Monthly Archives: June 2006

Amazon Grocery

I don’t go to the grocery store much, and when I do it’s usually for toiletries or non-perishables, so Amazon Grocery seemed like a pretty good fit. I’m already a Prime member so everything has free shipping, and I’m pretty comfortable giving money to Amazon these days. For my first test purchase I decided to go for something bulky that would be a pain to walk several blocks with. So the first purchase was some Cottonelle toilet paper. Now there are two immediate problems: first I didn’t realize it was a four-pack. I don’t know if I have enough storage space for that much toilet paper, so I might end up giving some of it to friends. (That’s what friends are for, right?) Second I ordered it on June 18, and it still hasn’t shipped 10 days later. Good thing there was no urgency! My initial experience with Amazon Grocery has been pretty disappointing.

Bloglines DOS

Bloglines is DOSing blog providers. Every other major crawler implements some sort of per-resolved-IP throttle, why can’t Bloglines? Even if there were a way to opt-out of their hundreds of simultanous crawlers descending on your service, it seems to me the default behavior should be to not be harmful, and then work with large providers on a case-by-case basis to increase the concurrency of requests. We don’t have this problem with any other aggregator or crawler, hosted or non-hosted. Test: freedbacking

Paid Support

We just launched the Automattic Support Network which is a place for companies to purchase paid support for WordPress and MU. Originally I didn't think we'd need to do this, simply because the support forums are so amazing and there is such a good community around it. That hasn't changed, but some big companies and enterprise folks are uncomfortable with volunteer support, and want (and insist) on paying someone before deploying a product. Based on that feedback and a lot of input from Podz, we put together this new product, which is basically VIP support with a guaranteed response time. Toni has some more thoughts here. We also rolled out new pricing for commercial Akismet use a few days ago, and the response has been great so far.

Dodgy Mouse and Keyboard

After several days of mysterious mouse jumps, keys getting “stuck” on the keyboard and repeating over and over, and varioun non-responsiveness of my computer, I was extremely frustrated. I tried moving the wireless reciever five different places, re-compiling synergy, scanning for spyware, etc. Of course everything was fixed by putting new batteries in the wireless mouse and keyboard. Noticing a theme? I should get sponsorship from Energizer.

At Webvisions in Portland

About a month from now I’ll be speaking at the Webvisions conference in Portland on “Scaling for Your First 100k Users.” The talk will be part tech, part social. It’s a very reasonably priced conference with a lot of great speakers, I think they’re going to sell out soon so if you’re interested in going book soon. It’ll also be my first time in Portland, so I’m looking forward to exploring the area a bit and meeting WP users.

Banned from Google

Something really weird happened when I had the password problem last week — I completely disappeared from Google. It’s not just the search for Matt, but almost every page on my site has disappeared even for super-obvious searches. This happened within a day of the guy getting into my blog account. I have two theories, one is that when all my links started pointing to blogspot (he changed my siteurl) that triggered some sort of anti-spam flag, and my second theory is that [H]e turned on the new Blog Privacy feature in WP that adds noindex,nofollow to the header of your page, and Google was crawling me that very instant and removed my site. BTW, as an update to the previous entry, I have since found out that I did not have a super-obvious password, but rather he found it embedded in the source code in the SVN repository of a new project I’m working on that hasn’t been released yet. I’ve axed the repo, but at least now I don’t feel so bad about having an awful password on my blog. Regardless, the event was a good excuse to review my password strategy and make sure everything was fairly locked down. Update: I’m certain it was the noindex thing, which looks like it was on for about a week. Let’s see how long it takes to bring everything back and if I rank the same. Update 2: Everything is back to normal. 🙂


About five minutes ago, the beeping stopped.

I was in Texas last week for BBQ, clouds, and a wedding. At some point when I was gone, something in my house started beeping. When I arrived home there was a high-pitched chirp about every 45 seconds to a minute, coming from somewhere in the house. Generally when things beep annoyingly it’s one of the UPSes which like to complain loudly after a power outage. The one at my desk and at the closet both had a weird light on back saying “Building Wiring Failure.” (Probably because I removed the ground plug to plug them into a two-socket extension cord.)

I tweaked the UPSes for a good hour or two trying to get them to stop beeping, I pressed the buttons, reset the circuit, unplugged them, left them off, I even flipped my master breaker. (Which reset all of the thermostats to 62, a chilling fact I realized the next day.)

Eventually, I realized the beeping wasn’t coming from a UPS at all, but rather from the smoke detector in my office. I stood on a wheeled chair and sure enough there was a 9-volt battery in there that looked pretty dead, yet it was still wired into the wall in a way I couldn’t disconnect easily. Now that the problem was identified, I just had to find a 9-volt battery (I didn’t have any) and everything would be okay.

That was three days ago. Since then, I came to live with the beep. I found that if I closed the office door and my bedroom door I couldn’t really hear it while sleeping, any more than a cricket chirping. I took calls in my living room instead of my office. Even sitting at my desk, not 5 feet from the smoke detector, I was able to get productive work done with the beeping like a minutely metronome that was hardly noticable. For days.

Engineers do this all the time. We ignore the high-pitched beeping 5 feet away from us that would drive any normal person insane because whatever gene that gives you the programming knack also makes it disturbingly easy to focus and ignore things we’re familiar with.

This is why releases are so important, they force you to clean up your house like you’re having company coming over.

Your assignment today is to take a walk around your blog, application, website, whatever you work with on a daily basis, and allow yourself to be supremely annoyed with the beeping smoke detector in the corner. Let the nagging details of what you do grind like nails on blackboard and amaze you that you have ignored for months or years something so familiar yet so annoying. Obsess about it until you can’t do anything else except fix it, and take the 10 minutes to walk to the store and get a 9-volt battery.