Where did that Earthquake Come From?

New Zealand is on the Pacific rim of fire, and so has volcanos and periodically experiences earthquakes. This geological activity has shaped the stunning scenery that New Zealanders (and visitors to the country) enjoy. It also occasionally makes you jump when a strongish earthquake hits the local area, as happened recently. Eruptions of molten lava, ash, or just boiling mud happen once every several years, which can close airports due to the danger of fine ash clogging up the jet engines.

Googlebot Knows How to Use Search Engines

Recently I noticed that Google's "Googlebot" was using this website's search engine. This is not exactly surprising since a website's search engine may be able to find pages that are not well linked to by others. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see how the Googlebot performs its task. Here are some entries from the log (truncated so that its easier to fit into the page):

Doctor of Philosophy

Yes, I have finally graduated from graduate school with a Ph.D. (i.e., Doctor of Philosophy). In New Zealand, graduate studies are called post-graduate studies (because they occur after graduating with a bachelors university degree), but they are one and the same. This has taken five years from starting in a Masters program at the University of Toronto through to graduating with a doctorate. It is great to finally be finished.

When Life Gets in the Way (Moving)

Anyone viewing either the home page, or this blog will probably notice a distinct lack of updates to this website during this month. The simple truth is, I've been really busy. Not only have I been working on a humanoid robot for a colleague, I will also be moving back to New Zealand shortly. As a result, the list of things that had to be done just inflated over time, and this website suffered as a result. 

No, I Did Not Ask You to Install That!

Installing Google's new Chrome browser reminded me of something that really irritates me that more and more software installers do; installing things without my permission. It starts with small things. For example, I like keeping my desktop mostly free of icons, so, I do not like installers that think that their software is so good that it deserves a spot on my desktop. A large number of installers put their program icon on the desktop without even asking for permission. Even those that ask, usually have it as the default option.

Is this Blog Run by a Bot?

In true ironic form, a few days after posting a commentary about blogs copying blogs, that very commentary has been copied by another blog. On closer inspection, the blog in question appears to simply copy posts from blogs relating to cell-phones. Compare this post from PhoneDONE, with this one on Waiguoren, as an example. It is almost like the blog is run by a bot that collects blog entries from various sources. The commentary that I wrote linked to one of the sites that Vaiguoren (yes, the blog is titled, Waiguoren, but the poster is Vaiguoren) copies from.

How Often can you Read the Same News, but Different?

Yesterday, I commented on how a blog's visibility in Technorati could be increased simply by linking to other blogs. Well, looking at Technorati's number one ranked blog, the Huffington Post, it appears that this game is being played by many; maybe too many. Take a look at the Huffington Post's listing on Technorati, it's post reactions list is filled with links to Huffington Post (over 362,000, in fact) ranging from relevant, to weak. For example, what exactly does "Unearthed: News of the Week the Mainstream Media Forgot to Report" by Robert F Kennedy Jr and Brendan DeMelle have to do with a site that sells Male enhancement drugs? Nothing really. There is not even any original content there, just a direct link to the news article on Huffington Post. This is just a blatant attempt to increase incoming links and ratings. 

Emailing Unencrypted Passwords Defeats their Point

This is one of my pet peeves with online services. Today I signed up to something on a website, and, after selecting a password, they emailed it back to me unencrypted. If I choose my own password, then I already know what it is, and do not need to have it sent to me as a reminder. Moreover, the whole point of passwords is that it provides some means of confirming that it is in fact me, and not someone else that is trying to access my account. So sending it to me in an email and having it stored unencrypted on a server, and then visible in my inbox, defeats the purpose of having the password in the first place. There is no point in having encryption of any sort in a log on system if the passwords are transmitted unencrypted elsewhere.