log (2000/09/29 to 2000/10/05)

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Thursday, October 5, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Gad, I shall never finish looking through all this backed up old mail! Imprecations upon those lazy former incarnations of myself who didn't deal with it when it first came in, but just left it to rot in the inbox for months and months and months. Fleh!

Many longtemps ago, a reader wrote:

Ever try to find a phone book for Hell? Well, now you can. My question is, why isn't it on the web?

OK, so Jordan Pollack is that guy who made the robots that can design and build other robots (CNet story), and he gives good interview, but perhaps what he should be best known for is his Dylan pastiche about tenure. If only the guitar wasn't covering up the vocal line quite as much...

There were 14 searches for the week ending 9/23/2000 for davidchess.com at http://www.davidchess.com/.

Here are the top phrases searched:

  - 2 for "eagle liver"
  - 2 for "sachel"
  - 1 for "henry leland"
  - 1 for "if you had my love video"
  - 1 for "lava"

Speaking of the CueCat (as we were on Tuesday), Joel (who I really need to add to my regurlar reading list) has an article on why he thinks they're silly. His complaints are all too convincing; maybe they're really a brilliant idea after all! He also points to a SecurityWatch piece about a security problem at their website. For y'all security junkies out there.

Joel's also posted Three Wrong Ideas from Computer Science. One conclusion:

the next time someone tries to sell you a programming product that lets you access network resources the same way as you access local resources, run full speed in the opposite direction.

And that's without considering the security issues.

Fix up that automatically generated HTML with the Demoroniser!

Having no desire to hand-edit the HTML for a long presentation to correct a raft of Microsoft-induced incompatibilities, I wrote a Perl program, the demoroniser, to transform Microsoft's "junk HTML" into at least a starting point for something I'd consider presentable on my site.

I've never seen a WYSIWYG editor for HTML that I could imagine actually using. It's like trying to edit C code with an editor that lets you make changes to the output...

From gorjuss, some interesting futurist scenario stuff.

Congratulations on your 16th birthday. As you are no doubt aware you are now eligible to vote in all federal, state, county, city, town, district, neighborhood and block elections. (Note: Not all forms of election may take place where you live. Check with your area's authorized voting agency for further information.)

I like futurist stuff; sorta like SF, but without all that messy plot and character development.   *8)

Puff puff

Bovine Inversus points to a slick and amusing piece on chickenhead.com, featuring the head of Ed McMahon describing the amatory potential of various '50's autos.

In fact I recommend just about everything on chickenhead, at least to anyone in the mood for the usual "irony and nostalgia" mix and some very polished Web design. I have the Swingers background on my own desktop even as we speak.


Your support rep is connected and can see your customer's computer screen, share the mouse and keyboard control and chat with your customer in real time. Your support rep can either solve the problem while your customer watches or your rep can show your customer what to do step-by-step.

Good thing it's only friendly support reps who can control your computer over the Net, eh?

And finally, Bill Gates' soul migrates into Larry Ellison's body:

"We've been a great believer in open standards," Ellison continued. "But the market wants integrated software from one vendor. I can't help it if that is what the market wants."

Lots of links and little thought today; my apologies. Once I get all this mail off of my brain, maybe I'll have the time to think some more!

Wednesday, October 4, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

There ain't no good guy,
There ain't no bad guy,
There's only I and thou,
And giant chocolate cows.

So this morning at the Club, while pretending to cross-country ski on the "pretend to cross-country ski" machine, I saw on the Tube the tail-end of a campaign ad. It showed a rather grainy picture of the candidate, and his name (I've forgotten it), and it said:

More interested in dismantling government

than in making government work!

and I thought "hey, cool, I'd vote for that". But, looking at the fine print at the bottom of the screen, it turns out that the ad was paid for by his opponent. Heh! Go figure.

Speaking of which, I assume everyone's seen the TV ads for the Las Vegas Freedom Party?

The other parties talk about leadership and direction for America. What about those of us who don't want any leadership and direction?

What if we want to just roam willy-nilly, to and fro, without regard to time restrictions or any restrictions? What we need is a party that shirks responsibility! A party that lets you make it up as you go along and doesn't look at you weird. A party without rules.

They think this is satire?

OK, that's all I'll say about politics, except to point to Ian on Presidential Debate Drinking Games.

Ingrid Bergman

On the speakers: Sony Classical Radio.

