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I was a sixth grade communist Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A cute story about my 6th grade class.

A picture named gail.jpgMy girlfriend in sixth grade, Gail Schneider, who I still see from time to time, will tell you that I haven't changed in the 42 years since I was a 12-year-old boy growing up in Queens. I always thought it's funny how women, even when they are little girls, think they can peer into your soul and see the real you, but in this case I think Gail is right. (BTW, that might be a picture of Gail, a few years later, at Woodstock.)

My mother accumulates things, it's her curse. She wishes she traveled lighter, in the George Carlin sense, with less baggage. She keeps shedding stuff, but then a relative dies and she ends up with another closet full of stuff that's too precious to throw out. Anyway, she had been holding on to my sixth grade autograph book, and gave it to me on my last trip to NY, and I've been reading it. This one was worth keeping!

Some observations. Well, men never know what women are thinking. There were a couple of girls who had a crush on me, all the girls knew it, but I was clueless at the time. The trail is right there in the book.

And (finally I get to the point) along with a couple of friends, Clifford Hable and John Monterisi, I was part of a club of sixth grade communists. Of course we weren't really communists, we were just kids, but we read the news and knew the adults were freaked out by the commies, and we thought they were silly (don't all 12-year-olds think adults are silly). So we had a club, and in that club we were communists. That's all over the autograph book too. Hammers and sickles, comrade this and comrade that. It still makes me laugh how we adopted the symbolism and language of our most feared enemy.

A picture named mao.gifI wrote to the Chinese mission to the UN asking for literature about their country, and boy did they send stuff. Color magazines and posters mostly in English, a copy of Mao's Little Red Book, a huge wall-size poster of Chairman Mao. I loved reading the stuff the way I loved District 9. It was science fiction, but it also bore some semblance to reality. It was forbidden and terrorized the adults. I liked it! ;->

So today when a Republican Twitterer from the Deep South called me a commisar and said I should communicate with the Kremlin and said dasvidaniya, I smiled, and almost thanked him. As if it were Clifford or John, complimenting me on some daring or noble revolutionary act in defiance of Mrs. Dori, our sixth grade teacher.

On reflection, I realized this is the new Republican macho. Call anyone who criticizes a Republican a Nazi or a Commie. Can't call me a Nazi (I have relatives who died in Hitler's camps) so go for commie. Except the Cold War has been over for almost 20 years. It's really sad that it has come to this.

BTW, another woman who could peer into my soul was Mrs. Dori, who was one of my two favorite teachers. She wrote in my autograph book: "To David, a boy who really cares." I don't know if she wrote that for everyone, maybe she did. But in my case, it was true.

How to fix URL-shorteners Permanent link to this item in the archive.

First a few notes as a preamble.

1. URL-shorteners are bad for the Internet. They centralize linking, and make it more fragile, and more controllable. Wait till the Chinese govt finds out about them.

2. When breaks, it will be an outage that may be bigger than Twitter going down. Not only do we lose the present, but we lose the past too. One big URL shortener that dominates the others is itself a dangerous thing.

3. Twitter could and should obviate the need for URL-shorteners. Yes I know SMS messages are limited to 160 chars. So shorten the URLs at the SMS gateway and leave them long for communication over pathways that are not so limited. Any engineer could see this obvious solution.

4. For now URL-shorteners are a fact of life.

End of preamble. Now to what is needed in URL-shorteners to work around the various issues they present.

It's not so different from the problem with Feedburner, and the solution they used, and implemented quickly once it was known.

1. CNAMEs. It must be possible for the user to own and control the domain his or her URLs live at. Technically, this means I register the domain name, and map a sub-domain to the URL-shortener site with a CNAME record. Anyone who knows how to use Godaddy can do it. I would be happy to write a howto that explains.

2. Shared data. The URL-shortener and the user share a space where the data is stored. Joe Moreno at Adjix, who I have been working with, has figured out how to do it on Amazon S3. I have mapped a domain to an S3 bucket, and given his software permission to write to that bucket. Here's the key point. At any time I can revoke the permission and my URLs still work. Or Adjix could disappear, and the shortened URLs would still work. With this method the only way there is linkrot is if S3 goes down.

Here's a URL that links to a Flickr picture:

Obviously the sub-domain,, is temporary. But if you're a techie, I encourage you to do a DNS lookup on You'll see it's a CNAME to And get the contents of the file to see how it works. It's static. Yet it still gathers statistics. Yes, it's unusual. That's why Joe was the only one to crack this nut. He's a creative guy. ;->

It's such a clean implementation that if I decide later to move the files to an Apache server on Linux, no problem.

I think basically Adjix has solved all the problems with URL-shorteners. I hope other engineers poke at this and verify my conclusion or disprove them.

Wednesday links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named d9.gifNot uncommon that an intensely productive week is followed by an unproductive one. Fighting a cold. Probably just my spirit saying Slow Down Davey. I've learned to accept these things, not fight them.

Great new domain,, suggested by Mike Wheeler -- no doubt we'll find a use for it. One thing Twitter has taught us is how to be creative in fewer characters! BTW, don't assume that will be a URL-shortener. It might be like Andrew Baron's, a site that was born after Twitter, and has the short URLs designed-in.

l've wanted to have Google index all the script code in the OPML Editor's root file and tools. That's where most of its personality is defined. So I wrote a simple script that visits all the scripts and does a web page listing each. I think this will possibly interest one or two people other than myself. But I'm linking to it here so Google thinks it's important enough to index. ;->

I found an review the NY Times ran about ThinkTank in 1983. It predates any coverage from the tech industry. At the time it ran I was totally out of money and was going to shut the company and find a job. Instead, we were able to quickly raise money and a company started, leading to a Mac product and a PC product, and lots more. Now here's the scary part -- that was 26 years ago. A long friggin time already! Yow.

Went to see District 9 yesterday. No spoilers. But it's fun, thoughtful, interesting, well-acted movie with lots of B-movie scifi cliches, all done masterfully. Lots of twists, and one or two places where you go Oh Yeah! because you know what's coming is really coooool. Good movie to take your inner-adolescent to.

Chuck Grassley Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named grassley.jpgI used to think Chuck Grassley, Republican Senator from Iowa, was an honorable man. An exception to the spineless liars of his party. Now he's spouting the "death panels" lie, like all the rest. This pitch hypocritically confuses and hurts the very people they claim to care about, the people and families of people who are dealing with serious illness or imminent death.

Grassley: "We should not have a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on grandma."

It seems unlikely that Grassley, who is 75, has not dealt with death in his family. If they're like other Americans, they got help from the medical system preparing for it, or dealing with its aftermath. At least they were offered the help. Being educated about this subject not only saves hurt and grief, it also saves lives.

There is no more sensitive subject. No more private place you don't want the government to mess around in. And btw, the Republicans are sneaky -- they are government. Grassley is a US Senator. Doesn't get more government than that.

Saying the Democrats want to euthanize your grandmother is beyond despicable, I can't think of a word that describes how low it is.

It's time for the Republican Party to die.

I'd sign up for that death panel.


Last update: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 11:50 PM Pacific.

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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