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Ontario Technoblog

Ontario Emperor technology blog.

This blog has been superseded by the mrontemp blog
Location: Ontario, California, United States

Sometime audio artist. Email comments on this blog to the gmail account mrontemp.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Experiment Status July 28

Remember my experiment?

Even though the words "Cindy Margolisless" do not appear in my main blog, it does appear on the Google search results for the phrase - in the last position.

As of now, there are very few links to the Ontario Empoblog that use the phrase Cindy Margolisless (I just added another one for the fun of it).

Here is a reproduction of the Google search results as of today:

KOER Synthetica Radio Transcripts
Moving on, this radio station has been Cindy Margolisless until now, but that is going to change in mere seconds. Um... HELLO ONTARIO! And we welcome Cindy ...
koer.blogspot.com/ - 65k - Cached - Similar pages

I will do my best to ensure that my main blog, the Ontario Empoblog, remains Cindy Margolisless. More here. Join the fun. ...
blog.myspace.com/oemperor - 64k - Cached - Similar pages

Ontario Technoblog
Now all that I have to do is to ensure that the Ontario Empoblog remains Cindy Margolisless. posted by Ontario Emperor | 08:20 | 0 comments links to this ...
otechno.blogspot.com/ - 61k - Jul 26, 2006 - Cached - Similar pages

Ontario Empoblog
Self-proclaimed emperor of Ontario, California discusses music, politics, entertainment, and Barstow.
oemperor.blogspot.com/ - 144k - Jul 26, 2006 - Cached - Similar pages

More at KOER.

I'll try to add some more links to see if I can move the Empoblog up on the list.

If you feel like playing along, go ahead and link to oemperor.blogspot.com with the text Cindy Margolisless.

If you feel like disrupting the experiement by taking the text Cindy Margolisless and linking to another site that includes this phrase, that's fine too. In general, promotion of a Cindy Margolisless world is a good thing.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


From the ScatterChat website:

ScatterChat is a HACKTIVIST WEAPON designed to allow non-technical human rights activists and political dissidents to communicate securely and anonymously while operating in hostile territory. It is also useful in corporate settings, or in other situations where privacy is desired.

It is a secure instant messaging client (based upon the Gaim software) that provides end-to-end encryption, integrated onion-routing with Tor, secure file transfers, and easy-to-read documentation.

Its security features include resiliency against partial compromise through perfect forward secrecy, immunity from replay attacks, and limited resistance to traffic analysis... all reinforced through a pro-actively secure design.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Faulty Experiment Design, And A Second Attempted Correction

I made a mistake when I designed my experiment on Saturday, July 22. That was the day in which I discussed the strategy which put Senator William Napoli's website at the top of Google searches for "sexist asshat."

If you read to the end of that post, you probably figured out what my experiment was going to be. In case you didn't, I was (and still am) trying to ensure that the Ontario Technoblog is the first-listed search item when you perform a Google search for the words "top technoweenie blog."

This morning, I realized the mistake that I made in my experiment: I used the term on the target page itself. Granted, after a couple of months (if I behave myself from now on) the term will scroll off the main page of this blog. Still, I've ruined the experiment by repeating the phrase in this blog, so any Google results are naturally faulty.

So I attempted the experiment a second time, selecting a new phrase, designing a link which used the new phrase, and pointing the link toward the Ontario Empoblog. (The phrase, by the way, was superdangdang. The phrase "superdang" was already taken.)

However, I made one mistake. Instead of posting that entry in the Ontario Technoblog, I mistakenly posted it in the Ontario Empoblog. Since the phrase "superdangdang" now inadvertently appears in the Ontario Empoblog, and even deletion of the post from that blog would not delete it from various rss feeds and caches, the experiment is ruined.

So I have to try again. (Pause while I double check to make sure THIS post is going in the Ontario Technoblog. Whew.)

