The marrspoints.com racing application recently got some SEO updates. These we long overdue in terms of getting better ranking inside Google. Now driver’s season results URLs include the drivers name (example for Mike Collins) and the race results include the race name and classes (example for 2017 MARRS 5 SM Feature race). Most importantly the Points Leaderboards have the class name and season as part of the URL now.
On top of all of that, I automated the sitemap to build nightly and worked with the Google Search console to fix duplicate title tags and content descriptions.
Enter Tuckey – SEO URL Rescue!
This all should have been done long ago. But features were my first priority. I used the Tuckey urlrewrite filter for all of the friendly URL magic. It really is awesome and I am glad I remembered it from all the way back to my CNET days when we used it on a project there.
Since I left Digital River at the end of February, I have been working closely with Scott Scazafavo on a stealth start-up idea we had been kicking around. Most mornings I hit my office early and attempt to further the research or code base. I worked on some Java REST API code I wanted to improve from its early usage at marrspoints.com. I remembered there was a simple test site that gave canned responses to HTTP GET, POST requests along with cookies and the likes. After a tad of searching, I found it again: httpbin.org – what a nice tool. Simple yet elegant – and great for testing out HTTP code samples where you just need a simple endpoint. Tutorials on the Internet should just use this site in their examples – as it likely will not change much.
The dangers of the Internet
This is where the danger began… As I was done using it for the simple testing I was doing, and was ready to move onto the next phase, I noticed that it had the authors name with a hyperlink. Since I wished I had written such a useful “demo” or example.com website, I wanted to see a tad more about him. Through Kenneth Reitz, I learned that I comparatively don’t have many cool hobbies or talents (I am not that great of an auto racer and I have not written books, published music, been a professional speaker or even amateur photographer). That is all on top of his enormous contribution to the Open Source space. This guy is REALLY talented. Through his link on his personal values, I saw another link stating that “Life is not a Race, but it has No Speed Limits”. Of course that deserved a click!
Through Kenneth and that link, I met (online so to speak) Derek Sivers and read his axiom – that “Life Has No Speed Limits“. And though that story, the life of Kimo Williams and why focus matters. Focus? On the Internet with so many lessons to learn?
Saying “Hell Yeah!”
It was great to “meet” three SUPER TALENTED people on the Internet this morning. People I will likely never meet in person or even exchange emails. Yet, people from whom I have already learned. While perusing Derek’s site, I found another life lesson to which I truly try to adhere. No “yes.” Either “HELL YEAH!” or “no.”
OK- back to that focus thing and getting some work done.
So what is wrong with curl? Nothing. But Postman (at getpostman.com) is simply one of the best tools I have used while developing code that consumes APIs. This is another case where I was using caveman tech (curl) to do a job so elegantly managed by a service that makes a desktop app that runs on Linux, MacOS, and Windows (and syncs across them).
Currently, I am now working on a stealth start-up idea with an even more stealth cohort of mine in the financial space. The data company we have tentatively selected (and their API documentation) pointed me to Postman. It is awesome. I have deeply tested the financial access, accounts, instruments, etc. This was accomplished on my own accounts in only a couple hours of work and research. Postman is script-able, has variable replacement, etc. Oh, and the best part, a single developer license is FREE. My favorite price.
To think Sam Morris at Digital River talked about Postman dozens of times. It never occurred to me to go look at it. That cost me a lot of wasted time. Especially since I know Sam is “the man”. Thank you Sam – the second time I heard of it, I knew to go get a copy and learn it quickly.
I hate to think of myself as a tech Luddite. Being an Ubuntu Linux fan has caused familiarization with the Unity desktop. Recently, I have been playing with 17.10 to see what is coming in 18.04 LTS. I never thought I would defend the Unity desktop as my earliest Linux days were split between the Gnome and KDE desktops. But I wish I had my old Unity back. Yes, I know I can return to it in 17.10 – but it is becoming mostly unsupported. Incremental scaling is essential with today’s 4K monitors. Or I need Lasik. Uber-Lasik in my case.
Why I like LTS.1
I never actually run the first point release of an LTS version. I waited for 16.04.1 to get anything real live on 16.04 LTS. It seems the Gnome desktop has a big memory leak and it likely will not be fixed in the 18.04 LTS initial release in April.
