Friday, September 30, 2011

Dear Google: I Want My Threads Back

I generally like Google. They make nice things. But sometimes they drive me nuts tying to protect me from me.

Consider this picture:

I Want My Threads Back

You can see with naked eye that memcache requests are lined up one after another. Yes, indeed, values stored in memcache are values in the collection, for which I have the keys. It doesn't make sense to group values under one memcache key. And it is a no-brainer candidate for parallelism, with standard Java tools.

But no, you can't. Google said so. It's for your own good. Go use Task Queues instead.

But wait, I don't want to. Task queues are not good enough for my purpose, which is simple - collect data from either memcache or datastore into local application memory. Task queue overhead is way too high for this, and requires to add the insult of double serialization to the injury of memcache being not too fast to begin with.

I simply don't believe that the team that pulled off creation of GAE is incapable of creating a sane thread insulation model that will withstand abuse and stupidity.

I believe that the lack of governed thread model was one of fundamental shortcomings of J2EE specification. It would be really cool if GAE could take it one step forward and provide one.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Despicable Me^H^HNetflix

Been putting off disconnecting from Netflix, having collected 395 movies in the queue. Plus, been busy (you know how those disks are gathering dust for wees before you finally get your hands to watch them). But alas, money has to go where the mouth is, and we decided that the last movie we'll watch before shutting it of would be Despicable Me.

The movie is hilarious. We watched it, and immediately after it ended, we decided that we would very much like to watch the bonus features. Only...

There were none.

Behind every bonus feature title, there was a black screen with a short phrase, which reduces to "If you wanna watch the bonus, you'll have to buy the retail copy". Yes, and I forgot to mention that the disk had a "RENTAL" sign in big bold letters.

Well, to spare my time and breath, I'll just say that this is totally uncool. And totally makes me not regret finally saying goodbye to Netflix DVD.

PS: And they made me even more convinced that I had to do it by setting the cancellation effective date to one month from now. Which means they get to charge me extra month of service. I'm happy Mr. Swasey will get his extra latte or two.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SecuROM Strikes Back

Back in 2006, I bought Oblivion, oblivious to the fact that it used SecuROM DRM (that was my first encounter with it). Yes, Oblivion was a good game, and I played it through a few times, but alas, all things come to end, and today I decided to uninstall the game. Control Panel, Add or Remove Programs, Oblivion, what??? Disk? Oh I don't have the disk anymore - it was stolen. What? Good! Let me see...

SecuROM™ has determined that there is no disc in a local physical drive.

Yes, I knew that.

(bunch of irrelevant stuff)

If the problem persists, or you need additional assistance, please use the SecuROM™ Diagnostic Tool for further support.

Hmm... Not that I trust SecuROM in the first place... But there's no other option. Okay.

"Unknown publisher". Very nice.
Fifty pages EULA. Brilliant.

No applications using SecuROM™ found. Click 'Close' to go back to main screen.

Just what I need.

OK, let me add it manually.

The selected file is not using SecuROM™!

You've gotta be kidding me.

Now I remember why I didn't uninstall Oblivion since 2006. What was supposed to be a no-brainer split second action turned to be into a time sink (I have a gut feeling that this was hot the first time). Reasonable solution didn't materialize in ten minutes.

I guess I won't be uninstalling it today, either. Or, maybe... I know where to get a hold of a copy of the original Oblivion disk. Just don't tell anyone. And don't tell me that DRM doesn't make me a pirate.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Netflix: The King Of Stupid

It looks like Netflix has joined the ranks of companies whose own stupidity has run them into the ground (Nokia and RIM being prominent examples).

Not only they've screwed up their user interface, pissed off a million of their subscribers by spilling their lattes (which is better than expected, though), and lost a good deal of movies I wanted to watch.

Now they're trying to erase the very memory of it.

To whom it may concern @Netflix: I spent my own precious time to hand pick those movies over years, you dumb<censored>. Those titles were important to me, because you're not the only game in town and I wanted to watch them regardless of wheter you had them or no. Now they're all gone.

Of course, as the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. My own fault.

I guess I'd be killing off my Netflix account completely pretty soon.

PS: Now that I've saved their queue page so they can't steal more of my time and looked at it thinking how to automate the title extraction, it is very clear *why* their new user interface is so inefficient. Just take a look at the page source and try not to laugh. Hint: they could save about 40% of it just by removing unnecessary spaces and endlines. Forty bleeping percent.

PPS: This one-liner works just fine:

cat instant.html|grep -A 4 "class=\"title"|grep -v "\-\-"|grep -v span|grep -v "class=\""|sed 's/^[ \t]*//'|grep -v ^$

PPPS: "netflix alternatives" on Search Insights, Search Trends - impressive, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What Google+ Is Not

Is Not That Persistent

How long do your posts and comments live?

Is Not Suited For Long Term Use

As time goes on, it becomes more and more difficult to get to older posts. The only way to do that today is to keep clicking 'More' button and hope that the post will pop up. And God forbid you accidentally click on a wrong kind of a link, because if you use the 'back' button on the browser - well, guess what, back to square one.

Is Not Indexable

Whatever you post, goes to the black hole of your readership. Litmus test: try to find any of your public posts using any search engine. This demotivator comes to mind vividly.

Is Not Searchable

Now, *this* is a surprise, *the* search engine company being behind it. There is simply no way to search anything other than people on Google+.

Wonder if all of these are bugs or features.

UPDATE (2011/09/20): It seems that "not indexable" and "not searchable" complaints are now fixed.