Now I have to choose a phrase that has not appeared in the Ontario Empoblog, or anywhere else yet. Borrowing an idea from a post in my relatively new blog at MySpace, and after a sanity check, I can proceed.

Now all that I have to do is to ensure that the Ontario Empoblog remains Cindy Margolisless.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

More on the MySpace Power Failure

From Netcraft:

Social networking site MySpace.com is offline tonight, and attributing the downtime to a power outage in its data center. The site is among the most popular on the Internet, with some services estimating that it is now the most visited destination on the Web, surpassing Google and Yahoo.

MySpace.com was completely inaccessible for more than 90 minutes, and then displayed a brief message alerting users to the problems: "Hey everyone! There's been a power outage in our data center. we're in the process of fixing it right now, so sit tight. - Tom" (presumably MySpace co-founder Tom Anderson)....

The message at MySpace did not specify which of its data centers had experienced the power outage. Over the past several days MySpace.com has been alternating between two IP addresses, one at CWIE.net in Tempe, Ariz. and another in a new Equinix data center in El Segundo, Calif. The temporary message was being displayed from the Tempe IP address.

MySpace.com is ranked in the top 10 most visited sites on the Web by some Internet research services, but places much lower (77th overall) on the list of most popular sites among users of the Netcraft toolbar. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. bought the site for $580 million last July. In May MySpace said the expansion into Equinix's data center will allow it to improve peering with network service providers, which will help in managing traffic surges and high-bandwidth features such as multimedia streaming.

But this article, posted July 24 UTC (July 23 today), actually misses part of the story. The outage actually started on July 22, as elitestv notes:

Myspace.com posted an announcement tonight at 6:40PM PST time that their data center had a power outage. Tom went on to post the following message:

"hey everyone! there's been a power outage in our data center. we're in the process of fixing it right now, so sit tight. hopefully we'll be back online within the hour. its 6:40pm PST now. wanna place a bet? -Tom"

There were many bets placed to Tom and he has lost since it is now 9:40PM PST.

I saw the message above on Saturday night. Rechecking a few times today, the site was giving error messages, then appeared to be up at one point, but last I checked appeared to be back down again.

According to Drew Olanoff, it's not just MySpace that was affected:

Soaring California temperatures prompt record power use, outages - Myspace reports they had power loss, and many Yahoo services are down, also due to power loss

For the record, my home in Ontario, California lost power twice today. But this did not affect the computing habits of millions.

Meanwhile, Mashable posted this (emphasis mine):

Hear that? That’s the sound of 80 million people hitting the refresh button.

MySpace, one of the world’s most popular sites (perhaps the most popular), has suffered a major outage today - the URL fails to load at all. At 6:40pm last night, Tom posted a message on the leading social networking site stating that a power outage had taken out the MySpace servers. The site came back to “normal” service within a few hours, but after some unreliable performance today, MySpace.com is down completely....

It’s pretty significant when such a massive site goes down for an extended period of time - can you imagine what would happen if Google, or even Yahoo, went offline for hours at a time?...With MySpace, however, it’s almost expected: users regularly see errors and the code is notoriously poor. It’s not clear whether this current downtime is caused by the power problem, or something else....

Here's an up to the minute Technorati search on the words myspace power failure.

Perhaps in a few days we'll know how much of the problem was caused by the power failure itself, and how much was caused by "something else." However, even if this was an instance of MySpace bugs keeping the system down, J. Botter notes that it may not matter:

MySpace is not what it is because of software. Friendster, Orkut, Tagged, and several other startups all have better software and backend applications than MySpace does. MySpace is buggy, it’s shady, it stops working quite often; not exactly the hallmark of a killer app. It is a killer app, however, because of the sheer amount of people who traffic through the site every single day.

After looking at the Alexa data for myspace.com, Botter continues:

When a social networking site to go from low traffic levels to one of the top twenty sites on the entire internet, you’ve got to step back and take a look at it in comparison to competition. By doing this, we can see just how the rest of the social networking startups fared against MySpace’s monster traffic levels.

