9/28/2009

On Less is More

Thelonius Monk once said “Wrong is Right”. I say, “Less is More”. All too often we as software developers do data collection of one sort or another, often storing results in a database table or tables, and we suffer from self-induced overkill.

We collect too much data, data that we probably will not need. Or, instead of storing the same data and simply updating it’s count on a unique column value via an Insert or Update SQL statement, we end up storing hundreds of unique rows that, because of the data collection overkill we’ve engineered, take up lots of space but don’t really contribute to the “cause”.

In addition (and I have certainly been guilty of this) we store our data in database tables that are not normalized, thereby exacerbating the situation. We end up with wide tables with a lot of columns that are inefficient.

It is often much easier (and simpler) to start out with a minimalist approach. Less is More. If we determine at a later point that we actually do need “More”, we can always add that later. I believe it is easier to add needed features to a well-thought-out basic design than to remove stuff later. It’s human nature.

9/26/2009

Acer Aspire One Netbook Restore Windows 7

Recently my Acer Aspire One Netbook with Windows 7 on it crapped out. I have no idea why, but if you’ve got a netbook, then you know that to reconstitute everything you need to do it from a bootable USB Stick, because there isn’t any “DVD” drive on these little puppies.

I tried a number of solutions that I found online, but the only one that worked for me was the following:

 

1) insert your USB stick (4GB or higher).

2) FORMAT – NTFS

3) Copy the contents of the Windows 7 DVD onto the USB stick.

4) Set your netbook BIOS to Boot from “USB HDD” as the first option.

5) Boot off the USB, let Windows 7 setup come up, and do a new installation (the “Repair my computer” option only comes up if you run Windows setup from an existing instance of Windows 7, which I couldn’t get).

6) Install Windows 7.

 

NOTE: during the install, WIndows 7 needs to reboot. You need to change your BIOS settings on the netbook to now let it boot from the netbook’s hard drive, NOT the USB stick, or you will go in circles.

 

This may seem overly simplistic, but it worked for me. Of course, since you have a new windows 7, you’ll need to install all your favorite software.

Acer Aspire One Windows 7 Restore

Recently my Acer Aspire One Netbook with Windows 7 on it crapped out. I have no idea why, but if you’ve got a netbook, then you know that to reconstitute everything you need to do it from a bootable USB Stick, because there isn’t any “DVD” drive on these little puppies.

I tried a number of solutions that I found online, but the only one that worked for me was the following:

 

1) insert your USB stick (4GB or higher).

2) FORMAT – NTFS

3) Copy the contents of the Windows 7 DVD onto the USB stick.

4) Set your netbook BIOS to Boot from “USB HDD” as the first option.

5) Boot off the USB, let Windows 7 setup come up, and do a new installation (the “Repair my computer option only comes up if you run Windows setup from an existing instance of Windows 7, which I couldn’t get).

6) Install Windows 7.

 

This may seem overly simplistic, but it worked for me. Of course, since you have a new windows 7, you’ll need to install all your favorite software.

9/13/2009

Online Plagiarism and what you can do about it

Lazy, unethical people who republish RSS feeds and similar content and surround it with advertising for profit abound. In general this is an annoyance, but you probably can’t do much about it.  However where I believe this “crosses the line” is when somebody deliberately copies all of  your original content, removes all identifying links and author attribution, and then republishes this wholesale on their site or blog for expected profit.

This happened to me recently. This person, Calla Degennaro, residing in Larchmont N.Y.:

Calla M Degennaro
7 Rebeau Dr
Larchmont, NY 10538-1337
(914) 834-0236

--  republished not one -- but two of my articles written and originally published on  eggheadcafe.com, without permission:

http://tusforyou.com/fluent-nhibernate-automapping/

and

http://tusforyou.com/silverlight-3-note-taker-app-with-local-storage/

You can see that this person has carefully removed all identifying traces of where the articles originated and who wrote them, but kept 100% of the content, completely unaltered. They even downloaded my zipped code sample files and re-hosted them!

