Congratulations Alona & Dylan!

On September 27th my sister Alona tied the knot with her fiancé Dylan! They had a very nice ceremony followed by a reception at the Maple Grove Community Center. The ceremony was family and close friends standing in the gardens off of the reception area. Alona and Dylan had a Bahá’í marriage ceremony which does not have an officiant. They asked me to start things off with a few words.

Good evening and welcome to the marriage ceremony of Alona Thingelstad and Dylan Maas-Morgan.

Alona, my sister, and Dylan have asked me to greet you all today and welcome you to this wonderful ceremony of love and dedication. I am sure that you have all been to a many weddings, however this may be your first Bahá’í wedding. You will notice that no clergy is present, we are not in a church and everybody is enjoying a wonderful Minnesota fall evening.

A Baha’i wedding is a simple exchange of a single statement. Once both the groom and bride make this pledge in the presence of two witnesses, Dylan and Alona will be married. Today, Alona’s mother Rosalin and I have agreed to serve as these witnesses.

While a Bahá’í marriage is a decidedly simple affair, Bahá’í’s take the institution of marriage with the utmost seriousness. From the Kitáb-i-Aqdas:

“And when He desired to manifest grace and beneficence to men, and to set the world in order, He revealed observances and created laws; among them He established the law of marriage, made it as a fortress for well-being and salvation, and enjoined it upon us in that which was sent down out of the heaven of sanctity in His Most Holy Book.”

That fortress is filled with that most important thing, love. From `Abdu’l-Bahá:

“…[I]n the world of humanity the greatest king and sovereign is love. If love were extinguished, the power of attraction dispelled, the affinity of human hearts destroyed, the phenomena of human life would disappear.”

In a moment Dylan and Alona will exchange those blessed words. This will be followed with a Bahá’í prayer. Please listen closely. As with many great things in life, it all goes by much too quickly.

And now a reading from Dylan’s mother, Cynthia…

Here are the photos I took. I also put them on Facebook for all the people that like that kind of thing, but I’m also putting them here so they are still around after Facebook (A.F.).

It was a great evening filled with family and fun. Congrats to my sister and her new husband and I wish them years of wedded bliss!

Saugatuck Brewing Sampler

More opportunities to try local beers at Saugatuck Brewing. I picked a bunch of hoppy brews. The serving method was a little odd, if you had a table with 4 of these it would be a bit unwieldy. Overall great beer but one stood well above for me.

Saugatuck Brewing Sampler

  1. Pathfinder Pale Ale
    Light, refreshing. Good hops. Straightforward, solid beer.
  2. Motueka’s Revenge
    Good full body. Reminded me of Surly Furious, but less power on the hops. Like a 50% strength Furious.
  3. Fortunate Events IPA
    Bitter. Lots of bite. Not overly fruity.
  4. Not Messing Around Double IPA
    Holy cow! Oak! Bourbon! Very strong. Like drinking Jack Daniels. Not my thing, but I’m sure folks that like this would like it a lot.
  5. Singapore IPA
    Bitter. Not much body.
  6. Continuum IPA
    Delicious and packed with hops. Definitely my favorite of the group.

Unfortunately their website is completely down right now, and seems like it has been for a while, so no links for these beers.

New Holland Brewing Sampler

While in Saugatuck we went to Holland a couple of times, it’s just 10 miles or so up the road. We had dinner at New Holland Brewing and I got to do another beer flight. I skipped the Dragon’s Milk since I’ve had it and can get it easily enough at home.


The numbers start at the bottom (6 o’clock is 1) and go clockwise:

  1. Monkey King Saison Farmhouse Ale
  2. Imperial Hatter IPA
  3. White Hatter Belgian-Style White Pale Ale
  4. Mad Hatter IPA
  5. Beerhive Tripel
  6. Paleooza Michigan Pale Ale

I would happily have a full pint of any of them, they were all very good.

Goodbye to my friend, John Riedl

Three years ago my friend, mentor and former professor John Riedl shared the news with our book club that he had been diagnosed with cancer. Melanoma. He spent the last three years fighting it. He did it all right, as the scientist he was. He was able to try never-before tested treatments. He adopted a vegan diet. He was strong and vital. He was optimistic, as always, and we were all optimistic for him. In the last month things got much worse very quickly. Yesterday I joined well over two hundred others in celebrating his life and spirit at his funeral. It was a perfect ceremony for a man that was loved and admired so much. I would like to share the story of how I came to know John.