After looking at Friendster (the outfit that fired Troutgirl), Botter says:

Friendster is dead in the water. It’s not peaking, and it’s not even going through a valley where there might be some hope on the other side. It’s just there, sitting listlessly, waiting for people to start using it again and hopefully make it the darling of the Valley again, but it ain’t happening.

Botter also looks at Orkut and Tagworld, but doesn't see any serious competition for MySpace - at present:

The main thing to keep in mind here is that MySpace has a stranglehold on the social networking space…but it’s not gonna last forever. There are better services out there like TagWorld that have a legitimate chance to grab more of that market share simply because MySpace ain’t fixing what is clearly broken.

Yes, MySpace has the largest grip on this space. It’s holding it fast and is dominating the actual BEST social networking service (TagWorld) just by sheer amounts of ACTIVE user accounts.

So what does this say for TagWorld? What can they do to start drawing people over from MySpace and have those people stick around and become active members that invite friends, post comments, and generally use the bad ass TagWorld System to prove that TagWorld is eions better than Myspace?

It’s gonna take people jumping ship. Spreading the word to friends, telling them to try TW because it kicks the ever loving shit out of MySpace. MySpace is broken 65% of the time you’re trying to use it anyway, so why not give TagWorld a try at least? Anyone who has a MySpace account needs to go and invite their friends to try out TagWorld. I double-damm guarantee you that people who try out MySpace and then try out TagWorld will notice a gigantic difference, a HUGE difference, and they’ll want to get their friends checking it out, and it’ll grow from there. This is where the social networking pieces fit — because TagWorld is so much better built for social networking than MySpace is.

Meanwhile, Matt Heerema also voices the "buggy, but" opinion:

I hate MySpace. It is programmed in .NET, is buggy, full of annoying ads, and is EXTREMELY ugly. However, it is an amazing social phenomenon. 50 million users. Wow. Insane. Amazing....

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Google Bombing and the Top Technoweenie Blog

Chalk it up to ignorance. I thought that Google categorized pages based upon content. I didn't realize that the content of links could influence the listing:

Senator William Napoli of South Dakota attracted a lot of media attention with his example of a woman who would constitute an exception to the state's recent ban of abortions. In his view, only a religious virgin who was "brutalized, raped and sodomized as bad as vigourosly as possible then is impregnated" should be offered the choice of a legal abortion. This remark prompted several backlashes online, including a Google-bombing by a blog called "Bitch | Lab." Anyone offended by the senator's remarks is encouraged to post a link to his page of the South Dakota legislature homepage with the phrase, "sexist asshat." Napoli's page is now the first hit for that phrase.

Bitch | Lab explains how this worked:

Link the phrase, sexist asshat, to the Napoli’s Web site....

You can also write e-mail messages to email lists that accept HTML. Type a message with the phrase ‘sexist asshat‘ and link to Napoli’s Web site....

If you have a blog, you can also put a link for sexist asshat in your blog link list or blog roll (though you can’t use blogrolling for this)....

Doing this will help spread the idea via Technorati and Truth Laid Bear. Google and search engines sometimes also rank blogrolls and front page links more heavily than they rank links contained in posts.

One goal is to make it so that, if you search for “sexist asshat,” then you’ll get Napoli’s page.

As of late July, the strategy was working.

Wikipedia includes additional explanation:

Due to the way that Google's PageRank algorithm works, a page will be ranked higher if the sites that link to that page all use consistent anchor text. A Google bomb is created if a large number of sites link to the page in this manner....

An example of Google bombing is if a user registers many domains and all of them link to a main site with the text "... is a living legend". Searching for "living legend" on Google will return the main site higher in the ranking, even if the phrase "living legend" doesn't appear on the main site. A common means of exploiting this is through weblogs, where although the entry may disappear from the main page quickly, the short-term effects of a link can dramatically affect the ranking of a given site. Empirical results indicate that it does not take a large number of websites to achieve a Google bomb. The effect has been achieved with only a handful of dedicated weblogs.

