is Dead

After less than a year in service, has been shut down.  I haven’t been monitoring it very closely for a good six months, but apparently a Russian spam network was using Vapurl to mask their URLs.  Spamhaus figured out what was going on and reported our domain as bad.  Apparently, doesn’t like to be the registar for anyone listed on Spamhaus, so they suspended our account.

If we wanted to bring the site back up tt would have cost us at least $75 just to reactivate our account to transfer away from GoDaddy, and then we would have needed to figure out a way to keep block the spammers; a very time consuming battle, I’m sure.  It just wasn’t worth it to try to fight the spam.  We could have probably engineered the site differently from the get-go to make the site less appealing to spammers, but we were really just looking for a fun weekend project to play with Google App Engine.  At the end of the day, I’d say the site was a success.  It was a fun learning experience, even if it didn’t last very long.

Moving to WebFaction has moved to WebFaction.  Most of the site moved without any trouble.  They don’t support the PHP mail() function for sending email (probably a good thing), so I had to convert some stuff to use a library to send email.  I expected WordPress to be a bigger problem, but it was pretty straightforward.  I just created a new WordPress app in the WebFaction control panel, exported my conent from my old server using a built-in WP tool, imported it, and loaded up my theme.  That should be about it.  I made the DNS changes last night, so this post is going out on the new server.  No looking back!

Oh, and if you happen to switch to WebFaction, why not use my affiliate link? 🙂

Announcing SpellingThing Beta

My latest web application is up at  I’ve never been great at spelling.  Actually, I was pretty terrible at it in school.  Over the years, I’ve been slowly trying to work on learning words as I notice that I’m making mistakes (thank you spell checkers!).  SpellingThing is designed to help people focus on the words that they have trouble with until they’ve gotten it.  You can add your own words to learn, or let the website choose words for you.

I’m trying to get people to beta test it because it’s new to the public and I’m looking for feedback, suggestions, complains, or anything.  Eventually, I’d like to charge for access to premium features, but only if people find it valuable.  For now  it’s completely free, so please check it out and let me know what you think.

Rendering the Mandelbrot Set with HTML Canvas

I wanted to play around with the HTML 5 Canvas tag, so I’ve started building this little web application to render the Mandelbrot Set.

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Another Quick Myers-Briggs Update

Following in my tradition of periodically taking an online Myers-Briggs test and posting my results.  I’m still an INTJ with the following percentages:

Introverted – 89%
Intuitive – 62%
Thinking – 88%
Judging – 22%

For those with less time or patients, here’s a quick four question version of the test which is pretty much guaranteed to be less accurate.

N-Queens Browser Benchmark

I was playing around with solving the N-Queens Puzzle in JavaScript and thought it would do nicely as a browser benchmark.  I’m not using much in the way of heuristics or optimizations in this version.  In summary, Google Chrome 4.0 is fast.

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Early Thoughts on the Apple iPad

It seems like everyone else has dumped their thoughts and opinion of the iPad on the internet, so I guess I will too.  I may not provide anything insightful, but this post could be fun to look back at a year or two from now to see what I got write and wrong (post your thoughts in the comments to play along).

In case you’ve missed it, the iPad is Apple’s new consumer gadget.  It has a 10″ touch sensitive LCD screen (give or take) and is half an inch thick.  The operating system (for those who care) is basically the same one that’s on the iPhone and the iPod Touch.  This means that it’s designed to be used with your fingers, and that it can only install applications that are downloaded through the App Store and approved by Apple.  The basic 16GB model starts at $500, and there are 5 additional models (depending on storage space and 3G connectivity) topping out with a 64GB version at $830 plus $30 per month in wireless charges. Read the rest of this entry »

Twitter Recommendation Engine: Part 2

Last summer I built a little recommendation engine for people to follow on Twitter.  I’ve been meaning to build a new one since Twitter added the ability for users to group people into lists.  Well, this past week I finally found some time to give it a try.  For comparison, here’s my new top 40 suggestions (again, *’s are people that I don’t currently follow):

TechCrunch *
mashable *
googlewave *
twibes *
ev *
rww *
wired *
biz *
Pogue *
al3x *
GuyKawasaki *
Scobleizer *
googleapps *
googlereader *
googlemaps *
wilw *
ginatrapani *

I can also target specific users.

Followers of John Resig (jQuery) might like:


Followers of Chris Blizzard (Mozilla) might like:


Honestly, it’s not as good as I expected. Just glancing over the results, I don’t think it’s as good as the follower based version from last year.  Part of the problem could be list spammers, part could be that I don’t do anything do dilute the influence of people that create a lot of very broad lists, and part could be that Twitter has changed.  I’d really like to try a blended version that uses both lists and followers.

Trying Out Posterous

I'm trying out Posterous.  If you have an account, let me know what your username is so that I can subscribe.


Posted via email from Nogwater’s posterous

My friend and I put together, a URL shortening service for creating disposable URLs.  The idea is that you can create a URL that will redirect to the site of your choice, and send the link to someone.  Once they use it, the link will become inactive and if anyone else returns to it, they’ll just see the VapURL home page.  There are configuration options to allow the URL to work more than one time, and to set different time limits.

We built the website on Google App Engine which went pretty smoothly.  It was a good way to get a little more practice with Python and to try a different set of web frameworks from what we’re use to.  We’re also using Beanstalk to host our Subversion repository.  I ran into one small bump with them, but overall it’s been a really good experience. I

It’s nice to have a publicly facing side project.  I plan to do more.

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