Thursday, October 1, 2009

AltDaily Covers ArchiveFacebook

The good people over at decided to do a story on my Firefox add-on ArchiveFacebook.  Go check it out Take that Facebook!

Friday, September 18, 2009

ArchiveFacebook 1.0 is Live

Just launched my Firefox extension for archiving your facebook account. Here's the download page. Here's the support page.  Thanks to my advisers Dr. Michael Nelson and Dr. Frank McCown for the guidance and support (and the great idea).

You may not believe this, but Facebook will not always be around. Your Facebook account will not always be accessible. It's up to you to archive your data before it lands in the big bit-bucket in the sky.

Here's an Ignite presentation I put together for it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Gmail Down: System Failure or Genius Marketing Ploy?

The Internet has been buzzing with the news that one of the largest web services on the web, Gmail, is down. Just a few hours ago TechCrunch wrote an article about how this news was crippling Twitter. They estimated that during that time there were 10k twitter posts being generated every minute containing the word "gmail". Can you imagine how much publicity this is generating for the email powerhouse? This is Twitter alone. Doing a search for "gmail" on Google News and limiting the results to the last 24 hours we get back 16k results. It's insane how newsworthy this is.

There are some really bright minds at Google. They have some of the best engineers in the world, but Google realizes that their engineers can't do it alone. Google has been hiring top notch management and business professionals all the while. I wouldn't put it past some young MBA, trying to make a mark for himself, pitching the idea of a fake outage for sheer publicity. Sure, its bad publicity, but as we all know - there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Google has a history of timing their press releases and public events at crucial moments. Take for instance the launch of Chrome OS right before Microsoft launches Office in the Cloud, effectively stealing their thunder. They also conveniently started sharing information about Google Squared before it was even launched in an attempt to steal the limelight from Wolfram Alpha.

Google may seem like a clumsy, brain filled company, but they know what they're doing. Eight years of recruiting the best talent from Stanford and other hotbeds of brilliance has kept them sharp and creative, and I think their marketing team just maybe had a moment of glory, at the expense of their engineers.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Translation Party, Will You Please Translate "My Humps"?

Translation Party is a new mashup that finds the point at which no changes are made between a traslation with English and Chinese in Google Translate. This point is called the "equillibrium". Needless to say, the equillibrium is almost always hillarious.

I thought it would be fun to try the Black Eyed Peas song "My Humps". I couldnt have been more right. This:

What you gon 'do with all that junk? All that junk inside your trunk? I'ma get, get, get, get, you drunk, Get you love drunk off my hump. My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump , my hump, My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps. Check it out

Turned into this:
All waste in the square? All waste in the trunk? Kawano Megumi Nobu, please use the wine. My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps. Check it
I have no idea where "Kawano Megumi Nobu" came from. Here's the link to the complete translation.

Update:  Looks like it got a little better over the last few months.  I issued the same query and got this result:

What Gon 'Do all of SPAM? All the junk in your trunk? I love to drink my hump to get really clear. My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps. Check it out

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Night Man

Night man,
Sneaky and mean
Spider inside my dreams
I think I love you
You make me wanna cry, you make me wanna die
I love you, I love you , I love you , I love you, I love you.
Night Man
Every night you come into my room and pin me down with your strong arms
You pin me down down and I try to fight you
you come inside me and fill me up…

Just two men sharing the night
It might seem wrong but it’s just right
It’s just two men sharing each other
It’s just two men like loving brothers
One on top, and one on bottom
One inside, and one is out
One is screaming he’s so happy
The other’s screaming a passionate shout
It’s the Night Man
The feeling so wrong it’s right man
the feeling so wrong…
I can’t fight you man when you come inside me and pin me down your strong hands and I’ll become the Night….the passionate, passionate Night Man.

They took you Night Man
and you don’t belong to them
They left me in a world of darkness
without your sexy hands
and I miss you Night Man
so bad.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The New HTC Hero Looks Awesome

I want this phone so bad. It's not coming out until late 2009 for the US though.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Let's Eradicate the Fax Machine

Why are fax machines still common place in every office? With the advent of scanners and e-mail, the fax machine is completely redundant. Every office needs a scanner to make electronic copies of documents. And if your office isn't using email, then I doubt you're reading this in the first place. So, why require another piece of useless hardware to maintain and take up space? Why require a separate phone line for this archaic mode of communication? It not only is costing your organization money, it costs time also. You have to go through the trouble of creating a cover sheet, you haver to learn how to user the thing, and then you have to worry about whether the recipient got the fax. Do the smart thing, throw that wortkess piece of junk in the trash, or better yet, have your very own gangster Office Space moment.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Yet Another Post on

Techcrunch recently did an article on stating that Spock is running low on cash and may be bought by Intelius. This is no surprise to me. Spock really didnt offer anything new. Spock basically did exactly what was doing except that the user could edit other peoples pages, they even had a feature called Spock Power that controlled the editing ability of users. The idea at this stage was pretty cool, but then something happened. Slowly everything novel about Spock started to dissapear. First to go was the Spock Power. They did this in an attempt to stop spam. It may have worked, but along with the spam went most of the users that used to visit the site on a regular basis. Secondly, you could no longer edit other peoples pages. This made the site effectively exactly the same as other people search engines.

