How I Recovered my Firefox Tab Groups
When quit and restarted Firefox today
I received an unwelcomed shock.
All my tab groups, which I maintained using the
Tab Groups by Quicksaver
plugin, were gone!
This happened because it upgraded to Firefox Quantum (57),
whose API does not maintain backward compatibility with the one used by the
Although I knew the plugin would one day stop working,
I thought there would be some last-minute warning and chance to export
the tab groups.
Continue reading "How I Recovered my Firefox Tab Groups"
What's the Best Time and Day to Tweet?
I've seen big variations in interactions of similarly interesting
(to me at least) tweets that I send,
and I think that a deciding factor is the day or the hour I send them.
Although there's plenty of material on the web on this topic,
as you will see below,
personalized results can capture important factors associated with
the realities of global interactions.
Continue reading "What's the Best Time and Day to Tweet?"
Chemical Element Trump Cards
I can still remember the weight of the Lancia Stratos car that featured
in the Top Trumps
cards were playing as children in the 1970s: 870kg.
It was the lightest of all the flashy cars in the set,
and therefore a much sought-after card.
Other card sets that kept us busy included airplanes, motorcycles, and tanks.
Through them we learned tens of useless trivia,
but also got a feeling of the compromises inherent in engineering.
Wondering whether I could leverage such a game to make it even more educational,
I created a set of trump cards containing properties of chemical elements.
Continue reading "Chemical Element Trump Cards"
Sophisticated Targeted Link Spam
What appeared to be an intelligent comment in one of my blog
postings turned out to be targeted link spam.
This is a worrying trend, because, although we can defend ourselves
against mass attacks, we're very vulnerable to targeted strikes.
Continue reading "Sophisticated Targeted Link Spam"
How to Create a Self-Referential Tweet
Yesterday Mark Reid
create a self-referential tweet (one that links to itself).
clarified that the
tweet should contain in its text its own identifier
(the number after "/status/" bit should be its own URL).
I decided to take up the challenge
("in order to learn a bit about the Twitter API" was my excuse),
and a few hours later I won the game by posting the first
Here is how I did it.
Continue reading "How to Create a Self-Referential Tweet"
Best Day to Blog
Most of us don't have enough time to blog every day.
Given that blogging ideas can often be pending for days,
which is the best day to publish them?
Continue reading "Best Day to Blog"
Tim Berners-Lee Addresses the First Web Science Conference
with a thought-provoking keynote address
the First Web Science Conference
at the Foundation of the Hellenic World
in Athens earlier today.
Here are the notes I took during his speech.
Continue reading "Tim Berners-Lee Addresses the First Web Science Conference"
YouTube vs. TOSEM
Over the past couple of weeks colleagues and friends I encounter
in the hallways or at various meetings have been commenting about a small
video I posted on YouTube.
This video, titled
describes a demonstration experiment I performed at an event whose aim
was to familiarize children with science.
Often this video is the first discussion I've ever had with a colleague
regarding my work.
This struck me as odd, because I consider other parts of my research
a lot more significant that this experiment.
However, a look at the number of downloads of an
we recently published in the (highly regarded)
ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology (TOSEM)
and the views of the YouTube video proved instructive.
Continue reading "YouTube vs. TOSEM"
Start With the Most Difficult Part
There’s not a lot you can change in the process of constructing a building. You must lay the foundation before you erect the upper floors, and you can’t paint without having the walls in place. In software, we’re blessed with more freedom.
Continue reading "Start With the Most Difficult Part"
Paper-Based Publishing Meets the Web
A few hours ago somebody posted
to Brian Kernighan's
Sometimes the Old Ways Are Best
At the time of writing,
has already attracted 143 comments and 172 votes.
It contains is an (often interesting) discussion between Young Turks praising
IDEs/SlickEdit/BeyondCompare and defenders of Unix tools.
One bemused respondent commented (in a somewhat irreverent style)
on the strange fact that a column that hit the
headlines in January was mentioning summer projects.
Here is the story behind the column's timeline and some thoughts
on paper-based publishing.
Continue reading "Paper-Based Publishing Meets the Web"
Europeana Launches, Again
The European Union's digital library
launched with great fanfare last month only to crash two hours later
due to high demand.
Today it came back up again with quadruple serving capacity and a promise
for a suboptimal user experience during its test phase.
Continue reading "Europeana Launches, Again"
Web Services Come of Age
For years I've reacted to the hype surrounding web services with skepticism.
I found SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI to be too complex and brittle for wide deployment,
and I also wondered what types of services could be better provided over the
web rather than locally.
A new excellent developer site,
answers both of my concerns.
Continue reading "Web Services Come of Age"
Two More Years of Wikipedia Data
that my colleague Panagiotis Louridas and I published in the August 2008 issue of the Communications of the ACM,
gave me a copy of a complete Wikipedia dump covering 2006
and 2007 (enwiki-20080103-pages-meta-history.xml.7z).
Over the past four days I reran the study on this new data set.
Continue reading "Two More Years of Wikipedia Data"
Wikipedia Faces no Limits to Grow
Although there have been
little attention has been given to the limits to its growth.
As Wikipedia is expanding, it is possible that new concepts are added
without having corresponding articles, or that the number of new
concepts grows slower than the number of articles. In the first case,
Wikipedia's coverage will deteriorate as it will contain articles
drowned in an increasing number of undefined concepts. In the second
case, Wikipedia's growth may stall.
study, which my colleague Panagiotis Louridas and I
published in the
August 2008 issue of the
Association for Computing Machinery
Communications of the ACM,
shows that Wikipedia sits
comfortably between the two extremes.
