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Monday, March 14, 2005
An Excessively Narcissistic And Geeky Post

Before I continue, will one of you who got here through google please leave a comment telling me what it was you searched for that landed you here? I am fucking dying to know.

Ok, I have to admit that I have been reading Today a lot since I started my internship. Anyway, in today's issue, three doctors wrote in to respond to a previous article entitled "Catching your breath again" (March 8). The article dealt with non-medical treatments of asthma, and the good doctors wrote in to clarify that those methods of treatment remain unproven. Here comes the punchline. The good doctors urged us to search online for information put up by the Global Initiative for Asthma by using the keyword "gina". I'm wondering if I'm the only one who finds this hilarious because I have a filthy mind.

(Warning: The next segment of the post is pure narcissism, so if you do not wish to read about how great I am, you might want to skip to the part after the next horizontal break in the post.)

I have no idea what I wrote recently that propelled my blog to (probably) turn up tops for some search keyword, but I just checked my webcounter stats and apparently, there have been 79 sessions "today". I say "today" because webcounter uses UTC time, and I didn't know what offset to use for Singapore time, so I just anyhow hantam (pardon my Singlish). We are now in the 13th hour in a 24-hour day, for the timezone I selected, so 79 hits is pretty decent.

Actually, it's probably the most I've ever had and, if the trend continues for the next 12 hours, I look set to have, for the first time, more than 100 sessions within a single day (I had 97 "yesterday"). Man, my ego has never been happier than he is now. And it's not just some crazed groupie clicking "refresh" repeatedly, either. The weird thing is that most of it came from search engines. Here's a breakdown of my referrals from search engines so far.

aolsearch.aol.co.uk: 8
bloglines.com: 1
a9.com: 1
gps.virgin.net: 1
google.com: 35

total: 46

Ok, I know that some of them aren't precisely search engines per se, but then neither am I prominently featured anywhere on those sites. I can only assume that the people who visited those sites used their search functions to end up here. So, 46 out of 79 hits within 12 hours came from search engines. I am utterly amazed. Seriously, what the fuck did I write? Can someone more well-versed in the intricacies of search engine lore please solve this mystery for me? I will even give you an Adrian Coolness Point for it! It doesn't do anything, but it is extremely exclusive. So far, only the Feisty Bitch, Adri and Sheena have one.

I haven't really noticed this before, but all three of them are female. Weird.

Anyway, who will be the next lucky person to get an Adrian Coolness Point? Remember, the search term cannot be "donaq", because come the fuck on, who the fuck would search for "donaq" unless they already knew of this blog?

At this point in time of my writing this post, the unpleasant thought came to me that the elusive search keyword was actually "fuck". It is with great relief that I found that it's not. I don't want to be known as the "fuck you man", haha. If you've seen Eddie Murphy's "Raw", you'd know what the fuck I am talking about, you ignorant fuckers.

Another possibility would be that I've just recently managed to put enough words online such that the sheer quantity and variety of words on my blog ensures that many searches has it as one of the results. Maybe there's some critical mass a blog must reach, after which sheer verbosity ensures that search engines are always listing it for something or other.

Whatever it is, one thing is for sure. I fucking rock, man. Although I am realistic enough to realise that this may not last, but hey, it's definitely pleasant for now.

I was reading Agagooga's blog recently and I saw this.

LangaList Std Edition 2005-03-07: Cheap Shot?

In the story about using an install program to uninstall you remarked "Using a 'setup' program to *UN*install software might seem strange, Roy, but it makes perfect sense when you remember that Office is from Microsoft, the company that makes you use the 'Start' menu to stop your PC.

Raymond Chen (a Microsoft engineer) has a Microsoft blog ( http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2003/07/22/54559.aspx ) where he talks about many things and this is one he has mentioned in the past. This action is not by chance or perversion, but the result of a lot of user testing. Users would go to the Start button when they want to shut down. It is like a home base.

Microsoft is not perfect, but when it comes to responding to customers and users, I believe they have no peer.

When I was back in the world of corporate publishing, and tracking the minutia of PC companies, Microsoft was spending more on user testing than any other software company--- bar none. I have no reason to believe that that's changed.

Small example: A decade ago, Microsoft found that users were intimidated by long streams of startup messages from the PC as different components woke up and came on line; and so Microsoft hid them behind a startup graphic. (You really only need to see the startup messages when something's going wrong.) For many years, the Windows startup screen was derided by the Linux community as a sign of Windows' wimpishness. Most distros of Linux continued to proudly flash a text message from every tiny subsystem or software component as they woke up or shut down. ("Probing SCSI..." "Found CPU..." "Init: entering runlevel 5"... etc.) But now--- surprise!--- more and more Linuxes are hiding this complexity from the end user; finally recognizing that most of the time, for most of the users, those messages are just so much screen clutter. In short: Microsoft was right.

Microsoft also was right about the location and function of the Start button; in fact, it's been copied on almost all the non-Windows graphical interfaces, too, including most Linux GUIs."

While I used to be, for a short period of time after I first got acquainted with Tux, a typical Microsoft-bashing Linux zealot, I believe I have since calmed down sufficiently to view software issues more or less objectively. Firstly, my support for Linux and open-source has more to do with betting on the future than with software quality, really. Even if Linux currently sucked, I would still use it, along with other open-source software, because of the shift in software-development paradigm that it represents. The fact that many pieces of open-source software available today are technically and ergonomically equal to, or even better than, their proprietary equivalents is but a happy coincidence for me.

