A little bit ago, I wrote a piece about how a new start-up, Bit.ly, was ignoring the wishes of web content producers by creating cached copies of pages that are explicitly marked (by those same content producers) with headers directing that they not be cached. So here we are, three weeks later, and it crossed my mind that maybe Bit.ly had fixed the problem… and disappointingly, they appear to still not give a flying crap. (That’s their cached version of this page, a page that couldn’t make itself any clearer that it’s not to be cached.)

I hate to push this to the next level, but is it time to drop Amazon a DMCA notice saying that the page is copyrighted (as all works are, once they’re fixed in a tangible medium) and is being hosted on Amazon’s network?

(And one other thing: how annoying is it that when Bit.ly’s caching engine makes its page requests, it doesn’t send any user agent string, so it’s literally impossible for a website owner to identify the Bit.ly bot programmatically? They appear to be running the caching engine off of an Amazon EC2 instance, as well, so there’s not even a way to watch for a known IP address — it’ll change as they move around the EC2 cloud. Nevermind pissing in the pool; the Bit.ly folks are out-and-out taking a dump in the pool.)

The whole techie-bringing-San-Fran-to-its-knees story keeps getting better and better — it turns out that the passwords that Terry Childs gave to San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom only allowed access to the network from a single hidden computer in the Hall of Justice. Better still, Childs locked well over a thousand modems in filing cabinets throughout various city agencies, all of which are connected to the system and which might be capable of allowing him (or others) access to the network to wreak more havoc. Was anyone overseeing the design and implementation of this network?

I just watched my daughter roll from her back to her stomach, look up at me, and then roll back onto her back. If she does this like her other big developmental steps, I suspect that it’ll now be a while before we see her do it again… but I also suspect that our lives are about to change a bit.

One of my favorite stories over the past week has been San Francisco losing control of its agency-wide network (SkyNet, anyone?) to a “rogue” employee who had designed the system and then locked everyone but himself out of administering it. The whole thing smacks of a bad plot for the next Die Hard movie (“Die Harderest, where Bruce Willis has to interrupt his shuffleboard game to save the Transamerica Building!”), or at least of the third installment of the Camel Club. Well, alas, the drama is over — yesterday, Mayor Gavin Newsom visited the employee’s holding cell and was able to coax the administrative login information out of him, and now the city is understandably going to look into how one lone person was able to singlehandedly control the pipes through which the majority of San Francisco’s inter-agency traffic flows.

OK, so most of you who know even the littlest bit about me know that I’m a not-so-small space nerd, which means that the following video clip doesn’t really need a justification for being here on QDN. It’s a series of still frames taken from 31 million miles away from Earth, looking back at our wee little planet, and capturing the moon transiting the frame. It’s breathtaking — and given that whole 31-million-miles-away part, it’s a true feat that the geometry worked out just right to get the shots.

The shots were taken by the Deep Impact spacecraft (which was renamed EPOXI after it finished its primary mission of smashing a little drone into a comet); Phil Plait, over at Discover Magazine’s Bad Astronomy blog, explains the whole thing a lot better than I ever could.

While it certainly reads like a bad Vince Flynn novel plot, I admit to being a bit intrigued by the notion that there might be a secret Executive Order that attempts to override the well-known order of succession to the Presidency in the case where both the President and Vice President die or are incapacitated. Exhibit A of the argument is the fact that there’s both a secret appendix and another set of classified appendices to the 2007 Presidential Succession Act (“Annex A” and the “classified Continuity Annexes”); exhibit B is that apparently, Reagan was the one to issue the original order, and nobody knows what happened to it in the intervening years. Interesting.

If you, like me, let Firefox 3 create a new profile for you when you installed it over the past week or two, you might want to revisit the step you’ll need to take to fix Firefox’s annoying I’ll-forget-all-your-cookies bug feature. It didn’t hit me until today that the reason my bank site couldn’t remember my login name was because Firefox was dropping the relevant cookie…

It’s amazing that we sit here, four years later, and the same broken behavior is accepted by the Mozilla folks.


There’s been quite a bit of press today about bit.ly, a new service from the folks at switchAbit; it’s a service that adds page caching, click-through counting, and a bunch of semantic data analysis atop a URL-shortening service that’s very much like TinyURL and others (and others!). Reading the unveiling announcement, the part that interested me most was the page caching part — they bill it as a service to help prevent link rot (i.e., when a page you’ve linked to or bookmarked then goes away), which would be a great service to those folks who rely on linked content remaining available. (And since they store their cached content on Amazon’s S3 network, robustness and uptime should be great as well.)

That being said, having worked with (and on) a bunch of caching services in the past, I also know that caching is a feature that many developers implement haphazardly, and in a way that isn’t exactly adherent to either specs or the wishes of the page authors. So I set out to test how bit.ly handles page caching, and I can report here that the service does a great job of caching the text of pages, a bad job of caching the non-text contents of pages, and a disappointingly abhorrent job of respecting the wishes of web authors who ask for services like this to not cache their pages.

Reason #2,331 why Red Sox fans drive me up a f*cking wall: a mere New York license plate is enough for them to attack you with baseball bats and “accuse” you of being a Yankees fan.

The Red Sox are the only team I’ve ever found whose fans are defined more by their hatred of a team than their love of one.

Update: it appears that the guy who wielded the baseball bat, Robert Correia, will remain in jail for at least the next 90 days awaiting his trial; the judge deemed that he’s too dangerous to release into the community. I’m sure that’ll do nothing to incense his fellow New York Yankees haters Red Sox fans…

This might be the least news-containing news story on the web today. I’m shocked that this story got filed, much less then made its way onto CNN.com.

I’m overall pretty happy about the release of Firefox 3, but am I the only one who’s seeing sporadic issues on Macs? On my iMac (2.1 GHz PowerPC G5), it’s painfully slow, so slow that I’ve started using Safari as my primary web browser. And on my MacBook Pro (Intel Core 2 Duo), I’ve had at least a dozen instances in the past three or four days where, during the loading of a tab, I get the spinning rainbow beachball of death and have to force-quit the app.