Continue reading "Wikipedia Faces no Limits to Grow"
Eric K. Clemons on Monetizing the Net Without Advertising
Earlier today I attended a very interesting and entertaining talk that
Eric K. Clemons,
Professor of Operations and Information Management and Management
gave on Internet business models that don't rely on advertising.
Continue reading "Eric K. Clemons on Monetizing the Net Without Advertising"
Global Web Site Redirect
I recentry moved UMLGraph to its
own dedicated web site.
After the move a friend pointed out that all the links in
Martin Fowler's web page on
UmlSketchingTools would now stop working.
Continue reading "Global Web Site Redirect"
Creative Commons Around the World
will be inaugurating the launch of
licenses in Greece.
This prompted me to investigate how pages licensed under creative commons
licenses are distributed on the internet.
Continue reading "Creative Commons Around the World"
In an earlier blog entry
I described ACM's imaginative way to handle web site downtime.
Today I noticed that the web site of the
uses an equally imaginative (and low-tech) way to handle excessive web
Continue reading "Handling Traffic"
Ideally web sites should be up on a 24 by 7 basis.
This is however a difficult and often an expensive proposition.
Today I saw on the ACM Portal site
an innovative alternative.
Continue reading "Handling Downtime"
Cracking Software Reuse
[Newton] said, "If I have seen further than others, it is because I've stood on the shoulders of giants." These days we stand on each other's feet!
— Richard Hamming
Continue reading "Cracking Software Reuse"
Internet Explorer's Cleaner Look
Today the Microsoft update on my Windows machine asked me to upgrade
the Internet Explorer to version 7.0.
My bank refuses to work with any browser other than IE,
so, although I'm using SeaMonkey
as my everyday browser, I'm also forced to keep a current copy of IE.
The installation's banner reinforced some of the fears I have
regarding Microsoft's technical prowess.
Continue reading "Internet Explorer's Cleaner Look"
Converting RIS to BibTeX
Digital libraries increasingly provide an option to export bibliographic
Unfortunately, many, like
don't support the BibTeX format I use for storing
(To its credit the
ACM Portal offers a BibTeX
On the other hand, Elsevier's
JSTOR don't offer
any export facility.)
Continue reading "Converting RIS to BibTeX"
A Solution for Web Citations
In 2003 I published a
providing evidence that the half life of a web citation was four years.
WebCite offers a neat
solution to this problem.
Continue reading "A Solution for Web Citations"
Web Page Hits, Amazon.com's Sales Rank, and Actual Sales
Over the past three years I've been collecting the
amazon.com Sales Rank for my book
Code Reading: The Open Source Perspective,
and (lately) also for its sequel
Code Quality: The Open Source Perspective.
Yesterday I mapped the sales rank to actual sales, and correlated those
with significant events and hits on the book's web page.
Continue reading "Web Page Hits, Amazon.com's Sales Rank, and Actual Sales"
You're searching the internet to answer a question you have,
and after some painstaking detective work you locate the answer.
Where do you store the answer for future reference?
Continue reading "Public Bookmarking"
US Military Removes Word Documents from the Web?
On August 25th 2004 the comp.risks forum
run an article I submitted
regarding the large number of Microsoft Word documents available
on US milatary sites (sites in the .mil domain) through Google
(23.50 "U.S. military sites offer a quarter million Microsoft Word documents").
The article documented how such documents could lead to the leakage
of confidential data.
A week later I setup a script to watch the number of Word documents
available through Google searches
to see if and when the military would recognise the threat those
documents posed and remove them.
Continue reading "US Military Removes Word Documents from the Web?"
Vatican's Prescient Web Masters
The Vacancy of the Apostolic See web page appears to have been prepared one day BEFORE the Pope's death.
Continue reading "Vatican's Prescient Web Masters"
U.S. military sites offer a quarter million Microsoft Word documents
I was Google-searching for the Air Force Operational Test & Evaluation
Center publication "Software Maintainability - Evaluation Guide". To
make my search more efficient I restricted it to military (.mil) sites,
using the Google keyword "site:.mil".
I was not able to find the publication I was looking for, but was surprised
to see a number of Microsoft Word documents in the search results.
Continue reading "U.S. military sites offer a quarter million Microsoft Word documents"
Google Mail and Privacy
I recently subscribed to Google mail, to obtain a reasonable alias
(I thought I could get my loved dds initials, but it turned I would
have to use at least 6 characters). However, I doubt I will use the
service, because I really don't trust Google to search through my
personal email data. I have 300MB of email now, representing about
18 years of email discussions. (I routinely remove all attachments,
which I file separately, so the size of my emails is relatively modest).
If I trusted Google, I would like to upload all my messages to their
servers, and utilize Google's awesome search capabilities. However,
the truth is, I see too many ways for the service to be misused.
Continue reading "Google Mail and Privacy"
Changes in Web Site Rankings
performed an interesting comparative study.
He compared the quality of the web sites of all Greek ministries
(government departments for our US readers)
in terms of the currency of their material,
communication, usability, and the underlying technology.
An interesting element of the study is the relative change of the
ranking of each web site from 2002 to 2003, as can be seen in
the following table:
Continue reading "Changes in Web Site Rankings"
Well-behaved Web Applications
Very few web-based applications are designed to match the
As a result they are often irritating, counteproductive,
or simply unusable.
During the last two months I've been working on an
IEEE Software theme issue titled "developing with
open source software".
Most of my work is performed over the
IEEE Computer Society
The application is an almost perfect example of everything that
is often wrong with such interfaces.
Continue reading "Well-behaved Web Applications"