After my first response to Donald Burleson’s article The web is becoming a dictatorship of idiots Donald responded. Here is his response followed by my response to him.

From: Donald Burleson

Here are my guidelines for finding credible information on the web, and advice on how-to weed-out crap, sound advice.

In my opinion (and in my own interest) I think everyone should be able to publish anything at anytime.

Me to. I’m all for free speech, but it’s the search engines problem that they cannot distinguish between good and bad information. I don’t like the “clutter” it’s causing for the search engines. It ruins my ability to find credible sources of technical information, and I have to wade through pages of total crap from anonymous “experts”. For example, scumbags are stealing credible people’s content and re-publishing it in their own names, with free abandon. Look at what has been stolen from Dr. Hall.

So the system can (and will eventually) balance itself.

I disagree, not until “anon” publications and copied crap is unindexed from the search engines.

If I’m using Google to find technical information I give zero credibility to anonymous sources, and it would be great to have a “credible” way to search the web for people, so they can find stuff from folks like us, who publish our credentials.

We’re in the information age and the flood gates have opened!

Flood is the right word. Some of the Oracle “experts” who publish today would never have been able to publish in-print, and for very good reason. There are many self-proclaimed “experts” all over the web, people without appropriate education or background who would never be published in traditional media. And just like “Essjay” on Wikipedia, many of them either fabricate of exaggerate their credentials. They carefully hide their credential (resume or CV), so nobody knows the truth.

I think it’s up to culture to catch up to technology

I disagree, it’s not “culture”, it’s a simple credibility issue. And what about Wikipedia? Any 9th-grade dropout crackhead can over-write the work of a Rhodes scholar. That’s not a culture issue, it’s about credibility.

It’s a dictatorship of idiots. One bossy Wikipedia editor tossed-about his credentials (“a tenured professor of religion at a private university” with “a PhD. in theology and a degree in canon law.”), when in reality he is a college dropout, a liar and a giant loser.

Wikipedia is the enemy of anyone who wants to find credible data on the web, and they are actively seeking to pollute the web with anon garbage. Read this for details.

It’s the balance between free speech and credibility. Just the raw link-to counts are deceiving. I hear that the #1 Oracle blogger got there only because he wrote a hugely successful blog template, totally unrelated to his Oracle content quality.

The solution is simple. Sooner or later, someone will come-up with a “verified credentials” service where netizens pay a free and an independent body verifies their college degrees, published research, job experience and other qualifications.

Until then, netizens must suffer the dictatorship of idiots, never sure if what they are reading is by someone who is qualified to pontificate on the subject. I do Oracle forensics, and the courts have very simple rules to determine of someone is qualified to testify as an expert, and there is no reason that these criteria cannot be applied on the web, assigning high rank to the qualified and obscurity to the dolts. Until then we must suffer weeding through page-after-page of questionable publications in our search results.

My response

it’s the search engines problem that they cannot distinguish between good and bad information. I don’t like the “clutter” it’s causing for the search engines.

There’s no doubt that web indexing and searching is an imperfect science but identifying the quality of resources is beyond its scope. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN should be considered tools to help find a site with information matching a term or pattern, not necessarily a good site.

scumbags are stealing credible people’s content and re-publishing it in their own names

Plagiarism is not a new problem and, as many have found, search engines can be instrumental in identifying plagiarism. The site Copyscape which you pointed out to me makes great use of Google’s API to do exactly that.

> So the system can (and will eventually) balance itself.

I disagree, not until “anon” publications and copied crap is unindexed from the search engines.

If I’m using Google to find technical information I give zero credibility to anonymous sources, and it would be great to have a “credible” way to search the web for people, so they can find stuff from folks like us, who publish our credentials.

And you should not give credibility to a source just because Google finds it. That’s not Google’s job. Google’s job is to find pages (every page if possible) that match the terms you’re entering. Popular sites are weighted to show up earlier in the results, but yes, only because they are popular.

Wikipedia is the enemy of anyone who wants to find credible data on the web, and they are actively seeking to pollute the web with anon garbage.

I think it’s unlikely that Wikipedia is actively trying to pollute the web. Wikipedia is fundamentally flawed for many of the reasons you mention but it remains accurate on many topics. There is no disguising of what it is and it has been largely condemned as an academic resource, but when I need a quick ‘starting point’ reference or the answer to some pop-culture trivia it’s still the place I go.

It’s the balance between free speech and credibility. Just the raw link-to counts are deceiving. I hear that the #1 Oracle blogger got there only because he wrote a hugely successful blog template, totally unrelated to his Oracle content quality.

Actually, I think you’ll find that the #1 Oracle blog you mention is actually the non-topical personal blog of an Oracle administrator. The point that he composed an attractive and well written WordPress theme is a testament to the quality of his work.

The solution is simple. Sooner or later, someone will come-up with a “verified credentials” service where netizens pay a free and an independent body verifies their college degrees, published research, job experience and other qualifications.

Verified credentials would only solve one small piece of the problem. Many people with verifiable credentials are still dead wrong and/or cannot communicate their ideas efficiently enough to be what I consider a good resource.

An even simpler solution already exists. Leading organizations like the Independent Oracle User’s Group could take it upon themselves to compile and publish lists of quality resources in their field. With some additional effort I bet these lists could be combined with Google’s search API to provide a web search which only searches a number of “verified” sites.