I'm pleased to announce that this Log came in second in a recent Fight Night on Agora Nomic. After soundly defeating Thomas (the Universal Rundle), the comma, and Minerva the Highly Unconfused in the first three rounds, we were honorably beaten by the Amazon.com one-click patent in the final. Worth reading! Although, admittedly, pretty much incomprehensible. (Thanks to Chuck both for entering us in the competition, and for telling us about it.)

Speaking of Amazon, I wonder what they're planning to do with "browse.com"? They own it, but it doesn't seem to resolve. Quite a hot little property, one'd think.

The Official Argon Zark Computer Geek Food Pyramid and Nutrition Guide.

Here's a question: when TV shows are in reruns, who decides which one to show when? How do they decide? You'd think they'd like just show them in the same order that that originally appeared (just years later), but that doesn't seem to be How It's Done. I've noticed this with kid's cartoons in particular (that being about all I actually watch on TV these days): when we're sitting around in the big bed eating bagels on Sunday morning, it's much much more likely that (for instance) Arthur will be showing that episode with the Hurl-a-Whirl (and we'll all shout "that one again?") than that they'll be showing the "Baby Show" one (which I really love and have only seen once). I remember this used to happen with Magic Schoolbus also back when that was the Official Sunday Morning Bagels Cartoon.

What gives there? Anyone know?

Today's random blog: Not only funny, but in disturbingly bad taste.

Tuesday, October 3, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

Steve linked to Page by Page Books the other day; they have lots and lotsa old books that you can read right on line. If you like reading online. And don't mind the occasional ad. Sigh.

Ms. Monroe

Let me just go put something on. I'll go into the kitchen and get dressed.

The kitchen?

Yes, when it's hot like this - you know what I do? I keep my undies in the icebox!

M and I watched (the last two-thirds or so of) The Seven-Year Itch on the telly the other night. It was very dated in some ways, and very silly in nearly all ways. But I was rolling around laughing more than once ("There's nothing I can say, except that I'm terribly sorry. Nothing like this ever happened to me before in all my life." / "Honest? Happens to me all the time."). And in fact it's a Moral Tale: the general "men as cute nitwits who need to be nurtured and protected by (beautiful) women" motif rings as true (and as false) as it ever did. Fun to watch.

Here's another thing that probably qualifies for an entry on the hypothetical Themes page...

http://www. .com

Speaking of which, the award for cleverest repurposing of form tags goes to Strange Brew for her entry delimiters.

Attack Monkeys (from Leon Marr)

LinkWatcher now has a random recently-updated blog link, something that I suggested awhile back. I like the feeling of jumping off into who-knows-where. Already I've found some inneresting things, including rediscovering LangMaker.com, for people who are into creating languages. An attractive kind of hack.

There's also a random blog link at blogstart.com, an aspiring blog portal, and one more bit of evidence (along with, for instance, BlogHop) that there are now a Really Large Number of Weblogs. (In a few years, this observation will be as surprising as "there are a really large number of magazines" or "there are a really large number of books". Or it will be false!)

From Bryan O'Sullivan: English as She is Spoke. A rather unique 19th century phrasebook. Or perhaps just an amusing Urban Legend.

Kitchen utensils.

The skimming-dishThe spark
The potlidThe fire
The pothangerThe smoke
The spungeThe clout
The jack.

When I did the obvious Google search on "my hovercraft is full of eels", the first hit was, small-worldly enough, a posting to rec.humor.funny about what seems to be this very same phrasebook. Whaddya know! (On the other hand, the innocent Monty Python phrase "my nipples explode with delight" turns up some naughty things, tsk tsk.)

Speaking of naughty things, sex out of wedlock is illegal in Virginia. Phht! Of course, this is only enforced if the System already doesn't like you. What an incredibly stupid idea. Jane suggests that Virginians write their representatives.

So how many of those silly little Cue Cat things (egregious colons intentionally omitted) have you gotten in the mail? I don't really grok them myself (typing in URLs is hard?), but they're certainly everywhere. Now the Privacy Foundation has issued a privacy warning about them:

The Privacy Foundation has serious privacy concerns about the product because the :CRQ software, which accompanies the :CueCat device, appears to transmit all of the information that Digital:Convergence would need in order to record every bar code that every user scans. This tracking feature of the :CRQ software could be used by the company to profile an individual user.