I had an idea for Spock to make a name for themselves but they never bit. Shortly after I wrote that article, Jay Bhatti contacted me and wanted to talk data portability. I pled my case and told him what they should do and why they should do it. He told me that Spock was treading a thin line because their data - which is mostly harvested from other big name social networks - is only allowed to be harvest from these sites because it basically provides links back to, and advertisement for the originating site. Spock became a less social site because the big name social networks threatened to shut off their flow of data. He cited this as a reason why they couldnt make Spock's data more portable. I disagreed and cited 4 different areas that Spock could improve upon that wouldn't piss anyone off and I put concrete suggestions for improvement into an email that was later passed to their engineering department and most likely forgotten. Here is the entirety of that email:

Spock Data Portability Initiatives:

1. Implement XHTML Friends Network (XFN) microformat

a. For every link in the “Web” section of a user’s search result add a rel=”me” to the link. This will allow for identity consolidation which will make Spock THE destination for identity consolidation because this information is already being aggregated on your site. I would suspect that this would draw a lot of traffic to Spock because anyone who wanted to consolidate their online identity could easily go to Spock and add any links in their web section that aren’t already there. I have already done this, but without the rel=”me”, services like Google SocialGraph won’t be able to pick up on it.

b. For every related person in the “Related People” section add a rel=”x” where is x is equal to one of these attributes “friend, acquaintance, contact, met, co-worker, colleague, co-resident, neighbor, child, parent, sibling, spouse, kin, muse, crush, date, sweetheart”. I would recommend using these attributes when the user themselves have used one of these attributes. If the user has used a term outside of these attributes, just use “contact”. You can also use multiple values like rel=”friend met colleague”. You could even take it further and map some terms to these values i.e. map “girlfriend” and “boyfriend” to “sweetheart”.

c. I see no reason for social networks to not want you to do this. All you’re doing is promoting connectedness between people on the web. This will actually help social networks recommend friends to their users because they can go to your site and see what users are friends on Spock that aren’t already friends on their site.

2. Implement OpenID

a. Follow Plaxo’s guide for OpenID-Enabling your site

b. OpenID eliminates the need for multiple usernames across different websites, simplifying your online experience. This is basically doing your users a favor. Rather than making them have to remember what email they used to register with your site and what password they used, they just use their OpenID login and password. The login and pass are authenticated at the OpenID provider and the session is returned to your site authenticated. It doesn’t get any easier. As OpenID gains momentum, I believe this will draw many more users to your site. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a website that wants me to register and I just leave because I don’t want feel like going through the hassle.

3. Implement the rel-tag microformat

a. Just add a rel=”tag” to the tags link. For example “software engineer” would then be “software engineer”.

b. This isn’t as important to me as numbers 1 and 2. I t should drive more traffic to your site as it better let’s search engines know what the page is about. It also makes browsing tags easier. Well, you guys already have your own implementation for viewing the tags, but rather than showing tag searches as”software-engineer”, you would show it as

Friday, May 1, 2009

Moustache May

And so begins another celebration of Moustache May. I along with colleagues from work, friends, and even family will be shedding the excess hair on our face, all except the magical region directly above our upper lips. In this time of celebration, let us reflect upon our moustaches with great veracity and be thankful that we may wear such a glorious configuration of facial hair.

I havent quite shaved my beard into a moustache yet. I have a wedding to attend tomorrow and didn't want to steal any thunder away from the groom with my terawesome moustache. The moustaches you see in the picture come from last year's celebration. Come sunday I will have the moustache and the pics to prove it.

Some people here in my office are under the false assumption that you must begin Moustache May with a clean shaven face. I don't buy into any of that malarky. I think that just takes away from the limited time we have to don moustaches.

Anyways, to kick-off this month in style I thought a wikipedia entry on Moustache May was fitting. So check it out and contribute!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spock Turns Pay Only

Looks like is most likely in its death throws. In a last gasp to remain afloat it has turned to charging users for its services. The change wasnt even made in a way that makes sense. When clicking on a users profile you are asked to pay $19.95 or to "skip". Both buttons however link to the same PayPal page. So there's no way to remain on at that point unless you hit your back button. I'd expect this from a website that was made by a teenager in high school, but not from a well funded silicon valley startup like Spock.

Update: Actually, it appears that Google just made Spock useless by letting people control search results about themselves.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

This is Wierd

So I get an email from SlideShare this morning:

Hi carlton.northern,

We've noticed that your slideshow on SlideShare has been getting a LOT of views in the last 24 hours. Great job ... you must be doing something right. ;-)

Why don't you tweet or blog this? Use the hashtag #bestofslideshare so we can track the conversation.

