Articles in technology

  1. Hosting for Playground Moved Again

    This "blog" has seriously not been touched for over a year. Moreover it felt like I have not blogged for a very long time and almost forgot how it felt to write. Here is just a PSA -- I have moved the hosting for this Pelica powered site back to DreamHost, just to consolidate. After all it's just a static site -- nothing more than thousands of scattered HTML and resource files. Since I already have a DreamHost account (for the last 11.5 years) with "unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth" I might as well use it to hosting this site and let the experts worrying about the servers.

    On a related event, I recently acquired a Sydney dedicated server from OVH (the big France hosting company) via this OzBargain deal. After much delay the server finally got delivered almost 4 months later. Pretty good spec (E3-1245v5, 32GB RAM, 2x 480GB SSD) but some unrealiable routing. For example round trip to Singapore takes 500ms via New Jersey, and round trip to my Network Presence VPS next door (in Equinix SY1) takes 230ms via LA. Running Debian 8 + LXC at the moment, this will eventually replace the dedicated server I got from Exigent last year. Sneaky Exigent has recently increasing their price by 10% by claiming the plan price is now ex-GST. Actually the 2nd time got stunned by Exigent since 2010 -- shame on me.

  2. State of Ad-Blocking on OzBargain

    Last month, after the iOS 9 release which included content-blocking mechanism for Safari, someone made this poll on OzBargain -- Dilemma: Ethics of Using Ad Removal Plugins. I am not going to discuss the ethical side of it (although I did wrote about it in the discussion thread). However I am interested to find out how the current state of ad-blocking is affecting OzBargain.

    So I coded some detection function in Javascript and loaded on the site for 2 days. After analysing 1.5 million page views on OzBargain, here are some stats on the number of pages that are "ad-blocked".

    Desktop 44.76%
    Mobile 6.81%
    Users 44.54%
    Guests 29.66%

    Overall around 32% of ad-invocations are blocked on OzBargain. Detection is done via Javascript that fires 3 seconds after DOM is ready. It would log "ad-blocked" if DOM elements for display ads are hidden (display: none via CSS for example). It would not be triggered if ads have been explicitly disabled from user-settings.

    Some thoughts:

    • At 32% and almost 45% for desktop users, the percentage of ad-blocking users is shockingly high. That's almost one out of every 3 page views. Before the experiment I was thinking of maybe ~10% but it seems that I'm just oblivious to all the development lately.

    • Ad-blocking on mobile phone still has pretty low penetration. I guess most of the 6.8% would be iOS 9 with content blocker, although ad-blocking was previously achievable with Firefox, rooted phones or local DNS forwarder.

    • With the high percentage of ad-blockers, I'll say most won't even bother white-listing a relatively harmless site like OzBargain, which uses exclusively AdSense. I don't think "acceptable ads" would succeed at all, as for ad-blocker users, any external resources that slow down the website from loading would get labelled as "unacceptable".

    • Almost 50% of ads on OzBargain are CPM based (according to AdSense report). Them not loading at all one in 3 pages -- I can imagine the dent it has placed on our revenue. Google would have something under its sleeve, wouldn't it? I hope it's more than just paying off the racketeering money to get into the acceptable ads program.

    We'll see.

  3. Matt Barrie on Australian Startups

    Matt Barrie, CEO of Freelancer.com, posted this on LinkedIn, looking at how ridiculously bad Australia is in terms of supporting technology startups. This comparison caught me:

    Australia puts more money per capita on the Melbourne Cup horse race ($7.27 per capita) than into Venture Capital ($4.09). At least we are risk takers. Our venture capital industry is on par per capita with countries that herd goats as a core industry.

    Yes that's sad.

    Also here's the discussion on Hacker News, and this guy commented on coding test he has received from one of the Australian company.

    Many companies didn't even bother sending feedback to coding tests, and one expected me to pay for the Yahoo Boss API and violate Google's terms of service for a test.

    Sounds very much like the old coding test I cooked up at IRESS. I hope they have changed it :)

    On a related note, I just went to Startup-Australia.org, an old site that I have used before that links to various tech startup related resources and people. It now has a 300x250 banner on the front page -- advertising "The mining industry is hiring -- Earn over $100k+ working in the mines".

    Startup Australia ads

    What an irony. No one tech startups are dying.

