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Journal: 3d galactic map with time calculations? 8

Journal by JWSmythe

Ok, here's an odd request. Maybe someone out there has an answer for me.

I know we've been making huge advances in mapping distant celestial bodies, their speed either across our field of view or relative direction (to or from us) with red/blue shift, etc. I was curious to if there has been any publicly available project which creates a 3 dimensional representation of that data, and allows for adjustment of time.

The way I understand it, in theory with enough data, the known universe could be collapsed (virtually) to the time of the big bang.

I've had an idea for a (fictional) story, which I'd like to be able to back up with at least something resembling factual information. For example, the Earth takes roughly 250 million years to make an orbit all the way around our galaxy (one "Galactic year"). If you were looking at Galaxy X and Galaxy Y, and for particular intervals. Imagine a line drawn from a fixed point in each Galaxy. Would it be possible to determine if the Earth (or at least a close part of our galaxy) would intersect that line, or look back to when that did happen? ... and save the supercomputer comments for some other time. :)

User Journal

Journal: Slashdot comment thread life expectancy 15

Journal by JWSmythe

I've noticed a trend lately (like in the last couple years). Comment thread lifespans are becoming shorter and shorter. I'm usually good about going back to my messages, and keeping up conversations in the thread. It seems not everyone else is.

    If anyone who programs here reads this, do your own research against the database, and see what mean life expectancy of comment threads is. I almost guarantee if you run it against all stories from the beginning, you'll see it's tapering off.
    What I have observed with my comments, even the occasional first post, is that the thread will die off at about 2 to 3 days, regardless of how interesting the conversation is getting. It seems people just aren't interested in going to older stories, which isn't surprising since it's a pain to get to older stories. Look for a story from two weeks ago. Type in some keywords in the search? No way.. Pointy-clicky through the More buttons, good luck there.

    Still, it's easy enough for people to keep up with running conversations. Well, I assume so. When we were forced into the new theme, I had to be sure my messages box was at the top left. Maybe I'm one of the few who actually set up for that, or most people are set for no notifications. Either way, it's becoming disappointing where conversations don't run their course. I don't think it's me... I have week and month long conversation threads going with friends and colleagues, even if every 3rd message (for colleagues at least) is "you are dumb, now send what we asked for". :) No offense to any colleagues or ex-colleagues who may read this. I'll assure you to your face that I'm not talking about you, but sure as hell when you aren't looking, I'm going to point at you and say "it was him".

So back to the topic... I wish more of you would keep up your ends of the conversation. It's hard talking about interesting subjects, and when I've written a well thought out reply, it's just exceeded the MTTL (mean time to live) for a thread, and it's abandon. Well, except for the random troll who goes back through old threads and writes TL;DR, but he barely counts as anything. :)

    Maybe Slashdot can gear up something more conducive to actual conversations, rather than a few hundred drive-by comments that are dead end conversations. I really miss the intellectual (or quasi-intellectual, sometimes) conversations, now replaced by a short thread lifespan and high churn of stories.

User Journal

Journal: Things I learned today. Browser URL length limitations 2

Journal by JWSmythe

For a long time, I've followed what I've read regarding URL lengths. 255 characters is it. Never let it get longer than that.

    By the RFC's, 255 characters is the guideline, to maintain backward compatibility with old browsers, old proxy servers, and other miscellaneous hardware that may be in the way.

    I went looking for more information, but found conflicting or outdated information. Who cares what the limits on Netscape 4 or MSIE 5 were.

    In my own personal MythBusters kind of way, I wanted to see what the limitations really are.

    What fun would it be without coding something up to handle it. :) I would share the code, but it seems Slashdot doesn't like that much. Basically, it would generate a URL, something like http://example.com/test.php?pad=11111 , and use a javascript redirect to send it back to itself. On receiving it, it would read the number of characters of the full URL, then add an increment to the pad. It printed the length of the request, and the full URL in the browser, so I could see where it was at. I introduced a 1 second pause so I could read the output.

    Initially my increment was 1, but that takes an awful long time, even with keepalives cranked up. I worked my way up to 500 per exchange, so the test would move along quickly. Watching the server stats, the keepalives were doing their job perfectly. The same connections were reused until their life expectancy ran out.

    I couldn't just give a redirect header. Browsers tend to not like that. My initial test with Firefox showed the problem. The default for network.http.redirection-limit is 20. Even turning that up to 999999 would stop pretty quickly (at about 500, if I remember right)

    My test client machine is a Windows 7 Ultimate machine with a Phenom II x4 955 and 8GB RAM. My test browsers are MSIE 8.0, Chrome 9.0, Firefox 3.6.13, and Safari 5.0.3. During the tests, I did not run into problems with CPU or memory utilization.