What can you do about this? Well, Copyscape.com has some good guidelines:

  1. Look for contact details on the offending site and send a polite message asking for the material to be removed. If there are no contact details available, try emailing webmaster@ the domain.
  2. Use a Whois service to find out the website owner's name and telephone number and contact them directly. Enter the domain name in the search box and the contact information should appear towards the bottom of the page.
  3. Contact the web hosting company used by the site and inform them of their customer's abuse. This information is also available through a Whois search.
  4. Send a formal 'Cease and Desist' letter notifying the offending party that they must remove the stolen content from their site. Some sample letters are available on the web.
  5. File a notice of Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) infringement with search engines such as Google and others to have the offending site removed from their search results.
  6. If you need proof of infringement, you can use the Internet Archive to show that the content appeared on your site at an earlier date than it appeared on the offending site.

 

How to file a DMCA notice with Google:

Infringement Notification for Web Search and all other products

To file a notice of infringement with us, you must provide a written communication (by fax or regular mail -- not by email, except by prior agreement) that sets forth the items specified below. Please note that you will be liable for damages (including costs and attorneys' fees) if you materially misrepresent that a product or activity is infringing your copyrights. Indeed, in a recent case (please see http://www.onlinepolicy.org/action/legpolicy/opg_v_diebold/ for more information), a company that sent an infringement notification seeking removal of online materials that were protected by the fair use doctrine was ordered to pay such costs and attorneys fees. The company agreed to pay over $100,000. Accordingly, if you are not sure whether material available online infringes your copyright, we suggest that you first contact an attorney.

To expedite our ability to process your request, please use the following format (including section numbers):

1. Identify in sufficient detail the copyrighted work that you believe has been infringed upon (for example, "The copyrighted work at issue is the text that appears on http://www.legal.com/legal_page.html") or other information sufficient to specify the copyrighted work being infringed (for example, "The copyrighted work at issue is the “Touch Not This Cat” by Dudley Smith, published by Smith Publishing, ISBN #0123456789").

2. Identify the material that you claim is infringing the copyrighted work listed in item #1 above.

FOR WEB SEARCH, YOU MUST IDENTIFY EACH SEARCH RESULT THAT DIRECTLY LINKS TO A WEB PAGE THAT ALLEGEDLY CONTAINS INFRINGING MATERIAL. This requires you to provide (a) the search query that you used, and (b) the URL for each allegedly infringing search result.

For example, suppose (hypothetically) that you conducted a search on google.com using the query "google", and found that the third and fourth results directly link to a web page that you believe infringes the copyrighted text you identified in item #1 above. In this case, you would provide the following information:

Search Query:
google

Infringing Web Pages: 
www.infringingwebsite.com
directory.infringingwebsite.com

If you are sending a large number of URLs in one removal request, please also send an electronic copy of the notice to removals at google dot com.

3. Provide information reasonably sufficient to permit Google to contact you (email address is preferred).

4. Provide information, if possible, sufficient to permit Google to notify the owner/administrator of the allegedly infringing webpage or other content (email address is preferred).

5. Include the following statement: "I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law."

6. Include the following statement: "I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed."

7. Sign the paper.

8. Send the written communication to the following address:

Google, Inc.
Attn: Google Legal Support, DMCA Complaints
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

    OR fax to:

(650) 963-3255, Attn: Google Legal Support, DMCA Complaints

Please note that in addition to being forwarded to the person who provided the allegedly infringing content, a copy of this legal notice will be sent to a third-party which may publish and/or annotate it.  As such, your letter (with your personal information removed) will be forwarded to Chilling Effects (http://www.chillingeffects.org).  You can see an example of such a publication at http://www.chillingeffects.org/dmca512/notice.cgi?NoticeID=861.  A link to your published letter will be displayed in Google's search results in place of the removed content.

The above is courtesy of Google’s information page. Now the nice thing about getting a DMCA notice honored by google et. al. is that when somebody makes a search that would bring up the offending content, they get to see the notice instead – a double whammy!  If they are hosting Google Adsense ads, that account can get pulled too. So, it’s possible to really put the hurt to these crooks.  I’ve already taken the first step with our friend Degennaro. The next step will be a DMCA filing.  Online plagiarism is a crime. It’s one thing to republish somebody’s original work with a link back to the source. But the above example is where I draw the line. Hope this helps.

9/12/2009

Where’s Reaganomics?

Washington has attacked the current economic downturn with Keynesian economics - the theory that you fight an economic downturn by pumping money into the economy to "encourage demand" and "create jobs." The result? The longest recession since World War II — 21 months —  with no clear end in sight. The government  borrowed close to a trillion dollars out of the private economy —  yet it has done squat to increase incentives for investment and entrepreneurship.

