Posts Tagged Web


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 plugin. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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How to Create a Self-Referential Tweet

Yesterday Mark Reid posted on Twitter a challenge: create a self-referential tweet (one that links to itself). He later 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 self-referential tweet. Here is how I did it.

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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?

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Tim Berners-Lee Addresses the First Web Science Conference

Tim Berners-Lee with a thought-provoking keynote address launched 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.

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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 Information Train, 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 article we recently published in the (highly regarded) ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology (TOSEM) and the views of the YouTube video proved instructive.

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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.

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Paper-Based Publishing Meets the Web

A few hours ago somebody posted a link to Brian Kernighan's IEEE Software column titled Sometimes the Old Ways Are Best at At the time of writing, the entry 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.

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Europeana Launches, Again

The European Union's digital library Europeana, 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.

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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, Stack Overflow, answers both of my concerns.

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Two More Years of Wikipedia Data

Following a study that my colleague Panagiotis Louridas and I published in the August 2008 issue of the Communications of the ACM, Victor Grishchenko 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.

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Wikipedia Faces no Limits to Grow

Although there have been many studies on Wikipedia, 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. A new study, which my colleague Panagiotis Louridas and I published in the August 2008 issue of the Association for Computing Machinery flagship magazine Communications of the ACM, shows that Wikipedia sits comfortably between the two extremes.

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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 at Wharton, gave on Internet business models that don't rely on advertising.

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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.

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Creative Commons Around the World

On Saturday Lawrence Lessig will be inaugurating the launch of Creative Commons licenses in Greece. This prompted me to investigate how pages licensed under creative commons licenses are distributed on the internet.

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Handling Traffic

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 Berlin Philharmonic uses an equally imaginative (and low-tech) way to handle excessive web traffic.

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Handling Downtime

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.

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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

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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.

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Converting RIS to BibTeX

Digital libraries increasingly provide an option to export bibliographic data. Unfortunately, many, like IEEE Xplore, SpringerLink, and Scopus don't support the BibTeX format I use for storing my bibliographies. (To its credit the ACM Portal offers a BibTeX export option. On the other hand, Elsevier's ScienceDirect and JSTOR don't offer any export facility.)

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A Solution for Web Citations

In 2003 I published a study providing evidence that the half life of a web citation was four years. WebCite offers a neat solution to this problem.

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Web Page Hits,'s Sales Rank, and Actual Sales

Over the past three years I've been collecting the 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.

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Public Bookmarking

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?

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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 searches (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.

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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.

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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 "". 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.

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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.

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Changes in Web Site Rankings

My colleague Prof. Gianakoudakis 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:

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Well-behaved Web Applications

Very few web-based applications are designed to match the web metaphor. 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 Manuscript Central web application. The application is an almost perfect example of everything that is often wrong with such interfaces.

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Become a Unix command line wizard
edX MOOC on Unix Tools: Data, Software, and Production Engineering
Debug like a master
Book cover of Effective Debugging
Compute with style
Book cover of The Elements of Computing Style
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