    My test server is a Slackware Linux 13.1.0 machine with two dual core Xeon 2.8Ghz CPUs and 4GB RAM. It is using Apache 2.2.17 and PHP 5.3.5. Other than custom configuration options, it's a fairly plain version of Apache and PHP. No patches. The OS is pretty clean. All non-essential ports and tasks are disabled. During the test, I did not run into any CPU or memory utilization problems.

    On the first run I observed:


        MSIE 8.0 4095
        Chrome 9.0 8190
        Firefox 3.6.13 8190
        Opera 11.01 8190
        Safari 5.0.3 8190

    I looked around a little. Apache lets you lower the length of the URL in the config file, but not increase it. The default is 8190, exactly as tested. Time to go patch Apache!

In httpd.h
/** default limit on bytes in Request-Line (Method+URI+HTTP-version) */
#ifndef DEFAULT_LIMIT_REQUEST_LINE
#define DEFAULT_LIMIT_REQUEST_LINE 16777216
#endif /** default limit on bytes in any one header field */
#ifndef DEFAULT_LIMIT_REQUEST_FIELDSIZE
#define DEFAULT_LIMIT_REQUEST_FIELDSIZE 16777216
#endif /** default limit on number of request header fields */
#ifndef DEFAULT_LIMIT_REQUEST_FIELDS
#define DEFAULT_LIMIT_REQUEST_FIELDS 16777216
#endif

    8190 was obviously set by people with no ambition. 16.7 million? That's a real URL! :) And before anyone says it, no, I wouldn't normally make the URL longer than I'm willing to type. Just like the MythBuster folks wouldn't normally put a dead pig in a car to see if it stinks. It's all in the name of science I tell you! :)

    So limits upped to 2^24, recompile complete, and we're ready to test again. While watching the compile, I had to ask myself, "does PHP have a limit too?". I guess not. Here's the results.


        MSIE 8.0 4095
        Chrome 9.0 122560
        Firefox 3.6.13 111060
        Opera 11.01 132560
        Safari 5.0.3 131060

Notes:
    1) I aborted the tests after I got bored.

    2) Chrome stopped displaying the full URL at about 32,000 characters. It truncated it at the ?, but did process correctly. If you have a 32,000 character URL, expect people to not be able to copy it from Chrome very easily. :)

    3) I started all the tests very close to the same time, and aborted them all very close to the same time. I don't normally use anything but Firefox, so I have several utility toolbars (webmastering, packet examination, and SEO analysis) that are installed. The others are clean.

    4) You can't use this as a benchmark saying any browser is faster than another, because I was limited by upload bandwidth at home.

    During the test, I was watching my uplink bandwidth graph. I'm on a residential line. It was clear where the upload bandwidth is cut off at (about 700Kbps). Due to the nature of this test, Every request was sent to the server, and returned to the browser, so like it or not I needed to use the same bandwidth each way. If I have a moment of sheer boredom at work or a datacenter sometime, I may repeat this test on a LAN. It's doubtful though.

    So in conclusion....

    1) All the modern browsers tested, except MSIE are effectively unlimited to the size of the URL they can handle.

    2) MSIE is still limited to a URL length of 4095 characters. I don't see a workaround for this.

    3) Apache is limited by default to 8190 characters, but this can be corrected with a patch.

    4) Regardless of what these components proved they could do, you can still encounter problems with firewalls, content filters, proxy servers, etc. Don't expect to be able to use over 255 characters.

User Journal

Journal: 2012 Presidential Bid 5

Journal by JWSmythe

I thought this was worthy for cross posting to my journal.

    For the 2012 election, the answer is easy.

        Write in JWSmythe!

        I promise restoration of the rights of all people, as protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

        I promise transparency in our government, and open public audit of all government projects.

        I promise revocation of the Income Tax (25% of your income for most citizens), to be replaced by a 2% sales tax. This effectively gives a 23% raise to all working citizens.

        I promise increase in tariffs on foreign goods to be no less than 2% of the retail value, to encourage growth in the industrial sectors of America.

        I promise immediate closure of all tax "loop holes" to ensure all "big money" corporations pay in their fair share.

        I promise yearly "dividend" payments to the citizens of the United States on any excess tax paid by the citizens and profit from foreign tariffs.

