- 'Self' is me, the one that is typing this right now, the one who sleeps at night in my bed, who I'm with in the shower.
- 'Identity' is my portrayal to the rest of the world. For instance, as a business person, I'm interested in social network applications. As a programmer I'm interested in Django programming. As a voter, I'm a fiscal conservative who voted for Obama. I may not mind if some of these identities leak into each other - for instance between programming and business. However, if I were being funded by a strong McCain supporter, I might want to show my Obama support broadly but without interfering with my business identity.
This has been a problem for time immemorial and there have been many ways of solving it. The Federalist papers were written by a few different authors - James Madison being one of them. However, he wasn't in a position to put his name next to his writings - he needed to use a pseudonym.
Nonetheless, this pseudonym couldn't be a one-off name - it needed to be used on multiple essays in order to build a reputation. People who like an author, want to read more by that same author - so there needs to be continuity with regards to identities. They need to be managed.
I noticed this very clearly in Disqus recently. They have no isolation between who you are and what your identity is. This is a real problem for a service that focuses on comments. I noticed how somebody, on a technology blog, had also recently commented on a gay city profile site. I presume he's out and he doesn't mind, but if he did mind what could he do.
The only current solution is to manage your identities by hand. That will always be the safest option since nobody is as trustworthy as yourself. However, an intermediate step would be better.
Google and other like minded companies need to structurally build isolation between 'self' and 'identity' so that users can be logged in with multiple profiles available for any given topic.
Don't use shared hosts. In this day and age, unless you are super poor, do not use a shared host. If you are not technically savvy, use services for specific tasks (i.e. blogger.com for a blog) so you don't have to think about the technology/maintenance. If you are technically savvy and you have needs that are not basic, get a server where you have root access. AWS ec2 is awesome for this. The cost is $75 a month though so it may be too expensive for some people (although if you can set one up - I can probably find a gig for you to make enough money to pay that $75/month - just drop me a line).
- Dreamhost.com, while pretty good and having good customer service, just isn't what I need. People have recommended gandi.net for name services and hosting if you need the cheap option for hosting. I haven't used it personally but knowledgeable people love them.
MySQL 5.0.45 (I'm still contemplating PostgreSQL)
Fedora 8 (I like the Fedora/Red Hat series - Debian/Ubuntu was giving me grief).
We will use Debian Lenny.
- Lenny is just about to be declared stable and Etch is simply too old for what we need.
We will use pretty much the defaults on Lenny although Django will be version 1.0
We will use Amazon Web Services as previously mentioned.
Recently, I've begun the painful process of actually deciding what core languages and frameworks will be used for the application. Some things are kind of obvious for everybody, and leads to my favorite phrase from my days of studying for the SAT - PoE (Process of Elimination).
One dimension to start eliminating on is the breadth of the network supporting that technology over the coming 2-3 years. Perl is a language that is great, rock solid, and also drifting into obsolesence. I feel bad for Perl but what are you going to do? This also leaves out old versions of languages like PHP 4.
Another issue is licensing and money. That cuts out Microsoft products right off the bat as well as some of the supported platforms like WebSphere. I haven't been a Microsoft guy for years although they're still the only game in town for word processing and spreadsheets.
At this point, there are some things that just go along with what I've done before. I'll most certainly use a Linux flavor for the OS - either Ubuntu (which I've never used in production) or CentOS (which is the same as Red Hat but is free). After having some frustrating days trying to deal with a font installation problem (of all things) on an Ubuntu server, I'm starting to consider CentOS. Either way, it's not much of a difference, either will do.
This operating system needs to be on a machine of some sort. I don't want to buy a machine and grow out of it though - I'd prefer to rent. That leads to a slew of hosting options. One of the big guys is Dreamhost. I've worked with them on some minor projects and they're great in alot of ways. However, I need full control, root access, the ability to create an entirely new instance, etc... Dreamhost won't do. It's time to take advantage of the cloud so I've been experimenting with Amazon Web Services Elastic Compute Cloud (AWS ec2) and Simple Storage Service (S3). For about $72/month, I can have a dedicated 'server' on a premium network (Amazon's) with access to S3 which allows for such things as snapshots (backups) and getting data into a solid storage space.
This post will have to be continued - I can't nearly finish this work so quickly. Does anybody have thoughts? Here's the current plan:
- Amazon Web Services ec2,S3, etc...
- Linux (Ubuntu or CentOS)
- Apache (I hadn't really thought about anything else, possibly lighttpd)
- Python or Ruby (PHP feels passe and there's really no other option)
- If Python, Django or Turbogears (probably Django because Google App Engine is using that)
- If Ruby, Rails or Merb
I could still be convinced on alot of fronts - this is hard :-)