May 2000 Archives

I grow tired of mediated

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I grow tired of mediated experiences.

I was reminded by Metafilter's

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I was reminded by Metafilter's contest just how
great the Klein Bottle site is.
Their Unconditional Guarantee is great.

Political Cartoons by Dr. Seuss.

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Sure, it's not too likely

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Sure, it's not too likely I'll need this service any time soon, but it's good to know it's there: free braille letters via the web at Hot Braille.

I'm going The Tick mad

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I'm going The Tick mad today. Read The FAQ and some Tickisms.


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Maurice Richard, RIP This

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Maurice Richard, RIP

This is my favorite hockey picture.

The Lycos 50 has been

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The Lycos 50 has been around for a while now, but it's still fun to visit regularly and see what's hot. The answer for a long time now has been POKEMON POKEMON and more POKEMON.

Under the guidance of his

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Under the guidance of his father and mentor, the young man had dreamed himself a pair of wings.
One of my favourite books is a small volume of stories/parables by Michael Ende called Mirror in the Mirror. Ende is, of course, much more famous for writing The Neverending Story and Momo. Mirror in the Mirror is not a kid's book though - most of the stories are thoroughly sad. The book was inspired by the illustrations of his father, Edgar, who was a surrealist.

My favorite story from the book is illustrated by a pen and ink drawing entitled Winged Figure. Unfortunately, the book is now out of print and difficult to find - I was lucky enough to pick it up on whim from a remainder bin for $2.50. Fortunately, though, I know how to type. Enjoy

An audio recording of Neal

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An audio recording of Neal Stephenson's speech at the Computers Freedom & Privacy Conference 2000 is now online; I'd pointed to a salon article about this conference last month.

Very thorough summary from

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Very thorough summary from on mid-level artists and how they might benefit from changes in technology.

Oreilly has some great lego

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Oreilly has some great lego mindstorms columns.

Harper's Index Index. Chance that

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Harper's Index Index. Chance that this link was found at monkeyfist, expressed as a percentage: 100%.

The latest "You can SO

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The latest "You can SO charge for content on the web" attempt,, has gone live.

Napster != Open Source Larry

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Napster != Open Source

Larry Wall, developer of the Perl language, has a similar perspective. "Open source should be about giving away things voluntarily," he says. "When you force someone to give you something, it's no longer giving, it's stealing. Persons of leisurely moral growth often confuse giving with taking."

I personally think there is something to the argument that Napster does increase sales as people will
listen to a lot more music and buy more music, but there has to be a middle ground where it's possible to enforce artist's rights as well as enable music lover's.

Copyright and old games. I

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Copyright and old games.
I just don't get this - why do game companies have such a
problem with people playing their old games - games that they
don't even sell or support anymore? I've said for years that
if they really have a problem with it they should just release a title
that has all the old titles on it.

Phil Katz' last days. Very

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Phil Katz' last days. Very sad story. Link from dandot.

YAMAAE (Yet another Martin Amis

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YAMAAE (Yet another Martin Amis autobiography excerpt.)

Update - don't bother. I didn't get through to the link right away and assumed it was an actual excerpt, not an invitation to buy Saturday Night so you could read the excerpt.

Has Dr. Laura read her

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Has Dr. Laura read her Torah? Best thing
I've read about the whole Dr. Laura brouhaha.

As far as homosexuality itself goes, I think modern society could learn a lot from the Bible. The notion that all humanity is divided into different sexual camps and that everybody, therefore, almost by definition must fall into one category or the other, is not supported by Scripture. (Even the violent miscreants of Sodom who openly declare their interest in violating Lot's angelic guests are not described as a mob of gay men, just of evil wrongdoers intent on abusing some strangers in the most humiliating way possible.)

The idea that every aspect of people's lives, including their sexual lives, can be fashioned into a conduit leading to God, on the other hand, is the foundation stone on which both the faith of ancient Israel and modern Judaism rest.

