Hurricane Help

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My friend Brendan Greeley from Radio Open Source has put together a website as part of an effort to help some of the people affected by the recent hurricane in the south.

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Since Sunday, hundreds of evacuees from New Orleans have arrived in Lake Providence and the surrounding area. They can’t get to Red Cross shelters in Monroe, the nearest city; they are out of gas and money and energy. Providence Church has emerged as a shelter not because the town planned it, but because evacuees stopped at the church and stayed.

The most immediate priority is to buy toiletries and water, and help get some of these evacuees to Red Cross shelters in Monroe, the nearest city. Some of them will end up staying, though, and will need help getting settled and getting their children into local schools.

Brendan’s a trustworthy person who will take the funds raised directly down there personally this coming weekend. I encourage you to participate by sending funds using the paypal link on his website.

Some Travel Rants

The TSA‘s security efforts at US airports do not make any of us safer. The TSA staff at the checkpoints seem to be too focused on the minute mechanics of their jobs to be doing anything useful. If Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber, hadn’t attempted to blow up a plane, none of us would have to take off our shoes when passing through metal detectors. It’s farsical and it wastes a whole lot of time. Tweezers and nail clippers still aren’t allowed in the cabin, as if they were any more deadly than the dull metallic knives that have now made their way back onto the business class dinner settings. All of these silly restrictions in the name of security are, in fact, not helping. A creative 7-year old could probably figure out 10 ways to breach these TSA checkpoints – why does our government think that determined terrorists don’t have these skills?

My new favorite airline is FAF (Fucking Air France) which set new lows in customer service standards on our latest trip. Choice quotes include “you should be more organized” (from a jerk at the business class sales desk in Paris who nearly had me climbing over the ticket counter to resolve his attitude problem) and “you only bought these tickets from us to save money “. Note to US travelers passing through European countries: there’s a 32Kg weight limit on bags when you’re going across the Atlantic, but it’s 20Kg within Europe unless your entire journey is booked as one itinerary. You can, however, just offload weight into your carry-on and take everything on the plane and avoid paying an extra 6 euros per kg.

The last observation that I want to make is something that my Dad pointed out to me the other day. Air travel is getting a lot more complicated for customers. I think that this is being driven by the low-cost carriers who charge low fees and provide low quality service. If you only want to go from A to B, then this doesn’t pose much of a problem for you. If you want to go from A to C but need to connect through B, things get tricky. Some airlines are apparently canceling their agreements with other airlines to automatically pass through customer’s luggage in the event of flight cancelations, etc. (Aer Lingus is one). I’m not sure where this is leading, but if you think that you can connect from one flight to another in one hour, you’d better start making contingency plans.

Crazy Indeed

Does this seem like it was written in 1999?

“Over the past few months all the folks at Left Right Marketing Technology, Inc. have been preparing tirelessly for October 1, 2004 and now we are ready to take on the world,” noted Chairman Rock Newman.

Please.

“Soon CrazyGrazer.com will be your destination to purchase everything from ‘a Rolls Royce to roller skates’ in the way that best suites you, the consumer.”

Ok, just stop before you embarass yourselves any further.

In 6 months, they’ll be taking on the world from their lofty perch on Ebituaries.

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PRX on Slashdot

My good friends (and favorite client!) at PRX were featured on Slashdot today. Inevitably, this brought about a ton of unexpected traffic which momentarily took the site offline. After tweaking some HTTP/1.1 keepalive settings in Apache and increasing the max heap size on the jvm, things seem to be pretty stable.

Their /. experience seems to have been pretty similar to mine in that traffic seems to top out at around 1.5Mbps and is pretty solid for about a day. As a reference, we’re talking about an increase in traffic like this:

Slashdotting

I still have yet to figure out why some sysadmins can’t handle slashdotting. By my estimates, a reasonably well designed system running on an $800 desktop machine ought to be able to handle spikes like this.