        I promise health care in the form of open access doctors and hospitals to be no less than 25% of the total medical service field (at least 25% of doctors will be free for the citizens). You may still purchase insurance, and doctors may still provide special expert service, but for those who can't afford it, free services are available, and more positions will be available for both new and skilled doctors.

        I promise open borders, reducing the lengthy and confusing immigration/emigration procedures. Diverse and contridactory policies exist now, including Canadians who are welcome across the friendly open borders, but Mexicans who are frequently detained, arrested, or left to die in military style borders and checkpoints. This will reduce operational costs for enforcement agencies by billions yearly.

        I promise retiring the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, returning their duties to the appropriate intelligence agencies. This removes over $55 billion in yearly government expenses that are simply not necessary.

        And oddly enough, I'm dead serious. I'm not a billionaire, so I cannot afford the campaign. The estimated cost for the 2008 Presidential election was $1.6 billion per candidate. Neither established party back me. I would hurt their corporate interests.

        And yes, I am an American born citizen. I have traveled to the majority of US states, and both bordering nations. I don't know everything, but I know people who I can trust who are experts in their fields. No individual can run the country properly, but a good team will return the United States to it's prior reputation of the nation all others want to emulate, rather than the most powerful and embarrassing nation in the world.

User Journal

Journal: How not to transfer an OS 6

Journal by JWSmythe

I got a fun pre-xmas present, a new Phenom II X4 955. It's a 3.4Ghz CPU that runs very happily at 4Ghz. The previous occupant in that socket was an Athlon II X4 2.8Ghz, that ran happily for a year at 3Ghz.

    I spent an hour fiddling with overclock settings, and settled at 4.2Ghz (more or less). While sitting with just the browser open, Asus Probe (temp, fan, and voltage monitor) started screaming that the core voltage was above threshold. At about 6pm, there was a thunk, and everything went dark. I'm not sure if it was the power supply or motherboard died. I had ongoing problems with the motherboard since I got it, where bios settings would mysteriously change themselves after weeks of working normally. The power supply wasn't anything spectacular, but it seemed to work. I headed down to CompUSA, and picked up a new power supply, motherboard, and I decided that the drives weren't fast enough, so I picked up a pair of 1.5Tb SATA drives to run as a RAID0. Mmm. More speed.. :)

    I got home at about 8pm. I dismantled the whole thing, and had it reassembled in about 10 minutes. Now I have two blank drives in position (ports 1 & 2), the old drive (port 4), and the DVD player (port 6). I poke around in the BIOS a bit, getting everything set right, and setting the drives as a RAID0. I boot up to a trusty Linux CD to start the transfer. Blah, the RAID controller is really a software raid. I see both disks. There are fixes, I'm just not that far yet. I decide to just copy everything to the first SATA drive, and I'll RAID other parts later. My girlfriend would like to watch a movie with me, as I set up all my theater equipment in our new "theater room" (DLP projector, 8' wide screen, 7 speakers all properly placed and tuned +- 1dB). All I have to do is get the transfer started, and go watch the movie.

    dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdc bs=1024k

    Seems simple enough, right? I switch to another console, and kill -USR1 $pid , to see where it's at. 2GB transfered. Great. The partition table should already be written. fdisk -l /dev/sda shows nothing. hmmm. fdisk -l /dev/sdc shows nothing.

    Aw fuck.

    It dawns on me, I'm not cloning the old drive to the new ones, I'm cloning the empty drive over my data! ABORT ABORT ABORT!

    Well, the partition table is gone, and presumably the beginning of the drive is overwritten, so none of that will be recovered. I think I have enough crap on there to fluff it a bit. My first and second partitions were Linux, which is easily replaced. The third and fourth partition hold Windows 7 and all my current work. The fifth partition holds all my virtual machines, which are my testbed for all kinds of fun things. Employment essential aren't a big deal, they're replicated at work, and on backups there. It's things like the 5,000 pictures that I took over the years, that I reacquired from various sources, which are now almost organized to store and back up, but I haven't finished. And a few videos including a 1hr 15min video of a live band that I'm including 400 stills into to make a good video of their performance.

    With tools on the TRK, I've been able to see the partitions to recover, but since I'm not totally familiar with the particular tool, it's been a slow process. Reading across a 1Tb drive, it takes hours. Even still, I'm not totally sure I could convince Windows to clone to the array, rather than using just one drive.