Talking head blues Bit of

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Talking head blues Bit of a whine from Mark Kingwell (my colleagues are mean to me! Wendy Mesley was mean to me! Producers are mean to me!),
but there is a decent point being made - why should "intellectuals"
try to educate the general public via TV on a topic they are an expert in
if all it gets them is the disapproval of their colleagues for "lowering"
themselves by being seen on TV? How is public discourse expected to improve
if the people that might improve it avoid it? TV isn't inherently evil!

I'm never going to touch

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I'm never going to touch a bank pen again.

Even toilet seats in public rest rooms are not especially germy. In a 1995 study, Gerba found E. coli on only one out of 59 public rest room toilet seats -- most likely from the toilet water, which aerosolizes into a microscopic mist when the toilet flushes. There were far more fecal bacteria in sinks and on sanitary napkin dispensers, the latter being commonly overlooked by janitors. (Other commonly overlooked bacterial ick zones, as determined by Gerba over the years: hotel TV remotes, vending machine buttons and bank pens.)

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case

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Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Pirated
. Do you know where I got this? Turn to metafilter for the answer!

ABC cancels Sports Night, but

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ABC cancels Sports Night, but gives a show to Andre Braugher. It's a good trade I suppose. Thank goodness Andre Braugher has the brains to come back to television after his film career did basically nothing. What is up with four nights of who wants to be a millionaire? I know it's a ratings behometh, but I think they're going to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

OK, now the Internet doesn't

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OK, now the Internet doesn't make you lonely. Why isn't this study on the front page of every newspaper, as the study that claimed the complete opposite was? I think that the internet, like all the new means of communication that came before it, will be subsumed into the broader realm of just plain communications soon enough. Until then, enough with the studies. People will push meaning through whatever channels are available, and they will take meaning from whatever they can.

Michael Ondaatje reading from Anil's

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Michael Ondaatje reading from Anil's Ghost at mp3lit.

Very good overview/tutorial on various mozilla technologies. Found at mozillazine.

Flame Warriors. (It's all true!)

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Flame Warriors. (It's all true!) Link from slashdot.

They waterproof flexible keyboard I've seen references to
recently (most recently in Byte)
has been around for over a year. This was a Slashdot story
over a year ago, based on my submission (he noted modestly).
I read about it in wired magazine. Now it's hitting the rounds again. The actual maker of this product is a company called inpace. They're still not available for sale in Canada that I'm aware of though - when I emailed them last year about it, they asked me if I wanted to be the distributor!

Alternate view of the dmoz

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Alternate view of the dmoz directory. Very cool.

I find this amusing. Rabid

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I find this amusing. Rabid fans kill gaming magazine.

Overzealous fans and supporters can sometimes be more of a detriment than a blessing, but they've never killed a product. Until now. PC Accelerator, a magazine aimed at high-end gamers, was shut down because its readership of hardcore gamers were flaming its advertisers. They wrote obscene letters to PC makers like Dell for advertising in the magazine, since most hardcore gamers build their own PCs.

The worst case was when AOL sign-up CDs were included in an issue. "You wouldn't believe how many people microwaved their AOL CDs and sent them to AOL, saying 'Don't ever advertise in PC Accelerator ever again,'" said one former staffer. Publisher Imagine Media, which has over a dozen gaming magazines, didn't need this headache and pulled the plug.

Judging by what I've seen of this magazine, you could probably substitute "testosterone-addled sexist 17 year olds" for high-end gamers in the first paragraph.

Bad Headline: U.S. says saccharin

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Bad Headline: U.S. says saccharin no longer cancer threat. Obviously what is meant to be conveyed is "US no longer thinks saccharin is a cancer threat", not that it has magically lost cancer-causing properties, which the headline would imply.

Maps of the Month, from

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Maps of the Month, from Mappa Mundi, which is dedicated to "Revealing Invisible Worlds".

