Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Egology aka "Google and I"

Something I used to do occasionally, back in the day, was to track what I had been up to lately. Being a lazy bum, I did this using Google as a free tracking device. A lazy guy's method of doing this is to google with one's name as the search phrase, and see what surfaces. This obviously only works for those of us with funny or weird names (sorry Paul, you are so out of luck!)
This way you will see a glimpse of your whereabouts as seen by the online world.

I have not been doing this for a while (a year or two?) now. Not only is it tacky, just an electronical means of navel gazing, but worse, I wasn't apparently doing a whole lot based on results. Or maybe it's just that Google wasn't paying attention (ha!). It was like watching paint dry, or perhaps grass grow. Or my running out of analogies to use. Top hits returned were too often ones pointing to my even-then-obsolete old home page (at my Alma Mater that I had left years prior), that were "still in progress"; as well as links to mailing lists of dead projects.

But over the weekend I decided to do one more peek via Google-o-matic, to get a retrospective of the Year 2008 by and according to Tatu.

Lo and behold! Things had changed since the last check (whenever it was). No more stale entries within top pages (bye bye Niksula home page!) -- whether that's due to Google getting better, or Helsinki University of Technology finally reclaiming wasted disk space. Fewer high-ranking links to mailing lists from late 90s. Life is good.

But beyond this, there were all kinds of interesting (... to me, anyways) as-of-yet-unknown-to-me tidbits that I can now start dropping in casual conversations (and especially non-casual ones!). Plus some other factoids I had briefly seen and promptly forgotten about.

Here are some of least unnoteworthy nuggets I ended up with:

  • Once upon a time, I contributed a minor patch to Lucene (query parser refactoring). Ditto for Kaffe, JDBM, TagSoup and XStream. Neat things is that these are all cool projects; with maybe exception of Kaffe that is (or, used to be? hey, is it alive again?) a dead if neat project.
  • I was (am?) considered an ActiveMQ contributor (I am flattered by this, but not quite sure what'd I do -- maybe they use Woodstox? -- thanks anyway James!)
  • Rock star references: while I am not yet considered a Rock Star Programmer (is there a Hall of Fame for coders? haven't gotten a call so far! And does one have to be dead to get inducted there? hope not?), I have racked up multiple (as in, two!) quotes from certified RSPs: thank you Dan and Kohsuke, you do Rock! (I suddenly feel "Almost Famous" -- kind of like those bands who no one ever listened to, expect few guys from bands like The Beatles and Rolling Stones -- but in a way it's much better as I have a nice job, don't starve to death or overdose on drugs, so I shouldn't really whine)
  • I am a lucky GAP winner (ok ok, I already blogged about this one earlier)
  • I am referenced by 2 actual physical books, sold by Amazon; "Secrets of the Rock Star programmers" (see reference 2 bullets up), and "Professional XML (Programmer to Programmer)" (this wrt Woodstox). These could come in handy during job interviews: like Jason Hunter likes to say, there's no better answer to question "what have you been up to" than a gesture pointing to a book on manager's book shelf and asking him/her to compare author name with candidate name. Well, I'll accept lesser fame of being mentioned by an author as the consolation price. Maybe "let's search Amazon to see where my name pops up" could come in handy one of these days.

There is of course lots of other miscellaneous business-as-usual stuff out there:

  • links to Open Source projects than I'm most involved with (Woodstox, Jackson, StaxMate, Java UUID Generator)
  • a reference or two my Master's Thesis (in publication archives, I don't think any actual publication refers to it, very low impact factor... I never was much of an academic! :-)
  • links to mailing lists archives n+1 other open source projects and such.

I also have to say I am quite impressed by what Google can gather, and especially what it can weed out as duplicate entries. I only had to waste half an hour of my life to gather the list above. :-)

At any rate, it does appear like year 2008 was an eventful for me after all.

May we live in interesting times during 2009 as well!

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