Saturday, October 28, 2006

Clash of the Titans

Yesterday I attended the fourth annual Clash of the Titans event at Regent University. Bill O’Reilly moderated between former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Spokesperson Dr. Hanan Ashrawi as they debated the question: "Can Military Force Bring Lasting Peace to the Middle East?" All three participants did a really good job of conveying their point of view without being unnecessarily rude. In fact, Barak claimed that if Ashrawi was in charge of the Palestinians, there would be peace in the region.

The crowd was quite enamored with O’Reilly when he first came out on stage; I thought a few of the audience members looked as if they’d died and gone to heaven. And both Barak and Ashrawi received equal applause. There wasn’t any booing this year unlike the last debate, but I suppose that’s because last year’s subject, the war in Iraq, hit so close to home, and there was a large military presence in the audience last year.

I think Ashrawi did a really good job of conveying to the audience the Palestinians viewpoint. Both Barak and Ashrawi admitted the only solution to the current situation was the two-state solution, but neither thought this solution would come anytime soon, especially with Hamas ruling in Palestine (Ashrawi was very careful to avoid criticizing Hamas, stating they were in power due to the protest vote).

Barak stated that he wished Israel could be located somewhere else in the world. America has it pretty good since they aren’t situated in the middle of a hostile group of neighbors. Barak told an old joke about Moses that went something like this:
Moses stuttered because he was not an eloquent man. God asked him where he wanted to settle and Moses said, 'Ca-ca-ca-ca,' and God understood he meant Canaan. But Moses was trying to say 'Canada.'

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Gina Jones at the Library of Congress tipped me off to another missing website: The LOC had crawled this site last August as part of the Darfur Collection. According to the Yahoo directory, this site is about an
Organization formed to help women who were victims of rape or sexual assault in the Darfur conflict. Site provides news, timeline, collection of related documents, and calls to action.
I have reconstructed the website and made it available here.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Google Code Search

A few weeks ago Google launched Google Code Search which allows you to search through source code that Google finds while crawling the Web. Like Google Scholar, this promises to be a really useful tool for searching specifically for resources that you want while ignoring all the other garbage that’s out there. It's also another small step into pulling the deep web up to the surface.

Of course this also opens the door to embarrassing numerous programmers and organizations and exposing many security holes by allowing you to search for code vulnerabilities, usernames/passwords, backdoor passwords, etc. Google has acknowledged these potential problems but maintains that all tools can be used for good or bad purposes and that the good far outweighs the bad in this case. Kudos for Google not caving into the whiners.

My own vanity search revealed that Google has only indexed a very small amount of code that I’ve made available on the Web. (Of course not all the code I’ve made available has my name on it.) I am really surprised Warrick hasn’t been indexed yet considering the code has been available for quite some time. It’s possible that switching the URL where the source code is located when the version changes it is causing Google to be a little skittish.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Back from the Bahamas

Becky and I returned Saturday morning from our cruise to the Bahamas. Our room on board was spacious, and we loved getting breakfast in bed and twice-daily room service. We had a great time snorkeling in Nassau and the Atlantis hotel, and the beach in Freeport was incredible. I celebrated my birthday onboard and got to blow out candles on a cake of Baked Alaska.

Besides getting to spend a lot of time with Becky, I also had plenty of time to read. I brought along a book called The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project. Collins does a fantastic job at presenting how science and faith can be and should be integrated. Collins is an excellent communicator, and he especially does a good job of summarizing the current state of scientific knowledge. I highly recommend this book to the atheist, agnostic, and believer. I found the Language of God and Finding God at Harvard (which I just completed last month) to be very encouraging to my faith.

Now it’s back to the grindstone...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Storm before the calm

Becky and I are going on our first cruise next week. We depart Norfolk tomorrow for Nassau and then to Freeport. This was supposed to be the "celebrate finishing the dissertation" cruise that we were going to take next summer, but the baby changed all that. Becky just finished her first trimester, so she should be feelin’ good for the cruise.

I’m glad to be getting out of town... yesterday a nor’easter came crawling into town. Combined with the high tide and full moon, my neighborhood was flooded just as bad as it was when Ernesto came through. I took these photos this morning.

Colonial Place mermaid

Apartment building next door

House next door

Our parking lot

Friday, October 06, 2006

Mark Foley websites recovered

Mark Foley, a Congressman from Florida, resigned on Sept 29, 2006 over allegations of inappropriate emails to minors who worked as Congressional pages. It was brought to my attention on Tuesday (thank you Martha!) that his websites


were both shut off after the resignation. I have reconstructed both sites using Warrick and made them available here.'s web crawler

Today a member of the Heritrix list serve pointed everyone to an article on Sun’s website that discusses’s web crawler. The article dates back to August of 2005, so it’s a little dated. I couldn’t find any updated information on the crawler, but apparently it is proprietary, and the source code will likely never see the light of day. actually developed 2 crawlers in 2004- one written entirely in Java and the other mostly Java with some C++. The article states that the crawlers "may be the most sophisticated, massively scaled Java technology application in existence."

The article doesn’t mention anything about Heritrix, a crawler which is also completely written in Java. Although Heritrix doesn’t currently have a distributed architecture, it could still be deployed in such an environment. It would be really interesting to see the two crawlers compete at the National Java Crawling Championships.