Protecting email addresses for my Alumni Internet Directory

MVHS Spartan I’ve been publishing the Mountain View High School Alumni Internet Directory online since 1995. Think of it as an free version of classmates.com, but just for my high school.

Since a group of us started planning our 10-year reunion, I’ve been thinking about the website more recently. I’ve had RSS feeds on the site since the summer of 1999 (long before I ever heard of blogging), but I finally added the orange XML icon (View the raw XML source) today.

One of the things that has always made alumni timid about using the site is the possibility of getting spam. The fact that their email addresses are published on the web makes them good candidates for email harvester bots. I originally addressed this problem by adding a <meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow"> tag to the site, hoping that bots would respect that.

Later, I started using the decimal HTML entity encoder trick (listing addresses like mailto:mradwin&#64;yahoo&#46;com) but I’m sure spammers will catch onto that soon.

So the only thing left to do is to create a “send email to this user” form and list the addresses in the same way that Y! Groups does. The links will look to the user like mradwin@y..... but instead of being a mailto:, they’ll be regular hyperlink to a /bin/mail?to=<secret base64 encoded data> form which asks for an email address and sets the Reply-To header.

The 1500+ alumni registered on the site right now would definitely benefit from this feature. Plus, after changing the email links to use the email-protect form, I’d be able to remove the robots meta tag, which would allow Google and other legit search engines index the site better, increasing visibility to the larger alumni community.

I’ve just gotta find the time to code the thing.

[Update: I found some time to write the code. The mailto: links have been replaced with a web form]

Leonard Nimoy, photographer extraordinare

Saw this ad in the Jewish Journal today:

LEONARD NIMOY goes where no man has gone before. Join him on a voyage towards SHEKHINA

Shekhina

Live at Sinai Temple on Feb. 23, 2003 Leonard Nimoy will present his new book and dialogue with Rabbi David Wolpe.

At least he’s Jewish. There are a few Hollywood celebs who study at the Kabbalah Centre just a few blocks from my home, and I’m not even sure if they’re Jewish. Heck, they probably aren’t even 40.

Veggie Chili for dinner tonight

Shabbos dinner tonight is going to be simple: Vegetarian Chili.

Valentine’s Day dinner was actually last night for the Radwins. We have a tradition of celebrating on the 13th. It was a fancy four-course vegetarian Italian dinner. The owner of the restaurant greeted us at the door with a handshake and a kiss (for me and Ariella, respectively).

Shabbat Shalom!

Standing on both sides of the Chasm

Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers I started reading Crossing the Chasm last night, and 30 pages into the book, I’m wondering where I fit along the Technology Adoption Life Cycle bell curve. Until now, I’ve always thought of myself as an innovator or early adopter. After all, I’m a computer guy, and I spend a lot of time thinking about technology. But after reading a bit and thinking about my own consumer behavior, I’m surprised to discover that I’m moving to the right of the curve, more towards the early majority category. Perhaps I’m becoming more risk-averse?

Here’s a sampling of when I adopted various consumer technologies (and my best guess as to where it was on the bell curve when I adopted it):

  • email – 1992 (innovator)
  • web browsing – 1994 (innovator)
  • Linux – 1994 (innovator)
  • web publishing – 1995 (early adopter)
  • e-commerce – 1996 (early adopter)
  • PDA – 1997 (early adopter)
  • vanity email address – 1998 (early adopter)
  • cell phone – 1998 (early majority)
  • snowboarding – 1998 (early majority)
  • MP3 ripping – 1999 (early adopter)
  • electric toothbrush – 2002 (late majority)
  • broadband Internet – 2000 (early majority)
  • P2P file sharing – 2000 (early majority)
  • TiVo – 1999 (early adopter)
  • LCD projector TV – 2001 (early adopter)
  • DVD player – 2001 (early majority)
  • 802.11b wireless network – 2002 (early majority)
  • CD burner – 2002 (late majority)
  • blog – 2002 (early adopter)
  • antilock brakes – 2002 (late majority)
  • digital camera – maybe this year (early majority?)
  • hybrid or electric car – 2005? (early majority?)
  • Lasik eye surgery – never (laggard)
  • digital watch – never (laggard)

I think the key has to do with technology for technology’s sake versus pragmatism. To quote Moore:

The early majority share some of the early adopter’s ability to relate to technology, but ultimately they are driven by a strong sense of practicality. They know that many of these newfangled inventions end up as passing fads, so they are content to wait and see how other people are making out before they buy in themselves.

