The State of Booze – New Zealand

While one of my good friends is disappointed that we are referring to the Kiwi carton as a box, I believe it is a perfect fit, it does not indicate the size of the container, nor does it discriminate as to whether what you are purchasing is in a can or a bottle. I think there are far bigger fish to fry in regards to the state of alcohol consumption in this small, communist country in the South Pacific.

For starters, the beer most commonly found in the aformentioned cardboard carrying containers most commonly has a alcohol volume of no more than 4.0%, this disease flows throughout the tap beer in almost every hotel or bar in the country. Speights, Tui, Export Gold and Monteiths Original (by far the most common ales) are all in the style of this watered down substance people try and pass off as beer. This travesty however is not terminal, there are a variety of full strength beers available, (Monteiths Radler and Celtic, Flame and Export Premium) all of which are normally available and in my experience a far better selection.  None of this should be a problem, but any visitors and most locals don’t realise that they are actually being robbed of an important part of beer. If this pandemic is indicative of the rest of the world, it does not surprise me that Douglas Adams warned travellers of the strength of Australian beer.

Secondly, a standard shot in this region of the world measures only 15ml. This doesn’t seem to be a problem at the outset as you can just order a double, infact most pubs sell doubles without you even requesting. The problem arises when you would like an actual double shot (Scotch and Dry – I’ll broach this soon). I’m still, to this date unsure what to say to the barkeep, “Can I please have a double-double?” or “I’d like a quadruple scotch”. It’s not all bad on this front though, generally the bartenders do a good job with the portions, lots of ice, your spirit and then normally they do not fill glass to the brim with mixer, some people may consider this to be being ripped off, however I think it is good service – you don’t really want mixer anyway.

Finally, something I hold near and dear to my heart is Dry Ginger Ale, possibly we are spoiled in Australia due to the abundance of Kirks Ginger Ale which clearly surpasses any competitors, but in this locale we are stuck with the brown imitation that is Schweppes Ginger Ale. As any drinker of Scotch would know, Scotch should only be mixed with more Scotch, but if it must be mixed with something, it better be some tasty dry.

The “kottke matrix test-tube babies” Search Engine test

Today at work we were discussing Search Engine Optimisation and wether or not search engines actually index content a long way down the page. I developed the “kottke matrix test-tube babies” test, this originated from me recalling a crazy post on Jason Kottke’s blog about the 2nd and 3rd Matrix movies. These had a ridiculous number of comments (457) and a lot of content, which I suspected would be beyond any reasonable content threshold a search engine may have implemented. I took a search term out of the final comment (test-tube babies) and a couple of terms to narrow the search (kottke matrix) and away I fired on the big search engines.

The results of the test, Google and Live are the only 2 that happen to return the page I was targeting. It’s interesting to see however, that Yahoo finds the Science page which contains the term “test tube” but not “babies”. This page is 180kb in size and “test tube” appears approximately half way down, whereas the Matrix Revolutions page is 646kb and test-tube appears at the very bottom.

What’s the moral to this story? Google and Live.com index atleast the first 646kb of a page, Yahoo indexes (at a minimum) around 100kb and Ask isn’t on the radar.

Daringfireball

Since Daring Fireball has opened it’s closed feed up to allcomers it has turned from, good well written articles that I really enjoyed reading, to my Google Reader folder of stuff I really want to read every morning. I don’t have an Apple, can’t use an Apple and probably never will, and maybe that’s why I never considered paying for the full feed (though I’ve thought about getting a shirt). Anyway, it’s good, especially cause it provided me with a link to this great story. I also really love his use of the ★s.

Google, Wikipedia and no-follow

The whole concept of the no-follow tag is definitely interesting, it’s effectiveness is questionable and as far as comment spam goes, it hasn’t helped. (Thank God for Akismet) As far as it’s use in day to day operations of the web, it is somewhat un-spoken about, I have always thought that links that use the no-follow tag should be indicated as such, so the user can tell if the publisher of the website actually “believes” in that link. It is one thing to link somewhere, but another thing to say I actually respect the linked website enough that I will give it my vote. It’s somewhat like democracy really, it’s one thing to complain about the current administration or government, but you don’t really have that right unless you actually vote.

Anyway, there is a pretty broad assumption that search engines respect no-follow completely – never using that link in the Pagerank algorithm. Duncan Riley from TechCrunch suggests that it has pretty much solved the problem of people gaming Wikipedia which is feasible, but who is to say that Google actually ignores those links. Wikipedia’s content is generally very good and I think it is just far too good for any ranking algorythm to ignore.

We know there are 2.345 million variables (this number may be wrong) that Google uses to rank websites, so why wouldn’t it use links from Wikipedia as another indicator of relevance. The obvious problem that this approach encounters is verifying the integrity of the links. This could be done relatively accurately by time, if the link has been there for a month then include it in the index.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Site dramas and Dreamhost (PS)

So, my site has been down for a few days, not really sure for how long but certainly since Thursday. I started noticing some mysterious things happening, for one thing when I logged into my SSH to check some DNS entries for work the name of my server had changed from dinero to crazyman. I thought this was quite strange but didn’t think too much of it at the time. Then when I went to look at something on my site it couldn’t connect to the database. I checked the dreamhost status page and it said they were having network outage. Again I didn’t worry.

So today when I went to post a post (not this post) and it was still down, I went investigating. It turns out I had signed up for Dreamhost PS which I remember doing, but I thought it was a joke. I’m pretty certain this post about it had something to do with that. Anyway, turns out somewhere in the migration across the database user didn’t get enabled on my WordPress database. So I fixed that today and we are back in action.

Now the real point of this diatribe is a couple of minor problems that I’ve encountered with dreamhost.

  1. I signed up originally with my work email address and I want to change it. But there is no where (as far as I can tell) to change it. Had I had my actual email address on the account, I might have known that this was all about to happen/go pear shaped.

  2. There is no way in the panel for me to actually remove the PS feature from my account. I know I really don’t need it and I don’t know if I actually will remove it, but I’d like the option without having to deal with support, which in my experience isn’t bad at all with DH, however I still don’t like doing it.
  3. The dreamhost blog kinda misled me, (clearly not intentionally) I would hate if it changed it’s style, but possibly there should be a more corporatespeak blog as well so I can compare the 2.