, 50 contestants.)

Everything Old Is New Again

I simply could not resist pointing out and chuckling about this article on Web Worker Daily: Offline Applications: A Brighter Future Than You Think. (I am not precisely sure why I still have Web Worker Daily in my feed reader; it seems to be geared more toward those people who think they are IT consultants because they use Gmail and Instant Messaging and setup their church’s web site.)

So “offline” applications have a bright future? Reeeeeeaaaalllly. How amazing! What could such a fantastic-sounding application be? From the post: “What’s an example of an offline application? One example would be using GMail offline while sitting on an airplane–drafting and reading messages–and then synching back up when you’re online. When synched, you get your messages that you created sent, and other offline tasks automatically done online.” Golly, that’s some fancy schmancy high-tech wizardry there! Who would have ever thought we’d advance far enough in computing technology to have such “offline” applications? I sure am glad I’ve lived to see this day.

Sorry about the sarcasm, but that article really cracked me up. I love being right about technology fads. Maybe this supposedly bright future in “offline” applications will push managers into hiring more skilled veteran workers instead of college kids hyped up on free Mountain Dew and Fritos (*looks at Google*) — after all, we’ve been writing “offline” applications for, oh, 15 years or so. And that’s just in MY memory. The really grizzled programmers have been doing it for much longer than that.

What If The Surge Is Working?

I didn’t think the surge would do much good, but there is growing momentum for thinking that it is. And believe it or not that’s a Good Thing. Whether it’s real progress or just the media saying it’s progress, the results are basically the same (for us): We win the information war, America looks good, the terrorists look bad, our soldiers are winners instead of losers, etc., etc. I have little doubt that Petraeus’ September report will show that the surge is working, because really, what other report would he give? High-ranking officials don’t usually come out and say, “Yeah, um, my plan wasn’t very good. Sorry ’bout that.”

So assuming the surge is working, that leaves the obvious question of what to do next. The Iraqi government appears to be doing jack squat while we’re securing their country. That means all of the MNF-I’s hard work could be for naught, because all indications are that as soon as we stop surging, everything will go right back into chaos. So it seems to me that we’ll either have to stay at surge levels forever or accept that Iraq just isn’t ready for western democracy. We handed it to them on a silver platter, and they didn’t know what to do with it. Unfortunately sometimes people need a dictatorship — now we just need to find a dictator that won’t throw chemical weapons on their own people.

Why Renewing Your Domain Name Matters *

Say, I wonder if anything interesting is happening in the Virginia political blogosphere? Guess not.

* Particularly if you run an association dedicated to spreading controversial political ideology.

UPDATE: Turns out ODBA didn’t own the domain in the first place, so it wasn’t a renewal issue after all. But it’s still good advice to renew your domain names. And this incident should serve as a reminder that it’s also good to reserve related domain names as a defensive measure. There are veritable armies of cybersquatters on the Internets with dubious business practices. Not to mention all the dubious political operatives out there.

P.S. No I don’t approve of cybersquatting. But unfortunately it’s perfectly legal.

Free Speech Is Such A Pain

Saw an interesting post on Just a Bump in the Beltway about how Bush choreographs all of his appearances so there are no dissenters in the crowd. That’s not really news, but it’s good to be reminded of how unreliable television is. Obviously I disagree with elected leaders constructing their own cult of personality, but allow me to play devil’s advocate for a moment. The people in Bush’s roving “rally groups” would almost certainly argue that it is as much their free speech right to cheer for the president, as it is the would-be protester’s free speech right to protest. And frankly I can’t disagree with that. I think one solution to such rule exploitation is simply to make sure observers are aware of the nature and purpose of all the demonstrators. When it is popularly known that the “rally groups” are intentionally brought in to squelch protesters, as opposed to being spontaneous outbursts of support, I would think they’d lose their effectiveness.

Run Away! From WRVA

I’m back from another mini-vacation, which will probably be my last until Christmas time. Next time I’ll have to aim for a job in the Iraqi Parliament. Har har. Speaking of vacations, Jimmy Barrett is on vacation so WRVA is doing guest politician hosts all week — eg. George Allen, Bill Bolling, Doug Wilder, etc. I’m, um, listening to CDs in the morning this week. Or maybe road noise. I’ll take my chances with an unexpected traffic jam.

GhostDoc

I’ve been experimenting with GhostDoc for a while at work. I saw it mentioned somewhere on CodeBetter.com, and I figured if the cool kids were using it, it must be cool. At first I thought it was really cool to be able to drop comments into my source code with one click. I cheerfully starting doing “Document This” on every undocumented method, trying to get rid of those annoying “Missing XML comment for publicly visible type or member” warnings.

Then I started looking closer at the auto-generated comments I was making. If you don’t know, GhostDoc tries to parse out keywords from your method declaration signature to generate a human-readable comment. Here’s a typical example of what GhostDoc produces:

/// 
/// Notifies the specified trace.
/// 
/// if set to true [trace].
/// The FMT.
/// The args.
public static void Notify( bool trace, string fmt, params object[] args )
{
  if( trace ) Trace( fmt, args );
  WriteEventLog( fmt, args );
  SendMail( "Notification", fmt, args );
}

Well, okay, it’s got comments. But they are, shall we say, not helpful. You pretty much have to go back and replace everything that GhostDoc put in for you, or else future maintenance programmers will shake their heads in wonder at your complete lack of grammar skills, not to mention your inability to grasp what the code is really doing.

So I’m starting to think that GhostDoc is going to get the boot from my system. It’s a neat concept, but in reality it doesn’t save much time. In fact, I’m removing it right now. There.

Now I need to go back and rewrite all the comments that it put in for me. Sigh.