log (1999/10/29 to 1999/11/04)

older log
newer log


site news

Thursday, November 4, 1999

Enormous Surprise of the Day: some miscreants have figured out how to break the encryption on DVD movies. Can you imagine! Next they'll be saying that software copy-protection doesn't work.

I have all sorts of grandiose ideas for the shared-Weblogging CGI; or at least features (like archiving and documentation) that I want to add. There's something so satisfying about just combing through code that you've written, adding comments here and there, neatening things up, improving error messages, adding bells and whistles...

Hackeritis strikes again!

Walk up the steep staircase at the back of the showroom. There's a narrow hallway at the top, leading left and right. The lights are flourescent.

To the right, the hallway leads to a large office, with a window that looks out over the showroom. The window has a narrow wooden sill; on the sill are a few thumbtacks, a bottle of Windex, a torn piece of blank paper.

There are two desks in the office, three chairs, and a filing cabinet. The filing cabinet is empty, has been empty for weeks, except for one dirty piece of green paper in the bottom of one drawer, on which someone wrote a telephone number five years ago.

Did some work on SLIGE last night (improved the -dm switch, so it always (almost always?) creates the required minimum four starting positions), and uploaded the source and Win32 executable to my old AOL account. But I should have checked them afterwards; this morning I discover that I accidentally uploaded the debug binary (which requires a VCPP DLL to run), and that the source ZIP file got all zorched on the way up. So neither of them is useful, and I'll have to wait until tomorrow to tell anyone about them. Oh, well!

(Most annoyingly, I've already announced the URL of the executable ZIP file, when I posted the first version of it; so anyone who finds that old message and downloads it today will get the debug version, sigh! I should just stop using AOL for storage at all; it's such a pain not being able to FTP-write in there from the real Net.)

So I have no very profound thoughts today (and I'm even starting sentences with "so" again). Is this caused by excessive coding? I've noticed before that when in coding-mode my brain doesn't seem to be very good at deeper things, at emotions and understanding and teasing out the inchoate.

Is it that the two modes of thought are somehow incompatible? Or are they too compatible, too similar, so there's not enough oxygen for both at once? (Or are those two descriptions of the same thing?) Another data point: it's far easier (I think?) to slip quickly into coding mode when struck with a cuspy idea than it is to slip into (what to call it?) contemplative mode. I don't really "slip" into that mode at all, generally; it requires a certain amount of decompressing and relaxing time, or a separation from routine things and places, to take hold. Lack of practice?

Leisure Suit Larry vs. the Zerg Hordes! Very silly.

Wednesday, November 3, 1999

4am: Unlike last time, I know exactly why I'm wide awake, and for that matter why I couldn't fall asleep for so long last night. Sometime yesterday, I casually suggested that a professional group that I belong to, and that regularly exchanges "here's an interesting URL" notes on a set of mailing lists, might should use a shared Weblog for that purpose.

Sometime between dinner and bed, it occurred to me that a CGI script to support shared Weblogging should be pretty easy, and my brain went into hacking mode. This meant I got very little sleep. It's now almost working (the script, not my brain), but I'm having trouble getting the cookie stuff correct (don't want to have to enter your name/handle into the silly form more than once), so it's not up yet. With luck it'll be on the toys page soon, and I'll be able to get more sleep.

You could have knocked me over with a feather: geegaw asked yesterday "Why does David Chess seem to have so many fingers in the pumpkin pie of cool?" What a marvelous and frightening sentence!

Stuck in my head today: "A knife and a fork, a bottle and a cork (That's the way you spell New York)", from Information Society's Hack; "I am the termite of temptation", from "Lay My Love" on Eno and Cale's Wrong Way Up. Oldies but goodies.

Three more way-cool unowned domain names from the WordURL toy: IcyTommie.com, LiltBitch.com, and (soon to be classic) EpigrammaticNews.com. Entrepreneurs take note!

Breaking news: I got the shared Weblogger stuff basically working, although not very documented or tested or made pretty. If anyone reading this in the near future would like to test it, it's here at least temporarily (and the Weblog it maintains is here). The posting password is of course "swordfish". The current contents is Very Silly, and is just for test purposes. Post whatever you like, but don't overload the server, and realize that I'm likely to blow it all away tomorrow, and tell me about any bugs, and please don't tell SlashDot...

Tuesday, November 2, 1999

Election Day! At least in this particular part of the United States of America. I plan to spend most of today actually doing work, so this will probably be short.

We decided/noticed at lunch yesterday that it's probably more important, in terms of actually influencing public policy, to talk to pollsters on the telephone, than it is to vote. I don't feel as bad about that as I suspect I should!