The above has to be qualified, however. A handful of blog links will not Google bomb someone like Amazon.com out of the top results for "books," for example. In fact, Google bombs have generally had an impact on relatively "non-competitive" terms, where there's no particular page that seems to be necessarily the right answer.

The Napoli example demonstrates this. As of today, the Google search sexist asshat returns about 38,200 responses. If you remove the targeted Napoli resposnes by using the search sexist asshat -napoli, there are still about 37,100 responses. In other words, less than 2.9% of the web pages with the words "sexist asshat" link to the Napoli page, but that's enough to put that page at the top of the list.

In fact, this top technoweenie blog is going to try an experiment. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pay no attention to the similarities behind the curtain

There are various sources that talk about the technologies behind a particular market. myvoipprovider.com provides some insight behind the operations of Betamax - no, no a tape company, but one that provides VoIP services under a bewildering variety of names:

The Betamax group of VoIP services is made up of 11 apparently different companies. Many users do not realize that VoIPBuster, VoIPCheap.co.uk, Netappel, SIP Discount, Voipstunt, Sparvoip, Internetcalls, Voipdiscount, Poivy, Voipcheap.com and freecall.com are all part of the same group....

List of Betamax VoIP services

Here is a list of services we are aware of; if you come across others, please send us an e-mail to info@myvoipprovider.com

These services provide a soft phone to use on your MS Windows PC, but also work with SIP devices and other softphones (as of May 3, there are instructions for configuring SIP devices on all of the websites):


http://www.voipcheap.co.uk (careful, different "free" list from voipcheap.com, and rates listed in Sterling Pence instead of Euro Cents!)
http://www.freecall.com (launched 29 June 2006)
http://www.voiparound.com (launched 29 June 2006)

Some of these services are also available with a different top-level domain, i.e. netappel.com is also available as netappel.fr, voipstunt.com is also available as voipstunt.de, etc.

The following service is geared specifically towards users of SIP devices and does NOT provide a softphone. It does require an MS Windows program though to register for the service. It will work with standard SIP softphones such as Firefly or X-Lite.


The following service requires an Internet Connection, a Web Browser, and a normal telephone; it is a web-activated callback service rather than a normal VoIP service (although it is probably
implemented internally by VoIP):



It seems that initially Finarea ran its own Asterisk servers offering SIP/IAX connectivity, they were located in different hosting centers across Europe (Colt Germany, Rackspace UK, etc). Shortly before the transfer to Betamax they started to consolidate all of their services on servers operated by TVIconnect BV, who are PSTN termination providers for callshops across Europe....

Dialing with the Country Code

All of the Betamax VoIP services expect the numbers to be dialed in the following format:

00+44+Area code+number. (44 for the UK for example)

In some countries it is now possible to dial a local number without the 00 and the country code. (This seems to be limited to some European countries, but go ahead and test if it also applicable to your home country). This option depends on the address you registered.

Blogs of note

Found this through an InfoWorld-sponsored networking service:

ECM Industry Watch. Sample post:

According to an upcoming AIIM Industry Watch Survey (for release end of July), suppliers of technology solutions in the compliance area should work hard to position their solution not only as "technology" per se, but also as helping in solving a key cost center -- documenting policies and procedures....

Someone else (Tim) mentioned that he has a health care technology blog, but you had to dig through his profile to find the link to Medical Connectivity. Sample post:

Entree Wireless has packaged the Kyocera mobile router...in a rugged, self-contained battery/charger/equipment package to provide a portable Wi-Fi hotspot....

Very cool. This is just the thing for a temporary triage area to support wireless computing devices, patient monitors and other wireless medical devices.

Monday, July 10, 2006

It's a small world after all - and it talks back (or shrieks back)

When you fly on planes, you end up reading Skymall and finding things like this:

"Alive" Chimpanzee.