-SlideShare Team

I only have one SlideShare presentation and its nothing special. It's just a presentation I did for school on Atom and hAtom. It's currently showing 30,000 views. The last time I checked (which was probably a few months ago) it had like 500 views. I am assuming from the email that I got most of my views in the last 24 hours. I checked google's backward links and nothing shows up. Any ideas how my presentation became popular?

Update: I checked SlideShare today and found that my presentation was back down to 328 views. I can only assume that SlideShare had some kind of internal error. Wonder if anyone else reported these problems?

Update: Ok, I got pwned. Apparently this was an April fool's joke from SlideShare. Hardy har har.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Domain Name

Yay! I finally got off my ass and updated this blog to a custom domain. You can now reach this blog at Though the old URL works just the same

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I Monster: A Dense Swarm of Ancient Stars

I can't stop listening to I Monster's latest album, A Dense Swarm of Ancient Stars. It's like being at a 70's disco while watching a 50's horror film, which I don't even think is possible without the help of a mind altering substance.
In particular, Cool Coconuts and Lust for a Vampyr stand out from the rest. Cool Coconuts is a song about bugs and coconuts put to a Brazilian, laid back tune. It reminds me of hanging out on a tropical beach eating freshly picked coconuts, which I might add I had the pleasure of doing in Hawaii last week. Lust for a Vampyr is exactly as it sounds, a woman wants to get up with a Vampire (not sure why they spelled it that way). I woudlnt be surprised if it gets a spot on HBO's True Blood. I can just imagine Anna Paquin getting down to this song as the pink-haired girl on the cover.
The rest of the album has a kind of disco-house feel, but it's not dated like the genre. It's as if its a kick-back to retro disco-house, but still as modern as anything else these days. Maybe, the music gets its updated feel from the subtle horror film references that are sprinkled here and there. It's funny to think that something from the 50's could make something feel new.
I give this album a 9/10.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hawaii Pictures

Just posted my pictures to flickr.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Finally My Contacts are Managed!

Ever since I owned my first cell phone in 1998 I've had a nagging problem; contact information. Every time I upgraded my phone, I had to manually re-enter all my contacts. To make matters worse, my email (at the time Hotmail) contacts were not linked to my cell phone contacts, so I had to maintain two separate lists. The problem eventually got easier with the advent of SIM cards, but it still wasn't solved. Every time I got a new phone I hand to hand over my old SIM card to the cell phone carrier to magically transfer my contacts from my old phone to my new phone. To make matters worse, there were almost always errors in the translation.

Then Gmail Contacts came along and made my life a little simpler. At least now I had a web service interface that I could go in and muck with. I could at least merge my Hotmail and Outlook contacts into my Gmail contacts. I still had the cell phone problem. That is, up until now.

Google has finally solved the problem with their new release: Google Sync. I can finally sync my contacts from my cell phone to my email. Sure, there were a few other syncing programs before Google Sync. You had to entrust your Google password to them of course. Not the safest security policy. Also, most of these services worked for one device or the other, but not all. With Google Sync, they currently sync 6 of the leading phones with Gmail Contacts and I would bet that that number will keep rising. No longer will we have these ad-hoc attempts at preserving our contacts.

But what I'm really happy about is the new contact merging capability that was newly added to Gmail Contacts. After having preserved my contacts from about 5 different phones over the years and about 4 different Email accounts ,my contacts were in serious need of some cleaning up. I had tried clean up efforts in the past but inevitably through the crappy ad-hoc sync and backup attempts the errors that I would remove would almost always make it back into my phone book. So, with the merge function you can click on all the contacts that are the same person and Gmail will attempt to merge them into one profile, and it does this with some good results. I sat down today with about 670 contacts, after merging I now have about 550. I had about 12 contact entries that were all myself! I can't tell you how frustrating these dupes were in the past.

Needless to say, I am ecstatic about this new capability. This is how things should work. Seamlessly.

Here's a quick intro video:

Friday, January 30, 2009

Scrum in Under 10 Minutes (Video)

I came across a great Scrum video today on YouTube. It teaches Scrum in under 10 minutes. I have to say its the best overview I've seen so far regarding Scrum.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's a Rare Thing

It's a rare thing when two of my favorite creators of media come together to collaborate. It's even rarer that I had no idea this happened 8 years ago. So what am I talking about? I'm talking about Ween and Trey Parker and Matt Stone (The creators of South Park) collaborating to produce a music video. I had suspected that they were friends for a while, but didn't know that they were friends enough to collaborate. This is awesome.

So, here it is in its entirety.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Open Source Contribution

So, I recently contributed to an open source project. The project is called org.microformats.hCard. It's a Java hCard parser that I was using in my masters project. I needed the parser to also have support for XFN so that I could parse and store hCard + XFN friends lists, so I added it. Thanks to Reinier Zwitserloot (the creator of this project) for working with me to get these modifications into the baseline.

I now have no excuse to not work on my masters project. Oh wait, I am taking two graduate level programming courses this semester along with full time work. Nevermind.