There are so many sites trying to vie for Google results for any and every town in existance in the United States that they are crowding out useful information. They get their list of towns from census data or similar sources, and generate pages for every single entry they find, no matter how small.
During the weekend, I was poking around, looking for information on a not-quite-ghost town called Lonerock, in Oregon:
I love to visit out of the way places like that when I'm back in Oregon, which we hope to do next summer. So I was curious about it - it appears quite isolated, but seems like it might be worth a look. According to the Wikipedia article it is a very small town, with a population of 24 people. And yet, if you look at the Google results for it, you find a few good links at first, and then:
- Any number of results with "city information", which is just census data with a bit of fiddling.
- Current local time. Gee, that's great to know.
- Various 'homes for sale' sites: none listed.
- Horses for sale "in Lonerock", but it turns out they're all in Heppner (30 miles away) or farther.
- Climate statistics.
- Bicycles for sale in Lonerock. Surprisingly, none of those, either.
- Attorneys at law in Lonerock. I think they ran them all out of town: there are none.
- Truck scales and weigh stations in Lonerock. You have to drive at least 50 miles to get to the nearest one.
- Hotels in Lonerock: nope, none of those either.
- Various Cable and Internet offerings (I think in reality they use this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_over_Avian_Carriers )
- Doctors in Lonerock: Neurologists, Gastroenterologists and even Nephrologists. Turns out there aren't any in town.
- Car Rentals in Lonerock. Just in case you fly in to any of the Airports in Lonerock, and want to leave rather than staying in the Hotels in Lonerock.
- Apartments for rent in Lonerock. A town of 24 people in the middle of the wide open west is not the kind of place you're likely to live in an apartment...
- Relocation guides for Lonerock.
And so on and so forth. Scattered in the middle, you can even find a few articles and photo pages by people who actually had something to say or show about the place, but finding them amidst all the crud is not an easy task. To me this seems surprising - it doesn't seem like it'd be that hard to make sites that just happen to have entries for every town in the entire nation rank a bit lower than things written by human beings.
Google - have a look at Lonerock, and see if you can use it as a way to seperate the wheat from the chaff!
I have some long running server processes that I am going to launch soonish, and I want to be alerted when they're done. Using Gmail and Android, it's pretty easy:
- In Gmail, set up a new label, "Alerts" or something like that.
- Set up a filter in Gmail that matches messages along the lines of firstname.lastname@example.org, and adds the Alerts label, does not skip the inbox and are always marked as important.
- Now, on your Android phone, in Gmail -> Settings -> Account settings (select the account) -> Sync inboxes and labels, and select your Alerts label.
- Then, go back and select Labels to Notify in settings, select "Alerts", and add it to "Notify in Status bar", select an appropriate ringtone, set vibrate to 'always', and deselect 'Notify once' - because we want to be notified any time an alert comes in.
That should do it - on your server, set up an alias in something like /etc/aliases that redirects email from the alert alias - codered in this case - to your own email address.
Now, you can script alerts that will get their own ringtone on your phone like so: echo "Dave, I can't let you do that" | mail -s "Warning, computer malfunction" email@example.com
Pretty simple and effective if you need a simple way for your computer to let you know that it needs attention right now.