Phew. Spent the weekend redoing

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Phew. Spent the weekend redoing my brother's business website, Imagination of Steel, moving it from all static pages to all php-generated. It's funny, he has no idea how I do what I do, and I have no idea how he does what he does.

Fatima's Third Secret Revealed!
Finally. There's been a world of speculation about this. Link magically appeared at interconnected.

My local PBS affiliate is

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My local PBS affiliate is finally getting around to showing code rush on July 3rd.

IE Security hole allows any

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IE Security hole allows any page access to your cookies. This is just really bad. Taken from an open jar at metafilter.

From the profane (see previous)

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From the profane (see previous) to the ludicrously geeky.

Fabulous Bill Hicks site. A

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Fabulous Bill Hicks site. A few samples of why you should visit: [The sensitive may want to avert their eyes]

I did that joke in Alabama, and these three rednecks met me after the show. "Hey buddy, c'mere. Hey Mister Comedian, c'mere." Yeah, I love that move (makes shoving motion) "C'mere!" Not a physics major, I think that's a safe bet. "Mister Funnyman, c'mere. Hey buddy, we're Christians and we don't like what you said." I said, then forgive me.


I was in Nashville, Tennesee last year, after the show I went to a Waffle House, I'm not proud of it, I was hungry. And I'm alone, I'm eating and I'm reading a book, right? Waitress walks over to me, "Tch tch tch tch. Hey, what you readin' for?" Is that like the weirdest fucking question you've ever heard? Not what am I reading, but what am I reading for. Well, godammit, you stumped me. Why do I read? Well... hmmm... I guess I read for a lot of reasons, and the main one, is so I don't end up, being a fucking waffle waitress.


Cause you know, if you play New Kids on the Block albums backwards, they sound better. "Oh come on, Bill, they're the New Kids, don't pick on them, they're so good and they're so clean cut and they're such a good image for the children." Fuck that. When did mediocrity and banality become a good image for your children? I want my children to listen to people who fucking rocked. I don't care if they died in puddles of their own vomit. I want someone who plays from his fucking heart. "Mommy, mommy, the man that Bill told me to listen to has a blood bubble on his nose!" Shut up and listen to him play! The New Kids! "Hi we're the New Kids and we're so good and clean-cut..." (cocksucking noises) "We're so clean cut!" Seig Heil! Heil! Heil! A good clean country... Heil! Heil! Heil! (more cocksucking noises) Fuck that! I want my rock stars dead! I want them to fucking play with one hand and put a gun in their other fucking hand and go "I hope you enjoy the show!"

You know, I even find

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You know, I even find the help screens for word perhuct amusing. What a wonderful little thing.

Word Perhuct. I love it.

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Word Perhuct. I love it. Seen all over weblogdom today. Requires Flash4.

Funny Bruce Sterling article on

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Funny Bruce Sterling article on the ILOVEYOU worm.

Imagine being Spyder and running. Running where? There isn't a country left on the planet that he hasn't screwed-over. Tonga? Tuvalu? Pitcairn Island? They've all got domain names! Even the Ayatollahs are scratching their beards, forced to do arcane crap like purging their system directories of MSKernel32.vbs. Angry Serbian warez pirates are searching fruitlessly for their vanished MP3s. Even Saddam Hussein couldn't resist clicking that ILOVEYOU attachment.

CDs aren't expensive, they're cheap,

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CDs aren't expensive, they're cheap, dammit! So according to the RIAA, I should be glad that CDs cost what they do, because they should really cost $34 each. Also, the current price levels help support the 90% of releases that aren't profitable. Maybe if CDs were priced more reasonably (like, for example, audio cassettes) more acts would be profitable because CDs could be an impulse purchase. Just an idea.

I do wonder if the expected FTC settlement will have any effect on prices in Canada. (Link free from Tomalak, although it should really cost more.)