    So now, I'm starting off with a fresh Windows install. The Windows installer sees the array. I'm using 1Tb for Windows (2 1.5Tb drives RAID0 = 3Tb). Once I have a working machine again, and can play WOW with my girlfriend (she likes playing it), I'll be happier, and then can repair the messed up drive overnight on a few nights.

    The only real problems I had on the old machine were that it couldn't play Stargate: Revolution (crashes after a few minutes), and I wasn't totally satisfied with the drive speed. According to the "Windows Experience Index", my scores were:

Component
Processor 7.3
Memory (RAM) 7.3
Graphics 6.6
Gaming graphics 6.6
Primary hard disk 5.9

(current "max" score is 7.9)

    When I've looked at machines in the stores, this is way above any retail box. I just wanted to get the drive speed in line with the other parts. Dammit. So it'll take a few days to get it up and working properly. Until then, I'll be limping along on the laptop. :) No video editing on the laptop though, it just isn't fast enough, even though it's only a few months old.


Processor 3.2
Memory 4.9
Graphics 3.0
Gaming graphics 4.5
Primary hard disk 5.4

User Journal

Journal: Oh, shit. 28

Journal by spun

About a year and a half ago, my wife met a really cool lady while doing community theater. Her boyfriend turned out to be a computer nerd, like me. In that year and a half, my wife and this woman grew very close, having similar interests and character. Although I tried to befriend the boyfriend, he always seemed distant. We knew, from his girlfriend, that he had had a "bad" childhood. We just never knew how bad, I guess. Yesterday at six AM, their house was raided by a fifteen man task force including state police, the FBI, and the district attorney's office. Because they had been investigating him for a year, and had the house under observation for a month, they knew they did not need the SWAT team for a flash-bang entrance, as was common in these cases. They were looking for child pornography, and they found it. Not "barely legal" stuff, two to six year olds, in violent and incestuous situations. He admitted guilt, at least according to the police, who questioned him away from his girlfriend. Yes, I realize that could be an interrogation tactic, but he also never protested his innocence to her, and seemed to know exactly why the raid was happening.

The raid was professional and the police were amazingly courteous. They found about an eighth of pot and quite a bit of paraphernalia, and asked whose it was. She admitted that her mom is an old hippie and had left a bunch of bongs there, but the rest was hers, that she used to calm herself down because she had hyperthyroidism, which is true. They let her keep everything and joked that, after this, she'd probably need it. The police doing this kind of work probably look on pot like they look on jaywalking, technically illegal, but not worth their time. They had a list of specific files that had been downloaded and came prepared with the utilities to scan any electronic device or media on the premises. The fact that he used Linux didn't phase them for a second. She gave up all the passwords she knew. As soon as they found the first match, about an hour and a half into things, he was cuffed and taken away. The raid lasted another three and a half hours after that, as the police methodically searched for additional evidence.

She had class, and needed her laptop, so they scanned that and gave it back to her right away, but she couldn't go to class because, if you leave the scene of an investigation, you can't come back until they are done. Which meant she couldn't go buy cigarettes, either, she was out, and none of the police smoked, the poor thing. So she pulled some hair out, strand by strand. The police had a rookie with them they assigned to her, probably like "Watch what we do and make sure she doesn't freak out." They set up two tables in her driveway. Anything potentially dangerous was brought there, as well as electronics and media. Other things were opened, searched, and placed on the floor. They took all hard drives and electronic components. They searched stacks of blank CDs, looking for any hidden amongst the blanks. They took all hand labeled CDs. They felt all cushions carefully, but not finding anything, did not rip them open. They opened all boxes, jars, bags, etcetera, and searched them.

I know all this because we spent about five hours last night going over it with her. If you ever have a friend go through a traumatic experience, this is the best thing you can do for them. Just listen, as they say the same things over and over again. Heck, when they slow down, ask questions to get them going again. Encourage them to show their feelings about it, too, if they cry or rage or shake or whatever, so much the better. The earlier you can get them to do it, the better, because (according to some psychological theories as I understand them) during traumatic, emotional events, the rational mind shuts down and disassociates at least a little. The experience is stored in memory as an undifferentiated lump with heavy emotional triggers attached. If it isn't processed, anything associated with the event can trigger strong emotions, once again causing the rational mid to shut down a little. Having one's rational mind shut down all the time is sub-optimal. She is going to clean up, move all his stuff to storage, and smudge the place with sage, which normally would earn an eye-roll from me, but this is exactly the place for that ritual. It's not magic, it's psychology.