This type of compilation would not only provide a fantastic list of resources (especially for beginners) but would also shape search results by increasing the page ranking of sites which the organization identifies as good resources.

web2.0 web, internet, blog, wikipedia, free speach, net neutrality, online, anonymous

Last week Donald Burleson posted an article entitled The web is becoming a dictatorship of idiots. In it he references a Newsweek article which blasts Wikipedia as “no more reliable than the output of a million monkeys banging away at their typewriters” and claims “sites like Wikipedia, along with blogs, YouTube and iTunes, are rapidly eroding our legacy of expert guidance in favor of a ‘dictatorship of idiots.'”

I encourage you to read and share your opinions on Don’s article. Below is my response. My next article by the same title will have my response to his response.

Don,

Don’t you think there is some responsibility for the reader to be able to filter their sources for what they are? Is this a matter for legislation or education?

In my opinion (and in my own interest) I think everyone should be able to publish anything at anytime. If I post something that is completely ridiculous on my blog I expect people to tell me that. They might be right, I might be right, but either way at least it’s out there. Anyone can publish and anyone can respond.

Here’s a good example where Matt posted what he thought was a good idea of how to create auto-increment fields in Oracle without the use of Triggers.

I responded with a detailed article demonstrating why his method would not work and he followed up with another article with an updated method.

So the system can (and will eventually) balance itself. We’re in the information age and the flood gates have opened! I think it’s up to culture to catch up to technology. You and I know how to flush out good web resources. The rest of the world will catch up soon.

What do you think?

APC-UPS ES 650A good Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) can keep your equipment running through short power outages. It is a good idea no matter where you work from, but especially if you work from home. Here’s why:

Where I live power outages are common but short. Now, my primary machine is a laptop, so that will run for hours on battery (well, at least an hour), but since I need my cable modem and wireless router to connect to client systems if those devices loose power I’m basically out of business.

As I mentioned we have frequent power outages here in Concord, NH, USA but they are typically only a few seconds. That wouldn’t be a problem at all, except even a short power blip means I loose all my SSH connections! That can cause a 5 second power outage to cost me 15 minutes of work or more!

So, what do I have? Well, I’m partial to APC UPSs. They are what most of the data centers I have worked with use and they’ve got a great industry reputation.

Choosing a UPS

There are two major factors when choosing a UPS, Wattage and Volt-Ampres.

Wattage determines how much you can hook up to a given UPS. Devices generally give a wattage rating somewhere in the specs and power adapters often have them listed right on them. You’ll want to add together all the devices you wish to UPS (don’t forget about monitors) and purchase a UPS of at least that wattage, and probably a bit more.

Let’s say you have two computers which consume 85 watts, a monitor which consumes 120 watts, a cable modem which consumes 15 watts and a wireless router which consumes 7 watts (this is about my configuration.) That means I need a UPS which will support a maximum draw of at least 312 watts.

The Volt-Ampre calculation is a bit more complicated. This will determine how long the UPS will be able to supply power to your devices.

Correction: I had originally mistaken Volt-Ampre for Amp-Hours. Volt-Ampre is actually similar to watts except VA is more accurate for the complex power consumption in our computers. Higher is still better, but it doesn’t mean the UPS will necessarily last longer.

To determine the capacity of a UPS we would need to know the Amp-Hours of the battery. Unfortunately most (if not all) producers fail to publish this information so we the consumers are left trusting the manufacturers documentation to determine duration.

I ended up going with the APC Backup-UPS ES 650. At 65 VA and 450 max wattage for under $100 it was the right balance of cost and capacity for me. The delivered software also allows the unit to be connected via USB to a Mac or PC to adjust power management when running on the UPS similarly to how you can have different power settings on a laptop for when you are running on battery.

Another great alcohol delivery system:



The Hole – video powered by Metacafe

This is certainly not without its flaws; most notable that it dispenses cans which I’m sure will be well shaken after the toss and catch. Its no Bar Monkey, but you’ve gotta respect the effort.

via Make

drink, drinks, drinking, beer, alcohol

Working from home has lots of benefits that could never be measured, but it has some that absolutely can!

Before I started working from home I was driving 45 miles each way, 5 days a week. That means I was traveling 90 miles every day, 450 miles/week, or about 21,600 miles/year just between home and work.

The car I was driving when I finished my last job got almost exactly 30 miles/gallon (not bad for a V6 Buick Century) meaning I was using 15 gallons of gas every week adding up to about 720 gallons of gas in a year.

With gas prices consistently over $2/gallon that 720 gallons of gas would cost me at least $1,500/year. Now, mind you, we’re not even counting oil changes and the cost of the vehicle itself.

The commute was taking me about 45 minutes each way (sadly this isn’t the longest commute I’ve ever had.) That adds up to 7.5 hours/week or 360 hours/year. (Yes, for those of you keeping track, that’s 15 days.)

My commute was a bit long, but in 2003 the US Census Bureau reported that an average daily commute to work lasted about 24.3 minutes. That still adds up to 194.4 hours or 8.1 days per year.

I don’t know how much an impact 21,600 miles of travel has on the roads and public services, but I’d file it under “not insignificant.” Why there aren’t government incentives for employers allowing telecommuting I do not understand. Perhaps with increased realizations about global warming and our economy’s dependence on oil the government and employers will finally take notice of the economies of telecommuting.

Food for thought: If an employee can telecommute one day each week they will reduce their commuting cost and impact by 20%.

« Previous PageNext Page »