The lego camera (see last

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The lego camera (see last post) got me to thinking of Fischer Price's ill-fated Pixelvision PXL-2000 Camera, which recorded grainy black and white video on audio cassette tapes. If you want to see it in action, I'd recommend renting Nadja, which has some scenes shot in Pixelvision. It's not a very good movie, but don't let that stop you from enjoying it!

Lego digital camera. This is

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Lego digital camera. This is so cool. Imagine a lego mindstorms robot with a digital camera mounted on it. Link pried from Rebecca's Pocket.

And on visiting imdb for

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And on visiting imdb for the last blurb,
I see that Princess Bride
is being released on DVD on July 18th. It's already amazon's top seller.
Not too many extras, according to, just widescreen and theatrical trailer. MGM's search
is broken - it doesn't encode spaces in GETs and the search engine can't handle it.

I love my little local

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I love my little local movie theatre. Saw A Brief History of Time, a decent
documentary about Stephen Hawking, although not quite
enough science for my taste.

Taylor has been talking about

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Taylor has been
talking about bidirectional links, and actually implemented a
system that shows what's been linking to him (or, perhaps more precisely,
what links have been followed to him). He notes that he won't put the links in the articles referenced. I
can understand this reluctance, as there's no way of knowing
whether a reference is actually relevant to the article being
pointed to, or just a sneaky way to get a link. (Something this
author would never do, of course!) To me, this basically rules
out what could actually be an interesting use of bidirectional links - as
a means of a dialogue between sites. This would be quite unlike
a typical web or email discussion, which tends to happen in one
"place" as far as the reader is concerned. Across sites,
there would be (I think anyways) much more resonance of a dialogue.
Methods could be developed to obviate the use of linking for
reasons other than discussion/comment - perhaps only trusted links
would be refenced, or somesuch. Heck, could bidirectional links
be something built into blogger?
(Of course, I don't personally use blogger, for no good reason.)

Must read article by Phil

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Must read article by Phil Agre on design.

E. P. Thompson wrote an influential paper about the fashion for pocket
watches when pocket watches were new. People would spend large parts
of their wealth to get one. They served to get one to places on time,
and they also served to signify. Neither happens without the other.
What does the Internet signify? The Internet came along at the moment
when engineers -- at least the leading cultural edge of them -- were
surrendering the centuries-old conception of engineering as the Godlike
giving of rational order. What's to take the place of that conception?
Engineers facilitate local ordering. Rather than discover and optimal
order, they provide a platform. That's the ideal, which we code with
the word "open". But platforms, alas, are public goods. If markets
epitomize the otherwise inchoate wish for an open society, we've been
learning that marketplaces are commodities too.

I've talked about Jonathan Lethem

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I've talked about Jonathan Lethem before,
now mp3lit has him
reading excerpts from
his latest novel, Motherless Brooklyn.

While you're there, make sure you listen
to this.

Very good history of Transmeta

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Very good history of Transmeta and their Crusoe chip.

One of the challenges of creating the Code Morphing software was to make the Crusoe processor, in
many cases, bug-compatible with the x86 so that it would generate the so-called Blue Screen of Death at
many of the same times an x86 processor would.

Woo, more log fun. First,

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Woo, more log fun. First, thanks, Traumwind! Second, I hereby apologize to all those that are reading this with Netscape 4.x w/CSS turned on; I know it sucks, and that paragraphs seem to line up at random. Netscape is still my main browser on linux, of course, but I don't know if I want to spend a bunch of time fixing a personal site to work around bugs. The site is still readable, just slightly malformed. Looks great in mozilla, though! Mozilla is also the only browser where mousing over the dates on the left does what I intended, although it might work on the new IE for the mac.

Zowie. Link BLAMMOED from Larkfarm.

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Zowie. Link BLAMMOED from Larkfarm.