The thing is, she had broken up with him the week before, and it was under consideration for a long time, because he just couldn't get his shit together after his dad died two years ago. He hadn't worked in years, he didn't do anything around the house, he just didn't do anything. He never wanted to hang out with me, even though we have similar interests and had fun conversations at parties. She would come home and find him crying on the couch. He doesn't remember much of his childhood, what he does remember is terrifying. His dad was a hoarder, and they were divorced when he was very young. His mom treated him like a boyfriend. His girlfriend reported seeing his mother sit on his lap and stroke his hair. He's thirty five. He had not had sex with his girlfriend in six or eight months.

I knew some of this before the incident so if it seems I rushed to judgment yesterday it is only because so many things suddenly made much more sense in this new light. It is still possible he is innocent of everything. It depends on exactly what they found, I suppose, and they have a year long record of someone, using several different IP addresses which they can now connect securely to him, I believe, viewing a great deal of very disturbing things online. They read the titles and descriptions of all of them to my wife's friend. We had a large bust of a child pornography ring here last month, actual production of the stuff, and the police admitted that there were fifteen additional people being raided here yesterday. I believe he had also recently befriended a young autistic man of twenty four or so who has young children. The police asked if he he had had any contact with people with young children, and his girlfriend told them that he had, and who they were, so they could question them. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't get closer to this guy. My cousin has young kids and they are over at our house a lot. Again, I'm not saying this man actually did anything to children himself or intended to. But I see a lot of data points that fit a certain class of patterns of human psychological illness here.

So that's about it. That's all I know at this point. My wife and I are glad that we can be there for her friend while she goes through this, it isn't over for her yet, not by a long shot. Her family owns the trailer park (no snickers, it's very nice) where she lives (in a three bedroom double wide that is as nice as my place, and why am I worried about class issues right now?) She may have to testify, that depends a lot on him, I imagine. We don't even know where he is being held. No local police were involved, it was all state and federal. He called and left a message for her, said not to believe anything they said, asked her to pray for him, and asked her to help bail him out. His bail is eighty thousand, so someone would have to some up with eight. There is no way in hell she is going to put up any money. Note that in his message, again he did not directly protest innocence, he said, "Don't believe them." I believe there is a high risk that if he did get out, he would kill himself, which is why I made the comment yesterday. I was empathizing with what I can only imagine a person in his apparent situation must be going through. That's one of my flaws, I can't really shut off my empathy. It makes it hard to be around people sometimes, or even watch certain kinds of movies or television, like the original British version of The Office took me a really long time to warm up to, I always felt too much empathy towards the character Michael Scott to laugh at him. But I'm babbling now, I guess I don't really have anything else to say at present.

User Journal

Journal: Wasted humor

Journal by JWSmythe

I hate it when I put work into humor and no one notices, so maybe some folks will notice it here. :)

    There was a story a few days ago titled Giant Planet Nine Times the Mass of Jupiter Found

    Thread, segue, tangent, and a reference to Space Panda's, I doctored up
    this photo.

    Who can't love a cute cuddly planet eating space panda?

    Too bad we can't embed images into the comments, it would have been funnier faster.

    So, enjoy. :)

User Journal

Journal: Slashcode Follies 6

Journal by spun

The codemonkeys of Slashdot have obviously been pounding randomly on their keyboards recently. Here's a thought, if you are going to hire monkeys to maintain your code, you should at least test it before deploying it to your live servers. This hasn't been Rob Malda's personal blog for years, it's a fricken' business. Do you Slashdot employees like your jobs? Do you want them to continue to exist? If so, perhaps you should start treating this like a business and not like a hobby. Quit breaking things.

User Journal

Journal: Freedom 5

Journal by spun

I just had an interesting revelation regarding freedom. My mom came down with pancreatic cancer about a year ago, and I felt my personal sense of freedom curtailed. Sure, it was only curtailed by my own sense morality and obligation. but it was limited nonetheless. And I noticed, there is only so much freedom I am willing to give up. I was suddenly much more aware of, and resistant to, all the other limitations on my freedom like my marriage and my job and living in a society where I have to wear pants. Then my mom died, and I inherited a house and quite a bit of money. Now that my freedom is far less constrained by finances, or by dying single mother, only child dynamics, the minor impositions of job and marriage and pants obsessed society don't even register.

I've read that the sense of certainty is simply an emotion, a specific analog circuit that engages and drives our logical mind to come up with explanations. Now, through experience, I believe our sense of freedom is another emotional circuit. While in a strictly deterministic world individual freedom does not exist as such, the sense of personal freedom is a very real part of the chain of cause and effect.