At this point in my life, I see myself as more of a pragmatist. Six years ago, I bought an Apple Newton PDA because I thought the technology was cool and I couldn’t stand the idea of having to contort my handwriting to the machine. I wanted the machine to recognize my handwriting! After all, the machines are supposed to be working for us, not the other way around.

These days, I’ve settled for a Palm Zire. Why? It’s more practical. It’s way smaller than the Newton, so it fits in my blue jeans pocket. And it gets the job done. Sure, it doesn’t have whiz-bang artificial intelligence handwriting recognition software. But it’s good enough.

JR Conlin wins the Favicon contest

radwin-favicon.gif JR Conlin has won the radwin.org favicon contest. Congratulations, JR! You’ll get your Grand Prize tomorrow at lunchtime.

JR’s entry pays tribute to the orange navigation bar present throughout the site. It’s a good color. Some might call it #ffcc99, but I prefer “radwin.org orange”, much the way Ray Sun describes the hue of the “e” on my desktop as “Internet Explorer blue”.

Postscript: my good friend Scott, who started the whole favicon contest by nagging me, now has his very own blog. Can’t wait to see what he writes.

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

'Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!': Adventures of a Curious Character Richard Feynman’s memory is a blessing to us all.

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! is a delightful collection of short stories about Richard Feynman’s life. It’s yet another one of the books on my reading list for 2003.

I’ve been reading this book in small sittings over the past year — on the bus to and from UCLA, on the plane to and from SJC, and sometimes on a Sunday afternoon. Feynman embodies the perfect combination of wit, intellect, and chutzpah.

One of my favorite stories had to do with Feynman’s experiments with ants. On many occasions he would observe (and sometimes interfere with) a line of ants that was crawling through his lab or house. In messing around with the ants, Feynman wasn’t trying to play God; he was trying to study ant behavior and learn what motivated them.

Although I finished the book almost a month ago, I’ve been thinking about it again over the past week. The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster brought back many memories of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster some 17 years earlier. Feynman was a member of NASA’s Rogers Commission and discovered the problem with O-rings that caused the explosion. It was his characteristic curiosity that led him to experiment with rubber O-rings and ice water, solving the mystery of the disaster.

I’m worried about Wesley

Wesley Snipes I’m worried about Wesley Snipes. I think he’s lost his touch.

I recently rented Undisputed, a movie about a prison boxing match. Terrible. In brief, the heavyweight champion (Ving Rhames) ends up in jail, convicted of rape. A typical alpha male, he fights anyone who gets in his way. He learns that another inmate (Wesley Snipes) is a good boxer and vows to fight him. Several training scenes and conversations with bookies later, the two get it on in the right. No surprise, Snipes wins the fight. Hurrah for the underdog, I guess? Uninspired plot, poor acting, and very little action. Not your typical Wesley.

Thinking this was just a fluke, I decided to get another Wesley film: Liberty Stands Still. Even worse. In this film, Wesley plays a psychopath who decides to shoot a lot of people because his daughter was killed at school by some kid with a gun. Equipped with his own sniper rifle, he holds a woman and her lover hostage with a couple of bombs, and shoots at anyone he feels like. The camera occasionally drops into slow-motion shots of Wesley staring blankly at a barrette clipped to his gun. He’s angry. We get it. But are we supposed to believe that he’s righteous for killing the gun company’s executives and random other people? Director Kari Skogland doesn’t give us any reason to care about any of the characters.

What happened to the Wesley that we all know and love? What happened to the man who gave us such classics as New Jack City (the film that invented the concept of the bling bling gangster) and Passenger 57 (about a badass airline security wonk who happens to be on the wrong plane at the right time)?

Where is the actor who gave us mindless but entertaining action hits like Demolition Man (find an excuse to demolish anything you can find), Drop Zone (find an excuse to parachute out of a lot of planes and land on anything you can find) or Blade (find an excuse to kill a lot of vampires and any other beasties you can find)?

I miss you, Wesley. I’m going to cross my fingers when I rent Blade II. I hope I re-discover the real you.