In February 2008, Bush cut a deal with congressional Democrats to pass a $152 billion Keynesian stimulus bill based on countering the recession with increased deficits. The central feature was a tax rebate of up to $600 per person.  It had no significant effect on economic incentives. In fact, looking back a year, it was a joke.

Learning nothing from this, Barack Obama came back in February 2009 to support a $787 billion, purely Keynesian stimulus bill. Congress, like lemmings, followed along with barely a whimper.

Even the tax-cut portion of that bill was Keynesian. The key feature was a $400-per-worker tax credit, which, again, has no significant effect on economic incentives. The lessons learned are so obvious, yet they still “don’t get it”: printing money and throwing it at the banking system or the consumer doesn’t create economic growth! It just creates bigger and bigger DEFICITS. And you know what? Somebody is going to have to pay the piper. It may not be next year, it may not be for a decade or more- but make no mistake, we WILL PAY for what we’ve done here.

The Obama administration is now claiming success because of the slowdown in economic decline. Last month, only 216,000 jobs were lost, and the economy declined by only 1% in the second quarter. Based on this rhetoric, it looks like Obama expects to get credit for anyone who still has a job!

The fallacies of Keynesian economics were exposed decades ago by Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. Ronald Reagan's decision to dump Keynesianism in favor of supply-side policies—which emphasize incentives for investment—produced a 25-year economic boom. That boom ended as the Bush administration proceeded to abandon every single component of Reaganomics, one by one, culminating in Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's atavistic Keynesian stimulus in early 2008.

Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute stated that "no act in the last quarter century had a more profound impact on the US economy of the eighties and nineties than the Reagan tax cut of 1981." He claims that Reagan's tax cuts, combined with an emphasis on federal monetary policy, deregulation, and expansion of free trade created a sustained economic expansion creating America's greatest sustained wave of prosperity ever. Sure, mistakes were made. But the lesson was clear nonetheless.

Obama showed up in  2009 operating under the scenario that none of this history ever happened. Suddenly national economic policy is back in the 1930s. Instead of the change voters thought they were getting, Obama has quintupled Bush's 2008 Keynesianism.

The result is the continuation of the economic policy disaster we have suffered since the end of 2007. Obama promised that his stimulus would prevent unemployment from climbing over 8%. It jumped to 9.7% last month. Some 14.9 million Americans are unemployed, another 9.1 million are stuck in part-time jobs and can't find full-time work, and another 2.3 million looked for work in the past year and never found it. That's a total of 26.3 million unemployed or underemployed, for a “real” unemployment rate of 16.8%. Personal income is also down.

Having rejected Keynesianism in favor of fiscal restraint, France and Germany now see economic growth return in the second quarter this year. India, Brazil and even China are enjoying growth as well. Canada enjoyed job growth last month. But the U.S. still seems stuck in “Keynesian Stinkin’ Thinkin’”.

U.S. economic recovery and a permanent reduction in unemployment can only come from private, job-creating investment. Nothing in the Obama economic recovery program, or in the previous Bush 2008 program, offers that.

To produce long-term economic growth we will require a fundamental change in economic policies — lower, not higher, tax rates; reliable, low-cost energy supplies, not higher energy costs through cap and trade; and no unreliable alternative energy that can survive only on costly taxpayer subsidies. Healthcare reform is an even bigger problem – and based on its Obama Administration track record so far, it appears that Congress really doesn’t yet have a clue as to the negative economic impact of the legislation in its current form.

Once you add in the interest on the growing debt because of the persistent deficits, federal expenditures in 2083, according to the CBO, could range anywhere between 44 and 75 percent of GDP. That’s completely unsustainable and what it means is coming defaults on Treasury debt and social program payments such as Medicare and Social Security. You cannot “inflate your way out” of the current situation, and there’s no way to raise taxes by enough to do it either. We’ve dug ourselves into an untenable economic hole through sheer STUPIDITY!

Unfortunately, Obama and his advisors seem to be wedded to his political talking points, and his ideological tunnel vision seems to be permanent. So don't expect any policy changes. Expect an eventual return to 1970s-style economic results instead – higher inflation and sluggish (if any) economic growth. Is it any wonder that 70,000 unhappy people – Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and Independents – protested in Washington DC today? You asked for it.

9/10/2009

DON’T FORGET

 

9-11wtc

And don’t forget the meaning of the word LIBERTY.

ServicePeople, Thank you for your service to our country!