I used to subscribe to Factsheet Five, a miscellaneous and cool periodic review of 'zines (the pre-Net form of Web diary, homepage, personal site, and so on; in fact, FS5 was basically a Weblog for the paper age; what a thought!). Come to think of it, I vaguely recall having paid for a lifetime subscription sometime years ago, but I don't think I've ever gotten more than one or two issues. Maybe I should write to someone about that...

Anyway, I noticed this morning on Robot Wisdom that Mike Gunderloy, the one-time honcho of FS5, has his own Weblog. Everybody's doing it! Mike's looks smart and low-key; not a Web equivalent of Factsheet Five in any sense. Everyone grows up... *8)

Note that my mentioning this has nothing whatever to do with the fact that my name appears in one of the articles in Mike's Weblog for yesterday. Gawd, it's a small world!

Speaking of my novice's fascination with things visual, here is a site all about the Analysis of Visual Images (it's a companion to a course in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at the University of Newcastle, Australia). I haven't looked through it all yet (remember I said I was going to do some actual work), but what I have seen looks promising. Universities are great; someone buy me one please.

(I found the link on yet another Weblog that I stumbled across on Robot Wisdom. Looks like it's time to mention Robot Wisdom on the About page, eh?)

Breaking news: a new picture of me has been spotted on the Web, on the Virus Bulletin site. Yes, I'm sitting on the floor with my laptop, no despite the silly grin I have not been drinking. Oh, and here's the guy I work for with a container.

Monday, November 1, 1999

A lovely Hallowe'en, entirely successful (in the sense of the kids and even the grownups having had a good time) despite it being a school night and so no party afterwards. We had the party before instead, the usual Autumn clean-up and pot-luck down at the lake, the kids running around, weather perfect, company good; one more reminder that I have nothing, nothing whatever, to complain about.

(Scary thought of the day: the last time Hallowe'en was on a school night, the little boy was two. For as long as he can remember, Hallowe'en's been on a Friday or Saturday. Their time-scales are so different from ours!)

Someone who likes Borges, and takes cool pictures of books: thesecretbooks.com.

I find myself fascinated by the visual lately, by art and design, by photography. There's so much going on there that I don't know anything about; the analysis of, the understanding of, a visual artifact is so mysterious to me. I think I've always assumed that it was basically simple, a few rules to put together, a few tricks of mechanism and arrangement, and you're there. Now that I've actually tried to take a few aesthetically significant photographs, though, and designed a few Web pages that want to go a step or two beyond black paragraphs on white, I realize that this little mark on the ground here is really an abyss full of stars, comets, distant snakes of light writhing between galaxies whose names I don't know.

Probably I should just stick to words...

Assassinations Foretold in Moby Dick! It's probably futile to convert the credulous to rationality, but it can be fun trying. (Cited on silent-tristero.)

Had to happen: linkwatcher is a Weblog that tells you what other Weblogs have updated recently. Sheesh!

There must be a more plausible model of efficent information-access than this. But I suppose the only way we're going to find it is by experimenting with all this apparently-silly stuff for awhile first. And it is kind of fun, in its own twisted way. Anyway, if you're looking for new blogs to follow, linkwatcher probably knows about some that you don't.

Friday, October 29, 1999

This is the best animation-meditation-toy-thing I've seen on the Web yet (requires mumble Flash mumble mumble).

Ambiguity Rules: does anyone else think odd scurrilous thoughts when the sportscaster on the radio talks about "pro action"? I have the same problem with billboards advertising residential communities designed for "the Adult Lifestyle." What does that mean? Nude Tupperware parties? XXX-rated drive-in movies? Jacuzzi Night at the Community Center? I know, I'm just warped.

Speaking of nasty offensive Friday thoughts, here are two very large, very tasteless, but very funny WAV files that I've recently stumbled across: Delta and fword.

Idea of the day (and I won't even charge royalties): take a TV signal, run it through a low-pass filter (i.e. make it blurry), rotate it about 90° (i.e. turn it sideways), blow it up to roughly wall-sized (or whatever size you need), and display it. It's dynamic, it's colorful, and most importantly it has about the same correlation statistics as the real world (well, as television), without any of those messy semantics. The perfect abstract artwork! Hang it on your wall, amaze your friends. You heard it here first!

(I first invented this years ago, lying on the bed with my glasses off; let me know if you actually implement it. Any resemblances between this idea and our discussions of non-signifying signs the other week are purely coincidental.)

This is going to be a busy weekend; Fright Night at the kids' school tonight, at least two kid Hallowe'en parties, possibly one adult (not "Adult") party, the usual shindig down at the Lake, and the annual pulling-in of the rafts and float lines. I can't think of a really good costume. Waiter? Chauffeur? Handyman? *8)

Which probably means I will continue not to make any progress on the Forked Stick, among other things. Someday, someday...


earlier entries