Why do I have this apparently unreasonably supportive attitude towards open-source software? Well, because I think that in many cases, the open-source approach will inevitably produce better software faster than the proprietary approach. If you need evidence, I refer you to the fact that Linux really did suck not too many years ago. It has come a long way in a remarkably short time. And yet, is it really so remarkable? In the open-source world, software development often progresses at an incredible pace after a critical mass of hackers get interested in a particular project. This is because new versions are released often, and immediately after release, the program in question is subjected to intense scrutiny under thousands of pairs of eyes belonging to both beta-testers and hackers, or programmers, if you will. Bugs get listed fast and hence, corrected fast. Useless features are junked, and ideas from many sources are incorporated into the developing program.

What is perhaps most interesting is that the open source movement has, since junking the ambiguous "free software" label in favour of the term "open source" in an effort to appeal more to the suits, also lost some of the traditional hacker stubborn tendency towards software that is technically superior but also amazingly difficult to use. Instead, it has acquired some of the pragmatism of the business world and adapted it to suit its own needs. Hence, we see that hackers involved in open-source projects seem more willing these days to use the Evil Empire's ideas. Stuff such as junking the diagnostic startup messages and putting the "Shutdown" option in the "Start" menu. I think that currently, the open source movement truly has the best of both worlds. It has the pragmatism of the business world in junking useless features and adopting useful ones, and it has the advantage of unparalleled quantity of peer reviews. Because of that, the hackers have finally emerged from the ghettos in which they had been languishing for more than 20 years.

I have to disagree with Agagooga, though, over his comment that Microsoft was right about where the location of the "Shutdown" option should be. In this case, I think Microsoft was not so much right as it was victorious. See, while Microsoft, a monolithic entity, dictated what its Windows GUI should be like to the peecee users, there was a power struggle between the various Unix GUIs (power struggles are a sad fact of life in Unix hacker circles). There was no common acceptance of a standard. There was X, a very low-level windows manager, but that was all. The actual implementations of GUIs varied from Unix to Unix. Personally, I feel that the CDE's (Common Desktop Environment) "Exit" button is probably more intuitive than the "Shutdown" option in MS Windows' "Start" menu. Here's a screenshot of the server desktop at my current workplace to illustrate what I mean.

Then again, I'm a Linux geek and a C programmer besides, so what do I know about what's intuitive?

Anyway, the other reason I support the open source movement is because it allows more end-user power. I believe that if I buy something, I should totally own it and be free to do anything I want with it, short of replicating it and selling the result. Buying proprietary software is sort of like buying a chair and not being able to add a leg yourself if one breaks. Instead, you have to ask the company from which you bought the chair to give or sell you an extra leg, and it's up to the company whether it wishes to make a stronger leg for you.

p.s. More narcissism: Check out this post by Ivan. Yes, they were rather good posts, weren't they?

Update: As of the time I typed the previous sentence, there has been 101 visitors to this blog within the last 14 hours. Man, I rock so much. *pops some champagne*
You just keep remembering, dork, that it's thanks to ME you've gotten all this traffic. *smug grin*
I got popped by gandhi first! But yes, I'll concede that you may have had some small part in it, haha.
Well, they were very good posts, that should be shared with the rest of the world. What better way to spread Adrian's greatness than to disseminate it among the lower peasants?
And how many hits does D cup girl get a day ah. All of you pandering to the audience. Tut tut.

I didn't write that bit about the shutdown button. I've never been in the world of corporate publishing!
Adrian: Damn, you've been popped by gandhi?! *envious* But hey, I've been Browned and Agag-ed. Oh, and Hai~Ren-ed. =D

Agag: If by D cup girl you mean me, I'll tell you that I get less than a hundred hits a day (you can find out by clicking on my web counter). And that's not including myself because I've blocked my IP address from being counted.
Ivan: Dude, what happened to ripping on each other? We're guys, we don't praise each other in comments. In blogs, yes, but not in comments!

p.s. You made the words "some of Singapore's leading bloggers" sound soooo good.

Agagooga: Haha, I was wondering about that.

Sheena: Well, I haven't been browned or Agaged, but I've been Hai~ren-ed as well.
You were Agag-ed, Adrian. I recall him putting up that bit about you telling us about that fundie freak who said that he would support genocide if it was sanctioned by God...

And about the "Singapore's leading bloggers" bit, well, I like to think the bunch of us (besides Agagooga) are just undiscovered talents waiting to achieve fame and notoriety heh heh...
Ivan: Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about that. Haha.
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To Those Who Wish To Link Me:

Due to the fact that my ego is a humongous, bloated monstrousity, it is not highly unlikely that I wouldn't say no to your linking my blog, so there is no need to ask me.

Winners of Adrian Coolness Points:

The Feisty Bitch: For reasons best known to ourselves. (1)
The Feisty Bitch: For getting featured on the Sunday Times (2)
Adri: For being geeky enough to write recursive prose. (1)
Sheena: For really, really liking my blog. (1)
Sheena: For the use of her finger. (2)
Sheena: For getting on the Straits Times. (3)
Ivan: For referring to me as one of "Singapore's leading bloggers". (1)
Ivan: For coming up with the PubicLicezilla idea. (2)
The Big Fuck: For being such a big fuck. (1)
The Big Fuck: For making the miniature Badge of Lewdness. (2)
Anonymous fan: For making a cool finger. (1)
Celly: For appreciating the genius behind the Pagan Bible here. (1)
Icebreeze: For being wise enough to flatter me. (1)
Barffie: For furthering the LEWD cause by appearing in the papers. (1)
Blinkymummy: For furthering the LEWD cause by appearing in TWO papers within the space of two days, fuckin' A! (2)
Jess: For being observant enough to spot the similarity between Lewdites and Luddites. You rock, babe. (1)
Jiameei: For being my champion against anonymous hecklers. (1)

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