Hackers v. Crackers

I started at the University of Minnesota in 1990. So did Dr. Riedl. 1990 was his first year as a professor in the Computer Science department of the Institute of Technology. At some point during that year the Minnesota Daily wrote a big exposé article on how bad hackers were. They were supposedly breaking into every computer system around, stealing credit cards and doing illegal things. I was fairly fresh from reading Stephen Levy’s fantastic book Hackers and I took great offense at this article. See, hackers are exceptional software developers (aka coders). People that break into computers? Those are crackers. A completely different type of software person focused on compromising systems, both technical and human.

I read this article and it got me all worked up so I sent a letter to the editor telling the Daily that they got it all wrong. Their hacker article was wrong and should have used the term cracker. This is clearly a semantic battle that never was. I don’t think anyone used the term cracker for people that broke into systems much after that point or even before, but I was principled.

The day after that letter ran I remember getting a phone call in my Frontier Hall dorm room. I picked it up and the guy introduced himself as Dr. Riedl, in the computer science department. He mentioned that he and Dr. Carlis were going to write an opinion piece on the article the Daily had published and wondered if I would mind if they quoted me. I have no idea why he thought he needed to ask, but he did and I stammered out “Sure” at some point. We chatted briefly on other University stuff and he ended by saying that “If I ever needed anything, feel free to stop by.” I said thanks and looked forward to reading the article.

Losing Unix Access?

A while after the article I was facing a problem. In 1990 when you took a Computer Science class you were given an account on the Unix workstations. However, that account was provisioned for the class you were enrolled in. So, I had an account but it was going to disappear when the quarter ended.

This was traumatic for me. You see, I had discovered Unix and it was like an entirely new world of technology had opened up. Actually, it wasn’t “like” that, it specifically was that! I had discovered IRC and was chatting with people around the world. I was FTP‘ing to servers at other Universities. I was building software on my own. This was amazing! And it was going to go away when my class ended. So, I went to see Dr. Riedl.

I went to his office and explained my predicament. His response? He put me on his graduate research team. This is the team that eventually became GroupLens, but I don’t think it had that name at that time. I went from hoping to get an account somehow to getting 24-hour access to a lab with dedicated machines, and a permanent account on a handful of SunOS workstations. I was in heaven! I was also a clueless freshman that couldn’t do much beside help with testing the stuff the grad students were working on. While my friends were going to parties on the weekend [1], I was heading to the graduate lab in the CSci building to explore the systems and software, and very importantly the pre-web Internet. I spent hours there just learning and learning.

Go and Build Things

I learned so much in the CSci lab and loved being able to ask grad students questions that probably drove them a little crazy. It turns out I liked that a lot more than going to my other classes. Both Dr. Riedl and Dr. Carlis recognized that I knew the technology, but didn’t seem to be ready for all of the college experience. They both opened the door that maybe I should go and work in industry for a while. Maybe I would come back to the University, or maybe I wouldn’t. And that is what I did, and I never did end up coming back.

I lost touch with Dr. Riedl for a while. To be fair, we were both crazy busy. He took a break from the University to start NetPerceptions and had a wild ride. I was busy building BigCharts and then growing MarketWatch. Years later, after he had returned to the University I reached out to get lunch and we had a great time catching up. We stayed in contact for a long time after that. He graciously invited me to speak at the University of Minnesota a number of times, including being the keynote speaker at the Computer Science departments annual open house. He also gave a nice quote for me when I received the Forty Under 40 award.

Book Club

In late 2007 I got an email from him about a book club. 17 years from when we first met, wow. He mentioned that he was part of this small book club of geeky guys that liked to read about technology topics, and strayed off topic as they wished. Honestly, I wasn’t much of a reader at the time but the idea of reading books with a group that included John Riedl was far too much to pass up on. I joined without hesitation.

Book Club Group

Jamie, Erik, John, Dan and Tom at the last meeting before Dan moved to San Francisco.

John was a voracious reader I realized. That shouldn’t have surprised me given his scholarly and scientific background. He was also a great person to discuss books with, as are Tom, Erik and Dan, the other members of the club. I count myself truly lucky to have shared a book club with John for 6 years. I’ve come to recognize it as a unique experience. Reading informs oneself, and reading together over the course of many years, brings you together and allows for raucous and challenging conversations. As Tom said in a reference to the club and John, “For years to come I’ll read something and think ‘John would really like this.’