I know this is all for the good. That change thing. Moving to Gnome in this case. It is far more widely supported and used across more variants of Linux. I used to be a CentOS champion as I loosened the evil grip of RedHat subscription fees back in my AOL cost cutting days. I have since become almost an exclusive Ubuntu home data center. Seems I will be straddling Gnome and Unity for a year or so. One other word of caution, the Gnome 3.26 desktop (used in 17.10) does not truly support incremental UI scaling yet. This is a problem for people like me with a 4K laptop screen or large 4K desktops. There is a workaround. However, it is not clear if fractional scaling will make it into Gnome 3.28 which ships with 18.04 LTS.
Happy times. It is really hard to see my shell windows in a non-scaled up Gnome desktop on a 4K laptop screen.
I am pretty psyched to get my latest Intel NUC. The NUC7i7DNKE has an 8th generation Intel® Core™ i7 vPro™ 4.2 GHz “Turbo”, quad core processor with 32GB of DDR4 2400 MHz RAM and a 1TGB SSD drive. Not to mention built in 4K UHD video with HDMI ports and USB 3.0.
I will use this as my main development machine. It is crazy that I tend to run out of RAM on my 16GB machines running Ubuntu.
This will be my 9th NUC. Maybe I am a little too in love with these things. They make great clusters for home research and development on distributed technologies such as Cassandra and Hadoop. I have three nodes running Cassandra and Hadoop today – and am looking to add a 4th node when I free up my current development machine NUC.
Quiet, Low Power, great for clustering!
They are whisper quiet and use very low power. There are 5 in a stack sitting on my desk next to me as I write this, and they make less noise than a single standard PC. In fact, they seem to make no noise at all.
I also run Windows 10 on one as a home theater type of PC connected to a Samsung UHD TV via HDMI. These NUCs are awesome. I gave my old i3 core media NUC to my younger brother as a gift.
Here is an old picture of my early stack of NUCs. They are each 4″ x 4″.
As a past media executive at companies such as CNET Networks, Microsoft’s MSN, AOL and the early social network Classmates.com, I have operated a blog here and there over the years. Mostly to test out SEO ideas and cross link my sites, etc.
Started on LiveJournal in 2004
One of my unfortunate SEO decisions was using LiveJournal.com for my tech postings. In 2004 as CTO of CNET Networks, I was fortunate enough to meet Brad Fitzpatrick who invented LiveJournal (as well as memcached). Since we made a (failed) bid to buy the site, I decided I should use it and get to know it a bit. I had used it to blog about some of my non-proprietary experiences with technology and software from time to time.
My last post there was almost two years ago to the day. I was musing at the intersection of my auto racing hobby and my technology hobby. It was through a lack of automation of the points standing of my auto racing league that I had finally brought these two passions together. This was all enabled by Open Source, the Intel NUC computers (home data center), and Amazon’s AWS hosting facility. Resulting in the creation of the marrspoints.com race points tracking web application.
LiveJournal did not seem to get the SEO juice
Compared to modern blogging sites such as WordPress (which this blog is built on), LiveJournal never got the great SEO features that it deserved. Therefore today, I am moving my LiveJournal information over to a new home here at cahall-labs.com. All of the posts have been successfully moved here as of this post.
Open Source and my Home Data Center
I have a few tech topics that are of interest to me. They include:
My home data center evolution
The Open Source operating systems and application software I use at home
The marrspoints.com site was simple to build, but the back end tools to ingest all of the race data was a lot more work. I occasionally look at ways to change the data ingestion or analytics. Therefore I play with tools such as Cassandra and Hadoop on my NUC cluster in my home data center. In general, I will try NOT to blog about racing in this blog. That will move to a blog at either cahallracing.com or cahall.com.
Thank you LiveJournal – hello WordPress
So thank you to LiveJournal for the tools and time. It was a good 14 year run. There is also an old, outdated racing blog on WordPress. It will likely be moving to a new home in the next month or two. It will be good to get back to using the tool Matt Mullenweg built (WordPress). I had the opportunity to work with Matt at CNET when he spent time there for a year on his way to becoming famous. Clearly I wish I had made a blog tool. Some day I may even blog about Gavin Hall and Alex Rudloff. They built blogsmith. Blogsmith powers TMZ.com and most of the AOL blogs. I guess I met most of the people that built blogs… Very, very smart and talented people.