Now this is a real robot. So real, it's unreal! The amazing "Alive" Chimpanzee is a life-size, lifelike product of the latest Hollywood "F/X" animatronics - state-of-the-art robotic technology dedicated to making machines that look, sound and act like real animals. This extraordinary creature is an extremely responsive, highly intelligent "primate" robot with keen artificial intelligence.

This is the entire description that appeared in the magazine. This is the entire description that appeared on the website. However, it doesn't really answer the question - what does the chimp DO? I had to go to the Sharper Image website to find out.

OK, so it doesn't quote Shakespeare. Here's what it actually does:

"Alive" Chimpanzee can see, hear and feel in ways that allow him to interact intelligently with you, your family, your guests...and with baffled strangers.

Soulful eyes track movements using infrared "radar" vision; his ears have stereoscopic sound sensors; his skin reacts to contact with touch sensors all around.

Four distinctive emotional moods include "Curious," "Happy," "Fearful" and "Feisty."

This thing has been around for a while, and Ryan Jett took a few moments to think about it:

Is it cool? Yeah, it’s pretty cool. Until you think about it with your mind. I can understand why someone would find a robotic chimp pretty damn rad; imagine coming home from a hard day at work to be welcomed by a big, friendly Robo-Chimp hug and beer that he’s been kind enough to fetch you from the fridge. Pretty sweet. But that’s not what we have here. What we have is a robotic chimp head. Got that? A fully articulated, decapitated simian capable of autonomous movement and vocalization. For all intents and purposes, you are purchasing a stationary object whose primary function is to scream at you like a banshee from atop your bookcase. It’s not as if it speaks, you see; in an effort at total realism, the makers have given this shrieking bust the vocal abilities of a real chimp.

Well, someone (who may or may not have heard of Kevin & Bean's theory about primates taking over the world) overreacted:

For months I've tried to convince you...sheep that we are under attack. I spoke of a well organized movement wherein monkeys devise a plan and slowly move toward world domination....

As if my fears (or intense psychotic paranoia, as you like to call it) weren't enough, what do I find in the local SkyMall catalogue?...

Even more disturbing, I asked my flight attendant, a smallish Latino named Cilantro, if such a thing could be carried on an aircraft. To my horror, he said that, if it could fit into a carry-on bag, and fit in an overhead bin, he didn't see why not.

It was around that time that I started hyperventilating....

This isn't the first interactive toy, obviously. Even in 2002, there were tons of them:

Toys have talked for years. The first talking doll dates to the 19th century. By 1960, Chatty Cathy had ushered in the modern era of talking toys with a vocabulary of 11 phrases, including "Will you play with me?" A generation ago, Teddy Ruxpin's incredibly lifelike chatter delighted toddlers, even if it freaked out adults like me. And who could forget the flap over Teen Talk Barbie's affront to girl power a decade ago when she exclaimed "Math is hard!"

Consider yourself warned: This holiday season, we're going to see a wave of toys that listen, too. Incorporating tiny microchips, these toys can actually understand certain key phrases, then intelligently respond. It presages, for better or worse, a major breakthrough in how toys interact with kids, and thus how kids respond to their toys.

Aloha Stitch, an interactive version of the animated creature from this summer's Disney's "Lilo & Stitch," has sold well since its August release. And scads of similar toys are on the way. My favorites: a remote-controlled R2-D2 and a goofy line of cosmic pet rocks called P.O.D.Z.

The author, Jim Louderback, then looks at the ramifications of this:

Given the ability of these toys to hold conversations, where is a child's relationship with his or her toy headed? Until now it's been largely one-sided -- children dictate the course of the relationship -- and the assumption has been that toys love unconditionally.

But that's no longer the case, thanks to the technology embedded in their little smiling heads. Like its cinematic counterpart, Stitch the toy isn't always so agreeable. Ask him if he's hungry and he might respond, "Not anymore. I ate your dinner ... buurrrp!"