(And thus, a personal conundrum is resolved, cognitive dissonance is decreased, and pants are worn.)

User Journal

Journal: Changing my sig 1

Journal by spun

After nearly a decade with the same sig, I've decided to get rid of the Python quote and replace it with something even more combative. I saw it in an Empire: Total War loading screen, heh heh.

"None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license." --John Milton.

Liberty is a social contract, it requires active participation to achieve it. License is "I get to do what I want."

User Journal

Journal: My stupid purchase of the month 4

Journal by JWSmythe

Sometimes, when I have a couple extra pennies, I buy something that just feels good to get, that is completely worthless. I'm no shopaholic, so these are usually simple things.

    I was at CompUSA and found that they had glowing keyboard stickers. Like, stickers to put over each letter, that will glow in the dark.

    I should explain, I've been touch typing for over 20 years, and can usually get 100wpm with 0 errors on most typing tests. I only slow down by thinking. People have watched me programming, typing emails or journal entries like this. A few have commented on it. I'll blaze through lines as fast as they can read, but I'll pause at spoken pauses (ummm, like commas), and when I'm thinking of what to say next.

    At home, I'm usually typing in the dark, with just the light of my monitor, and possibly a TV.

    So I got the yellow stickers (thanks everyone for asking). My shells are green or yellow text on a black background. It's enough to drive most people nuts, if they try to keep up with all my terminals. It's not usually hard. One running top. one tailing the log of most interest. one editing code, and executing it. I may have one with a man page up, and another logged into another machine to reference old code. Add one for a web browser for my email, and another for looking up something specific. So the browsers aren't green on black (except my themed gmail account is pretty close).

    I got glow in the dark bling for my keyboard. :) Ok, I'm easily entertained.

User Journal

Journal: You've been served 13

Journal by spun

So I served a guy a restraining order today. He'd beat up my friend a couple times, gave him a concussion the last time. So my friend got a restraining order, but he's a waiter and this is the dead time of year for that in Santa Fe, and he doesn't have the money to pay the sheriff to serve the papers. So I volunteered. This guy is a punk ass gangster wannabe who hangs out with a crowd of (snicker) Santa Fe toughs. But they kicked the shit out of my friend in public a couple times, and they are cracked out of their heads a lot of the time, so yeah, I was a little scared. But it was the right thing to do, and the fact that you have to pay someone to serve a restraining order sucks balls, so I had to do it. I had to track the fucker down, too, because he didn't show up for work tonight. He was off at some bar with his friends. I walked right up to him, made sure it was him (I've never met the guy), handed him the papers and walked out, calm as you please.

My hands are shaking a little bit now, though.

User Journal

Journal: I love Amazon [tag: sarcasm] 1

Journal by JWSmythe

I love Amazon.

    I was helping my aunt put her bookstore online. She has a used paperback store with tens of thousands of books in stock. She's been doing it for over 25 years, and the technology hasn't changed since Day 1. Literally, she's still using the same old cash register as the day she started.

    A few years ago, I suggested putting it online, and/or selling some of her overstock through eBay. I'd say Amazon, but they rape vendors on the fees. To demonstrate what I was trying to explain, I put together a warm friendly front end that would pull the book details from Amazon. It was the best source I could find for any arbitrary ISBN.

    Well, 3+ years later, she gave me the go ahead to start clearing out the back room. Great, I can start doing the inventory, and listing items. Great went to not so great. I picked up a cheap barcode scanner, and scanned the first book. I got an error back from Amazon. My API key was still valid, but they now require the requests to be signed. Digging around a little, this happened in August of 2009. I do receive emails from them, but I never saw anything regarding this. Apparently they gave their developer network 3 months to implement the signing.

    Their signing isn't quite as easy as it seems it should be. Their documentation is now focused on their cloud computing platform. The rest is sparse at best. Most of the references I found talked about how to do it before the signing, which I already mastered. I finally found someone who had posted a function that would sign the request. That took a few hours and a lot of Google searches to accomplish. What a way to support legacy apps. I found plenty of references where other folks had modules written for their software that broke on the day of the changeover. If this had been a production application, it would have been a real headache. Come on, don't change the functionality of the API without clear explanation of how to fix it.

    Now it's up and back running. I'm adding the rest of the required functionality. I could have spent the weekend adding functionality, rather than chasing down a solution to fix what they broke.

When you don't know what you are doing, do it neatly.

Working...