The world is worse off without John here. He was a brilliant man, mentor and teacher who had such an impact on my life. And you know what? I wasn’t alone. I’ve heard many stories like mine of people who’s lives are substantially better due to their interactions with John. At his funeral, the common refrain was how much of a mentor he was. My condolences are with his wife Maureen who I got to read a handful of books with as well in our members + spouse meetings, and his children Eric, Karen and Kevin who I really only know through the annual Christmas letter, but all seem to be incredible individuals in their own right. No surprise there.

Related links:

  1. John’s obituary
  2. John’s CaringBridge site
  3. Researching collaboration for a better world post from Wikimedia Foundation
  4. John Riedl Memorial Celebration
  5. Obituary: U’s John Riedl was pioneer of recommender systems

[1]: To be clear, access to the computer lab was clearly not the only thing that kept me out of the social scene on the weekends. :-)

Catalog Unsubscribing

I make it a routine task to request removal from any and all catalogs that show up in our mailbox. Sometimes there is a bit of detective work to get removed from them, they don’t go out of their way to make it obvious. This made me wonder why email is required to have an unsubscribe method clearly displayed while catalogs and regular mail don’t have any requirement. There should be a requirement for unsubscribe information to be presented plainly and near the mailing label. In fact, how about a URL printed for each mailing address that unsubscribes that address? Heck, I might even use a QR code for that!

Americoob Attempting to Siphon Traffic from USA Kubb

I recently went to forgetting to use .org to go to, the website for the US National Kubb Championship. USA Kubb got this site registered and setup this winter. The domain information shows it was registered on Feb. 26, 2012.

Domain ID:D164823449-LROR
Created On:26-Feb-2012 01:23:56 UTC
Last Updated On:26-Apr-2012 03:50:06 UTC
Expiration Date:26-Feb-2014 01:23:56 UTC

When I put in though I was surprised that I got redirected to Americoob!

% curl --head
HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2012 19:11:49 GMT
Server: Apache/2.2.21 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.2.21 OpenSSL/0.9.7a mod_auth_passthrough/2.1 mod_bwlimited/1.4 FrontPage/ mod_fcgid/2.3.5
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1

The same happens for

% curl --head
HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2012 19:12:18 GMT
Server: Apache/2.2.21 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.2.21 OpenSSL/0.9.7a mod_auth_passthrough/2.1 mod_bwlimited/1.4 FrontPage/ mod_fcgid/2.3.5
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1

That seemed super lame. I knew USA Kubb wasn’t sending traffic to Americoob. So I looked up the registration information for

Domain Name: USAKUBB.COM
Whois Server:
Referral URL:
Updated Date: 31-mar-2012
Creation Date: 31-mar-2012
Expiration Date: 31-mar-2014


Domain Name: USAKUBB.NET
Whois Server:
Referral URL:
Updated Date: 31-mar-2012
Creation Date: 31-mar-2012
Expiration Date: 31-mar-2013

Americoob registered these domains about a month after USA Kubb registered the proper .org domain name. So Americoob bought these two domains that are completely unrelated to them so that they could siphon traffic away from people who think they are going to the USA Kubb website. Now people that forget to type the domain all the way will be sent to Americoob, the manufacturer of a plastic game similar to Kubb, but isn’t even Kubb! 5 batons and 4 baseline Kubbs? Made of plastic?

This is incredibly lame on Americoob’s part. I think people should clearly communicate to Americoob that they should hand these domains over to USA Kubb as soon as possible. Americoob is owned by Short Productions and can be reached at (215) 699-2328 and you can email them at

To make it easier, here is an email you can copy and paste to them:


Your organization recently registered the domains and and are redirecting visitors to those domains to your website at I would like to request that you turn these domains over to USA Kubb, the owners of and the organization behind the US National Kubb Championship.

Your attempt to siphon visitors to USA Kubb that do not put in the full domain is bad for the very sport that you are  attempting to be part of and profit in. Please do the right thing and turn the and domains over to USA Kubb.

Thank you,


Please note, I’m purposefully not adding any hyperlinks to Americoob so I don’t send any traffic to them.