January 21, 2004
Bring on the Food Pellets!

After two years of happy self employment, I surprised myself last week and took a permanent job. I joined Cerisent, based in San Mateo, CA. They sell the best XQuery engine on the market today. It's the most compliant, most scalable, and most powerful. I first met the Cerisent team 18 months ago on a contract gig with a company looking to evaluate XQuery vendors. Cerisent ended up being our vendor of choice. About 6 months ago Cerisent hired me as a contractor to help put together an XQuery course and some demos showcasing their technology. They liked me, I liked them, and now I'm a Cerisent employee.

It was a tough decision. One thing I hate about regular day jobs is that you get paid the same amount every two weeks no matter how well you perform (so long as you do well enough not to get fired). Save the company a million dollars? Two weeks pay. Save the world? Two weeks pay. As a contractor, the harder and more you work, the more you get paid. If you don't perform outstanding work, you don't get any more gigs. Checks are a direct result of specific work, and cashing the check makes me feel a sense of accomplishment.

Compare to a day job. At a day job you're like a hamster in a cage fed a steady diet of food pellets. No need to hunt for your food. It just drops in.

But I took the day job anyway. For three reasons. First, I like working at Cerisent. On Monday mornings I've found myself looking forward to work. The company is well organized and effective. Second, it's a young startup and so any outstanding work still gets noticed and (equally important) any subpar work gets noticed too. I can make a difference. Third, this hamster got startup stock options, and if the company succeeds like I think it will, the sky will open up and rain down a big old pile of food pellets. Food pellets like that I can live with.

There's a fourth reason too. The company fully supports my work on an XQuery
book for O'Reilly and gives me dedicated time to write. Plus they don't expect me to abandon my speaking and conference obligations and other outside interests. It's a good deal. I'm a happy hamster.

Posted by Jason Hunter at 03:10 PM
January 13, 2004
The Day the Comments Died

If you're looking for "hot teen sex", I'm sorry but you're going to have to look somewhere else. The latest thing these days, as you probably know if you're a regular blog reader, is for spammers to automatically add comments to blogs that have links to their own crap pages. Sometimes hundreds of links. They do this in the hope that Google will spider this blog, find these links, and from the links artificially raise the PageRank of the crap site.

Each time this blog gets hit I have to go through all the entries manually and remove the offending comments. MovableType, the version I have installed right now, doesn't make this easy. I guess the Trotts who wrote MT were optimists and thought only about providing value. But these days you've gotta think like a spammer: "Hey, this technology is useful! How could we abuse it and make it go away?"

It wasn't a big problem here because I changed the comment form tags a little to make the form harder for spiders to spot, but the script kiddies have gone general, and yesterday I had hundreds of fake comments for "hot teen sex" and "las vegas". I don't want to deal with it, so until I upgrade MovableType to a version that has some spam blocking abilities, I'm turning off comments. Sadly, this means old comments aren't viewable either.

What do you all think about this? I guess I won't know.

Posted by Jason Hunter at 12:47 PM
January 11, 2004
XQuery Tricks and Traps

Oracle Magazine just published an article of mine called XQuery Tricks and Traps. This article, the third in a series, focuses on the important but tricky and commonly misunderstood aspects of the XQuery language. I expect it will be of interest to newbies and experts alike.

Posted by Jason Hunter at 08:25 PM