  4. Google Reader Shutting Down July 1, 2013

    Okay. This is serious. Google has just announced their spring cleaning, and it appears that Google Reader is facing the axe. Yes Google Reader, probably the most popular RSS reader (heard of RSS, right?!) and has been my daily staple for the last 6 and half years. It would be …
  5. Kogan Mobile "Unlimited"

    Via OzBargain on Google+ and Whirlpool Forums -- someone bought a Kogan prepaid mobile SIM with "unlimited" calls & text. Recharged twice later he got banned from using the service any further because of "making excessive calls". First we have web-hosting companies claiming "unlimited" storage, then we have ISPs claiming "unlimited" monthly …
  6. EmailReg.org - BarracudaCentral's Protection Racket?

    Got a support email this morning for OzBargain, where someone claimed that he has not been receiving our daily newsletter for the last couple of days, nor can they be found in his junk mail folder (which sometimes happen when you are sending out emails full of "deals"). Upon investigation …
  7. Google Drive

    Like pretty much everyone else, I've finally gained the access to Google Drive yesterday. We all know the feature set -- or at least those that matter to me anyway. 5GB of free storage space, desktop folder sync, native Android app, Google Apps integration, Google Docs integration, scalable storage plans up …
  8. Steven Paul Jobs 1955-2011

    It was a bit unexpected yesterday. It has been over 24 hours now but the shock lingered on. From the home page of Apple Inc yesterday: Steven Paul "Steve" Jobs, February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011 -- R. I. P.
  9. Google Chrome Hacked

    Via Hacker News. Google Chrome Pwned by VUPEN aka Sandbox/ASLR/DEP Bypass. While Chrome has one of the most secure sandboxes and has always survived the Pwn2Own contest during the last three years, we have now uncovered a reliable way to execute arbitrary code on any installation of Chrome …
  10. Securing PHP-FastCGI on Nginx

    Via Hacker News. Setting up PHP-FastCGI and nginx? Don’t trust the tutorials: check your configuration! I have in fact written quite a few tutorials and published automated scripts that are vulnerable. Seems the easiest way to prevent this issue is by adding a try_files statement (or a if (-f …
  11. OOP is Distracting

    Don't Distract New Programmers with OOP. The shift from procedural to OO brings with it a shift from thinking about problems and solutions to thinking about architecture. That's easy to see just by comparing a procedural Python program with an object-oriented one. The latter is almost always longer, full of …
  12. Internet Explorer 9 is Here

    Internet Explorer 9 has just been released and here's Microsoft's promotion site. Now get ready to code some HTML5. Oh wait. You mean no offline application cache? No web worker threads? No WebGL? No drag and drop from desktop aka Gmail's file attachment in Chrome/Firefox? D'oh.
  13. Trust and Impact

    Via James Yu's farewell blog post on his startup employee life at Scribd. This brings us to the most important quality that enables impact: trust. Without trust, employees aren't empowered. And without empowerment, there can be no impact... This is exactly the reason why startup hiring is difficult: the amount …
  14. SIP Attack! Home VoIP ATA Got DoS'ed

    Bought an ATA from Cormain back in January. It's ugly, but it works. Connected to our new Billion 7800N ADSL2+ router and makes calls via PennyTel. No problem what so ever until a week ago. Suddenly VoIP stopped working. I am also unable to connect to ATA's web admin interface …
  15. ATI HDMI Output Not Plugged In

    Situation: Bought a new big LCD TV with HDMI input. Got an year-old HTPC with Athlon 64 X2, Gigabyte motherboard and ATI Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics. HTPC has a HDMI output. Connect it up with the LCD TV, but only gets video (Windows Vista desktop in 1920x1080 glory on …
  16. New Computer - Lenovo ThinkPad T410

    Introduce my new toy -- a Lenovo ThinkPad T410. I have been a Dell man for the last 10 years -- having a total of 3 Dell laptops (Inspiron 8000, Latitude D600 and Latitude D630). Well now I am having a change and migrated off Malaysian product to Chinese product :) Built quality …
  17. Google's New 404 Page

    Much better looking 404 Not found page at Google. Interestingly this is a single HTTP request -- despite the Google logo + that blue'ish broken robot, that is embedded as url(data:image/png;base64,...) as inline CSS inside the HTML.
  18. Al3x on Community

    Interesting reading from Alex Payne, on issues facing Hacker News, but also running a community website in general. A great community isn’t something that you just set up and periodically patch. Running a great community is a full-time job, not a weekend hack project. Indeed -- and that applies to …
  19. My New Multi-Functional Printer - Dell V313W

    Got this via this Dell Swarm offer for just $23.76 to replaced my old scanner (9 year old HP ScanJet 4200C that refuses to work on Vista/Windows 7). It has got wireless printing and scanning, although I am quite a bit disappointed that it can only scan to …