October 31, 2003

October 26, 2003

October 24, 2003

Amazon full-text search

Filed under: — 12:05 am

Amazon.com announced yesterday that they have made the entire text of 120,000 books searchable. This feature is automatic when you use their regular search. I have to wonder how much load it puts on their servers to search so much data on every query.

This seems a bit beta-quality right now. Searches for "Javascript" and "MCSE" seemed polluted with unnecessary excerpts–if the word is in the title, how does an excerpt from Page 11 help? The search ranking is also a bit arbitrary. The first result in a search for "Moncur" is an unrelated book that mentions someone by that name in the acknowledgments.

On the plus side, they’ve added a Search inside this book feature for individual books. This goes a long way toward making Amazon as useful as a real-world bookstore–you can search through a nonfiction book to see if it has what you need.

October 23, 2003

October 22, 2003

October 18, 2003

October 17, 2003

Imminent death of everything predicted

Filed under: — 2:04 am

The net media seems to enjoy declaring things dead prematurely, and there are some prime examples this week: Gates fortells death of spam. Bluetooth is dead. Death of a Meta tag. The PDA is Dead. Microprocessors are dead.

But don’t worry, death isn’t always permanent. Witness the rebirth of assembly language and Napster’s rebirth. Meanwhile, Bucking the trend of life-and-death cliches, Fortune magazine says the IT industry "is starting to emerge from its torpor."

Apple releases iTunes for Windows

Filed under: — 1:13 am

Those of us who own the Windows version of Apple’s iPod have long been disappointed that Apple’s iTunes software was unavailable for Windows and we were stuck with Musicmatch Jukebox. Now, Apple has finally released iTunes for Windows (for free).

This means that the iTunes Music Store is also available for non-Mac users, probably making it the biggest contender in the pay-to-download market. I’m impressed with their selection and the great interface, but 99 cents is still costly for a single track. If the competition drives the price below 50 cents, I’ll gladly use it instead of buying albums.

October 16, 2003

Open-source FTP client

Filed under: — 5:31 am

I stumbled across FileZilla the other day. It’s an open-source FTP client for Windows. While I use tons of open-source software on Linux, I’ve rarely been impressed by open-source Windows software. This is an exception – it’s fast, reliable, and user-friendly.

I’m finally dumping the buggy FTP client that cost me $30 – FileZilla has a few features it lacks, such as a keep-alive feature that works and a nice download queue, and I haven’t found a bug yet.

October 13, 2003

My new site: Website Workshop

Filed under: — 4:57 am

I’ve been working on this one for months, and at last it’s finished. Website Workshop contains a number of articles I’ve written on various webmaster topics, and I’ll be adding more regularly.

Since the computer book market is sparse at best right now, I’m hoping this new site will provide an outlet for my writing, make a bit of advertising income, and hopefully lead to other opportunities.

Because I like to give myself too much work, I wrote a custom-designed content management system in PHP and MySQL to run this site. I can basically edit any page or add a page with a few clicks. With any luck, I’ll rarely need to look at the PHP or HTML code at all.

October 12, 2003

October 11, 2003

What I see is what You get

Filed under: — 6:00 am

I’ve been using htmlArea from Interactive Tools for several of my sites–not for the users, but to make it easy for me to add content. It basically turns any <textarea> in HTML into a pretty good WYSIWYG editor, using one of Internet Explorer’s rarely-used bits of feature bloat.

I just added this feature to Figby.com’s backend. So now I can post multiple-paragraph entries like this easily, and can use fancy formatting without the bother of HTML. It’s one of those nice tools that doesn’t do the impossible, but greatly simplifies the possible. (And it’s free.)

October 10, 2003

Exploding Cellular Phones

Filed under: — 4:36 am

Robert X. Cringely once said “If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside.” It is now very clear that cellular phones are following the same development cycle as the computer.

October 6, 2003

More inventive Web marketing

Filed under: — 4:47 am

The publishers of The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown have created a Web quest based on (or expanding on) the book. I wonder if it’s as complex as the one for A.I. – I’ll try it after I get around to reading the book. [via Bookfilter, which I am now hosting]

Dave Barry Do-not-call followup

Filed under: — 3:23 am

Dave Barry’s Sunday column is an entertaining followup on his previous article in which he published the American Teleservices Association’s phone number, forcing them to disconnect it shortly thereafter. Need the new number? It’s at the end of Barry’s column. I suspect legal action will follow, but Dave can probably afford it. (via Metafilter)

October 5, 2003

(c) 2001-2007 Michael Moncur. All rights reserved, but feel free to quote me.
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