Mini-barcodes for newspapers and magazines (nytimes articles, free registration required). What I don't get is why people are using such a complicated system that requires all sorts of finicky technology to work. Why not a small print 6 or 7 digit code at the end of the article? Then have a prominent text box at the top of each page on your web site, people plunk in the code, press a button and hey presto. Faster, cheaper, easier. id: 2109324

New TV Ad Reinforces Microsoft's

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Today is one of those

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Today is one of those glorious days when you get to be a smug non-windows person, if you're so lucky. Note that it's not just an Outlook problem, it spreads through a windows IRC client, as well. Further note that this is a general, deep-seated security flaw in windows that will exist as long as Microsoft chooses to value "power" (read: giving VB Script basically free reign over your system) over security.

Put your own face on

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Put your own face on a Canada Post stamp. This is apparently a world first. Fairly inexpensive too, at $1/per.

Truly random numbers from fourmilab. Link deterministically cribbed from larkfarm.

Scientists: No doomsday in store

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I, like every daily-comic loving

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I, like every daily-comic loving soul on the planet, miss Calvin & Hobbes. Since retiring, Bill Watterson has managed to remain almost completely out of the public eye. I only managed to track down one fairly recent newspaper article from 1998. Watterson is apparently quite happy just to paint in obscurity in a small village in Ohio. There's also an old interview with Watterson here.

I think it's cool that

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I think it's cool that moby's web site has an archive of a usenet flame war from 1993 where probably the biggest idiot in the thread is moby himself. Moby will be doing a live webcast on Thursday.

Oliviero Toscani has left Benetton.

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Oliviero Toscani has left Benetton. He remains Creative Director of Talk Magazine (!)

All hail Showcase. They're showing

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All hail Showcase. They're showing Kieslowski's Dekalog - all 10 episodes - over the next 5 Tuesdays. I finally get to see these films. As if that's not enough, they're also showing Hal Hartley's Book of Life tonight. If you're not familiar with Hartley, do yourself a favor and rent Henry Fool, which is one of my favorite films.

We have ways of making

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We have ways of making you tell us if you notice banner ads:

Harnessing Brainwaves

The electroencephelogram-based technology Capita acquired from NASA was, compared to the way it appears and works today, quite rudimentary. The device the space agency used to read crew members brainwaves looked like a shower cap with grommets on it. To get clear readings a conductive gel had to be injected into the grommets with a hypodermic needle, while the pilot was wearing the cap.

Two and a-half years later, the cap has been re-engineered so that now it is about the size, weight, and appearance of a pair of headphones for a portable tape or CD player. It takes a few seconds to fit the headset to an individual so that the sensors are in the correct position to pick up the necessary readings. The procedure is dry and noninvasive.

Readings from the headset are transmitted to a computer powered by Capita's proprietary software. The computer reads the electrical signals coming from the surface of the scalp five times a second, converting those signals into a scrolling graph that is synchronized with the visual stimuli, such as television programming, commercial advertisements, web sites, or print materials.

Peaks and valleys in the graph correspond to when the viewer is engaged or tuned out.

You may have heard that

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You may have heard that all three letter .com domain names
are taken. Now, you can visit a random one.
Suggestions welcomed.

Finally saw Magnolia last night.

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Finally saw Magnolia last night. As is my wont, I wanted to read some reviews,
just to see what others thought. I realized I really dislike
that try to tell me what I thought about the film:

These characters are all well played, but we don't fully
connect with them. Or, finally, with an endless movie
that mostly mistakes inflation for importance.

Funny, thing is I connected with them. Then again,
I don't write for Time, so
my finger must not be on the "pulse". From the same reviewer's
review of Fight Club:

For we begin to realize that the hunky Pitt is
the willowy Norton's doppelganger, a projection of
fantasies about masculine mastery.

(Not only does he tell me how I think, he also tries to ruin the movie!)

I'd find more examples, but Time's search engine gives me a headache.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from May 2000 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2000 is the previous archive.

June 2000 is the next archive.

This is, a weblog by Bill Stilwell. I take the occasional photo.


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