What was that again?

It was the sound of one hand clapping.

Did someone say "national holiday"?

Send me a rhyme and I'll sing you a time.


phlegm was never in the running? pity. how about flan?

send in the clowns!

Malkovich malkovich, malkovich? Malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich.

Codex Seraphinianus

What algorithm has been selected by NIST, and how do you pronounce it? I like "rain doll", myself. Be a good name for a blog, say. And at the moment raindoll.com seems to be unclaimed! Get it while it's hot...

Monday, October 2, 2000  permanent URL for this entry

"What the crushingly powerful four-limbed hug would have done to a human unprotected by a suit designed to withstand pressures comparable to those found at the bottom of an ocean probably did not bear thinking about, but then a human exposed without protection to the conditions required to support Affronter life would be dying in at least three excitingly different and painful ways anyway without having to worry about being crushed by a cage of leg-thick tentacles."

Iain M. Banks writes cool stuff (or at least I'm currently enjoying the first chapters of my first Banks book, Excession), but he does get carried away with sentence-length now and then.

me talking

So VB2000 was lots of fun. I gave my talk on "Undetectable Computer Viruses" (a copy will probably be on the website soon), and we attached lots of helium balloons to a sock puppet.

In fact I took nearly 200 pictures with an (only somewhat obsolete) Kodak digital camera (a DC215, if that's what that number means). Some of them are amusingly embarassing, and perhaps we'll put up one of those socially useful amusing pictures from conferences pages of our own.

Taking the pictures was fun, but I also got to experience firsthand some of the Standard Complaints about digital cameras: high latency (you can't take a picture of an event unless you know the event's coming at least ten or fifteen seconds in advance, which is a lot longer than it sounds), battery life (a set of four AA batteries can last less than a day), and image quality (in "best" mode the camera produces 1152 by 864 jpegs, but they look crummy unless you shrink them to like 640 by 480). I'm told that this week's digital cameras are somewhat better along all these dimensions. But just how much better?

As sometimes / often seems to happen at conferences, I was in a visual (or perhaps just a doodling) mood most of the time, and sat around drawing strange pictures of more or less the usual sort, rather than thinking or writing down profound thoughts. I'm not sure if it's the storied "significant idle time required before profound thoughts begin to emerge" effect, or if there's something stifling or distracting or something about being at a conference in an absurdly high-toned hotel containing numbers of rich people and (come to that) in close proximity to Disney World, bastion of the admirably artificial and the convincing surface. (Steve came away with some profound thoughts about Disney, the fortunate fellow.)

The first evening around sunset, as we all stood around by The Pool having our Welcome Drinks, the sky got very dark and the wind picked up, and a few very fat drops of rain fell from the sky, and we all joked about how long it would take to run back inside when it began to pour. But the few fat drops were all, and in time the clouds blew impressively away.

"Oh," I said, "maybe it was a Disney Storm!"

Mustard Baked Salmon

Preheat oven to 350°. Rinse a pound or two of salmon filet, pat dry, place (skin side down) in a baking dish (mine is glass or Pyrex or whatever; metal might work too).

With a tablespoon, glop on several big glops of Sweet Hot Maple Mustard (bought for instance from the Tea Thyme Herb Farm booth at your local craft fair; the booth with all the bees buzzing around frightening the children). Smooth out the glops so that the upper surface and maybe the sides of the fish is (are) covered with a reasonably thin layer of mustard.

Cook at 350° for 20 to 30 minutes, until light and flaky and not raw inside anymore, but not all mushy and overcooked either.


I see on Telly that NBC (a television network) is starting up some sort of portal, of all things. How utterly Twentieth Century! That niche is, like, all full, guys. Time to short some stock? Or have they, against all odds, actually done something interesting? Doesn't look like it from the ads, or from a brief look at the (slow, ad-cluttered, boring-looking) site itself.

There's this part of me that wants to write a long memory-diary of going to Orlando and back (the cancelled plane on the way down, the shuttle buses in the airport, the hotel, the talks, the people, the pool, the air, the Gala Dinner, the laughing Buddha and the parrots in the lobby, dinner with Steve and the Morars, the guy on the plane back muttering darkly to his companion that wasn't there smoke coming from the engine and didn't the wing look damaged, and on and on), but I think I will resist. Letting things slide unrecorded into the past also has its satisfactions...


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