Category Archives: General Education

Introduction to Apache Solr – presentation and code

I recently presented about Solr at Bangkok meetup group. There were about 40 people and I had great follow-up discussions afterwards.

As part of the presentation, I showed how Solr deals with Thai language. Even though my knowledge of Thai is fairly rudimentary, I dug into existing resources and found at least a couple of ways to process Thai language.

Continue reading Introduction to Apache Solr – presentation and code

Two thumbs up for Pandora.com’s new classical section

Pandora.com has just added classical music to their already huge collection. It made my day.

I like classical music, but never took enough time to actually figure out my exact preferences or composers. I just recognise familiar or mood pieces when they are played and enjoy them.

So now I can put the name of the piece I do remember into Pandora and let it find that or other items with the same feel. I have  already rediscovered and found out names for some of my semi-forgotten favourites. And with bookmarks only two clicks away, I actually have a chance to slowly identify all those pieces. That has a value all of its own beyond just Pandora.

This may not be for the people who enjoy snobby experts on the radio playing something so obscure that it requires 20 minutes explanation of why exactly it is good. Pandora’s interface is still a little bit too-pop oriented with no composer information on the name card.

But for me, it is manna from heaven.

Easy ways to sign out from Amazon, eBay, others

Ed Foster has discovered that it is very difficult to sign out from big companies’ websites. Yes, it is true when staying within the website’s rules. But it is dead easy otherwise.

The important thing to remember is that your identity is most of the times stored in the browser cookies. So, if you kill cookies, the session will go away and your identity will go away.

The easiest (but most destructive way) is to delete all cookies. With Firefox, this is the menu item Tools/Clear Private Data (Control-Shift-Del); on Internet Explorer 6, it is Tools/Internet Options/General/Delete Cookies.

The problem of course is that it all your login information for all the websites. Of course, if you were shopping on a public computer, that’s the best course of action anyway.

WebDev’s cookies menuWith Firefox, there is a much more precise way to delete the cookies. It comes with the Web Developer Extension – and cookie management is just one of that extension’s invaluable options. Once the extension is installed, it shows up as a toolbar. Cookies is a submenu on the left with a whole host of different options.

Using the extension, the easiest way to delete cookies is then to go Cookies/Delete Domain Cookies while on the target (Amazon, eBay, etc) website. This will delete all cookies set by that site and on the page refresh you will be a totally anonymous customer.

Advanced user’s notes

The above works in nearly all cases. Some websites get a bit sneaky and set Flash cookies instead. This is mostly done by websites such as YouTube, but for some reason images.amazon.com sets one as well. Deleting those can be done via Adobe’s Flash Player Settings Manager, which is actually a web page with specialised Flash application that shows cookies and allows to clear them.

Finally, deleting the cookie does not mean the website cannot track you otherwise. Google for example, will apparently use your IP address to correlate searches even across multiple sessions. It is not the same issue as keeping you logged-in, so I am only mentioning it in the wider privacy context.