Everything’s Social

I just had to make one brief comment (too long for a Tweet!) on TechCrunch’s article about Google’s upcoming FriendConnect.

Erick Schonfeld writes:

“The bigger downside of Friend Connect is that Websites using it cannot mash up the data with their own to make compelling new applications. Glazer confirmed that the data will be sent to third party sites via an iframe rather than directly through a set of APIs (as Michael speculated on Friday). However, Glazer also says that he wouldn’t be surprised if eventually Google or somebody else makes it possible for Websites to combine the Friend Connect data with their own.”

Well, if you’ve been paying attention, you doubt it will be Google who enables the re-use of data. At least not in any way you’re expecting… >:-|

The Web Bores Me

I have to face the facts: I’m completely bored of writing web apps. I’m not bored by the architecture of the Web, which I believe should be leveraged more than it currently is; but sometimes I really don’t think I can face the grind and hassle of assembling what should be a simple web application or web service. Let’s face it: it’s so freaking dull. And so much harder than it should be. I read somewhere (unfortunately, I can’t remember where) that the most complex aspect of any enterprise web development project is AJAX. I can believe it easily. Add a pile of enterprise middleware suckage plus associated crappy tools and it’s ten times more disheartening.

So I’m learning Cocoa. Gonna see what I can do with desktop apps that speak Web. At least it’ll be different. And cross-platform capability be damned (for the moment, at least.) Then who knows? Maybe it’s time to take distributed computing to the iPhone :)

I suppose it’s no wonder I’m more comfortable writing middleware. It’s hard, but at least it’s not hard and terminally boring. (YMMV.)

Amazon vs. Google: Services vs. Application Hosting Plus

So everyone’s abuzz about the Google Application Engine. Is it a me-too play on Amazon Web Services? Is this gonna get ugly? (Bloggers love it when it gets ugly!) Here’s the low-down according solely to moi:

Amazon is playing the services game; Google is playing the application environment game. Put more simply: one is doing SOA and the other is doing web application hosting with extras (like authentication.) Then there’s the coupling issue: Amazon loosely-coupled (with some acceptable exceptions regarding S3); Google fully-integrated.

They’re apples and oranges, really. Though I don’t expect that to stop the comparisons and competitive hype. One could certainly take business from the other. There could potentially be plenty of ugliness. Somehow I doubt the Amazon WS team is quaking in its boots just yet.

In the enterprise, Amazon will win hands down. You can use Amazon WS without your business logic or operational data ever leaving your own data center. You can replace SQS with another queue service if you don’t like Amazon’s (assuming you’ve written your interfaces properly!) In the Web 2.0 space, it depends on a few things: 1) marketing, 2) price, 3) reliability, 4) stage in growth of web app–I believe at some point any successful web app will outgrow a sandbox.

As for the Python thing: well, it might have been a smart move. Python developers are quite vocal. If enough of them try and like GAE, the buzz generated might be deafening (see 1, above.) On the downside, if Python developers give it the thumbs down, GAE could have an even steeper curve to climb.

Me, I prefer apples to oranges. I’m just a loosely-coupled kinda gal. I like systems that are big, open, and distributed. Away with yer stinkin’ sandbox! And I happen to believe that SOA can be more than a buzzword (enterprise middleware suckage notwithstanding.)

Amazon Web Services Redux

It seems my earlier post “The Long Tail of Web Services” is getting some traffic from links here and here. At least someone is willing to put their money where my mouth is :)

Since that original post, Amazon has come out with yet another service (still in limited beta) called Amazon SimpleDB. This is a simple but apparently powerful service to query structured data. Although I note some complaining from the database community about it not really being a database, that’s just a semantic issue. If they renamed it, the complaints would probably go away. I think I would describe SimpleDB as something like a content-addressable DHT.

BTW, I can’t help wondering if this new service is related to Amazon’s Dynamo. (This is total speculation on my part, BTW. Perhaps closer inspection will tell. Or maybe Amazon will, eventually…)

Radiohead has a good laugh?

It’s official today: Radiohead’s new album, In Rainbows, is done; and it’s only available from their website. Nice. Even nicer, you can pay whatever you want for it.

Of course, this applies to the digital verison only.

If you want an actual CD, you’ll have to pay them 40 pounds (probably about $80CDN.) The reason it’s so expensive is that it comes with two CDs and two 12″ vinyl records, and the price includes worldwide shipping (so British fans will be happy to know they’re subsidizing the shipping costs for North American and Japanese fans, eh?)

Now… what the f*** am I supposed to do with records? Do I look like Kid Koala?

So, seriously: I’m glad they’ve made new music and I can’t wait to hear it. I’m a little disappointed that I can’t buy a CD. Doesn’t really sound like the future of the music industry to me. Nice try, though.

Acetaminophen: Most common cause of acute liver failure in US

This is one of my pet peeves (I have many!) Whenever I tell people about this, they think I’m making it up, so read the results of the Acute Liver Failure Study Group for yourself if you think this is implausible.

What really burns me is:

  • The manufacturers of acetaminophen (also known by the brand names Tylenol, Paracetamol and sometimes also as APAP) continue to insist the stuff is perfectly safe and never provide any warning stronger than the usual “there is enough medicine in this bottle to seriously harm a child”. How about “there is enough medicine in this bottle to kill several adults in one of the most grisly ways imaginable”? (Trust me, I’ve seen someone die of liver failure. It’s horrifying. ‘Nuff said.)
  • Clearly in the interests of “harm escalation” (as opposed to harm reduction), most narcotic analgesics sold in North America are adulterated with acetaminophen. I say “adulterated” because if you’re in the kind of agony that requires oxycodone or hydrocodone to manage, the APAP isn’t doing a thing for your pain. It’s only there to make sure that chronic pain patients are likely to come the aforementioned grisly end after years of inevitably escalating dosages. Percocet, Vicodin… all the usual suspects are polluted with a hepatoxin just to make sure people will get hurt if they take too much. Doesn’t this sound like it should be against the law?!

The pharmaceutical manufacturers and government regulatory agencies will no doubt claim complete ignorance of the harm they’ve been needlessly inflicting on people for years. But any idiot with a web browser and access to a search engine could tell you that the one thing that’s absolutely certain about TV’s beloved character Dr. House is that he’s gonna need a new liver very very soon.

The moral of the story is two-fold:

  • Always read the ingredients on any OTC medication you’re taking. Many of them contain APAP. IF you take two different APAP-containing medications at the same time (e.g. one for flu syptoms and one for cough and sore throat), you could be in serious trouble. This type of thing accounts for a large percentage of accidental APAP overdoses. Also make sure you know exactly how much APAP is in any narcotic analgesics your doctor or dentist prescribes for you. Ask the pharmacist, if you have to.
  • If your doctor ever needs to presribe a narcotic analgesic for you, ask him or her to give you one without APAP. Point out the obvious fact that a little Tylenol isn’t going to do anything for your pain, and it’s toxic to the liver besides. A doctor’s first duty is to do no harm and there’s a good chance are he or she will see the logic in your request.

I have to end this little rant with the disclaimer that I am neither a doctor nor a pharmacist, so don’t take any of this as medical advice. Just talk to your doctor and your pharmacist about what amounts of acetaminophen are safe and whether you’re exceeding those limits. Look out for yourself (no one else is going to!) and be safe.

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