Three rings

Lately we’ve been letting the phone ring during dinner time, since usually these calls are from telemarketers. We noticed that most of the ignored calls terminate after three rings, even though our machine waits for four or five rings before picking up. Theory: telemarketers hang up after three rings. If true, I’m happy to wait until the fourth to pick up. But why would telemarketers hang up after three? According to this article at (scroll down to Third Ring Response), the auto-dialers hang up after three rings to avoid paying for a connections to answering machines. Right on!

Permalink free associations

Dave’s new idea: “It uses the fact that URLs in a weblog have structure.”

A permalink is a permanent URL link to an item. A place where you can find it after it has aged and slipped off of the front page. A permalink should be archival.

Manila puts the date directly into the permalink like this:

So from the permalink URL you can deduce the publish date of the item, and sort results in reverse chronological order.

Movable Type puts the post id into the permalink like this:

You cannot deduce the publish date from the permalink URL. But you can sort results in reverse chronological order, because the post ids increase with time.

BlogX puts a globally unique identifier (GUID) into the permalink like this:

You cannot deduce the publish date nor sort the results from the GUID. Note also that the BlogX permalinks enshrine the ASP.NET suffix, .aspx. Cutting edge today perhaps, but five years from now it will be quaint.

Why Linux?

The .NET Guy: “But if a group of people have decided that they really would prefer free software, why would they turn to Solaris in the time of Linux crisis? Wouldn’t it make more sense to use a BSD derivative?”

A desktop aggregator with good server tracking?

I haven’t fooled much with server based aggregators. I find the desktop ones to be more responsive. The problem with desktop based aggregators is that they (at least the ones I’ve tried) don’t provide an easy way to share subscriptions and items-viewed-and-closed information among instances running on different PCs. I want a desktop aggregator that can sync subscriptions and message status with a central server. Do any of the existing aggregators solve this problem?

And another thing. It’s too labor intensive keeping up with and deleting the flood of posts from traditional news sites. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a “delete all posts older than 1 day” feature?


I had the good fortune to attend a talk today by Marc Smith, a sociologist at Microsoft Research. Marc’s system, Netscan, tracks Usenet messages and lets you ask questions like “Which authors reply to lots of questions but don’t ask many?” and “What groups have lots of long threads?”. It’s fascinating stuff, and readily accessible from their Web frontend. I’d love to see this kind of analysis applied to weblogs.